The frozen sausage

Stroppy was a cold, cold sausage

I would like to think I’m a pretty simple man.

There aren’t too many luxuries that I couldn’t live without.

Don’t get me wrong, the day someone tells me I can’t have cheese grated onto my beans on toast will be a sad day;

The day the world runs out of tea bags… No, I can’t even finish that sentence.

But there is one luxury, if you can call it that, I absolutely cannot live without; I demand it; I would be more than prepared to throw all of my proverbial toys out of any given proverbial pram to get it.

I can’t stress this enough.

I have to be warm.

My bed, for example, has four layers of thick blankets and a duvet. It is the bed to end all beds. Actually, I challenge anyone who thinks their bed could be warmer than mine to get in touch (so I can tell you how wrong you are).

When it’s remotely chilly, I won’t go outside unless I’m wearing a jumper, a coat, gloves and scarf – minimum. To me November has been chilly so far this year. So, true to form, I have looked good this month.

It’s pretty safe to say that fashion goes out of the window when I want to be warm; the warmest thing I own is a hideous orange and brown-striped hoody. So, needless to say, I wear that a lot. Come to think of it, people probably think I’m a tramp.

I do own other clothes.

So, yes, I like to be warm. I dislike anything that causes me to feel chilly (I’m probably going to be one of those old people who constantly complains about the draft – when there isn’t a draft).

This leads me nicely into the point of this post.

I am chilly. I’m absolutely freezing.

You know that thing that happens to your nipples when you’re cold? Well my nipples have been like this continuously for an entire week. I’m tired. My nipples are tired.

One of the worst things that could ever happen to me is the death of the boiler during winter. But the boiler is dead, or it’s dying. Whichever way you look at it, our boiler is on its backside right now and it’s my nipples that are paying the price.

When we first moved into this house the boiler didn’t work. A man came to fix it, his name was Rod. It turns out his name wasn’t actually Rod but he answered to it for a good few hours so how were we supposed to know any better?

No-name-Rod supposedly fixed the boiler and everything seemed to be going well… Until we decided we wanted to use the central heating.

They (women) say men can’t multitask (apparently simultaneously scratching and burping doesn’t count) and if you believe this then you will agree that my boiler is a man-boiler. It will heat the water, but not the house.

When we ask it to do both it gets confused, makes some interesting banging sounds, and then goes to sleep – refusing to heat anything at all.

We called another repairman, whose name I didn’t actually get (probably Rod) and he ‘fixed’ the boiler. His last words before he left were, “see how you get on with that.” Hours later the boiler broke again – leading me to believe that Rod number two spent an hour replacing, what I can only assume, were perfectly functional parts of the boiler.

So now we’re waiting on another Rod, one who knows how to fix a boiler hopefully.

In the meantime, I’m finding it almost impossible to get out of my ridiculously warm bed in the mornings because we live in a fridge. I’m pretty sure it’s warmer outside. As for the shower, have you ever been naked in a fridge? That’s pretty much what it feels like when I get out of the shower right now.

I might just stop showering, especially if people think I’m a tramp anyway.

So maybe I’ve had problems with the boiler; at the end of the day, I might have to wait a little longer (although I hope not) but it will get sorted and I’ll be cosy and warm again, finding other things to strop over.

It won’t be a cosy winter for those living in fuel poverty.

Most of these people probably have perfectly functional boilers, but won’t be using them.

The latest fuel poverty statistics report suggests that there were 4million UK households living in fuel poverty in 2009. Back in 2001 it affected 1.7million homes. That’s an increase of 2.3million; Quite a cock-up, considering 2001 was the year the government launched its fuel poverty strategy.

On one hand this increase in fuel poverty shouldn’t come as a surprise, after all, there’s been no hiding from the well-publicised increase in energy prices. But on the other hand, as part of the Warm Homes and Energy Conservation Act 2000, the government not only has a moral obligation to eradicate fuel poverty, but it has a legal duty to do so.

If I acted against government legislature I would expect to be punished by the long arm of the law. Who will be punished for this legal obligation not being met? I could hazard a guess. Nobody. This sausage thinks that the words ‘government’ and ‘accountability’ need to be associated with each other far more frequently.

Or shall we just ignore fuel poverty and the deepening crisis that numerous governments have failed to fully address?

There are campaigns to end fuel poverty – but in the meantime anyone finding themselves struggling with the bills this winter, or ever, should check out the plug the debt initiative – a joint venture between Consumer Focus and Citizens Advice.

For me, I guess it’s plenty of tea (assuming the world hasn’t ran out) and a hot water bottle to keep me warm until the boiler gets fixed, assuming Rod number three knows how to fix a boiler.

I’m sure a few of you will be thinking that I’m overreacting slightly, but we’ve already established that I’m a skinny sausage – I’m not well insulated!

I need warmth.

How many days until summer?

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The skinny sausage

Stroppy was noticeably thinner than the other sausages

I’m pretty thin.

OK, I’m smaller than most.

Who am I kidding? I’m probably the skinniest man I’ve ever met – maybe.

Of course, being so thin, I’ve been on the receiving end of many skinny-themed remarks over the years.

I thought I’d heard them all…

I constantly find myself jumping over cracks in the pavement for fear of disappearing.

I wear armbands when I’m on the toilet so I don’t fall in and drown.

On a windy day, if you can’t find me, try looking up. I’m probably floating away.

I have an eating disorder.

I… Wait… What was that last one again?

I can’t decide what’s worse, the fact that someone would instinctively think I have an eating disorder from looking at me, or that this diagnosis has come from a builder-cum-lorry driver who clearly fancies his chances as a doctor-cum-physician.

You, sir, should stick to your day job.

For anyone who knows me, this will probably be hard to believe, but between 14-16 years old I was actually one of the tallest in my year group. Of course, there were always the few proverbial ‘bean poles’ that towered over the rest of us like, well, bean poles, obviously.

Still, I was still pretty tall for my age.

At 16 I weighed around nine stone (126lbs/57kg) and looked down on most at just under six-feet-tall. The point I’m trying to make is that I was happy with my height and general build.

As far as I was concerned I was growing into a man sausage (sounds well).

But I wasn’t; I wasn’t growing at all.

Now, at 24, I weigh around nine stone (126lbs/57kg) and still find myself looking down on most (children, midgets and people with no legs) at just under six-feet-tall. I am a man-child.

This confuses me. It’s not like I don’t eat. Actually, I eat regularly. I love my food.

What I don’t love is the pregnant sticky-out belly that I get when I’ve had one too many Nutri-Grain bars. I also don’t love how my parents buy me Nutri-Grain bars faster than I can eat them. I don’t even like Nutri-Grain bars. Buy me something useful – like armbands, for when I’m on the toilet.

So at 57kg, admittedly I’m underweight (and by some way according NHS guidance). Perhaps I haven’t managed my diet properly. Perhaps the NHS guidance was put together by a team of builder-cum-lorry drivers? Maybe not, but all I know is I’m fine. I feel fine. I feel healthy.

I do not suffer from an eating disorder.

However, eating disorder charity Beat predicts that over 1.6million people in the UK are affected by an eating disorder.

Naturally, I hear ‘eating disorder’ and immediately my mind skips to anorexia and bulimia. I’m sure I’m not on my own here – and rightly so, they are serious conditions after all. It is, however, also worth noting that there are other forms of eating disorder, such as binge eating disorder and EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). All just as serious as bulimia and anorexia.

In 2008 former deputy prime minister John Prescott revealed he had been living with bulimia, a revelation that engaged the media and raised awareness for eating disorders in men.

Fantastic. The media jump on the bandwagon; everyone’s excited about raised awareness for male eating disorders. But is anyone going to mention that it’s probably the media’s fault that many people believed only women were susceptible in the first place?

Do we not recall the relentless push for everyone to be size zero, and thus, about as attractive as the prospect of putting a toenail up your nose?

No?

I guess I’m just a skinny sausage with a fat chip on my shoulder…

The sick, sick sausage

Stroppy's liver was less than happy with him

I hate to alarm you – but last weekend I was so sick my friend called an ambulance.

Don’t worry, I’m fine.

If you had asked me at the time – I was going to die.

But I wasn’t.

Actually, I was feeling the effects of the night before. You might call this a hangover. I don’t. I call it THE END OF THE WORLD!

We’ve all been there, the morning after.

The initial realisation that, yes, you are actually conscious and, yes, your face hurts (and you’re going to die, obviously).

This is usually followed by attempting the arduous hangover tasks of opening your eyes and then, you know, moving. I’m not saying that the execution of these tasks is always perfect, but it’s the taking part that counts, right?

Wrong.

When there’s a race between your legs and your belly – your legs wanting to get to the bathroom and your belly wanting to throw up before you get there – it’s definitely the winning that counts. Unfortunately for me belly was slightly faster, causing me to have one of those moments where you realise: “uh-oh, I’m not going to make it.” So for me the fun and games all started at the kitchen sink.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of a drinker, so a hangover isn’t remotely new to me; many a morning have I woken up and wished that I hadn’t drank the night before. But this time I couldn’t even remember the night before.

This was no ordinary hangover.

If Hitler was a hangover, this was Hitler.

I found myself unable to carry out some of the basics. Standing up is pretty basic – I just couldn’t do it! I had no balance whatsoever (Maybe my drink was spiked, who knows?).

Then there was the throwing up – good grief the throwing up. I won’t go into too much detail on this, but let’s just say it was messy and frequent. We’ll leave that there.

Luckily for me, I live with one of my best friends, who looked after me and did whatever it is that people can do for you in this situation – which was basically just watch me throw up. But still, I appreciated it.

The nice lady from NHS direct decided that the ‘symptoms’ that I was showing weren’t normal and an ambulance was sent.

The paramedics checked me over and were happy enough that I would be fine. As far as I was concerned I was dying and we may as-well skip the ambulance and take me straight to the morgue.

As it turns out, after nine hours of hell, I physically couldn’t be sick anymore. I fell asleep and woke up several hours later with that ‘THANK GOD’ feeling that we all get after a hangover nap (in my case it was more a coma than a nap but I’ll let that slide).

It took a few days to get back to normality, but everything was fine.

But this isn’t the case for everyone – brace yourself, this is about to get depressing.

Across the UK people have developed all sorts of alcohol-related illnesses thanks to their drinking habits or drinking problems. Liver problems are the most common and can even lead to people needing new livers. The problem with this is that there aren’t enough organ donors compared to the amount of people actually looking for new organs. This doesn’t surprise me even a little bit, I’m sure that I’m not on my own in saying that I have no plans to register as an organ donor. However selfish this may seem, these body parts are mine, they are meant to be inside me. Not you.

Anyway, due to the shortage of donors, criteria has been put in place to help the ‘best-matched’ candidates receive the organs that are available. Patient details are loaded into a computer and matched up with the criteria.

Brilliant. But what about the people who aren’t considered as a ‘best match’ by the NHS Super Nintendo? What about the people who drink themselves silly through negligence or even through a genuine drinking problem? The harsh truth is that, in many cases, they die.

This is why it’s so important for us to look after ourselves. The attitude that the NHS seems to have adopted is one of ‘if you don’t look after yourself, we won’t look after you either.’ Whether or not this attitude is justified is up for debate but it highlights the responsibility we have to look after ourselves. There is only so much that charities, like Drinkaware and Alcohol Concern, can do – although both websites are handy if you do think you have a drinking problem.

So, it’s pretty safe to say that, although I don’t have a drinking problem, I’m off the alcohol for the foreseeable future (just the thought of drinking makes my stomach curl).

I’ve had a chat with my liver and we’re friends again.

Secretly, though, I think it’s considering leaving me for another digestive system.

Oh and for anyone who’s still waiting for me to say it; yes, an ambulance came because I had a hangover…