Postcard Story #003 – No Final Notice

I bought six postcards at the Tate Modern last week, each featuring a different artist.

I’ve written a very short story on the back of each one. No, I didn’t realise Jan Carson has already done it.

It’s a fun exercise, so I thought I’d post them here. Today’s is Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust Of Wind.

If you’re lonely and want to get some mail, drop me a line and I’ll post one to you. Second class, obviously.

No Final Notice

Jeff Wall, A Sudden Gust Of Wind

“Why were you at Five Pearson Drive yesterday?”

The door slammed in his face. His mornings began with accusations, not kisses.

Walking his route, he buried the thought of infidelities in his sack. The weight freed him to revel in delivering final notices.

Today, that satisfaction drove him down Pearson Drive.

Approaching number five, he pulled out an envelope stamped, “Final Reminder. Payment Overdue.”

Bypassing the letterbox, he hammered the knocker.

The door opened and as the letter was exchanged, he tapped it, saying, “Looks like trouble.”

Smiling, the man at the door said, “I’ve got something for you.”

A letter of divorce. So the bitch was fucking him.

Instead of going for the jaw, he threw off his sack, emptying the letters into a gust.

Because undelivered bills go unpaid, and sometimes misery needs a little more time to mature.

Postcard Story #002 – Boys Don’t Cry

I bought six postcards at the Tate Modern last week, each featuring a different artist.

I’ve written a very short story on the back of each one. No, I didn’t realise Jan Carson has already done it.

It’s a fun exercise, so I thought I’d post the results here. Today’s is Lucien Freud, Girl With A Kitten.

If you’re lonely and want to get some mail, drop me a line and I’ll post one to you. Second class, obviously.

Boys Don’t Cry

Lucien Freud, Girl With A Kitten

Anita sang,

“I would say I’m sorry,

If I thought that it would change your mind…”

Only to catch Jeremy wincing and trail off on the third line. 

Jeremy seized the microphone, words still scrolling on the screen. He said,

“I can’t cover it all up with lies,

Robert Smith doesn’t hiss or scream.”

His kitten clawed at the sofa’s upholstery. A distraction for delaying Anita’s wavering lip. But the diversion was momentary, and soon his words cut deep.

Karaoke had been his idea. Why was he such a pig?

Inflamed, she grabbed his cat and squeezed it like a microphone. 

No need to sing into it, that’d muffle the crunch of bone. 

Anita smiled at Jeremy and said, “Let’s see if boys don’t cry.”

Postcard Story #001 – The Last Splash

I bought six postcards at the Tate Modern last week, each featuring a different artist.

I’ve written a very short story on the back of each one. No, I didn’t realise Jan Carson has already done it.

It’s a fun exercise, so I thought I’d post the results here. Today’s is Ed Rusha’s Pool #2.

If you’re lonely and want to get some mail, drop me a line and I’ll post one to you. Second class, obviously.

The Last Splash

Ed Rusha, Pool #2

She remembered the last splash, her board’s reverberations and exclamations of glee come chaos.

Since the final pool party, she’d missed the touch of dainty toes and sandpaper heels against her spring.

She recalled the morning after, waking dry mouthed, with the bitter taste of iron against her basin and scarlet scum thick across her tiles. 

A folded sign now read, “No diving. Less than two metres deep.”

And they no longer came.

For no fun’s to be had in treading water.

Powerplant / Legss / Folly Group – Old Blue Last, 11 March 2020

Powerplant / Legss / Folly Group – Old Blue Last, 11 March 2020

Impenetrable poetry with Legss, coal-powered punk and inspirations of self-doubt

Last night I saw Powerplant, Legss and Folly Group at the Old Blue Last.

Ahead of arrival, I sat in the window of the Shoreditch High Street Pret, drinking coffee and writing six (very) short stories.

I mention this, because prior to the gig I was elated with my imagined artistic credentials. Afterwards, I wasn’t.

Legss’ impenetrably poetic performance forced me to reassess my recent literary output. It helped me conclude that I’m still wanting.

It’s one hell of a thing when a band inspires that sort of retrospection.

English Literature Students Must Know Legss

I’ll start by setting the scene.

Upstairs, the Old Blue Last was rammed with English Literature students from Queen Mary. Considering Coronavirus achieved pandemic status earlier that afternoon, it was an impressive turnout. It also made me notice that the air was acrid, and the usual East London scents weren’t in attendance.

Before the first band, the crowd muttered of assignments due, lecture attendance, summer aspirations, and how often they’d been to Printworks.

Pints were swilled with youthful enthusiasm. Maybe gulped is better.

Someone even wandered around the crowd, shouting to his friends, “You know what we should do, we should buy some drugs.” Yet to realise that everyone does drugs and it’s not really worth screaming about.

It was cool to be present with a student audience though, however obnoxious they may have been. At least they actually seemed to be excited about something.

Folly Group

First up were Folly Group, an experimental, four piece electronic, punk (?) band from London.

Interestingly, they had two percussionists.

Maracas shook, pulse tubes chimed, the vocalist braaped, and the guitarist and bassist shifted scales up and down with reckless abandon.

Each song employed contrasting tempos, but the only one I recognised was Butt Not Rifle (probably because it’s the only one on Folly Group’s Soundcloud and the only one I know). 

The set was interesting, but it was hard to distinguish between songs. So I guess that means some of it lacked distinction.

Legss

Before Legss took the stage, I unknowingly stood behind a young man with a mullet and a clam-shell necklace. Who knew he’d be the drummer?

Get your Legss out

Legss kicked off their set with a poem that was hard to navigate, but made the night’s keywords easily identifiable (yes, Folly Group and Powerplant got a mention). 

The baseball cap adorned singer references the mundane against the literary and the group acknowledged that this was Legss main draw. Stories of the banal, and yet not so banal, spoken in a way that reminds you of how Pete Doherty rambles, but with better references and way, way more bite.

It was strange that the frontman’s manc accent (??) didn’t translate into his performance. Unless it was a concept thing about how poetry should only be spoken proper. Either way, it made for strange listening against the ‘banter’ between sets.

His lyrics bewildered, but intrigued, that may not really make that much sense when they’re drilled down, but they were the sort of thing that could inspire you to fear and question your own ability to write prose.

I’m focussing too much on the singer. It sounds like I’ve got a crush.

Instrumentally, Legss were an expected post-punk affair. One lead into a song sounded almost exactly like Slint’s Good Morning, Captain. Perhaps it was.

Everything worked, perhaps because it’s easier to weave bizzare concepts with words than experimental sounds.

Legss were bold, pretentious and very different.

I really liked Legss, but perhaps that’s down to me wanting to be bold, pretentious and very different.

You should really go and see them.

Powerplant

With a fill of Legss, I considered leaving before Powerplant started, but having wedged myself in the corner and suddenly surrounded by students, I was forced to stay. 

Can you see his bowl cut from here?

Powerplant played explosive, proto-punk with some electronic elements. 

The frontman had an almost Johnny Ramone bowl cut. He also kept requesting more guitar, which is in form with a Powerplant. Did you know that a coal firing power station can take up to six months to prep (clean)?

I’d heard Powerplant’s recordings before and found them flat. Not so live.

In stark contrast to Legss, it wasn’t like they were really doing anything that new, but they did play well constructed, muscular punk. While listening through all of their latest album, People In The Sun, can get samey very quickly, it was actually really electric live.

The crowd liked it too.

But I think most of them had only gone to throw beers, get soggy and inappropriately touch their friends.

Perhaps punk and metal gigs are some of the last bastions of sexual harassment.

I wouldn’t know. I was standing in the corner.

Why I No Longer Hate The Wombats But You Still Shouldn’t Go To All Points East 2020

Last week I drafted a blog about how February’s announcement that The Wombats will be headlining All Points East 2020 with The Kooks, justified boycotting the day festival.

Writing it made me really angry.

So angry that I felt it necessary to sit on it, and reflect on why I hate The Wombats so much.

Through reflection, I’ve realised that I don’t hate The Wombats, and their status as All Points East 2020 headliners is not a good reason to tell people to rip up their festival tickets (if yours is digital you can still smash up your phone – go on, I dare you).

Anyway, while you should still definitely NOT go to All Points East 2020, I’ll get to that in a bit.

Deconstructing why I hate The Wombats so much made me realise that actually, hating a band intensely is a real symptom of fanboyism / fangirlism / fanthemism. Because it’s the mirror-image of dogmatically repeating what you think is cool, and holding opinions that make no sense (the definition of fanboyism). Which makes sense, because that’s what music encourages you to do, by embedding lyrics and tunes in your head, over and over again.

But I don’t think dogmatism’s cool, so I decided to change my mind about The Wombats.

Here’s how I did it.

Why I Thought I Hated The Wombats

I started by rekindling my intense hatred for The Wombats.

This was achieved by spending most of last week listening to their first album, A Guide To Love, Loss and Desperation. Wanky title, isn’t it?

Listening to it again helped me distil this hatred into four key points, which I wrote down and then felt pretty stupid about.

Here are the reasons.

They’re stupid, aren’t they?

1. The Wombats’ Lyrics Really Make Me Cringe

I don’t know why, but the lyrics in Wombats’ songs always make me cringe.

Take the singles from their debut album: 

Kill The Director

Kill The Director involves the frontman finding himself in a situation that plays out as if it’s a romantic comedy or Eastenders episode, and references how ‘carrots help you see much better in the dark’.

I’ve always felt like the frontman Matthew Murphy’s prose would be perfect for a BBC funded Romcom, like, I dunno, a feature-length version of My Family, which is an awful idea, isn’t it?

Also carrots don’t help you see in the dark

Moving To New York

Moving To New York is about how Matthew Murphy is going to move to New York because he’s got insomnia.

My gripe with this song is that he sings it as if he hasn’t considered that the cost of Manhattan apartment (because he’d totally live in Manhattan) would make his insomnia worse.

It’s also like it was written in reaction to an episode in which Matthew Murphy’s parents forced him to revise for his General Studies AS-Level, and his very mature reaction was to run around the kitchen table, waving his hands in the air, saying that he was going to slit his wrists because General Studies is definitely way too hard.

Let’s Dance To Joy Division

Let’s Dance To Joy Division is apparently about how the singer was in a pub in Liverpool and everyone was dancing to Joy Division (it’s alluded that the song was Love Will Tear Us Apart Again, and I think fair to assume, because that’s probably the only Joy Division song that people who listen to The Wombats know).

The chorus hinges on how ironic dancing to Joy Division is, because I dunno, Joy Division songs are about being sad, and people never dance to sad songs when they’re happy. Yeah, that’s totally a reason people don’t dance to songs isn’t it?

So yeah, I don’t think there’s anything ironic about dancing to Joy Division, and in context it comes off as a song dedicated to what I assume is Matthew Murphy’s snarky, yet poorly justified, superiority complex.

As you can see, most of my hatred here is based on a completely imagined version of Matthew Murphy. It’s like he must have stolen my girlfriend back in 2006 (ha! I didn’t have a girlfriend).

And when I think about this, it’s totally unfair. Because he’s probably quite nice, and definitely writes better lyrics than I do.

2. My Sixth Form Tutor Said They Were Shit

My sixth form tutor, Mrs Blay, used to let us pick music to play during morning registration.

One morning, a girl I didn’t like kept requesting on The Wombats. Mrs Blay proceeded to say they were shit.

I didn’t like that girl. I really hated that girl. So by association, I started hating The Wombats.

3. They Remind Me Of Mid-2000s ‘Indie’ TopShop Girls Who Wouldn’t Go Out With Me

I remember The Wombats as a band liked by teenage girls who’s rock / indie credentials were store bought from TopShop in the early 2000s.

Remember that uniform of stupid hats, plaid shirts, skinny jeans, oversized sunglasses and unwavering sense of superiority (over the other girls, who just didn’t understand real music)?

I don’t know why, but this really annoyed me.

Perhaps it’s because at the time, the coolest attributes I had were owning a copy of the Pixies’ fourth LP, not understanding Daydream Nation and a pretentious aversion to Best Ofs. It was also that none of the girls appreciated just how cool all of those attributes were.

4. The Wombats Are Really Inoffensive

Listen to their songs.

They’re not hurting anyone are they?

I don’t know why, but I’ve always felt like music should like say something in a pseudo-it’s-not-saying-anything-but-it-makes-you-feel-better-about-listening-to-it sort of way.

Why? I don’t know. It’s just a stupid pretension.

Why The Wombats Are Not A Good Reason To Avoid All Points East 2020

Having written down the reasons I hated The Wombats, I realised that they’re all really, really stupid and I should stop hating The Wombats immediately.

I mean, the more I think about it, the more I’m sure that The Wombats are probably alright. 

It’s also impressive that they’ve managed to make a lot of money as a reasonably cookie cutter indie band, and are now headlining a reasonably big UK (day) festival almost fifteen years after they were relevant.

Finally, they’re getting a bunch of idiots to pay for their retirement, which I think we can all totally applaud.

Why You Still Shouldn’t Go To All Points East 2020

But although I’ve stopped hating The Wombats, I still don’t think you should go to All Points East 2020 and here’s why.

1. It’s Has-Been Central

With the exception of Tame Impala, all six days are a complete nostalgia trip.

When was the last time you heard anything good from Bombay Bicycle Club, Massive Attack, Thom Yorke, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, The Kooks or The Wombats?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t in the last decade?

So you already know that everyone there’s going to be reminiscing about how the last time they listened to [insert band] they could still see their penis / vagina over their now enormous beer gut. 

Is that how you want to spend two weekends?

Hanging out with those types?

2. The Free-Entry Activities Sound Shit

There’s food, there’s film, there’s a circus. There’s everything that you could think of.

That’s a quote from the video explaining All Points East’s new, free programme of mid-week activities. It’s like it justifies how the festival is now commandeering a large portion of Victoria Park for another weekend.

While I guess it’s great that they’re pretending to do something for the local community this year, it doesn’t sound like much.

Wait, let me rephrase that. It sounds like a completely hollow cop out.

I mean, how does food, film and a circus sound any better than sitting around in the sun with your friends, watching half naked people (cinema), drinking bottled beer (food), while Australians throw rugby balls in your direction (circus)?

It doesn’t sound any different at all. If anything, my version includes more nudity.

Also, they say this portion is free, but I’m sure the food isn’t going to be.

So it’s probably just another justification for them to charge vendors more for the privilege of selling overpriced food.

3. It’s STILL Commercialisation To The MAX

American Express and Firestone are still sponsoring the event.

Which means that there’ll be a special wristband area for twats who have American Express cards, or eat tires.

While I guess it’s a positive that such dickheads will be segregated from the wider crowd, the concept is still dreadful, and if you go to All Points East 2020, you’re endorsing it.

4. It Means You Don’t Read My Blog Enough

Last summer, I wrote the ONLY honest review about All Points East 2019

My review clearly explains why it was so bad last year.

While I’m not clairvoyant, given there are three more days of it this year, I can and will definitively predict that it’s going to be worse this year (or was there a whole two weeks last year? I really don’t remember)

Given the evidence, why would you go?

Why I’ll Probably Go To All Points East 2020 Anyway

So, now you know why it’s not The Wombats’ fault that All Points East 2020 is going to suck. It was going to anyway!

Also, you now know why you should revise your opinion of The Wombats too.

Despite all of these brilliant reasons not to go to the day festival, both you and I are probably still going to.

Because honestly, what else are we going to do? Balloons?

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.

Not Got Milk?

Have you heard of the Department for Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs? It’s a (relatively) new Government Department with one objective; pushing dairy-related propaganda. 

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

Ok, so maybe I’m a bit late to the game. The Department for Dairy Related Scrumptious Affairs is a British, national advertising campaign, designed to encourage people to drink more milk, eat more cheese, and continue offending Japanese people with their sickly, buttery scent. It was jointly launched by the trade associations, AHDB Dairy and Dairy UK, in late 2018. 

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). 

See, I was definitely on the top deck of the No. 30 to Hackney Wick.

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’.

Why It’s A Shame

There have been plenty of good dairy adverts. Got Milk? That one when David Beckham grew a milk moustache. And that one about young boys’ aspirations to be Ian Rush

But this one. It was never fresh. It’s like it came out sour.

It’s almost as shit as Jerry’s ‘Hungry for Apples pitch was in Rick and Morty, because it lacks any real imagination. 

Remember that Friends episode when Chandler decides to go into advertising and starts saying things like, “Cheese. It’s milk that you can chew.” It’s like that. Lazy copy.

But maybe I’m wrong, and this the biggest creative campaign UK Dairy producers have ever milked. 

I mean, apparently it’s inspired 11% of young adults with children who were thinking about switching to a milk-alternative interviewed, not switching to a milk alternative, and agreeing with misleading statements like, “they were certain to buy dairy products. Whatever the hell that means.

So it’s working, right? 

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?

Hi Frisco / Two Weeks In Nashville – Sebright Arms, 3 March 2020

A juxtaposition of the bravado of youth and the modesty of age.

Last night I saw Hi Frisco supported by Two Weeks In Nashville at the Sebright Arms.

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).

First up:

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 week’s isn’t very long, is it?

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

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.

Oh Hi Frisco, is your frontman called Henry too?!

Their sound’s similar to Tame Impala, The War On Drugs and the Smith 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.

They’re actually good. Surprisingly good. Not No Joy, Hare Tarot Lies good, but easily Smith Westerns, 3AM Spiritual good.

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.

Hi Frisco delivered a compact yet compelling dreamscape last night. The War is also cool, even if it was inspired by Atlas Shrugged.

Assuming they keep this up, I think they’ll be moderately big soon.

Gemma On Hard Times

Between sets, I met Gemma. 

She said to me that the Sebright smoking alley was her turf. She’s been homeless for 26 months.

I gave her £1.10. When she asked me to walk her to a cashpoint, I declined. I bought two beers for myself at £11.00 instead. I regret that.

Gemma was drunk and I rolled her a cigarette. 

We sat together for a bit. We didn’t have much to say. 

She claimed people working at the Sebright knew her, and made her a drink called ‘Diabetes on Ice’, comprised of lemon juice and ribena. She didn’t mention the ice. 

She said that instead of going to a hostel, she usually tried to get into a bed and breakfast. To do that she has to raise £26.00 a day. That’s about £790 a month. It’s more than my rent. 

I’m not writing anything anyone doesn’t already know.

I don’t even know why I’m writing it. 

It’s the first time I’ve had a conversation with a woman who’s homeless during a gig. She was carrying most of her possessions and hadn’t showered for a while. 

I’m not sure that it means anything, but she was a feature of the night.

I hope she managed to find another beer.