Wednesday, 16 May 2012

In praise of my toothbrush

About a year ago the guy who'd been our family dentist for as long as I can remember got struck off for stalking one of his patients, sending her loads of text messages asking for sex and telling her she needed loads of unnecessary treatments on her teeth. It was pretty big news in the local paper and we were all very surprised because he'd always seemed like such a lovely guy, and not a creepy sexter. Ah well.

I then forgot to go to the dentist for 18 months because important as regular dental checkups are, life goes on without them. But then two months ago I noticed that my teeth could do with being sanded down by one of those things they have and I wanted my wisdom teeth prodded a bit. So off I went.

It took me about 20 minutes to track down an NHS dentist that was taking on new patients and on the day I nearly missed my appointment because I was probably lost in my reflection or something and forgot to leave the house, so when I got there I was pretty red-faced, sweaty and out of breath. And covered in aphids because I'd gone on a slightly rural route and they'd decided they liked the colour of my t-shirt. No, thinking about it, I was wearing a vest.

I wasn't waiting to be called for very long when the dental nurse called me in. I got into the room, said hello to the other dental nurse who was in a different uniform. sat down and was waiting for the dentist to come in, when I had a realisation: the original dental nurse was in fact the dentist. Now, my original assumption wasn't because my dentist was a woman. The assumption had more to do with the fact that she looked about 12. Or, to be a little more truthful, maybe about 17. But not old enough to be a dentist.

I then had a sudden realisation: one day in the not too distant future, I will perhaps meet an actual medical professional who is younger than me. I'm not sure why I only had that thought then, seeing as some of my friends are medical students and I once tried to go on a date with a junior doctor, who may have been a relative of The Red Baron. Although I never found out because he stood me up, THAT BASTARD.

Getting stood up was really annoying because we'd agreed to meet for a coffee and I'd gone in and sat down, but there was a queue forming for tables so I went ahead and ordered myself a silly overpriced coffee because I didn't want to hog a table while people were waiting. When it became apparent that he was not in fact on his way, how I regretted spending that £3.25. Although I was annoyed about the fact I'd been stood up, I was a little bit pleased with myself about it, as it's another one of those things to add to the list of things that have happened to you, a bit like how you have to get stabbed or shot a few times before you get taken seriously as a rapper. But it's not an entirely happy memory as every now and then I remember the price of that coffee. The coffee wasn't even that good.

Oh yeah, so - I got my teeth cleaned cos they had a bit of tartar on and I got a filling which was kinda exciting as I hadn't had one before, and I  was told to buy an electric toothbrush. So I did. I'm so in love with my new electric toothbrush. It is the business. Everyone should buy one. Get one off Amazon for £25. (Or elsewhere, as Amazon are tax-dodging scumbags ... I dunno if anywhere else is as cheap though.)

I'd like to point out that this isn't some kind of guerilla marketing campaign for Philips Sonicare. I am in fact so genuinely happy with this toothbrush I bought, and am spreading the love.

If you think you don't need to buy a Sonicare because you already have an electric toothbrush, think again. Those Oral B ones that twist are kinda fun, but they are nowhere near as fun as the Sonicare. The Sonicare makes your whole head buzz. It makes your ears buzz. If you have an ear blocked with earwax then just use the Sonicare for a bit. The Sonicare is so much fun that I actually sort of get excited about jumping out of bed in the morning and brushing my teeth, although admittedly I often get back into bed again after. It has a timer that cuts out after two minutes but I often now take four minutes brushing, because I forget to concentrate due to how fun it is. Your mind wanders. You could be anywhere.

One last thing about the Sonicare: it's also really good at cleaning your teeth. Squeaky clean.

Monday, 7 May 2012

When you forget what a word is

I sometimes take my shower with the light off  because it's a fun sensory deprivation thing, forcing yourself to concentrate on where everything is in a pitch black windowless room. And it's quite a mental challenge and when you come out you feel really awake. Today I was doing this when I totally forgot what the word for 'altruism' was. I thought it might have been 'altruousness' or 'altruicity'.

I will tell you now: standing naked under a jet of water in total darkness, one's grip on reality is tenuous. I actually had to reach out of the cubicle and put the light on at this point, and upon being able to see again remembered it was an -ism and not an -icity.

This sort of thing happens to me every once in a while. About a year ago I realised I had no idea what the word 'ubiquitous' meant. I wasn't even sure if I had once known it and subsequently forgot, or if I was just having a sudden realisation about a gap in my vocabulary.

Dear readers, I have been told by someone that I should try to increase the audience participation side of things on here, so I'm opening the floor to comments. Have you ever forgot what a word means? If so, what was that word? Answer me. Yeah.

Friday, 4 May 2012

"Thoughts" not about politics

Today has been a good day for Labour generally but not in London because nobody likes Ken. To be honest, I have doubts about Ken being particularly great and he's got a bit of an image problem to say the least, but let's not dwell on that and let's think about other more pressing issues.

What they don't tell you about athletes foot medication: nowhere on the packet does it point out how much your foot will start to hurt once you put the cream on it. My foot had been peacefully rotting away for about a week when I finally got round to trying to cure it, and now it hurts. A lot. Next time I get a bacterial infection on my foot I intend to wait until it's a choice between rubbing cream on it or amputation, because having a stingy foot is not fun.

Another thing: today I have been listening to the Eurythmics Greatest Hits album. I have never really given much thought as to whether the Eurythmics are better than Blondie or not, but I'll tell you one thing. Greatest Hits by Eurythmics is a better album than The Best of Blondie, which I also bought a while back. The Best of Blondie really starts to drill after a while, and it's not the sort of album to play all the way through. Which is not to say I think Annie Lennox is any more or less badass than Debbie Harry, because they're obviously both totally badass.

Another thing: a big shout-out and thank you to my friend James who decided to buy me a massive tyre lever after I whined about my thumbs hurting when changing a tyre. It's the biggest tyre lever I've ever seen. It is huge. And in the spirit of hinting at getting presents from my friends after they read on here that I might appreciate something, I want to tell you this, dearest James. I wish I had a car, so then I could take you on a day out to the seaside. Also, if I had a 42-inch plasma screen then we could watch high-definition blu-rays on the high-definition blu-ray DVD player that I don't currently own either but wish I did. And if I had an iPad then I'd totally be beating your score on that game you love so much.

Here's a picture of James:
After my friend Charlie sent me a cease and desist for posting photos of her on here I've decided it might be an easier option to just use the medium of MS Paint. She's a right killjoy that Charlie. Although about half an hour ago I got her good, in that I read out a joke which was 'What's the difference between a bus and the BNP?' 'A bus has seats' ... Charlie then kept asking the initial question over and over except changing the word 'bus' for 'car' then 'train' then 'plane' then 'coach'. I'd had enough so told her if she did it again I'd pour beer on her, and she did it again so I poured beer on her.

But it was in a can and I didn't want to pour much on her so I decided to take a little sip into my mouth then drop a bit out onto her. This was a mixture of being considerate (I didn't want to pour that much beer on her) and blind self-interest (beer ain't cheap). It didn't occur to me until she said so that this would look like I'd decided to spit on her. Now obviously a little bit of saliva mixed in but she's had her tongue down my throat enough times that I thought she wouldn't mind. Once I'd actually explained that it wasn't spit and was just beer (as promised) she was so relieved that I then had the weird experience of being thanked for spitting beer. On one of my best friends.


Thursday, 3 May 2012


I'm in the paper again, beefing about anti-choicers. This time I'm only on page five so it looks as though my five minutes of fame might be almost over already.

But seriously, urghhhhhhh some vomit-inducing quotes from pro-lifers going on in there:
she hoped for a “talk about whether we feel it’s a necessary/viable move to challenge OUSU’s official stance as pro-abortion… given that they are meant to represent the whole student body.”
Pro-choice is not the same as "pro-abortion". Being in favour of women being allowed to choose an abortion does not mean you are in favour of abortions. Being "pro-abortion" would be encouraging women to have unprotected sex as often as possible so that they could regularly get abortions.

Far from being "pro-abortion", OUSU seems to be quite in favour of safe sex. They seem pretty strongly in favour of providing access to condoms and pregnancy tests. They do seem to be doing quite a lot to reduce the number of abortions that might be happening, via trying to stop unwanted pregnancies happening in the first place.

OUSU supporting an organisation that campaigns for protecting a woman's right to choose is not encouraging anyone to get an abortion. To say this is like saying that OUSU providing access to free condoms for students is encouraging all students to have premarital sex, and that some students are adherents of religions that forbid premarital sex.


The ridiculous faux-argument they are using is just utter shit. It's like campaigning against there being a vegetarian option at meals, because I don't like any of that hippy bullshit and I would always choose the meat option.
“I am glad that college upheld our rights to freedom of speech and association, and our right, as members of the JCR, to use a room on college premises. Not to have done so would indeed have been a threat to essential liberties… I feel we dispersed some of the stereotypes surrounding typical ‘pro-life campaigners’, and were glad to take note of some very interesting university relevant issues raised by those who disagree with our essential ethical stance.”
Can you taste the delicious irony of people seeking to obstruct women's reproductive rights conjuring up their "essential liberties"? Do me a favour.

I wanted Hertford to do something about the meeting because they were spreading misinformation (they deny lying, but potata potato) and I felt that by giving them a room Hertford could be seen to be endorsing their views. Dr Alison Woollard wrote a letter which made the college's stance very clear and changed my views regarding whether the meeting should be allowed to go ahead, from 'I feel very uncomfortable about this' to 'I still feel uncomfortable but whatever, the show must go on'. She wrote:
Thank you for your thought-provoking e-mail. On balance, I would be very uncomfortable about refusing permission for this meeting to go ahead, as this would establish a role for College authorities in "policing" the content of all student discussion meetings. A very large variety of different student groups use meeting rooms to discuss many different issues, and as long as the meetings abide by College rules and are cognisant of UK law, I feel that the principle of freedom of speech should be adhered to. This principle, naturally, extends to students with opposing views being able to express these with due respect. If such a meeting, or any other activities of any particular pressure group within College, led to any individual student feeling coerced or victimized in any way, than that student would be free to make an appropriate complaint. 
By allowing student members to use college rooms for meetings, the College is not in any way endorsing the views of students attending such meetings. Indeed, with respect to sexual health and welfare the College provides resources to students in the form of access to the College Nurse and Doctors, who will provide sympathetic and impartial advice and/or referral in the case of an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, in line with BMA guidelines.
So, innit. Point well made there Alison. Another reason I felt so uneasy about it all was how they were attempting a sort of outreach program via lies (or accidental lies if you swallow that rhetoric) to the college's undergrads.

It is unfortunate that elements of the material put out by Students for Life Oxford turned out to be inaccurate, and those responsible should act to put out an appropriate correction.

Well, they did. Yay.

Part 2 coming soon: Why their apology didn't go far enough. Clue: it contained yet more misinformation.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

My Society Diary

I've decided to start writing this blog as a sort of society diary and namecheck all the time, I'm just gonna do this one quickly and see how it goes. I'm seeing how much I can namecheck without looking like I'm parodying the idea of a namechecking society column. All this namechecking is sincere yo.

So last night I had dinner with Will Hutton and spent some time talking to him about the rise and fall of Rupert Murdoch. I made the point that his use of the phrase "rise and fall" about the Murdoch empire was a bit optimistic seeing as he's still going to carry on being a billionaire and selling loads of papers even if he ends up not being at the heart of British government. I thought I was being really clever but then he shot back at me that Rupert Murdoch was "pretty fucking old" and that when he died nobody was going to regard his probable successor James Murdoch with the same levels of seriousness. And then he mentioned loads of names I've forgotten before mentioning that one of the Murdoch children isn't even talking to the rest of the clan but she owns part of News Corp so when old Rupert cops it the empire will not be the same force for conservatism/evil it once was.

Here's a picture of Rebekah Brooks and her massive hair:

That hair deserves a medal.

Back to Murdoch - on the one hand we can be all ding dong the witch is dead before the witch is even dead, but on the other hand there's a real human tragedy. Think how he must feel. Imagine having such an invincible feeling of power then having a million papers (some of which you own (I think)) say you're not fit to run an international company.

At some point I will write a one-man play, starring me as Rupert Murdoch. The setting: in the back of his limo on the way home after a day of answering questions. Hopefully, reviewers will say that it is 'poignant'. It will be about three hours of me monologuing my thoughts about everything that happened that day, and him reflecting on his life, his hopes and fears and cherished memories and regrets. I'll be covered in prosthetics and I'll take up watching Neighbours so I can practice getting the accent right. I'll take it to Edinburgh and win a prize.

Supposing someone sees this post and manages to write my play before me, then fear not. I have another idea for a play. Spy in the Bag: The Musical.

Supposing either of these are a hit then I might expand into slightly more art-house territory. There was a Mike Leigh film which ended with Lesley Manville (who used to be married to Gary Oldman) looking like a miserable cow and the conversation around her fading to silence as it zoomed in on her. It was really well done, how in that moment she was lost in her sad thoughts and not paying attention to anyone else.

It was easy to relate to, but misery isn't the only reason there is for not paying attention. In a maths revision class I was at on Monday I had a similar thing, but this was because I was half-asleep. Louise Mensch seems to have a similar thing going on, as a lot of the time she looks like she's lost in her thoughts, but specifically one sort of thought.

I think we can all see what thought she's having in this photo. Like I said, I'll have to see what the reception is to my conventional theatre writing is, but the experimental piece Louise Mensch Tries to Work Out Whether She Can Get Away With Farting could totally be a runaway hit. I'll sit in a darkened stage with one spotlight shining on me in a powersuit and a blonde wig. There'll be an actual recording playing but the main focus will be my struggle to hold in a fart, whilst toying with the idea that maybe this one will be quiet enough for me to get away with it. Regardless of your political views, it's a situation that you'll be able to relate to.

Why you should turn around and pick up that thing

A while ago I saw a bird's wing on the floor and initially thought it was going to give me a disease if I picked it up but then about 20 yards later I decided to turn around and pick it up. I now have a necklace pendant that is really cool. There is still some meat on the inside of the wing but it's all dried out like beef jerky and after hacking away at the jaggedy bit of bone that was sticking out it looks really good like.

Here is a picture:

Today it was quite windy and it was flapping around lots in the wind because a bird's wing is pretty lightweight. This is not helped by the fact that it is only on a bit of string so I plan to try it out with a metal chain in the hope it will be less flappy. I've also recently taken to wearing a badger skull and a lobster claw. My friend Isabel said walking around with bits of dead animal hanging off your neck is an early warning sign that you might be a psycopath, but I pointed out that I didn't kill the bird, I'm assuming a cat got it. I just found its wing. And I can't even remember who found the badger skull but that's been sat on a shelf in my room for ages. But then I remembered it was actually me who killed the lobster, but this was mostly so we could eat lobsters for food.

Here is one of the six lobsters I killed, back when it was alive:

Here is a wanky still life composition we created:

Here it is after I cooked it:

Here is my necklace accessory:

Yeah. Anyway pick up bits of dead animals you find in the road and kill lobsters. That's my advice part 1.

Advice part 2:

Pick up that phone you see in the road. I saw a phone in the road yesterday on the way to my French class, initially cycled past it but then decided it was worth turning round to pick up before a bus ran over it. This was on that bit of road diagonally opposite to the Randolph Hotel where there are lots of buses, in the end it was me who nearly got run over but I survived.

I didn't have time to call before my class so waited til an hour later, for some reason it didn't occur to me to look in the contacts menu first and I raced into the text messages folder and had already skimmed through a load of texts deciding who would be the best person to call before it occurred to me that this was sort of invading someone's privacy. But maaaan some of these texts were funny.

Here is one, I took this picture on my phone and it didn't come out very good:

In case you don't have as super-sharp vision as me, this says "Im hungry wud luv kebab x" and is from Hunnybun. I spoke to Hunnybun and arranged to speak to Herbie and then Herbie gave me a call and I managed to track down the owner of the phone to the pub, where I was treated like a sort of king. There were three of them there, two middle-aged men with really thick Irish accents and one woman who was also Irish but was able to act as a sort of interpreter. They'd misheard me on the phone and thought my name was Bob and after a while I gave up trying to explain that I was actually called Tom.

They were lovely and bought me a pint of Guinness and we had a nice chat and then ran out of things to say and I ran away because as I'd gone in the pub I saw a few of my friends sat outside so I went and said hello to them.

Now this is not just a long anecdote. I, like Jesus, rarely tell a long old anecdote unless it is an anecdote with a meaning, or, as they are often called, a parable. And you might have guessed what the meaning is here (the clue is in the title) but what it is is this: turn around and pick up that thing you saw on the floor.

Sometimes when you've already walked past it you might think ah well I've gone past it now it doesn't matter I'll just keep walking now left foot right foot but no! DON'T DO THIS. Turn around. And pick up that thing.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Thoughts on Politics

Despite being inundated with opinions, I do not consider myself to be 'good' at politics. I'm good at political discussions, I'm pretty well-informed and am good at thinking of devil's advocate counterarguments, and sometimes when I'm arguing with someone I broadly agree with I can get very into my counterarguments if I feel like the other person isn't presenting their argument well enough. I can also be persuaded to change my mind a lot of the time but sometimes when there are really good arguments from both sides I get really confused and hate it when I don't know which side of the argument I agree with.

This leads me to think I am unlikely to ever be prime minister, despite what my ten-year-old self would have to say on the matter. (Aged ten I was pretty convinced otherwise.) Here are a few other reasons:

Inability to remember facts and figures
Inability to stop myself from saying a joke if I think it would be funny, regardless of how inappropriate it is for the time/place/audience
Inability to maintain the required number of shirts in a state of being both clean and ironed
Lack of punctuality
Skeletons in a series of cupboards
Contempt for politicians
Contempt for the privileged ruling class
Contempt for the middle class
Contempt for the working class
Contempt for women
Contempt for the average man
Contempt for minorities
My despicable character
This face (women hate me for being beautiful)

I nearly put 'excessive alcohol consumption' as a reason, but then remembered being something of a bon viveur never stopped Winston Churchill.

Why was I talking about politics? Oh yeah - vote Labour on Thursday innit.

I love the Labour party and have been a massive fan since before the 97 election. Although in the last few years this has been an unenthusiastic sort of love, a bit like someone experiences when thinking about their favourite band from their teenage years. I'm a Labour supporter, but not a zealous one. I'm quite a bit more leftwing on economic policy and I'm far more into the somewhat hippy-dippy notions of 'World Peace' and 'Civil Liberties' than the Labour party was in the years 2001-2010.

I don't want to write a really long defence of everything New Labour did when they were in power, but they did a hell of a lot of good for this country, a lot of which is now being reversed. They did a lot of good in state education, reducing NHS waiting lists, implementing the minimum wage, increasing foreign aid, gay rights, etc. But now: cutting funding for everything, putting us back into recession, still blaming the Labour party for the worldwide economic meltdown. George Osborne still says it's all Gordon Brown's fault.

In 2010 I got really overexcited about voting in my first general election. As well as taking a break from not revising for my A-levels in order to watch all the televised debates I read the manifestos of the three main parties, UKIP and the Greens. (I mostly read UKIP for a laugh, although it wasn't that funny in the end). It was all alittle bit futile as where I lived there was not a hope in hell that the incumbent conservative MP (a delightful Mr Peter Lilley) was going to lose. (Claiming 45.9% in 1997, 47.3% in 2001 and 49.9% in 2005. Not much chance.) My vote was worthless, but I was still going to vote.

Around this time the Lib Dems were doing very well at courting the youth vote (I still remember Clegg's shiny gold tie) and I was briefly tempted. I had a lot of sympathy for quite a few of their policies. But in the end when I got dressed to go to the polling station I saw my red scarf, red jeans, red trousers and red shoes, and couldn't resist putting them all on and voting red. Here's a photo of me reprising the same outfit at a later date:

In all seriousness I didn't decide to vote Labour just for fashion reasons, it was because I genuinely thought they were and still are the best party to rule over us and control our lives. There are worse reasons for supporting Labour - there was an interview with Cheryl Cole I read in December 2009, in which she said the following:
"David Cameron. Brrrrr. Slippery isn't he? We've always been Labour in our family, it just feels wrong not to be. Better the devil you know."
I know 'Our Cheryl' is mostly famous for singing, punching toilet attendants and judging talent shows so maybe picking holes in her political rhetoric is a wasted effort, but who cares - what the actual fuck? That's the shittest reason I've ever heard for supporting a party. Voting Labour is not like supporting Newcastle United. I'm all for people voting, and if famous people are talking about politics that might encourage a few people to think about it a bit too, but for Christ's sake you can make a better case for voting Labour than that.

I've been half-arsedly writing this post for a few days now and suddenly today appeared this really good article by Polly Toynbee which does just that. It's a little bit unfortunate that it was written by Polly Toynbee, seeing as this is pretty much the same shit as she's always saying, but it's a damn good argument.

Especially what she has to say about Ken vs Boris. by all accounts Ken is not as amazing as some people make out (read this) but he does seem to actually do good when he's in office.

Just for God's sake go and vote. Vote Green if you like them more, vote tactically, even vote Lib Dem if this is actually likely to help keep the Tories out of local councils. The Tories need to take a battering. Smash the Tories. Tories are scum. Damn scum. Tory scum.