You may only be a few days into your advent calendar, but television is already pretty much running at full Christmas capacity, bringing back traditionally festive programmes like a dancing programme where half the participants can’t dance and live celebrity torture all the way from the jungle, and ladelling on the festive misery with appalling adverts where each company battles to make the audience cry the most and then share their misery over Facebook, albeit in an astoundingly happy manner.
Winning at the moment is John Lewis’ desperately emotional two-minute epic where a hare, not content with spending Christmas with all its other friends, insists on disturbing a bear’s hibernation which will more than likely result in the bear’s death shortly after due to the lack of food after the Christmas dinner sandwiches run out. As long as you’re happy though hare, as long as you get your one day of happiness you selfish fool. It seems as though the hare’s heartless need for attention has been a massive hit with the weeping masses so far though, outstripping Boots’ present giving chav and Debenhams’ highly unrealistic depiction of fembots doing Christmassy stuff like ice skating or wandering around the house in lingerie in the pass-me-the-tissues-while-I-tweet-my-sadness stakes.
But if the snippets of festivity aren’t enough to forcibly stuff you full of Christmas cheer like an unsuspecting turkey, then stop over at Channel 5 for their daily regurgitation of straight-to-TV Christmas films. 5 were unable to contain their seasonal cheer and like an excitable cracker, ejaculated their underwhelming offerings on the 29th November. There are some truly great Christmas films though aren’t there? The Muppet Christmas Carol, Home Alone, Elf; who wouldn’t want to watch these quality heart-warming films, whiling away the miserable winter afternoons with family friendly humour? In fact, I could happily watch Elf everyday all year round and still chuckle when he gets hit by the taxi. The problem is; these films are not Elf, they’re not even Jingle All the Way. Instead we get such instantly forgettable titles such as I’ll Be Home For Christmas starring the one that was the mischievous middle child from Home Improvement and young Simba from The Lion King, Christmas Returns To Canaan featuring Miley’s denim clad dad, and It’s Christmas, Carol, which has an almost clever title, and that’s it.
But everybody loves a Christmas movie, I hear you cry. It’s true, everyone does, but these aren’t Christmas movies; these are interchangeable stories of nothingness where the overriding theme is blandness and practically all of the films follow the same well-worn plot of non-believer falls in love with newly created relation of Santa and believes again which gets about as tired as I do after eating my own body weight in pigs-in-blankets and selection box chocolate. All of the offending titles are described as family films meaning that adults and children alike can get together and bond over a shared hatred of the unimaginative, middle of the road sagas that hijack their screen at painful daily intervals. At least there is one positive then, other than the heart-warming life lessons of course.
We can only hope that they are saving the big guns until later on in the month and soon our memories of nondescript blandness will be wiped from our minds by the capers of John McClane and a German Alan Rickman, or a Santa killing Tim Allen and a whole host of films from an altogether higher class of Christmas flick. The trouble is, by the time the superior films come around our fondness for festivity is all but dried up, what with the sensory assault from all aspects of life since the first leaves began to fall from the trees. For now all we can do is hope that the power of nostalgia and festive cheer can take us through this flurry of awfulness and deliver us to the last few days of December before January pessimism takes hold so we can all enjoy real, cinema-gracing Christmas films. If only Channel 5 hadn’t been listening to “I wish it could be Christmas everyday” when planning their December lineup.
It’s been a while since I dived into the murky depths of terrible adverts but recently there has been one offending the nation for the past couple of weeks that is so awful, so painfully irritating, that it had to be publicly shamed in the hope that those in advertising will hear the public outcry and realise the error of their ways.
The advert of course is the McCain five-minute jacket potato advert and to avoid any long-winded tangential rambling, the heinous concept of a five minute spud will not be addressed. Instead we’ll focus on the miserable excuse for an advert that was chosen to try and force the microtato (proud of that one) on the poor, unwitting public.
For some unknown reason, the powers that be decided to use the ‘primary school rhyming’ method to sell their product: A method so terrible and overused that it has already been featured on The Pop Cult Assault for its crimes against the audience, but continues to be adopted by advertising companies on an almost daily basis. Undeterred by this, McCain plough on and present to us another dollop of dumbed down poetry, complete with pretty colours and little anthropomorphic animal characters to create that loving, homely feel. Not content with this most basic of rhyming schemes, McCain lower the standard yet again like a poorly educated game of language limbo and do away with sentences altogether, and leave us for a section of the advert with just a strange gathering of vaguely synonymous words. It’s as if the writers of this atrocity gave up and just copied out thesaurus passages to fill in the gaps.
In case you are unaware at just how bad this little verse is, or if your ears have done you a favour and simply refused to allow such drivel into your brain, here it is in writing:
Meet the jacket, say hello,
Take a seat and watch him go.
I thought you’d need an hour at least,
You fluffy, tasty, super feast.
But no, in just five minutes time,
Before I’d even found a rhyme,
For done or quick or brisk or wow,
Or yum yum yum or holy cow.
A tick had tocked and on the plate,
An hour’s worth of something great.
The oven-bakey, tasty jacket,
And out it comes of this nice packet.
It’s hard to know where to go next with this; do we acknowledge that we’re being asked to greet a cooked potato, or simply dive straight in to the almost football pundit-esque quality of jumbling up tenses like a grammatical tombola? How about that pre-existent words were deemed unsuitable for these sinful stanzas and that new lexis had to be invented in order to convey the true power of the writing. Nothing can evoke the same semantics as oven-bakey now, can it? I mean, why leave the coining of new phrases to Shakespeare or Joyce, what makes them so special?
To add insult to injury, as with previous McCain adverts, the bastardisation of poetry is set to ‘Oh Happy Day’, the anthemic gospel song which practically defines a section of Christianity, and now a backing track for an abomination in the field of literature and spoken word.
So there you have it; an advert once again adopting a terrible poetry style and failing, this time, in biblical proportions.
This post is dedicated to the dreaded hangover, the burden that follows nights of excess, the harsh reality after all the drunken merriment and fun has faded away, the vast plague that sweeps the nation on Saturday and Sunday mornings and delivers the population into the new working week feeling suitably sheepish and down. Well life can’t be all fun and games you know.
If you can relate to this article, I feel for you. If you are one of these freaks of nature whose only experience of a hangover is one that can be solved with a glass of water and brisk jog around the park then you should know that I, and all my fellow sufferers, despise you and cannot wait for the day you visit our apocalyptic, post-binge world. And to those who are young enough to shrug off a hangover like it ain’t no thang; be afraid, this will be your reality soon.
The Calm Before the Storm
You’ve just woken up; you have no idea of time or any recollection of anything. The only thing in your head is a sense of puzzlement, a nagging feeling that something is not right. The bubble has not yet burst; everything is ok in your little den of happiness and security. Life is good. Something will make you move though, something will strive to ruin this innocence, and more often than not, it is thirst. But it’s this inevitable trip to the bathroom tap and subsequent movement that brings reality crashing down around you. The memory of the night’s events come rushing back as you stand up and the desolation of body and mind becomes apparent. If only you had taken some water to bed and you could have prolonged the charade of safety for another five blissful minutes but you didn’t, and now you’ve set in motion the awful hangover machine.
The Day of the Dead
So the innocence has worn off and you are left with the truth; you are rougher than a badger’s bottom that’s next on the cull list. You have consigned yourself to a day of drifting in and out of consciousness while desperately searching for your one “comfy position” on the sofa. Everything hurts and everything makes you feel worse. No doubt there will be some overly loud sport on the telly with some rambunctious presenters consistently rousing you from your dozing. The sheer amount of exclamation marks on people’s excitable Facebook statuses offends your brain with its visual noisiness and causes spiralling annoyance and increased illness. You can only pray for a proper hangover film to come on to usher you through the worst of the day. You know the ones I mean; they either have to be a classic three-hour epic, or a kid’s film with slightly more going on than just colour and noise. Basically give me Mutiny on the Bounty or The Goonies and it’ll go some way to alleviating my suffering.
The Hunger Games
So you’ve battled your way through the sofa-bound, could-quite-conceivably-die phase of your hangover, owing a huge part of your success to that Harry Potter film being on TV, and now you are faced with a huge dilemma. The feeling of sickness has started to be replaced by hunger pangs but your fear and chequered hungover history makes the next step a huge one. Do you stick or twist? Ignore the hunger and be content in the knowledge that no (more) chundering will occur? Or gamble and raid the cupboards for the least healthy foodstuff to fulfil your craving for salt, sugar and hydrogenated fat, knowing full well what might go down if you over indulge? The choice is yours.
The Great Depression
By now you’ve probably decided to eat, been sick again for definitely the last time, and are now wishing somebody would bring you a KFC to draw a line under the whole thing and start afresh. The problem is, no one is going to bring one for you, and that makes you sad. Very sad in fact. And the depression keeps coming. In a whirl of memories and self-loathing, all the negatives from the night before rush back to you. That extra load of money you took out late at night and somehow blew through. The embarrassing run in with your ex when you were in your “a lot more drunk than I thought” stage. The tweets you wrote while half cut and for the whole world to see and remind you of at a later date. That, coupled with the knowledge of the damage you have done to your body and mind, and the fact that you have just wasted another full day of your life (just like you did last weekend) makes for one pretty sorry charity case.
The Happy Ending
I’m using the term happy ending loosely, and definitely not in the same way as a massage parlour might. The only positive to come out of your epic hangover comes in the final throes of your illness. So angered and upset by the horrible feelings of sickness and of time wasted that you vow to do something productive with your life. You WILL search for that new job you’ve been wanting for years, you WILL get in to shape and commit your life to fitness, you WILL go walk up a mountain, go to the beach, just be outside in some scenario instead of slumped in front of the TV. You’ll take photos of nature and everything will be really interesting to you (and more importantly Instagram). See how much desire and drive you have now? You’re like a new person, and all because you got totally hammered a couple of nights ago. In reality, you’re more likely to find that there are no jobs out there, go the gym once, and walk to the shop, but hey, it’s a start right?
So there you have it, another hangover, again sworn to be the last, done and dusted with enough time to recover before next weekend to start the cycle all over again. I feel pretty proud of myself for finishing this one, maybe it’s time for a celebratory beer…
Let me start with a little poem…
A winter’s day, the early morning shower my only saviour from a frosty start,
Hot enough to fog the windows, hot enough to scald the skin, hot enough to last for those fervent few minutes of drying and dressing.
But wait, what is this? The icy touch of Jack Frost’s fingers breaking prematurely through my cotton cocoon?
Like a poison arrow through the gap in the armour, the towel’s label finds my unsuspecting skin.
A frozen barb, a precursor to the frost-gripped, outside world, a harbinger of the misery that winter brings with an early start; the label strikes, impossibly cold and wet, and leaves in its place a lasting mark of anger and misery.
What was at first a bubble of warm escapism, is now burst by the chill of washing instructions.
As my irregular, terrible, and rather over dramatic poem suggests, today’s issue is with the label attached to towels and the horrific ordeal of it coming into contact with your skin. And yes, I am fully aware that in the grand scheme of things, this isn’t THAT big a deal, especially not big enough to warrant its own irregular, rather dramatic poem.
The problem here is why the label is even there in the first place. I know how to wash a towel; it’s a towel. I know I can iron a towel, but I’m not going to; it’s a towel. I don’t need to know where my towel comes from because, you guessed it; it’s a towel. All I need from my towel is the capability to soak up water off my body on a daily basis. The unnecessary label however counteracts this process by instantly soaking up water (even with its untowel-like properties) and rapidly cooling it, much like the work of liquid nitrogen, or Mr. Freeze of Batman fame. It then proceeds to reapply the ice-cold water back to the body thus lengthening the time of drying and making it thoroughly unpleasant in the process.
My point is, remove the little 3 inch square of surplus information from the towel and you have a much more efficient and friendly towel. Keep it on, and you have thousands of already disgruntled early risers, in a slightly worse mood than before. Shocking.
I hope you’re happy with yourself, towel.
**I would like to apologise for the excessive use of hyperbole and also the word towel in this post, it will not happen again. Well the towel repetition anyway, unless I find another towel related annoyance to bang on about.
…Why France is obsessed with speedos.
Go to any pool across France and you’ll see this sign; a flat out ban on shorts. This isn’t an invitation for the general public to go for a dip in their birthday suits, to break free from the shackles of an over-conservative life and get back to nature for a brief period of their conformist, non-naked lives, no, this is a sign saying that swimming shorts and boardies are non bien dans ma piscine!
The nationwide rule basically states that the only acceptable form of swimwear in France are those which would be met with merciless ridicule and quips about smuggling various objects in this country, a request which doesn’t exactly sit well (accidental punnage) with us modesty-loving Brits.
The problem, you see, is that banana hammocks in their entirety are a terrible idea. Firstly, they look appalling. You don’t see clothing companies trying their hardest to make y-fronts look cool do you? No, because it is an impossible task. The same rule applies to Speedos, mainly because they are exactly the same thing, albeit sagging slightly less when wet than there on land counterparts. Secondly, they leave little, if anything to the imagination. Now, I’m not just referring to the thinly veiled crotch region, but also the way they seem to highlight every other flaw of the unfortunate victim’s body. The flabby bottom has no hiding place like it would in shorts, and the beer belly has no thick waistband to tuck into, they are both right there, right in the public eye, ready for judgement. Not even The Rock could make budgie-smugglers look cool, and he was the most electrifying man in entertainment.
Lastly, we have been brought up almost religiously to mock those who wear pants instead of boxers and have accidently revealed this shameful secret in P.E or some highly embarrassing playground mishap. Then all of a sudden we go on holiday and are told that we must don a highly elasticated dong holster (hilarious) or we can’t go in the water, well you, mon frère, have just lost yourself a customer. To those who bite the bullet and slip on their humiliating set of Zoggs fresh from the campsite shop, the look of shame in their eyes is that of someone who has broken their promise with God. No swim can be worth that.
Apparently the rule is enforced for hygiene reasons. The feeling is that longer shorts can often be worn for other, non-swimming activities and therefore will bring unwanted materials and dirt in to the water, whereas with Speedos, no one in their right mind would be caught dead in these anywhere other than a strict French pool so chances of contamination are definitely on the slim side. My personal theory though is that the rule is set by the uber-ripped and bronzed Gallic lifeguards to create moments of extreme awkwardness and panic in us normal folk for their entertainment. What could be better when needing a break from leching at sunbathing women and slouching on their authoritative chairs than to waggle a dismissive finger at an approaching man’s shorts and point him in the direction of the nearest ouch-pouch merchant.
So next time you’re on the continent remember this; if you want to go for a nice swim, you better make damn sure that everybody can see every last part of your body. Never mind, I heard the sea is much nicer anyway.