Category Archives: Books

New Year, New Me…. Same old Facebook!

Facebook

There are times when I love Facebook and there are times when I hate it. I hate Facebook when I get constant updates from people asking me to play tedious online games and when people upload pictures of their food. I hate Facebook when people leave statuses that are clearly designed to initiate a response. You know the ones I mean, theres probably one sitting on your newsfeed right now. “Why do I bother” “I can’t believe he’s done it again” “Is it really supposed to double in size” that kind of thing. People are lured into responding, not because they care about the person, they’re just plain nosey!

There are also times when I love Facebook and the period around Christmas and New Year is when I fall back in love with it. Christmas is great because there is so much positivity and everyone just seems happy to be off of work and relaxing with their family and friends. The New Year is even better because the twenty four hours either side of midnight, you often get to see the very best of people and the very worst of them. As I scrolled through my news feed leading up to and then entering the New Year last year, it was the perfect mix of hope and excitement, followed by the dawn of realisation.

My book “As They Slept – A Year in the Life of a Commuter” was born from an argument on Facebook and the chapter posted below took the form of a poem, created solely from the status updates on my news feed in a twenty four hour period, between New Years Eve and New Years Day.

Overworked and underpaid
Congratulations on getting engaged
Ok I’m drunk, I confess!
Work tomorrow, so depressed!
Think it’s time to clear out the loft
Watching season 5 of lost!
Housework done, time for beer
Look out people, this is my year
Surely it’s got to be gin o’clock?
Chris would like to play lucky slots
Sorry about my drunken post
Looking forward to a big fat roast
Wake me up when it’s all over
It’s 2 in the morning and I’m still sober
Chips are ready! Ketchup or Gravy?
Kim and Kanye are having a baby
Time to lose my Christmas gut!
Anyone know what time Tesco shuts?
Haven’t been this drunk in a while
Time to party gangnam style
Time to lose the Movember tash
Mosie would like to play Bingo bash
Oh my god I look like a goth
2012 can piss right off
Time to weigh in
I’m laying off gin
Lovely weather!
Yeah whatever
Ouch my head
Time for bed
Here come the tears
Happy New Year

If you want to hear more about the book, check out the You Tube video below where I talk to Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London

As They Slept – A Year in the Life of a Commuter is Out Now

As They Slept 1-4 cover design (ebook)

Why travelling is like peeling an Orange!

orange-peel-man-body

Travelling for me has always been just an annoying necessity. It’s the bit in the middle between having to go somewhere and actually being somewhere.

I liken it to an orange. (bear with me) Eating a fresh orange is one of life’s little pleasures, but in order to eat an orange, you first have to peel one. That annoying bit in the middle between wanting an orange and eating an orange. Don’t even get me started on the people who peel an orange while travelling….. why are they putting themselves through it?

I hear people uttering the phrase “I love travelling” all of the time and it frustrates me. I am absolutely certain that these people do not “Love travelling” at all, they simply enjoy being well travelled. It’s a very different thing. It’s like saying “I love peeling oranges” when what they actually mean is “I like eating oranges”

I appreciate that this blog post is a little orange heavy, so let’s move on. So while travelling has always been an annoying necessity for me, it has provided me with a chance to be more creative. Had I not for example, been stuck on a train with a bunch of strangers for over five hundred hours in the last year, I would not have been able to find the time (or more importantly been provided with the content) to write a bestselling book.

So my advice is simple. Don’t ever waste an opportunity to do something more creative, not even when peeling an orange.

As They Slept – A Year in the Life of a London Commuter is OUT NOW. All four parts of the bestselling series in one book (Part 1 of the bestselling series has sold over 40,000 copies and has been ranked #1 on Amazon Humour and Biographies)

As They Slept 1-4 cover design (ebook)

Click Here to view book on Amazon

So which one are you?

ATS Part 4

It was way back in September 2012, when, infuriated by the snoozing passengers surrounding me, I decided to post a status on Facebook declaring that sleeping on trains is a complete waste of time.

My so called “friends” disagreed.

In a bid to prove them wrong, I set out to write a book from start to finish on the daily commute.

The chapter below was written while I commuted from Headcorn to London on Wednesday 28th August 2013 and sums up just about everyone that you will ever encounter on a morning commute.

So which one are you?

As I look around the carriage this morning, I can see a real mix of people. It’s a nice reminder that commuters come in many forms and very rarely fit the typical stereotype of smart suits and broadsheet newspapers. I would say that only around half of the people in my carriage this morning are wearing typical business attire, while the other half are adorned with a colourful array of casual clothes.

As a tribute to commuters everywhere and in the hope that you will all recognise a few of the people mentioned, I have decided to write a poem.

There’s not one person that makes a commuter
Some sit quietly and work on their computer
Others use the time to apply their make up
While others look depressed over their latest break-up
Then there are those that talk on their phone
And others that can’t leave their willy alone
Of course there is always a noisy eater
And you will always sit next to the broken heater
There is always a train guard that looks like yoda
And a guy in the corner with questionable odour
There is always someone tapping their feet
Now here comes fatty with his huge broadsheet
There is always an old guy that should have retired
And a person who’s ticket has just expired
The guy with the braces, whose starting to snore
And the one with the glasses, the office bore
The hungover guy, collapsed in a heap
And five or six others are fast asleep
But always be careful and make sure you look
For the guy by the toilets, who’s writing a book

As They Slept – Part 4 half price and available to download for ONLY £0.99p 8am November 15th to 10am November 18th

http://www.amazon.co.uk/As-They-Slept-comical-commuter-ebook/dp/B00FRY2A3Y

As They Slept Astheyslept As They Slept – Part 2 As They Slept Part 2 (2)As They Slept – Part 3 As They Slept Part 3

Words cannot “Express”

Express

I’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of establishments using the word ‘Express’ in their business or product names recently. For the most part it makes perfect sense, and I can see exactly why the proprietors would want to convey the message of speed.

The word express conjures up images of people dashing around looking as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button. It conjures up images of people standing aside and waving you through, but unfortunately, thanks to fatherhood, it also conjures up images of my wife using an elaborate machine to extract milk from her breast.

‘Cafe Nero Express’ is a perfect example of where the word express works well. ‘Cafe Nero Express’ perfectly explains what you’re going to get as a paying customer. You’re going to get coffee and, so long as they have their business model right, you’re going to get it quickly. Pizza Express works much in the same way, and once again I wholeheartedly agree with their willingness to provide the ‘Express’ in their title and their service. As I see it, people need food and drink in order to survive, and whenever there’s a chance that someone might die, I think it’s reasonable to demand an express service.

There are a couple of examples, however, where the word express doesn’t exactly fit with the product or service. Take the Gatwick Express, for example. It’s a fantastic concept: a high-speed train service which will get you to Gatwick in a flash. Except the flash is usually followed by smoke and flames, all as a result of another signal-box failure.

All of this brings me to a company that was brought to my attention yesterday, as one of its branded vans sped around the City of London. The company?

Picture Frames Express!

I’ve nothing against Picture Frames Express, per se. I’m sure they offer an extremely good range of picture frames and are able to deliver them quickly, but who has ever thought to themselves “I need a picture frame, and I need it now”?

Surely a picture frame is a purchase only ever carried out while casually browsing? I can’t imagine someone ever running into a shop and demanding to know where the frames are. “They’re over there, sir, right by the door, next to the toilet paper and the morning-after pills!”

If you enjoyed my blog, you may enjoy the books I have written. As They Slept – Part 4 (The comical tales of a London commuter) is out on Friday 11th October 2013.

As They Slept – Part 4
ATS Part 4

How I got into writing

On Tuesday 18th September 2012, I posted a status on Facebook.

I was on the 07:51 train into London and everyone around me was asleep.

The status read:

“Maybe I’m in the minority here, but it really annoys me when commuters sleep on trains, especially so on the morning leg. They have just had a whole night’s sleep! You can get so much done on your commute, it’s criminal to sleep through it”.

Some of my friends totally disagreed. Well, I say friends, but this was Facebook, so it’s probably more accurate to say that some people I barely knew disagreed. Apparently I was wrong to assume people had enjoyed a whole night’s sleep, and there were doubtless many factors contributing to why they were sleeping. Many things could be responsible for their tiredness, such as work stress or restless children.

I honestly didn’t doubt for one second that these people had busy lives and that for them sleep was often at a premium; I was just making the point that using the commute to sleep was a waste of potentially valuable time. I then decided to list all of the things that could be done during their nap time. “You could pay some bills, research a recipe, get in touch with an old friend, catch up on the news, do some online shopping, enter a competition or even do some creative writing”, I asserted.

By the time I’d got to the last two, I had clearly run out of ideas. It is for this reason and this reason only that I then followed it up with the perhaps foolhardy promise: “…..In fact, I’ll prove how much time you are wasting by sleeping – I am going to write something on every commute for a year!”

And just like that, the “As They Slept” series of books was born.

Astheyslept

A challenge laid down to myself – to prove to all of those narcoleptic commuters just what could be done in those lost sleepy hours. At the time, I had no idea what to write about, and the future content of the book was as much a mystery to me as it was to you, but I realised that was what made it truly exciting. I had always enjoyed a challenge, but this was the first time I had ever actually set one for myself. Normally there is a friend involved, and almost always alcohol to blame and/or a woman to impress. This time there was no alcohol, no woman to impress and as Facebook was involved, there were certainly no friends involved.

I then set out a series of rules and guidelines that I would try to adhere to. Firstly, and most importantly, the book would only be written while commuting. Put simply, that means if I’m not commuting, I’m not writing. Every day that I commuted to work, I promised to add a chapter to the book. I was adamant that I wouldn’t be spending my workdays, evenings or weekends writing. I have a day job to do and a family to keep happy.

The whole point of the book was to show what can be done while commuting, and hopefully to prove once and for all that sleeping on trains really is a complete waste of time.

As They Slept – Part 1 was released on 14th December 2012