Friday, 25 September 2009
Take, for example, the ‘tequila incident’.
Aged seventeenish, there were two pubs in Canterbury where we knew we’d definitely get served; The Dolphin and The Cross Keys. It was in the latter that we found ourselves one day playing a game that involved probing questions and an empty pint glass. The glass was circulated around the group, while each recipient was asked something shocking. Upon answering, they added a shot of their choice to the glass and passed it on; failure to answer a question (or a blatantly untruthful response) resulted in them having to down it. The glass had been passed around for some time with everyone deciding to add tequila, until it was full. My friend – we’ll call him DangerBoy – ends up downing a pint of tequila. Cheeky.
Now, he’s adamant that he’s fine. He goes off for a wee, the toilets being upstairs, and reappears down the staircase in one cartoonish fluid motion, seemingly unaware that there are any steps there at all. It’s quite impressive, and is rewarded with a round of applause. He lands at the bar and promptly necks two double vodkas. Y’know, to prove he’s not pissed. This makes him hungry, so he orders crisps. He is actually a bit pissed, incredibly, so the crisps end up going everywhere. It’s at this point that he gets thrown out.
So a couple of the guys hail him a taxi and spend ages trying to convince the driver that he’s sober enough not to chunder on the journey home. While negotiations are underway, DangerBoy has surreptitiously opened the door on the other side of the cab and fallen eyebrow-first onto the kerb. Oops.
There’s blood gushing everywhere, so an ambulance is summoned. He’s rushed to Kent & Canterbury Hospital, where he’s plonked into a wheelchair and hurried to an operating theatre. He’s finding this all utterly hilarious, of course, and keeps throwing himself out of the chair, landing face-first in the corridor and making his wound worse. The solution? They get a wheelchair designed for mental patients. They strap him in.
Once upon the operating table, it takes numerous orderlies to hold him down while he’s stitched up – he’s laughing hysterically throughout the process. Eventually they stop his blood from falling out and they call his dad to come and get him. It’s a few miles from Canterbury to Whitstable, and he’s jabbering away at his dad the whole way home. On arriving at his house he gives his dad a twenty pound note. He doesn’t recognise him at all, and has assumed throughout the journey that he’s a taxi driver.
Approaching the building, he simply cannot find the front door. He thinks he has a fair idea which bedroom is his, so he tries to scale the side of the house. And repeatedly falls off. And so the saga goes on.
See, kids? That’s how you do it.
Or how about this?
First year of university, and we’re enthusiastically involved in the Snakey-B Challenge (i.e. seeing who can drink ten pints of snakebite & black first without throwing up). It’s a regular feature in the social calendar. A housemate of a friend – we’ll call him ShameBoy - doesn’t go out much, doesn’t drink much, doesn’t socialise much, so we drag him along to the union one night to jolly him up a bit. We lose track of him some time after midnight – no great loss, he was pretty dull – and amble back to my friend’s house at three a.m. or thereabouts. We’re interested to note that the front door is wide open. The intrigue grows as we find that ShameBoy is sealed in his room - these doors don’t have locks, so he’s clearly barricaded himself in somehow. Indeed, a little light shoulder-barging reveals that all of his furniture – bed, desk, wardrobe, everything – has been stacked against the door. We find him slumped against a wall, unconscious. The pile of coursework in the corner is liberally soaked in urine, suggesting that he realised he needed a piddle and couldn’t work out how to get out. His trousers are around his ankles, he has a magazine of naughty ladies in one hand and a sensitive part of his anatomy in the other. He’s been liberally sick on himself, and it smells as if he’s had a little bottom accident as well. Now, the question that puzzled me at the time, and I still haven’t been able to fathom to this day, is this: in what order did those events happen? It just doesn’t make any sense…
There’s no moral to any of this. I just wanted to share.
Friday, 18 September 2009
The downturn’s not been all bad. Here’s some positives:
Going to the cinema
If you can’t afford to go out very much, you’ve got to be efficient in your outings. You can get an unlimited Cineworld pass for £13.50 a month; if you only go once a month then that’s not great value, but if you go once a week it works out pretty cheap. If you go every day then it’s laughably inexpensive, although the staff will [quite rightly] think you’re a nutjob.
Benefits of this include being able to walk out of crap films without feeling like you’ve wasted your money – films I’ve abandoned this year on account of their appalling shitness include Easy Virtue and The Ugly Truth – and the kudos that comes with being able to say ‘I’ve seen that’ whenever any new film is mentioned. People will think you have an interesting life and are bang up to date with popular culture. This could even get you promoted.
Video games are awesome, obviously. But they’re kind of expensive.
Well, they are if you buy new ones... but only pretentious and annoying people own a PS3 or an Xbox 360 (as anyone else who can’t afford to buy either will wholeheartedly agree) – the fun lies in rediscovering your old games.
See, if you can’t afford to go out then you’ll find you’re spending a lot more time hanging around the house. QED. Dust off your old games and you’ll discover that they haven’t aged as badly as you expected. Gran Turismo 4 and any of the Grand Theft Auto series are superb PS2 games. Pikmin and Super Monkey Ball on the GameCube are pretty good. Goldeneye on the N64 is one of the best games ever. Still got a SNES collecting dust at the back of your wardrobe? Have another crack at Street Fighter II Turbo, it’s great. The original Sonic the Hedgehog on the Master System rocks. If you’ve still got your retro Game Boy, you can’t beat a bit of SuperMarioLand. And so it goes on.
It helps if you’re a bit pissed, of course. Games are better that way. But look at all the time you can waste with stuff that you’ve already got lying about the house…!
I love watching telly, it’s my favourite pastime. It’s amazing I ever have time to leave the house, with all the programs I feel I have to watch.
Again, if you can’t afford to go out, there’s a whole world of free entertainment on the wellybox – the less consequential the better. I love property programs like Grand Designs, Location Location Location, Property Snakes & Ladders etc. Can I afford a house? Can I bollocks. But there’s even more pointless stuff than that to fill the hours – try What Katie Did Next. You’ll learn that Jordan actually isn’t a mental bitch and is an expert at playing the tabloids at their own game. How about Miami Ink (or the slightly less good spin-off L.A. Ink)? It’ll teach you all sorts you didn’t know about Americans getting tattoos and banging on about how they’re so spiritual. (Don’t bother with London Ink though, they’re all tossers.)
Come Dine With Me and Four Weddings are effectively the same program, but both superb. I defy you to find something better to watch on a Sunday morning with a hangover. Besides X Factor/Xtra Factor, obviously.
Pimp My Ride is a modern classic. No-one seems to have cottoned on to the fundamental flaw that the format has, namely that these people have rubbish cars because they can’t afford better ones. What do they do if you make their $1000 car suddenly worth $10000? They immediately sell it, of course! Duh.
Now I see it written down, I seem to spend a huge amount of time looking at screens. Is this a bad thing? Hell no. I use the fact that I’m a Barleyesque self-facilitating media node in a professional capacity to justify this sort of large-scale timewasting, under the pretence of being media-savvy and cutting-edge. And when I’m not watching telly, watching a movie or playing video games I’m either on the internet or asleep. This is what my generation does. We waste time.
None of this actually has anything to do with the recession at all. I just wanted to write something that ranked highly in Google results. With that in mind, Viagra, Britney, EasyJet, arthritis, lose weight now, enlarge your tool, X Factor, cheap meds, voucher codes, Kanye, Peter Andre, lottery numbers, Obama, Jonas Brothers, iPhone app, Harry Potter. Thank you, good night.
Monday, 14 September 2009
Friday, 11 September 2009
Some of the pictures in there are pretty cute though...
Click image to enter site.
First way to die
There’s going to be quite a few of these, so let’s start with something abstract. Picture yourself casually walking down the street. You’re wearing a red t-shirt (which is important, as the version in which you wear a yellow t-shirt is an entirely different [but equally valid] way to die). As you amble round a corner past the Tesco Express (again, the version where you’re walking past an off-licence is just different enough to count as a separate way to die), you find yourself face to face with a bull. The bull has a natural aversion to red, and your shirt drives the beast into an apoplectic rage. As it lunges towards you, you suddenly half-remember seeing a documentary about alligators in which it said you’re supposed to wait until they’re almost upon you, then craftily side-step; they have no peripheral vision and a wide turning circle – perhaps this is true of the bull? You have no choice but to give it a try, bounding laterally from the kerb at the vital moment. And you’re promptly mown down by a Tesco delivery lorry. It’s only your left leg that’s really badly wounded; the doctors try to save it, but one of them hasn’t washed his hands since he was down in the morgue and you die shortly afterwards of a blood infection.
Second way to die
Comfortably and safely asleep in your bed, you’re awakened by the sound of shattering glass. Not so safe after all, you realise.
Thumping sounds and muffled speech come from the floor below. Your perimeter has definitely been breached, and there’s clearly more than one of them down there. You have two options: stay and hide, or confront. ‘Damn it,’ you think, ‘this is my house. I worked hard for all this stuff, I’m not going to let some dirty scagheads help themselves.’
You reach under the bed for the baseball bat you absent-mindedly left there for these sort of situations, never having given any more thought to the realities of the situation, and creep out to the corridor. This is where you have the upper hand; it’s your house, you know where the creaky floorboards are, you can stealthily approach and attack. The courts usually go in favour of the homeowner, right?
Inch by painstaking inch, you shuffle into the lounge to find three shadowy figures quietly unplugging the stereo separates you saved up for a year for. Their bag is already stuffed with your irreplaceable DVD collection and the silver picture frame your wife bought you shortly before she started sleeping with Steve, your slightly more interesting colleague. You’re overcome by blind crimson rage. You raise the bat above your head and sprint across the room with a piercing banshee wail. It hasn’t occurred to you that three men can easily overpower you. Before you know what’s happened, two of the men are holding you down while the other one uses your own weapon to split open your head and ruin the carpet that, to be honest, you never really liked.
Third way to die
You get shot in the face in the Post Office.
Fourth way to die
You love Spurs. You’ve been a fan since your dad took you to a game while you were still in your carrycot. He was a fan. Your granddad was a fan. So was his dad. The ballsmithery of Tottenham is the central tenet around which your life revolves. You’ve seen pretty much every game they’ve ever played in your lifetime, you can’t get enough of them.
The date is fast approaching that your beloved equipe are due to be playing away at Fulham and you’re more than a little concerned. You’re not sure how you did it, but you managed to leave your season ticket on the bus. TfL’s lost property office were entirely unhelpful, Spurs’ own season ticket issuing body showed little interest in helping you out of your predicament, and it looks like you’re going to have to miss one of the most important matches of the season. Good God, what will you do?
Your knight in shining armour turns out to be your rakish colleague, Steve: you’ve never really liked him for two important reasons - your wife always smiles at him a little too keenly, and he’s a Fulham fan – but here he is, apropos of nothing, chatting with you by the coffee machine about how he can’t make this weekend’s fixture, and offering to lend you his season ticket. Hosannah, glory be!
So there you are, you jammy sod – you made it to the game after all. OK, you’re sitting in the Fulham end, but it’s better than nothing. The game goes well, and you find it increasingly hard to stifle your excitement as goal after goal sails home. By half time, Spurs are 3-nil up and you’re grinning like a Cheshire cat. This doesn’t go unnoticed by the increasingly irked Fulham mob surrounding you. And, oh no! You realise that your Spurs scarf is trailing out of the bottom of your jacket…
There’s nothing you can do. The baying crowd closes in, their blood up and malice in their faces. You close your eyes and brace yourself for the inevitable pounding, when all of a sudden your pancreas leaps up through your neck and wraps itself around your medulla oblongata, throttling your brain. Tch, life eh?
Christ, this is going to take ages. I can’t be arsed, I’ll do the other five million, nine hundred and ninety-nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six next week. Or something.
Thursday, 10 September 2009
Monday, 7 September 2009
Friday, 4 September 2009
One giant slip in Bangladesh news
Two Bangladeshi newspapers have apologised after publishing an article taken from a satirical US website which claimed the Moon landings were faked.
The Daily Manab Zamin said US astronaut Neil Armstrong had shocked a news conference by saying he now knew it had been an "elaborate hoax".
Neither they nor the New Nation, which later picked up the story, realised the Onion was not a genuine news site.
Both have now apologised to their readers for not checking the story.
"We thought it was true so we printed it without checking," associate editor Hasanuzzuman Khan told the AFP news agency.
"We didn't know the Onion was not a real news site."
The article said Mr Armstrong had told a news conference he had been "forced to reconsider every single detail of the monumental journey after watching a few persuasive YouTube videos and reading several blog posts" by a conspiracy theorist.
"It took only a few hastily written paragraphs published by this passionate denier of mankind's so-called 'greatest technological achievement' for me to realise I had been living a lie," the fake article "quoted" Mr Armstrong as saying.
The made-up quote went on to say that although the journey had felt real, in fact "the entire thing was filmed on a sound stage, most likely in New Mexico".
"I suppose it really was one small step for man, one giant lie for mankind."
The story was published on the Onion's website on Monday and on Wednesday, the Daily Manab Zamin translated it into Bengali, attributing it to the Onion News Network in Lebanon, Ohio. It then ran in New Nation on Thursday.
Daily Manab Zamin, the only tabloid newspaper in Bangladesh, published an apology to its readers on Thursday, saying the report had "drawn a lot of attention".
"We've since learned that the fun site runs false and juicy reports based on a historic incident," it said.
"The Moon landing one was such a story, which received numerous hits on the internet.
"The truth is that Neil Armstrong never gave such an interview. It was made up. We are sorry for publishing the report without checking the information."Source
You might argue, if you’ve ever been to Faversham, that the last thing they need is to make everyone more drunk – it’s the sort of place that’s beautiful in the daytime and full of scary kids with weapons when the sun goes down – but there’s no need to be cynical. Just drink through it.
You see, the Shepherd Neame brewery is the oldest in the country (I think, or at least one of them), having been founded in 1698, and it’s something worth celebrating that they’ve been consistently excellent for 300-odd years. Or if you don’t need an excuse, just revel in the fact that Faversham has about a hundred pubs – well, I have no idea how many there are, but it’s a lot – so there’s plenty of choice. Just make sure you go out in a group, because you might forget where you live.
So, some fun facts about beer…
Beer dates back to the early Neolithic period, making it very old indeed. Drinking loads of it and falling over is nothing to be ashamed of, because your forefathers have been doing exactly that for the past 11,000 years or so.
The world’s strongest beer is called Dave, brewed by the Hair of the Dog brewery in Oregon. 29% ABV, if you can believe it. But they don’t brew it any more.
The Guinness brewery is only closed for one day a year. It was closed when I went there.
Beer is a good source of nutrients – magnesium, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, biotin, B vitamins… some people call it liquid bread.
(But those people are mental.)
Monks make very good beer. (Try Chimay, Leffe or Orval.) This is because they have nothing else to do all day and have consequently perfected the art of brewing tasty beer. Possibly.
In the days before thermometers, brewers would test whether the temperature was right to add the yeast by dipping their thumb in. This is where we get the phrase ‘rule of thumb’. (This is actually a myth; ‘rule of thumb’ is derived from an old Irish euphemism for beating your wife. But the beer story’s nicer.)
Similarly, the phrase ‘mind your p’s and q’s’ originates in the pub. If the clientele were to become rambunctious and unruly, landlords would tell them to ‘mind their own pints and quarts’, these being the measurements of the drinking vessels. Or maybe it refers to keeping an eye on how much you’re drinking. It’s one or the other, probably.
Beer, like all alcoholic beverages, is made by the process of fermentation. This involves bacteria feeding on yeast cells, then effectively defecating. When you drink alcohol, you’re drinking bacteria shit.
If you’re going to steal a keg from a recently closed-down pub, be aware that a) you can’t just drink it straight out of the barrel as it’ll taste awful and b) at least one of you will sustain a moderate injury trying to smash it open. (This might just be true of one particular incident I’m thinking of.)
The streets of St. Giles, Devon saw a tidal wave of beer in October 1814 when a brewery tank ruptured – the equivalent of 3,500 beer barrels demolished two houses and drowned nine people. But what a way to go…
If you want to quickly get rid of the head on your pint, stick your fingers in it.
Throw a few salted peanuts in your pint and see what they do. (I won’t give it away, just have a go.)
The six-pack originates from the 1940s, when a study by Pabst found that six beers was the ideal weight for a housewife to carry home.
The quality of a beer can be measured by the way the foam adheres to the glass as you drink it. Connoisseurs call this ‘Brussels lace’.
The original text of the Reinheitsgebot listed only three ingredients – barley, hops and water. Yeast wasn’t mentioned until 35 years later.
If you drink a lot of beer in one go, you’ll forget how to drive properly.
(You never know - my missus found that film about the dude who invented the intermittent windscreen wiper quite interesting, against all the odds.)