Snakes & Ladders


Suggested Audio Jukebox

[1] Curiosity Killed The Cat “Down To Earth”

[2] Cameo “Word Up”

[3] Boy Kill Boy “Be Somebody”


It’s all about ups and downs. Life is full of them. Sometimes it can appear as though we are perpetually treading water and the moment we reach the edge and prepare to climb out to safety, another current comes along and whisks us away once more. I know this feeling intimately, having spent rather a long time in the swim, and it’s only recently there has appeared any light at the end of the tunnel. Exiting a swimming pool is a challenge in itself. Should you be male, then this entails a desperate attempt to retain your dignity. You see, swimming shorts have a tendency to highlight any water-based shrinkage as they bunch around your meat and potatoes. Women don’t have it any easier, as it becomes about making sure that nothing is peeking from your costume. Loose lips sink ships after all. We are taught to be self-conscious by a society which provides trashy publications in an attempt at reminding us how freakish we actually are. A little airbrushing or photo-shopping can work wonders but, if we don’t have these tools at our disposal, then we’re simply not up to snuff.


As we stand in line at Price Chopper preparing to purchase our groceries, these magazines appeal to our insecurities or, failing that, use an alternative method offering us a way of feeling better about ourselves. Did you know that this celebrity suffers from cellulite? Acne too. I can see it now as they prepare for deadline day. Give her webbed feet and a faint mustache; that should turn some heads. Newspapers are even worse offenders, particularly tabloids where the pressure is on to come up with the most eye-catching daily scoop. Words are twisted, pictures snapped surreptitiously by unscrupulous paparazzi and taken completely out of context, all in the name of shifting units. These are the real serpents. I’m disinterested by the tiny caterpillars whose only indiscretion is snacking on your vegetable patch while you slumber. Possession is nine tenths of the law according to statistics and if I were awaiting metamorphosis then I’d damned well want to eat too so where better than in mother nature’s garden? The tabloid press are the ones we have to watch out for as they are largely venomous and happy to bare their fangs the moment you attempt to pull up your turnips.


Politicians can be just as nefarious. Snakes are well known for shedding their skins and the same happens in politics although, when this occurs, it’s the next candidate who is revealed. More promises waiting to be broken, another university-educated infidel with a silver-tipped tongue and pockets filled with expenses receipts and sex-line calling cards. I’m generalizing of course but am assured that many of you will be nodding like top-heavy bobble-heads at the point I’m making. Does anybody remember an old arcade game named Pitfall? An adventurer made up of a handful pixels endeavors to make it across the mire intact, using vines to swing across gaping chasms and evade those snapping crocodile jaws. It’s a like a metaphor for life when you think about it; banana skins are all around us and it’s the people with the greatest responsibility to nurture and educate that place them there much of the time. Bastards; what gives them the right to play God? Oh shit; we vote them in. Okay, back to the drawing board.


Snakes all around you see. Heavens forbid you roll a six and land on one’s cranium. Should this be the case then we ride that flume straight back to the basement, dust ourselves off, and start again. Each time we feel a little more destitute; increasingly embittered by being taken down a few pegs when all we desired was for our endeavor to actually mean something. It’s not just exclusive to those in positions of power either; personal relationships can prove as perilous as tiptoeing through the tulips, evading claymores. Sometimes we are saddled with snakes and this can be as a result of both poor selection and hoodwinking. Everyone’s a winner upon first introduction but how many skeletons have they in their closet or, more critically how many are they looking to cram inside over the course of a long-term relationship? I believe whole-heartedly in true love but also appreciate that, for the less fortunate or more naive amongst us, we don’t fully learn the art of spotting the turd in the truffles until we are no longer the spring chickens we once were. We become more adept at identifying this as our own bodies start to betray us. Suddenly grey hairs begin to sprout, eyebrows become wilder, testicles commence their descent down inside legs and vaginas become a little more disheveled and troublesome to keep in storage. The edges fray.


However, that is where those ladders come into play. Right now I am at around the halfway mark; I’ve sussed out how to sidestep the snakes and reach for that higher ground. The reason for this is that real people man said ladders. All around us are people trying to traverse their own personal boardgames. Moreover, there are plenty willing to give you a leg-up should one be necessitated. If I spot a route to the summit then I damned well plan to inform my nearest and dearest about where these exits are located. I’d rather that than clambering over others and compromising the integrity of the rungs any day of the week. This is why I speak about the Grueheads rising and doing so in unison; I’ve said it before and will no doubt do so again, if I find the promised land then I pledge to send out the RSVP’s as there’s no fun in being alone. Aladdin would have become well and truly fucked off and bored senseless had he remained in that cave, counting his currency. If I were in his slippers; then I would be out around town with my homies, purchasing the finest fondants and having a collective pedicure. Alas I must also admit that I do have something of a fetish for feet although, for the most part, my intentions are honorable.


I don’t say shit because I don’t mean it. You all know me by now. If I promise the moon on a stick and don’t produce at least a tidy rock formation then I’m Joe Cunt. Sorry I really try not to use that word frequently but occasionally thesaurus throws up no alternatives. I cannot stand before a captive audience and blow smoke up their ass as it’s a long climb to the top but a far swifter one back to square one, especially nowadays where your words are immortalized the moment you press that publish tab. This year will see transmogrification for the Rivers of Grue. I’m going to let you all into a little secret right now as there need be none between friends where Keeper is concerned. My blog has seen me through the worst of it and been my shelter through any shitstorms along the way. However, over the next few months I will be looking to branch out and in a better position to do so. I’m only one man or, at least, that is what I used to believe. I have been required to focus on my own personal healing for the most part as one can’t start a revolution midway through measles. Now I have a clean bill of mental health at my disposal; I can begin to fashion a way forward.


The word Grueheads is key here. The new site will look to offering exposure to some glorious home-grown talent and also to signpost to other marvelous institutions. It will be designed by the best and run with community in mind. I would love to share others’ work on my site but a river is only ever that. It’s the larger pond that I’m looking to lease and funds will soon be available to facilitate such. While this is coming into play I shall do my best to stay in the loop wherever humanly or indeed inhumanly possible. Some of you may already be aware that I work sixteen hour shifts five days a week in order to feed my readership with fresh content. On average a piece of literature takes around two hours to scribe and isn’t edited upon completion. The rest of my time is spent sourcing for the finest pictorials I can lay my paws on and audio accompaniment fit to enrich the experience should that be your bag. I’m a visual creature; like to use all five senses. Hilariously, I find it damn near impossible to read with any distraction whatsoever. Audio Candy is therefore just an added extra; maybe some light background music if you are fortunate enough to multitask.


While I’m on audio; I urge you all to click the above soundbite and listen to the lyrics. Even if the style doesn’t tickle your pickle; the message is loud and clear Grueheads. It is here that I wish to wrap things up as Chris Peck states it most exquisitely during the rousing chorus.

“Shut up and follow the signs
Get up and feel ourselves
Get up on the winning side
Sit up and see what sells”

I couldn’t have stated it more eloquently myself. Know of your snakes and avoid their hiss wherever possible. Instead, search for those ladders. Every soul that you reach is another step closer to the apex. From such wuthering heights, should we have learned life’s lessons and not beaten ourselves up for falling down on occasion, then we are rewarded with a far broader vista. Any alligators can keep on snapping as they’re only causing their own long-term tooth decay by locking their jaws and will never taste rump if we all join hands. The good news is, there’s enough space up here for more than one. It’s mind-numbing without company and far better shared. What’s the point in scaling Kilimanjaro on your own? I’d much rather have spotters. It just so happens that, when it ultimately comes to planting my flag at the summit, I want a group photo. No clipped wings here; only reasons to fly. Allow me to be your pilot and I will make it my life’s work to make it a smooth ascension. Going down with the ship isn’t an option here; society lies through its teeth. Please wait for the fasten seat belt signs to turn off before moving freely about the cabin. Actually fuck it, who wants to be the first in the mile-high club?




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