Originally not aired on ??/??/????
So… we’re still inside.
We’re still queueing for bog roll; we’re still watching too much Netflix; and we’re still staring at our neighbours leaving the house for a second time in one day and thinking, “This fucker’s breaking the law. I might grass him up.”
After experiencing a massive change in our lives a couple of weeks ago, we’re now experiencing the same day on a loop. I wish there was a cultural reference for that feeling, but I’m drawing a blank. I’ve gone fully mental – I can’t remember what day it is, let alone what the film Groundhog Day is called.
Well, anyway, one other thing that will never change is my desire to bring you top-quality content.
That’s why I’m back with episode 2 of the unrecorded podcast “” featuring this week’s guest JAMIE HUTCHINSON.
Jamie is from Manchester, and that fact combined with what he looks like, means it almost goes without saying that he’s dodgy. Still, he’s a great comedian, and I’ve been trying for a while to get him on previous incarnations of the show, but unfortunately, he’s always been on tag for various bits of petty thievery.
Now, with me doing the show via video chat, as long as no one mentions it, it’s much easier to disguise Jamie being stuck in his house as an unfortunate by-product of the Lockdown, rather than because he can’t keep his hands-off plug in air-fresheners.
“You steal air-fresheners… why?” I asked him, off the record.
“Firstly, the buzz. Secondly, the profits. If you know the right people, you can make a hell of a lot shifting Ambi Pur and Air Wick plug-ins.”
With the preamble over, I got started.
“Right Jamie, this is all on the record now.”
I looked at Jamie’s ginger face through the screen and smiled, as I remembered his opening joke on stage. “When you look at me, you have the same two thoughts as when you think of EasyJet. Orange and shit airline.”
A fantastic joke that plays on the fact that the Easyjet logo is orange and that people from Manchester pronounce the words hairline and airline the same. Classic. But just like EasyJet planes at the moment, Jamie’s career isn’t really taking off. He’s stuck in duty free right now, and by the looks of things, he’s not holding back on the Toblerone.
“How’ve you been keeping yourself busy, Jamie?” With fewer shops open for him to steal from, I was genuinely concerned for his well-being.
“Oh, right,” I said. “That seems like it could be dangerous?”
“Nah,” He said. “I’ve got a motto. When the fun stops—“
“Nah, lump on. Double your bet. A lot of people fall at the first hurdle. My strategy is to go in deeper.”
Jamie sensed my awkwardness and burst out laughing. “I’m only joking, lad. I’ve actually been playing loads of Scrabble GO.”
“Really?” I asked. Now I didn’t know what to believe. Jamie went on to tell me that he’s in the top 5% on the worldwide Scrabble GO leader board.
“People think it’s all about knowing big words,” he explained. “That’s wrong, it’s all the two-letter and three-letter high scoring combinations that get you the points. If you give me a ‘Z’ and a vowel to play around with, I’m gonna punish you.”
“This isn’t what I expected to be talking about with you, Jamie.”
“Well, I think a lot of people misjudge me to be honest, Eric,” Jamie said, sighing. “People look at me and they make all these negative assumptions. They’re justified in some senses – like I do nick stuff, and I’m not gonna deny it – but that’s not what I’m all about.”
“How would you like to be thought about?”
“Erm… as a good laugh, I guess. And as a good mate. You know it’s funny, you miss your friends a lot more at times like this, and you find yourself thinking about the past. I keep thinking about this time when I was a kid, and me and my mate Lewis went playing out in the woods.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well, we were just messing about, climbing trees and stuff, and then Lewis started to feel sick. Turned out he’d been eating some dodgy berries from one of the bushes. Long story short, Lewis shat himself.”
I sat there in silence, not quite sure how to be reacting. “What did you do?” I asked, afraid that if I stayed silent for too long Jamie would think my screen had frozen.
“I shat myself as well,” he replied.
“You shat yourself, too?”
“Yeah, out of solidarity.”
“So you hadn’t eaten any of the berries?”
“No, I just didn’t want him to go through that alone so I shat myself. And we both dug a big hole and buried our underwear in the woods.”
There was another pause, but this time Jamie could be sure my screen wasn’t frozen as tears began to fall slowly down my face until eventually they were coming thick and fast. Maybe it’s my heightened emotional state due to the lockdown, but there was something about that story that got to me. At that moment, I didn’t see Jamie as a petty thief, I saw him as he wanted to be seen: as a loyal friend.
Maybe things seem a bit boring and unchanging at the moment, but I started to think of another thing that doesn’t change: the goodness in people. Jamie’s got himself on the wrong side of the law once or twice, but that boy who shat himself for his friend, he’s still there. I can see it. If this pandemic has done anything positive, it’s reminded me of positive essence inside every human being. In a time when crimes such as looting could’ve spiked, when fights could’ve emerged over dwindling resources, I’ve seen none of that. I’ve seen people being kind, people cooperating, and best of all people staying inside, saving lives.
It’s like we’re all taking a big shit in solidarity for the victims, for the NHS, and, ultimately, for each other.
“Jamie, when all this is done, when the pandemic is over or when you’re not on tag anymore – whichever comes first – I’d like to get a pint with you.”
Tune in next time!