We’re all just a bunch of kids!

“You imbecile. I’m trying to watch Hanks Zipser the greatest show of all time” – a response from my glowing, lovely little eight year old sister when I attempt to ask her how her first day back at school was as her eyes have made an unbreakable bond with her ipad.

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Why shouldn’t this be the correct response to such an open question? Back at her age I sat on my gameboy ignoring the exact same question, it was just a lot less colourful than it is now. Then I got thinking, what would happen if nobody matured from that age? Where would our world be at?

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Sure, y’know…an obvious excuse is to look no further than global politics right now (Donald Trump as exhibit A but he’s an easy target). End of post. No, I’d prefer to look a bit more into it, where would we be at with music? Films? Literature? Religion? I could go on!

Continue reading “We’re all just a bunch of kids!”

So urm…been busy tonight? 

We’ve all been there. Those awkward encounters with members of the public who offer a service to you in some way. Whether it’s a taxi home after drinking yourself to oblivion or forced smalltalk whilst having your hair cut, for a lot of us it is a struggle.

Some may struggle with confidence issues which makes it difficult from the get go, just dreading that forced social interaction with the hairdresser. There are several ways to approach this and for a socially awkward person like myself I start to think of different topics of discussion before the inevitable.

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‘So, do you watch football?’ ‘no, not really into it’
‘Ah, seen any films at the cinema recently?’ ‘Not really into any of them, it’s all superhero crap at the moment’
‘So, any holidays coming up?’ ‘Nope’
‘How ’bout Scarlett Johansson ay? She’s pretty fit’ ‘I’m gay’
‘Know any good places round here to visit?’ ‘fuck off’

Safe to say situations like the above do happen pretty often (okay, maybe not the last one). You slowly go through your checklist of ‘go to’ small talk with a barrier in the form of an antisocial bloke with scissors in his hand. Once I managed to find a 2 minute discussion on what nice weather we were having but safe to say that can only last so long. He knows it, I know it, we’re not going to be chums after this so maybe we should both shut up and let him get on with it.

Or should we…

Recently I’ve tried a new tactic and it works really well. I decide to make up a completely different persona each time (which will most definitely backfire). I’ve been called Gareth, had two kids, lived half of my life in Sweden – the usual. The amount of sheer bullshit that leaves my mouth keeps them interested enough to escape the awkward silence.
Yes, I know. I’m a compulsive liar, yet who cares? If I ever have to see this guy again it’s going to be about six weeks away and I’ll have a completely different set of hair, definitely won’t be recognisable. If you’re socially awkward and struggle at these encounters I definitely recommend waffling pure codswallop for forty minutes. Just don’t step too far and talk about all this imaginary money you have, they’ll think you’re a wanker and expect a decent tip.

Then we have the bane of social awkwardness – the lone taxi ride. I shudder just thinking about it. We all know how it goes…

‘So, been busy tonight?’
‘What time did you start/finish’
‘Thought of moving to Uber?’
‘Bet you get some right characters in here’

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We all know the clichés , as do the taxi drivers . I recently asked my taxi driver in Altrincham about 2am one Saturday morning all of the above. Then I did the unthinkable – I asked him how often he gets asked these questions. His response was expected; ‘every damn ride’.
Luckily this particular driver had a decent sense of humour and I was able to keep this topic going till journey’s end. We laughed about how self aware everyone in the above scenario is and how at the end of the day, there’s much more to discuss and find out about someone on a car journey. I learnt that he was a Muslim man who had moved to England with his wife and kids about six years ago, naturally I enquired about the religion and what he thinks of the media bias right now regarding Muslims. The gent was happy to oblige and I ended up drunkenly spewing all sorts of nonsense at the man who was so glad to speak to someone about something he cares about that around five minutes had passed after he’d parked up as I sat outside my house and carried on the conversation.

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These encounters are as awkward as we make them. Us Brits in particular are known as very reserved with strangers. Sometimes we forget that they’re in the same situation too and it’s possible to brighten up someone’s day whether it be through deep meaningful drunk chats with strangers or general rubbish with the local barber.

First half of 2016? (Spoilers: It’s messy)

Well we’re halfway through and it’s safe to say it’s been an eventful year! It seems only yesterday I was looking up at the fireworks in Queenstown foolishly excited for what would turn out to be the strangest six pages of a calendar so far (in my lifetime anyway!).

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‘After all this time? Always’
For any hardcore Potter junkie that line would’ve choked them up since first reading it. 2016 has decided that it had lost it’s novelty and began furiously killing off many popular figures including one of my favourite actors, Alan Rickman. The distinguishable, dry voice of Mr Hans Gruber himself will sadly never be spoken again.
Speaking of voices we lost several legends of music in 2016’s early killing spree with David Bowie biting the dust and Prince also leaving this earth.
Other notable figures include the unforgettable Muhammad Ali, Ronnie Corbett, Harper Lee and Terry Wogan. It doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon either with Caroline Aherne recently losing her battle with cancer. It’s got to the point where if someone is trending on twitter I automatically assume they’ve been beaten by this year too.

Continue reading “First half of 2016? (Spoilers: It’s messy)”

Divided Kingdom (Brexit)

So it’s done, the people have been to the ballots, got their permanent marker pens out and shoved a big fat cross over the ‘Leave the European Union’ box. So now we’re drifting out of the EU like possible future PM Boris on a zip-wire (does that not leave a sour taste in anyone else’s mouth?). Whatever you voted, at least you did and that’s democracy in action.

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There will be many articles and posts regarding the uncertainty of the United Kingdom so there’s no need for another one. This isn’t about what you voted for, what’s done is done and as a ‘remainer’ I know we have to get over it.
I’d much rather talk about one issue I’ve noticed over the past day.

For me personally, I’ve noticed a huge divide to the point of hatred from both sides of the fence. We are quite possibly seeing the end of the United Kingdom with a second Scottish Independence Referendum on the cards and a possible unification between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. Do we really need to be hating ‘leavers’ and ‘remainers’ due to having an opinion as well?

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The tension everywhere I went yesterday was silently deadly, as if everyone was trying to work out who secretly farted and getting them to own up by eyeballing them. Nobody wanted to talk about it, yet everybody wanted to talk about it simultaneously. Never in my life have I felt so awkward in public places, it was basically an episode of The Office in terms of unsettling cringe.

I’ve seen people argue furiously and it’s fantastic that people are so engaged in something as important as this as opposed to being completely disenfranchised like the minority. One thing I don’t agree with however, is people turning that passion into hate or spite. Everyone and their Nan is suddenly an economics expert who moonlights as a politician by night and you know what? That’s great, sure a lot will be wrong in what they say but they’re showing an interest which is what matters. Then there are people who are making Facebook statuses and tweets about if any of their friends oppose their view then their friendship is now over or threatening people on the streets.

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Truth be told, a large majority of people will be talking about something else in a couple of days (I for one can’t wait for Game of Thrones as well!) and then the inevitable jokes will come about how people have ‘gotten over it pretty quickly’ or ‘clearly don’t care enough’. So don’t let them. If you agree with the decision or not to leave the EU do some research and humanely talk about possible alternatives that could hypothetically work well or don’t work at all. Debating is healthy, arguing is not.

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We’ve made our bed now, it’s time to grab your PJ’s and lie in it. For example, I think a good solution here would be a similar situation to Norway with a trade deal like the European Free Trade Association, or perhaps focus more on building relationships with the Commonwealth which could even lead to Freedom of Movement within these countries.

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Right now we’re not so much a United Kingdom as a bouncy castle ready to burst. We all need to focus on what we’ve got and how to approach it on a personal level. Whether that involves jumping ship and leaving or powering through and helping out where you can, it’s your decision. Just don’t keep arguing with Fred from down the road about the economy because you might as well be smacking your head against a wall.

Look at that guy, must be an alien!

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‘Social suicide’ – a term made popular through the film Mean Girls in 2004 runs through our society like a stab to the gut for many of us. We live in fear of the idea of participating in activities alone or having an interest that might not be the norm for others, expecting to be ridiculed by our friends, family and oddly enough (surprisingly mostly) complete strangers.

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The fear of seeming weird or lonely has haunted everyone at some point. There was a point in my life when I was anxious that I might get judged for buying those pathetic ‘meal for one’ ready meals from Asda as I looked into the cashier’s eyes knowing they can basically sum up my life with the friendless, disgusting packaged lasagne slowly crawling it’s way closer to the till. ‘Y’alright love ‘ she’d say. Of course, she was just being nice yet I would go on the defense, get all sweaty and probably reply in a low mumble – I want my shitty lasagne not a therapy session.

Nowadays I’m a lot more confident (some would say too much) yet there is still a huge taboo about doing things alone or out of the ordinary.

An obvious choice is the cinema. A majority of the population are under the assumption that it’s pretty sad to go to the cinema alone. As if the rest of the audience won’t be watching the latest blockbuster, holding more interest in that bloke sat on his own, he must be a weirdo. Why would you dare go to sit in the dark for a few hours watching a film in silence…alone?! Must be a right prat.

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Walking through the city can be tiresome, perhaps you get a little peckish? You don’t fancy some rubbish fast food but a decent meal. It’s not even peak ‘date’ time in the restaurants, surely you’ll be okay? In fact, there’s about 6 other people there. You can’t seriously be thinking of ordering that table for one can you? It’s an unwritten rule that you must be able to converse with someone in a restaurant, not just eat your food! Must be a right flatulent.

Your favourite musician/singer is performing nearby? If only your friends enjoyed them too. Don’t even consider buying a ticket for one, you’ll probably get a call from a band member telling you how ridiculous you’ll look not having anyone to look at whilst reciting the lyrics to a song like a constipated seagull. Must be a right tool.

Of course, it’d be silly to say that the above and more can’t be enjoyed or even enhanced with friends. Say you notice something funny or memorable, you’d be the only one to think about it.

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That isn’t what this post is about, more the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable to be alone or ‘different’ sometimes. In this day and age our peers know more about us than any other point in history due to social networking making it impossible for them to not know our whereabouts or activities due to status updates, tagged photos, etc. It’s pointless letting others expectations dictate your life, where’s the fun and individuality in that?

It’s time to let you be you – nobody fancies a bite to eat? So what, you’re hungry. Nobody you know likes collecting something random? Don’t stop on their account. Nobody likes your unhealthy obsession with dressing up like a superhero every now and then? Must be a complete tosspot.

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Comin’ over here making us read the Quran!

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Immigrants. Muslims. Halal. Islam.
These are just a few key words that strike a nerve with a disturbing amount of the world these days. Look at most articles reporting anything slightly related to these words and you’ll notice they try as hard as they can to throw them into the headline to spark an endless debate. Soon enough they’ll start throwing these words in to get visitors attracted to their websites when they’re not even related to the article. ’10 films to watch this year to stop IMMIGRATION’ or ‘How to make the best pizza that’s not HALAL’. Who can blame the media? Their job is to report what’s in the public eye to gain as much interest as possible to their websites or to buy their papers, yet sadly the public’s focus is on hate and an over the top ‘us versus them’ mentality.
Hang on…that’s not true, the fear and xenophobic reactions are almost entirely DUE to the media.

It’s safe to say that everyone in the world has an agenda of some sort. Whether it’s as small as aiming to be healthy or as large as deciding to start a business – we all have agendas. The media have agendas too, take for example the race obsessed Daily Mail (soon enough they’ll probably report that reading other news sources cause some sort of Muslim cancer pedophilic disease) or loveable old Murdoch and his agenda to destroy the entire world with his monopoly on the media like Sky News, The Sun, Fox News, The New York Post, The Times, The Herald amongst many others all around the world.

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Now without even going into Murdoch and how his brain works it’s safe to say that men like him with that amount of influence will be able to sway the masses into his way of thinking. A politician/celebrity pisses News Corporation off? They’ll dig up anything they possibly can and sometimes even lie about their findings just to destroy people.
To get page views, TV ratings and papers bought these conglomerates have to try to appeal to a large audience. Now remember – nobody’s going to buy a paper, click on a website or turn on the news for them to report that nothing of interest is currently happening. These guys are going to use the most ludicrous hyperbolic language possible along with a tag making sure you’re aware that it’s BREAKING NEWS. In short, they are very clever – many focus groups, research and money has led to one unstoppable human emotion for their selling point – fear.

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Which brings me back to those pesky job thieves! You walk into the office one day and there’s an arabic man sat wearing your clothes doing all your work, turns out you’re sacked because muslims! Those bloody migrants taking all our benefits at their local ‘Money 4 Muslims’ buildings that the government has enforced. Even those Muslims that were born here are destroying the UK! Soon enough we’ll all have monthly memberships to our local mosques that we politely keep paying because like a gym, you want to avoid the ‘cancellation discussion’ at all costs. The media know that there’s an issue with some extremists in the world and what better way to grab a few Facebook likes than to hype it up? Muslims have unfortunately won the award for villain of the decade at a ceremony hosted and funded entirely by those in power who want them to be. Runner ups include the Polish community, cannabis and Ainsley Harriott’s determination to touch everything he can.

First off, yes we all get it. There are those who are threatening our way of life with tragic events such as the attacks on Paris and Brussels, 9/11 and the under the radar bombings in Kabul, Baghdad and Zliten amongst many more all over the world. However, without condoning a single thing they’ve done many have turned to these extreme measures in retaliation to our demolition of their way of life. Furthermore, the real crux of this is that we forget that it’s a minority that are involved in these radical groups. Just like not every Catholic priest is touching your children, not every politician only care for themselves and not every McDonalds burger is made of shi-nevermind, forget that last one.

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Not every Muslim endorses terrorism, and furiously typing a Facebook status about how you’re going to boycott the local takeaway is not going to solve anything other than probably spare you from gaining a few pounds (or losing, economically speaking). Changing your profile picture to a picture of  the union jack whilst declaring how proud you are to be British and that ‘the country is going to waste’ is also not going to do anything of value other than show a lot of ignorance, especially the English that have migrated to Spain and surrounding areas. I’m not trying to offend anyone who does this, chances are – you’ve fallen for the media’s narrative thus feeding their agenda but it’s not too late to stop sharing Britain First links and it’s definitely not too late to  stop  shaving your head and joining the EDL.
I’m not going to pretend I know a lot about anything when it comes to the Muslim faith and frankly I personally don’t agree with many aspects of religion itself. One thing I do know is that we’re all human beings – except Scientologists, I don’t even know what species their members are.
To actively hate another human being that you know nothing about other than their faith astounds me (I understand the hypocrisy regarding scientology here but wow, why do they exist?) and it’s becoming easier and easier to see these people as vermin depending on what nonsense you read.

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If you haven’t switched off your brain by now first off thank you, secondly please spare a moment or two educating someone on the matter if they spark up something they’ve read about all muslims burning poppy’s, banning the word Christmas or petitioning to get Peppa pig off of the air in fear of ‘offending’ muslims. Life is far too short to focus all your energy on hating a community that just want to be accepted. We have a lot of space in the UK available for everyone to live the life they want and it’s easy to forget that many immigrants are here because they fear for their lives in their native countries.

Finally, immigration IS an issue and perhaps our government does need to bring in extra checks to ensure the public’s safety. The danger is real and there are people out there that want to take out their anger and hatred in the worst way possible. That gives you as a person no excuse to stoop to their level but to accept everyone for who they are and understand that this ‘us versus them’ mentality will only fuel the issue.

 

Smartphones and why they’re destroying your life

You spend every waking hour with each other. You can’t keep your hands off of them. You can’t stop looking at them. You see the world with each other, or even just the local club. You even sleep with each other. They know every little thing about you, no secrets barred. No, I’m not talking about your partner or best friend, I’m talking about your phone.

That’s right, the percentage of mobile phone users in the UK alone was up to 93% as of 2015 with 66% of users owning a smartphone and it’s increasing. Why is this a bad thing? It’s not, however we’ve yet to learn the risks of having one.

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It is ruining your life
Look back even as little as 10 years ago. Sure, phones were around and gaining popularity quickly but this was pre-iphone with the release of the first generation popping up in 2007. For those lucky enough to own one back then we’d spend a bit of time on ‘Snake’ when bored. I even remember a ‘smartphone’ which I was amazed let me go onto Microsoft Word and tune into the TV. Nowadays we have everything we could ever need on our phones (I’m even writing this on mine!). Whether it be a quick Snapchat to a friend or a glimpse of the latest nonsense on Facebook.
The problem is that this isn’t what the majority of us do, I’m also guilty for it at times. What was a quick Snapchat to a friend has become an endless battle of who can send the last photo – which will inevitably just be the same recycled selfie with a different caption under it each time. What was a quick glimpse on Facebook has turned into scrolling down as far as you can and finding yourself looking at your friend’s mutual friend’s, friend’s girlfriend’s dog’s auntie before you realise you’ve burnt the food you had been cooking – three hours ago.

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Really, it’s ruining your life
Remember last weekend when you went over to your friend’s house and ignored each other for 4 hours minus the occasional ‘hey, look at this video’. I’m sure it was a great day all round. One of the largest problems with smartphones is the impact on our social lives whether we notice it or not. We’ve all been in a situation where we stick a film on for a friend to watch and when it reaches a really awesome part you look over for their reaction to find a small light glaring into their zombified eyes as of their crotch has turned into a lightbulb – if you haven’t been in that situation you were probably the friend so congratulations on the mutated genitals.
Friendships these days, for the most part revolve around our smartphones. We feel the need to document everything we do to our friends on our phone no matter how personal or uninteresting. As our social skills are increasing in our online persona they’re falling at the seams in person no matter how interesting we may come across via social networking and only we as individuals can stop it.

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No really, it’s ruining your life
If phones had been brought to existence hundreds of years ago we’d have Thomas Edison tweeting his miraculous discovery of the lightbulb, Alexander Fleming taking a Snapchat holding his new found penicillin and the Suffragette’s making a Facebook group to gain interest in their issues with voting and equality. Or would we? I’ve noticed that in my personal life I’ve wasted away many hours staring into a small screen with one brain cell functioning and honestly, it’s stopped me reaching a potential intelligence and creativity I could’ve had. We spend so much time mindlessly playing freemium games or making a status about how drunk we were when that time could go towards an actual hobby or learning something new. This isn’t to say that we should stop using our phones, it’s way past that and besides everything mentioned they are a good source of news and keeping in touch with loved ones. What I do suggest is rather than your life revolving around your phone, it might be good to cut the hours of consumption down to be something other than a creature that grunts when asked a question.