The metallic buzz of the alarm pierced the dark room, snapping my eyes open and causing me to gasp as if someone had poured cold a cup of cold water onto my chest. Bleary and plain fed up, I groaned as I rolled over to the bedside table to stop the horrible electronic screeching.

The shock of the alarm had me catching my breath; rolling back, I grabbed my pillow and hugged it tightly. Give it another five minutes, I thought. No more.

The pillow started to warm through with heat from my body; I hugged it tighter. It started to take on an almost human quality, just as it did every morning.

Thoughts of that fat girl who worked on the self-service checkouts in Morrisons began to seep into my mind again. The bobbed blonde hair and bright red lipstick, the scent of perfume…

I grabbed the end of the pillow that wasn’t buried under my chin and squeezed it, dreaming of those ample buttocks. Groaning involuntarily, I slowly began dry-humping that lifeless mass of synthetic fibre and memory foam.

It’s not as if I was aroused to any degree; there was no sign of morning tumescence whatsoever. I just craved intimacy, the feel of a warm female body squeezed against mine. Before long, I would be stepping out in my dirty work clothes, into that dark, cold and wet morning, for the daily schlep across town.

Which I should have been doing ten minutes ago! Fuck!

No time even to brush my fucking teeth again. Thank goodness for Wrigley’s. Phone… Keys… Wallet… No good for it, I’m going to have to get a fucking taxi.


The cab pulled up outside Scumenco’s imposing black Hammerite gates at eight minutes to six; just enough time to grab a cup of tea from the vending machine. I gave Aftab £5 in coins.

“Shafe, bossh. Have a well good shift, innit,” he drawled, cheerfully snapping his fingers like Ali G as I stumbled out the door.

Fuck! No change for the vending machine now!

There was a new guy from the agency I was with—tall and wiry with a permanent shit-eating grin stuck across his face—on the solid feed floor that morning. Chris was a bit weird, to say the least; always late and laughed when he got a bollocking for it. I didn’t think he would be there long.

On the morning break, he came over with a Tupperware box full of plain pasta and an apple and planted himself down opposite me.

“Mind if I sit here?” he asked. I nodded; didn’t really seem like I had any choice.

He ripped open his Hi-Viz vest and pulled off his fleece jacket; underneath it, he was wearing an orange T-shirt with two egg-shaped, grinning creatures on a bike and a slogan in a language I’d never seen before.
It took the time he took to demolish that tub of fusilli and reduce that apple to the woody stem with a bit of fibrous core and a handful of pips—no time at all—before I plucked up the courage to ask him about it. I had ulterior motives; that flapjack in the vending machine was just asking to be scoffed.

Turned out that it was a Basque language slogan with a cycling theme. What’s more, he shoved a bit of change across the table towards me—enough for said flapjack and a coffee to boot. Bless!

I got to know Chris fairly well over the next week before he indeed did disappear. He was cycling mad and filled me in on everything I needed to know about the sport, both on the factory floor and canteen table; I was particularly fascinated by the riders themselves. Before long, I knew all about Poupou, the Garin brothers, le Cannibal, Il Pirata and even the Staffordshire Engine.

However, the character that fascinated me most of all was Super Mario—Mario Cipollini. Not just because we shared a birthday, or my childhood obsession with Nintendo, but his outlandish, swashbuckling, I-give-even-less-of-a-fuck-than-Chris behaviour. Turning up to races in fancy dress, always quitting the Tour de France before getting anywhere near the mountains and taking the piss in general—I was intrigued and asked question after question.


On Friday morning, Chris dropped into his chair opposite me with a bang. There was a bulge under his fleece; he unzipped it and handed me an old, beaten-up copy of Cycle Sport.

“Thought you might like this,” he suggested. On the front cover a tall, mulleted, tanned Italian in a tracksuit grinned manically back at me.

The best thing about working the early shift was always the end; I always looked forwards to strolling out the factory gates and across the busy road to temporary freedom. Especially when it was dry and the sun was shining, like it was that day.

Just like every day, I popped into the BP garage for my breakfast triple sandwich with a burnt, watery coffee to wash it down.

Back at the flat I sat on the kitchen floor with my repast and avidly digested every word as I slurped and munched away. The guy was a goldmine of quotes to rival Bob Hope.

I’m a hermaphrodite—I have a prick between my legs and pussy on the brain…

How do I want to die? In an orgy!

One quote in particular struck me:

I’ve won plenty of races after having sex.

Wait a moment.

I thought that shagging just made you sleepy and relaxed.

I thought back to the frustration I felt last time a woman had let me insert my organ of generation into her pink burrito; as soon as it was over, she rolled over, farted, and dozed off. Shutters slammed down on all intimacy. Me? I wanted to cuddle and talk quietly all night.
This was what an alcoholic would call a moment of clarity; yes, I was relaxed, but I was also wide awake and content. When was the last time I had experienced such feelings of well-being? Certainly not at half past five in the morning.

The next memory that crossed my slightly tired mind was that of a Horlicks advert from a magazine I read years ago; I couldn’t remember which magazine or when, but the image of two smiling Thais, each cradling a mug, was pin-sharp in my mind’s eye—as was the declaration that the hot, malty sweet, milky beverage was regarded as an energising breakfast drink in Thailand, rather than a warming bedtime drink like here in Britain. It all started to make sense to me as I shoved my backpack under my head and settled down for my afternoon nap.


And so I came up with a cunning plan: instead of beating off last thing at night as usual and staring at the bedroom ceiling for an interminable length of time (can’t believe it took me so long to realise that), I would set my alarm ten minutes early and ejaculate before getting ready for work. What did I have to lose other than a few fitful moments of angst-ridden pillow-hugging—or, of course, a bit of jizz?!


I groaned loudly as the alarm pierced the early morning silence once again.

It would be great to tell you that I jumped out of bed and wrestled my dick into submission before taking a shower, bounding out the door and arriving in work bright and early.

Instead, I dry-humped the other pillow, wondering in a tired stupor if I was being unfaithful, before the early morning terror of being up late—too late to brush my teeth again—struck home. That wasn’t an easy day; even the afternoon’s breakfast sandwich tasted slightly off.

It was on the fourth day after my solemn pledge to beat off every morning that I finally managed to summon up the gumption to get up a few minutes early.

My semi-turgid penis flopped about as I stood in the bathroom, desperately thrashing away as I attempted to summon a climax. Persistence eventually paid off and I grabbed a wad of toilet paper to wipe my fetch off the wall. Nothing to see here.

I did notice that I felt a bit more upbeat and energetic; getting to clean my teeth and walk to work in good time wasn’t an everyday occurrence and, although Chris was gone, I managed to greet the supervisor with a cheery good morning, as opposed to a weary grunt.

It wasn’t until another four days had passed that I noticed I wasn’t frotting myself against the pillow any more; in fact, I was waking up before my alarm cut in, and what’s more, being greeted by a lazy lob-on to boot every morning.


My new-found enthusiasm and energy hadn’t gone unnoticed. Bosses were talking about me; I know this because the supervisor pulled me to one side.

“You’re doing okay. Keep this up and you might get offered a permanent place, you useless cunt.”

Something changed there and then; the gratuitous insults were part and parcel of working under a sociopath who was older than his IQ, and for nearly five years I’d taken them for granted. Until that morning.

No more, I thought. I’m better than this.


Another epiphany came to me after another week or so as I rinsed on old sock out in the bathroom sink.

OK, so I’ve just shot me muck, I thought to myself. I’m at a loose end here—half an hour to kill before going to work. What next?

Then the penny dropped.


I ran back to the bedroom, pulled on a pair of shorts and dropped to the floor.

And managed two push-ups.

Something similar happened the next day, only I managed three.

In less than a week, I somehow stumbled my way to ten push-ups in a row. That night, I went online and ordered a pull-up bar.


Pulling a half-Windsor gently to my neck, I looked at myself with satisfaction in the mirror. No more breakfast triples and it was starting to show: my cheekbones were starting to make themselves visible, not to mention my abs.

A quick glance at the clock—7am; load shot, showered, shaved, brushed, flossed, groomed and ready to wow them. I couldn’t quite fathom out my lack of nerves; this was my dream job up for grabs, but I felt like I’d swallowed a bottle of Phenibut capsules. Relaxed, yet alert—it could only be the wank.

I threw my suit jacket on and strolled into the kitchen, where fresh, aromatic, oily black hot coffee dripped from my Aeropress into my favourite mug. The opportunity was too good to miss; I didn’t wear a suit every day. Selfie time!


There was nothing on the box that night, as usual; in the end it was between 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown or Highlander. I opted for the latter.

I honestly couldn’t count the number of times I had watched the 1980s action film in the early hours on some Freeview channel, usually in a drunken stupor. This time was different; I’d rustled up Chachouka with a green salad and crusty bread for supper, washed down with nothing stronger than plain tap water.

Sparks flew and metal clashed upon metal as I broke a lump off the hot, crusty, doughy baguette and mopped up spicy tomato sauce and egg yolk from my plate.

Something else was different, too: While I had always thought the scene where Conor nursed Heather as she departed this Earth—the same age but full of years—poignant, I’d never let it through. There was a lump in my throat this time though, and it wasn’t the bread.

A terrible, wistful sadness washed over me; this sofa was the exact spot I where spent all of last Christmas Day with a bottle of Aldi own-brand vodka watching Chicken Run in my boxer shorts. Dinner on that lonely and cold day was a cheese sandwich.

Up until then, I hadn’t cared—if anything, I found it slightly funny. But now I had realised that I was as alone as MacLeod.

Doris, Kelly, Ella and any number of women whose names escape me—I loved them desperately. At least I thought that I did. They didn’t even like me.


I jumped out of bed a whole ten minutes before the alarm sounded its hateful screeching. The previous night’s entertainment was still on my mind; I‘d downloaded Queen’s One Vision on my phone while watching the film and played it out loud as I made for the bathroom.


My whole body jerked savagely in a tetanic spasm, followed by wave after wave of agonising, blissful shocks that jolted through every part of me from my collarbones to my kneecaps. There were no thunderbolts or exploding buildings, although it almost seemed implied.

Breathless and euphoric, I sank to my knees, still clutching my swollen pork sword. There can be only one, I gasped out loud to myself.

An indefinable moment passed—it could have been seconds, it could have been minutes—before more spasms—this time, of uncontrollable laughter—tore through me.

I rolled around on the bathroom floor, my cheeks and sides aching, until tears began to roll down my face.

Tears of laughter.

Followed by bitter, angst-ridden tears of agony for all the loneliness I had always shut out, for all the losses that I was too busy to grieve for.

I sat up and howled for what seemed like an eternity until I thought I couldn’t bear it any more. Then, wiping my eyes and reaching for toilet roll to wipe my snotty nose and glans—not with the same piece of paper, I wasn’t that far gone—a strange feeling of inner calm descended over me. Those terrible, excruciating knots of pain in my gut, which I had lived with for so long, were gone; at least for the time being.

I sat up, sniffed and smiled to myself. Daily masturbation had brought order to my life where there was chaos; it had given me the strength to face those grim, dark mornings; and now it was healing my broken heart.


That Friday morning shift was my last at Scumenco. As much as I hated that place, I was surprised at my lack of emotion that day after five miserable years of the same faces, same repetitive work and filthy conditions; I thought that I would feel some sort of sadness. Maybe the fact that I was rolling straight into a warm, dry office five minutes’ walk from my front door—five minutes that would be walked in daylight, whatever the weather or time of year—and getting an extra four thousand pounds for the privilege every year kind of softened the blow.

I got a handful of high fives and all the bests on my way out from fellow inmates. The supervisor’s voice cracked slightly as he said, “I’ll miss ya, you wanker.”

The stroll home took me past the BP garage, although I hadn’t been in there for a while. As soon as I got back to the flat, I threw on a pair of shorts and wedged my pull-up bar into the kitchen door frame, cranking out twelve pull-ups then glugging a pint of water.


IT’S A MATCH!” my mobile phone declared. It didn’t excite me, to be honest; the only women on there that ever got back to me were middle-aged, morbidly obese, and mothers-of-pick-a-number-between-four-and-nine.

But Mavis was different; she looked a bit like that blonde bird off Hollyoaks. And she wasn’t nasty or jaded at all, judging by our early text exchanges. Certainly nothing like the usual stamp of women I got to know on here.

Our first date was at Costa on Station Street; I was a bit nervous. So was she. But after ten minutes, it was like we’d known each other for years. She said softly as she gazed into my eyes over her latte that my profile picture—the suit selfie I snapped before that job interview—got her all hot and bothered; I found that hard to believe, but hearing it made me rather happy all the same.

The second date was a couple of drinks in the Alfred followed by a shared Greggs pasty and a walk round the Washlands. Her kisses tasted of swede and minced beef. I didn’t care.


For our third date, I drove her to the Devvy for Steak Night and a drink, then back to her penthouse flat on Briz Valley. As I looked out her window over the Co-op, I wondered what to say next. She came out of the kitchen with two coffees. Our eyes met.

“It’s getting late. Won’t you stay?”

The coffees went cold.

She took me by the hand and gently led me to her bedroom and, just like a dog, I was befriended.

Later that night, as she lay with her head on my chest and sweet-scented hair spread over my body, I gently took her hand; she squeezed it tenderly as I felt my other hand gently rise and fall on her warm back with her soft breathing. A smile crossed my face as I gazed, tired but relaxed and happy, at the ceiling.

And I thanked the Lord for my fingers.