Our Ancestors Discussed Death – Why Can’t We?

“Rule one of life: we’re all going to die. Accept it and move on.” – our ancestors felt free and informed enough to discuss the topic of death, so why can’t we?

To read my new opinion piece for The National Student, click here:

Our ancestors openly discussed death – we should too

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50 things to do instead of watching The Great British Bake Off

Recent article written for The National Student (a shortened version of the 100 point list I did last year):

50 things to do instead of watching The Great British Bake Off

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A Very British Complaint Letter to Cadburys Chocolate

The below complaint letter got me a £2 compensation voucher. I mean sure it took a bit of time to put together and yes the postage stamp was close to the value of the voucher. Plus the fact the snack bars themselves cost £1. So technically I’m actually working at a loss right now. Hmm, note to self; you cannot make a career from witty complaint letters.

 

Cadbury UK Consumer Relations,
Bournville, Birmingham, B30 2LU

 

Dear Sir or Madam,

I’ll keep this simple and to the point (because as riveting as complaint letters are, we’d all rather be somewhere else right now). I recently bought a box of Chocolate Chip Brunch bars and they are a bit pants.

As I know ‘pants’ can be used to describe a variety of situations from cold tea to literal pants, let me diversify. I bought a six-pack box in Poundland in Swindon (bear with me, that’s not the pants bit), however upon biting into the first bar at work I noticed the snack didn’t quite taste right. I opened the bar fully to discover it had gone off. I checked the sell by on the wrapper but the Brunch Bar appeared to be well within date. This is what it looked like:

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You can imagine the disgust and horror when I realised my hard-earned pound had gone to waste. I need my chocolate hit so very badly, it is often the only thing standing between me and a terribly put together advertising campaign. Imagine if, instead of a Gorilla, Cadbury had decided to use a dancing Stingray reading a recital of Keats for the iconic advert? Besides making for a difficult display in Cadbury World it wouldn’t quite make the mark. That is how crucial a mid-morning snack is to both me and my company’s marketing strategy. It’s ruddy big stuff.

All things considered I think you’ll agree that these Brunch Bars are of a pretty pants standard. Please can you check standards of production and do whatever needs fixing, pronto.

 

Yours Faithfully,

Alice E. Bennett

Come Sit With Me

Come sit with me. Come sit here in the caffeine filled haze we call paradise. The legal high that our fathers and their fathers before have relished, for here we are one. The mothers, the students, the disapproving men with broadsheets in hand, everyone has a home here.

Let me pass you this extra I have acquired. Do you take milk? The sugar is over there. The chair next to me is a little worn and mismatched, but that is the norm. Brush off the crumbs of the previous tenant and join me in weekend conversation.

The background music will lull you into a false pretence of your own class and status. The type of music you recognise but do not know. They are the backing beats that serve as melodic distraction from the mess surrounding us. I have heard in booksheleved corners that it improves the taste, what do you think?

See that man behind my left shoulder? I know him to be a regular. The frustrated writer who huffs and sighs over work that will never make it to print. Chomping on cheap nuts and downing brown goo in paper cups, for he cannot afford the china. He is a freeloader of the establishment, clinging desperately to an image that cannot be sustained. I remember when he used to sip on only the finest quality beans and nibble on pastries with young women, but those days are gone. We have all changed since those days.

My friend, you look a little troubled. Don’t be. In this world we are all addicts of our own making. I only seek to show you the truth that lurks in the steam. Save your pity for Africa, it is a wasted emotion in this Latino supplied space. I see you have finished your drink. Would you like another? It would be my honour. They serve only the finest cheap substances here, it is why we never leave.

I am so happy you came to sit with me my partner. Now stress no more and relax, the fresh coffee will be here soon.

 

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Nablopomo Day 23: Brexit Strikes Again

First off, play this (at any rate because it’s a ruddy awesome song):

 

I think we can all safely say we wish the past six months never happened. To one extent or another we want to wake up and hear about Trump’s new reality TV show, or discover that Nigel Farage was actually the mind’s conjuring of all those scary puppets from childhood. And yet, despite our hopes, we wake up every morning to news that the UK is going to turn into Kazakhstan and the wider world into the Planet of the Apes (that is, unless it’s already happened and we can’t see it… )

 

Where did this massive screw up of a political year start? Britain, that’s where. The land where monumental things happen. Vaccinations, Democracy, the National Health Service, they all came from the UK. On June 23rd 2016 we in Britain started the ball rolling by voting to leave the European Union. Our society hasn’t been the same since.

Here are some photos I’ve taken in recent months that highlight instances which, in my opinion, demonstrate the impact of the Brexit vote on the average Joe and Joyce.

 

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New proposed signage at airports/Dover
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Housing markets – investors turn to Lego as a profitable investment
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Cutbacks at World Heritage Sites
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Making clothes out of Gran’s old curtains suddenly becomes fashionable
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Widespread wheat shortages
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Museums sell off highly valuable collections
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This
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No one can afford public transport
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Special offers
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‘Cos cheese rationing be in fashion like it’s 1939
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Cut backs on mainstream education
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Oh sweet Jesus, not the alcohol!
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Communal burning rituals? Yep, sounds about right. Soon it’ll be the only way to stay warm.

 

Yeah, so far in the past six to nine months I have to say it’s not looking too good for our little nation. Don’t worry though, if we all stay positive and pull together I’m sure we can get through this and come out a stronger, better nation. Stick together Britain, we will prevail!

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Forget it, we’re screwed.

10 Things I Hate About London

Ok, so lets get it out there in the open – I hate London. (Dramatic pause while all Londoners throw their saucepans at my image, walk out the room and go off to plot my death…ok they’re gone). There is very little to nothing I like about the place. Why does everyone get so doe eyed about the place? It’s got to a level in society, media and friends/collegues that I feel I owe it to the nation and the world to remind you all that London is not all sunshine and rainbows (well, it is a fair bit of the time annoyingly – ruddy micro climates and weather systems).

From all the self-help guides, music and media I’m led to believe the best way to voice anger and information is through lists. Miley did it through song:

Hollywood did it via a Shakespeare rom-com adaptation:

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(“Who is your celeb crush?”

“Heath Ledger”

“But isn’t he dead…?”

“Not in my dreams”)

Oh Heath.

…And heck Buzzfeed seem to have made a business model of lists like these:

33 Impossibly Cute Ways To Cover Your Body In Books

Based on this I thought I’d vent explain the ten reasons why I strongly dislike London. So, in no particular order…

  1. The London Underground, alias “The Tube”

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Even looking at the map above makes me feel dizzy. A friend once said to me “it’s like a bus, you get on at one stop and you get off somewhere else.” But it’s not like that, it’s getting on at one station, going along three stops, getting off, finding the right line to get to (and that’s if you know where you’re going), get potentially crushed by other people, get freaked out by signs telling you pickpockets are everywhere*, get onto another train and eventually you end up getting from point A to point B or maybe point M. By the time you arrive at ground level you’ve forgotten or given up hope of getting to B.

My friend made a recent journey more fun by getting me to spot stations on the map on the Tube “Hey, Alice, where is Notting Hill on the map?” “……….there” “well done!” But it still didn’t detract from the fact I had to metaphorically hold my friend’s hand the whole time I travelled through London. I mean, even the locals don’t always take their underground seriously:

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*This paranoia is more linked to me than anyone. Where I’m from in the countryside people have more trusting faces and there are fewer of them. In London, everyone is too keen to get into your personal space. In the countryside this is a privilege you earn after hosting several dinner parties and then watching Sue’s son in the Shipston armature dramatics performance of Boeing-Boeing.

2. House prices (buying and renting) So expensive to live there

Quite topical at the moment, given someone has put the space under their stairs up for rent for £500 per month. The prices of London’s housing is forever baffling and annoying to me.

“Tonight on Location, Location, Location we’re in London, trying to find Tom and Sarah the one bed flat of their dreams on a £400,000 budget. It’s going to be a struggle, but lets see what magic I can do.”

Yes I know what magic you can perform Kirsty, tell them to move to somewhere other than frigging London. Jesus, I mean seriously, why? Why has it been allowed to get to such a level? Keep your stupidly overpriced properties, I’m happy to sit in my mansion on a throne made of cash bundles coated in gold.

3. It’s so expensive to get there

£45.10 to get from Swindon to London Paddington (without a rail card). I’m sorry London, you’re not that special. If you’re going to charge that much at least have the decency to provide us with toilets for free.

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I mean seriously.

(Reading, you’re just as bad with charging passengers more just because their journey goes go via you). I don’t care how fancy your new station is, it’s not that great. Really, it isn’t.

4. Londoners

Your guys think London is the best God-dam place in the world and so many of you will not hear a single word against it. If I went into a pub and exclaimed London was a pile of poop (or words to that effect), I’d expect to get a right earful or be chucked out. If a Londoner came to Swindon and said the same phrase no one would bat an eyelid. Sure, if you also announced you lived in Notting Hill and that you had your butler waiting outside you may get a different reaction to “Swindon is a dive”, but my point still stands. Londoners, it may shock you but not everyone wishes and dreams they could live in a London tower block in Zone 6. This leads me onto my next point…

5. The whole world doesn’t revolve around London

Oh my goodness, when will London realise there is a world outside the M25? Everything HAS to happen or HAS to be in London. Theatre, exhibitions, politics. Yes, there are things going on outside London but a) they always seem disproportionate compared to the capital and b) they don’t get the air time. Papa Bennett complains every week The Telegraph only advertises London events in the ‘What’s On’ section, the national weather always seems to linger on the weather for the South East as if it’s the only area of Britain that’s inhabited and the only time I ever see politicians outside of London is either for their political conferences or because somewhere has been flooded.

British Prime Minister David Cameron (L) with Bridgwater and West Somerset MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger (R) during a visit to Goodings Farm in Fordgate, Somerset on February 7, 2014. David Cameron visited flood-hit areas on Friday following criticism of his government's handling of a crisis that has left swathes of the country under water. The prime minister was visiting to see

The police woman’s face says it all.

6. Borris Johnson

This guy runs London:

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Now I find Borris as funny as the next person. I could watch this speech all day:

But at the end of it I can go to bed and think “thank goodness he’s not in charge of my town/city”.

7. Train Stations

This is really one linked just to me, but the local train station to my family is a small, unmanned, affair with two platforms. When I first went to Paddington to meet with some friends this station only had one platform, so with my poor knowledge of train stations I assumed a super big station such as Paddington would have three platforms. It was only when I got to London I realised Paddington actually has about 12. A combination of my lost country-girl face and my platform theory had them in stitches for days.

8. First or last to get things – when it suits them

Examples here: London was the last place to get Freeview (digital) television as standard, about three years after it was first integrated into Scotland and Northern England. My theory is that this would bring up and resolve and technical issues those outside the capital faced so London could have a smooth transition when digital came to them.

Another example: According to Wikipedia London was the first place in the United Kingdom to get electricity. Ok, ok, so I struggled to come up with an example but put it this way, I’m sure Londoners will be the first to travel around on hover boards when they’re invented.

9. Expectation that all jobs are there

Many careers talks/fairs I’ve attended imply all the good jobs and companies are based in the South East of England and to get a good job is to move to London. While I agree a lot of companies are located in the city, I am always frustrated by the number of young people that pack up their bags and settle for a poorer standard of life in the hopes of making it big in London. More jobs/companies should be encouraged to have offices in places such as the North of England or the South West for example. Having everything in London only drains these areas of young, intellectual, people and makes the economic imbalance in Britain all the more worse. (Just my opinion…)

10. Pollution, pollution everywhere!

Air, noise and light in particular. I’m told that when you live for a long period of time in London one gets used to sirens at 4am or drilling at 8am on a Sunday. I tell these people that where my family home is hearing a siren at all is a big deal. To their surprised faces I then up it a notch by telling them it’s stone silent at night and that if you screamed there is a good chance no one would hear you. Their reactions are priceless.

In terms of light pollution I always wonder how Londoners cope not being able to see the stars at night. For me it is something I just cannot comprehend, I’d be lost in so many ways if I was told I could never see a starry night again. I once had a London friend stay over and I flippantly commented “it’s a nice clear night tonight.” He looked up at the sky and stood there in awe. It had never crossed my mind that not everyone can look at the stars with their own eyes.

Air pollution needs no further explanation. I dislike it, but even I acknowledge it is a necessary by-product of urbanisation.

Ok, so a very, very ranty piece on London. As you’ve probably guessed by now I’m not a big fan of the place. Still I’m prepared to admit it has the occasional upside. For example, Strictly Come Dancing is filmed in London and this dance number occurred on the show/in London:

I will always make time for Jeremy Vine dancing to September.