Tuesday, 29 November 2011


I've recently become an addict of cereal again. In particular, Shreddies. Here is the typical process for eating Shreddies:

Bleary-eyed, I get up, get the milk out of the fridge, come back, get a shower (If you're wondering why I do it in this order, it's because it seems that nudity isn't wildly popular as a habit in my flat. I could joke I have learnt that the hard way, but I don't want you to get the wrong impression, so just assume I divined it using careful application of my knowledge of social norms) and then hop out of the shower, feeling fresh. Then I pop on my towelled dressing-gown (I'm a man of ostentatious opulence, I cannot deny my desire for the finer things in life) and sit in it, whilst pouring my Shreddies, then my milk. This is where things start to go wrong. I cannot get the milk level right. Get the right amount for the end to still be crisp, and my first few mouthfuls are like shovelling dry weetabix into my face. Get the right amount of milk for the first few mouthfuls to be nice, and by the end of the bowl, I've ended up with some sort of wheaty pulp, like cold Shreddie-porridge. Once I've decided which of these two outcomes seems least unappealing, I pour and consume. "Delicious", I think. I then pop the bowl to the side, and go about my day (For the purposes of time, and to save you from the tedium of my actual life, feel free to imagine I'm a Soviet spy, and I spend all day trying to gather information on top level government ministers).

Then I arrive back, and look at that bowl and think "Tsk". But if my other bowl is beside it (I'm a two-bowl man. One must make cutbacks in crockery in order to afford towelled dressing-gowns) then I usually go "Oh. Bollocks", because this means I have to wash up. And something that always escapes me after I eat a bowl of Shreddies is that, as we all know, Shreddies + Milk + Time = Superglue, in fact, it is the strongest glue known to man, and is used in the construction of major structures instead of relatively weak alternatives, like rivets or welding. I swear, I'm relatively certain the Shreddie remains have chemically fused themselves to the bowl on some sort of atomic level. I might as well try to clean the carbon out of steel with soapy warm water. I have to dig out my jack-hammer to get these tiny pieces off. 40 minutes later, I've finally cleaned my bowls with a combination of power-washers and a small army of trained bowl cleaners.

Then I go to bed and look forward to the whole cycle the next. Shreddies: The bane of my life.

Surprise Jazz!

I think we, as a society, have taken jazz as far as creative licence allows us whilst sticking to the regimented and frankly old-fashioned system of having people attend shows in order to see it. It's why it gives me great pleasure to unleash the artistically-valid yet somewhat whimsical notion of "Surprise Jazz" upon the nation. Jazz is limited by the expectation that jazz will happen, and I enjoy the concept of unpredictable jazz. Consider it a live version of jazz unexpectedly coming up in "Shuffle" mode on your personal choice of media player.

Basically, across the country, small jazz groups (Quartets or quintets, maximum) carefully attire themselves in bush camouflage, and hide, unseen, behind benches in the park. Perhaps a couple of old ladies sit down to feed ducks and discuss their grandsons, and, I dunno, the latest advancements in blue-rinse technology, I don't know what little old ladies in the park talk about. Anyways, it's at this moment that the Surprise Jazz quintet strike, leaping from the bushes and playing an assortment of jazz classics (I'd open with Dave Brubeck's Take Five) to the delighted nans. They'll talk about it for weeks. "We were sitting in the park, discussing cardigan prices, when, suddenly, jazz!". You will not only brighten their day, but I'd dare say make their week. The unexpected element of the jazz will only heighten their joyous delight.

I've taken the liberty of making up several reviews from mainstream papers, this is what they might have to say about this concept:

"Bigger and more artistically daring than the early punk movement" - The Times
"Unprecedented artistic freedom playing to an unsuspecting audience gives the quartet whole new directions in which to take jazz that were previously closed to mainstream forms" - The Independent
"Immigrant music ruining our parks!" - The Daily Mail
"Conceptually brave, smashing the cultural conventions that jazz belongs in jazz clubs, this new medium opens up a whole new world to jazz, one which deserves to be fully utilised by modern jazz musicians and fans alike" - The Guardian


Sampling is the process of taking part of one song and slamming it into your song. It's considered fine to be done. Inspired by the fact that Leona Lewis has sampled Penguin Cafe Orchestra, and ruined one of my favourite songs, I think it's fair to call it "Theft". If I "sample" someone else's essay, suddenly I'm hauled up on charges of plagiarism.

It strikes of a creativity-impairment. "I can't think of my own melody.. I'll just take this one from another song". Usually a song so old that it's no longer really recognisable. Do you think MC Hammer wrote the riff for "U Can't Touch This"? You're wrong, it's from 1981's Super Freak, by Rick James. He had to sue to get some of the credit he deserved for basically writing the song. I was once listening to Talk by Coldplay, when my dad overheard it and went "Why are you listening to Kraftwerk?". I was pretty certain I wasn't. Turns out I was wrong, I was listening to the main riff from Computer Love. He dug out a tape to show me this. I'd have had no idea if he hadn't have told me, there was no indication in the song that they basically used Kraftwerk's song and added some other words. At least, according to Wikipedia, they received permission to use it.

In any other industry if you "sampled" a colleague's piece, it'd be rightly criticised for outright theft, or at best, unacknowledged borrowing. You wouldn't have a comedian use other comedian's jokes without ever mentioning it. You wouldn't have a journalist lift 200 words from an old column someone else wrote. You wouldn't get seemingly endless repeats of old TV shows pretending to be new content(Oh wait, sorry BBC, I forgot. Zing. Don't think I didn't see you play Yellowstone on BBC Four, then move it to BBC Two this year. If I watched it then, I don't want to watch it again. If I didn't watch it then, it's because I didn't want to watch it. Unless the BBC assumes I just watch documentaries by accident and assumes it has to put them in the place I'm most likely to trip over them).

I wouldn't have recognised Leona Lewis as having thieved Penguin Cafe Orchestra if I didn't already know and like the original song, which is slightly obscure. I'd have thought "My, Leona Lewis knows how to write a good song! That does surprise me.", but instead I'm thinking "My, Leona Lewis knows how to ruin a good song! That doesn't surprise me.". I had to listen to the song (Pity me) to find out it's just the main riff from Perpetuum Mobile (Released in 1987), repeated, over a thudding, jarring drum beat (Not in the original song because it ruins it), with some singing over the top. And occasionally an aggressively annoying bass line. Enjoy.

Wallpapering Leagues

Wallpapering league. Like football league, but for wallpapering. “Oh my God, you see the way he did that corner?! Right on the seam! Unbelievable". Kids wallpapering in the streets. Mums saying "Tim! How many times have I told you not to wallpaper in the hall?!" Lads down pubs, saying "What do you think of the new Melchester lad?" "Struggles a bit on fiddly banisters, but he's got potential. Good work on the open walls, really knows his way around a standard corner."

You'd get some classic commentary from decorating league icons Handy Andy and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen on Sky Sports:
"What do you think of the Brighton laddering formation?"
"Risky strategy, but it's a bold one. you wouldn't expect to see a double ladder plan this early on in the papering, but it gives them an advantage if it's executed well.... Oh and that one's come straight from the training stairwell! Brilliantly done!"
"Oh, and look at that, he's got paste on the skirting! He'll have to clear that up, he won't be happy with that. And you can see the manager's livid on the sidelines! Unbelievable! A man of his wallpapering calibre making such a simple mistake! Is he losing it? Oh, he's tried to fold an embossed roll! It's all going wrong here for Brighton!"

Offices would arrange fantasy pasting leagues, chatting to each other about that weekend's results."I can't believe the Doncaster Decorators beat the Tyneside Trimmers! Everyone thought that the Decorators would go down this year!", picking their favourite players and saying to each other "Picking the Dutch Master Van der Stroom for an away tie on a fiddly stairwell? What were you thinking!?".

I've just picked up the advertising pamphlet for EA Sports Wallpapering 2012, which promises all the biggest name stars from the English Wallpapering Premiership, the Italian Lega Tappezzeria, the German Tapeteliga and the Scottish Decorating Division 1. It also promises a whole new method and dynamic as you control your multi-millionaire decorators against some of the biggest wallpapering sides in Europe, and manage your team to the very highest level. With a whole new pasting-table mechanic that promises to deliver more realistic coverage of paste, and additional brush coverage controls, this is the best Wallpapering simulator ever! Create your own character and work your way up from reserve side at your favourite club, say, the Preston Pasters, or the Wigan Wallpaperers, to become the best decorator in Europe. And an all-new Manager mode that allows you to train your decorators in your own, specially designed hallway set-pieces makes sure this is an unmissable addition to any wallpapering fan's game collection!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

A Man, Stalling

Today was a day unlike any other, a day that will go down in the annals of time for all eternity. For on this day, a man stalled in such a catastrophic fashion as to make me evaluate my entire life.

First, let me set the scene, paint you a delicate watercolour of the events, if you will. The location was a local road, relatively major. I had just crossed onto the central island, and cursed fate as I saw the lights had turned to green. Little did I know this was actually the gods offering me a chance to witness the brilliance, for had I crossed, I surely would have missed it.

Scene suitably set (And alliteration duly implemented), let me tell you of the events the unfolded before my very eyes. The lights turned to green, and the small queue moved, the first two cars shot casually through the lights, but the third, the third car, a white Vauxhall Astra, was stationary. Upon realising this, the driver panicked. The pressure got to him, and the stares of a few passers-by set his nerves on edge. He stalled. He's abandoned, a lone car, miles from the lights, holding up the entire world behind him. The tension is palpable. What was a couple of pedestrians staring innocently becomes a small crowd, watching, ogling, gawking. He nervously starts the car under our shared gaze. There has never been a more high-profile car start in the entire city's history. He tries to find the biting point. The engine revs wildly, but he can't handle the power of the mighty Astra. He judders to a halt again. Entire empires have risen and fallen in the time it has taken this man to leave away from the lights. He tries a third time. He gets a clean start this time. He, and only he, gets through the lights.

The crowd cheers. I am moved to tears by the witnessing of this man's heroic struggle to move his car in the face of such unrelenting adversity, and from that moment on vow to live my life as he does. The crowd are aware we have witnessed something magical, and all bask in our shared joy of this moment, smiling at eachother as we cross the road. Before this happened, happiness was just a word to me, but now, I have known the raw elation of unfettered joy, and I know what it is to live.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Energy Crisis

I've discovered the cure for the world's energy usage crisis, and the rising rates of obesity amongst western countries: cut back on central heating. In order to fully test this theory, I have decided to go without any heating for the last three days. Here is a rough outline of my diary over those three days:

10:45 pm, Day 1: Heating goes off. Curl up in bed. Lovely and toasty. Sleep, or, realistically, watch Life (With David Attenborough) until sleep overcomes me.

7:45 am Day 2: Wake up earlier than expected, due to desperate desire to urinate. Get up hurriedly and rush to the bathroom. Seconds later, regret getting up. Finish, and sprint back to bed. Cold is overwhelming. Get up 15 minutes later, and get into shower. Try and avoid as much time as possible outside. Get dressed faster than ever before. Go to Tesco, if only to steal their warmth. Buy energy food: bananas, apples and pasta.

6 pm Day 2: Have eaten considerable amounts of banana. Still not warm. Consider a third jumper.

7:20 pm Day 2: Already in bed. Have eaten enough pasta to keep me full until 2012. Consider hibernating. Reject the notion as outlandish, and rather too "Bearish".

10:00 pm Day 2: It gets even colder at night. Become convinced man is yet to invent an adjective suitable to describe the conditions. Settle for "Cold", in a deliberately understated way.

9 am Day 3: Wake up. Regret it. Get up to go to class. Get into shower. Leave sanctity of warming shower, and enter arctic wilderness that my bathroom has become. Convinced I saw a caribou. Flee pack of hunting wolves clad in towelled dressing down. I was I mean. Not the wolves. That'd be silly. But a very good camouflage in my bathroom. The cold is leading to mental degradation.

10 pm Day 3: Shivering. Begin writing this. Still haven't eaten since pasta meal. Still, bizarrely, feel full. Consider a second pair of socks in combination with my slippers. Reject the notion. Consider thermometer in order to accurately measure temperature. Laugh at the thermometers in one of my lecture halls that go from -30 Fahrenheit to +130. Giggle at this for ten to fifteen minutes. Finish this. Go to bed. Shivering replaced by a dull acceptance of the cold.

I am dedicated to seeing this through as an experiment. If I can do it, anyone can do it. I'm saving the planet. What are YOU doing?