Supermarket Sweep. Because Coronavirus

Recently everyone’s been at the supermarket. They’ve been hanging out in the same aisles and rubbing shoulders with the infected, because Coronavirus. (yes, it’s just one word) 

This Sunday, I decided to follow the crowd and go to Tesco.

It seemed like a great opportunity to uncover new consumer trends.

How? By analysing all of the panic buying

While the journey didn’t really teach me anything, it did raise some very potent questions. 

I’m sure you want to know exactly what they are, so I’ll get to it.

What About The Food Bank?

Tesco stores always have a food bank donation box near the entrance. 

It’s funny that over the last decade, we’ve reverted to a sort of Victorian reliance on the Third Sector to alleviate the national balance sheet.

So yeah, the food bank box was the first thing I saw ahead of passing the tills. 

I mean, it’s good it’s full

And it got me thinking, if everyone’s already bought up all of the dried pasta, cans of alphabetti spaghetti and spam, what the hell’s anyone going to donate to the Food Bank?

Also, are the Trussell Trust increasing the number of meals in each food package given out to those in need? Because I seem to remember that they aren’t packed to cover two weeks’ worth of food.

Or does the Government care just as much about those on zero-hour contracts and those that work at the Department for Work and Pensions, as they do about those on benefits?

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. 

M-m-m-m-my Corona

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).

Where’s the Baconnaise?!

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.

Take a look.

The people will survive,
In their environment,
The dirt, scarcity, and the emptiness of our south,
The injustice of our greed

It’s funny and I think this is clear evidence that people believe Coronavirus originates from Corona Beer. It’s definitely not a sign that British people don’t like drinking Corona in the winter (I do, it’s the only thing that gets me up in the morning).

Funnily enough, I was convinced for ages that Microsoft’s version of Siri was called Corona, not Cortana, and this was why Microsoft’s announced that they were moving their personal digital assistant away from providing consumer skills at about the same time as the outbreak started. Because it maybe it had mutated into something dreadful.

Which I suppose just proves that I’m denser than you.

Parents Now Feel Obliged To Bathe Their Children 

There was only one lonesome bottle of Matey left on the shelves.

Ahoy there!

To enjoy a moment of nostalgia I unscrewed the cap and smelled a hypoallergenic formulation adventure. Ahhh, youth.

Given almost all the Matey had gone, I guess this shows that everyone now understands that they need to clean their children (because Coronavirus). 

Which is probably a good thing.

Ta Ta Toilet Paper

There wasn’t a roll of toilet paper to be seen.

I’m starting a national campaign to bring the bidet back

Which is ample proof that no-one’s thought through their quarantined diets properly.

I mean, if they’ve going to subside on dried pasta, baconnaise and chopped tomatoes, do they really think their movements will be frequent enough to justify all that toilet paper?

Really? Do they? Do you?

Despite The Powdered Milk Debacle, Nestle Beats Kellogs

If you were locked up in your house for a month, what sort of cereal would you buy?

Nesquik. Obviously.

Nesquik, a great start to the quarantine

Which proves once and for all that Nestle makes better cereal than Kellogs (I wouldn’t know).

And that people don’t factor ethics into their purchasing habits as much as marketers may think.

Clean Shaven In Your Haven

Panic buying razors makes sense given the official advice that face masks don’t work with stubble.

But this scene was interesting because it was only all of the Gillette Mach 3 blades that were gone. Not the Mach 4, 5, 6 or 20

Wet or dry?

How many blades does your razor need now?

Well how many Gillette?

I think the best Gillette can do is start a campaign advising men that the closer their shave, the more ingrown hairs they’ll have on their face, giving them more to do when they’re sitting around at home watching Doctors next week.

Rationing’s For Babies Only

The only thing that had a sign saying it was rationed in the Tesco store in Hackney Central this Sunday was baby formula.

I dig that this is probably important. Babies need formula when you don’t want to expose them to an infected mother.

But it seemed weird that nothing else was rationed.

Which made me think that everyone must be buying the wrong things.

Follow the logic?

Tesco are only going to put up signs rationing things you will actually, usefully need during a quarantine.

Like those croissants that come in tubes, Dairylea Lunchables and crossword puzzles.

Win £1,000 in Tesco Clubcard Vouchers! Think of all the chopped tomatoes you could buy!

Because Coronavirus.

Chair Quest – How To Get A Free Chair

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:

CHAIR QUEST

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 to Argos 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.

I’ll spell it out for those whose EQ isn’t as great as mine

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?!

Seated Sabotage

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, stealing seat slips and smashing each other’s shoes.

But nothing could have prepared me for this scene:

The best place to find new chairs is the cupboard with the bins near council houses, because benefit scroungers get allowances to buy new furniture

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

Think about it. 

How did they think they could get away with all of those better than half price sales, while  selling chairs that are just made of glue and staples

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

Upholstery Uncovered

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

I nearly stole these chairs, but didn’t because they’re not nice enough for a pretty boy like me

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.

Mobility Scooters

Next I spoke to this mobility scooter. 

Have you ever seen a more delightful office chair?

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.

The lesson of this story is don’t play in skips children

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

I thanked him, but he was already dead.

It made me a bit upset, because if my flatmate had come along, he could have cast cushion  moderate wounds or raise the upholstery and Arnold might still be alive today.

It’s not a good idea to take chairs from skips. They’re normally full of asbestos and smell like weed.

Incontinent Chairs

I was worried by what Arnold had said.

Obviously I had no interest in talking to a man with a severe case of erectile dysfunction, especially if I didn’t have a chair to sit on. 

What if it was contagious? 

I had to find a chair, and fast.

Finally, I came across one that looked sort of suitable. However, it appeared to be in jail, for no obvious reason.

I asked what crime it had committed. The chair wouldn’t talk to me, but then I saw a pretty horrible yellow puddle forming on its seat.

The dirty bastard was trying to urinate on me.

It’s completely natural sir

So I promptly left.

When looking for a free chair, remember to watch out for those with bladder control issues, as they will completely ruin your jeans and your room’s floor.

Delegate Responsibility To Your Girlfriend

Having not found a chair, I told my girlfriend about my predicament. 

She said I was being stupid and should buy a new chair.

Tired after a day of questing, we went to the merry ye olde tavern, The Elderfield, securing a room for the night for three coppers.

The next morning, I awoke rested, and having nothing better to do, set off on my quest again.

A Call From A Man With Severe Erectile Dysfunction

Just as I was about to find a great new chair near that old weird building on Homerton High Street, my phone started ringing.

The number wasn’t withheld, it was 020 3631 5675.

Damn, the man with Severe Erectile Dysfunction was calling.

Answering the call, I was met with a pre-recorded message that said, “This is an urgent call from HMRC about a fraud matter. Please press one to accept this call.

Obviously, I pressed one.

That’s how I started speaking to Armit.

He had a thick Indian accent, and definitely sounded like he suffered from Severe Erectile Dysfunction (you could hear his penis flopping about in the background).

He said, “Hello, is that Mr Henry, this is HMRC calling, a warrant has been issued for your arrest. The only option to prevent your arrest is to pay £50,000 now.

I was standing near a wall, on which I rested.

Yes, I’d foiled the evil Armit’s plan and knew that he’d hidden all the chairs because he wanted my £50,000 (I’ve totally got £50,000).

So I just hung up.

He then called again and posed the riddle, “Mr Henry, with HMRC you only get one chance, you need to transfer the money now.

Having worked in Government for six years, I knew the answer straight away. Specifically that the statement definitely wasn’t true if you’re white and English.

So I dispelled his spell by hanging up on him again.

I then walked home, forlorn that I hadn’t enquired about the chair’s he’d kidnapped, and the respective failure of my quest.

Deus Ex Ma-chair-a

To my surprise, that evening my girlfriend called me.

She’d found a black chair just like my old one, only with a broken leg.

It was dark and handsome, so when we both collected it from outside someone’s house we decided to rename it Vincent.

It’s great, and I’ve never been happier.

Thus ends the greatest story ever told, Chair Quest.

The moral of the sotry is, if you’re looking for a free chair, tell your girlfriend and she’ll find one for you.

Also, if HMRC call you and say that you owe them £50,000, it’s most likely a man with severe erectile dysfunction at the other end of the line.

If you work for Netflix and want to get the rights to this story, drop me a line.

Motivating The Move – Your Guaranteed Six-Step Programme For Removing Unwanted Flatmates

My flatmates broke up last month. 

That means I’m now living with a former couple. 

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 Park to 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 rizlas come 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.

As soon as she’s completely destroyed her passport and birth certificate, she’ll no longer have any evidence of her British citizenship, and we can call the Home Office and get her deported to Jamaica!

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.

https://www.express.co.uk/horoscope/Gemini/daily-forecast/2020-03-07 

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, 

Your-yoghurt”

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?

I’d Rather Live Alone

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.

Probably never.

Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to happen unless the following three points are satisfied:

  1. We continue going out 
  2. My girlfriend’s deported (it might happen)
  3. 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:

  1. 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?
  2. 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.
  3. 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?

Definitely.

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.

The Truth About English Football – Clapton Community FC FOREVER

This weekend, I went to see Clapton Community FC. They’re one of London’s premier football teams.

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.

English men playing English football. Yes, it’s as drab as it looks.

Discovering Clapton Community FC

I’ll start by introducing Clapton Community FC, with a little help from their crest.

Five stars for imagination fellas. Oh wait, you’ve already put them in the middle of your crest. Isn’t that a bit presumptive?

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:

No baguettes or german sausages – just a sea of North Face and Superdry jackets atop Next loafers. What could be more quintessentially English?

This Is European Football:

Va-va-voom? I mean, none of us speak French, so I guess that’s why we don’t get it.

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.

You can’t watch English Football without a truly English beer. Tyskie – as English as the people picking our vegetables.

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 Geordies will 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. 

Why? 

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-Shoes was 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.

MCM Comic Con – Why I Took My Parents

Today, my parents visited. They claimed to be at a loose end. I know they were lying. They visited because they’re horrified at my current squatting arrangements. They also wanted to find out exactly what I’ve been doing.

Turns out that pulling wings off flies and not showering isn’t good enough for them anymore.

That’s how we ended up at MCM Comic Con.

Enthusiastic crowds entering MGM Comic Con

How we arrived at MCM Comic Con

Dragged off my bare mattress at 10:50, I spent the following hour listening to my mother’s half term shenanigans. As a man of leisure, I had very little to contribute, but related to her current ‘lack of direction’.

Dialogue options were exhausted quickly, and I soon started to perceive my flatmates’ agitation about the number of empty wine bottles in plain view.

I had to get them out of the house.

But what could we do? It was raining and I really didn’t want to go to the Tate Modern. So like any lazy and extremely ungrateful son, I checked Time Out.

Despite suggesting every listing in Great Things To Do On Saturday (in a very spooky voice), my mother wasn’t interested in visiting either the Science Gallery’s Anxiety Exhibition or the Hello Kitty 45th Year Anniversary Pop Up.

So, remembering all of those awful ‘It’s On Like Comic Con’ posters, I suggested that we should go to MCM Comic Con.

My father was delighted. Not because he likes comics. He just watches the Big Bang Theory a lot. So we set off to one of the capital’s hellscape, ExCeL London.

Little did my parents know, I’d suggested the destination with redemption in mind.

Does MCM Comic Con Spell Redemption?

Sure. At least that’s what I figured.

Last year’s event included everyone’s favourite sexual harasser, Vic Mignogna, as a special guest. Having not checked this year’s rosta, I assumed it would be just as inappropriate. And everyone knows severe underachievement trumps sexual harassment!

More seriously, I was convinced that wandering around Dockside, gaping at cosplayers and looking at lots of overpriced crap, would help my parents appreciate how lucky they are.

Yes, although they had a completely dysfunctional son, at least he didn’t like comics.

Could there have been a more perfect plan?!

Probably not. At least that’s what my imagination told me.

Before we’d even set off, I could feel the fat wad of cash my parents were going to give to me for being so damn great.

Getting to MCM Comic Con

Homerton to Prince Regent. Citymapper said it was a breeze, and it was. The carriages were rammed so I didn’t have to make conversation.

Even better, while on the DLR, I almost achieved my objective early.

Standing in the rear carriage, I listened to a student, proudly wearing a Sesame Street T-Shirt, recount a story to his mother.

It was about how his recent trip to the pub was derailed. Apparently, when he was leaving his house, a false widow descended from the ceiling and mauled his flatmate.

It went something like this:

It was on her face, and she was like, screaming. But like, she wasn’t scared. Even though she got bitten. Afterwards she said she’d hoped it would turn her into a spiderthing, but it just gave her anaphylactic shock. It’s true. She went to the doctor this week and he said it was lucky that she was already on anti-anxiety meds, as if not, it would have been certain death by swelling.

Student wearing a Sesame Street T-shirt on the DLR. If you want to hear more reiveting stories, he lives in Canning Town

I was delighted.

Surely this idiot was going to MCM Comic Con. That’d show my parents that they’d never had it so good. Better yet, my mother could hear him!

The icing was that my mother used to be an arachnologist, and would know his story was complete bollocks.

While this guy continued to gibber at his mother, I could only smile as MY mother’s face contorted.

I knew then that she must be concluding that her wonderful and definitely not lazy son, knew more about spiders than this student. Even better, she could see that I was still able to leave the house unaccompanied. No moral support from Big Bird necessary.

Low and behold, as the train stopped at Canning Town, he got off. Damn, he wasn’t going to MCM Comic Con.

Then the cosplayers started swarming. The train must have realised, choosing to bypass the two remaining stops, straight to Prince Regent station.

Entering the ExCeL Centre

Escaping the DLR, we were met by Dave the DLR Driver and, er, I dunno, Dorene the Senior Customer Services Advisor.

Dave and Dorene. The only reason the DLR’s still running.

From what I deduced, these are the DLR Danger Duo, everyone’s favourite TFL Superheroes.

In their latest issue they stopped Greedy McReady, the dirty fare evader, from getting to work. Then heroically looked on as a self-driving DLR train stopped when the despicable Dr Extinction Rebellion managed to glue innocent passengers onto the top of a carriage instead of himself. The hilarity!

Dorene tried to give me a high five. Playing it cool, I looked the other way.

Then we walked on to ExCeL London.

The journey presented a great opportunity for my parents to watch cosplayers in the harsh light of day.

That’s why I coaxed my father to have at least two cigarettes before we joined the queue.

It sort of worked. My father gaped at the low cut blouses, fishnet tights and endless folds of flesh.

Henry, everyone’s dressed like schoolgirls. Big boobs, short skirts. Have all these women come as Daisy Duke, or is it Mariner Moon? What happens if I bing Mariner Moon on my Windows Phone?

Henry’s Father musing about life

My mother chastised him.

It’s always great when they’re uncomfortable.

But it didn’t last long. At some point we’d have to go inside.

We hadn’t bought tickets, so we shuffled around the ExCeL Centre. Fortunately, the queue wasn’t too long.

I was also relieved to learn that while evading the shower this morning hadn’t been the right decision, it wasn’t necessarily the wrong one.

Why Is It Still Called MGM Comic Con? Visiting Comic Villiage

Inside, well, inside I was surprised.

All the attendees seemed to be really into the food court. Costumes were also limited.

Maybe cosplayers got special memos saying they were only allowed to come as specific videogame characters (Generic Soldier, Enzo from Assassin’s Creed or something from Borderlands – bleugh), Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker or Spiderman.

Damn. The Joker. Why didn’t I think of that?!

Costumes aside though, I was really impressed by this dude who just bought a red t-shirt and joggers and used a sharpie to transform it into a spiderman costume.

I wanted to get out of the foodcourt, so we headed straight for Comic Village.

It should have been called the Comic Hamlet.

Why? Because MGM Comic Con attendees don’t give a shit about comics.

Wandering around, all the reasonably famous artists, writers and inkers sat alone at their picnic tables. They looked heartbroken.

Yes, no one was asking Glenn Fabry whether Garth Ennis had asked him to insert U2 references into the Preacher cover art for issues 1-66. Attendees didn’t question John Wager on whether the Judge Child’s birthmark was meant to be a backwards elephant instead of an eagle. The crowds were even avoiding asking Sandman inker, Mark Buckingham, whether he purposefully ruined Bryan Talbot’s sketches.

As a son who definitely doesn’t like comics, it really surprised me.

Where the hell was everybody?!

What Do MCM Comic Con Attendees Go To See?

It was still crowded. Attendees were just elsewhere.

After a quick stroll, I deduced that there are four reasons why people go to MCM Comic Con:

  1. Pop in a Box – Funko Pop Vinyls
  2. Marvel Stuff
  3. Each Other
  4. Because they love cats

Yes, everyone was milling around the Funko stand.

Apparently lots of grown people love dolls with big heads. Maybe they fight with them. Maybe they use them impress girls. Or maybe they’re just all strange.

Apparently, attendees also like to buy signed Marvel movie scripts. At MCM Comic Con, you could get three for £30. Crazy.

It’s probably because they love the writing so much. I can’t blame them, what’s better than the final scene of every recent Marvel movie. You know, the one where all the superheroes stand in an awkward pose at the end. It’s like a teaser for the next movie or whatever. Subtle, outstanding dialogue and definitely not formulaic.

Strangely, there were also a load of booths advertising charities for cats.

Look at that head of hair! I’ll never have to worry about balding.

But I guess the biggest reveal was that these people actually seemed to enjoy each other’s company.

While I could laugh at bobbleheads, a love of marvel and cat charities, I couldn’t laugh at friendship.

I think my parents realised that too.

Everyone else there was enjoying themselves. They were having a nice day out. They weren’t sociopaths who hated everything.

By taking my parents to MCM Comic Con, I’d helped them realise that their beloved son was actually a misguided dimwit. It hurt.

Den of Geek – Enjoying the Moment

Self understanding hurts. But only for so long.

That is until someone passes you a free copy of Den of Geek! Thankfully, this happened to me. I skipped straight to page 66 to read the final article, ‘Enjoying the Moment‘.

It was a guide on how to really enjoy MCM Comic Con.

There were five actionable pieces of sage advice. Get ready, this is how you do MCM Comic Con right:

  1. Look at the cosplayers (boobs)
  2. Eat yummy food (yes, a panini from Costa constitutes ‘YUMMY FOOD’)
  3. Remember that the art stands are free exhibitions
  4. Smile at people
  5. Have a good, long sit down

I’m not even joking. Here’s the article:

Den of Geek, Enjoying the Moment – The Definitive Guide to Enjoying MGM Comic Con

Hell, it wasn’t my fault I hadn’t enjoyed MGM Comic Con. I just wasn’t doing it right.

Immediately I knew I had to go next year.

Maybe I’d even take my girlfriend.

We could stare at boobs, eat paninis and smile at people, while sitting down – together.

NB: To my dearest and only readers, Mum and Dad, thanks in advance for understanding why I write such horrible things. And for taking me out today. I’ll try and get a job soon.

REVIEW: All Points East – Victoria Park, Saturday & Sunday – 25 & 26 May 2019

or how Henry learned that day festivals suck (AGAIN)

Thanks to my own initiative (a competition on Dice), I’d bagged entry to All Points East: London’s premier-early-summertime-day-festival in Victoria Park

I was now able to attend performances on both Saturday AND Sunday, which meant I had the chance to see at least two headliners: the Strokes AND Christine and the Queens.

It didn’t matter that I didn’t know who Christine and the Queens were (probably a French Queens of the Stone Age cover band). I’d finally won tickets to something and two at that!

Like a toddler that hadn’t been changed all day, I felt the urge to roll around and share the glory of my own majesty with everyone.

And what was the easiest way to do that? Reminiscing, stupid!

So I thought back to last year’s All Points East. Oh yeah, I went to that one too and what a time we had!

There was that duet between Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue. It was magical.

Then I remembered feeling totally inspired by Patti Smith’s wail to action. It was also magical.

And as I made sure that the memory was spread evenly across the carpet of my mind, I remembered that everyone had sung in a field of roses, roses without thorns and it was absolute bliss.

Why you should always think a little harder than you actually do

As the memory hit its climax, I remembered Patti Smith calling out to the audience:

Rise up, oh rise up my young flowers, if we all sing together we’ll break the machine and be free to love each other forever. It’s the sixties all over again. Yeah, we changed the world and it’s great now because of us.

Wait, the world isn’t great now, is it?

I then learned that everyone else had won tickets on Dice too.

Then my girlfriend said she didn’t want to come on Sunday.

Then I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to rub anyone’s face in the fact that I’d finally won something.

And then I started to remember that no, last year’s All Points East hadn’t been that good, had it?

I looked on the internet to confirm my suspicions. Reading this review on Resident Adviser just confirmed that people who write for RA take too much ecstasy (it really damages your brain).

Yep, it was confirmed. Last year had definitely been awful.

But I tried to not get myself down. I mean, it was going to be sunny. Maybe I could still drink too much and have a fun time?

Turns out I was wrong. Just like I had been wrong last year.

Having definitely experienced this before and now having absolutely no desire to experience it again, I decided to write down exactly why All Points East was an awful experience (AGAIN) and why I never want to go back, EVER AGAIN.

Henry’s list of things that you should definitely read before accepting tickets to go to All Points East

1. The people often suck

Why do a lot of the people at day festivals suck?

Because they’re the types who think the best place to see Foo Fighters is from the seated bit at the back of Greenwich O2.

It’s not. The best way to see Foo Fighters is sticking your head down a u-bend screaming Monkey Wrench.

I don’t need to labour this further. No, someone provided me with the perfect example while I was queuing on Saturday.

Get comfortable and I’ll set the scene:

To the left there was a poster boasting that Mumford & Sons’ latest LP was the Daily Telegraph’s 2018 Album of the Year. Even though I don’t think it was?

Ahead, there were swathes of white people and despite the overpowering scent of sun block, the back of everyone’s necks and ears were piglet pink.

All Points East - Entrance
I think Instagram invented ‘English people filters’ that help mask all the pink – All Points East: the queue

And get ready, because behind there stood the most disingenuous couple I have ever had the pleasure of eavesdropping on, EVER.

The mysterious couple’s All Points East queue conversation

The girl, “Oh, you know that babe that I’m totally obsessed with on Instagram? Yeah? Well she’s in Majorca and it looks so LUSH. She just looks so LUSH. She’s SO beefed right now. It’s really inspiring me. You know what? I’m gonna go beefer.”  

The guy, “Ah, babe this is why I love you so much. It would be my absolute pleasure to go beefer with you.

The girl then responded, “I LOVE YOU SO MUCH [BEEF] BABE.

Lucky for them, everyone’s cattle prods were confiscated at the entrance.

2. The bands don’t have a very good incentive to play well  

If someone wrote you a check for £50,000 and then said all you had to do was jump around the stage at the petting zoo, would you put on your best performance?

Probably not.

This year, it’s already been reported that the Strokes sounded like underwater karaoke. Look, it’s in the Independent.  

For some reason though, the Independent didn’t get in touch with me for a quote.

It’s a shame because I actually spent most of the Strokes’ performance standing to the right of the main stage – exactly where it sounded bad. I’m afraid that I need to testify that while the Strokes were hard to hear (and there was one hell of a lot of booing), it did not sound like underwater karaoke.

All Points East - the Strokes
Proof that I definitely saw the Strokes. Actually, it does look a little like underwater love – All Points East on Saturday

But I can tell you that it’s a shame it wasn’t underwater karaoke. If it had been, all the people who were singing, “nah-na-nahh-na-nah-nahhhh-nahhhhh,” to that guitar bit that everyone knows in 12:41 would have probably swallowed a little too much water.

3. The blatant commercialism

Is there anything more rock and roll than new tires, credit cards, electronic cigarettes and an inability to seduce someone in person (Tinder, I’m looking at you)?

Apparently not.

All Points East’s website describes the companies that sell all of these great things as partners not sponsors.

You know that’s the corporate way of saying ‘I’m with the band’.

And I hate to labour the point, but the adverts are so hard to ignore.

Here were my favourites:

  1. The Logic Vape tent (how is it ok to advertise vapes but it’s not ok to advertise cigarettes? All those vape adverts just remind everyone that they used to smoke real cigarettes. I mean, if I was working in Marlboro’s advertising department right now I’d just invent a vape that looks like a pack of Marlboro Reds and plaster that everywhere)
  2. The Huawei spying platform (yes, Huawei had a platform directly opposite the main stage, where else would it be?), and
  3. The totally Radical American Express card holders wristband that granted an ever so exclusive set of people access to an ever so exclusive tent at the side, filled with other people who also had American Express cards.

Can you imagine a tent full of people who only have two things in common: an Amex card and a desire to only hang out with other people who have Amex cards?

I bet the Amex tent’s great.

Who doesn’t love spending time at concerts comparing their Experian credit rating (by the way, it’s 300 (that means good 😉 ). How about you send me some money in the post?).

4. No one seems to be angry that it’s blatant commercialism

Let me tell you a story:

Once upon a time, at All Points East there was a Tinder Van.

Everyone walked past the Tinder Van and said, “Oh, sweet, it’s really useful that there’s a Tinder Van at All Points East. You know, somewhere you’re able to change partners when you fall out of love for forty minutes and both no longer want to see the same band. It’s just great that you’ll still have someone else’s back pocket to keep your hand warm in.

Then, when Interpol started playing Henry’s girlfriend went up to the Tinder Van and said, “Oh please Tinder Van, can I exchange this Henry for someone who doesn’t want to see Interpol?

And then the Tinder Van lady said “Oh no Henry’s girlfriend, I’m afraid not, this van is just for beer, but if you pull your top down a bit I’ll set you up with a new profile.

And in the end poor little Henry got abandoned at the carousel that looked like it was dancing to the end of the world.

Have you worked out what’s strange about that story yet? You guessed it, no one’s angry that I was abandoned.

All Points East - Tinder Van
The usual suspects at the Tinder Van @ All Points East

Want to hear something else people weren’t angry about?

There was this All Points East app that was meant to tell you when and where your favourite acts were playing. But it’s like they made sure it was completely web-based on purpose.

Of course it wasn’t going to work.

When have you ever had mobile data at a festival?!

The organisers clearly knew it wasn’t going to work. That’s why they hired a bunch of people to stand around with physical guides on really cool lanyards that cost £5 each.

My point here is that no one seemed to care that they were being ripped off. Or angry about anything. It was just kind of like everyone there wanted vanilla icecream and everyone got vanilla icecream.

5. The hypocrisy

I really wanted to see Parquet Courts on Saturday and I did. It was great. I think Parquet Courts are ace.

But, despite a solid performance of Tenderness, no one seemed to take the lyrics to heart.

All Points East - the Apocalypse
#plasticfree @ All Points East. It really looks like the apocalypse, doesn’t it? Were Parquet Courts not just singing about the end of the world?!

And like that magnificent band from New York City, this weekend, I too was left without a fix of a little tenderness.

Excerpt from Parquet Courts’ Tenderness

Nothing reminds the mind of power

Like the cheap odor of plastic

Leaking fumes we crave, consume, the rush it feels fantastic

But like power turns to mold, like a junkie going cold

I need the fix of a little tenderness

Redemption

But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t any good bits.

I mean Jarvis Cocker somehow managed to convince the Hamburglar to join his band.

All Points East - Jarvis Cocker and the Hamburglar
That is definitely Jarvis Cocker and that figure circled in red is definitely the HamburglarYou believe me right? @ All Points East

UPDATE: And here’s why you shouldn’t go to All Points East 2020.

Personality of a Sandwich

Imagine; you’re in the dead zone, somewhere between Monday and Friday.

You’re probably at work and to set the scene, I’ll start with something believable: there’s nothing decent to scroll on BBC News.

But look up. The clock on the wall opposite screams salvation.

Finally, it’s lunch!

But something’s wrong.

This giddy hour used to inspire joy, but as you lean forward, arms outstretched, you feel nothing.

And somehow, it stings.

And you, just as I, play out a scenario in your head.

Maybe today’s the day we can say it in unison. 

London, I’m sorry, but you just don’t excite me anymore.

[grab the city’s hand – it’s insecure]

You and these never-ending sandwiches, they’re just so predictable. You need someone less, how do I put it, challenging?

And now the city’s looking back at you, it’s heart shattered and it tries to mouth, “But you could get sushi from Itsu!” but you press your index finger against its lips and you can see a new found understanding in its eyes.

Cutting it short, London mouths, “I understand.”

Wow. I’m surprised at how that scenario played out too. I mean, I didn’t think this city had dignity.

The whole experience is a revelation and naturally,  you want to share it.

Peak over your soundboard.

Meet the blank stare of your colleague and relish the realisation they also haven’t done any work since arrival.

Yes, finally I know what’s wrong! It’s the sandwich that’s the problem.

Momentum builds and you try and speak it out, but suddenly, your boss returns from their noon-time excursion.

They cast aside a paper bag from Eat and clutching a plastic wrapped baguette they announce with fervour to the desk bank, “I got chicken salad!

Breathe_In_and_Out
It’s wonderful that eateries provide anxiety relieving devices with every purchase. I mean, most of us have two hands, so what else could they be for?

And deep down, you know, it’s not safe to share this epiphany. Maybe it won’t ever be.

So, as my single protest of the day, here’s a list of everyone else’s failings as defined by their choice of sandwich.

1. Homemade Monstrosity

If you managed to make your own lunch, commendable effort. I applaud you.

It won’t be very good (compare it to mine and weep).

best_sandwich
This one’s complicated. If you want to try and recreate it, please check with your parents before you use the sharp knife.

As I understand it, only the following truly count as homemade sandwiches:

  • Peanut Butter. A rough staple. Apparently a layer of margarine will prevent you from gagging on it. But hell, no one likes peanut butter and margarine, so please muffle the choking.
  • Spaghetti. It only counts as a sandwich filling if it comes from a can. A single, lonesome can. The bread will be sodden. I’ve tried it and yes, cannot wait for the apocalypse.
  • Crisps. The lunch of the pauper king. Combine the two most important staples of the English diet to become the  turbo-carbohydrate-based-killer you’ve always wanted to be. (NB: To think this was a good idea, you’d probably have to be high. Supporting the widely robust theory that eating sandwiches at work normalises drug abuse)

After consuming nothing but a smattering of these sandwiches for lunch, I know definitively that only person who would eat any of these is one of the following:

  • Idiot savant
  • Wants to be in a nu-metal band (probably Korn)
  • Hasn’t dry-cleaned their suit trousers, despite their mother’s protests, since purchase

Advice: Avoid eye contact. 

Pro-tip: Colleagues who make their own sandwiches sometimes express their personalities through the pictures on their lunchboxes. Dora the Explorer means that they’re crudely progressive. A picture of a cat is generally a reminder that they regret eating their cat. Don’t ever talk to them about it.

2. The Tesco Triangle

People buy sandwiches at Tesco because they’re misinformed.

I can help with that.

Value_Sandiwch
This diagram was smuggled out of a Tesco sandwich making factory. The instructions help inspire employees to be more productive

The first pitfall encountered when buying a sandwich from Tesco, is that in London, you could have always gone to Sainsbury’s instead. It’s the same entrance fee and normally better. But I understand, sometimes an extra fifty meters is too far to waddle.

Ingeniously, Tesco dropped the shock white & blue that helped the common man and woman recognise their value range. But, really, has anyone ever been misled by their new sandwich packaging? There’s only so much that a cellophane window can hide. And, true to value, when you gaze in, you’re probably looking at a sandwich built out of ingredients that were chemically treated to meet the standards necessary for human consumption.

Delicious.

Advice: Never, ever, ever talk to someone who willingly buys Tesco triangle sandwiches for lunch. They’ll copy your work and take the credit, then they’ll suggest that everyone gets together tomorrow to eat triangle sandwiches on the park bench outside the office, while they look for diverted buses that don’t belong on the routes they are travelling.

Fucking horror show.

3. Supermarket Sandwich in a Paper Bag

It’s in a bag. It’s in a really fancy bag and that bag is on the top shelf of the freezer section. The bag’s a different colour to the flat-packed triangle sandwiches! And the bag carries the subtitle; ‘Wild Boar Pulled Pork from the Everglades: Taste the Difference’.

IT’S IN A BAG! It is so, so sophisticated. Only the most sophisticated people eat sandwiches from bags.

Keep lying to yourself.

All manufactured sandwiches were made equal.

That sandwich in a bag was made on a conveyor belt. The same conveyor belt that someone was paid to watch. The same conveyor that mayonnaise dropped down onto from tubes above. Mayonnaise that fell at exactly the right time to catch the flight path of bluebottle, dousing it and forcing it onto the ‘mature’ cheese below.

Damn, they have so much extra packaging too. Do the people who buy these sandwiches think that their extra £1.40 gives them the right to more packaging? Probably.

These sandwiches are like that colleague, who has always earned the same as you, but rather than going to parties, they lived at their parents’ until thirty, then bought a house. Is owning things an achievement? Totally. So’s eating a sandwich bought in a bag.

Advice: People who eat these types of sandwich buy the bag, not the sandwich. Under their breath they whisper to you: “Yes, I eat well. My waistline says it all. But no, I wasn’t fattened on value corn chips. I’m privileged. I eat only the finest snacks. At least that’s what the guy in the off-licence tells me.” Talk to them, but only in a condescending manner. Don’t worry, they don’t yet comprehend that bags should be reusable, so they won’t be offended by your tone.

4. Pret Baguette

Pret-a-Manger openly admit that its ingredients have aspirations.

Their posters show the collective efforts of:

  • A bagel, a slice of avocado, and some olives trying to making a friendly face
  • Some wraps building a tepee
  • The unlikely trio of a baguette, a block of edam, and skewered olive sinking like a groovy submarine

And yeah, I’m onto them.

It’s all a cruel joke.

It all starts when the ingredients are sourced.

The Pret wholesale buyers head out to the fields in the morning.

On arrival, they don their leather gloves and start scouring the fields for a certain type of ingredient.

Tomatoes with that particular twinkle in their eyes, beetroots destined to sing and chickens who want to explore their sexuality in the city, away from the judgements of the countryside.

The buyers then play on their victims hopes and dreams. “Yes Tamara Tomato, hop into my van, I’ll show you the city. We’ve got plenty of veg like you that wants to be something more than you could ever be here on this bleak farm.”

And as those naive vegetables, chickens, and assorted tubers tumble around in the back of a van, they don’t for one second think that they’re about to be asked to strip naked and told to stand on the head of another young thing to form strange shapes, as a seedy photographer snaps away. Nor do they anticipate that after such humiliation, they’ll be dragged into the kitchen and ground into a ‘Super Club’.

 

tamara
Behind the counter at Pret-A-Manger. Haven’t you ever wondered if that tomato had dreams?

Shattered dreams – is that the cost of having no best before labels?

Advice: Knowing this, I hope you, just as I, are shocked. Too shocked to speak to anyone who has ever been into Pret-a-Manger ever again.

Anyway, now you know this, I hope you enjoy your lunch.