What’s Everyone Doing With All Those Chopped Tomatoes?
As I was perusing the aisles, the first thing I noticed was that the only canned food completely out of stock were chopped tomatoes. Not canned plum tomatoes, because when you’re ill there’s going to be no mashing in the frying pan.
But surely there’s only so much pasta and chopped tomatoes you can eat?
It made me wonder, what’s everyone going to do with them?
I guess they’d be good for brushing your teeth if you’re trying to hide your persistent gum disease, or a great way to create really realistic scenes of coughing blood ahead of the annual performance review.
It’s a shame, because either I don’t know enough about cooking, or everyone else is really unimaginative with their pasta.
Take it from me, you can put olive oil on it too, or even put it in a sandwich.
Baconnaise Is More Popular Than Ketchup
I don’t go round friends’ houses much, so this was a big surprise, but apparently Baconnaise is the nation’s favourite condiment (based on the definitive evidence that there wasn’t any of it left on the shelves when I went to Tesco).
I’m not sure what it is, but my best guess is that it’s ground up pork guts and it’s great for getting squeaks out of doors, which as far as I know is one of Coronavirus’ first symptoms.
British People Think Coronavirus Is A Beer
One of the few beers left in the alcohol aisle was Corona.
The story of Henry’s epic search for a free chair, and how he eventually found one.
Last Wednesday, my chair’s back snapped.
I’m not sure what happened. Either it could no longer stand my poor posture, or it’s been transitioning into a stool on the sly.
Despite a valiant attempt to reconstruct it with superglue, it’s still broken and now my jeans are sticky.
I’m not a stool-ist, but the wound’s pretty jagged. So, like a hairless cat, or a multipack of Walkers crisps without any salt & vinegar left, there was no reason to keep it.
So I set it free by putting it in the cupboard where the bins live.
However, after dropping it off, I found myself in a predicament. You see, my amp is too low, and my dirty-clothes-mountain is too perilous.
That meant I no longer had anything to sit on.
Thus began the most epic adventure since Star Wars: The Last Jedi, a tale that minstrels will to sing throughout the ages:
If you’re looking for a way to find a free chair in London, this is probably the best guide you’re going to get (because who the hell else is going to write one?).
So at about 15:00 last Wednesday after my chair broke, I started roaming Hackney’s streets in search of a new chair for my room.
Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth (Get Some Help)
Knowing all great adventures begin with a party of unlikely companions, I decided to recruit some merry people.
My severe lack of friends presented the first challenge.
It wasn’t really a challenge though, because the economy’s provided me with loads of friends by consequence. That’s right, I tried to convince my flatmate to join me. You can probably do this too, even if your face looks like a potato (not these potatoes though).
Anyway, my flatmate’s a medical student, so we share similar hours (and work just as hard as each other 😉 ), and I knew that he wouldn’t have anything better to do.
Here’s how I masterfully approached the situation:
I proclaimed, “Oh naive Medical Student, forsake those dusty tomes, and join I, Henry the Humble, on the quest of the ages. We shall overcome formidable obstacles to find the one true grail, a new chair perfectly suited to my chamber. Your healing skills will be indispensable, for many foes will stand in our way.”
To which he replied, “Go toArgos and buy a new chair. They’re£20.”
First, they don’t cost £20, they cost £45.
Second, what he didn’t say was more important than what he did say.
“Forgive me, Henry the Humble. Nothing would bring me greater joy than joining someone as magnificent as you on this great quest, but alas, I have made a sacred oath to St Thomas’ Hospital. Rest assured, a man of my considerable cowardice would do you no favours in battle. If I came along, you’d probably end up sacrificing yourself to save me from a berserking bin man.”
That was when I understood this task was too dangerous for ordinary men. I’d have to complete it alone. (No one was was going to come with me)
If you’re looking for a free chair though, you should probably bring friends because, well, you don’t want to die do you?!
With the quest begun in earnest, I journeyed to the source of new seats.
Finding it was simple. I just used my mighty powers of recall.
(remembered where my previous flatmate had found the old one)
At the other bin collection point!
I knew that I had to approach the bin collection point with trepidation.
That’s because when discovered, my former chair looked like it’d been staggering the streets for days. While we never spoke of the past, I assume that my chair had either been pimped out by a sofa, or forced to work in Vietnamese nail salon (both would explain the scratches).
In other words, there were probably some mean old chairs sitting in that cupboard, betting on stool fights, stealingseat slips and smashing each other’sshoes.
But nothing could have prepared me for this scene:
Doors completely hewn from their hinges, rubbish everywhere, and no chairs.
I knew then that all of the chairs must have escaped, or more likely, been kidnapped.
Yes, they’d definitely been kidnapped.
Facing such a setback, I reconsidered my options.
(Considered whether I could actually be bothered to find a new chair)
Is Buying A New Chair Really That Bad?
Beset by what I knew now must be a kidnapping, I uncharacteristically considered buying a new chair.
Then I remembered that buying new furniture is scientifically proven to cause global warming.
Yes, instead of blaming politicians or coal, the true culprit for all of those emissions is actually DFS.
Sure, “half price” glue and staples might be a great temporary diversion from the regret you feel after buying that two-bed, semi-detached new build, on the Government’s Help To Buy Scheme, but it’s going to do nothing for your carbon footprint.
So instead of shying away from this mystery (and succumbing to evil) I set out to uncover who had kidnapped these chairs and complete my quest.
Unfortunately, the only way to do so was to follow a trail of destruction.
I discovered that sustainability is a great excuse to be cheap, and is a great reason never to buy your girlfriend or boyfriend any presents, ever again
There wasn’t an obvious direction to go, so I just walked down the road looking for chairs.
These are the chairs I came across, with an assessment on whether they’re suitable replacements for your own broken chairs.
Chairs In Front of Cafes
The first chairs I came across were on the patio at Venerdi, an Italian restaurant on Chatsworth Road.
The chairs were just about to tell me where they’d seen a large lorry load of chairs going by, when the restaurant manager leapt out and told me to stop eyeing up his seats.
If I’m honest, I’m not even sure that one of those chairs would look good in my room.
It’s ok to steal chairs in front of cafe’s, but they’re not always great alternatives to office chairs.
Next I spoke to this mobility scooter.
It looked pretty suitable. And I liked the idea of finishing my quest early.
It had wheels like an office chair, with the added benefit of being motorised, so I would have been able to make trips from my bedroom to the bathroom with great ease. It’s also completely covered, so there’d be no splashback or any little accidents.
However, I then remembered that my bedroom has absolutely no floorspace, so the chair would be impractical, unless it was like offroad, and didn’t suffer from malfunctions after change got stuck in its wheels.
It would also be quite difficult to get driving stick under my desk too.
So I trundled off, further down the road.
Motorised chairs are fine to take, as long as the person you’re taking it from is only pretending to be ill. The easiest way to discover if this is the case is by stealing their mobility scooter and seeing if they’re able to run after you.
Chairs That Are Really Damaged
Next I came across Arnold the Armchair.
He’d been playing in a skip and some plasterboard ripped up his skull. Poor Arnold.
For a chair that was dying, he seemed quite cheerful. He also knew about the bin cupboard kidnapping.
With the last wheeze from his leather cushions, Arnold divulged the details.
Apparently, a small man with an Indian accent and a very bad case of erectile dysfunction, knew that I had nowhere to sit in my room, and wanted to use the opportunity to scam me by pretending to be HMRC.
Arnold said the man needed £50,000 for a new battery operated penis, and had invested all of his remaining savings in hiding the chairs around Hackney from me.
That’s because when he called, he wanted to make sure that I had nowhere to sit down. Because that’s how you make people really, really worried.
Arnold said that he was going to call on 020 3631 5675.
Ridiculous, isn’t it? Perhaps it’s part of the Government’s post-Brexit strategy. A way to replace EU subsidies without actually matching them. I couldn’t really tell, because the propaganda I saw was, well, bad.
What The Department for Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs Actually Is
That makes this assessment a little sour, but given the campaign’s been running since August 2018, I’m surprised that the first time I actually came across it was last Thursday. Great penetration AHDB Dairy and Dairy UK. I say this because I actually spend time actively looking at adverts (I’m too cool, I know).
Anyway, I’ve only seen one advert, and it was all the way up from the top deck on the No 30 to Hackney Wick, but what I saw made me think the whole advertising campaign’s completely unpasteurised (shit).
It’s a shame, because the competition, oat-based milk alternative, Oatly, have been running some really cool print and poster ads recently.
Why The Department for Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs Sucks
I’ll start by deconstructing what I think’s wrong with the advert.
1. The Department for What?
When you read, The Department for Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs, what do you think of?
I think of Michael Gove shaking a can of whipped cream, dropping his trousers, getting his genitals sticky and proceeding to propose, “a truly scrumptious affair!” to his diary secretary. Not because Michael Gove’s genitals are scrumptious, but because I think Michael Gove probably doesn’t realise using the word scrumptious makes him sound like a twat.
Second, scrumptious makes me think of how milk doesn’t actually really taste like anything. Is that scrumptious? No, when you think scrumptious, you think of a fat person describing a cake, or their fanfiction about crushing on Daniel Craig. I’m pretty sure Daniel Craig is not milk, cheese or butter.
The name just doesn’t work.
2. An Authoritarian Approach
The concept behind the advertising campaign, is a tongue in cheek, semi-official looking, public service announcement from an imaginary Government Department.
It’s like it’s trying to play on the ‘Keep Calm Carry On’ posters that were never actually released. This is one of the strongest points of the campaign, but it’s poorly executed, and shows a reasonably cynical self-awareness.
I say it’s poorly executed because no UK Government Department would be as imaginatively named as, The Department For Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs (DFDRSA), unless I dunno, Eric Pickles, was still relevant.
It’s a cynical point of self-realisation, because the overall concept acknowledges that on a level playing field, dairy can’t compete with dairy alternatives. That’s in terms of nutrition, animal cruelty, shelf-life, sustainability credentials (minus soya) and sheer less grossness. So instead, it seems to accept that the only way to keep people buying milk is to instruct them to, they remind them how much easier life used to be when their parents bought a four pint bottle of semi-skimmed, and made them Crunchy Nut for breakfast.
3. A Coat Of Arms With Cows Like A Chicken Shop
The Department’s logo is two cows. It’s a product based on animal exploitation. I think it’s funny, but funny in the way that all those chicken shops have mascots that are excited cartoon chickens. Like the chickens just can’t wait to go spinning around on the kebab skewer.
I think this is a pretty strong reminder that milk is made for calves, and ahead of pasteurization, often full of shit when it’s first pumped.
4. The Little White Number In Your Fridge
The final thought is specific to the billboard ad I saw. The copy reads, “Milk. The Little White Number In Your Fridge For Every Occasion.”
I showed this to a couple of people, and no one I knew had any idea what a ‘little white number’ was. Sure, they knew the Coco Chanel phrase, ‘little black dress’, but out of three words, that’s two that are totally different. It’s an extremely lazy play on words that doesn’t work.
It also implies that milk should go on everything.
As if you should pour milk into your salad, your little packet of crisps, your fruit juice and I dunno, down your trousers. Maybe that’s the point, with a previously saturated market now in decline, maybe DairyUK realised that to keep profits up, they need to encourage people to use milk in new and exciting ways. Perhaps as lubricant for their ‘scrumptious affairs’.
Despite a very uncordial break up, they’re still sharing a bed. Understandably, the situation’s getting nasty.
It’s getting increasingly nasty because two weeks ago, the female half of the couple secured a new room in south London. She’s been able to leave since last Monday (24 February). As she has a new place, she’s stopped paying rent, buying soya milk and keeps breaking china on the sly.
But most concerning of all, she’s just not moving out.
She’s even said that she doesn’t want to.
The only packing she’s done has been filling one suitcases with her barbies. Yes, she literally filled a suitcase with barbies. And no, she’s not a fifteen year old loser.
Whenever I, or the male flatmate try talking to her about moving out, she starts screaming or decides that she really needs to walk around Victoria Parkto play Pokemon Go. Strange, isn’t it?
I don’t even understand why she wants to stay. She’s the one who broke up with him and her new place is way closer to work. Also, she’s definitely old enough to know that she needs to move out.
Anyway, it’s concerning because if this continues, the male half will find a new place, and then I’ll have to find a new place.
I have no intention of finding a new place, so I’ve hatched an ingenious plan to get rid of her.
Why We Can’t Kick Her Out
Unfortunately, changing the locks isn’t an option. That’s because we don’t own the flat, and she knows most of my friends.
If we kick her out, she’ll tell everyone that I’m a beast and used to really like Korn (I didn’t, who told you that?).
Also, I hate confrontation.
That’s why we’re going to piss her off so much that she leaves.
As an expert in passive aggression, I’m quite confident this six-step displacement programme’s going to work.
Maybe it’ll help you get rid of your least favourite flatmate too!
Here’s exactly what you need to do to get rid of your least favourite flatmate.
1. Stop Being An Enabler (Remove The Cardboard Packets From All Your Rizlas)
I think she wants to stay because we accept her less attractive habits. To make her uncomfortable, we need to stop enabling those habits.
By that, I’ve deduced that we need to sabotage her weed smoking.
Now, as someone who doesn’t smoke weed, it took me a while to figure out exactly how to achieve this. But the solution’s simple. I just need to rip off and bin all of the cardboard packets my rizlascome in.
It’s genius because to roll a joint, you need a roach. As far as I can tell, the roach is what makes the drug potent. You make a roach by ripping a strip of card off the little cardboard box your rizlas come in.
If she has no rizla packets to make roaches, she won’t be able to smoke weed!
Ah, but you’re thinking that she could just go to the shops and buy her own rizla packets, or use the covers of paperback books?
Well, she’s someone who wakes and bakes and loves books. So I’m sure you’ll understand that she’s too lazy to go to the cornershop to buy her own rizlas, and would never dream of destroying a book cover.
That means when she’s smoking weed, she’ll have to resort to making roaches out of her passport and birth certificate.
I mean, if she’s in Jamaica, there’s no way she can tell everyone that I’m a beast!
2. Use Subliminal Messaging (Rewrite Their Horoscope)
The next step in my diabolical plan involves subliminal messaging.
That’s right, the best way to get your flatmate to move out is tricking them into thinking that fate’s instructed them to.
The obvious way to do this is with their horoscope. You just have to replace all the less important words with ‘move out now’.
Look at the one I edited. It’s from the UK’s most trusted paper and medium, the Daily Express and Russell Grant.
3. Ruin Their Things (Go For Their Sims 4 Saved Game)
Now you should never break someone’s physical things. That’s not cool.
But you’ve totally got a licence to ruin their non-physical things, if said non-physical things are played on their ex-boyfriend’s Xbox.
In the case of my flatmate, I was inspired by a strange sound.
Can you hear it?
“Sul Sul, Badeesh! Nooboo, Oh feebee lay.”
I’m sure your female flatmate makes those noises too.
Not sure what it is? I think it’s someone’s character in the Sims 4 saying they just put a spoon in your peanut butter (they like to taunt).
Yes, you may have guessed it, my flatmate spends the majority of her time playing the Sims 4.
It’s a strange, but impressive passion.
She’s spent years recreating her life in the Sims. I’m even featured in her real Sims universe, and her alternative Sims universe (yes, there are two timelines in which everyone’s gender preferences are switched).
In both universes, my character is fat, stupid and thinks soul patches are cool. I think that’s the only thing that’s actually consistent.
She loves her Sims 4 saved game so much, I figured that a sure-fire way to piss her off, and to get her to move out as quickly as possible is to fire it up, and make all the characters that resemble her really, really ugly.
Yeah, don’t feed them to a cow plant. Don’t make them into a baker. Just make them ugly.
Then she’ll think her Sims characters are ruined, and she’ll have no motivation to stay.
4. Start An Infestation (Make Them Think You Have Mice)
Wait, does your flatmate really hate mice too?
Do they also not understand that getting rid of mice requires them to not get really stoned every evening and always put the bread away?
What really? That’s a complete revelation to me too.
So, my flatmate hates mice. She’s so upset by the idea of mice, she doesn’t even need to see them to go mental.
She just needs to see mouse droppings.
That’s why I’m going to buy some chocolate raisins, cut them up a bit, and then sprinkle them next to the toaster.
As soon as they think that the new place is going to be nicer than the old one, they’ll start wondering why they’re staying.
5. Change the Wifi Password
People don’t like using their mobile data at home, especially when they play five hours of Pokemon Go daily.
Hence, to make someone really uncomfortable, be really passive aggressive and change the wifi access code, and fail to share it on your group chat.
If you don’t want them to realise that it’s been changed, just paint the light on the router black, and say it’s broken and that you’re waiting until next month to fix it.
6. Contaminate Their Food (Write Love Letters From Your Marmite To Their Greek Yoghurt)
Everyone’s a little precious about their food. Now, I’m not suggesting that you should actually do something horrible to their food, just maybe make them think that their food is doing something horrible to itself.
Do greek yoghurt and marmite go together? While we’ll never know, congratulations, my flatmate is about to find out.
That’s because her greek yoghurt and my marmite are about to start a not-so secret relationship.
This one’s easy to pull off. Just spoon some marmite into their yoghurt.
Then write a love note on a post-it, and stick it on the pot.
This is a great idea because first they’ll think that you’re being passive aggressive, labelling their stuff. However, when they actually read the note, they’ll discover that actually, you’re not to blame and it’s actually their own food that’s been getting at it.
They’ll know that they can’t shout at their greek yoghurt, and will need to take it away before it elopes with your marmite.
The letters are easy.
For instance, the Greek Yoghurt would probably write to the marmite:
“Hey You Inky Syrup Stallion.
You’ve got my Greek going freak.
Love You. Hate You.
I Can’t Spread Enough Of You.
Meet me on the counter Marmite,
I’ll be your creamy delight,
A Love Letter your Greek Yoghurt to my Marmite
This will let her know that they need to take their yoghurt out of the house, of they’re going to end up being responsible for a child with the consistency of molasses, encouraging their immediate departure.
If All Else Fails
While this is a totally foolproof campaign of encouragement, sometimes, it might not go to plan.
When that happens, just get their parents’ telephone number, call them up and tell them everything that’s going on.
If their parents are dead, why the fuck are you being so evil?
The last time I was there, I accidently saw Steve Buscemi’s Dreamy Eyes and Cat Princess. The accident salvaged an otherwise woeful afternoon spent with the Jeff Buckley Appreciation Society at Sofar Sounds (got you – that’s not a real band – it’s how you know weekends are better spent with Coronavirus than at Sofar Sounds).
Two Weeks In Nashville
Two Weeks In Nashville are a four-piece rock band. A young rock band. They’re talented and play well. They might disagree, but pop-rock’s their thing, with equal parts guitar solos, posturing, signing the horns, unnecessary lunges and tartan trousers.
Despite a high turnout for Hi Frisco, not many descended to the basement to watch Two Weeks In Nashville’s set. Instead, the audience arrived en masse at 8:45. Shitty crowd – check.
Two Weeks In Nashville played four songs (it could have been five). The set sounded like Train or U2 with a caveat. No Joshua Tree era aural landscapes or any sense of punctuated pre Rattle and Hum urgency.
That’s because Two Weeks In Nashville were missing something. Not with the performance; unless you’re offended by singers who cajole for claps and seem set on receiving restraining orders from their microphone stands; but the songs betrayed their youth. I say youth because it’s like the band’s a couple of haircuts away from figuring who they are (I also held the door for one of their mothers-come-roadie).
Further, while there’s no need to be obsessed with lyricism, vocals sit at the forefront of pop-rock songs, making derivative harder to hide.
Sure, rock music is built on cliches, but it’s pretty ambitious to cram ‘toy soldiers’, ‘no surprise’, ‘we’re coming home’, ‘at war with the world’, ‘we stand on mountains’, and ‘we are more than numbers’ into a single song. Yet Two Weeks In Nashville managed it with their latest single Take Control. If you haven’t guessed, I think it’s too much.
I’m not writing this to be cruel.
Last night Two Weeks In Nashville exhibited all the talent needed to entertain and excite. However, without a bolder, more personal direction, I think they’re going to find it hard to achieve.
Hi Frisco are an indie band with electronic elements. Apparently last night was their debut headlining gig. They played live as a four-piece, but apparently they’re normally a duo.
Their sound’s similar to Tame Impala, The War On Drugsand theSmith Westerns. Dreamy shoegaze pop, with eighties movie synths, bright guitar flurries and vocals that sort of float – you know, just go with the accompaniment instead of taking charge of the song.
Either most of the audience knew them, or they were recently featured in Time Out, because for a free show, it was busy.
In sharp contrast to Two Weeks In Nashville’s exuberance, Hi Frisco’s frontman wore his fragility on stage, adding a slice of endearing to the performance.
They finished the set with their latest single, The War. While it was a short, more wasn’t necessary. Also, the shiny silver banner, apparently created by one of Hi Frisco’s mothers was very nice. Great job.
It reminded me that I’ve always found that Tame Impala songs drag, as if they’re hard to appreciate unless you’re stoned. Hi Fresco’s songs hit a similar note, but they’re more structured. More listenable. Of course, covered in a layer of sheen, but not applied so thick that you lose sight of the features.
The Wants are currently promoting the upcoming release of their debut album, Container, out on 13 March 2020. Wednesday’s show was supported by Happy Couple.
They Want The Wants
I didn’t pay to see the show. My girlfriend had an extra ticket.
I wasn’t her first choice of company. She’d planned to go with a friend. Apparently, sometimes they both treat the process of buying gig tickets as a seduction raffle. In this case, the prize was a chance to bag The Wants’ unconventionally handsome, Madison Velding-VanDam. However, when the aforementioned friend discovered that DIIV, an apparently prettier band, were playing the same night, she took the plunge and my girlfriend was left treading water with me.
I hadn’t listened to anything released by The Wants prior to the gig, so I went in cold.
However, having now listened to everything they’ve got on Spotify (on repeat); the Motor, Fear My Society, Clearly A Crisis and Container; I’ve come to the conclusion that they’re actually pretty cool, albeit, there’s not a whole lot to go on.
While I was listening to The Wants, my flatmate compared them to Butthole Surfers. Considering his playlists are dominated by Adele and Billie Eilish, it isn’t the worst comparison. But I’d say they’re more like Talking Heads, with an engine running on ambient techno and a quirk suppressor (they’d take it off, but these days, the environment’s a big issue).
Before the show had even started, the merchandise stand became a talking point.
Instead of stacks of 12” LPs and cassettes, the shop window was piled high with cans of tinned food, unlabelled. Despite the obvious guess being that this was to help attendees self-isolate in the event they contracted Coronavirus at the gig, it turned out to be a cool way to add physicality to preordering The Wants upcoming album Container.
I was severely disappointed to learn that all of the cans contained peas. Word of advice The Wants, next consider the possibility of a couple of cans of Fray Bentos.
Who’s The Happy Couple?
First to play were female-fronted, three-piece Happy Couple. They kicked it off with a frenetic, bass-driven, noise rock set.
Happy Couple offered a selection of songs that were a tauter, more accessible, take on Kim Gordon-led efforts from Sonic Youth’s major label era. While there’s often a tendency for noise rock to sound a bit samey, Happy Couple delivered plenty of diversity. Altogether, a pretty sound support.
What About The Wants?
Headliners, The Wants ran through a limited catalogue with a certain poise.
The set was short. Really short. Departure time was 22:00, even with the encore. Similarly, every song ended impressively abruptly, as if it was a theme.
Live, The Motor was slick. It was also charming to see frontman, Madison Velding-VanDam so VanDam-elated, making considerable use of the confined space. On the night, his onstage antics seemed to be taking cues from a certain David Bryne’s brand of bizarre.
While his enthusiasm did nothing to propagate the promise of deadpan, it worked, with the exception of Fear My Society. It sounded a bit like someone reciting keywords from a Medium article, losing a bit of its otherwise stirring atmosphere of the recording. That’s to say, I was initially turned off the song during the gig, but arrived at liking it.
I shouldn’t forget that my girlfriend thought the show’s highlight was bassist Heather Elle’s Wednesday Adams dress. Given that I know even less about dresses than I do about music, I’ll refrain from providing an opinion.
Conformity of Cool
Forgetting The Wants, one of the most striking things about the gig was the conformity of the crowd.
It was like walking down Broadway Market on a Saturday.
A sea of tea-pot-cosy inspired hats, more mullets than I care to mention, the heavy stench of that scent every girl in east London wears (you know the one I’m talking about), leather trousers, moustaches and those dangly cross earrings. I guess it happens with fad, but this really seems to be a uniform.
Now, while I’ll admit I wasn’t there because I adore The Wants, it felt like I wasn’t the only one. Despite the evident draw of the band, it was as if the majority of the crowd were there because this could, for all intents and purposes, be perceived as a Bodega side-project, making attendance less of a risk (in terms of maximising cool time) than another band may be.
Standing in the crowd, it felt at times like everyone was auditioning for a leading role in the next Churchill advert, ominously nodding their heads to songs they weren’t familiar with.
I don’t write this to be judgemental, or maybe I do. But there wasn’t the vibe that people were there to see a band they liked. I’m guilty of this too, but I think the atmosphere suffered.
Perhaps that’s why there were so many boys going to the bathroom in threes.
You know, so they could complement each other on their facial grooming techniques while washing their hands.
Today’s special. Why? Because it’s a Leap Year and it’s February 29th.
Maybe it’s a sign of the times (or my age), but this year, my Instagram feed’s been jammed with stories about women deconstructing traditional gender roles, and proposing to their partners. Surprising as I only follow 65 people.
I’m writing about it because today, my friend’s girlfriend proposed to him.
It’s sweet. Empowering. Different.
Yes, it’s a proposal.
They’ve been together for years, and as far as I can tell, enjoy a sturdy relationship. Like those two obscurely shaped bricks in Tetris, or two non-integers that you can mash together into an integer. It’s like she’s 8.56874125486342, he’s 21.4312587451, and together they make 30 (I had to give him the bigger number because he’s my friend, not because I’m sexist).
I’m trying to express my emotions with maths, because right now, I’m not wearing any socks and I’m afraid I’m going to get stuck in all the sentiment.
Anyway, immediately after seeing the hint of a proposal in the Instagram story, rather than wishing my friends good luck (?), I started thinking about myself.
Actually, I started thinking about a question everyone’s started asking me.
“When are you going to move in with your girlfriend?”
Well, When’s It Going To Happen?
Mum and Dad, are you reading this? Great.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen unless the following three points are satisfied:
We continue going out
My girlfriend’s deported (it might happen)
I get a proper job, stop living like a bum and have a magic aneurysm that reforms my behaviour
It’s not because I don’t like her. No, I tolerate her completely.
If I didn’t, right now instead of writing this, I’d be spending my time making up wild new excuses about how I really like her, but there’s no way that I can see her. Not because I’m a coward, but because I’m a pragmatist. Finding a new girlfriend’s a total hassle.
I mean, I can think of some excuses already, but if I started using them it’d be clear that there was no trust in our relationship, and it’s definitely the most trusting relationship I’ve ever been in. Also, I’d need to have something else to do instead of hanging out with her, and I don’t like the idea of climbing or croquet classes.
Oh, you want to know what the excuses are because you’ve been dreaming of going out with me? Just this once, I’ll pretend you’re not joking. Go on, read away:
My flatmate’s overdosed. I’m sitting at his bed in the hospital. No, sorry, you can’t come. You know that they charge Europeans every time they enter an English hospital, right?
I had a really mad dream about that pirate slide at the playground. You know, the one that whispers, “Shiver me timbers!” Wait, you don’t remember? Well you’re one beastly buccaneer. I need to get it all down before I forget the second act’s epic sea shanty. It was pretty long. Pirates of the Caribbean long. So it’s probably going to take me at least six months.
I can’t find my keys.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, we both tolerate each other, but don’t feel compelled to move in together.
But that probably isn’t a very clear expression of that.
Imagined Cohabiting Calamities
I have a lot of preconceptions about living with people. It’s easiest to explain them with a Bobblehead. So just imagine I’m holding one in front of you now.
Ok, let’s begin.
How often do you take out your favourite Bobblehead and admire it? (I’m waving the bobblehead at you). What was that, only once or twice a week? Exactly. That’s no time at all.
Now imagine your favourite Bobblehead wobbling over and staring at you all the time.
Offensive, isn’t it?
Already you can probably hear it chastising you for not washing your clothes, hanging towels on wardrobe doors, watching Adventure Time, writing trash that you never publish, waking up earlier than you should (on occasion), and using mouthwash.
Maybe this doesn’t happen when you live with your girlfriend or boyfriend, or whatever. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never really lived with one.
I don’t know what my apprehension is, but ultimately, it seems like living with another person requires you to sacrifice some independence, and I guess it’s all about what that independence means to you.
Most likely, the value I put on my own independence is ill conceived.
But I just don’t understand why I’d want to give up the freedom of living on nothing but peanut butter sandwiches, spending all my time listening to three Death Grips songs on repeat, and staying up way, way past my bedtime writing nonsense. Isn’t being able to do those things the definition of being an adult?
Is it a selfish perspective? Probably. But maybe, in certain situations, it can be zero-sum. I don’t know, it’s hard to know exactly what other people think.
What About Her Feelings?
Empathy isn’t my forte, but as far as I can tell, our feelings are aligned.
She’s been pretty blunt and said that if we moved in together I’d annoy her. She also seems to value time alone. The only cohabitation advantage she’s conceded is that her bed would be warmer.
A condition of cold is more of an issue to her than you’d believe, so given she’s so frosty about the idea of us moving in together, there must be something to it.
But it’s cool. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I tolerate her. It’s nice that she tells me what she thinks.
Disasters All Around
The sudden appearance of the question also seems to coincide with a few of my friends experiencing harrowing breakups. The type of breakups where they’ve found themselves sharing the same bed as their former spouse for months, because they’re renting somewhere together and aren’t loaded enough to move out immediately.
I’ve also spent the last month watching my sister’s relationship breakdown with her significant other. And before that, watched her vegetate for over a year, and use him as an excuse for her self-inflicted inactivity.
It’s totally risk averse, but I don’t want that for myself, or someone that I tolerate.
Were Franz Ferdinand Ever Cool?
Also, there’s that song on their third album in which Alex Kapranos espouses the benefits of Living Alone.
I like that song, and that seems as good a reason as any to stand by something.
So yes, right now, I’d rather live alone.
In addition to liking that song, I also respect it. So, instead of ruining it by listening to it too much, it seems better to only play it like twice a week. You know, if not the second guitar might start to annoy me, or the song might not be as enthused with whatever I was doing that day.
It’s the type of thing that you don’t want to wear the magic out of.
But You’re Engaged
Wait, no, I’m not engaged.
My friends are engaged.
The header’s an expression of that.
They’re different to me, and that’s why I like them.
It’s probably why living together has worked for them. But I guess it seems like maybe now, if your goals aren’t necessarily nuclear, then the convention of living with your boyfriend or girlfriend shouldn’t be as big a deal, or a necessary step in a relationship.
I don’t think it detracts from what other people have. It’s just different.
So anyway, congrats on the engagement guys. I’m pretty sure you don’t read my blog, but at least I can now point to something and pretend it was full of heartfelt sentiment.
Today, I’m spending the whole day working in some shared office space.
It’s a precursor to actually paying for some desk-space on a full-time basis. Like um, popping your cherry as a freelancer. Is it still ok to say ‘popping your cherry’?
Now, I’ve only been here for three hours, but already it’s been a nice change.
The office is in an industrial estate, so I’m at complete liberty to pretend that I’m a mechanic. More importantly, my sister (my current flatmate) has absolutely no idea where I am. That means today, I do not have to pretend that I’m sorry about the state of the bathroom, or that I have to endure another discussion about the rapidly diminishing state of her mental health. I also don’t have to listen to her scream at the mirror, or lumber around the house like a barrel of laughs that had all the laughs taken out.
If you’re wondering which sister, um, it’s the other one. Yeah, I have two sisters and it’s not the one you think it is.
Anyway, I’m not saying this is going well just because my sister can’t scream at me.
No, I’m also being very productive. I mean, this is the first time I’ve posted anything on my blog since January. Who knows what I could achieve if I actually had some clients?!
However, while I’ve enjoyed my first three hours hours here, I’ve also found that having not worked in a proper office for over seven months, I’ve completely forgotten how to behave in a professional environment.
Given this is probably a common post-working-from-home condition, and I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, here’s some very well considered advice on surviving in an office.
Remember these lessons when you’re next at work, or you’ll probably lose your job.
1. Etiquette Is Important
One of my potential co-workers brought in vegan cookies.
It was a really sweet gesture, intended to welcome me to the co-working space.
Now, these were big, round cookies. The sort of big round cookies that are definitely bigger than your face, unless your mother had an affair with Moonface from the Faraway Tree.
So yeah, BIG cookies.
And what did I do?
I waddled up to the table, stacked high with cookies and grabbed an entire cookie in my greasy hands.
As soon as I touched it, I knew I’d made a mistake.
Yes, I shouldn’t have taken the whole cookie. I should have broken a bit off and just eaten a quarter. But instead, I took an entire cookie and ate it all – and loudly at that.
My consistent chomps reminding dearest, co-worker no. 1, that it was a mistake to give me something nice.
This incident happened at 10:45. Since then I’ve been feeling dreadful. Not because the cookie was bad. It was great. But because I feel like a selfish prick.
I’ve even emailed apologies to my girlfriend, seeking absolution for what an ass I’ve been. This hasn’t really done anything to help the situation though. I mean, she didn’t buy the cookies, and as far as I can tell, she’s not part of the freelancing vanguard (unemployed wretches).
Maybe if they invite me back I’ll bring in a bag of baby spinach and we can all share it. I’ll even promise not to get mad when someone takes a really big handful, or accuses me of not washing it properly.
Rule 1: If someone brings really big cookies into your co-working space or office, don’t eat an entire cookie. Unless you hate the person who brought in the cookies or your co-workers. Then you should totally do it. Also, if you have a face bigger than a really big cookie, eat the cookie – everyone probably hates your father already, and that’s genetic.
2. Chairs Will Squeak
This isn’t an issue for everyone, but the chair I’ve been allocated squeaks. It squeaks every time I move, and hell, I move a lot.
Right now I’m not sure if the squeak indicates pleasure or pain. Just one thing’s for sure, whenever I move, it happens. I mean, maybe the emotion can be slightly less one dimensional? I mean, swivel chairs operate on two planes, do they not?
But back to the topic.
So, I suffer from a pretty serious condition called Ants In My Pants.
That means it’s medically acknowledged that if a chair has wheels, I’m have every right, and need to spin in it, push it back, and just be a general nuisance.
However, I’m afraid that my new workies (potential co-workers) won’t understand my condition, or might even be annoyed by it. That’s why I’ve been trying to keep my back as rigid as possible, while keeping rotations to a minimum for the last forty five minutes.
It’s absolute torture.
I also want to remove my shoes, crack my toes, neck and fingers, take off my shirt and push this chair’s lumbar support back so hard that it snaps.
It’s a real issue. That’s why I’ve decided that as soon as everyone vacates this room, I’m going to swap this chair with somebody else’s.
Assuming that they invite me back, I will also invest in some socks that look like shoes.
Rule 2: If you end up with a squeaky chair, swap it with someone else’s when they least expect it. Also, it’s 2020, we really need better professional support for those who suffer from Ants In Their Pants.
3. You Must Look Busy
When I work at home there’s absolutely no need for me to look busy.
As my own supervisor, I know it’s totally fine if I spend entire afternoons standing in the garden thinking (no, not smoking, who the hell do you think I am?!).
However, right now, I feel compelled to impress the three people in the room, that I totally do not know, but I’m temporarily sharing this space with. I’m doing this by typing as furiously as possible. That’s right, I’m currently smashing my keyboard so hard that the succulent next to me is quivering. Finally, a living organism is impressed by my might.
I’m not actually doing anything useful though.
That’s because my desk is positioned at a great angle and no one can see my screen – so the joke’s totally on them!
It’s a strange situation, because I actually do have work to do. However, it’s been three hours and I really don’t have any intention of doing it.
Why? Because I know that if I start doing something useful, there is no way that I can maintain writing over 120 words per minute, and all three of the people around me won’t continue to be as impressed.
So yeah, that’s why I’m writing this stupid blog post and working on the script for a brilliant new film called Drag Snails – as ever, great job Henry, great fucking job.
Rule 3: People’s opinion of how good you are at working is much more important than whether you’re actually working (who didn’t know this one already?!)
4. People Will Do Anything To Make You Feel Less Important Than You Truly Are
As I’m typing this, it’s slowly dawning on me that I really haven’t achieved anything over the last three months.
Sure, I released 2019’s bestselling zine, Watch Out! Your Dad’s A Tory, and developed some economic models for calculating the cost of policing in England (yawn), but I haven’t really done anything else.
Wait, maybe if I include writing and recording a very, very good song dedicated to my girlfriend’s best friend for her thirtieth birthday, I can convince myself that I’ve actually done a lot. If anything, I’ve done way too much.
I mean, this list is probably very intimidating for most people.
F# Bones a’ creakin’
B Mortgage lending
A Hungover for days but
G# You ain’t even been a drinkin’
F# Stronger lenses
B Friends a’ married
A Breeding conversations
G# Ain’t no longer bein’ parried
Excerpt from Thirty Candles, Hungry Hungry Henry
Until I remembered this great song, sitting in a co-working space for three hours had started to damage my perspective of myself.
Despite achieving more than most people probably achieve in a lifetime in the space of three months (becoming a bestselling author, legendary songwriter and arguably a revolutionary), the co-working space was making me feel like I hadn’t achieved anything at all.
It was a strangely humbling experience, as I’m sure you can tell.
Rule 4: Try not to let other people’s less important achievements diminish your super important and impressive achievements. If you do, they won’t let you work with them any more.
5. Never, Ever, Avoid Invitations
I just turned down an invitation to lunch.
Why the hell did I just say that I didn’t want to have lunch?
Everyone’s going to think that despite my intimidating muscles (ballooning paunch), that I either cannot afford lunch, or am desperately trying to cover up that I can’t eat conventional food and only gain nourishment from broken hearts.
Damn. Who knew?
Rule 5: Always accept invitations to eat and make sure you always eat the same type of food as your co-workers. Declined invitations make people really suspicious of you and may lead them to believe that they’re better than you are.
However, yeah, working in an actual office is great.
I mean, I haven’t spent all day pretending to be busy by re-washing my clean clothes and watching YouTube videos about John Romero to ‘be inspired’.
So I guess I’d like to commit to it.
Assuming they accept me, all I need now is a full-time intern to act as my receptionist and for the next four hours to be more successful than the last three.
Oh yeah, and for my potential co-workers not to catch on to how actually, they probably don’t want to work with the type of bastard who would spend their first day in their co-working space writing about how they’re not really the type of person anyone would want to work with.
It’s also only the third football match I’ve ever been to, and yes, it was a revelatory experience.
The game helped me discover that most of my adult life has been lived in ignorance. Yes, I really didn’t understand the true meaning of football.
It’s been so affirming, I thought I’d share it with you.
Discovering Clapton Community FC
I’ll start by introducing Clapton Community FC, with a little help from their crest.
Clapton Community FC’s crest is a silhouette of some red prison bars.
It’s totally appropriate, because Clapton Community FC are so cool it’s criminal. It’s also an indication that they were established by escaped convicts. So you have to support them. Or else.
Now that we’ve got your new favourite team out of the way, let me educate you on exactly what English Football is, with a simple seven point list.
1. English Football Doesn’t Happen In France
Like me, you’ve probably only been to two football matches.
Let me guess, both were in France during the 2016 European Championships? Wait, you were chaperoning a Government Minister too?
Well, this may come as a shock to you, but what you saw there was not English Football.
No, that was European Football. Just like American Football, European Football is totally different to English Football.
How’s it different? Hmm, this one’s quite difficult to explain, so I’ll use some pictures to show you.
This Is English Football:
This Is European Football:
In European Football, players run around nicely, kick the ball accurately, and play in really big stadiums. It’s also more artistic, and sometimes the muppets help out with the drum solos.
English Football is more, how would I put it? Passionate.
It’s not about making contact with the ball, effective throws from the corner, or even running in the right direction.
No, English football’s all about passion. And pride. And loyalty.
And getting drunk on the sidelines.
2. English Football Isn’t Free
As I’ve already established, English football is about getting drunk on the sidelines. But how do you do it?
I mean, it’s not like you can bring beer with you.
No, to watch a team like Clapton Community FC, you have to travel to Walthamstow, or if you support another team, somewhere else that’s at least three miles away.
Three miles is a pretty long journey isn’t it? I mean, it’s too far for you to carry a six pack in your flimsy tote bag. More, why should you? You’re doing the world a favour by going outside and supporting a bunch of people you don’t actually know.
So it’s fair enough to assume that when you go to one of these games there’ll be free beer.
Well listen up. There isn’t any free beer at English football.
There aren’t even free cans of the beers people don’t like (Carlsberg and Heineken).
No, you have to pay for it with your own money, like a pleb.
Even after forking out £2, you’ll probably only end up with a 400ml can of Tyskie, and that’s assuming you had the foresight to bring cash.
But it’s a necessary expense, because English football is all about getting drunk on the sidelines.
3. You Don’t Always Need To Bring Wellies
Why do you need wellies at a football game? Is it because it’s muddy?
No, you need to bring your wellies because someone’s going to piss on you.
Well, that’s what my father used to tell me.
When I was younger, my parents lived in Newcastle. The locals didn’t have much to do, so they spent their time watching football and getting drunk. I mean, given how atrocious NUFC are, can you think of any other explanation?
As an impressionable child, I wanted to do that too, so I asked my father to take me to St James Park.
His response was always the same:
“Henry, if you sit in those stands, one of those ghastly Geordieswill spot you. They’ll see that you’re a pretty boy, and then they’ll wop out their member and start pissing all over you.It’s a fact. Every time I’ve been to a football match someone has pissed on me. IT’S A FACT!”
Those with children, take note. Telling them that Mickey’s going to piss on them is a really easy way to get them to shut up getting Disney+.
Don’t trust me? Well, this story’s actually true. You can tell because my father’s second sentence is always, “It’s a fact.” Before you ask, no, he’s never read any Descartes.
Anyway, it turns out that my father might have been lying, because while watching Clapton Community FC, no one pissed on me. And yes, I am still a delicate English Rose.
But to give my father the benefit of the doubt, maybe no one pissed on me because I got there late.
The lesson, English football is not always urolagnia unleashed.
4. Horses Might NOT Bite Your Fingers Off
My father also used to tell me that if I went to a football match, a police horse would bite my fingers off.
Because fingers look like carrots and police horses are underfed. Well, what do you expect to happen when pigs are put in charge of the grain silo?
However, I think he might have been lying about this too.
While watching Clapton Community FC, the only person who tried to bite off my fingers was me.
No wait, now I’m lying.
I wasn’t really paying enough attention to experience anything close to a wracking of nerves.
So English football does not involve horses hungry for fingers.
5. You Don’t Need To Know The Players’ Names
Before you go to a game, you might feel obliged to learn all of the players’ names.
Don’t bother, they have numbers on their backs, so you totally don’t need to.
Shouting, “You dick number 11, your name’s probably Kevin,” is just as effective as shouting, “go on Shearer.” (he’s still playing or Manchester United, right?)
Using their numbers will also give you the opportunity to prepare your rhymes ahead of the game.
To get you started, I’ve put together some ideas below. Don’t worry, I’ve gone to extreme lengths to make sure they’re not sexist.
One kind of rhymes with fun, so you could shout, “You dick number one, last night your [father/mother] was fun.”
Two rhymes with blew, so you could shout, “You dick number two, I knew your [father/mother] blew.”
Three rhymes with amputee, so you could shout, “You dick number three, your [father’s/mother’s] an amputee.”
As far as I can tell, rhymes are the most effective way of getting everyone in the crowd to agree with your point, and start jibing at the players with you.
Also, these taunts don’t need to be shouted in context, because, well, the football players are playing football. They don’t care about your clearly articulated points.
English football is like politics. No one’s going to pretend to care about your opinion unless they want to tell you theirs.
6. English Football Features The Fiercest Fights
For a game to count as an official match, there has to be a fight. Otherwise it’s totally impossible to figure out who’s winning.
English football fights fall into three distinct categories:
My Dad’s bigger than your Dad
You kicked me on purpose
I’m gonna deck you if you don’t stop looking at the girl I fancy even though she hates me because I start fights at football games and think its attractive to eat ginsters pasties while sitting on the toilet
During the game I saw this weekend, I had the pleasure of witnessing a classic ‘My Dad’s Bigger than your Dad‘.
Here’s how it went down:
CCFC’s No. 10 disagreed with Blue-Vest-Yellow-Shoes, “There’s no way your dad could beat up my dad.” CCFC’s No. 10 was so sure of it he said, “Oi! Blue-Vest-Yellow-Shoes. Your dad couldn’t even beat up my dad if your cousin helped, because my dad’s 15 stone and he’s got £1 million and that guy with the eyepatch from Metal Gear Solid was based on him.“
CCFC ‘s Shortest Player (the one with the beard) then came in and said “Yeah Blue-Vest-Yellow-Shoes, if your cousin helped your dad try to beat up No. 10’s dad, even though he wouldn’t need any help, I’d call my uncle and tell him about it. He’s friends with Diesel from Gladiators, and he owes my uncle a favour. He’d be sure to come down and give your dad AND your cousin a super smashing.” (he held out his arms really far).
Blue-Vest-Orange-Shoeswas disturbed by the threat made by CCFC ‘s Shortest Player, so he walked up with the ball and said:
“That’s not fair, Diesel from Gladiators is an absolute monster. He’ll rip Mr Barnington’s head off for sure. You’ve gotta tell your uncle that Diesel can’t be in the fight, or I’ll tell the police and you’ll get nicked for murder. Actually, this is too serious. If you don’t call your uncle to tell Diesel to back off Mr Barnington now, I’m taking my ball home.”
The referee suddenly weighed in.
He started waving his red card everywhere. That’s right, the Blue-Vest-Orange-Shoes‘ cowardly threat to take the ball home is the foul of the century.
The referee had no choice but to deduct a goal from the Blue Shirt’s score.
CLAPTON COMMUNITY FC FOREVER!!!
7. It’s Really, Really, Really Boring
So, as you might have guessed, instead of watching the match, I wrote this.
Which proves once and for all that English football is super boring.
Even after five Tyskies.
Hey, at least I got to see the fight of the century and my clothes don’t smell like piss.
Bidding on various competitions, an account posing as Jillian Milner awarded a project to me, then invited me to have a chat on Skype.
Jillian was then magically transformed into Scott Foster, owner of the content mill, Need An Article. I was surprised, but I thought hell, if Scott gets off by cross dressing on Freelaner, who am I to judge?
I should say now that Need An Article is actually a legitimate business and not affiliated with Joseph Onyango. I learned this later on their Facebook page.
However, at the time I didn’t know that I wasn’t talking to Jillian Milner or Scott Foster.
Over the course of the conversation, I agreed to write ten 2,000 word articles about Project Management.
I should have known something was wrong.
The conversation was filled with red flags:
He complimented my writing. lol
He promised to pay me $60 for every 2,000 word article (way too much for writing absolute crap)
The meta data of every briefing document he sent me listed ‘Joseph Onyango the Child Trafficker (of words)’ as the creator. Not legitimate businessman Scott Foster.
Where To Now?
Well, I’m pretty powerless.
I suggested to Upwork that they should delete his account, because others may be less forgiving than I. But they haven’t.
Maybe that’s because he works for them? It’s what his LinkedIn suggests.
I also did my utmost to make the best out of a bad situation.
I did it by financially empowering those who bought my child trafficked words to achieve redemption.
It was as simple as emailing every site admin hosting my work, and letting them know that they could use my material for free. There was no longer a need to pay Joseph Onyango for his Child Trafficking services. It worked in at least three instances.
I hope the gesture’s enabled them to love and care for my words properly.
And I also hope that they don’t believe Joseph Onyango when he suggests that I flew out to Kenya and stole his notebook to sabotage his life.
Really, I have better things to do. Like um, writing stupid things on my various blogs.
Joseph Onyango – We Should Be Friends
Finally, Joseph Onyango, if you’re reading this, I’d love it if you got in touch.