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.

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.

BODEGA @ Moth Club – Three Free Gigs #10

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week, I try and go to three.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

10. BODEGA @ Moth Club, London

Friday, 9 August 2019

“Truth is not punishment,” so let’s be honest, who was actually disappointed about the cancellation of Boardmasters?

If you haven’t guessed it, no one who was at Moth Club last night.

No one dances, writes, or fights, or fucks or makes love quite like me – Bodega @ Moth Club, 9 August 2019

That’s because Bodega, New York art-punk five-piece (or whatever else you want to call them) graced Hackney with a surprise, and importantly FREE, appearance at Moth Club, thanks to high winds off the Cornish coast.

I’d go into a rant about how much I hate Cornwall here, but I can’t be bothered, so insert your own joke about pasties and inbreeding.

Ahead of the release of their latest record, the show was an expected, but delightfully executed affair – dominated by songs from their debut LP, Endless Scroll. There were a couple of new ones, including Shiny New Thing, and (I think this is the working title), ‘An actress who decides every move based on how people will regard it in the future’. It reminded me a lot of when I paid to see them at the Shacklewell Arms in February. Great performance, but like, not the best songs in the world.

Moth Club was hot, everyone was drenched in sweat, but Bodega’s performance was energetic, and they actually seemed happy to be playing. 

The band have spent a lot of time on the road, and they let the audience know it by dedicating Gyrate to everyone’s favourite band, Viagra Boys.

Other highlights included a cover of Silver Jews, Black and Brown Shoes, in memory of the recently deceased David Berman. Jack in Titanic, as always, was an epic tragedy. It’s a great song, but maybe they’ve played it too often, and like Titanic, maybe there are only so many times you can watch Leonardo Dicaprio sink.

Bodega ended the set with an extended jam that eventually morphed into Truth is not Punishment, with a lot of tired arms and a standing drummer with a nose bleed (or did my memory get warped because I follow Bodega so compulsively on instagram?).

Walking away from the stage, despite being way too sticky, it actually felt like arriving at a venue for 19:00 had been justified. And, thanks to closing at 21:30, everyone was left with a night full of opportunity, and sense of achievement.

Shame no one stayed for the Horror’s Rhys Webb’s DJ set, but I mean, it’s been five years Rhys, maybe everyone still going to Cave Club is a total loser.

 

4 Beers

COPYWRITING TRAINING: Men frozen in steel sperm tanks, two dollar dinners, and stains that we just can’t find

Or how Henry finally discovered that he didn’t need to learn how to write (by reading Strunk & White’s, The Elements of Style, Fourth Edition)

As part of my ongoing struggle to become the greatest copywriter EVER, today I picked up a copy of William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White’s, The Elements of Style from Homerton library.

Why?

The reasons were twofold:

  1. There isn’t a great selection of instructional books about writing in Hackney, and
  2. My sister, an English grad, keeps telling me that my blog posts are complete hokum (she uses big words because she’s super smart).

At 85 pages, the book’s small, but appearances are deceiving as it’s jammed with loads of life lessons that are meant to make you better at writing.

The edition I borrowed was really old, published in 1979, but the English language is ancient and definitely hasn’t changed since then, so it probably didn’t matter.

Having now finished the book, I can confirm six things:

  • My writing will forever be hokum (whatever that means).
  • I was always right to tell everyone that they should never use exclamation marks!!!! (thanks Fitzgerald).
  • Business words are been purposefully designed to help people feel better about their life choices.
  • Some of the most common words in advertising are portentous and should never be used.
  • SEO, search engine optimisation, is ruining the written word for everyone.
  • Copywriters are the lowest, seediest, and most despicable people in the world.

All six of those lessons came as a bit of shock.

I’ll explain exactly why they are definitely true below.

Epiphanies happen in the garden. Especially when you’re a twat with an instagram account.

1. Why my writing will always suck

The book’s first four chapters are dedicated to lessons about proper grammar and punctuation.

After reading them, I decided to ignore them. That’s because:

  • I didn’t really understand any of concepts (what the hell is present participle?)
  • None of the lessons seem to apply to writing on the internet.

The book also emphasised that Copywriting, apparently, is about writing improperly; aka, in a way that the plebs understand, which I understood as an instruction to ignore everything it said.

If you, the reader, don’t think I made the right decision, get ready to be surprised.

You’d think I was an idiot if I started doing anything of these things (adhering to proper grammar):

  • Omit the s after apostrophes that follow conscience. The correct vernacular being, “for conscience’ sake
  • You can’t use a colon to sunder a sentence in two like a garden worm, instead that a full sentence must proceed it, for instance “A shrink needs: a degree, psychotic patients and a lot of patience.” is incorrect. It should instead be, “A shrink needs three things: a degree, psychotic patients and parents to blame.

2. No one should ever use exclamation marks, ever! (except sometimes)

The book agreed with me and said no one should ever use exclamation marks.

Between the lines it also said we should murder anyone who does, unless they’re being dramatic!

I’ve adapted this lesson for 2019 and now confirm that you can also use them when you’re being ironic too.

But that’s it.

You can only ever use an exclamation mark if you’re being dramatic or ironic!

Have you guessed what I’m being?

3. Corporate language is designed to make business sound like it’s about slaying dragons rather than counting paper clips

Here’s what the book said about business chat:

Portentous nouns and verbs [like deprioritise, action those reports, relations with the secretary] invest ordinary events with high adventure; executives walk among toner cartridges, caparisoned like knights.”

p.82, The Elements of Style

The book goes to length about how these words are about expressing the user’s dreams, rather than the explicit meaning of what they’re doing.

So, I learned that when writing for business people, you need to make the banality of their lives seem more like jumping the shark; full of exciting cliches that they think are new, definitely not overused, and completely non-applicable to their lives.

4. Words that I now know you should never use

There are a load of words you should never use. Here’s a few of them and why:

  • Meaningful is a bankrupt adjective. In place of meaningful you should shoot yourself.
  • Chaired is not a verb (or even a word). You should instead write, “the iguana acted as chair of the meeting.”
  • Personalise,“A pretentious word, often carrying bad advice.” Which means it’s still applicable for your mobile data plan.
  • Pistons thrust, restructuring programmes do not. (You’re not allowed to use the word thrust in business, even when you’re, you know, talking about sex)
  • Unique means ‘without like or equal’, so you can’t have a unique coffee machine. Looks like William Strunk Jr. & E. B. White’s were the forerunners of introducing the modern term, snowflake generation. So, um, Chuck Palahniuk, maybe you should publicly admit that coining the term wasn’t that special an achievement?

5. SEO is ruining writing for everyone

Ok, so the book didn’t come up with this one, I figured it out by reading it instead.

We all know what SEO is, right?

It means optimising your written, online content so that search engine algorithms will list it higher on their results pages.

It’s pretty simple. Here’s how to do it:

  • Consider what you’re writing about and how you can make it relevant to what people search for on the internet.
  • While thinking, write down a list of keywords (both long and short) that are related to your content and people are likely to type into google (sexy, porn, why my mother won’t stop crying every time I call her).
  • Delete your previous article or other written content and write some monstrosity indiscriminately littered with your new keywords.

In doing this, I’m confident that everyone is probably just inserting phrases that do not belong in the articles they’re writing. Which, I learned from The Elements of Style, is how you write badly.

Great one Google. You made writing shit for everyone.

6. Copywriters are soulless

Deep down, I knew this one already.

I can’t express why Copywriters are the scum of the earth without it sounding really pretentious though, so I just copied the quote below:

“Your whole duty as a writer is to please and satisfy yourself. The true writer always plays to an audience of one. Start sniffing the air, or glancing at the Trend Machine, and you are as good as dead, although you may make a nice living.” (p. 84)

p. 84, The Elements of Style

Evidently, proper writers hate copywriters.

Damn.

Conclusion

So, now I’d finally read something about writing, I’d learned that what I was trying to do by becoming the greatest copywriter EVER, was completely selling myself out.

I also noticed that nice living was pretty much guaranteed.

Well, at least it was a better choice than working in a corporate environment.

If you think I’ve completely misinterpreted the lessons of the book, please let me know.

Then I can tell you exactly why you’re wrong (now I know that I don’t need to write adequately to communicate).

GIG REVIEW: L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common – Three Free Gigs #8

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

8. L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common @ Blondies, London

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Henry learns that exceptionally good punk comes from Oxford and L.A. Peach is totally besotted.

Blondies - Inside
Apparently heaven and hell are both teal. Neon lights @ Blondies.

This was my first visit to Lower Clapton’s Blondies.

It’s dark, the space is tight and it’s drenched in neon. The stage is situated right next to the entrance, so beware, once the curtain’s drawn and the band have started, you’re stuck – unless you want to join the performance and navigate whoever’s playing.  

It’s the only hole in Hackney where the stuff on tap is almost exclusive Vice’s beer– bit of a shame because it’s not very good. There’s also a terrace hidden at the back, so there’s at least one reason to go for an actual drink – just remember, the terrace closes at 21:00 (it’s actually quite cool).

Last night, Blondies were hosting Oxford indie / punk trio Lacuna Common and London-based five-piece L.A. Peach (I think they’re a five-piece, but maybe it’s just a singer with a guitar and some friends).

The crowd was made up of animated mannequins from Beyond Retro. I was wearing a white button-up shirt, carrying a laptop and felt like a total prick.

First up, Lacuna Common seriously impressed. They’re really fucking good.

Lacuna Common at Blondies
Not quite a glimpse from the bathroom. Lacuna Common @ Blondies

The band play that ‘blood-in-your-teeth’ kind of punk (defiantly British), the type that somehow makes stories about the banality of life seem interesting (like an imagined pint of vodka). Punchy and almost immediately captivating, their songs were simple, catchy, held the right amount of suspense, while consistently delivering a certain despondency.

The frontman spat out tales of having no money, people not caring enough about him, skinny jeans and twats from Oxford, while the bassist occasionally chimed in with his own wheys and woes. Instrumentally, it’s basic and the lyrics aren’t anything new, but it really worked. Like, really worked. 

(I REALLY LIKED LACUNA COMMON)

Lacuna Common T-Shirt
Do you reckon dad’ll look good in this? Lacuna Common merch @ Blondies

Their dad was at the back selling t-shirts and white vinyl pressings of their latest single, Not the Same. Going on the performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually bought one.

L.A. Beach didn’t have Lacuna Common’s energy, but I think that’s the point.

The band’s vibe is dreamy and they deliver subdued, low-tempo numbers that build into strangely gritty and unnerving sonnets. All quite melodic.

LA Peach at Blonies
I couldn’t see L.A. Peach, so I just watched the bartender twist out orange juice with a magic orange squeezing robot @ Blondies

Between songs they were kind enough to add liner notes through a lot of one-sided dialogue with the crowd (how post-modern).

Transcribed below, I hope they’ll help you understand a little bit more about the band:

L.A. Peach is the best thing you’ve seen all night,” – they’re not too cocky.

What do you call a chicken with a piece of lettuce in its eye? Sees-a-salad” (Caesar salad, get it?) – they’re masters of comedy.

When I was in year three, I had to run the relay race at sports day. Stick [baton] in hand, I tripped and fell into this girl’s crotch.” – they’ve all had a really traumatic upbringing.

Have you seen my girlfriend? Doesn’t she look like Trent Reznor?” – they’ve got a lot of respect for women.

All of this context helped me fully appreciate their songs. Particularly why they tricked you into a false sense of security by sounding sweet and ethereal (the type of thing you put on when your mother’s round) then suddenly got really psychotic.

It was kind of like this: bright guitar and a slow groove overlaid with tales of loving someone so much you want to flay their skin and wear it when meeting their parents.

One thing that was clear throughout was that L.A. Peach’s singer / guitarist (maybe L.A. Peach himself) was completely besotted with his new lover (the keyboardist). (Check out this feature in Clash if you don’t believe me).

I hope it works out.

Four_Beers

4 BEERS

I went to the future – even the local chippy was vegan. Oh wait.

How Homerton’s Kingfisher somehow made vegan food authentically British

Today was the launch of the vegan menu at the Kingfisher, a traditional (not fancy) fish & chip shop in Homerton, east London.

I dragged my girlfriend along expecting a hilarious excursion; the only thing hilarious was how wrong I’d been.

I can honestly say that I think this is the first time I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating authentic British vegan cuisine. You know, not a tofu salad, nut roast or beetroot burger, but something that felt (and tasted) British.

And who pulled off this great feat? A little independent fish & chip shop in Homerton, which is pretty damn remarkable.

How I ended up going to the Kingfisher’s vegan menu launch

How did I get there? It began at a barbecue last night.

I sat in someone’s garden with a bunch of people I didn’t know. To make friends I started showboating.

To do it, I strung them along with a captivating story about the plight of a local fish & chip shop, and its misguided attempt to get with the times by launching a vegan menu. Then (and this is how you make friends) I got everyone involved.

Passing around a picture of a poster I’d spotted in window of the Kingfisher earlier, I asked everyone what they thought:

Invitation to the Party
Why didn’t you RSVP to the party?! Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher

For those who can’t see past the permanent marker, it’s an invitation to the launch of the Kingfisher’s vegan menu on Sunday, 2 June 2019: a bring-your-own-booze spectacular and the first ever VEGAN ONLY day in the establishment’s 47 years of business.

Then I said, “for a fish and chip shop that still doesn’t accept cards, that’s one hell of a statement. Why don’t we go?

Everyone was hooked (or at least pretended they were). So, much to their amusement, I called and booked a table for four.

Surprise-surprise. When I got up the next day everyone had forgotten about the plan.

So that table for four became a table for two (my girlfriend’s long suffering).

And hell was I surprised.

Much to my disbelief, the Kingfisher’s vegan menu launch featured decent vegan food. For the first time, I was sharing my culture with my girlfriend (who’s not from round here) and I wasn’t embarrassed about it.

Leaving, I couldn’t help but root for them. Businesses like this should be succeeding.

Authentic British vegan food? How can you make a claim so bold? (THE REVIEW)

The Kingfisher doesn’t boast. It’s a modest, traditional fish & chip shop situated along Homerton High Street. It’s pretty accessible at five minutes walk from Homerton overground and fifteen from Hackney Central.

Profile of the Kingfisher
A modest profile. Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher.

Compared to its neighbours (the Adam & Eve and the Spread Eagle): it’s not flashy.

But that doesn’t matter: it’s the real deal: no need for sequin dresses, an imported Club Mexicana menu or DJ sets that no one listens to.

Inside, it’s what you’d expect – the deep fat fryer bubbles, there’s the occasional spray of salt and vinegar and the placemats are kinda sticky. 

Interior of the Kingfisher
Why can’t I have a saveloy?! Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher

What makes the Kingfisher different is the menu.

This Sunday, it was totally vegan:

Kingfisher Vegan Menu
Beyond the permanent marker, it’s a pretty bold vegan offering. Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher.

When I first saw it, I didn’t really read it properly and instead just laughed. I was fully expecting deep-fried Linda McCartney sausages and slices of lukewarm tofu.

I was really wrong.

For their vegan menu, the Kingfisher had gone the whole tempeh (get it? Tempeh’s a pork substitute). It was wide-ranging and from what I tasted, very well executed.

Talking to the owner, it was clear that it was founded on a lot of research, experimentation and definitely was not half-arsed (yeah, I’m looking at you the Diner).

We saw them prepare the Classic (standard vegan beef burger), the Chickadee (their own attempt to rival Hackney’s vegan burger emporium, Temple of Seitan), their namesake ‘the Kingfisher’ (a mock fish-fillet burger) as well as their own vegan take on chip-shop classics including the doner kebab (every fish & chip shop in London is a glorified Super Kebab – it’s what the people want) and pie & chips. There were also a bunch of vegan desserts and smoothies.

Also, like me you probably associate traditional British cafes with Nescafe Gold. But look, the coffee actually wasn’t granulated:

Coffee at the Kingfisher
Actual coffee. Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher

As a party of two we had: 

  • the ‘Kingfisher’ (vegan breaded fish-fillet burger)
  • A Vegan Pie (vegan take on a steak and onion pie)
  • Some chips
  • And a Super Green smoothie

Look, it’s almost like someone might have posted that picture on Instagram:

Food at the Kingfisher
The ‘Kingfisher’ (a vegan fish fillet burger) and vegan pie. The mayonnaise is actually vegan. Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher.

It was surprisingly good.

I’ll start with the Kingfisher. For context, I’ve been to the vegan Sutton & Sons in Hackney central (the fancy-ish fish & chip restaurant chain) and I’ve had the fried banana-blossom mock-cod. I can confidently write that the Kingfisher’s breaded vegan fish-fillet tasted more like fish, had texture more like fish and was actually pretty nice to eat, like fish. I’d recommend it over almost any other battered vegan fish I can recall (and I’ve made vegan fish fingers with tofu and seaweed – so I’m pretty much the authority).

The chips were chip-shop chips (better than Chinese takeaway chips, kebab-shop chips and the pub-enamel-mug chips – irrespective of what this survey says). There was also complimentary vegan mayonnaise and a whole range of other free condiments that Mildreds would definitely charge you for.

The vegan pie, normally only offered takeaway, tasted like a meat pie and it came with vegan gravy (a real boon). It was good (in the sense that pie and chips are good). The offering at Camden’s Young Vegans (a dedicated vegan pie shop) isn’t any better.

And the smoothie? The Super Green was made out of avocado, banana and added pea protein (and some seeds. Apparently people who drink smoothies like seeds). It was thick (the right sort of thick), very green and pretty fresh. After a conversation with the owner, I learned that she’d worked a lot on getting the consistency right and even consulted her son, a sports nutritionist, on how to boost its nutritional value.

Smoothies at the Kingfisher
Can you see the pea protein? Can you?! Vegan menu launch @ the Kingfisher.

The food was well executed, well researched and the owners put in a lot of effort to deliver it. Even though it was 100% vegan, it really didn’t seem out of place or phoned in. It wasn’t up itself (pretentious) and most importantly, it tasted good and is actually something I’d eat again.

The whole menu’s also reasonably priced – it cost about as much as a standard meal at a London chippy (just over £20 for two – not including the smoothie).

Why weren’t more people at the launch?

When I arrived, there weren’t that many people there.

When I left, there weren’t many people there either.

It’s not my business, but it got me down.

The food was good, the invitation was charming, it was all well priced and you could bring your own booze. It also had something that you don’t find at chains – charm. I don’t want to be sentimentalist here, but it really felt like you were part of a community.

And if the food satisfied, going there this weekend was certainly a better story than a nutroast at an anonymous east London pub.

For the Kingfisher to deliver a wholly vegan menu was incredibly bold. Maybe it’s a sign of how tastes are changing – adapt or die – but honestly, how often do you see relics of the British High Street trying to innovate and reinvent themselves for 2019? And actually accomplishing it?

The owners were incredibly sweet too. You could tell they’d put one hell of a lot of work into delivering this and cared a lot about their business.

I really don’t want to rant, but if people like you and me don’t go out and support risk takers like this, then we’ll end up with exactly what we deserve – a London with way too many Pret a Mangers. Who honestly wants that?

I cannot implore you enough, vegan or not, to try the new menu at the Kingfisher.

I guarantee that you’ll be just as surprise as I was.

GIG REVIEW: Mellow Gang – Three Free Gigs #6

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system is simple. How many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

6. Mellow Gang and Hobby Club @ Lion Coffee + Records, London

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Compact space, small crowd, embarrassed band, no crescendos. Other’s would call it ‘intimate’ – but I’m a realist.

Mellow Gang
So compact you can’t see the band past the camera man. Mellow Gang @ Lion Coffee + Records, Thursday, 30 May 2019

This Thursday, I saw Mellow Gang at Lower Clapton’s premier coffee-come-cocktail-come-record-shop, Lion Coffee + Records (it’s almost in the title, isn’t it?). It was a taster gig, organised to showcase Mellow Gang’s upcoming album, Adjourn. Hobby Club supported.

Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time to see Hobby Club, but my girlfriend did. She gave me a download: the guitarist pulled faces at the crowd and the singer looked really Hackney (after she’d taken off her jacket). Great then.

So on to Mellow Gang, who I definitely didn’t miss.

For those who haven’t listened, Mellow Gang play dreamy music that would go great in your lounge. Kinda like Cocteau Twins with Lana Del Rey vocals: a lotta’ chime bells (keyboard), electronic drums that could attract an orca (sonar sounds) and female vocals that pour out like molasses. Also, their song Carousel sounds like Supertramp.

During the show, I stood at the front of the audience – a decision I immediately regretted. Yeah, I kept getting in the way of the hired cameraman (he probably hadn’t been to Hackney before – he was wearing a stab-proof) and I didn’t have anywhere to look except directly into the bassist’s eyes. My gaze made the bassist really uncomfortable (shame, I was trying to express that live, he was the highlight).

Technically, Mellow Gang were good (except for some lacklustre guitar – but no big deal). By that, I mean they played songs from Adjourn successfully live. 

However, live, they didn’t recreate the draw of their studio material – really dense crescendos. 

But that might have been the space.

NB: The space is cool, sounded like the mixing could have been better though.

Three_Beers

Three beers

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.

GIG REVIEW: The DandyLions – Three Free Gigs #1

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. I go to three a week and review them.

The rating system’s simple. How many beers did I buy? The more, the better.

1. The DandyLions, Røyaltee and Crimson Cobra @ the Victoria – Dalston, London

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Audience participation required. Shame there wasn’t a crowd.

The DandyLions - the Victoria
The DandyLions @ the Victoria – Pink and crimson clash. Who’s gonna win?

Three rock bands – one distinctly more glam than the others.

Crimson Cobra kicked it off with a solid set. Sounded like Royal Blood. Guitar occasionally soared into an aerial assault and a well-timed drummer come singer.

Second Røyaltee announced that this wasn’t a normal show, told everyone how hard his life’s been then cajoled the crowd into overhead clapping. Already cringe inducing the frontman topped it with a directed sing-a-long: ‘when I sing ‘scream, shout’ you shout ‘scream motherfucker.’’ Hit the pinnacle of cool with their miserable Pop the Drugs – Mr Brownstone without the class.

Unashamedly glam, the DandyLions gave the best performance of the night. Decked in pink and yellow lycra with at least one wrestling mask, they clearly did not give a shit. Unfortunate that only about ten people were still there. Launching haribo from the stage they ran through a set of songs as camp as Queen, potentially inspired by sex (or lack of it), including Hairspray, Drink me Like Water and Legendary Fire. Veered a little more PC with faux-feminist power-pop number Women in Charge.

Pleasantly unexpected end to an otherwise unmemorable and occasionally bad show.

Two_Beers

TWO BEERS

Seven point plan to become the greatest copywriter EVER

It was settled. I was going to become the greatest copywriter EVER.

How it started

Easy. I needed to lay some sturdy foundations and figure out exactly what copywriting was.

To the foundations!

And where do you learn about laying foundations? Wikipedia!

I looked up the definition of copywriting:

Copywriting is the act of writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing. The product, called copy, is written content that aims to increase brand awareness and ultimately persuade a person or group to take a particular action.

Copywriters help create billboards, brochures, catalogs, jingle lyrics, magazine and newspaper advertisements, sales letters and other direct mail, scripts for television or radio commercials, taglines, white papers, social media posts, and other marketing communications.

That was definitely manageable.

With an in depth understanding of copywriting I started looking for a new job.

Looking for that first copywriting job

I went straight onto LinkedIn (actually my girlfriend sent me some links. Impressed aren’t you? I’m getting pretty good at twisting the truth, aka advertising).

One position came out with a swift kick to the teeth: Junior Copywriter at Dr Martens.

Before I’d even read the ad I knew getting the job must be a piece of cake. Why?

  • People call those boots Doc Martens not Doctor Martens, hence it’s safe to assume that their head of advertising department can’t read and is highly incompetent.
  • They are probably desperate for a cool new, left-leaning junior with a lot of hair (yours truly) to help them shake off the image of skinheads and neo-nazis.

As my first potential position I knew I’d be more than happy to put in some extra work and help Dr Martens completely reinvent their brand for 2019.

Feeling confident, I looked at the job spec.

It was the first time I realised that copywriters are a pretentious as hell.

Getting my first ‘gig’ might prove difficult than I’d initially thought.

Take a look for yourself:

Doc Martens, Junior Copywriter

To be our Junior Copywriter, you will also possess the following:

  • Experience in a full-time copywriting role. Preferably in the retail, fashion or music industry
  • A love of music, DM’s, fashion and footwear
  • A track record of managing tight deadlines and multiple projects simultaneously
  • A passion for language and a flair for writing original, unexpected copy
  • Strong commercial awareness and knowledge of key copy KPIs
  • Enthusiasm and an inexhaustible supply of ideas
  • The confidence to tackle all forms of copywriting: from click-worthy captions to scroll-enticing articles
  • A degree-level qualification in a relevant subject such as English or Creative Writing

Damn the requirements were high and this was only for a junior role!

It presented a real problem.

I had no experience in a full-time copywriting role, I thought DMs (dungeon masters) were totally uncool, I was bemused by how words could have key performance indicators (‘boot’ needs to get at least 4,000 views today) and definitely did not have a degree in creative writing. Who does have a degree in creative writing anyway?

How the hell was I going to get a job like that?

I needed to tear down my soft, non-copywriting self and to begin rebuilding immediately. It was daunting but exciting – I was about to become the slickest creative machine in Hackney and I knew it would probably involve stickers.

So I decided to systematically strip myself down. The best way to do this: a foolproof seven point plan (to do list):

Henry’s seven point plan to become the greatest copywriter EVER

1. Do way more research

I needed to become fluent in the language of copy. Yes, I had to develop an understanding of advertising, marketing and all of the associated acronyms (CPM, CTA, IAB, SOV, SEO and more). I also needed to know something about psychology. Why? How else was I going to trick someone into giving me a job?

2. Get good at writing

I wasn’t immediately convinced that this was necessary but I knew that I needed to sell myself as more qualified to write than anyone else. To do that, I had to at least trick myself into believing that I’d got super good at writing. The first step was probably to write and read more. Decent outcome.

3. Develop a kickass portfolio

For a profession that spends all day playing with words it’s surprising that it can’t just take me on mine, but life’s confusing. I needed to develop a killer portfolio with a shed load of original and creative copy. It had to have the best adverts selling bubble mixture, jingles explaining the dangers of not eating enough carrots, all potentially topped off with a radio advert for the mayor on today’s most biting issue: public urination.

4. Get some experience (and references)

Just a portfolio wouldn’t cut it. I had to get some real experience so I had references. References would mean that other people would suddenly become accountable for my eventual employment. The easiest way to do that would probably be to do some writing for free. I needed to do some copywriting volunteering.

5. Find a special subject and stick to it

All the advice that I’ve read online says that generalist copywriters fail and copywriters with a special subject succeed. The problem was I didn’t know or really care about anything. The options were limited too. What subject can you specialise in as a copywriter? Trains, video games, legal regulations and hatred of men? I didn’t want to write about any of that. Then it struck me. I could write about technology or digital or ‘the internet‘. It seemed like a safe bet, as it could cover anything from sex dolls to how to talk to your toaster! Perfect.

6. Build a professional network

To secure work employers need to think you’re the real deal. Humans are social creatures so association with other humans is important. I was going to have to meet other copywriters and make friends with them. Maybe I could meet them at Westfield Shopping Centre? There are lots of things that need copy there.

7. Rebrand myself as the coolest kid in Hackney

The Doc Marten advert said it all: creatives need to be cool. I was already super cool, but deep down I knew that not everyone knew this. I was going to sacrifice some of my current cool to make sure that everyone found out (unfortunately self-promotion is not cool). I’d begin by developing a social media presence (here’s my instagram), take pictures of myself doing cool things and buy more thrash metal t-shirts.

It was settled. I should probably start.

What better place than Homerton Library?

I had a shower and set off.