A Foreigner Weighs In On An Election That Either Is or Isn’t Any of His Business

My follower Americans. Gaze upon my catchy title and despair.

I write today on behalf of the other six continents of the world, to have a chat about what you’re up to tomorrow.

Firstly, though, I don’t want this to be just about politics – we’re more civil than that aren’t we? How are you? How’s your day been? What awful weather you’re having!1

Right, small talk over with, I urge you to at least consider the impact tomorrow’s election on us, the rest of the world. There’s a chance that with the storm raging outside and blowing uprooted campaign picket signs against your windows you tried to escape the election by taking to the internet and opting for a slice of Britain instead. Instead, you will be sorely disappointed, because you all vote on our collective behalf for the man who will become/stay the President of pretty much the Western World. So don’t blow it.

In order to represent my thoughts on the matter – which you are, as always, more than welcome to ignore, dismiss, sweep under the rug or print out and piss on as a gesture of badwill – allow me to tell you the story of my people.2 (It is not a very good story.)

The UK government is, at present, an impotent disappointment, or as it’s officially known, a Coalition Government, which was the outcome of two parties having to merge together to get a majority share of seats in Parliament. The Conservatives (right wing/the 1%) merged with the Liberal Democrats (neither as liberal nor as democratic as Labour) to oust the incumbents. The Conservatives don’t represent the majority of Britons and the government doesn’t even represent them.

You might have seen the pudgy over-privileged face of our current Prime Minister, a Mr. David Cameron. I did not vote for ‘Call me Dave ‘cause I’m just like you’ Cameron,3 but other people did, and that’s democracy. The whole country voted and instead we got a Parliament that nobody directly voted for. Progress!

However, I mention The Little Government That Nobody Wanted to illustrate a point; all Cameron had to do to get elected was to say ‘You know that guy? Well I’m not him.’ He did this by using the word ‘change’ quite a lot in his campaign. Your average voter won’t demand anything more from a politician, and thus change was effected.4

Anyway, the actual point: whatever your political leaning, I urge you not to be gullible.5 I understand your right wing news networks are depressingly effective at spreading what amounts to little more than the word ‘bullshit’ sung over and over again to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.6 I am lucky to have a genuinely impartial broadcaster (the BBC) to provide me with my news, but in this day and age, a candidate’s public persona is by far their most important asset, and that’s controlled by the media in all its multifarious forms.

Fear of public disapproval guides far too many decisions to allow real progress in any direction, especially as it’s now easier than ever to have your voice heard. Elections are one of those rare occasions when everyone’s opinion is exactly as valuable as everyone else’s, regardless of what it’s based on or how well informed it is. And in theory, that’s marvelous.

In the last twenty years, pattern emerge in governments worldwide; most of the adventurous, genuinely revolutionary legislation happens at the end of the leader’s term of office, because they don’t have to save face in order to get re-elected. A new government’s main venture is usually just a redistribution of funding; big legislation won’t happen until there’s either a furore or a lull. It’s also worth noting (although perhaps this is less so in the States) that a different political party in power does not necessarily mean the entire cabinet changes hands. Most of the people who make decisions that will directly affect you – your Leslie Knope’s and your Ron Swanson’s – will keep their positions but have the priority of their jobs shuffled, and finances will follow accordingly.

If change is what you want, you’re (in principle) better off allowing the current government to carry out its full plan.

But then I would say that, because this:

The World Wants Obama to Win the US Election

I’m not obliquely trying to influence your vote, because I’m ultimately powerless, over here on my little island, typing my ignorable words, but please be aware that American Exceptionalism ends at your coastlines and you don’t want to look stupid in front of the United Nations. I imagine Mr. Romney will/would be devastated to learn that his UN diplomacy desk (complete with miniature flag!) is exactly the same size as everyone else’s and he’ll have to put his hand up to ask questions.7

***

I promise I won’t talk politics again, or at least that if I do, you won’t have to care because it won’t directly affect you, and that it will hopefully be funnier. I am really looking forward to y’all’s blogs as Election Day takes hold, whatever the outcome. I’m genuinely excited to hear the experiences of actual Americans for the first time!

In less serious news, I went to see James Bond and he’s smashing.


1 The evil part of me is writing this whole post as an excuse to publish this abhorrently tasteless joke.

2 It’s interesting that I write this on November 5th, which, in the UK at least, is the commemorative day of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which some anarchists tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament. A bloke called Guido ‘Guy’ Fawkes was found in the catacombs with the guilty match and 36 barrels of the stuff and was hung, drawn and quartered for his trouble. Us Brits set light to a straw man as a reminder that either what-we-now-call-terrorism will get you killed once and then burned again every year after, or that the government is accountable to us – I’ve forgotten which.

You might recognise his distinctive face from it’s use as a mask in Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta, and more recently from the Occupy protests and the internet activists Anonymous. There’s been a slight shift in meaning to Guy’s face over the centuries, and it’s interesting to perhaps consider that all notoriety fades in time, and the meaning of a symbol is defined only by it’s popularity. I wonder which symbols of our current age will be slightly misappropriated in 400 years time?

3 If you would like to know more about UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to properly achieve the one thing he was born and raised to do, please divert your attention to frighteningly cerebral stand-up Stewart Lee. Morrisey’s let himself go.

4 In a similar manner to Sandy’s raging along the US East Cost, David Cameron seized a marketing opportunity when floods hit the UK by popping on wellies and standing in a puddle and looking to the heavens as if asking ‘why?’ The answer was ‘The water cycle’ but he wasn’t looking for answers, he was looking for people to believe he was doing something about the floods whilst the incumbent PM did nothing. Neither man was, is or ever will be a Weather God, but this stunt apparently worked a treat. Let this be a lesson: on no account should Mitt Romney be aloud to win votes just because he owns wet weather gear.

6 Obama is not a Muslim, and is American. In fact – this’ll annoy you – (and if you’re playing the race card in 2012 you deserve at least a little annoyance) two of my legally British friends are voting tomorrow, because they were born in Cincinnati, OH and Corpus Christi, TX and then emigrated. That’s all it takes, and Obama ticks that box.

6 As a rule, if the opposing argument would be equally effective if the word ‘AMERICA’ was dropped in at strategic points then it’s probably not worth listening to.

7 I don’t imagine he’d take well to climate change actually existing either. BOOM!

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Horror-fic Horror Fiction

OR Honestly, There Were So Many Fucking Zombies.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is that time of year again where we gorge on sweets and/or alcohol and dress up as things that scare us get us laid, and we reaffirm our collective belief that statistically the scariest thing is a girl in a black leotard with whiskers drawn on her face calling herself a cat. It’s sHallowe’en.

Earlier this year I wrote some deliberately bad fiction for a laugh and it seemed to go down OK, so I’ve done it again because that’s democracy. In the interest of public safety, I must advise you not to read this in the dark, partly because it’s spooktacular and partly because you will strain your eyes and we can’t have that.

Part 1: The Beginning…

It was a drab and drizzly Thursday afternoon, but the forecast or the evening wasn’t looking much better. Our story begins with a bloke in a cloak striding purposefully towards your local library.

Upon arrival, the cloak bloke stood motionless in the foyer, rivulets of water dripping from the apex of his hood. The Librarian observed his hulking frame from her desk, silhouetted against the doorway, his shadow stretching across the greasy laminate flooring. After a few ominous seconds the man waved his arm in front of the faulty motion sensor and the automatic doors slithered open pathetically. The Visitor wriggled through the gap impatiently, composed himself and resumed his looming.

In the less-than-spooky gloom afforded by lacklustre strip lighting, The Visitor bristled with dark intent; he knew precisely what he was looking for. Nevertheless he didn’t know where it was, so he had to ask at the help desk and consult the Dewey Decimal System which completely ruined his air of sinister mystique.

‘I’m looking for the horror book section.’

‘We don’t go in the horror book section…’

‘Why?’

‘Because it’s shit. Have you seen what passes for horror these days?’

The man chuckled, the chuckle became a snigger, the snigger became a guffaw. He leant back to unleash a roar of maniacal laughter but the Librarian shushed him so he stopped.1

He swept away, his cloak trailing like a bin bag in the wind, returning ten minutes later with a hefty tome.

‘I’m afraid you’ll need a library card to check that book out.’

From within the depths of the cloak came the pronounced exhalation of disgruntled lungs. He’d had just about enough of her attitude. Wordlessly, The Visitor opened up a portal to hell beneath the Librarian’s feet. He heard not her anguished screams because he’d already left and put his iPod on.

Part 2: The Rest of The Story

It was now a dark and stormy night. The rain drenched down in an ominous way and the wind was similarly bad. It was also cold and smelt a bit and there was a creepy old cat out by the bins.

Anyway, The Visitor had taken the Occult Book back to his bedsit and had summoned the living dead for a laugh. There were loads of zombies. I mean really loads. Honestly, there were so many fucking zombies.

They killed The Visitor first, partly because he was there, partly because he was tasty and partly to eliminate the risk of any continuity errors later down the line. They ate the book too. If you really must raise the dead, don’t think there won’t be consequences.

From graveyards nationwide the living dead inexplicably found themselves able to move, sense things and tunnel through solid wood and six feet of impacted soil, which was no mean feat. Several zombies fell to pieces after coming into contact with air, but this was largely overlooked. Also; only people who had died recently got to come back – it didn’t work on decomposed people because that would just be silly and if there’s one thing that zombies are famous for it’s for unwavering realism.

There were normal zombies, angry zombies, fast zombies, ‘zoombies’, zombies that can climb, zombies that can’t climb, zombies that transfer zombie virus by bleeding on you, zombies that transfer zombie virus by breathing on you, zombies that transfer zombie virus by having sex with you and zombies that aren’t explicitly referred to as zombies and are instead called ‘the infected’ or ‘necromorphs’ or ‘lurkers’ or ‘roamers’ or ‘night-crawlers’ or ‘biters’ or ‘bleeders’ or ‘weepers’ or ‘z-words’ or ‘living impaired’ or ‘deadheads’ or ‘bleedy-bastards’ or ‘bitey-face deady-dead nob-ends’ etc.2 There weren’t any vampires because vampires have been ruined.

The news networks did a broadcast thing where they said ‘WATCH OUT: ZOMBIES ABOUT’ or some such and everyone in the world immediately went BATH SALTS LOL because that was the ‘in’ joke of the day, but nobody actually laughed this time. (Well, one bloke actually laughed out loud but that just alerted the zombies to where he was and they got him.)

In the midst of all the fear, sense prevailed and many people barricaded themselves indoors through the use of walls, doors and locks. The zombies tried to get in through the windows but glass is difficult to smash at the best of times, let alone when hampered by decayed tendons and less than adequate hand-eye co-ordination,3 so the zombies just sort of smeared up against the glass like an eight year old or an excited dog and it actually looked quite funny. Oh how they all laughed! (The people not the zombies.)

However, despite very sound advice to stay indoors because zombies have lost the ability to use door handles from lack of dexterity, everyone who has seen a classic zombie film, or an ‘it’s a zombie film with a modern (shit) twist’, or read a classic novel that someone put zombies in for a laugh, or played a churned-out first person shooter video game, or spent any length of time on the internet4 thought they had what it takes to be a zombie troubleshooter. I’ll spoil to for you now: they didn’t. They died in droves.

Of course one side effect of a zombie epidemic was an increase in the amount of inexplicable unwarranted sexual tension. Love was in the air, alongside screams and flying limbs. Two particularly good-looking people locked eyes amidst the fray. He; tall, muscular and with a jawline you could hew rocks with, she; blonde, skimpy and irrepressibly bouncy in a way that sells cinema tickets. They hit it off immediately. I mean really immediately. So immediately did they hit it off, that they’d probably started hitting it off before they’d even met, just to save a bit of time, the filthy buggers.

As the cacophony of death and/or undeath reigned around them, they experienced a joint moment of contrived romanticism, and, recognising an opportunity when they saw one, got down to business.5 They died, not because the author thought they deserved to but because they stopped running away for a bit. The sex was at best moderate-to-fair because as well as humans, zombies are experts at killing both erections and the mood.

As the zombies claimed more ground, the surviving humans began to give up hope of ever being rescued, but then, conveniently, an emergency broadcast went out detailing a place of safety at a nearby army base. The survivors steeled themselves for the literal and figurative roads ahead. It would be a Last Stand, except they’d be moving, so it would be a Last Journey, which didn’t sound like the most appealing of ventures. Someone had to leave a dying friend behind and it was a sad. His mate had to promise him everything would be OK but it wasn’t OK because the zombies had got him.

Time passed, as did distance; that’s physics. As the remaining humans approached the Army Base, a hush fell over the group. ‘Did you hear that?’ said someone. ‘Sounds like someone saying ‘Did you here that” chimed in some Smart Alec. It was then that the zombies descended. In a moment of high dramatic tension, one bloke made a noble self-sacrifice to allow the others to escape. It didn’t work and he was killed needlessly because the walking dead don’t care about your self-imposed narrative arcs.

Part 3: The End Bit

The early hours of the morning saw about a town’s worth of people comparatively safe behind the walls of a heavily fortified army base, waiting for the dawn, which was a metaphor for rescue. Serf and Celebrity alike huddled together; people from all backgrounds and walks of life bonded as humanity took comfort in itself.

That said, there was a conspicuous lack of people of African descent. This is not because the author is racist, but because zombies are racist. Perhaps a brain with innate white liberal guilt doesn’t taste very nice. It was an unfortunate phenomenon, but one thoroughly ingrained into horror fiction convention, and zombies are notorious sticklers for that sort of thing. Similarly, a quick glance over the perimeter wall showed predominantly previously-white zombies, as if crafted by the hand of a casting director who hadn’t thought it through.

And as the last remnants of the human race mourned their humanity and contemplated their future, the director M. Night Shyamalan ventured forward, clearing his throat for attention. “What if…’ he began, in a manner that was at once ominous and depressingly predictable, ‘… we were the zombies all along, and that this plague was a message to make us repent out vacuous selfish ways?…’

The director M. Night Shyamalan was randomly selected to be forcibly ejected from the camp as a peace offering, with the ceremonial raw meat hat of peace atop his oh-so-brainy head.

And as the director M. Night Shyamalan stood at the brow of the hill, awaiting the receipt of the peace offering, the sun came up, and he was cast in silhouette in a way not dissimilar to how that bloke in the cloak was at the start, which is prophetic imagery and is hence clever. A tranquility seemed to exhume itself from the Earth; as shafts of sunlight rent the boughs of trees and glinted in each dew drop on each blade of grass, fragrances of life and nature greeted the greedy nostrils of the living,6 and the dead conveniently crumbled to pieces.

And just like that, the word count was reached, and Paul McCartney turned up and played Hey Jude and everyone realised it was The End and they all went home for tea.

And then they woke up and it was all a dream.

And the zombies got them.

Happy Hallowe’en!


1 Just to be clear, he was laughing ominously, because he was about to redefine horror for the SmartPhone generation, not laughing sardonically at the writing quality of the recent glut of bandwagon shiterature.

2 In colder climes, the zombies were referred to as ‘Icy Dead People’, but this excellent pun went unappreciated amidst all the chaos and that.

3Seriously, try sitting on your hand for five minutes and then try operating heavy machinery. It can’t be done.

4 There’s a slight possibility that the internet’s zombie fascination has lead some stray viewers to this post. If so, this is for you: bacon, The Avengers, the sound of masturbation, cats with dreadful grammatical skills, two-punch observational comedy expressed in the ‘Impact’ typeface which may or may not preclude the accompanying picture.

5 Sex, not accounts or anything.

6 With the exception of the director M. Night Shyamalan, who could only smell the stench of his ceremonial raw meat hat.

The Day Job

Raise the flag. Sound the trumpets. Light the beacons. Put the kettle on. I have returned.

My friends, I apologise for being away so long. Rather than making a start on all the grovelling and forgiveness-begging I am due, I have instead decided to jump straight back in with an actual post. In light of what’s been keeping me stressful in absentia,1 I thought it might be interesting prudent to tell you all about what I actually do.

I am a trained and qualified Graphic Designer. Whenever I tell people this, I get a nod, and sometimes a ‘ah OK’, because whilst everybody has heard of the job title, nobody really knows what it means.

Put simply; it is visual communication. It’s storytelling using pictures. If people realised how obvious this is we would not be able to charge the prices that we do. I am exceptionally lucky in that I am able to exercise my creative muscles on a daily basis and call it a career, and in many ways am really taking the piss by not being content with that and writing a humour blog and a sitcom on the side.

You will be pleased to know, however, that my career is yet another source of crippling insecurity on a daily basis. I have a cycle of worries regarding my job that go a little something like this:

***

 I worry that as a ‘visual person’ I am at heart tremendously superficial.

I indulge my other interests to become a fully-rounded, well-adjusted, multi-faceted, overly-adjectified person: write things, read things, see stand-up, buy records, attract hot babes, etc.2

I worry that I am neglecting my career.

I buy expensive design books and start another ‘portfolio enhancing project’ like a poster series or animation.

 I remember I am supposed to have some sort of social life.

 I call up a friend, they ask what I’ve been up to and I say ‘nothing’.

I take a long look at my life.

I worry I am worrying too much about everything.

I realise I’ve wasted too much time already worrying about worrying about worrying.

I go back to work to make up for lost time.

Repeat ad infinitum.

***

As well as this, design is a thankless job. It’s comparatively well-paying as a career, but this is a fair trade for the endless extra hours you will work (for no overtime) because the client wants it ‘amended’ (changed entirely) and sent back before the end of the day. ‘I’m sorry the display is exactly as dictated the agreed brief but you don’t like it anyway, I’ll just work another eight hours tonight (not an exaggeration) for your benefit for free.’ And yes I’m passive-aggressively hinting at YOU, property magnate in Manchester.

Because the nature of a good chunk of design is ephemeral (so slick you don’t notice it’s there – sometimes I don’t know why I bother) there isn’t a lot of respect for it as a usage of one’s time. My nan doesn’t think it’s a ‘real’ job, and thinks I’m an artist. This is inaccurate, and a little demeaning to both myself and any artists who might be reading this; artists express themselves, whilst designers express things on behalf of other people, and thus are at once creatively active and stifled, like a neutered dog in heat.

That said, I am uncomfortable calling myself a ‘creative’, even though it’s what I do all day every day. It sounds to me like one of those adjectives that is bestowed upon you by other people3, and is increasingly very difficult to quantify. Anyone with an Instagram app will call themselves a photographer, anyone who owns Photoshop will call themselves a designer and anyone who’s been on Cracked.com and read something about fonts will shout ‘Comic Sans! LOL’ and call themselves a typographer.

It’s a shame that these once-respected avenues of expression are being eroded by trivialisation. Typography, as a subject is quite fascinating; there’s so much consideration in making content readable and inflected with the right ‘feel’, and there’s some genuinely interesting things to be learnt.

Gill Sans

You’ve got to draw a line somewhere and it might as well be between your dog and your third daughter…

And whilst we’re on the subject, can we all get over the Comic Sans bashing? It was funny at one point but now it’s just sad. It’s been kidnapped by that odd group of people who mercilessly hate something and pretend it’s taste, like they did when Lynn Truss brought out ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’.

Comic Sans

I don’t really have a problem with Bieber, although his music isn’t my ‘thing’ – he’s very responsible and well-adjusted for someone at his level of fame. What I DO have a problem with is hype. If you’re a Belieber and you’re offended by this message, please consider that any resentment either of us may feel is entirely your fault. So there.

I got into graphic design because, like many of you here, I wanted to tell stories, and one day I hope to get out of it, for the same reason. I love the work – obviously – it’s exhilarating, but it’s a far from easy life, and there’s a reason why I have this other creative outlet here. If you should ever find yourself (and if you want it, I hope you do) in a situation where your income is a direct reflection of the frequency and quality of your ideas, I think you’ll see what I mean.

Allow me to sign off as the ungrateful prick I am clearly becoming. I’m off to have my cake, eat it, then take a chunk out of the hand that feeds. I reckon humble pie will be on the menu too.

Rant over. Bon appetit.


1 Good name for a bad song, that.

2 One of these is a deliberate lie, just to see if you’re paying attention. Answers on a postcard.

3 To illustrate my problem with these sort of words, I’ll use it in a sentence; ‘Oh no, I couldn’t possibly get a job and contribute to society, I am a creative.’

Here W-Ego Again…

There are two things in this world that I can’t stand: arrogance and pretension.

By the way, welcome back to my awesome blog that’s all about me and and is my superb creative outlet for all my important, interesting problems.

I am here today to apologise for my absence. The Day Job demanded that I give it my undivided attention for six weeks or so, and I obeyed. I logged out of my WordPress account because y’all are too interesting, and hence distracting.1

Anyway, I write to you today in humbleness. This is a problem because I’ve actually spent the last six weeks working on something rather special and brilliant and I’d like to tell you all about it.

Now, I’ve done some comparatively awesome things in my short career. Many of them would be unappreciated outside of the industry, a few of them (TV work mainly) are limited to being impressive in this country, but the one so impressive and intense I’ve had to stop blogging for is for the BBC.

Before you get excited, I was doing visual work for the radio arm of the BBC. My next project will be a nationwide ad campaign for chocolate teapots.2

That said, the work (still not finished, by the way) is currently being very well received and one finished component is circulating the Beeb’s social networking outlets. I made the BBC’s Official Youtube Channel. I feel that this is legitimately quite cool.3

Cactus

This is as much as I can show. This shelved cactus is such a minor feature that it didn’t even get paid an appearance fee for it’s trouble.

***

Now, I can’t abide bragging, but if there was ever a time to get into it, that time is now; however, I can’t really talk about it in any further detail without giving my identity away. My secrecy is something I feel is important to this blog, as I would probably share much less if I thought someone could trace my tender side back to the real me.

What this means instead, is that whilst I want to tell the world that I’ve done something I’m actually proud of, I can’t provide details, and so am limited to saying ‘I am awesome’, which makes my skin crawl. Part of me wants to numb it by instead suggesting that ‘I am quite good at something’, but newcomers to this here blog would still see that as arrogance, as they would not have the benefit of context.

What this work has enabled me to do, aside from enhance my portfolio, pay the bills, and make in-roads towards a career-move to television, is to finally blog about perhaps my biggest overarching anxiety – the fear of being seen as a pompous, self-important prick. It took something awesome for me to be able to say ‘I am awesome, but I only think I’m alright. So don’t hate me.

I find myself going out of my way to appear humble, and to appeal to people’s better nature, perhaps because I have always been a ‘beta male’. I know full well the extent of my talents, and am well aware that I have many faults and failings and have much to learn.4 I can’t look at any of my work without seeing faults, for example. ‘Perfectionism’ is a somewhat dirty word,5 but high standards for oneself are a double-edged sword. I would like to say that I’m my own worst enemy, but I imagine that by saying that I would tempt fate into providing me with a arch-nemesis. Actually, I’d love an arch-nemesis. I’m my own worst enemy.

What I hope you understand, is that I don’t intend to let this success change me. and for all of my achievements I am, in actuality, vehemently uncool. I am but one wisp of a man struggling against the winds of time, and cosmically speaking, I am next to nothing. I am flattered that you all think my thoughts are worth reading, and I that you feedback to me with comments is currently both a cause for delight and burning shame.

***

Fortunately for my schedule/sanity, I never promised a post a week or anything like that, but the thought of not posting once per month is unacceptable to me. I have, however, procrastinated even in this simple act, and am noticeably posting on the last possible day in September, to keep a promise I made as recently as the start of this paragraph. I’m a fool to myself.

I hope to be blogging regularly again by mid-October. I will keep this promise because guilt is my best motivator. There’s a raft of ‘material’ I need to take forward and give structure to, which I’m particularly excited by and hopefully will be lauded to the high heavens as self-indulgence of the highest order ‘good’. I believe this is what’s known as a teaser.

My apologies once again for leaving you in this chasmic lurch. I will respond to any and all comments the moment this work is signed off.

My thanks to the few new folks who’ve followed recently, I’m so sorry for being neglectful, especially as many of you are WordPress heavyweights. What on Earth must you think of me?6 I will read up on blogs old and new as soon as possible.

Please bear with me, I’ll see you soon.


1 That’s right, I referred to you all as ‘y’all’. Evidently interacting with the Americas has its side-effects.

2 The first project I did at University that earned me industry attention genuinely involved selling ice to eskimos. One day I hope to design something sensible.

3 In the interest of full disclosure, the video has four dislikes, which means that legitimate coolness is either not for everyone, or that my work is neither legitimate nor cool, which would be a colossal waste of my time. I hate Youtubers.

4 Whilst I’m not petulant/stupid/a fourteen-year-old enough to self-diagnose myself from Wikipedia, there’s a psychological phenomenon I may be somewhat privy to called ‘The Impostor Syndrome’ which feeds self-doubt into the assumption that you’re actually a fraud, and that your inevitable unmasking is only moments away. This is a tortuously unpleasant way to live your life, and yet I appear to have described it in a manner similar to an episode of Scooby-Doo, which if anything just reveals that this writer/humorist schtick is similarly hokum.

5 Not as dirty as ‘boobies’, though.

6 Probably a stream of profanities according to taste, followed – somewhat ironically – by the word ‘unfollowed!’

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

Hello all. I am super-busy with work at the minute, and am likely to remain so for a while, so busy that I am unable to respond to comments from up to four posts back. (Not so busy as to not write a post, eh Mr. Busybiscuits?)

In the meantime, I have prepared this; the post I did about Facebook was a moderately popular one, so here’s another highlight from my personal social archive. It concerns the time I met and did some work for arguably popular British R&B sensation Lemar. It was quite sensational. He’s a sensation. Sensation. Yeah.

If you don’t know who Lemar is, good. The ironic lack of celebrity will make it funnier.

If you look at the bottom, you will notice Comedy Terence showing up two days late with the wrong end of the stick, devoid of grammar, laughing at his own joke, and spelling the key word wrong. As per usual. That man is a stand-up, ladies and gentleman. I realise I haven’t written very much about him, so this ‘as per usual’ schtick is largely ephemeral, but you get the gist.

Anyway, I hope you appreciate this lazy bit of filler candid sneak peak into what minor celebrities get up to, with specific reference to urination. Enjoy, and I’ll get back to you all hopefully this week.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

The Social Nitwit

OR An Uncomfortable Journey of Self-Re-Discovery Along Facebook Timeline

OR The Well of Self-Hatred Never Runs Dry

A Blast From Your PastI have recently been forced on a walk down memory lane, taken an unsolicited journey of self discovery, and suffered a deeply personal history enema. That last metaphor is one of mine. I wonder if it’ll catch on?

If you’re blissfully unaware, the social networking giant Facebook has forced all its peons into a regimented new system. Some people are born with Timeline, some people achieve Timeline, and some people have Timeline foisted upon them. I am of the latter subset, and we’re all quite annoyed about it. We’re the upset subset.

Those for whom Social Networking is a fun, active pastime will already have jumped at the chance to have a big splash picture accompanying their head-in-a-square, but for the rest of us (the Resistant, the Hesitant and the Uninterested) Facebook Timeline is now the best option out of a choice of one. For someone who is depicted to be the face at the forefront of the future,1 Zuckerberg seems to be obsessed with the past – specifically that time a few months ago before Faceberg went public and everyone could see exactly how financially ramshackle it is.2

Zuckerbook’s newest bright ideaTM charts your history on the site, as well as extending deep into the past to your birth, or if your parents are a particular type of Facebucker, your conception. It’s intent was presumably to provide users with a personal history book, celebrating their life’s achievements and zeniths and witty statuses and offering a nostalgic stream of highlights: your very own Greatest Hits record.

What it actually is is a perfect time-capsule of your lowest lows and most public failures.

I’m on Facebook, and I can just about stand it. I’ve avoided many of the archetypal Social Lepers that plague the site.3 I have my own uses for the network; my favourite thing about social networking is that it allows me to add a numeric value to my popularity and measure it accordingly.4

Now, however, I am confronted with all my past misdeeds, evidence of arseholery and endless, increasingly demoralizing photographs of my own nauseating face. According to the Grand Exulted Overlord Zuckerberg and all his little wizards, I had until August the 8th to systematically delete all that I’m ashamed of, which is everything.5

Through extensive research into the last five years, I have discovered that I am an astronomical prick.6

To be honest, I suspected this already, but I’ve learned that it’s true for for an entirely different set of reasons than previously thought. I’ve had to sit down and ask myself some very serious questions:

  • Why is past-me such a prat?
  • When did I stop being such a prat?
  • Will future-me look back at this in five years time and think that present-me is a prat? (Definitely.)
  • Is there anything I can do to quell the righteous self-hatred of future-me in advance?
  • Does voicing these thoughts make me look as mental as I think it does?
  • Is future-me a delusional mental prat too?

***

Anyway, you didn’t come here to read my witterings – you came here for salacious secrets and uncomfortable truths.7 Without further ado; may I present what I believe is my first proper blog-list:

Uncomfortable Truths and Lessons Learnt About Myself due to Obligatory Facebook Timeline

  • I joined Facebook to play a pirate game with my friend Paul. That game has escalated into a hideous social networking beast that I am unable to slay. I am not a pirate and neither is he, so on top of that, it was futile.
  • Apparently, a relationship, however farcical, is a more important life event than meeting all but two of my best friends, living with said best friends, going to university, winning an award for my design work and meeting four of my heroes. A relationship is on par with being born.
  • I was at one point deemed worthy of a relationship.
  • I can now calculate precisely how long said relationships lasted for, and judge myself accordingly.
  • My last girlfriend has managed to delete our existence as a Facebook-Official couple long before I had timeline forced on me. This is annoying because I wanted to do it.
  • Alcohol does horrible things to me. (Refer to previous point.)
  • I only learned to spell/communicate without resorting to slang in 2008, or maybe I was bring ironic. Irony does not age well, and I look like a moron.
  • I twice did those bullrubbish cryptic statuses that don’t mean anything. Fortunately no one cared.
  • I cared about my old band for much longer than was necessary or welcome.
  • The flyers that I designed for bands five years ago are so depressingly untalented that I deserve to be disemboweled, or at least sacked.
  • McDonalds warrants a status update.
  • It snows occasionally, and I recorded it for posterity. Nobody else ever does this so it’s a good job I did.
  • I have only been funny since April 2010. Thanks to FB, my first joke told to the public is preserved for posterity. Unfortunately, it is topical, so it is no longer funny.8
    Here it is. It concerns the run-up to the last British general election. Gordon Brown was the Prime Minister Incumbent and ‘The Mirror’ is a particularly unethical tabloid rag.

The First Time I Tried to be Funny

  • In 2010, I thought this was funny:

I'm Hilarious

  • I still think that’s funny. I’m bringing it back.9
  • In February 2011 I went to an art exhibition so shit it became a ‘life event’.
  • Best Friend Dan and I had an impromptu hat making competition in honour of the Royal Wedding in April 2011. Mine was three feet tall and had a paper Will and Kate and a banner saying ‘Eee! It’s a Right Royal Wedding Celebration Hat’ on it and a tiny crown on a stick as its centrepiece. It was a hat so awesome it had it’s own hat. Dan’s was a plastic sandwich carton with some penlids in it stuck to his head with tape. I do not regret this at all.
  • In late 2010 I spent four consecutive nights chronicling the adventures of the homeless people who camped in the band stand in the park over the road from my flat. They would do a lot of drugs and sing Lady Gaga and Bohemian Rhapsody til 3am. One of them shat in another’s sleeping bag.
  • I have dreadful posture.
  • I have dreadful haircuts.
  • I have dreadful fashion sense.
  • I have dreadful taste in everything.
  • I am pathetic and have achieved nothing.

Thanks a lot, Zuckerballs.


1 Because Justin Timberlake said so, and as we all know, The Social Network was 100% accurate.

2 Can you smell that satire? It smells good doesn’t it. Want to come back to my place and take a sideways look at the week’s news?

3 Here’s a checklist: the Excitable Superfan, the Activist, the Evangelist, da GramMMartick CRimmiNul, the Over-Sharer, the Promoter, The Self-Fetishist, The Passive-Aggressive Problem Child, the Comedian LOL, the Fundamentally Unstable Relationship, the 24-Hour Party Person, the Chest-Exhibitor, the Twat, etc. Please comment and add your own!

4 ‘If the numbers go up, you’re having more fun!’ – Calvin off of Calvin & Hobbes.

5 I could leave, but I don’t hate Facebook nearly half as much as I do Twitter, and anyway, how else would I show all my nemeses and ex-girlfriends that I’M DOING FINE.

6 Not literally – an astronomical prick would be hideous. It probably is a constellation though…

7 Unless the opposite is true, in which case you’re about to be sorely disappointed.

8 This is another sample of satire, however, it is two years old. Satire does not age well. It still smells, but now it smells like a stale trump. Or Donald, as he’s known to his friends. HELLO! We’re back in the game!

9 I’m also bringing back the phrase ‘bringing it back’.

A Very British Olympics: It’s The Taking Part That Counts

OR A Big Sporty Party ‘Round Our House

If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to gush a little more about the Olympics. I’ve already said a great deal in the comments of my previous post, but I’d like to take the opportunity to organise my thoughts and move on from just doing blogs about different countries all the time. This post is not particularly funny, per se,1 but I want to record my feelings at this moment so that I can look on them in years to come. You’re welcome to skip it, if you’ve had enough of all that, and you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a proper post going up very soon.

Tower Bridge w/ Olympic Rings - Image via Google

I’m not particularly athletic, and I’m not incredibly competitive either; the product of being a small skinny child. I never took PE lessons too seriously; I’d joke around or make up new sports or provide ‘hilarious’ commentary, and then play football all lunch instead. As far as my teachers were concerned, however, I was so unremarkable that I had two report cards that got my name wrong. And not ‘Kris’ wrong. ‘Thomas’ or ‘James’ wrong.

My relationship with most sport is that of a spectator: I love watching tennis and cricket, but out national sport is football (soccer) and I find it very difficult to get behind a ‘sport’2 that seems to encourage division along lines of where people are from and what colour t-shirt they’ve got on, and that rewards ludicrously overpaid pronks3 with the lifestyle, luxuries and ego of Joffrey from Game of Thrones, but if he had as much sex as the rest of the cast.

I find it too easy to respond with cynicism to people who a lauded to the upper echelons of celebrity purely because they’re good enough to be the public face of a sport-come-business venture. I’ve always responded to effort more than anything else: if someone’s doing something for love rather than money I can get right behind them, whatever it is.4 Amateur level sport, or even just non-mainstream sport is right up my proverbial street (and my literal street in the case of a few events).

It seems to be a very British Olympics. I’ve read a few American blogs on the subject, and (depending on the blogger of course) there’s a real thirst to beat China and prove that the US is the best in the world at sport. I love that we hope Team GB will come fourth in the Medal Table – that’s British values right there. We know exactly how good we are on the world stage, and our dearest wish would be to achieve the honours we feel we deserve, nothing more. We can do cycling5 and sailing and a bit of rowing, and we’re happy with that, thank you very much.

If there’s two things us Brits enjoy it’s Credit Where It’s Due and a Good Underdog Story.6 As a nation, we can get behind anyone who is a talented competitor, or anyone who deserves a good win. We don’t have to have a native attachment to Michael Phelps to enjoy watching him cruise to victory, and Usain Bolt is exhilarating, wherever you’re from. Us Brits will give a hearty cheer for whoever’s at the back of the race, because hey – they deserve it too.

What’s so inspiring is that these values are clearly echoed across the world; athletes who don’t win gold are humble and appreciative of talent, displaying a sportsmanship that appears to be absent from mainstream, moneyed sports like Football (soccer), and I imagine Baseball and American Football are similar. Team GB’s Rebecca Adlington conceded defeat gracefully twice, as she accepted bronzes in the two races she was excpected to win gold in, and just this afternoon I watched Roger Federer give a poignant post-match speech, singing the praises of Andy Murray.

To me, this is exactly what sport is about; it’s why I’m finding the Olympics so enjoyable – I am delighted to find myself able to root for somebody simply because they’re the best at something. That’s what good sport can do – think of all the crises and conflicts going on in the world, and everyone’s put their problems aside for a fortnight for a big party round our house.

If I may quote John Candy’s character in Cool Runnings:

‘…It doesn’t matter tomorrow if they come in first or fiftieth. Those guys have earned the right to walk into that stadium and wave their nation’s flag. That’s the single greatest honor an athlete can ever have. That’s what the Olympics are all about.’

In fact I only have two complaints about the whole shebang: I don’t see why a horse rider should get a medal and the horse should only get a sugar lump, and I’m a bit disappointed that Team GB is not nicknamed the Heebie GBs.

***

On the topic of national pride, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so patriotic as I have done this past week. Last Thursday, I wrote a short post belaying my cynicism at our country’s ability to put on an overzealous display of extravagance. My immediate reaction was evident in the comments, but I thought it was a triumph. It was doubly exciting for me, because thanks to WordPress, I knew I’d be able to share these experiences with people across the world.7

What international readers may not realise is that the Ceremony, the Torch and who would even bring the flame to the stadium was shrouded in mystery until the last minute. Our biting wit kicked in, and many of us, myself included, expected something similarly farcical to what went down later last week8  :

Boris Johnson, Lord Mayor of London - Image via Google

Britain is an eccentric little huddle of islands, and to pander to the rest of the world’s expectations would have been a disservice. We instead invited the world to look at us and say ‘they’re an odd bunch of looneys aren’t they?’

My main worry about the ‘Open Cez’ was that it would be over-eager, facile, saccharine and very difficult to stomach, like so many of these ‘Big Shows’ are.9 I needn’t have worried, as it seemed out country’s tongue was firmly in it’s cheek.

From the moment Frank Turner (for my money our greatest unheard-of talent and most genuine singer) stepped out for a little pre-show concert, I knew we’d be fine. We had our green and pleasant land, and we had our dark satanic mills,10 but we also had Bean and the Queen,11 who I feel were not only hilarious, but were absolutely necessary. We pricked the bubble of the Monarchy, and hence the pomp and ceremony of the country, in a way that showed that even on the world stage, we are not afraid to laugh at ourselves, and that we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

I stopped worrying what the world might be thinking12 when the forty-foot Voldemort took to the skies. The NHS (and free healthcare for all in general) is a wonderful thing; everyone in the UK passes through it’s doors at least once in their life, no matter what their social or political background.

I loved the celebration of our music and popular culture. Every artist featured is a display of home grown talent, all of it worthy and none of it a product of a TV Talent Show’s machinations. I did wonder whether Sir Tim Berners-Lee sat concealed in that plywood house, looking out at the jubilent tweeting generation and thought ‘Is this what my legacy has begat? “#TeamBreezyLOL”’ but then the house lifted away from him life he was a lobster on a silver platter and he got the eyes of the world on him. That must have been pretty special.

I was a love-letter to Britain, from Britain. And it was marvelous, and Danny Boyle will no doubt be a Sir by this time next year.

I read a great tweet which summed it all up wonderfully, which I’ve promptly forgotten. I think it was said by a bloke called Ian, if that’s any use to you. Basically, Ian said this:

The 2012 London Olympic Opening Ceremony has reclaimed the word ‘patriotic’. Whilst bigots and the far right would use it to defend indefensible actions and to oppress those of a non-white-native origin, it once again means what it should always meant: love and gratitude for your country and fellow man.

Lovely stuff.

In conclusion, the London 2012 Olympics has rekindled in me a love for sport, greatness, and people the world over that has played second fiddle to cynicism for years. If I may, I’d like to once again quote Cool Runnings’s Sanka Coffie, I am feeling very Olympic today.


1 Humour, like many things, is subjective, and if you’re not enjoying my scribblings then that sentence would be the height of arrogance, and for that I am sorry.

If you would like some sport-based humour, may I direct your attention to the sports section of satirical news show The Day Today. Here you will see the unbeatable Alan Partridge in the character’s first iteration as a failing sports reporter, before he became a failed talk show host and failed radio DJ to boot.

2 This isn’t strictly true; I watch football for the punditry. I don’t mind who wins as long as someone says something stupid. Here’s a few gems from pundit Mark Lawrenson:

‘The longer the game went on, you got the feeling that neither side really wanted to lose.’

‘Call himself a keeper? He couldn’t keep bees!’

– and the joyously irreverent –

‘When I lived in rural Oxfordshire, I was walking home across a field when I stroked a cow. The damn thing butted me in the orchestras.’

3 I’m writing with footballer Christiano Ronaldo in mind. He has a barber’s chair waiting for him at half time to get his hair re-did. There are a lot of bad sportsmen, but Ronaldo’s arrogance is painful and infuriating to behold. He is accused often of playing football for himself rather than the team, and shows what a man thinks of himself when, during the penalty shoot-out if the last European Cup, he purposefully went last so that he could be Portugal’s hero. The scoring went as such that Spain had won before he could even step up, and every football fan in Europe went ‘AAAAAAAAH!’

4 Note: must be morally sound. If you love hitting geese with a carpet beater, and would do it even if nobody would pay you, please don’t mistakenly think you can count on my support.

5 Our champion cyclists Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish were accused of being arrogant, but as it was put very succinctly by the anchors in the studio, they’ve been proven to be the best athletes in their field time and again, and not as a product of luck either. The phrase used by the commentator was ‘The Gold Medal is his to lose’, which is a spot-on phrase – statistically, Wiggins (in that instance) should be the best claimant for that accolade, and it’s up to him to put on a performance worthy of it. Aren’t words great when they’re used properly?

6 In the depths of my hard drive I have a document called ‘A Great British Underdog Story’, which is an outline for a novel. Aside from the title, there exists only one line of text: ‘It’s a story about an underdog who wins something.’ I look forward to critics praising it’s brevity and simplicity.

7 Should they deign to read this far down.

8 I love that the Major of our Capitol City got stuck on a zipline with two Union Jack flags. He didn’t drop them, and he didn’t call for help either. He’s Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, goddammit, and if he got himself into this mess then by jove he can get himself out of it. And he’s not dropping the Queen’s standard either!

9 If Her Majesty selected the playlist for her Diamond Jubilee this year I’d be surprised and bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

10 Dear the New York Times. Isambard Kingdom Brunel, as played by Kenneth Brannagh, is not a Charles Dickens character. He was a real bloke.

11 Which sounds like an 80’s Cop Duo waiting to happen.

12 I know NBC aren’t doing a very good job, and I understand they cut a five minute tribute to the victims of the 7/7 Bombings, a terrorist attack that happened the day after we won the Olympic bid, which was a tactless, thoughtless thing to do. If we, or anyone else, had neglected 9/11 there’d be uproar. Apparently NBC also were quite ignorant of our nation and customs, which was nice of them. That said, NBC’s gaffes did also result in this gem:

Excellent Logo Placement - Image via Twitter