Get in Loser, We’re Going Shopping

Almost every chick-flick or film with a female protagonist would have you believe that women stroll about shopping centres having a whale of a time and end up spending stacks of cash while they’re at it. They float of around with armfuls of huge paper shopping bags (why are they never plastic in films?!), shaking their glossy heads in laughter, an iced coffee cup in hand. They’re willing to be doting advisors to a friend in need, and will sit through dozens of outfits (the punky one/the sophisticated one/the one with a feather boa etc.), until they find THE ONE. That’s what girls do when we go shopping, right?

Perhaps not. See, there are two ways to shop. There’s a) Getting Shit Done or b) Not Really Shopping. Being a ridiculously stingy kind of girl, I need to seriously commit when spending money. That means researching the item on the internet, trying it on in the shop, going away and thinking about it and only THEN committing to buy.

When I hit the shops with friends, I’m Not Really Shopping. I’m gossiping, pointing at things and saying ‘ooh’, and occasionally petting the odd garment. So often I feel pressured into purchasing something I don’t really like that much and will probably never get much wear out of, just to feel like I *went shopping with the girls*, or because someone talked me into it. I am not the only vunerable, easily-influenced shopper out there; my sister would often come home from a shopping trip, arms laden with bags, and rush upstairs shouting     ‘I REALLY DON’T KNOW ABOUT THAT DRESS, EMILY TOLD ME IT LOOKED GOOD BUT I THINK I LOOK TOO SLUTTY’, and return everything the next day.

Shopping with my mother is almost as dangerous as shopping with friends because the Bank of Mum is actually willing to spend a little moolah every now and then. Hence the unworn, beautiful strapless evening dress hanging in my wardrobe right now, purchased simply because my mum and auntie thought I ought to. Add this to the fact that my mother tries to make me buy everything in a size twelve because I’m ‘tall’, and I’ve got a bunch of ill-fitting, barely-worn stuff shoved in various draws at home.

I have come to realise that the only way I can truly Get Shit Done is to shop alone. Only I can tell what can successfully slot into my wardrobe. Not that I mind schmoozing around Westfield or Oxford Street every now and then. I’m happy to sit, deliberate and pretend to know about fashion and make note of everything I want to borrow as a friend tries stuff on. Just as long as you don’t let me buy ANOTHER pair of shorts or tacky blouse.

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I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want: Honesty.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X Factor, as a whole, does not sit particularly well with me. The auditions are basically a glorified freakshow and a few people who supposedly have ‘star quality’ because they’ve put their makeup on right and are singing something other than My Heart Will Go On. Usually the show just consists of Tulisa making “yeah I’m from the hood” comments at contestants who are anything less than middle class, Gary acting like an overbearing father figure and Louis sucking up to the fit birds and underdogs.

 There I was, expecting the premiere episode of this year’s X Factor to be just another jarringly awful display of oddballs with a passion warbling and doe-eyed teenagers with a decent voice and a heartbreaking sob story. In the middle of the episode, just as I was about to drift off as a slightly pudgy boy with a comedic charm sang an acoustic version of Candy man and **surprised us all with his unexpected talent** (yawn), SHE appeared. The woman who was to take this God-awful opening episode from drab to hilarious. Mel B uttered the words you should never say to an unexpected X Factor underdog; “I found it all a little bit irritating”.

FINALLY, here was someone who watched through the same cynical-tinted glasses as I did, and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind about it. I was consumed by stomach crippling LOLs for the rest of the episode, and but I was not surprised to find that on social networking sites, few people had shared my pleasure in Mel’s brutal honesty. As predicted, she was hailed as a major meanie.

Mel B and I aren’t the only ladies labeled as cold-hearted bitches for speaking our minds. Last week Samantha Brick popped up again, piping on about how being as honest as possible with people is the only policy. According to Ms Brick, she applies this philosophy to friends when they ask if they look fat or moan about a horrible boyfriend. “You could do with losing a few pounds and you should dump him” are Samantha’s ever-sympathetic words of advice. She also recounts a hilarious anecdote in which her old gym instructor asked why Samantha doesn’t attend her gym classes any more. To which, Samantha responded with:

 “‘I haven’t been to your classes because I don’t enjoy them.’ I was happy to leave it at that, but she pushed for more information and there was no holding me back. I told her the classes were boring, no longer a challenge and for someone who does this for a living she was in surprisingly bad shape herself. In fact, I said, my 87-year-old gran was more supple than she was. My bluntness was rewarded with a death stare that could have melted the polar ice cap.”

 Unsurprisingly, Sammy Brickers admitted that not everyone loves her attitude. And although I’m a big supporter of telling it how it is, her OTT approach to honesty, coupled with the public’s adverse reaction to Mel B’s judging methods, made me really think about whether honesty really truly being the best policy.

 Bottling things up, in my experience, always ends badly. It results in doing things I don’t want to do, awkward situations and having to tell flat-out lies in order to avoid offending someone. Perhaps Mel B will give the soppy boy with a guitar and two ounces of talent a reality check and a thicker skin for when the press attack and the competition gets tough later in the competition. Maybe Samantha Brick inspired her gym class teacher to liven up her classes and lose a few pounds in the process. Maybe I have inspired people to stop wearing frightening heelless shoes and garish maxi dresses. Or maybe we’re just all mean old bitches and we’ll end up sad and alone. Only time will tell.

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Why they probably shouldn’t have unleashed the beast; The Midnight Beast TV review

The show sees Stefan (the fit one), Ash (the one who is probably fitter but wears too many vests) and Dru (the one with an ounce of comedy timing) living in a grotty East London flat, trying to make it as an unsigned band in the big city. They are apparently desperate for fame, food and women, and their only promotion comes from their coke-snorting crap manager, Chevy (Ryan Pope). TMB have managed to score one fan; the creepy next door neighbour who dances round in his pants and is obsessed with his ex wife.

Despite the episode including three good quality songs, it quickly becomes clear that the rest of the show is just filler. Unlike other comedy/musical shows like the Mighty Boosh and Flight of the Conchords, the Midnight Beast’s songs were quite clearly written previously, while the script awkwardly slots in around them. The comedic value of the songs themselves is somewhat diluted by the fact that the viewer is left confused by what’s going on – one was never left thinking “why are they singing about punching a shark in the face?” during a FOTC episodes. It’s quite confusing how Warp Films, the company that bought us Submarine and This is England, managed to produce something so painfully dreadful. The obvious efforts for the show to be ‘down with the kids’ by including drug and sex references, set in a graffiti-riddled building are unnecessary and bring the show down another notch. The boys themselves look a far cry from East London locals. High-tops and snap backs seem awfully out of place on the South London trio, who are far more Putney than Peckham.

The fact that TMB already have a sell out tour, a book release, several slots at big name festivals and an army of female teenage fans to their name makes the premise of the show a little off-key. In particular, the fact that they are ‘poor’ doesn’t quite sit right, when all three sport different Topman, Urban Outfitters and American Apparel ensembles in every scene. Flight of the Conchords’ Bret and Jermaine arguing over whether or not they could afford to buy a new cup was more believable because they did it in charity shop jumpers and practical shoes.

However, TMB are not to be belittled. Their song writing skills remain impeccably hilarious, and what they lack in comedy timing and acting talent they more than make up for in witty lyrics and crude humour. The Midnight Beast remain the only band pushing the boundaries on offensive, obscene and ridiculous comedy music. That said, you’re probably better off watching the music videos on Youtube and just making up a funnier, more plausible plot in between songs.

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Horrible Fashion

I’m no ‘fashionista’. I live in denim shorts, walk around in shoes with the soles peeling off and I spend too much money stuffing my face and getting drunk to afford any items of clothing costing more than £15. I am fully aware that most people don’t appreciate my scruffy attire or the fact that the clothes I cherish the most are second (or third) hand. But hey, at least I don’t walk around in any of this shit:

1. Heelless shoes

Jeffrey Campbell is laughing into his stacks of money somewhere, screaming “STUPID WOMEN!” For just £130 a pop, you can be the proud owner of his inexplicably popular Night Walk shoes and subject yourself to endless foot pain and possibly even a fatal accident. As an added bonus, you’ll look like a fucking idiot.
2. Crucifixes


Nothing screams “I’M DESPERATE TO BE ALTERNATIVE AND COOL” quite like someone decked out in crucifixes. A small, non-offensive crucifix worn for religious reasons is perfectly acceptable, but hoards of wannabes dripping in crucifix earrings (only in one ear, of course), oversized wooden crosses and those dreadful finger cuff things truly do deserve a kick in the face.
3. Maxi dresses


There is nothing wrong with wanting to dress tastefully and modestly, but shrouding yourself in horrible, unflattering and unpractical maxi dress is not the answer. No matter how many people try to shove these horrible creations down my throat, I just can’t embrace the maxi appeal. I am yet to witness someone who doesn’t look like a fat auntie at a wedding/gazebo/toga party enthusiast.

4. Harem pants


For those among us who might be slightly fashion illiterate, I mean those baggy MC Hammer/Alladin trousers. Possibly even more unflattering than the beloved maxi dresses, these trousers look like the wearer is sticking their legs through a manky old jumper. I guess this is a good look if you like constantly looking like you just shat yourself.
5. Nude lips


No matter how many times I am told “smoky eyes and nude lips are a great combination!” I can’t get the image of those terrifying girls at school who wore concealer on their lips out of my head.

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A desperate plea from a bad blogger

Take me back! I’ll be better! Come on, I can change. I’ll spend more time with you. I promise, I’m not cheating on you by focusing on other things, I’m just broadening my horizon. Please, understand. I still care for you. You’ve always been there for me. Deep down, I’ll always love you, no matter what comes after you. Can you give me one more chance? I’ll really be dedicated this time, I promise. Really! I will. Promise. I’ll make time for you and cherish you like I should.

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5 Things I Really Don’t Understand About Facebook

I’ve seen a lot of crazy things on Facebook, but there are a couple I really just don’t understand.

Pictures of people peeing

Call me an old-fashioned weirdo if you want, but personally I find it really really difficult to pee when people are looking at me. When desperate/drunk/scared (watching Paranormal Activity = I am not going into a room alone for a good few days, including the toilet) enough, occasionally other people are allowed the rare privilege of being in my presence as I pass water, but these people are also forced to retreat into a corner, face the wall and not make eye contact or conversation. Having a picture of you taking a slash on the internet means that literally everyone you know can potentially make eye contact with you while you are weeing. Just the thought of this is enough to make my skin crawl. Also, a picture of you sitting on the toilet weeing is practically the same as a picture of you sitting on the toilet pooing. So everyone now pretty much knows what you look like when you poo. Weird.

‘Like my status and I will’…

If you’re a year or several older than I, or you just don’t add ultimate cringers on Facebook, you may not have encountered one of these situations. Let me explain them to you. One bored little soul will post a status saying ‘like this status and I will tell you what I honestly think of you/post something I like and dislike about you/rate you on a scale of 1-10. It’s a kind of stupid and cringey idea at best, but the fact of the matter is that no one even leaves honest responses. I am yet to see someone’s ‘honest opinion’ of another person actually be a balanced, truthful account of how they feel. It’s just another chance for public bumlickery and to see how many people care about what you think of them.

 The ‘Check-in’ feature

The fact that this whole ‘check in’ thing even exists completely baffles me. In an age of constant, incessant cyber-stalking, why oh WHY has Mark Zuckerberg and his gang of tech wizards decided to make us all even more stalkable? Who honestly wants people to know where they are ALL THE TIME?!  That person you blew off a night in with is definitely now going to know that you went to Oceana instead. There’s no escaping it. They’re going to know and they’re going to hate you. The whole stupid ‘check-in’ system is also reason #387 why I will never add my mum on Facebook; because she might begin to determine just how much of my student loan I spend on Nandos, Cider and clothes.

Cover Photos

The concept of a ‘Cover Photo’ at the top of the Timeline is pretty straight forward, despite the fact that literally everyone seems to detest the Facebook Timeline with the passion of the burning depths of hell. However the privacy policy on Cover Photos is what confuses me. For a few months, before the stupid Timeline took over my profile without my consent, I spent many an hour chortling at people with private profiles and public Cover Photo albums. “FOOLS!” I thought, “You think I can’t see what you look like because your profile is private, BUT I CAN!” However, the situation is not so simple. I have discovered that those evil trolls over at Facebook central have actually made it impossible for you to hide your cover photos album from public view. So you can either deal with the fact that any old creep can see those photos, no matter how private you make your profile. Or you could change it to one of those awful cheesy quotes against a picture of some grass or a girl doing her hair or something. Tough call.

Pictures of people’s baby scans

If you’re my Facebook friend there is a 95% likelihood that you are aged 16-21 and probably shouldn’t be having a baby anyway (ooh, controversial), but this fact aside, you clearly have not observed the fact that ALL BABY SCANS LOOK THE SAME.  THERE IS NOTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT YOURS. IT STILL LOOKS LIKE A BLOB. Also, if you think about it it’s kind of weird putting a picture of your unborn foetus on the internet; think about all the crazy kinds of weirdos who might see that picture. Would you want everyone you know to be in that little ultrasound scan room with you? No, probably not. Furthermore, I am a firm believer that you should probably base your judgements on what moral acceptability on what Beyonce does. Did Beyonce spam all her friends’ newsfeeds with pictures of a couple of blue blobs on a black background? No, no she did not. She posted a couple of very tasteful pictures of her and Jay and Ivy Blue chilling around their house looking fabulous and angelic. Take note, expecting mothers.

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INTERVIEW: Jamie Thorn

Jamie Thorn and the Mystery Pacific are a folk band from the deepest darkest corners of South West suburban London. The band formed after meeting at Strode’s College in Egham in 2010 and have been gigging in Surrey and London ever since. I caught up with frontman Jamie Thorn in my kitchen to grill him on his music-making habits.

 

 

Is all your talent stored in your bum and that’s why it’s so big?

Please don’t ask me questions like that.

How did Jamie Thorn and the Mystery Pacific form?

I used to be in another band at school, but towards the end of year 11, I realised that I wanted to do more acoustic gigs. When I started college, I was always on the look out for people who could play instruments. There were three people in my music class who were very talented musicians.

Did you immediately click with your band mates?

Sam Heaver [drums] used to be an annoying cretin, I thought Christina [keyboard and vocals] was up herself and I thought that Shaun was the class clown.

I emailed them saying I had a gig coming up and I was looking for a backing band, and we practiced at college with a crappy drum kit. We added Simon later when we realized we needed a bass player because it didn’t sound right without one. I met Simon in the first year and I thought he was just this weird Armenian boy who used to come in and play Rage Against the Machine all the time.

Who musically inspires the band?

Simon & Garfunkel and Paul Simon, because of all the different styles of music they play. Laura Marling’s alright and everything, but she basically just plays acoustic songs. And it’s like yeah, she’s alright, but how many albums can you do of that? But Simon & Garfunkel have 1950s Do Wop kind of things, and then they’ve got Paul Simon’s Graceland, which is in a South African style, and is one of the best albums ever.

What inspires you to write your songs?

Ooh, I dunno, I’ll sound a bit pompous if I say… Err anything I find interesting. Before in the past I was trying to write pop songs about girls. At the moment I write loads of things about historic people and events. Anything I read on Wikipedia and find interesting.

Who do you take inspiration from lyrically?

Colin Malloy of the Decemberists’s story telling style is impressive. Bob Dylan’s obviously really good, and I don’t have such deep themes as him like double meanings, all my songs are just storytelling. I guess all folk music throughout history inspires me.

When can I be in the band?

Errrrm…

Jamie Thorn and the Mystery Pacific are playing at the Garage in Islington on 31 March, and tickets can be purchased here.

First photo courtesy of Aaron Long Photography

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