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.
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.
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.
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:
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.