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2010: THE ELVIS HAS LEFT THE BUILDING TOUR
John has shaggy hair, an open-necked collar and an unsure expression.

2011: THE SUNSHINE TOURJohn stands in front of a blazing light – the limelight. His shirt is open, but this time he’s more confident. He holds a microphone. Finally, after years of struggle, this is what he was put on Earth to do.

2012: THE ROLLERCOASTER TOUR
This time John wears a tie. He’s bending down to say hi to his fans. “Hello,” he’s saying, “I know I’m on the telly a lot but, look, I’m literally bringing myself down to your level. I’m still one of you!”

2014: THE SUPERSONIC TOURSurrounded by arrows, all shooting upwards, John stands with his fingers on his chin, like the CEO of a vast multinational on the cover of TIME. He’s made it, and this is something he can no longer hide from peons like you.

2015: THE HOLLYWOOD HERE I COME TOUR
Once again, John is open-necked. But this time, he’s wearing sunglasses and his hair is slicked back. His teeth are even whiter than usual, too. He’s reclining in a car seat, his hands behind his head. He knows that nobody can touch him.

2017: THE BACK TO MY ROOTS TOUR
John’s back! The cover is no-nonsense – just John, a microphone and a slightly rueful expression. He knows that Hollywood was retrospectively probably ambitious, but if you promise not to mention that he played the fifth male lead in a straight-to-DVD Vinnie Jones filmed in Bratislava as a tax write-off, he’ll promise to make you laugh. You’ll never leave him, right?

2020: THE BAD FINANCIAL DECISION TOUR
Look, John remembers that he made that big announcement about turning his back on comedy to concentrate on his new role in Coronation Street, but he wasn’t expecting his performance to go down quite as badly as it did. Looking back, maybe he shouldn’t have assumed that he’d have a guaranteed income for years to come. And, looking back, sinking all his money into that underwater restaurant probably wasn’t the best idea. He should have listened to his accountant. But he didn’t, so good old John’s back on the road again! Hooray!

2025: THE JESUS ARE YOU HAPPY NOW TOUR
John’s wearing a tie again, but this time it looks like a noose. Fifteen years. Fifteen bloody years he’s been standing onstage, telling the same awful jokes to the same pack of disinterested stag night arseholes. He’s tried leaving. He’s tried to show you that there’s more to him than this, but it didn’t work. His acting career’s dead. His film career never even started. That last tour of his, the semi-dramatic concept tour about a boy with torches for eyes, didn’t even get a fucking DVD release. So now he’s resigned to this. He’s just going to spend the rest of his life telling poxy fucking softball jokes to you people. You’re his jailors, you know that? But, anyway, have you noticed that funny thing about buses? Have you? Fucking have you?

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So. This brings my Just For Men man adventures to a close. It’s been an interesting experience for me, primarily because now I know exactly how disgusting my brother looks when he films himself stuffing a battered Ginsters pasty into his mouth from about two centimetres away.

But there are other reasons, too. This has been a good reminder that you can’t just dumbly pigeonhole men into a predetermined box. We don’t all eat Yorkies or watch football or call each other ‘mate’. Most of us, unlike all men in all adverts about this sort of thing, have never triumphantly pumped our fists after a successful work meeting. Some, admittedly, will refer to their cold as a ‘Man Flu’ or their bedroom as a ‘Man Cave’, but these men are terrible men who deserve to be ritually shaved like Aslan and sent far away from the rest of civilisation at the earliest opportunity.

I’ve met all kinds of men on my Just For Men adventures. Some thoughtful and quietly spoken, like our kiting instructor Mark. Some louder and more tribal, like the guys next to us at the bowling alley. Some with broken feet, like my friend Al. Some who aren’t actually men at all, like my brother’s girlfriend Emily. But they all count as men in their own right. Especially Emily.

And each of these men has had his own preferred way of spending Man Time, whether that’s involved getting drunk with a load of blokes, or sitting around playing videogames by himself, or just crowbarring in a few extra minutes with his family each day. Getting a decent amount of leisure time is important for everyone so, however you want to spend it, it’s all perfectly valid.

This extends to achieving the look you want. I suspect that, in return for sending me on these trips, Just For Men would have liked me to try out its product here. Unfortunately – since at this point my head basically looks like a snooker ball that’s had a single pube inelegantly draped across it – I haven’t. But that doesn’t matter. You’re a man. You get to look however you want. You want to dress formally? Dress formally. You want to wear shorts all the time? Do that. Grow a beard. Be clean-shaved. Get a ponytail. I wouldn’t suggest having the words ‘EAT SHIT’ tattooed across your forehead, because I used to know a man who did that and for some reason he came to regret it very much, but it’s not my forehead. I can’t stop you from doing anything.

My point is that you get to make the rules. The look you want is the look you should have. If we can’t even manage that after several thousand years of institutional patriarchy, we’re all pretty much effed.
Incidentally, on a semi-related note, I have a bundle of Just For Men AutoStop – the oxygen-activated, self-timing hair product – in various shades of brown to give away. If the look you want is markedly less grey than it is now, give me a shout and I’ll send some over.

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If my last Just For Men Man Time adventure taught you anything, it should have been that I am catastrophically dreadful at a) flying a kite and b) filming other people fly a kite.

And that’s why, for my second Man Time adventure, I lowered the stakes. Like, a lot. Out went the safety equipment and warnings about accidental finger amputations and in came, well, bowling. Fancy bowling, admittedly, at All Star Lanes on Brick Lane (where Stooshe once filmed a video! Remember Stooshe? Me neither!), but the message was the same. You can’t keep a piece of cloth in the air for more than a couple of seconds, you idiot, so let’s see how you are at rolling a thing down a thing at some stuff.

Also, because I was so terrible at filming last time, I brought a photographer with me – Emily Holland from The Photography Co. Yes, I know, she’s a girl and this is supposed to be Man Time but, look, you’re not my dad.

There would be two games of bowling. My opponents would be my brother PETE who you already know, EMILY who is a girl, and my friend AL who has a broken toe. Between the injury, the fact that I’m the oldest brother and my massive and offensive gender-based discrimination, I pretty much went into this with victory written all over me. So here are six things I discovered during the games.

1. PETE TAKES BOWLING VERY SERIOUSLY

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I mean Jesus, look at him. Everyone else went bowling to have a lovely time, but not Pete. Pete went into this the same way that all Apprentice candidates go into any possible situation – ready to win (or, at the very least, demonstrate a basic misunderstanding of percentages) at any cost. This would be harder than I thought.

2. PETE ACTUALLY GOES BOWLING

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You can tell he does. Look at his form. That’s how bowlers bowl. He’d clearly been practicing, the little turd.

3. I DO NOT ACTUALLY GO BOWLING

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Again, look at my form. I look like a Frankenstein’s monster. An elderly Frankenstein’s monster. An elderly Frankenstein’s monster with a back complaint, who got locked into a weird CIA stress position while bending down to pick up a crossword magazine. And who clearly can’t do shoelaces up properly. I can’t remember how I did in this turn but, judging by how enormously awkward I look, I’d be staggered if I managed to hit a single bloody pin.

3. I DON’T THINK AL HAD ACTUALLY BROKEN HIS POXY TOE

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Look at him, skipping about from foot to foot. You said you’d broken your toe, Al. I ONLY INVITED YOU BECAUSE YOU SAID YOU’D BROKE YOUR BLOODY TOE. But OH NO, you have to go and be mobile enough to do much better than me at bowling, don’t you? Well screw you, Al. SCREW YOU.

4. EMILY IS PETE’S GIRLFRIEND

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Literally about 90% of the photos that Emily sent me had Pete in them. JESUS I GET IT, YOU’RE GOING OUT. Where are all the pictures of ME, Emily? This was supposed to be MY SPECIAL DAY and you only took pictures of Pete. JESUS CHRIST THIS IS THE WORST.

5. THIS DOESN’T BLOODY COUNT EITHER

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I’M NOT EVEN SURE THIS QUALIFIES AS A PHOTO OF ME. I THINK IT MIGHT ACTUALLY JUST BE A PHOTO OF PETE THAT I ACCIDENTALLY WANDERED INTO. I MEAN FOR GOD’S SAKE. MUST I DO EVERYTHING MYSELF? MUST I? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT FROM ME, GOD? HERE, I’M PUNCHING MYSELF IN THE FACE, GOD! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU?

6. THE SCORE

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This is how the second game started. I ended up coming last. I hate everything.

In summary, I give bowling two thumbs up.

(All photos except for the crappy last one are courtesy of The Photography Co. You should totally hire them for stuff).

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I take my duties as a Master of Man Time very seriously. That infographic I showed you in my last post demonstrated one thing beyond all else – men are rubbish at leisure time.

So this is why I recently went extreme kiting in Richmond Park. It wasn’t because a PR company said ‘Hey, wanna go extreme kiting for free?’. No, it’s because I wanted to show you an interesting leisure activity that you can do if you’ve got a couple of hours free. Honest.

My companion on this jaunt was my little brother Pete. Pete is brilliant. He’s essentially Danny Dyer, but with an even more heightened affinity for full-volume swearing. Here we are, in a photo that essentially encapsulates our differing attitudes towards life:

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Our kiting instructor would be Mark Esper from KiteVibe. It turns out that Mark is also a pretty spiffy photojournalist too, but that’s by the by. He was the perfect instructor for us, for three reasons:

1) He has never broken any parts of his body while kiting, which is apparently quite unusual.

2) He has a ponytail, which in retrospect might have contained all his nerve endings because that seemed to be how he figured out which direction the wind was blowing.

3) He talks slowly, which is handy because we are idiots.

Although KiteVibe teaches things like kitesurfing and kitebuggying, we would only be taught how to fly massive four-string kites. Admittedly that doesn’t sound very extreme, but we had to wear helmets and stuff for it anyway. What I’m saying is that it must have been quite extreme.

To bore you the tedious ins and outs of our entire two-hour lesson, I have collated GIFs of our nine best moments. You are welcome.

BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER ONE - The moment when Mark showed us how to fly a kite and it looked like lots of brilliant and relaxing fun.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER TWO: The moment when Pete tried to copy Mark’s kiting technique to the best of his abilities and then this happened.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER THREE:
The moment when Pete felt a bit silly for doing so badly, and focused all his energy on the kite. “This time,” he thought, “I will be UNSTOPPABLE!” And then this happened.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER FOUR
: The moment when I had a go on the kite, thinking that I’d obviously be quite a lot better than Pete because I’m older and cleverer than him, and then this happened.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER FIVE:
The moment when I actually suddenly got really good at kiting, and the sensation of controlling a kite – of literally tapping into one of Earth’s most primal forces – made me involuntarily shout “OH YOU MOTHERFUCKER!” at the top of my voice and Mark clasped his hands to his head in horror because I hadn’t noticed the crowd of children standing about six feet behind me.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER SIX:
The moment when Mark got bored of us both being so shit, grabbed the kite and showed us what it could do when it wasn’t being controlled by a couple of hamfisted bum-brains.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER SEVEN: The moment when Mark decided to start using a kite that was over twice the size of the one we’d just been flying, and the sheer power of it almost pulled Pete off his feet.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER EIGHT
: The moment when Pete inexplicably got really good at the big kite out of nowhere and I suddenly became overwhelmed by a incredible sense of brotherly pride.

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BEST KITE MOMENT NUMBER NINE: The moment when I had a go on the big kite, and I also managed to be really good with it, and while I was flying it a herd of deer came within about six feet of us and it was an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience where we all felt like we were really part of nature, and then a dog ran up to the kite as it was taking off and it spooked him and he hilariously skidded in his tracks, and then I realised that Pete had missed the entire bloody lot of it because he’s an idiot who doesn’t even know how to work a fucking camera, so I just used footage of him accidentally filming himself eating a pasty instead to spite him.

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All in all, kiting: two thumbs up. Thanks, Just For Men!

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Right, look, let’s get this out of the way first – I understand that the phrase ‘man time’ sounds like some sort of awful secret 1950s code for masturbation. I understand that, OK? But it isn’t. It’s code for leisure time. Male leisure time. Which, yes, might sometimes involve masturbation. But for the purposes of this piece, IT ABSOLUTELY DOESN’T MEAN MASTURBATION. Got that? Jesus, you people.

Anyway, apparently man time is in crisis. I know this because I’ve seen an infographic about this. Look:

See? We’re so squeezed by work and family and relationships and all sorts of other boring duties that we don’t have the time to do the things we want to do, which appears to be seeing friends or going “WEEEEEY” at sports on the television or, in my case, laying face down on the sofa groaning the word ‘WHY?” over and over again into a cushion. And we are men. Feebly running away from our responsibilities is what we were designed to do.

And I’ve had enough. Or, to be more accurate, Just For Men has had enough. Even though I’m going bald at such an extraordinary rate that I’ll never be able to use their product for anything other than painting my scalp in a failed attempt to pass myself off as a sort of sentient brown doorknob, Just For Men has asked me to become a Master of Man Time. Which, to reiterate, might sound like it means ‘Lord Wanker’ but IT ABSOLUTELY DOESN’T OK?

What it does mean is that I’m essentially your new spirit guide. For the rest of the month I’ll be showing you two ways to spend your man time. Later this week I’m going extreme kiting with my brother and then – unless the extreme kiting fully dislocates my shoulders, which is a very real possibility – I’m taking some people bowling. And I’m being paid to do all this too, because everyone knows that a key aspect of masculinity is the ability to ruthlessly commoditise fun for your own means.

Oh, and finally, there will be video of all this. Or, better yet, GIFs. Because all men know that man time is too precious to waste by subconsciously decoding the alphabet for meaning, especially when it’s something about kites.

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File under Something I Was Asked To Write That Didn’t Get Published Because Someone Else Had Been Asked To Write Something Identical For The Same Publication Half An Hour Before Me But I Think I’m Still Getting Paid So Never Mind. A piece on literary characters who deserve their own musicals.

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First he was in a book, then he was in a film. And now the quest to shoehorn Patrick Bateman into as many oddly-fitting entertainment formats as possible continues with American Psycho: The Musical. Starring Matt Smith from Doctor Who, and Lucie Jones from X Factor four years ago, the American Psycho musical is already a sell-out. This, obviously, means that musicals about unlikely literary figures are the next big thing, which in turn means that these are probably already in pre-production somewhere.

We Need To Talk About Kevin

If Bateman’s getting a musical of his own, then surely Kevin Khatchadourian deserves to be next in line. He’s just as much of an immoral aesthete as Bateman, plus he’s blessed with matinee idol good looks that’ll get the tweens pouring in. What’s more, the climax – where Kevin stands on the lip of the stage indiscriminately firing foam arrows into the screaming audience while he belts out the tender ballad Mummy Didn’t Hug Me – would look amazing being performed at the Tonys.

Voldemort!

If anyone in the literary world is crying out to become the new Phantom of the Opera, it’s surely Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter films. Let’s recast him as a doomed romantic lead. Shut away in the basement of Hogwarts, plagued by the sensation that his bald head and lack of nose have made him a source of mockery, Voldemort spends his days lusting after Bellatrix Lestrange and working out pointlessly complex ways to blow everyone up. Look, it’s identical to Phantom of the Opera, but people will watch any old crap if Harry Potter’s in it.

Crime and Punishment On Ice

“Oh you’ve gone and done it now / You’ve chopped that lady’s head clean off / First she screamed then she said ‘Ow!’ / You naughty scamp Raskolnikov”. That’s how one of the songs in this mega-budget Disney On Ice-style spectacular goes. Another goes “Penal servitude is not much fun / But Siberia’s kind of nice / These people beat me every day / But boy I sure like ice”. Then Raskolnikov does a backflip. It is literally everything you’d expect from a musical based on a classic work of Russian literature that takes place on an ice rink.

L’Etranger

If there’s one thing that says ‘fun night out’, it’s bleak emotional detachment in the face of the meaningless of existence. Especially when, as with this adaptation of Albert Camus’s L’Etranger, it’s accompanied by a rapid-fire, rootin’-tootin’, old-timey, jazz-handsy, straw-boatered, mass-choreographed The Music Man-style song and dance number. Featuring jaunty hits like Knock Four Times (On the Door of Unhappiness), It’s Common Knowledge That Life Isn’t Worth Living and, of course, Greet Me With Cries of Hate. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You probably won’t actually laugh that much!

Fu Manchu: The Fu Manchuiscal

Oh sure, it might be hugely insensitive to write, stage and perform a big budget musical about an offensive racial stereotype, but think of the bigger picture. You might be scared of the public outcry and mass condemnation that will inevitably rise up in the wake of a Fu Manchu musical, but it’s publicity that money can’t buy. Especially if we cast H from Steps in the lead and put him in yellowface. We’ll be the richest musical producers ever to be chased out of the country by a murderous mob of rightly offended citizens.

The Adventures of Pap Finn

Long for the days where it was acceptable to sit children down in front of a Punch and Judy tent and force them to become desensitised to graphic images of domestic violence? Worry that violent alcoholics don’t get the attention they deserve in modern-day entertainment? Then worry no more! The Adventures of Pap Finn will retell Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from the perspective of his drunk and abusive father. You’ll find out why he beat his son so often (his hat was stupid). You’ll learn why he imprisoned Huck in such a brutal way that he had to fake his own death to escape (television hadn’t been invented yet and he needed something to do). You’ll leave feeling unpleasantly grubby. The perfect evening.

It

This musical adaptation of Steven King’s novel has something for everyone. For the grown-ups, a terrifying story about an unknowable extra-dimensional, independent-from-God superbeing who kills scores of people without motive. But for the kids? Clowns! Who doesn’t love clowns, right? They’ll drive around in their tiny spluttery fall-apart cars, and maybe make some balloon animals, and throw confetti over the audience and turn into bleeding-eyed hellbeasts with mouths full of razor sharp teeth who lure children to their gory doom and squirt people with water from a flower in their lapel. See? Something for everyone.

General Woundwort Down

Imagine if War Horse was a musical. Now imagine if its elaborate puppetry was about rabbits. Now imagine those puppets were used to tell the story of Watership Down. Now imagine that the story of Watership Down was solely about the malevolent dictatorship run by General Woundwort, specifically the logistical difficulties he experienced while maintaining an all-encompassing police state of this size and complexity. You’d go and see that, wouldn’t you? No? What if I told you that it had a song called This Round Of Owslafa Recruitment Is Producing A Disappointingly Small Number Of Employable Candidates? Still no? Fine.

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We’re doing a live thing in Fulham tonight. Details on the Luv and Hat Twitter but IT’S FREE AND THERE’S CAKE AND YOU SHOULD COME.

We’re doing a live thing in Fulham tonight. Details on the Luv and Hat Twitter but IT’S FREE AND THERE’S CAKE AND YOU SHOULD COME.

On Tuesday night, Robyn Wilder and I unveiled LUV AND HAT LIVE – a little sort-of-standuppy set at a literary event, where we debated whether the future would be shit or not. And I broke a microphone by shouting at it.

Someone recorded all 18 minutes of it, so knock yourself out. It went well enough for us to want to do it again, so give us a shout if you’ve got anything you’d like us to speak at.

Finally, if you came, thank you. You were all incredibly supportive and it meant a lot that you turned up. You are the best. Unless you’re the woman who kept sticking her hand up. Lady, you are WEIRD.