“I Thought, Because of the Hair…” — Walking Cross Country in My Formative Years

I’ll finish this series by telling you a story from aged fourteen, a most troublesome age to be, in the eyes of most. Hormones are doing their thing, and areas of life that were previously non-existent, were now the most pressing issues of the day.

You wake up to the agonising truth of the fragility of modern society, begin to question long-held institutions, and also relationships are now a thing.

If I don’t put my mind to something, then I’m not really interested in it. This means I’ve lead an intense life in some very specific areas, but a very passive one in most. In a classic example of this passivity, I got roped into doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award at age fourteen.

Most of the people I knew at school suddenly said, “Oh, we’re going to this meeting at lunch, you should come too.”

I didn’t ask what it would be about, I just went. For all I knew the freaks, geeks and cool weirdos of our school could’ve banded together to form a cult, and I’d just agreed to attend a meeting where I’d be sacrificed in the name of Alex Turner.

It wasn’t an Arctic Monkey’s themed cult, but a meeting about an award that involved a lot of walking and community volunteering. Fourteen-year-old me decided that I should be doing more of those things, and so I signed up for the long haul.

The walking portion of DofE was all anyone ever cared about. “F**k charity,” was a regular sentiment thrown out by half of the award hopefuls. You see, two types of people did DofE — Nerds who were looking to impress universities with extra curricular activities, and people who wanted to join the army.

No disrespect to anyone who, as an adult, serves their country in the armed forces (you’re much braver than I) — But the only people who wanted to be in the army at our school were absolute head-cases.

As an adult with a better understanding of mental health issues, I can point to a few people who needed some serious help, but who instead were thrown into light army drills where they were allowed to enact their bizarre sadistic fantasies.

The DofE participants were split into same-sex groups of about four, and so naturally a grouped up with some of the guys who were more my speed. None of this militaristic practice, just a leisurely walk through the country, followed by a night under the stars with plenty of jokes and music.

thesimpsonshikegif

We’d go on one of these weekend excursions every six weeks or so, and I really liked my first DofE group. We weren’t very good but we always made it to the campsite before it got dark, and we had a good laugh by the portable noodle cooker. (It had a proper name, but we only ever cooked noodles in it, so that’s what I’m calling it.)

I remember one time we arrived at the campsite before a group of the wannabe army kids. Their leader (he was the tallest and so I assumed) was absolutely livid. He couldn’t believe that a bunch of freaks had got to camp and erected their tent faster than him. He blamed and yelled at his own group, and I sincerely hope he has since received the professional help he needed.

As the months went by, and a couple of the kids in our group lost interest, the two remaining members of our squad thought we might have to call it a day on DofE. Then the leader (a teacher from the school) said we could stay if we found other groups to join.

Now, the only other boys groups were the army squads, who had now taken to calling themselves “The Walking Holocaust”, thanks to the tall one. Didn’t even make sense.

Some of my friends who were left doing DofE were girls, but joining them was strictly forbidden due to the fact that intimacy can only happen between people of the direct opposite sex… (that’s sarcasm, and it makes you realise how silly some of the rules growing up were).

I was also losing interest in DofE, and so I decided to ask the teacher if I could join the girls group. If he said no then I’d call it a day on my walking career, if he said yes then I’d continue goofing around with my friends in the countryside every month — A win/win thanks to my trademark passive nature.

“Sir, can I join this (all girl) group for the next walk?”

“I don’t see why not.”

“…(Upon hearing an unexpected answer) But sir, is that allowed?”

“Well it is for you.”

“…?”

“You’re gay aren’t you?”

“That’s flattering sir, but I’m not.”

“Oh, that’s a surprise. I thought, you know, because of the hair… Well let’s just say you are and then it’s all fine. Otherwise you’ll have to join The Walking Holocaust.”

“I’m a massive gay sir, and may I say you’re looking extra dashing today.”

“Get out of my office.”

He didn’t really use the name The Walking Holocaust, but you get the idea. Thanks to my constant inability as a teen to conform to a particular gendered fashion, and the stereotypes long-held by a person born in the 1960s, I managed to get into another DofE group that was full of likeminded friends.

Of course, the kicker was that I was dating one of the girls in the group at the time, so the exact arrangement the teacher was trying to avoid had actually happened.

We were terrible walkers, and we never completed a weekend walk successfully, but I had beat the flimsy rules of the system, and I think that’s what DoE was all about. (It’s not)

Although, in hindsight, I’m glad we never made it to one of the campsites, as the tall one from The Walking Holocaust would then know I was dating his ex. And given the way he berated his peers for failing to beat us to the campsite earlier in the year, I feel as though I wouldn’t have made it out alive.


Today is Friday, January 11th and please follow @drinkipediapod on Twitter, and maybe even give it a try.

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“Lots of Love, Milky” — Misbehaviour in My Formative Years

I hope you like tales of teenage debauchery, because they’re usually fun stories. This is not exactly one of those anecdotes, so if you’d prefer a more outlandish childhood venture then go read a Russell Brand book or something.

This happened when I was sixteen, which barely qualifies for formative years but I’ve made a theme for the week and I’m sticking to it.

It was the final year of secondary school and my friends and I had discovered alcohol. Other kids at school had discovered it much sooner (and subsequently were way cooler), but they weren’t on track to finish their classes, and so we felt as though we’d found a good balance between cool kids and total dweebs.

This story also happens to take place on the night I first watched professional wrestling, which means it was formative as all heck. I wish I could say I’d watched it since I was a kid, but no, just from a drunken night at aged sixteen — Exactly when I was supposed to be finding that sort of thing very lame.

After watching The Undertaker defeat Shawn Michaels in what I would later refer to as “an all time classic”, the four of us were still full of energy and alcohol at 4am.

We were looking for mischief, but didn’t really know what we could achieve. All of this took place at a friend’s house in early summer, a friend who lived on a housing estate far from my own.

This friend used to drink copious amounts of Diet Coke, at least fifty cans a day, which may be an exaggeration. I still love this friend dearly and so that’s why I can over-hype his soda consumption. Unlike Andy from yesterday’s story, whom I no longer know, and so will gleefully drag through the mud by recounting his attraction to a medical dummy.

(Also, Andy isn’t his real name. I love creative writing!)

On this estate, despite the fact that it was very modern, they still had their milk delivered by a milkman. This was news to me, as not even my grandparents had their milk delivered by a float/actual human being combo at four in the morning.

I was born in ’93, and had always bought pints of moo juice from the supermarket like every other self respecting millennial (well, until we all cut cow products out of our diets in the latter part of this decade).

Suckered in by a hilarious and archaic concept, I watched in glee as the milk float made its way around the neighbourhood. Idea!

“Hey, what if we took everyone’s milk and replaced it with cans of Diet Coke?”

“Why would we do that?”

“…For a laugh?”

“…Okay then!”

We gathered handfuls of cola cans and set about replacing the milk bottles in the neighbourhood. Now, I do have a mischievous streak (as you can bloody well tell, I mean, are you reading this absolute lunacy!?!), but guilt also hits me pretty hard. And most of the time it happens immediately.

As I placed my first cans of Coke on a neighbour’s doorstep, I got this pang in my stomach, and a thousand thoughts cross my mind.

“What if they need this milk for their breakfast?”

“What if they have a rare disease where all they can drink is milk and I’m killing them by taking it away?”

“What if they’re a family of literal cows and they’d ordered this milk in order to illustrate the brutality of the human dairy industry to their now of-age cow children?”

Admittedly, that last one wasn’t very likely, but the guilt was real. The problem was that I couldn’t back out of the prank, as I’d been the one who’d suggested it. What kind of super cool, mischievous friend would I be if I retreated now?

So I decided to hide the milk just around the corner of the doorstep of each house. That way they’d get the initial (hilarious) shock of the Diet Coke, but still be able to locate their precious creamy lactose.

However, this wasn’t enough, as I’d now gone too far the other way. It had turned from a prank into a mild inconvenience, and I feared that much of the impact had now been lost.

I needed an equaliser, something to balance this prank out to the point that I’d be a hero among my peers when I told them all about it at school, but also so that it would have the perfect flow for a blog post written a decade later.

And so we decided to write a series of notes to place between the two cans of Coke that now sat on several doorsteps across the estate. They mostly went something like this…

Dear Valued Customer,

I’m very sorry to inform you that all of the cows ran out of milk yesterday. And so I have replaced your order with delicious cola pop. I hope it still tastes good on your cornflakes — My son has this combination when I get to see him, every other weekend.

Lots of love,

Milky

cornflakesandmilk

My hope was that by adding the sign-off, nobody could possibly blame the actual milkman for our act of pure rebellion. As pangs of guilt started to creep in that we may have cost a milkman his job (which was still a bizarre concept to me, because I thought they’d stopped delivering milk in the 19th century), we made for the local field.

On this field we ran around shouting Hulk Hogan’s theme music at the top of our lungs. Hulk Hogan had not wrestled or appeared that evening, so I’m not sure why that happened.

As we sobered up together, we watched the sunrise, before deciding to call it a night and get a few hours sleep. We didn’t want to be wandering the neighbourhood when people came outside to collect their Diet Coke, and read their well-written notes from Milky.

I wonder if anyone actually drank the cola, or if they tried it on cornflakes as the good milkman suggested.

This is not the most rebellious thing I ever did, or the least, but it’s very on-brand, and I still think about it whenever I have my cornflakes and coke.


Today is Thursday, January 10th and you can listen to the new episode of our podcast ‘Drinkipedia’ right now! On iTunes or here: https://drinkipedia.podbean.com/

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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“I Was Born Ready” — Medical Training in My Formative Years

As a child I attended an institution known as Badgers. It’s sort of like Cub Scouts, but it’s connected to the St John’s Ambulance. It’s social interaction via learning and team building for kids who want to remain indoors, with an emphasis on medical training.

My parents enrolled me in this programme without my permission, which I protested in the moment, as even at this age I didn’t enjoy hearing “Surprise! You now have to have two extra social interactions a week, and guess what? Most of them are strangers! Yay!”

Fortunately they only remained strangers for a week or two, and soon my close friends and I became kings of Badgers. Whatever they are, whatever the badger king is called. Probably that one from The Wind in the Willows, right? Yeah, I bet he’s their king.

Badgers had clearly struggled to retain members aged nine and ten, as by the time we reached the age of nine we were running the joint. Well, the adult volunteers were running everything, but we felt as though we were, and that’s probably what matters in the long run.

At Badgers the main goal was to collect badges. This was extremely confusing and not something the organisers had thought about too clearly. Many conversations like the following one were had during my two years as a Badger:

“So what are you doing?”

“I’m a Badger.”

And what do you do as a Badger?”

“We collected badges.”

“You collected badgers!?”

“No, badges.”

“Oh, so you’re a Badge-er? One who collects badges.”

“No, we’re Badgers, but we collect badges, as a badge-er would.”

“…”

“I should’ve joined the scouts.”

Don’t name the institution after the reward you’re planning to hand out, or vice-versa. If you’re dead-sett (that’s a badger joke there) on calling the group ‘Badgers’, then you should have to collect truffles. It’s really quite simple.

We had to wear these weird uniforms that looked way more formal than the teen and adult versions of St John’s Ambulance, who got to wear cool green coats. We wore these black tabard-like things over the top of a white polo shirt.

Polo shirt to a nine year old means school and school is borering, so they weren’t too up to date on the connotations of their branding for a nine year old.

Although, because Badgers was for all genders, and we all wore these lengthly tabards, we all looked like androgynous kids, and that was pretty cool. I’d go as far as to say that I lean towards wearing tight jeans and long flowing shirts because of my time spent in Badgers. My former religious leaders now know who to blame.

I remember working my way through the different six-week courses in order to earn my various badges. One of them was just playing football, so that was pretty fun. This was before I realised that I wasn’t very good at sports, but still enjoyed playing them for the exercise.

The most coveted badge of all was the First Aid Badge. That’s what we were all here for, right? Well, some of us were here because our parents signed us up without asking, but for the majority of people that badge was the ticket to the cool green jacket of the adult world.

The problem was that only four Badgers could take this course at a time, as the leaders wanted to make sure that everyone understood the first-aid training clearly. So my friends and I waited our turn.

Some other kid we knew (I’ll call him Andy) came back from his first-aid training, just before we began ours. Andy bragged about how he could now save any life at any time, anywhere.

After he explained that all you have to do is get-off with a dummy (“really waggle your tongue around in there”), we decided that we didn’t want Andy around us should we ever need any medical assistance.

When it was finally our turn to learn all about First Aid, we were ready. I expected that we would be picked up in an ambulance and immediately thrown into the crux of an emergency.

“She’s crashing, get me ten CCs of metamorphosis, stat. Damn! It’s no good, we’re going to have to bring out the electric paddles that look like telephones but don’t put them to your ears because that would hurt. You! Badger! Can you handle this?”

“I was born ready.”

I snapped out of my daydream just as we were shuffled into a slightly different back room of the community building where Badgers was held. Sure enough, there was a plastic head and torso on the floor and we were encouraged to sit around it.

medicaldummy

None of us could believe that Andy, who thought you had to grope a patient in order to treat them effectively, had been right about the exact nature of first-aid training.

I raised my hand and asked if I could spend the next six weeks getting my Arts and Crafts badge (truffle) because this looks boring. Another one of my friends raised his hand too, as he shared the same opinion. We weren’t at Badgers to fondle a plastic human. No! We were here to save lives dammit! And maybe explore our encroaching puberty by hanging out with hot doctors and nurses.

We were escorted back into the main hall by one of the volunteers, who announced that two slots were now open in first-aid training. Andy leapt to his feet and began puckering his lips as he sprinted for the door.

“Veronica has missed me, I just know it!”

I left Badgers a few months later, as I realised there was nothing left for me to do here. No more worlds to conquer. I’d collected all of the badges apart from the boring first-aid one, and because of that I could never posses one of the cool green jackets.

No green jacket, no point in continuing — A motto that sounds good, but doesn’t make for excellent life advice.

Our rascal-like crew left Badgers by performing a gig (we were also a band, did I not mention that?), despite the fact that only one of us could play their instrument (which was the drums, and he was incredible, but you sort-of need some tune or melody for a casual music performance).

We all just mimed along to a Red Hot Chilli Peppers CD, and in my head I’ll maintain that we were doing a meta-textual comedic performance in order to satirise the lack of talent displayed in modern pop music.

Either that or we were a group of dumb kids who possessed inflated egos, due to the fact that 50% of us had just had their first kiss with a lifeless dummy, and the rest had confidently turned her down because we could still see Andy’s spit congealed in her mouth opening.


Today is Wednesday, January 9th and I wonder if Andy is the kind of guy who owns a sex doll now.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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“Have an Alby” — Reward Systems in Formative Years

I can never work on something without seeing the meaning behind it, or without a proper incentive. I’ve chipped away at this habit over the last year and I’ve managed to turn myself into a somewhat productive person by instituting rewards for working on (as yet) unpaid creative projects.

I blame the need for my reward-based productivity on a system implemented at school during my formative years. It’s likely my own fault, but you can’t get a 1,000 word story out of introspective self-punishment. Only professional authors can do that.

This reward scheme happened in Primary School (or Elementary School but not quite, to any American readers), and was in place between the ages of 6 and 10 — Important years for development and the prime years for being on a bouncy castle.

These rewards were tokens, called Albys (pronounced: Al-bees). Albys were handed out for good behaviour, hard work and achievement — The big three.

Albys were little white slips of paper that you’d write your name on before placing it into a raffle box on the teacher’s desk. At the end of the week, in front of the whole school, each class would draw an Alby from their respective box, and the winning good-child could choose a reward from one of two glass jars.

I have no doubt that other Primary Schools had similar systems in place — It’s a simple lottery-based rewards system that’s akin to modern-day loot boxes. Although you earned the in-game currency through hard work and intelligence, as opposed to draining your parent’s bank accounts by screaming in the aisles of Target until they get you a million V-Bucks.

Albys, and any other systems like them, are better than V-Bucks. (Whatever they are, I had to Google them)

As far as I know, no other school used Albys specifically. I could be wrong, and there’s simply no record of this turn-of-the-millenium, North-East England, Primary School reward scheme left. Maybe every school in the country had an Alby, although if they did I think we’d see social media posts like:

“lol, so random but does anyone remember Albys!? Lol”

I’m actually hoping that if I type the word Alby enough in this piece, it’ll appear towards the top of a Google search and subsequently unite me with someone from a different Primary School who also remembers these little tokens.

Although I’m a little worried that I may be spelling it wrong, as there could be an ‘e’ between the ‘b’ and ‘y’. So I’m going to say Albey once, just in case.

Seriously, I’ll pay money if anyone still has an original Alby (Albey).

The nerds (me) would work really hard to earn Albys, just so we could get our hands in the glass jars and rummage for a prize. To really have something to show for all the hours spent being socially inept freaks.

There were two types of prizes you could receive in the Alby-system; Cool Kid Sweets and Geek Stationary. I bet you can guess which jar yours truly always put his hand in. That’s right, I am in fact a cool kid and I got all the sweets, all the time. Go suck on a lollipop losers, except you can’t, because I have all the lollipops! Ha!

No. Obviously I pocketed stationary at any available opportunity during my childhood. You can’t turn free pencils and notebooks down, not in this economy, I always told myself.

The more Albys you received in a week, the more likely you were to have your name drawn out of the box. It’s basic maths, which I know, because I got lots of Albys.

In assembly every Friday, each kid would wait with bated breath to see if their name would be drawn from the box. Even the kids who didn’t get an Alby that week couldn’t contain their excitement at the possibility they’d get to rummage in the sweetie jar.

(No self-respecting non-Alby earning school kid would EVER rummage through the stationary jar, are you kidding me? No way!)

When your name wasn’t drawn, you’d always hope that the Chosen-One would choose from the sweet jar, because if it was something shareable then there was a chance that you too could benefit from the Alby system, without your name even appearing out of the damn box. What a rush.

In what has become a trend for my entire life, I would always disappoint my peers by picking stationary — Something that you can’t really share with anyone else. Well, you can, I just didn’t want to.

Now, I know what you’re thinking — “But Matt, couldn’t you just take a stack of blank Albys from the teacher’s desk and write your name on them when nobody is looking, before placing them in the box before the teacher catches on?”

Yes. Yes you could. And we all did.

It was a victimless crime because most of the Alby-earning students did it, we all boosted our own numbers. Blank Albys also served as a form of playground currency during lunch hour.

“I’ll trade you my Mars Bar for five blank Albys.”

“Throw in that uncommon Pokemon card and you’ve got yourself a deal my friend!”

In hindsight I’m surprised the teachers didn’t notice that there were far more Albys in the box each week than they’d handed out to students. But as an adult with friends who’ve taught kids of that age — They didn’t care what happened as long as the clock kept ticking closer to 3:30.

If all the extra Albys had prevented them from pouring a glass of wine at the end of the day, then you best believe that box would’ve been policed like Buckingham Palace.

I also wonder which teacher, or member of the governing body, came up with the Alby scheme. It must’ve been someone with a penchant for light gambling. Some genius who recognised that kids get addicted to things just as easily as adults, and that if we all try hard enough with these Albys, we can get them addicted to learning!

The Alby system taught me, and countless others, how to work in exchange for some kind of reward. But it also taught us how to gamble, cheat, lie, swindle, barter and to expect stationary in exchange for good behaviour. And for that, I am thankful.

Years after leaving Primary School I still want to sarcastically say “Oh, have an Alby” to anyone who achieves something mediocre. But that’s a very niche reference, one that would be hard to implement to any friend group outside of the one I had between 1998 and 2004.

So now, in my early adult years, I’m half tempted to print off a batch of my own Albys, that I can give myself as a reward for productivity. My name will be the only one in the box, so I’ll get to rummage in the prize jars every week. Win/win.

I’ll fill one jar with sweets and the other with stationary (keep it classic), and the sweet jar will remain full and unrummaged for years to come, because if I’m anything, I’m regressively consistent. I can already see a pocket notebook with my name on it, because I put it there, and I’m an adult.


Today is Monday, January 7th and it’s time to mellow out and tell some stories (on most days).

Tip My Jar?

If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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Drinkipedia — Episode Two

Episode two of Drinkipedia is live, and now you can listen to us on iTunes! Just search for ‘Drinkipedia’ and you’ll find us.

In this weeks episode, my good self gets tipsy and I try to explain real life vampires and 4th generation video games consoles. Highlights include — Things I learned from a genuine vampire lord, 1990s VR and Mr Nutz.

We’re super excited about this podcast — Audra, Jason and I — and we have many more episodes lined up for you.

We’ve put a lot of hours into developing, making and recording Drinkipedia and we’d love for it to find its way into people’s ear holes.

That sounded far more disgusting than was intended, but this text is live so there’s no going back…

If you’re reading these words, please give us a try. Drinkipedia will be free every Thursday, with bonus content every Monday.

If you like what you hear then why not subscribe and rate us 5*. I know it’s boring admin stuff, but it really helps with visibility and we’d all appreciate you greatly.

If it’s not your thing but you like supporting original content, why not recommend it to someone who might like it? Or subscribe/rate us anyway and just mute our feed, we won’t be offended.

You can follow us on Twitter — @drinkipediapod — and that would help a lot too.

I promise to stop going on about this podcast as soon as everyone subscribes.

How does that sound? Still too pushy? Oh well, live text, can’t change it now.

https://drinkipedia.podbean.com/e/drinkipedia-02-real-life-vampires4th-gen-games-consoles/


Today is Thursday, December 20th and we produced a new product in the depressing winter months so we can basically do anything.

Game of Moans

It’s the final season, and it’ll all end in Spring 2019! There are dragon-like figures, ice-cold monsters and very few good guys left alive. But just like Game of Thrones, Brexit is likely to spawn some spin-offs, and will never truly end.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been two and a half years since the 2016 Referendum, and that we’re only three and a half months from the finish line.

I think the average person in the UK probably just wants the whole thing to be over, so that the news cycle can move onto the next terrible thing that’ll end us all. But in the wake of a deal rejection and a vote of no confidence (result: some confidence), it’s starting to feel like this won’t end in March.

The current situation that the UK government faces is well summarised in the following tweet, which should be located just below these words.

Option C is the currently the most likely outcome.

During the initial vote over Brexit I paid close attention to the details and information associated with the decision. I tried my best to sift through the BS from the campaigns and kept coming back to the conclusion that even though the EU isn’t perfect, this idea that we should work together as a species is a step in the right direction.

As the months go by, and especially after all the reveals of the misinformation and anti-democratic strategies from the leave campaign, I find it harder to follow Brexit without slipping into some sort of depressive coma.

These days I need to decant Brexit information in the form of topical satire and comedic podcasts, just to stay lucid.

The irony is that most satirists put more effort into their research on the topic than half of UK news outlets, and they don’t shy away from an overt opinion either.

I’ll take an open and honest comic, who tells us that their words are opinions and presents data alongside a satirical analysis, over institutions like the Daily Mail — Who may as well print “LEAVE OUR COUNTRY, YOU FOREIGN ARSEHOLES” on their front page every morning.

A good friend of mine has made the news a little easier to digest, however. What’s Happening With Brexit? is a website that’s updated daily, at midnight.

It takes the top stories on Brexit from six UK newspapers and displays the data collected in an interactive graph. On the graph you can see what the country is talking about in regards to Brexit, by highlighting the frequency of the words and phrases used throughout the articles.

I’ve found it extremely useful as a tool for following the bigger stories, as I know the big-hitting topics for the day, to then go and read about in more detail.

For example, if a right-leaning paper has DANGER OF NO DEAL in their headline, but nobody else is running the story, then I know it’s probably propaganda.

Of course, that’s a terrible example because there is a very real danger of a no deal Brexit, especially after Theresa May’s short and not so sweet visit to Brussels.

Theresa May, if you’re wondering, is probably the Cersei Lannister of our Game of Moans. She doesn’t have the same ambition, but she’s the one seated in a position of power due to her undying grip to an idea that she doesn’t really believe in anyway.

Boris Johnson is obviously Littlefinger, and most Brexitiers are various White Walkers. David Cameron was Robert Baratheon and most EU officials are members of the Bank of Bravos. Jeremy Corbyn is that old guy in the tree, not really doing much of anything.

threeeyedraven
Jeremy Corbyn pictured at his home in Islington

The other thing I like about What’s Happening With Brexit? is the way the data is displayed. I’ve spent an embarrassing amount of time watching the buzzwords rise and fall over the months.

It has also been interesting to see how much the right-leaning and left-leaning news outlets discuss different topics.

Some terms and people, such as the PM or “deal” are mentioned equally between both sides. Outlets who side with remaining in the EU are more likely to highlight the turmoil and errors of Brexit (aka, all of it). Whereas on a slow Brexit-news day, outlets who want to leave will spam the headlines with reasons why Brexit must happen now and how we should just leave no matter what.

I’m bias because I know the website creator, and know that he’s dedicated to analysing the slew of information that comes from the Brexit news cycle, in order to present it in an easily digestible way. But, despite that knowledge, I still think you should check out What’s Happening With Brexit?

Comparing Brexit to Game of Thrones is really making me realise that we have no heroes in this story. I mean, the EU are sort-of the good guys, but even they’re not without fault.

There’s no strong political party that’s acting as the voice for the hundreds of thousands of British people who marched on the streets of London back in October. Labour are remaining quiet, presumably so as not to upset those who want Brexit to happen who may also vote Labour in the next General Election.

They probably shouldn’t be doing that, because it’s another example of playing a game of politics that doesn’t really exist anymore. Trying to play the long game of power is what makes things like Donald Trump and Brexit happen in the first place.

The populist, “bad guys” are shouting louder and louder as the deadline looms. The polar opposite of that is a strong-willed voice of reason, and the people (the remainers) have that en-masse. As seen in the marches back in the autumn.

There’s just no figure to represent them, no Stark kid from the frozen north who’ll be the voice of truth in the face of an encroaching disenfranchised, chaotic evil.

Of course, it’s not that simple, and life isn’t one big HBO episodic drama. I just can’t help but feel that someone should be playing a game that has the interests of the “48%” in mind, and that if they did they’d stand a good chance to win the throne as well.


Today is Friday, December 14th and submitting a podcast to iTunes felt good.

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Back to The Good Place

The following jumble of words have been organised into a review of the season three premiere of The Good Place. If you have not seen this episode, or the rest of the show, then come back tomorrow when there’ll be fewer spoilers. I’ll probably write about Trump or Kavanaugh or Brexit — You know, the usual.

Actually before you go, here’s a quick plea — Watch this show. Stop watching whatever you’re currently watching and catch up on The Good Place. The cast are delightful, the writing is near-flawless and it’ll push the limits of what you thought possible of a twenty-two minute sitcom. Also, Ted Danson is better in this than he is in Cheers…okay bye, leave before you can rebut that hot take!

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We’re back with Team Cockroach — Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani and Jason — only this time they’re on Earth. In an attempt to prove to his superiors that supreme beings need to revamp the way in which human’s are treated in the afterlife, Michael, and his assistant Janet, are running a little experiment. Team Cockroach have been placed back on Earth, right before the moment of their death, where they’ll be saved by a passing stranger (Michael). This provides them all with a near-death experience, that will (hopefully) push them to become good people.

The plan works, for a while, as all four humans turn their lives around. However, remaining a “good person” proves to be difficult, and before long they’re back to their old ways. So Michael intervenes again, with some protest from Janet, and nudges them a little closer together — All so that Team Cockroach can meet on Earth and once again help each other to be better.

All of this while they’re being hunted by a pack of demons for breaking the rules of the bad place — Specifically Micheal, for being the demon who went rogue. But you know that, you’ve seen the show!

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The transition from the second to third season went a lot smoother than the first to the second. It appears as though Micheal Schur is set on flipping the script on the premise at the end of each season, by jumbling all the chess pieces into a different order, before moving them in roughly the same direction. This helps to keep the show feeling fresh, and both of the soft resets have made sense within the context of the narrative.

Last season felt a little jarring, and it took a few episodes of season two for the show to really feel like itself again. They haven’t faced the same problem this time around, aided in part by the season two finale giving us a little glimpse into what to expect for the third outing. Also because characters are very much behaving like their lovable, imperfect, archetypal selves from the get-go.

Ted Danson continues to give a career-performance, as he expertly blends his brand of sitcom delivery with heartfelt, uplifting monologues. Which isn’t to say that the rest of the cast don’t perform — because oh boy do they. We didn’t get too much of Janet in this episode, which is always a shame, as her arc as a computerised super-being slowly becoming more human is one of the most compelling on the show. Adam Scott’s character has returned, however, and we always need more Adam Scott on our screens.

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We’re introduced to new character, Simone, a researcher and neuroscientist from Chidi’s university who plans on helping Team Cockroach on their journey to becoming better people, by showing them the science-side of their near-death experiences. Her and Chidi hit it off instantly, leading to an incredibly cute scene inside of an MRI.

Eleanor encourages them to start dating, as she sees the overflowing chemistry between the two — Which is gut-wrenching for us viewers, who know that once Eleanor and Chidi become close in a timeline, they’re a great match for each other.

Still, it’s proof that Eleanor is fundamentally a good person, and I for one can’t wait until she’s promoted to the position of “God” or “Supreme Afterlife Guardian” by the end of the entire show.

Jameela Jamil, who plays the egocentric Tahani, continues to be the biggest surprise of The Good Place. Although at this point, maybe I shouldn’t be surprised anymore. Despite only recently venturing into the world of acting, Jamil was born to play the role of Tahani. Her opening Vogue-style web-interview is one of the best character reintroductions I’ve ever seen, and her celebrity name-drops are already on-form.

The highlight for Jason came as he bore his soul at a harbour in Jacksonville. Being the dimwitted member of Team Cockroach, Jason is quietly and innocently the most good-hearted of the group. We finally see the urban dance-crew he organises and manages, and although they all still resort to a life of crime, he’s genuinely trying to be a good person to the best of his abilities.

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Nearly every element of The Good Place works to perfection, and as long as Schur has a clear ending planned, then this may well go down as one of the greatest cult sitcoms of all time.

It’s an enjoyable ride with a likeable cast, so no matter what happens I’m in for the long-hall. However, once the show comes to a conclusion (whenever that may be, I can think of a premise for season four and five, but any more than that might be pushing it) we’ll be able to fully judge the overall narrative. I’ve been burned by too many shows with a meandering story that eventually lead to nowhere.

It’s the little things that make The Good Place so good…place; The subtle world-building, the forking curse-words, secondary characters for days, genuine philosophical lessons and Schur’s trademark reaction-shots.

The season three opener matched the overall quality of the show, so I can’t wait to see where Team Cockroach will go next.


Today is Tuesday, October 2nd and the days are getting darker. This is both a positive and a negative; Find balance in all things.

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If you like what I write and can spare a dollar, then it’d be a greatly appreciated act of kindness! If you like what I write and can’t spare a dollar then I greatly appreciate you! If you hate what I write and also can’t spare a dollar, then why are you still reading this?

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