Because stuff needs talking about.

food and drink

NekNomination: Being a Lad Goes Viral

As you all have been made aware by a myriad of drunken and badly filmed videos cluttering up your Facebook news feed, a new social media craze has been doing the rounds. It is of course the online drinking game, NekNomination, where people try their best to concoct and imbibe alcoholic abominations in a bit to out-lad each other, and then NekNominate their friends to one-up their effort.

Alcohol + vest = LAD, apparently.

Alcohol + vest = LAD, apparently.

Despite the obvious glorification of booze culture, the irresponsible celebration of reckless alcohol mistreatment, and maybe worst of all the misspelling of neck to make the whole thing “cool” and edgy, my main gripe lies with the terrible promotion of lad culture across the world.

The new viral trend gives air time to those who actually value the ability to down a curdled blend of potent nastiness, an endearing trait you all must agree, in a bid to prove themselves as the next alpha male, and earn them valuable commendations in the form of Facebook likes to help them cement their position. This ability alone is obviously not enough to secure momentary, localised, internet fame though, oh no. The participant’s on screen presence is paramount to the video’s success. To ensure popularity and respect from the lad-osphere the whole video must be treated like their own private reality TV show, only like one of those hybrid reality shows where the people portray a character of themselves which they yearn to be in real life. Basically, each individual must try to be as much like a TOWIE or Geordie Shore pinnacle of manliness as possible, complete with shaved chest, terracotta fake tan, gel drenched quaffed hair, and of course the mandatory white vest and cap uniform.

What is most disappointing about the whole affair is that has been wholeheartedly accepted and enjoyed by an overwhelming number of the online community. The internet has the power to bring awareness to real, important matters, and try to bring about a change for good in an often unjust world. In this case though, the internet as a population has chosen to get behind testosterone-soaked shows of strength and celebrate wanton liver damage.

At least this guy from South Africa had the right idea and used his minute in the public eye to do something useful and worth commending rather than necking a pint with all manner of shit in it (including shit, it actually happened). Hopefully his will be the challenge accepted by others and the next internet craze will be a positive one.


The Five Stages of Being Hungover

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

"Nobody talk to me."

“Nobody talk to me.”

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

Yep, that should cover it.

Yep, that should cover it.

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?

"Okay, I've gone way too far with this life affirming stuff!"

“Okay, I’ve gone way too far with this life affirming stuff!”

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…

Top 5 #14

Top 5 Worst Things to Have to Buy From the Shop

We all having a handy shop in walkable distance, you can avoid the hassle and distraction of a trip to the supermarket and you know it’s always there to get those essentials should you suddenly realise you’re without. Sometimes though, they can set up situations of extreme embarrassment and a walk of shame comparable to that of any post-night out Sunday morning, and here’s how:

5. Just milk

So you’re halfway through making a brew, you open the fridge and terror strikes; no milk. No worries, you can just nip to the shop in your slippers, pick some up and be back for the click before the click of the kettle. What you forgot about however was that for some reason a plastic bottle of milk has the potential to be the coldest thing on the face of the earth. So cold, that two Jean Claude Van Dammes would be needed to get the message across. So cold, that scientists could use them when liquid nitrogen just isn’t good enough. So cold, that…that, well you get the point now. Anyway, after realising halfway home your error of not bringing one of thousands of bags for life from home, all that is left is to walk as fast as possible without breaking into a full on slipper scuttle, and making it home to thaw out your frozen fingers with a well-earned cup of tea.

4. A solitary can of beer

Nothing screams desperation like apologetically placing a single can of lager on the till, disdain beating down on you from the shopkeeper’s gaze as he tars you with the alcoholic brush. Sometimes one can is all you want though, for example, it could be a work night and there’s a football match on. You could be mildly upset, but not so sad as to warrant fully drowning your spirits. There are thousands of possibilities which would necessitate in only one can being purchased but society frowns on such an act and restricts beer buying to a four can minimum. It’s your choice though, buy the solitary can that you wanted and face the judgement of all that witnessed it, or give in to peer pressure, buy the multipack and inevitably drink them all, resulting in one horrible Tuesday morning in work.

3. Munchies

It’s a well-known and widely accepted fact that indulging in certain drugs leads to an insatiable appetite for anything unhealthy and attractively packaged. The kind of food you don’t have at home unless you’ve thoroughly prepared for the night’s frivolities. Sadly, the majority of the people who are likely to partake in such a pleasure, aren’t exactly the most organised of folk and thus may not have bought in the necessary supplies to quell the dreaded munchies. This means a half-baked squinty stumble to the shop (or dream factory as it may seem at the time) is called for. Aisle upon aisle of salty and sweet treats await the plucky adventurer, anything that a ravenous reveller could ever wish for all lined up and organised for ease of purchase. There is a drawback however, and it’s not just deciding between Frazzles and salt and vinegar Chipsticks. It’s standing at the checkout, red-eyed and incredibly self-conscious while the person on the till scans through several Chomps and your buy one get one free 2 litre bottles of Fanta, trying to hold it together long enough to get back to the safety of your house with your all-important rations. It’s the realisation that everyone around you is aware of your basket of goodies and has deduced from your appearance and noxious odour that you are most likely not a diabetic crashing. No matter how subtle and inconspicuous you might try and be, in reality you might as well be walking around with a dreadlock wig on and have Bob Marley’s greatest hits playing as your own personal soundtrack. In reality, you are this guy:Stoner-Sterotype

2: Embarrassing Medicine

Yep, the title says it all really. You’ve got something wrong with you that you don’t want anyone to know about but sooner or later, you’re going to have to bite the bullet and take a trip to Boots. Getting the required humiliating product to the till is hard enough in itself, at least three in-motion scouting attempts of the aisle are necessary, obviously without lingering too long so as not to draw attention. Eventually, after hours of circling and feigned interest in the new scents of Original Source shower gel you may get your chance, a clear shot at your target. Now the object mortification is in your hand however, things have got so much worse. You are now linked to this thrush treatment, the haemorrhoid cream and you are one, a semantic union has been created between man and product, between your reddening face and the bulk buy Imodium in your hand. Yes folks, I think Martin Lawrence sums everybody’s feelings up perfectly in this video:

Luckily, shops now have the self-service option, potentially saving you huge embarrassment by avoiding the mandatory human interaction of the till. Just to make sure you don’t escape without complete humiliation at every stage of your shop visit though, the name of each product is proudly emblazoned across the screen as you bundle your shame into your bag. This wouldn’t be so bad if pharmaceutical companies had settled on normal names for the products but alas this is not the case. As one last shot to the wounded pride of the buyer, glaringly obvious and disgusting titles are flaunted to the baying crowd behind them. Titles such as Vagisil, Germaloids, and my personal favourite, Retardex. That’s right, you’re not even spared from humiliation when buying mouthwash.

1: Toilet Roll

Here we are then, number one. I know this should have been number two for the cheap lolz but it has been deemed in certain circumstance as the most embarrassing product to have to buy at the shop, and here’s why. There will be times in everyone’s lives where a collision between saving money and logical thinking will occur. On multiple occasions you will have bought into unnecessary buy one get one free offers, two for five pounds on multipacks of Coke when one was awkward to carry anyway, or enough bulk buy packets of crisps to sustain a small army, albeit a very unhealthy one. Toilet roll falls into this category far too often, giving customers fifty per cent extra free on a regular basis and as result creating huge, whole redwood sized packs for the buyer to struggle home with. But what if all you wanted from the shop was toilet roll? What if you had all of a sudden realised you were running out and nipped to the shop to top up? Then the decision becomes harder to make, buy the smaller, more discreet pack, or save those precious pennies and look like a man proudly parading around the fact that he is in imminent need of the toilet? Maybe I’ve thought too far into this, but when I see I person walking down the street with a 24 pack of Andrex under their arm and nothing else, I can’t help but think that that person has got some serious business to attend to. I mean, what situation can result in needing to buy a gargantuan amount of toilet roll in one go and nothing else? Does this person not need any sustenance of some kind? Some Lucozade at least wouldn’t go a miss. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me who feels massively embarrassed advertising to the world what my immediate plans are when I get home, but now after reading this you’ll all be converted and stop signifying your impending toilet trip to all that you meet. All I can say is, you’re welcome.

Agree with this list? Got anything else to add? Leave a comment and let us know what would have made your top 5.

The Dance Floor Dilemma

It has become the general consensus of the masses that the best way to spend evenings and weekends nowadays is to consume excessive amounts of alcohol and then document the subsequent embarrassing antics on a variety of social networking sites.  As more and more of the population began to celebrate the ways of ‘the binge’ so the need for bigger and better dens of hedonism appeared until, after years of evolution, the nightclub was born and reigned supreme as the ultimate stage for man’s inebriated desires; sex, drugs, and music.

I have no complaints, I love to over-indulge, lose whatever trace of dignity I had left, and commit the following day to hugging the toilet and bed rest.  The issue I do wish to raise though is a by-product of the three desires, the issue is with dancing.

I know I am not alone here in my dance-floor phobia. There are always a small number of us lingering on the outskirts of the grinding fracas as if paralysed by the malaise caused by Usher and the like.  There will always be a few left dutifully holding drinks and bags while our friends are having the best time of their lives soundtracked by Rihanna.  For us, as the minority, things will never change; Liquid aren’t all of a sudden going to splash out on a few pool tables to keep us entertained, just like Tiger Tiger will never set aside a little section for people who have no interest in Shit-Pop or dancing but have somehow been talked into going there.  So, what are the options?

You drink.  You drink with your friends and when they all head off to tear it up you drink some more.  You prop up the bar alone for so long that it actually begins to seem like a good idea to attempt conversations with the endless stream of customers who are being normal and heading back to the dance floor.  There is an obvious problem with this method of avoidance however and you’ll generally start to notice it about an hour in, after consuming twice as much alcohol as your party and commanding a wide berth around you wherever you stumble.  Although, if you manage to lumber your way through the mêlée without barging the innocents to the ground and as a result being ejected from the club, you may find yourself in a position to finally let loose and bust some moves, safe in the knowledge that you will have no recollection of the event ten minutes later, let alone the next day.  A kind warning though, the camera never lies, and Facebook never forgets.

I hate being this guy...nearly as much as dancing.

I hate being this guy…nearly as much as dancing.

Option two, you pretend to dance and have a good time.  As sickening as this might seem to my fellow sufferers, it can be done and gets your persistent friends off your case for at least a few songs.  It’s all about strategic positioning and a bit of acting.  Remain on the outskirts of your group, out of the lines of sight and don’t do anything interesting enough to draw attention.  Standing and swaying slightly is perfectly acceptable.  When someone looks your way, just close your eyes and pull a stupid pose or throw your hands in the air, or some other ridiculous signal of enjoyment to mask the self-loathing you are feeling and convince society that you are obeying the social norms.

If you find yourself in a situation where option two is not possible, like when on a microscopic, holding cell, abomination of a dance floor, you might have to resort to the football fan style, aggressive sing along.  In this situation every song is your favourite song.  Your friends may be shocked at how much you love each rehash of generic pop-dance but believe me, in this scenario you do.  Here, vigour is the key.  Eyes closed, fists clenched, hand in the air to make it that much more meaningful, and most importantly, feet firmly planted on the ground.  No one’s going to make this guy dance, he’s far too into it!  The downside of this, apart from the small piece of your soul that dies with every feigned love of painfully bad music, is that you do look like you are trying to act out an impromptu (and very low budget) music video.  All you need is a camera crew and a wind machine, in reality; the closest you’re going to get is a shaky iPhone recording and a plethora of anonymous dance floor farts.

The last option requires the least effort but perhaps comes at the highest price.  This option is to just accept your position on the fringe of the populous and watch as the hedonistic dance of humanity plays out with a vomit-smattered backdrop. Here you can really appreciate the most appealing aspects of modern life; girls with trowel loads of terracotta fakeness sliding off their faces, men being drawn to the most flesh on display as if their penis was some kind of inebriated, sexual dowsing rod. Bear witness as alcohol fuelled mankind degenerates to primal instincts and urges, and grunt and fight and grind their way through a sea of testosterone and pheromones.  And as you struggle to take in this recession into Neanderthal behaviour, as your belief in the modern human slowly ebbs away like the contents of the numerous discarded bottles that litter the floor, realise that you are exactly the same as them, you with your beer in one hand and smart phone in the other, and your eye on the girls who also believe they are superior to the writhing crowd.  This is the inevitable conclusion that will be reached if you just stand and watch and like it or not, it is the truth.  I mean look at you, you’re in a fucking night club for god’s sake!


What I don’t get is…

Billy Bear Ham.

Or Billy Bear Slicing Sausage as it’s officially known.  You’ve all had it, and if not, go out and buy some, it’s really cheap!  But as you’re tucking in to your reformed turkey and pork fat, think about these ethical quandaries; is it morally right to tell bare-faced (couldn’t resist) lies to children in order to get them eating a product made primarily of off cuts of different animals, and also, the more burning issue of; why the fuck am I eating a bear’s face?

You may be thinking, “What?  How does serving Billy Bear, my most beloved of childhood sandwich fillers, constitute as telling lies to children?”  Well I’ll tell you.  By reforming that hydrogenated conglomerate of all the worst parts of animals into a smiling cartoon bear’s face; you are deceiving children into happily chowing down on the contents of an abattoir bin which in its natural form would haunt their dreams and turn any trips to farms into a harrowing affair for years to come.

“Y’know, now that you mention it, I do find it strange that my face is three different colours despite being primarily made of only two types of meat.”

What’s also strange is that children are ready and willing to eat this smiling hybrid of nastiness.  I know it obviously relates psychologically to enjoyment, most likely TV programmes like Winnie the Pooh, and Yogi Bear which the youngsters recognise and like.  But do they really like them that much that they want to consume slices of their faces?  I mean, I’m a big fan of Planet Earth and nature programmes but fashioning a joint of beef into a replica of David Attenborough’s adventure-ravaged face might be a step too far for me.

My last quandary surrounding this under-nourishing sandwich filler is; why a bear?  It’s made primarily of pork so surely a cartoon pig would be the logical choice of template for the manufacturers.  Maybe it was deemed too close to home for children to deal with, conjuring up disturbing images of a pig being forced head first into a ham slicer.  Or maybe they’d already decided they wanted to call it Billy and the lack of alliteration in Billy Pig just didn’t have the same fortitude as its mammalian counterpart.

All I hope is that when the time comes for me to have children, this waterlogged mish-mash of animal pick ‘n’ mix is still readily available from all major supermarkets.  I can’t wait to see the sheer delight on their faces as they tuck in to the fraudulent, smiling ham substitute and then, as the years progress, their puzzlement as they begin again the questioning that brought us all here in the first place; why the fuck am I eating a bear’s face?

Complaining: The Horrible Truth

Sometimes, the service that you receive is just not good enough.  Sometimes, things have gone so wrong you can’t simply ignore them and carry on with your unsatisfactory meal.  Sometimes, we all have to break out of our truly British fear of causing a fuss and take the risk of not keeping calm and carrying on.  Generally this takes an obscene amount of error and an incredibly low standard of service to even begin to light the fires of annoyance in most rebellious of Britons.  Let’s put it this way; the phrase “I’m sure it will be just as nice” is a far too regular between mistreated diners.

But for some people, the typically British, debilitating fear known as fussophobia is not an issue.  No, these emotional expats have broken free from the vocal shackles and rebelled, much to the annoyance of bungling waiters, such as myself, who have had it easy for so long.

The problem now is that complaining, like drugs (stay with me on this one), becomes an addiction which gets harder and harder to feed.  In the early days, a simple free coffee or glass wine from a few disgruntled looks is enough to scratch the itch for the customer.    Soon though, the need to be unsatisfied and paid off with freebies and apologies becomes greater and complaining is no longer something you might do every now and then with your mates at the weekend, it becomes a compulsion.

Soon, every restaurant is too hot or too cold, too busy or too quiet.  A steak can never be cooked right, and all drinks leave a certain bitterness in the mouth that only a freebie can relieve.  And when it comes to service, well, that’s just a rich vein of irritants waiting to be tapped to fuel the fires of annoyance.  Complaint junkies stagger around town centres and shopping malls, high on discounts and apologies from unsuspecting waiters, sniffing out their next hit from the plethora of naïve restaurants.  Torn up bills litter the streets and meals sit solemn and half eaten on deserted tables as the scent of artificial dissatisfaction lingers within each victimised eatery.

“Do not fear mon amis, zay will thank us one day”

Now though, we are learning.  We are becoming wise to your excuses and tricks.  We know that this…this problem that you are suffering with, is not a choice, but an illness.  And we can help.  “Why should we?” Cry the thousands of dismayed waiting on staff who still burn from the injustice they have faced.  “Why should help those who persecute us?”  Because who else will?  That is the reason.  It is our duty to set these poor souls free from their infliction, to relieve them from the curse that ruins every social event they may encounter.  For too long we have stood idly by, feeding their addiction through confused service technique and, of course, laziness.  Now we, the enablers, have to stand tall in the face of adversity and adopt the tough love approach.

The next complaint you receive, stop and think, don’t apologise, don’t offer any compensation, just offer pity.  Reach out to a stranger, be the good Samaritan and hold firm.  No is the answer, stick up for your staff and your restaurant.  Tell them that you know of their illness, and their distorted view on the dining experience you offer, tell them nothing is wrong with anything that has happened in your establishment, except for them.  Remember your right to refuse service to anyone and don’t feel bad, tough love is still love, right?  It might be feel wrong to be so forceful with customers, and it might not go down particularly well with the people who have been denied their fix, but one day they’ll thank you for it.  And you can feel good in the knowledge that you have helped your fellow man by freeing them from the grip of dependency and giving them back a decent meal, and a full priced bill.

Just a quick note to all those sufferers and past-sufferers on behalf of the thousands of people who work in the catering trade but have never had the chance to say it:  You’re welcome.

Hell’s F***ing Kitchen: Best Show in the World

I was always going to use this picture.

Take one volatile perfectionist, blend with a dozen hugely over-confident aspirational chefs, throw in a handful of increasingly ridiculous and degrading tasks and watch as the whole thing boils over with hilarious consequences.

Season ten of the most outrageous “reality” show kicked off a couple of weeks ago on British screens and so far, it hasn’t disappointed. So far we’ve been witness to sheep rustling, testicle eating, and scallop-related blood drawing, on top of the base level of egos, square-ups, and meltdowns which have become the constant theme of the show.

The catalyst for the success of the programme is of course the contestants, each of them instilled with the belief that they have what it takes to win, despite their fundamental inability to cook food which you would have thought would make them think twice before entering the world’s most embarrassing cooking competition.  But no, they appear on our screens undeterred, ready to shout meaningless American catchphrases such as ‘I got this one baby’ and ‘I’m all over this’  as they start to decimate the fifth New York strip in a row.  And of course, with every delayed entrée, and appallingly cooked main, more and more of Gordon Ramsey’s famously short fuses are lit.  Now all us viewers have to do is sit back and wait for the fireworks.

I can honestly say that when one of the contestants timidly sneaks their dish on the hot plate and you hear Ramsay’s words, ‘who cooked that?’ I genuinely feel a pang of nervous excitement as the guilty chef turns, clueless to whether they’ll be praised or publicly crucified by the angry caricature that they call ‘Chef’.

The programme’s status as a reality show surely has to come under question though.  I’ve worked in kitchens before and you never come across the numerous sackings each night and the food punching that occurs in this infernal canteen.  And just in case it was possible that, for just a minute, this programme might regress back to the monotony that is reality, they edit it in such a style synonymous with a Hollywood action film.  Honestly, I haven’t heard that many rising strings since I watch The Shining whilst listening to Beethoven’s Symphony No.5.

But what really makes the programme great, is its bass line of foul language, and how this has somehow become acceptable to air on the TV.  Post-watershed or not, there is still a fuck-load of swearing in this fucking bastard of a programme.  See it’s even got me going!  So great, in fact, is Ramsay’s reliance on curse words that the programme recently got in trouble with Ofcom because Chef dropped the f-bomb no less than forty-seven times in a one hour show.  Taking out the three advert breaks that evens out to about once a minute, and that is just him alone!  Combine that with the competitors and the dialogue becomes nearly as vulgar as the Terry vs Ferdinand court case.  It’s no surprise that they don’t show a repeat with the sign language lady in the corner, I think far too many people would get offended by all the gesticulating and switch over.

From now on, for your bi-weekly dose of excitement, anger, tears, and of course, effing and jeffing, tune in on Mondays and Tuesdays and watch Chef Ramsay verbally beat the shit out of the sorry bunch in front of him, in case you needed any more persuasion just watch this clip: