• Eric Rushton

Fairytale Of New Eric

Updated: Jul 2, 2020

It’s Christmas Eve, babe.


I’m in Wetherspoon’s with people I know from school. I got talking to an old man at the bar earlier and he said he’d probably be dead by this time next year and it proper got me down. Then he started singing some weird song to me while touching my hand and now as far as I’m concerned 12 months’ time can’t come soon enough.


“Burn in eternal flames, you dirty old creep,” I said, before removing my hand from his.  Then I turned my face away, and started thinking about my friend Joe.


I’m not exactly sure what I’ve done, but he’s not replying to any of my messages. It’s made me incredibly depressed because he’s my best friend in the world and we go together like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong. Besides watching Grease, we used to do everything together. Like the excitement of going out for a curry and the panic of violent diarrhoea, we were inseparable. Especially when we were at uni, those were the glory days. When he first took my hand on a cold Christmas Eve, as we watched The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie together*, he turned to me and said, “I love you, mate.” I remember being very moved, and so I stopped, looked him in the eyes and said:


“You know what I love? People who don’t talk during films.”


I thought it would be a funny thing to say. Every time he says something sincere to me, I like to undercut it. It comes from my desire to constantly produce great comic moments. I love to make people laugh. It’s my passion. I like to see people crease up. Whenever I go to a restaurant with my friends, I’ll order a plate of garlic bread for the whole table. That’s how much I love splitting sides.


But now Joe’s not speaking to me, I wonder if all those funny put-downs have taken their toll. It’s bad. He’s always been there for me, regardless of physical distance. Whenever I’m sad he’s right there on Facebook video chat to talk through my problems over a game of Words With Friends.


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Maybe I didn’t return the conversational ball enough though; perhaps the only words he was really looking for were “And how are you, Joe?”


I’ve sent him dozens of messages trying to figure out what’s going on. I’ve tried everything – long heartfelt essays, short pithy puns, gifs, stickers, a video of me singing along to Back for Good by Take That. He’s having none of it. No reply. I’d give anything to be able to go back and tell him I love him while watching SpongeBob. Of course I love him. More than anyone. I’ve built my dreams around him.


In Wetherspoon’s, conversation is stilted. Everyone seems bare older and bare different than they were at school. I’m sat next to Alex. We used to be good mates. He’s proper ripped now but when we were at school everyone used to call him a fat fuck. It’s mad thinking about how judgemental and inhumane people are at that age. Stuff like that stays with a person. I ask him what he’s been up to and he says he’s got a job at Goldman Sachs and a car and is moving to London with his GIRLFRIEND. Oh fuck off you fat fuck, I think.


I send Joe another message saying I’m sorry and then go to get another drink. There’s a girl working behind the bar who I used to really fancy. We sat together in GCSE Maths. I remember one day I decided I was gonna tell her I loved her, but when I got into class and sat down next to her she said I smelled like gravy and so I decided that maybe it wasn’t a good idea after all.


I try position myself at the bar so that she’ll serve me. Maybe we will get talking and I’ll tell her about all the things I’ve done since school. I’ll tell her I’ve been in the final of two major stand-up competitions and she’ll say, “Wow that’s amazing and you smell so clean these days, Eric.” But what if she says I smell like gravy again? Maybe I do. I can’t be sure. I might’ve just got used to the smell.


Joe wouldn’t mind if I smelled like gravy. If anything it’d be a bonus for him. He’d say it’s a delightful fragrance and then he’d put the kettle on and we’d have a brew and talk about our favourite Will Young songs. God I miss him. I send him another message: “Sorry if I’ve been a dickhead. Love you. I’ve got a feeling this year’s for me and you xxxx”


“Next please,” the girl says.


I give her a look like, Hey, it’s me. She gives me a look like, I have no idea who you are. I give her a look like, Me, Eric, from Maths. She shrugs her shoulders. I give her a look like, Remember? She gives me a look like, Why aren’t we speaking out loud? I give her a look like, I already did this bit in my last blog.


“Nobody cares about your blog. What drink do you want?” She says.


Rude. And to think I used to help her with quadratic equations. Who does she think she is? I’m gonna be someone. I’ll be on Live at the Apollo one day while she’s stuck in Stoke, working in Wetherspoon’s for the rest of her life. Then we’ll see who smells like gravy.


“Can I just have a lager and lime please?”


She gets my drink and I get my cash ready. I read an article recently about how when we spend physical money it causes psychological pain. But when we use card, we don’t really feel it. So to encourage myself to be frugal, I’ve started using cash. Although it’s not really worked as I think it’s kinda outweighed by how psychologically painful it is not to buy things when life is so shit.


I give her the money, feel some psychological pain and think about messaging Joe again. “You’re the best thing in my life. Hope things can go back to normal x”


I dunno why on messenger I can suddenly be so sincere. I sent him a really long message earlier about how good it was when we lived at uni together. Maybe it’s like the cash thing. If he was here physically in person there’s no way I’d be like this. But through Facebook I can go on this mad emotional spending-spree, not thinking about the consequences.


I sit back down next to Alex. It’s weird seeing everyone out tonight, so cheery when the world is so terrible. I like Christmas but it just seems like a cruel reminder of what life could be like. Everyone stops what they’re doing, people give, people are nice to each other, they make an effort to spend time with their loved ones. The rest of the year those values can fuck off as far as society is concerned.


And also it’s never as good as you think it’s gonna be. I wish it was like a John Lewis advert. I’d get home tonight and the toy tiger I have in my room will have come to life and bought me a lava lamp that has sentimental value for some reason. But nah, he’s inanimate as fuck. And I don’t even want a lava lamp. I want my Joey bear back.


He still hasn’t got back to me. You know what, fuck him. What gives him the right to make me feel this bad? To cut me off. At least let me explain myself. It’s his problem anyway. He’s just fucked up because his Dad left when he was a kid. He was abandoned, so his response is to abandon me. Well just because you’re fucked up it doesn’t mean you can go around fucking other people up.


I get my phone out and start typing: “You’re a scumbag and a maggot and a cheap lou—” And then my phone dies. Ffs.


I dunno what to do. I just want someone to play Words With Friends with. Maybe I can find someone tonight, anyone. Words With A Complete Stranger. But I’d just feel empty afterwards.


Joe will probably feel like a stranger in a few years. Like an old school friend. I’ll see him and he’ll have a six pack and work at Goldman Sachs and he’ll be a massive bellend.


“How’s the comedy going, Eric?” Alex says.


“Yeah man, alright I think.”


“I’ve seen some of your vids on YouTube. Well funny, I used to show all of them to people I lived with at uni.”


Aw I feel bad for thinking he was a fat fuck and a bellend now.


“Thanks mate, you’re in great shape and are very personable,” I say, in a jarring attempt to redeem myself.


We carry on complimenting each other and the conversation is flowing and it’s alright actually. Our mate Pete is sat opposite as well and we start reminiscing about school and our PE teacher who looking back was probably clinically depressed and it’s all just good, light-hearted banter.


Alex is like let’s go get another drink and says he’s paying. It’s close to midnight and it’s getting a bit rowdy now but it’s kinda cool. On the way to the bar I bump into loads of people. My mate Sophie’s like hi and smiles at me and I’m like hi and give a genuine smile back. I see Rich and Gregg and Paul and Rufus and Madeuppersonnumber5 and it’s such a blast from the past and I’m giving out hugs like there’s no tomorrow. But there is a tomorrow and it’s fucking Christmas!


We get to the bar and gravy girl serves us. Alex orders three pints and then leans over and kisses her on the lips. Wtf. I’m perplexed and then Alex is like babe do you remember Eric. Fair play this is his girlfriend. Bit unprofessional of her to be smooching on the job.


“Eric! OMG I didn’t recognise you earlier,” she says, before reaching over and giving me a hug. “Your hair’s longer and you were giving me weird looks.”

Guilty as charged.


We get our drinks, mingle some more and a little later we go next door where there’s music. I’m feeling better about the Joe thing. He probably just needs some time. Sometimes friendships fade for a bit, but that connection will always be there.


Fairytale of New York starts to play and everyone goes mental**. People are singing along and it’s great. It doesn’t really matter what the world’s like for the rest of the year. Christmas is all about the present and presents and people’s presence lol. I borrow Pete’s phone so I can let Joe know I’m thinking of him. I send a video.


He probably won’t reply but it doesn’t matter. It’ll all be sick one day.

The bells are ringing out for Christmas Day.


Anyway, that’s about it.


Merry Christmas xxx

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*The hand-holding was a result of the film being very tense in parts. We’re talking scenes like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jAuQygzkbQ

**Especially Madeuppersonnumber5. It’s weird to see him letting his hair down. Was a shy little lad at school.

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