Tales of daily life from a 20-something Student from London.

Friday, 29 April 2011


If you know me, which I presume the majority of people reading this do, you'll know I enjoy a fair rant. I decided I'd stay away from complaining at the tribulations of everyday life when I started this but something really bugged me on a shopping trip during the week: the shops.
I'm presuming most of you have been to Bluewater, or at least know of it, but for those who don't, it's a huge shopping centre in the heart of preppy Kent. Naturally, this results in expensive shops full of people wearing jumpers hung lifelessly around necks, and Ralph Lauren polos (not that I'm some sort of anti-Kent terrorist here. I have a lot of family there, and a good friend of mine from uni, James Taylor, who is probably reading this now, is a lovely guy!). When it comes to shopping, I'm pretty old fashioned. I like to have a good old browse and find something I'm really into before comitting any cash to the pot. However, I found that most of the t-shirts in Topman were, simply put, some of the most unamusing shit I have ever had to endure.

That's not funny. It tries to be. When I was 14, I MAY have found that worth a slight titter. Even a smirk if I was in a good mood. But at 14, no way would I have even considered spending £14 on that tripe. I had more important things to buy...like... well, I don't know quite what, most of my money now is spent on alcohol and I can't remember a time when that wasn't the case. People will still buy this in it's tonnes because it's from Topman, but for me? No thanks. I mean, for an extra £6 I could've got a t-shirt with Kurt Cobain on it and 'KURT' written in big letters underneath, clearly detailing for anyone unsure that this was Kurt Cobain, but I was worried people wouldn't know who it was and just thought I had a random Kurt, or maybe even Kurt Angle of WWF fame dressed in full rocker outfit, on my t-shirt. Sarcasm doesn't come across well here, does it?

Another shop that's definitely worth talking about is Hollister. Until Wednesday, I had never set foot in the shop. I knew all about their strange marketing technique but I could never see myself wearing their stuff so why should I delve in. Myself, Sam Brown, and Sam Ham decided we would venture in. Purely for purposes of 'lol' of course. The three of us then decided this was incredibly stressful. Thrown into a dark maze full of t-shirts (they were fairly reasonably priced as it goes, so check it out if it's your scene) and some incredibly attractive girls leaves a man with little to no choice but to continue battling round to find the exit. Having these unobtainable sirens smiling at you is more tense than it sounds, especially when a particular 'well attired' girl came around the corner flaunting more than just the denim section. We were like sheep caught in the headlights as we strolled around what I can only describe as a Ghost Train where the ghosts were swapped for girls in tight t-shirts. I think even the bravest of men would struggle to keep a level head in this warzone of tension.

Overall, shopping for clothes nowadays is more stressful than it sounds. Stuff is expensive, unfunny, draped in other worries like stress, and even when you do find good stuff, one of your best friends already owns it. I'm looking at you Ham.

I think i'll stick to asos next time.

Over and out

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Patrick knows how to throw a party!

23rd April 2011. A pretty average Saturday; classic mid-spring warm weather, frisbee at the park, drinks in the pub, West Ham get terrorised by a title chasing team. Until I woke up today, I didn't have a clue that today was also St George's Day. And I bet a lot of you reading this might be the same. And to be brutally honest, I can't blame you. We cant even use the Royal Wedding hype as an excuse for forgetting: if we're honest, it's like this every year. As Englishmen, we're naturally quite conservative and well mannered. Modest, even. We won't celebrate our own British-ness unless it's thrown in our face, we're members of the 'English Defence League', or, in rare cases, actually care about our patriotism! We celebrate the patron saint's days of other countries. For St Patrick's day, we do as the Irish do and drink! On November 30th we celebrate the Scottish way and feast on haggis and the like! For the patron saint of Wales we do as the Welsh do and sh... well, I'm sure we celebrate that, too somehow. It's not that we aren't proud of who we are. Being English, and not British, is a huge part of my identity, as well as the fact I call myself a Londoner. We just don't have any particular things to celebrate. Honestly, as Englishmen, what is unique to us? Stereotypical, even? I know there's the classic Americanisms of 'afternoon tea' and 'bad teeth' but neither of those are true (although it is proven that, between 1993 and 2003, the amount of 12 year olds requiring braces rose by 9%). Even the more complimentary stereotypes like being well mannered aren't particularly fair. If you go to Lakeside on a Saturday afternoon, you'll find a general populous worse than that seen when you cross the guys from Jersey Shore with Mos Eisley Spaceport from Star Wars episode IV. And that's one wretched hive of scum and villainy. Face it. We just aren't all that original. But if someone asked me why I was proud of a country that doesn't have Guiness, Haggis, or a 'love' for sheep, I wouldn't be short on answers. A country that's produced the beautiful game in it's highest calibre, The Beatles (and The Rolling Stones: I'm not taking sides!), the funniest comedy shows in the world, Poppin's Cafe (they're growing, theres about 10 about now, check them out!), and the Mitchell brothers amongst many other things gets a huge tick in my book. I'm sure it will in yours, too.

Over and out.

Monday, 18 April 2011

"Whose house? RUUUUUN'S HOUSE"

On Sunday 17th April 2011, like 37,000 other brave/idiotic people, I ran the London marathon. To explain to you what it felt physically would best be summed up by the first thing I said after crossing the line:

"I'm never doing that again"

But describing what I felt mentally is a whole different story. Running the final 800m is a feeling of complete ecstasy. The crowd at this section isn't a group of strangers clapping. They're a group of supporters that want nothing more than to see you run across the line and complete your goal. As you cross the line, regardless of how slow, some being up to 12 hours, or fast, the fastest of which being a super-human 2:04, you finished it, you feel on top of the world. As though, for that moment, you are a hero. And everyone is cheering for you. It's a feeling unparalleled if I'm honest. Throughout the 26.2 mile journey, what is clear to every runner is the huge support given by the whole of London's community. From Millwall to Tower Hill, the streets are jam-packed with friends, family, and even just tourists, giving you the courage to continue and remind you just why you are doing this. Every Jelly Baby handed out by a stranger reminds you how important it is to carry on putting one foot in front of the other. These people don't need to be there. Some of them may not want to be there. But what's important is that they recognize the size of your task, and know why you're doing and see this as a call to arms to get out there and do their bit to help you help others. 
Toward the end of the marathon, I even saw one girl no older than myself fall. Two other runners picked her up, one either side of her, and helped her the remaining few miles to the finish. I even saw them help drag her over the line as I walked toward the station. The Marathon isn't people running through London from a start line to a finish. It's the journey, and how you experience it and the snippets of human kindness and selflessness you see along the way. You can train to run, but you can't train to experience such an awe-inspiring sight. 

The charity I ran for, the Myasenthia Gravis Association, is a charity I feel very strongly about. The disease they fight to prevent is a muscular weakness disease that can affect anyone, at any age. Even you. It can affect any part of the body, but particularly the face, preventing you from being able to smile. Think about that for a second. Not being able to smile would be horrific. It takes any emotion from a face and pulls it away, leaving a soul trapped behind it, unable to show joy at the birth of their child, or even something trivial like anger at a referees awful penalty decision (I'm looking at you Arsenal fans). With your help, I have raised £400 towards research that can help stop this evil disease. And now you have read this, just maybe, you'll think about popping a pound in the pot too. A pound isn't much to you, but it could be that final step in defeating this once and for all.

Please visit: www.justgiving.com/nomoresadfaces to donate.

Over and out

P.s. Sorry that last bit was a tad sombre, I'll get back to usual with my next blog. 

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Fleeting meeting gets me thinking

Sitting on a train on a dreary Thursday afternoon is not exactly my idea of fun. Looking at the empty fields as the rain lashed the windows made me think of the days I had ahead. Just three days until I run the London Marathon. How depressing would it be if I had this weather to suffer as I trudged the wet streets, soaked through. I got back to reading this weeks ShortList that I had borrowed from the old lady next to me. I was a tad annoyed by her, as she had taken it upon herself to sit in the window seat, which I always go out of my way to book. I was a tad anal when it came to long train journeys. Windows seats meant no trolley slamming into my knees. Or children. Or bags.
As we reached Stevenage, the old lady woke up. "Is this London?" she said, groggily. "No, London is next". "Oh good, was worried I had missed it..." She carried on looking at me. Oh god. It was one of THOSE old people. Who talk at you about allotments, and those knitted things that sit on toilet rolls. But I was totally wrong. And what she said I could never have anticipated. She had 5 children. One had gone to Cambridge University. One Bristol, one Oxford, one Durham, and one hadn't gone to university. And each one of them had achieved huge things. One of her two daughters had climbed Mount Everest. One helped build numerous towns across Africa. You get the picture. She was on her way to London to meet her son and fly to New York for ten days. I told her she was lucky (through gritted teeth, the jammy mare) and she said she was excited to return to the city she last went to twenty five years ago and showed me something amazing; her journal from the last time she was there. In it were the contact details of around ten Americans, from all around New York and the surrounding states. I studied it, glimpsing into her life and then, all of a sudden, she asked me a very important question. "What do you think I should do?" I didn't know what to say. This woman, who I had just met, was asking what she should do in regards to her personal journal, from decades ago.

"Contact them. You've got ten days, it's more than enough to at least call each one, maybe see a few". I knew as soon as I said it that she agreed. "You're right" she confirmed. "I'm going to. I regret not keeping in contact from the start, and I cant turn away this opportunity. Thank you". We pulled into Kings Cross and I lugged our cases off the train. After, she shook my hand, wishing me luck for the weekend and I strolled away, feeling content and warm. I felt like I made a difference to her, but she was unaware how much of difference she made to me. At that point, I realised how much more I should value the ease of being able to keep in contact with my friends. You. Reading this. Even this insignificant blog is helping us keep in contact and glimpse into each others lives. So to you, thank you. Whoever you are, lets keep in touch.

Over and out.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The perils of male modelling...

We've all done it. "Yeah, go on, sign me up". As if I have any intention of actually following through with it. Don't deny it. Be it passing a charity worker in the street, or a night out you just knew you weren't going to fancy come the date, two weeks down the line. When my girlfriend asked if I could 'model some t-shirts for my magazine', I had no qualms with agreeing. Hell, by the time the date comes along, her and the team will have found ample better candidates for the job. Only, that didn't happen. I casually dropped hints throughout the day of my reluctance. At one point, I was going to 'pull a sickie' but I thought that was a bit immoral. She was after all my girlfriend. So there I was. In a photography studio. With some photographers, designers, and other 'male models' (who were far better equipped for this position). They were nice guy, but this was really not my thing. I'm not up for posing in front of a camera, except when I'm particularly under the influence and the tubby Oriental man comes round with his Nikon in Edge nightclub.
I was introduced to the photographers, hoping this indicated I was soon ready to be 'shot' and sent away. My reluctance to be there meant I wasn't paying attention to their names. It didn't matter. I'd have some pictures taken, grab a coffee, and dart back home in time for Glory Daze. I'd had some shots taken outside. Some as a group. Some as a pair. Many variations on the classic 'photo' formula. What was there left to do but grab that Starbucks? But then disaster struck. At the end through the shoot, I was told to go over to Fahsee in another room, one of the two Asian photographers, for some inside, and individual, photos. I quickly regretted not listening to their names. I pondered which guy he was? Would it appear racist if I asked? I'd had a conversation about cameras with the pair of them only half an hour before, and used their names then (I mean, what could have gone wrong, they were both there). Worse over, they were too far apart for my shout to be heard by both of them, so shouting 'Fahsee!' was off the cards. I frantically looked for someone else to ask, but I was lost and alone. I had to think of a way to test the water.

"Is it going ok mate?" I said to one of them as I walked over.
"Erm..yeah, I guess".
"So Fah-See good then?" I thought this was perfect. Lighten the mood, crack out a joke, and probably get a laugh from the Fahsee I wanted. Only, he obviously didn't see it that way. The room was silent. Hot under the collar, I realised there was only one explanation. The door opened. In walked Fahsee.
"I hear I'm supposed to be taking photos of you?"
"Yes Fahsee. Yes you are"
And out we went. Me feeling a little bit racist. Fahsee none the wiser.

Over and out.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

The rise of the fangirls?

"Hmm, that's strange", I thought as I left the humidity of the underground on this hot summers day. "There seem to be a LOT of attractive girls around this part of London". Angel and the surrounding area were foreign to me, only ever having gone there once when I was 17 for a friends gig, so for all I know it could be populated by an entire race much like the Cantina Band from Star Wars. How would I remember, underage drinking was all the rage to a 17 year old me. I wouldn't normally question the level of girls attraction. I do after all have a girlfriend. But what shocked me today was the reason that I was here and whether, just maybe, it was to do with said attractive girls: I was here for a comic book convention. Like all geeks know, attractive girls who share the same passion as you, be it cult cinema, videogames, or my personal niche comic books, are incredibly rare. We try to get our current girlfriends interested in this stuff, only to have 'it's only a game' or 'I don't know how to read a comic' thrown back in our gaping, hopeful faces. Therefore these girls are the creme de la creme of the geek world and wanted more than a second series of Firefly. As I joyfully trotted through the streets of the North-East London suburb toward the convention, I noticed that yes, a lot of these girls were heading my way. When I got in, and after raiding the complimentary goody bag for mentionable goodies (there was nothing worth a mention), I realised that this strange state of events occurred inside the venue, too. Had the unthinkable happened? Had our world of Green Lanterns and X-Men finally merged with the hipster culture that caged so many of the so called 'cool-kids'? I wasn't sure. To be quite honest, I didn't overly care. The line for a John Romita Jr. signing was huge and the eyecandy was a welcome addition. I was getting a little bit tired of having to stare at so many bearded, tubby men selling fan-art.

I got bored of the queuing so after buying a particularly attractive Amazing Spider-Man #600 variant, I hopped on the tube and darted back home to see some friends. It was a nice day, and I didn't overly want to waste it. On the tube however, I encountered a pet hate of mine. It's not that I dislike them as people. I'm sure most of them are lovely. But when you're caught in the confines of a metal box, hearing a father discuss every. single. bloody. thing that you pass with his two teacher's pet children can really grate on your nerves. "Oh look over there boys it's *insert name of generic London landmark we've all seen and even you've probably seen a few times but you insist on showing off*" If I wanted to hear this rubbish, I'd jump on an open top bus. But I wouldn't do that. I'm not a tourist and I don't care. So keep it to yourself. Or at least visit them as opposed to commenting from the far reaches of the District line.

Over and out

p.s. don't put any money on a horse just due to it having a slightly silly name. Even on Grand National day, it doesn't pay off.