Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Seasons Greetings, here's Rita Pavone

Sometimes I like to watch things on Youtube and then click the suggested videos and see where I end up. A while ago I thought I'd watch Martin Bashir interviewing Princess Diana (the famous one where she says there were three people in the marriage) and eventually got to the following - Princess Diana in South Korea.

It shows Princess Diana looking sad and bored at a banquet, while a bit of new age chinese-sounding music plays in the background. As one commenter puts it, "This is hard to watch... So much sadness and pain behind her eyes, yet it takes nothing away from her beauty... I hope she realized that Charles never deserved her... What an amazing and angelic woman. We love you Diana RIP."

But life isn't all tragic fairytales gone wrong and staring into the middle distance, and neither is the internet. And one thing there are lots of on the internet (other than pornography) is old music videos by people you've never heard of. And there is lots of fun to be had by finding yourself a new favourite pop starlet to diva worship.

Here's our latest addition: Rita Pavone.

I don't know much in the way of Italian so have no idea what this song is about, but my oh my it is a cool song.

Rita was part of the "yé-yé" style of pop music, which originally started in France. Young-looking girls singing songs with innocent lyrics (or occasionally really overt double entendres which the singers were too naïve to understand.) The songs were often about love, but included themes such as whatever this song is supposed to be about.

I am really unsure as to what that song means. 'Long live the father colonel pomodoro' is my best guess. She looks sort of like she's dressed up in a military outfit but it sounds pretty light and cheerful.

A slightly more emotive one here, called 'Heart' in Italian. It's about suffering from being in love.


"Oh my poor heart," she sings, "you'll suffer more. Every day more, every day every day more."

I think you get the idea by now, but I can't resist posting one more cos this one's also a gem.

As well as being a singer, she appeared in several films. Little Rita of the West, a spaghetti western musical extravaganza, which in retrospect now looks a bit racist as the native americans are clearly white people wearing face paint.

Still, everyone loves a musical. She also appeared in La Feldmarescialla, which I'm guessing is Italian for The Field-marshal. It's hard to tell exactly what this film is about as I can't find a synopsis of the film in English, but it appears to be a hilarious comedy musical about the nazis. Ho ho ho.

She became a star in America as well, recording in English and duetting with with Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Tom Jones and Ella Fitzgerald. Oh and Whitney Houston, and Frank Sinatra. And Cher.

She also had a really annoying novelty song called 'My Name is Potato', which featured an angry cartoon potato who gets annoyed when she calls him a 'patata'.

I have no idea what they were thinking when they made this but I would love to know.

To finish, here's a really 80s new romantic cover of Rita's 1965 hit Il Geghegè.  If anyone can speak Italian and is able to tell me what a geghegè is then please do get in touch.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

It's The Police Elections Yay

Aw yeah police elections are coming up, hands up who is excited! Yeahhhh.

I've just done a tiny bit of research on the candidates for the Thames Valley, and I wholeheartedly want to want to say I am in support of the independent candidate Patience Tayo Awe. This is due to the fact that I rather like what she says about the fact that she's running as an independent candidate. She says:

If elected, I will involve and represent all the people impartially.I am not affiliated to any political party. Keep political party politics out of policing to maintain the integrity of the Police service and truly empower the people.

Right on. She continues:

I finished my first degree over 20 years ago, completed my MSc IT postgraduate degree 12 years ago and became a PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner in 2004. I have worked in various sectors, as a front office cashier, teacher, insurance marketing executive, banker, software tester, IT Capacity Planner, Project Manager also served as a Charity Trustee. I am a results-driven person that is very passionate about volunteering and serving the community. ICT is crucial in fighting crime and ensuring we live in a safer community.

OK well I'm not entirely sure what a police commissioner is actually supposed to do but I think it might have a bit more to it than knowing lots about IT.

Party politics and policing will create worse problems; it will create avenue for partiality, unfairness, double standards and all the associated social imbalances and also compromise the integrity of the police. With due respect, party politicians cannot be trusted, they have made countless ‘u turns’, expenses scandal, £14m train fiasco, G4 scandal, some are out of touch with the local people, even insult the police. We had these same party politicians when resentment and frustration against the police reached boiling point and there was a nationwide riot last year? Local people emerged as heroes to save the situation. The same way local people made the Olympics and Paralympics a huge success. Please reflect on this. Make a difference and please vote for me. Thank you in anticipation of your vote.

Why is there a question mark in the middle of that paragraph? There definitely were riots last year.

Next up, UKIP. What's Barry Cooper got to say for himself?

I have absolutely no professional experience with the criminal justice system and am totally free of the preconceptions, prejudices and institutional inertia that come with such experience, which allows me to look at the issues and realties facing the police with an unprejudiced and fresh pair of eyes.

In the summer after I did my A-levels I was looking for work and in the local paper saw an ad called Experienced Forklift Truck Driver. If only I'd known that I could have applied anyway and just made it clear that I was free of the preconceptions, prejudices and institutional inertia that comes with knowing how to drive a forklift truck. What a fool I was.

The Thames Valley Police is one of the best, if not the best, force in the country. 

In my head this statement sounds a little bit like a card saying 'World's Best Dad' would, were I a dad and it was father's day. So, Barry - why should people in the Thames Valley vote for you?

I am one of them. I live in the Thames Valley; my family and I rely upon the Thames Valley Police to protect us from crime.

So, vote for Barry as he'll try to do a good job out of blind self-interest. 

Thus far the coalition imposed cuts have been implemented in a rational and sensible fashion with little effect on operational capability. It is my intention to continue that process.

Oh really.

I would like to see police numbers raised, not cut.


To that end, I will fight vigorously against further cuts, and do so in an open and public manner to honestly communicate with people how the priorities of the three old parties, especially profligate spending on irresponsible vanity projects such as HS2 and a ring-fenced and rising foreign aid budget, is having a detrimental effect on the safety of the community.

Ah, of course - how silly of me to forget what the real threat to local policing is: giving money to people in the developing world. How very very silly indeed. And of course, as police commissioner for the Thames Valley our hero Barry Cooper will of course be able to influence the foreign aid budget.

What would Barry like to change about local policing?

The need to improve morale is incredibly important, and a lot can be done in a very short space of time to raise the spirits of our police officers.

And what are your top crime priorities?

A zero-tolerance approach to “gateway” level crime such as anti-social behaviour and so-called “petty” crime.

Yeah, throw away the key. In conclusion: the UKIP candidate is totally nuts. Surprise surprise.

Let's compare him with the Liberal Democrat candidate, who overall sounds like quite a nice man.

I am especially interested in policies that will reduce the number of young people entering into a life of crime. Fewer young criminals means fewer lifelong criminals.

But on the other hand he is a Lib Dem so let's not even consider taking him seriously.

Next, the conservative.

Soldier, aviator, explorer, businessman, councillor, and an experienced members of the Police Authority with a proven record of improving performance in Thames.

What's that song that's suddenly in your head? Why if it aint So Macho by Sinitta. She don't want no seven stone weakling, no boy who thinks he's a girl . And neither should you. Vote conservative. What's his vision for policing in the Thames Valley?

To reduce crime in Thames Valley, and catch those that commit it. 

Shit man, some crazy ass radical views there. Why should people vote for you?

I commanded the Army helicopters in the Falkland Islands in the latter half of 1982

Fair enough.

 I have both a practical and academic knowledge of terrorism.

He's a terrorist! I knew it. To be fair to him he actually sounds quite competent and experienced. But he is also a rancid tory milksnatching baby eater. So no dice.

Finally the Labour candidate. What does he want to change?

Stop the cuts to police numbers that will mean a slower response to 999 calls, less visible policing and less capacity to investigate crime

Good good. What's his most memorable experience of the police locally?

Repeatedly reporting anti-social behaviour, but being frustrated by a slow and inadequate response from local police.

How dare he criticise the police like that. How. Very. Dare. He.

His priorities are anti-social behaviour, drug addiction and domestic violence. He's a barrister and has worked in both defence and prosecution. He's an advocate of reforms.

Right, you might have guessed it that at this point I'm starting to lean towards voting Labour. I wanted to go for the independent but I just don't think she sounds as good a candidate. But hold up what's this?

The supplementary vote system will be used in the PCC elections. This is currently the system used to elect mayors (e.g. Mayor of London), the closest existing role to PCCs. Under the supplementary vote system, a voter is asked to indicate first and second preferences. If no candidate wins 50 per cent of the first preference votes, the two candidates with the highest number of first preference votes go forward to a second round.
In the second round, candidates who were eliminated in the previous round have the second preference indicated on the ballot paper allocated to the remaining candidates. The process continues until a candidates passes the 50% + 1 threshold to secure a plurality of votes.

Yay. I can vote for Patience after all. Or maybe I could even vote UKIP for a laugh. Why not eh.

But what is the police and crime commissioner even supposed to do? What even is a PCC. What.

Well, a lil bit of reading (specifically on this page) has enlightened me. The PCC is supposed to hold the police to account, to represent normal people and to make decisions about the budget. Everywhere in the country will have a PCC, apart from London where the mayor is in charge of all that stuff.

So basically the PCC will do what Boris Johnson does but only in matters relating to policing and crime. And not, say, public transportation.

The job is pretty important. The police are supposed to exist to stop crime and catch criminals, but there are countless stories of the police getting things very seriously wrong.

Blair peach: dead.
Jean-Charles de Menezes: dead.
Ian Tomlinson: dead.
Alexander Litvenenko: dead.

Actually that last one wasn't to do with the police, that was Russians.

Last Summer PC Alex McFarlane repeatedly called a black man in police custody a "nigger".
In 2010 Alfie Meadows required brain surgery after being hit by a police baton.
Police spies lived with peaceful environmental activists, had sex with them and even fathered children under false names.

And you knoe, this isn't the only way in which the police can be shit. They can take ages to come round when you've been burgled. Or they can decide that a good use of their time is fining people for cycling on Queen Street in Oxford, even though this is a road that busses are allowed to drive along. Busses are fine but bikes are dangerous apparently.

I don't want to throw myself into the 'all cops are bastards' camp, but it's obvious that policing in this country is far from perfect.

Regardless of how much difference you think these candidates will make, these elections amount to us being offered the chance to choose the one we think will be the best.

Or alternatively, this is an opportunity for you to go vote against the coalition government. It might not really have any actual effects at Westminster, but if everyone goes out and votes for 'not the conservative', just imagine the message this will send out.

I can't be arsed to list all the ways in which I think the current government is totally shit, but basically almost every single policy announcement of the past two years can be filed under either 'totally shortsighted' or 'totally evil'.

So basically, let's all go out and vote for the Labour candidate as a protest against the tories.

And even if you're an awful right-winger, why not put UKIP first and conservatives as your second choice? It's not as if there's much danger of UKIP winning which means your beloved soldier, aviator, explorer is just as likely to win, but it will at least rattle the government's cages.

So there you go. Go out and vote.

Oh and if you want to read more about the candidates in the Thames Valley area (or elsewhere), have a look here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Fun Things To Do At The GUM Clinic

OK so a while ago I got tested for STIs, and whilst waiting for my results to come back had an idea for a post. I then had to wait a few days before I could 'go to print', waiting of course for a text message from the NHS informing me that my results were clear. Writing a highly flippant and silly article about going to check whether you've got HIV/AIDS becomes a bit less funny if it turns out the punchline's that I've got HIV/AIDS.

But then by the time I got the all-clear I'd decided this post wasn't very good so tinkered with it a bit then left it in my drafts folder for a while then realised I haven't posted anything in bloody ages so I'm just going to serve this up regardless. The irony of the situation is that it's been so long since I got that all-clear it's almost time to go and get another test.

Anyway, getting tested is a bit of a grim experience for anyone but obviously kids if you're engage in such risky activities as having sex or occasionally eating in McDonalds then they're obviously something of a necessity every few months. So kids, go get yoself tested innit. But first have a read about a few ways in which you can make it more fun.

Skip The Queue
Tell reception that you're addicted to hard drugs, you share needles sometimes, and you get paid for sex. And easy as that, the hour and a half spent you would have spent reading magazines becomes a very small amount of time indeed

Camp It Up
You'll meet a nurse who you might never see again, which gives you a very special opportunity to construct an entirely false version of your personality. Consider it a free acting lesson or something. For me this usually means I become a character that's sort of like the impression of a gay man that a homophobic person would do. I am utterly ridiculous in a way that I don't think any of my friends or family would recognise.

But you could do whatever. The whole fandango takes about twenty minutes maximum, so just adopt whatever trait you want. A northern accent. A lisp. When they call your number, limp out of the waiting room and down the corridor. You can do whatever you want, and provided you can keep it going with a straight face, the nurse will not have a clue that you're faking. And even if she does suspect something, there's no way she'll be certain enough to tell you she thinks you don't really have a Russian accent.

(I'm just going to interrupt my flow here to acknowledge the fact that I have so far used female pronouns to describe the nurses at the GUM clinic. Of course this might sound kinda sexist, but thinking about it in my entire history of getting checked the nurse has always been female. There was this one time I was seen by a doctor, but she was female too. So either everyone who works in a GUM clinic is female, or maybe all the male nurses are checking out the female patients. And by writing that down, I've made it sound like going to get a medical check-up is a horribly sordid affair where all the staff are perverts. Sorry bout that.)

(Artist's impression of nurse may or may not accurately reflect the reality of nurses working at the GUM clinic)

Lie About Your Sexual Partners
I don't really get why they need to know exactly how many sexual partners you've had, their gender or what you got up to. Well I kinda do because they swab you in different places depending on whether any of these have been in close contact with someone else's penis, but the nurses do like to keep track of everyone you've slept with, like a jealous ex.

So why not throw in a few extras? Say you went to an orgy. Say you went to Africa and had unprotected sex with prostitutes. Lie about your sexual orientation. Or, when the nurse first starts asking you, look her dead in the eye and interrupt her with 'Look, I haven't got all day and I certainly haven't got enough time to list all my sexual partners'. (Admittedly this one I haven't tried myself but can whoever does it please report back what the nurse's response is please.)

Make The Nurse Your Agony Aunt
When they ask you about your sexual partners they also ask you whether you were in a monogamous relationship, if it was a casual affair or if it was a one-off. As you're recounting your list of dozens of made-up partners, why not add in a bit of emotional turmoil, to keep things interesting.

'Yeah, it was one-off. I really thought he really liked me, we had a lovely dinner and everything but then he didn't respond to my texts, I left three messages on his voicemail but he never returned my calls, I thought we could have been something.'

Burst into tears about your failed relationships. Question where it all went wrong. Bring up all the minor details of arguments you had months ago. Describe what your ex looks like and go into loads of details. Talk about his beautiful blue eyes and the way he used to smile at you, and how you used to feel like the luckiest girl in the world. And then say how he ditched you for your best mate.

Lie About Your Sexual Partners (Part 2)
Say you performed some kind of sex act on an inanimate object. Or an animal. Remember, everything is confidential so even if you claim to have done something totally illegal the worst that can happen is the nurse will scream and run out the room yelling about the crazy pervert in room 3

The Aeroplane Game
You know how parents persuade small babies to eat a bit of food off a spoon by pretending it's an aeroplane? Why not do the same thing as the nurse sticks a scratchy swabby thing up your urethra? This might actually be of more use for the nurses, and this would remind patients of their childhoods and would definitely make them feel less uneasy about having a swab rammed up their willies.

Any (or all) of these will surely lead to getting tested being a more fun way for anyone to spend a morning. Obviously safe sex is the way to go but there's nothing wrong with a bit I Must Somehow Still Have AIDS paranoia, even though you were wearing three condoms and did it standing up with the lights off on the first Tuesday of the month. Go get tested, kids. Oh and don't actually wear three condoms, one is enough.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Legitimate Reasons To Be Jealous Of Tom Daley

Tom Daley: Girls want him, guys want to be him, and let's face it quite a fair amount of us want him. And thinking about it, probably quite a few lesbians either want him or want to be him. However, some people want to send him nasty messages online, and bring up his dead father and basically be really horrible for seemingly one reason: jealousy.

I don't condone sending nasty messages, but I would be lying if I said I'm not insanely jealous of Tom Daley. What I'm going to try to do here is list all the reasons you could have for being supa jel of him, in the hope that if I can recognise all the reasons I have for being really jealous of him one by one then I will not feel the need to send him any online abuse. Here goes:

1. Look at that body. He's a very attractive thing. He has a good head or hair (actually so do I so this isn't particularly important for me) and a pretty face and he is muscly and toned in all the right places.

1. a. He can presumably have sex with literally anyone he wants. You wouldn't say no to that would you.

2. Everybody loves him.

3. He's good at diving. Very good at diving in fact. I've never tried to get good at diving but I'll hazard a guess that even if I had done a load of training then I would not be as good at diving as Tom Daley.

4. According to Wikipedia he's pretty damn bright, and did damn good in his GCSEs and A-levels. While I don't feel jealous of him for this per se because I also did damn good in my GCSEs and A-levels, I am jealous because he managed to do this at the same time as training to be a world-class athlete.

5. He's been to China. I really wanna go on holiday to China. Well actually I'd quite like to go all over Asia on a really long trip, and I can't do that for at least two years because I'm supposed to be doing a degree.

6. He got Kate Moss to pose for his GCSE photography project. I know it's nice to be gracious about some thing really good happening to someone you know, like someone I know filled out a survey and won an iPad and I would look like a bit of a lame-ass if I was visibly upset about this ... but just imagine how livid you would have been if you were in Tom Daley's class, you're 15 years old and working on your photography project and then you find out he's only gone and got the most famous model in the world. For a GCSE project.

7. He's a gay icon. The gays are obsessed with him and love him.

Reasons Not To Be Jealous:

1. He didn't get a medal yesterday. You probably didn't win an olympic gold yesterday either, but you probably knew you weren't going to. It wasn't a big disappointment for you or anything.

2. He's not very tall. He's 5'9 which is by no means short but I quite like being the height I am and I wouldn't want to be two inches shorter. But actually for diving he's a bit tall, as it's easier to spin round in a circle if you're shorter, so if he was my height then he'd definitely not be getting any medals. I'm now feeling very grateful I never pursued competitive diving as 'and then I got too tall and had to give it up' would be a rubbish story.

3. He got bullied at school after he was at the Beijing Olympics. This one can assume was stupid kids being jealous of him and dealing with their insecurity by teasing him.

4. He only has one living parent after his father died of cancer. Which is really sad and it must be horrible when some kid you've never met wants to bring this up to make you feel bad after you've just spent the day representing your country and didn't win.

5. The gays all think he's gay, which if you weren't gay would be sort of annoying. He probably is gay though. Tom if you're reading this and want to let me know, do drop me an email.

What Have We Learned:

1. I fancy Tom Daley

2. There are pros and cons to being Tom Daley, like there are to being anyone.

3. I'm not sure exactly what else.

Anyway, here are some photos of Tom Daley showering where it looks a bit like he's getting up to some naughtiness, but presumably he isn't because if that was the case it would probably be quite the news story.

Saturday, 21 July 2012


YESTERDAY: Sarah Palin posted this on Facebook. Ha ha hee hee.

The very obvious issue of this is that if you get fat due to eating too much food, you have to hold yourself at least somewhat responsible for this. 'Spoons made me fat' would be a good point to make if you were arguing against gun companies and blaming them for people who use guns to commit suicide.

However, people who get shot are pretty unlikely to have consented to have their flesh ripped into by bullets. I would estimate that more than 99% of the people who get shot didn't actually want to get shot. Spoons made me fat is not an appropriate counterargument.

As for what would be a good counterargument, how about 'Cars ran me over'?

Except, even though cars do run a lot of people over all the time, this is rarely done on purpose. Cars are dangerous, they do injure and kill people, but this is not the reason people drive their cars. There's perhaps a benefit to society of us having cars. We could argue otherwise by invoking environmental reasons, but I can't imagine this would be of much interest to our dear Sarah Palin.

Anyway, TODAY. THIS:

Some guy killed a load of people at a cinema. And I mean a LOAD of people. A total of 71 were shot, 10 killed at the scene and a further two so far dying from their injuries.

To Sarah Palin this is 'inexplicable'.

To Sarah Palin the idea of allowing any member of the public the right to carry lethal weapons with them has nothing to do with the fact that they might then use these to commit mass murder.

Now I am not saying we should live in a police state in which people aren't allowed to buy sets of kitchen knives in case they used these to attack other people, but it's very obvious that armed with guns, a mentally unhinged person can go totally fucking nuts and kill a lot of people in no time at all. And unless there are a large number of people with guns on them at all times ready to take him out, there's not much you can do except run and away and hide.

Knives are no less deadly than guns. Plenty of people have been killed by knives and swords and axes and hammers and crowbars and candlesticks and lead pipings. In the dining room, the hall and the study. And in the cinema. The phenomenon of  people using guns to go on murderous rampages is nothing new, from Columbine to Raoul Moat to Virginia Tech to Oakland and to Anders Breivik.

It's very fucking obvious that if you've got a gun then it's a lot easier to carry out this sort of act. You can kill a lot more people in a shorter space of time, and bystanders have far less chance of stopping you.

It is an unfortunate side-effect of human nature that sometimes some people snap and decide to kill a load of people. We can do our best as a society to stop this sort of thing happening by having access to mental health services and a strong criminal justice system. But even with this the best will in the world we cannot expect to prevent all incidents like this from happening.

People are unpredictable, and it would be impossible to spot every person who is five minutes away from plotting a dramatic mass murder. But what we can do, allowing that sometimes people will go nuts, is restict their access to firearms.

America is totally fucked up for thinking that if everyone has a handgun then they will somehow be safer. It's an arms race, and nobody benefits from it. There should be more stringent checks on who should or should not be allowed to own guns. This is not backed up by any sort of academic research, but is plain common sense. The rate of people getting shot in the UK is far lower than it is in the US. It's also a lot more difficult to get hold of a gun, and gun ownership is dramatically lower.

'Spoons made me fat' is of no comfort to the families of people shot down in cold blood. Some of the victims might have owned guns themselves, but some might have not. One thing is for certain: they did not ask to be murdered by a stranger while out at the cinema. My heart doesn't exactly bleed for the overweight person blaming spoons. The dead, on reflection, might consider the guns to blame.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Curious Case of the Never Ageing Face

Woo No Doubt have a new song! Here's the video for it.

Ok, it's quite a long-ass song. They're definitely gonna be cutting out a lot of that when they play it on the radio. And the video itself? Not exactly mind-blowing, but kinda fun. Oh and sort of scarily laden with close-ups of branded products which is something it's sort of easy to get all het up about until you remember that Nobody Pays For Music These Days so bands have got to earn a living somehow.

But anyway: what's up with Gwen Stefani's face? Look at that face. I recognise that face of hers. Why, I believe it's the very same face I have seen in numerous other videos.

Like this one, from 2006.

But that was six years ago! Why has she not aged? She has not aged. She looks like she's the exact same age.

Or this one from 2005.

She's the same damn age.

(Also it's quite fun to deliberately misinterpret the lyrics of the chorus of this song. When she says "I know we're cool", she's talking about staying friends with her ex, and being "cool" with each other. But I like to imagine that she's banging on about how she's "cool" in the sense of being really stylish and keeping up with all the latest trends. Alright Gwen, shut up about how cool you are, we get it.)

Or 2004. Eight years ago. EIGHT YEARS:

I'm starting to see a couple of trends beginning to emerge. Not only have Ms Stefani's videos got gradually less awe-inspiring since 2004, there's also the issue that she doesn't look like she's got at all older in eight years.

The woman was born in the 60s. I don't know what exact age she was during the filming of any of these videos but in 2004 she was certainly in her mid-thirties. She's now 42.

Let's go a little further back in time:

Gwen Stefani looking the same age in 2001:

And in 2001 again. (I'm only posting this one as well because it features No Doubt's drummer getting naked and hanging from a trapeze):

And in 1996:

Alright I suppose she looks a little bit younger in this one. But if we forget about this music video, it's still pretty remarkable how Gwen Stefani has doesn't look a day older than she did in 2001. I don't wanna sound sensationalist or anything, but there's really only one plausible explanation for this.

At some point between the years 1996 and 2001 the real Gwen Stefani was killed (perhaps in a car accident, say) and replaced with a robot Gwen Stefani. An extremely convincing, all-singing, all-dancing, artificial intelligence cyborg android. 

Robot Gwen, I salute you. You've gone places in your career that nobody really expected Human Gwen to go. I don't think anyone would have looked at vaguely alternative pop-rock Gwen from 1996 and predicted you'd be interrupting black tie parties with Eve, or hanging out with your Harajuku Girls and chasing flamingos, or making a song in which you say 'shit' a total of 38 times? (Or, if you watch the 'clean version' of the video, there are 38 weird pauses.)

Nobody. Well done Robot Gwen. You're amazing, even though you're a robot. And if anything, now that I know you're a robot I sort of think you're more amazing than I did before.

Monday, 16 July 2012

"Feminists" at it again

So, some women in Oxford are desperately fighting for gender equality via actively campaigning to put some other women out of a job. Because that's what feminism is, apparently.

Let's ignore the fact that the country is in a pretty shitty situation economically, that there are no jobs around and that just about everyone apart from the extremely wealthy is struggling financially, let's ignore that and try to put some women out of a job. Yeah. Let's do that. Why?

Because these women take off their clothes for a living. And we disapprove of this. And we know best, because we are feminists and we use words like 'patriarchy' all the time, because saying this word makes us look clever.

People claiming to be feminists who try to ruin the lives of sex workers need to reconsider their opinions. They are hypocrites.

Let's consider for a second the issue of abortion. Feminists have generally won the argument, that a woman should have the right to abort, regardless of the fact that some people disapprove of this. They can disapprove all they want but the woman whose pregnancy it is gets the final say.

Or let's take the case of the sex act known as fisting, in which someone inserts their whole hand into someone else. I disapprove of this. It sounds incredibly painful and unimaginably horrible, and I have no idea why some people apparently like doing it. I cannot see the appeal at all, and actually thinking about it for more than a few seconds starts to make me feel physically sick. But that doesn't mean I think it should be banned.

Now let's consider a woman who wants to work in a lap-dancing club. No. No fucking way. You might want to work in a lap-dancing club, but we know best and we're going to do everything we can to get that place shut down. Why can't you do a nice job that we approve of huh? Dancing like that you're objectifying yourself and this is wrong and we know best and how dare you do that you slut.

This is nothing less than a puritanical crusade. These women think that they have the moral authority to tell consenting adults what they can or can't do for a living. They think to themselves "I wouldn't want to be a stripper" and use this as the basis for which they reason that all women who work as strippers must hate it, and need saving from themselves. They infer that making the decision to become a stripper cannot be the right one no matter what the circumstances. They say it is degrading, they make the dubious claim that strip clubs encourage men to become rapists, and they contribute to the culture of stigmatisation experienced by strippers and other sex workers. 

What they don't do for one second is think about what they are doing to the lives of the women who work in these clubs. (Or for that matter the men who work there, not that this would matter very much to these "feminists" who are intent on waging all-out gender war). They hypothesise that every woman working as a stripper is 'vulnerable', that she was abused as a child or stuck in an abusive relationship, that she's desperate for money, that she's addicted to drugs.

Now I'm not a stripper (apart from this one time, but that's a story for a later date) and I can't claim to speak on behalf of strippers, but there are a number of very obvious reasons why working in a lap-dancing club might be preferable to another job. It's probably better paid than other jobs on offer, it might allow them to care for their children during the day, some women might even actually enjoy it.

But rather than listen to these women, and respect that they are just as capable of making informed decisions as any other adult, the feminists appeal instead to nimbyism.

Look at this ridiculous survey they've made, which they want to present to the council.

Do you feel it is appropriate or inappropriate to site a lap dancing club within sightline of or within 500m of the following places?
College with students under 18
College with classes in the evening
Public car park
Leisure facility (e.g. swimming pool)
Doctors/dentist surgery

And there was silly old me thinking "Won't somebody please think of the children?" was a tactic used only by the religious right. Oh and God forbid there be a lewd establishment half a kilometre away from a church. Have we no shame? And near the doctors. Think of all the old ladies who die every year because they can't face the embarrassment of walking past a strip club to go get a flu jab. And just think, the obesity crisis in this country could be solved in no time at all if there were no strip clubs putting people off going swimming.

Would a nearby lap dancing club put you off using such facilities (assuming you had a choice of a differently located facility)? 

Now that you mention it, I might stop playing ice hockey at the Oxford ice rink, what with the fact there's a strip club next door. Birmingham University has an ice hockey team and it's only an hour away on the train, and I'm sure they'd let me join their team if I explain the circumstances.

Most laughable though is the final question:

Should Oxford have a lap-dancing venue? 

I mean how in God's name are you supposed to answer this? You're given the options of No, Yes, or Undecided/Other. I am curious, how many people would say 'Yes' to this question? Other than people who actually go lap-dancing clubs on a regular basis. I know I've just expended over 800 words arguing in favour of having a laissez-faire attitude to this sort of thing, but supposing Oxford didn't have a strip club then I'm not sure how much work I'd be putting in to banging on about how it's time there was a venue catering for those of us who want to gawp at naked women. Should Oxford have a lap-dancing venue? Not particularly. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't.

Anyway: if you sort of agree with me then I'd like to encourage you to let the "feminists" (Or as I like to think of them, "'Put your clothes back on you filthy whore' feminists") know via filling out their survey. Obviously if you disagree with me then fill out their stupid survey anyway as it's not as if anyone's going to take it at all seriously as a genuinely unbiased bit of research.

But come on let's beat them at their own game.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012



Dear Tom, 
Thank you for your email.

I can confirm a jiffy bag has been requested for you. Please follow the instructions received to send your phone to the repair centre.

If you have any further queries, you may find the answer in the ‘How do I?’ section on our website or you can ask our virtual assistant Rachel. Alternatively click here to contact us.

Thank you


Tesco Mobile E-mail Customer Service Team


Dear Heidi and everyone at Tesco Mobile






Dear Tom Oakley

Thank you for contacting Tesco Mobile Customer Service.

I am sorry to hear that your handset is faulty.

Please contact the Tesco Mobile repair centre on 0845 300 6660. They will be able to assist you further with this and any fault which is covered under manufacturer's warranty will be completed free of charge for handsets less than 12 months old. Please also note you may be asked to provide your original receipt as proof of purchase.

I am sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

If you have any further queries, you may find the answer in the 'How do I?' section on our website or you can ask our virtual assistant Rachel. Alternatively click here to contact us.


Yours sincerely,


Tesco Mobile Customer Service












Welcome to Tesco Mobile live chat. Someone will start chatting with you soon.
You're through to Pete.
Tom Oakley: HI
Pete: Hi I'm Pete. How can I help?
Tom Oakley: so my phone's died
Pete: Hello Tom. 
Tom Oakley: i need someone to send me an envelope to get it fixed
Pete: I'm sorry to hear this. 
Tom Oakley: i have emailed
Tom Oakley: and been told to call
Tom Oakley: i don't have a phone so can't call
Tom Oakley: i have an incident number
Tom Oakley: 264651
Pete: I'm afraid, the handset support team can only help you with the envelope for the handset repair. 
Tom Oakley: well do they have an email?
Tom Oakley: this is ridiculous
Pete: I can help you with there contact details and you can call them from any landline number. 
Pete: I'd have for sure sorted this for you if things would have been in my hands.
Tom Oakley: So the only way to contact them is by phone
Tom Oakley: in the year 2012
Tom Oakley: there is a department of a huge mobile network that is not contactable by email
Tom Oakley: it's like someone in senior management has made the choice to make it difficult to get your phone fixed on purpose
Pete: I can understand this and we are working for on the email contact support for  handset issue. 
Tom Oakley: I wonder why that might be
Tom Oakley: so I need to call the Tesco Mobile repair centre on 0845 300 6660 right?
Pete: That's right, Lines are open Monday to Friday: 8am - 9pm, Saturday: 8am - 8pm and Sunday: 10am - 6pm. It's free from most landlines. 
Tom Oakley: ok as well as this, who can I contact in the 'tesco i want to make a serious complaint about how stupidly you run this company' department
Tom Oakley: it is utterly ridiculous i can't just email
Pete: I'm sorry to hear this. However, I've already taken this as a feedback for Tesco mobile and have forwarded the details to the relevant team. 
Pete: I'll also help you with the link for the email. 
Pete: One minute please. 
Tom Oakley: mmk
Pete: Is the link working for you?
Tom Oakley: yeah that link works, but basically i just need to phone? I don't know if I'm going to have access to a landline phone until at least tomorrow
Pete: I can understand how it's to be without the phone these days. 
Pete: However, we don't have the access to send you the envelope for the repair. 
Pete: We really apologize for the inconvenience.
Tom Oakley: Who is 'we'?
Tom Oakley: can you not speak to your boss
Tom Oakley: he can speak to his boss
Tom Oakley: who can talk to someone from this departmentr
Tom Oakley: to tell me that there are no channels between different departments in the same company ... i don't understand why this is
Tom Oakley: it makes no sense
Tom Oakley: at all
Pete: Do you've a number where we can call you back for this?
Pete: I haven't heard from you for a while. Are you still there?
Pete: As you haven't said anything for a while, I'm going to close the chat. I'm sorry we couldn't finish it.
Tesco Mobile has ended this chat session.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Alternate Career Options for a Failed Engineering Student

Just got my results back for the second year of my degree. Ones that actually count towards my overall grade. And they weren't pretty. They were not pretty at all. My ex-boyfriend constantly taunts me that I'm going to leave university with a 2.2, and that I've squandered a golden opportunity of a place at Oxford. Right now a 2.2 looks pretty aspirational. Getting a second class degree of any sort is right now what my dreams are made of.

Luckily for me, my degree works in such a way that you're not allowed to leave after three years and get an actual engineering degree with a grade. No, if I leave after third year then what I'll get is an unclassified BA, with or without honours. God knows how exactly three years spent learning about fun subjects such as Fourier transforms or compressibility factors is to be considered a degree in 'art', but apparently it is. The plus side of this is that if I do manage to get honours of any sort I can at least hint that they might have been high honours, and not a third.

It has been reasonably obvious to me for quite some time that I don't have a huge amount of desire to become a professional engineer, but it's starting to look as though any sort of 'graduate job' in the traditional sense will be somewhat out of my reach. This is annoying because it's really messed up my plans to become super rich, or at least in say the top 5% of the population in terms of wealth.

Because of my laziness and stupidity, in a few years time there'll be a swanky shagpad somewhere in a nice part of London that's going to look a lot less swanky than it could do if I were in it, and I'll be in some miserable bedsit somewhere in the outskirts with  rising damp and small windows.

But all is not lost. Not yet. Plan A is to actually do a bit of work next year for my degree; a rough calculation I've just done now is that if I increase my work output by a factor of 17 then I might be able to come out with an almost half-decent mark. But of course I need some other ideas to fall back on, so I'm starting a list. This is by no means conclusive and will probably be slowly added to as time goes by.

High Class Rentboy
I'm basically the epitome of middle-class, and I'm not sure exactly how the world of expensive prostitution works but I think generally 'high class' means 'not a crack addict'. So I'm halfway there already.

The Male Equivalent of Anna Nicole Smith

Reality TV Star
Let's face it, I'd be absolute gold on my own scripted show in which I pretend to live out my real life. And actually, this would probably be a good springboard for becoming the male equivalent of Anna Nicole Smith, so even if the show got cancelled I still might get my hands on some diamonds to wear, or at least a weekly column in Now magazine.

Professional GBF for Rich Ladies
All ladies want a GBF. This is a bit like me getting a sugar daddy but in this case I'll have a sugar mumma and my duties will mostly be keeping her entertained by going shoe-shopping with her. 

My plans to write a novel this summer haven't quite reached the point of actually thinking of a coherent idea for a plot or anything, but I have worked out a few anecdotes that have either happened to me or I've stolen off friends that are totally going in this book I'm going to write. Although actually this means the novel looks like it will read a bit like one of those pages of 'cringe' stories that they run in some magazines, where they ask you to send in stories of embarrassing shit that's happened to you.

I want to be Oprah.

Thinking about it, I'd rather be Trisha. Trisha Goddard is basically my favourite person of all time.

Lottery Winner
Sod it, I'm gonna start doing the National Lottery. This is worth a shot.

This is all I can think of for now. Do let me know if you have any ideas of your own, and if you know any gay billionaires then do send them my way. Seriously I need to find myself a billionaire.

Monday, 2 July 2012

The Newspaper Says 'It will happen again'

Just to clarify, I'm not inciting people to riot again this summer, but what with the government's own report saying it's gonna happen again, I'd like to raise the following points:

Were the riots to happen again, I'd like to suggest a few ground rules.

1. Only steal shit that's worth stealing, you really don't want to end up prison for having taken a bottle of water.
2. Let's really try to leave small businesses alone. Go nuts in the Vodafone shop if your must but stay out the newsagents.
3. No running people over, and no mugging.
4. Leave the fire brigade alone.
5. And finally, obviously if we do see events like last summer again then it will end up being reported on in a lot of other countries. So let's show off the best of British fashion this time, and not just be in a tracksuit. Make more of an effort kids.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Hey Gurlz

I am sick and tired of hearing about how difficult life is for females of all ages in terms of the social pressure to have a good physique. Constant whiny stuff in the media about magazines and fashion and porn all ruining everybody's self esteem and how having 'negative body image' is making life a living hell. I just do not buy it. Instead of pandering to people's insecurities, we should adopt a common-sense approach. Girls! Here's a handy guide.

STEP ONE: Get naked.

STEP TWO: Stand in front of a big mirror

STEP THREE: Assess whether you are too fat, too thin, or in what I shall call 'The Goldilocks Zone' and you are 'just right' in terms of weight.

Ok so now it gets a little bit complicated as there are different versions of STEP FOUR depending on what the outcome of STEP THREE was.

If you're too fat: eat less food, and maybe try to do a bit more exercise.

If you're too thin: eat more food. Or fattier foods, like chocolate. I hear that women like chocolate.

If you're in The Goldilocks Zone: keep doing what you're doing.

Nearly forgot to include STEP FIVE: Put your clothes back on.

There we go. That's it. This was not that hard, was it? What people don't seem to get is that to have 'the perfect body' when you're a girl, all you need to do is not be fat, and not be too thin. And this can be entirely controlled by how much food you put down your throat. The exercise bit is kinda optional.

Let's now consider what exactly 'the perfect body' is for men. Here's a clue:

And just how, we must ask, did he end up looking like that? Loads and loads and loads of exercise. Look at that. How much time do you think he spends doing repetitive boring exercises? A great deal of time.

Now I do not mean to whine about my physique, but I am a long way away from looking like that guy. And this is acceptable for me. I don't like exercising enough to think that I will ever look like that. It's boring. It takes up loads of time you could be doing fun stuff. And it makes you achey. And it turns you into a nutritional weirdo, fussing over protein shakes and eating loads of chicken, instead of eating real food like a real person. Someone I know with a ridiculously gym-hot body tells me 'it's all about the protein', and in order for him to get enough protein to keep his abs in check he drinks more than four pints of skimmed milk a day. Admittedly he is pretty nice to stare at but the boy eats like a fucking freak.

If I was a girl and wanted to look super hot in a bikini then all I'd have to do is not overeat. Whereas being male, if I want to look super hot in a noticeable way then I'm supposed to spend my life doing loads of sit-ups and planning meals and not eating bread. It's not fair.

The disparity between the amount of physical effort that is required to look like extremely hot for each gender is an example of how actually, come to think of it, there are a few advantages to being a girl.

And don't get me started on 'oh, we've got to wear makeup', cos first of all, you don't have to wear makeup, except maybe sometimes if you want to get really dressed up, but there are basically only three bits of makeup a girl ever needs:


And that is it. This should take five minutes absolutely tops, and if you're stressing out doing loads of other stupid shit like false eyelashes or foundation then fair enough if you want to, but don't expect any sympathy from me. Admittedly, boys are not ever expected to smear colourful stuff over our lips and eyes (admittedly some still choose to) but you know what? Putting on a bit of lipstick is not that tiring. It does not compare to doing a fuckload of press-ups.

And women who wanna do a fuckload of press-ups? Well good luck to you. You'll look like this:

As a member of Team Homo I'm maybe not the best person to comment here, but if we compare the woman in the photo above to the one below, which looks more appealing?

Women stressing out about their weight is the most boring subject ever, because at the end of the day if you're dissatisfied with how heavy you are then you do have the option to change it.And come to think of it, other things women fret about they can also get 'fixed' by a surgeon if they really want to.

I really think that women considering getting breast enlargements should first go to see a therapist about the fact that they want bigger boobs, because if you're dissatisfied with your body then it might have a lot more to do with your brain than it does your tits. But hey - if the therapist can't get you to 'love your body' as it is, then you can always go and get some silicon stuffed in them.

Compare this with things a bloke might worry about, such as if he was lacking in height, or if he had a really tiny penis. And when I say really tiny, I mean like the tiniest one you can imagine on an adult human. There is no cure for either of these. These blokes just have to grin and bear it, and get on with their lives. And actually, short guys have the added stigma of sometimes being told that their height has adversely impacted their personality and that they have 'Small Man Syndrome'. And nobody ever seems to call this out as something that's actually really unkind, in a way that a lot of people would were they to hear someone say another person had one of the following 'syndromes' that I've just made up:

Big Bum Syndrome
No Bum Syndrome
Ugly Lesbian Syndrome
Knobbly Knees Syndrome
Spotty Face Syndrome

Supposing whilst bitching about the personality of someone who has a spotty face, I was to rationalise that the reason they weren't nice was because their spots had had an impact on their personality, then you'd probably think I was being a cunt. But this is said about short men with horrible personalities all the damn time, that they can't just have a horrible personality because they have a horrible personality, the reason they have a horrible personality is because they are short.

So basically, quit bitching about how hard it is to be a girl. And if the magazines you read make you feel shit, stop buying the damn magazines. If your boyfriend makes you feel shit about your body, dump his ass. If the photos of models at Milan Fashion Week make you feel insecure because they're all a lot prettier than you, then get real. Get fucking real. They're models, it's their job to be prettier than you, if you were as pretty as them then you'd be on that catwalk as well, stupid.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Let Me Be Ur Fantasy

What up fanboys - it's been a while. I've spent the last few weeks "working" "hard" for "my" "exams". Essentially I am very unimpressed with the Oxford selection process as basically there must be someone out there who is actually clever enough to be doing a degree in engineering, and I've got their place instead of them. But, in fairness to my tutors, I was wearing a nice jumper on the day of my interview, and I had my round glasses on that make me look like a massive fuck off nerd, so it wasn't for them to know.

Yeah so I finished my exams and got trashed (your friends wait outside exam schools and attack you with party hats and glitter, or if you're my sister you lob a two litre bottle of coke all over me (Last year I got her with fizzy water, which is not only not full of sticky sugar, it also didn't stain her clothes. Thanks Flo.)) then we got in some beers and got rather tip-say sat on my college lawn AND THEN something pretty cool happened.

Well, a couple of things. I went to Oxford Pride, which was lots of fun. It was in a field, behind the ice rink, and there was a stage, a bar, and a stall selling tat covered in rainbow flags along with badges with clever slogans like '100% bitch' or 'fuck off' written on them. And there was a bar, and a row of portaloos. And a burger van. I hope I'm really setting the scene here, but in case I'm not here are some photos I took:

After splurging my life's savings on badges I watched some drag queens sing songs and make jokes about the fact that they didn't have real boobs and I think there was talk of selling them on ebay to raise money for Madonna tickets although I might have just made this up. I also met at least one person from the TV show 'My Transsexual Summer' although they'd brought a load of friends with them so I might have mainly been hanging out with non-famous transsexual people. But whatever, they were nice.

And then: the main event. Baby D. I saw Baby D. The actual Baby D. Baby. D.

I've been pretty appalled at the reaction of most people I've told this story to so far, in that instead of their face lighting up into an expression of profound disbelief and perhaps slight jealousy, they've looked at me and said the following:


Which means I have to start singing the song. The song that was a massive underground club hit in 1992, topped the charts in 1994, and then got rereleased in 2000, albeit as a sort of awful garage remix. You may have guessed it, the song is called Let Me Be Your Fantasy. And it's amazing. Here it is:

I remember in 2000 and seeing it on Top of the Pops, and thinking it was godawful and not the sort of thing I could possibly enjoy. But my tastes have changed to appreciate Britain's contribution to crap 90s culture, and this song definitely has a place in my heart.

For one thing, the lyrics are hilarious.
I'll take you up to the highest heights
Let's spread our wings and fly away
Surround you with love that's pure delight
Release your spirit, set you free
Come and feel my energy
Let's be as one in soul and mind
I'll fill your world with ecstacy
Touch all your dreams way down inside
Let me be your fantasy
Ridiculously cheesy, and a little bit subversive. So obviously you can read this as a straight up love song, but you'd have to be pretty naive not to notice the fact that it's also clearly hinting at the idea of getting off your tits on a load of drugs and dancing all night.

And what's so fun about it is the way it's so sort of humourless. It's all done with such a straight face, no knowing winks and hint hint nudge nudge, no - it's the most sincere thing you're ever likely to hear. As to the actual performance, well Baby D sang two songs. She started with that old one about changing your heart and looking around you (which will astound you apparently), which is obviously a good song and kinda nice but I'd be lying if I said the audience wasn't waiting impatiently for the main event. 

It was sort of really poignant and moving. And I don't think I'm even taking the piss when I say this. The song's 20 years old and the woman who sings it is not a world-famous popstar. One can only guess as to what she's been up to all these years. She might have got married, she might have got divorced, she might have kids, she might have a boring job like a normal person and only sing occasionally at weekends or she might be touring a load of small (presumably mostly gay) venues all the time. I don't know.

Going to see someone sing live is a bit like going to a museum, in that you're witnessing a bit of pop culture history. And it was really interesting to see someone who'd made her mark on the cultural landscape but you wouldn't look twice at if you walked past her in Tesco. Her five minutes of proper fame is clearly over, but seeing her sing wasn't like watching someone desperately trying to cling on to their celebrity status, she looked like she was singing  for the sheer joy of it. She said something along the lines of 'Thanks so much Oxford for having me, it means so much for me to come here and sing my song to all of you', and she came across as a genuinely lovely person.

I came away feeling strangely elated. Being a pop star is clearly a very fun job, and I'm gradually coming to terms with the fact that I am never going to be a pop star, due to the fact I have no musical talent and also can't sing very well. I truly felt like I'd learned something.

The parallel I'm trying to draw between being briefly successful as a pop star and then fading into obscurity and my realisation that I'm crap at my degree subject is maybe a little weak, but I had slight philosophical epiphany. If Baby D is still singing her heart out after 20 years with a big smile on her face, then I would be a fool to let something like getting crap results in my second year exams dampen my spirits. And hey, I don't even have my results back yet so for all I know they might not be as crap as I'm expecting. Woo. The power of positive thought.

So, Baby D, I salute you. Keep on singing, you are amazing and I love you.