Bryan Hemming

short stories, comment, articles, humour and photography

Scooting through the headlines … nerds

Charles Atlas

“If only I’d known” could be the title of my autobiography. The words sprang to mind after reading this little gem – resurrected from a couple of months ago – in today’s Guardian: Five-year-old misses friend’s birthday party and gets invoice for £15.95. Why do they keep re-running yesterday’s news as though it’s today’s? Sort of defeats the idea of calling it news.

Still, to get to the point, remembering the humungous number of dates who stood me up as a teenager, I could’ve easily made a fortune by invoicing them. There was Paula Hallam for a start. Two times she kept me me waiting in the cold for ages, before I realised she wasn’t going to turn up. I could’ve invoiced her twice. Like a prize lemon, I stood at St Margaret’s bus station for a couple hours one freezing November Sunday afternoon in 1964, the first time. Two hours of expecting her to step off the next bus, only to have my hopes dashed each time a new one arrived. Swearing to myself I’d never ask her out again, I only went and asked her the following spring. That time I sat perched on a wooden stile down by the River Soar in Birstall, till it was almost dark. I’d walked all the way from Syston. I had to walk all the way back feeling sorry for myself, being the idiot I was. The ridge of hard skin that formed across my buttocks that afternoon is still there to remind me. I lost all feeling in them for several days afterwards. Maybe it’s not too late to bill her for the humiliation I still suffer thinking of it.

I knew why she didn’t turn up, and it wasn’t because I had a faceful of spots. Just a few blackheads needing attention from time to time, to which our bathroom mirror gave testimony, that was all. I told mum the tiny specks were fly shit. Embroidering the lie by saying there’d been swarm of them while I was trimming the clump of hairs round my chin mole. She said not to be silly; it was my blackheads. Paula didn’t want to be seen out with me that was why she didn’t turn up. It was impossible not to know why she didn’t with my dad telling me I was “as skinny as a rake” all the effin’ time. What with me being “daft as a brush” and “as dim as a 15 watt lightbulb” I was well on the way to starting up my own hardware shop of hurtful insults.

Charles Atlas 2

Though I liked to think of myself as interestingly svelte, I had the type of body that Charles Atlas, the world-famous body builder, said was the reason young men got sand kicked into their faces. My own personal theory was that he shared some of the blame, as the fact he kept publicising it only encouraged the practice further. He could even be held responsible for the severe shortage of skinny boys on beaches throughout the 1950s and 60s, for bodybuilders to kick sand in the faces of. Luckily, we lived about as far away from a beach as you can get in Britain. Come to think of it, my grandfather once owned a sand pit in nearby Thurmaston. Perhaps that’s why it got fenced off with a big sign warning trespassers they would be prosecuted. Obviously, grandad didn’t want to be held responsible for hordes of musclebound bullies dragging knucklefuls of nerds down there to kick sand in their faces through a lack of beach.

John Key 2But the Nerd’s Nerd title has to go to John Key, the prime minister of New Zealand for his sterling efforts.

The nerd’s version of bodybuilders kicking sand in skinny men’s faces is pulling girl’s hair. Apparently, John Key’s idea of a bit of a wheeze is to creep up behind waitresses before yanking their pony tails. I can almost hear the nerdish sniggers. The Guardian headlined this story New Zealand prime minister John Key apologises for pulling waitress’s hair.

Can you credit it? Even more nerdy than tugging girls’ hair, Key compounds the crime by saying sorry for doing it. Bullies don’t say sorry. You don’t get men like Charles Bronson or Steven Seagal saying sorry for kickin’ ass or pulverising someone’s face into mush, so why say sorry to a mere waitress for pulling her hair? I mean she’s not going to throw a punch, is she? Actually, that’s exactly what she threatened to do, shouting “Please STOP or I will actually hit you soon!” after one tug too many. The prime minister issued a grovelling apology once he’d skedaddled to the safety of faraway Turkey on the other side of the globe. Seems Key doesn’t quite get the meaning of being out on the pull. Like a lot of nerds, he probably spends too much time watching re-runs of The Flintstones.

Pictured at the Young Nats’ Ball John Key manages to stand completely motionless for the entire evening. Note the background moves about more than he does. A man not able to panic in a crisis, Key is completely unmoved by everything going on around him.

Talking of keys, here’s a hobby for teenage nerds, who keep getting stood up, involving Mon-keys. Not only will Sea-Monkeys keep you amused for ages, but the whole family can join in. These fascinating creatures will turn your thoughts away from girls, and help put an end to any monkeying about that could lead to bedsheets getting as stiff as boards.Sea Monkeys

Copyright © 2015 Bryan Hemming

15 comments on “Scooting through the headlines … nerds

  1. Wendy Kate
    April 22, 2015

    It must be harder nowadays to stand your date up when people are constantly on social media telling other people where they are.
    Oh, I had to google to see if sea monkeys are real…seems they are! 🙂
    p.s. I recommend gentle exfoliation with a pumice stone for the hard ridge on your bum 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bryan Hemming
      April 23, 2015

      Did you put in an order for some sea-monkeys, while you were at it? The ad must be up there with the X-ray specs that were advertised as though they would enable pervs and nerds to to see through women’s clothing.

      No, I don’t know whether they worked or not.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Jo
    April 22, 2015

    I always enjoy your writing Bryan. I like your style.

    And thank you for the idea, I know I can, at least, write up an invoice for an unused Melissa Etheridge ticket (2nd row seat), missed dinner, and an hour and a half of standing in front of the concert venue. Jill you know who you are……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bryan Hemming
      April 22, 2015

      Jill, you have to have been crazy! I just checked out a promo video of Melissa Etheridge. Fool, you should have stood Jo up on the mext date. Click onto it below:

      I’m The Only One

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jo
        April 22, 2015

        That’s right Jill! You tell ‘er Bryan. The seats weren’t as good on the next date – Stevie Nicks, I think. Plus we went in a two-seater. Would have been a bit crammed.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. colltales
    April 22, 2015

    Cool throwback memories. I doubt that even that bully (Charlie who?) has heartwarming remembrances from that era, when our bodies were ruling our every move. A time that apparently that idiot PM is yet to overcome. Thanks for this, Bryan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Greg Os
    April 22, 2015

    I personally think that if you read to the end of Friday, 13th March, and dont think JK should have stopped HERE and apologised and probably never ever returned to that cafe, then sorry I dont think much of you as a compassionate human!
    If you are still defending this guy (our PM ) after reading her whole ordeal please dont ever have children or animals
    If you cant be bothered “acshully” reading what the waitress herself has to say in its entirety and taking 5 minutes to digest and put yourself in her situation, then you are lazy and dont deserve an opinion here!!

    as for the apology, weak and feeble and very obviously done at the insistence of someone, possibly Bronagh (who must also be feeling pretty humiliated here)


    • Bryan Hemming
      April 22, 2015

      Though I approved your comment, it seems to be addressed towards someone else, as it has little to do with what I wrote. Have a great day!


      • Greg Os
        April 22, 2015

        It was written as a general comment not directly at you in person.
        Although it almost seems you could be giving props to JK for his hair pulling assault, but its hard to tell in these days of satire sites etc
        “Don’t bottle it up, let everybody know your opinion. ” is your mantra above the comments section, and I gave mine 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bryan Hemming
        April 22, 2015

        Well, I could say the same to you; it’s hard to tell indeed. I thought the Superman cartoon might’ve given a clue. Thanks for your comments.


  5. F Clayton
    April 22, 2015

    Blimey Bryan, I had similar experiences to you. I used to go to school in Birstall, so I know the area well. And I lived in Spain for a few years too.

    Your writings are really very well received, and appreciated; thank you.

    Kind regards

    Fred Clayton


    • Bryan Hemming
      April 22, 2015

      Thanks for your kind words, Fred, they make a lot of difference. My sister used to have a Clayton as a friend, Janice, I think she was. She lived in Thurmaston. Two of my sisters and I went to Longslade around the mid-sixties.

      Great to hear from you!



  6. Michael Reynolds
    April 22, 2015

    Paula Hallam, now theres a name from the past, long blond hair, slim figure, very nice if I recall! Hope all is well Bryan.


    • Bryan Hemming
      April 22, 2015

      That’s the one, Mick. I think she got married young and went to live in East Goscote. Things are fine here, expecting my sister Pat next month. All the best!


    • Jo
      April 22, 2015

      You’re saying that Bryan didn’t even alter her name? Watch out Paula, we’re all coming with Bryan to see that he’s properly refunded.

      Liked by 1 person

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