Thursday, December 15, 2011

Business and Social Media


Being a social media junkie, I look at a lot of profiles of businesses and day after day I see them making the same mistakes. I think a lot of them forget that their official social media profiles are like customer services. Here are some that really annoy me:
  • Ignoring questions on social media (and inconsistently)
  • Posting updates after that so everyone can see that they’ve DEFINITELY seen the query.
  • It can go the other way, they can just be a bit too enthusiastic and annoy you with a million updates a day. *click* unfollow!
  • Retweeting EVERY single tweet they are mentioned in
  • Stalking Twitter for every possible misspelling and indirect reference to them and replying to them all. It’s just a bit creepy if it’s too frequent.
  • Having boring Twitter and Facebook feeds. Why would anyone want to read that? If it's all about you, you're not engaging.
On the other side, there are some companies that have great social media presences and realise how powerful social media can be (side note: I hate the amount of times I've had to use the term 'social media' in this post. Makes me sound like an idiot). A lot of them give great customer service, have interesting feeds and alert me to stuff that's actually interesting. Most of you will remember the @shippamspaste account which got closed down as it wasn't official by Shippam's (bet they're kicking themselves now), but was endearing, inept and alerted many people to a virtually forgotten brand. Bad move, Shippam's Paste.

Here's who are INTERESTING businesses.
  • @arenaflowers - so funny. Mostly not about flowers but I'll bet they've got loads of business from it.
  • @betfairpoker - totally surreal and its users actually complain when it post stuff about poker. But one of my favourites nonetheless.
  • @nationalrailenhq - informative and occasionally posts amusing puns. Not sure it's quite worth the hype as it's by no means the best of its kind but entertaining nonetheless.
  • @gauthiersoho ok, so I'm a bit biased, but: live-tweets wine matching of TV shows, replies to tweeters asking questions and controversial tweets!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buskers Code

I haven't blogged in such a long time it's embarrassing. It's also embarrassing to read stuff like this because nobody really gives a shit but I'll soldier on because I should give an explanation to the, ahem, one regular reader of this blog. Ok, me. I'm on the tube home after after work drinks and I've been talking about blogging and writing all night and I feel horrendously guilty. This is the interesting(ish) part. This post is about buskers. I always feel really guilty about walking past buskers and not giving them any money because they work so hard for relatively little, or no money. But then I remember that they're shooting themselves in the foot.

Out of all the buskers I've seen in the tube station, there was only one that I enjoyed. I can't remember what he was playing or what kind of music it was but I really enjoyed it. But what I do remember was that it was a mainstream song and it wasn't overdone. It might have just been him and his guitar. And this is the fundamental mistake that most buskers make. Cater to your audience, for christ's sake! Do they really think that what most people will enjoy is a seven-minute Steve Vai solo that is quite frankly, self-indulgent and also terrible guitar playing? It's so boring - there is such a high number of wannabe guitar soloists playing, nay crucifying a moderately good rock song and making the fatal mistake that passers-by will appreciate their (admittedly good) skill.

But no-one wants to hear anyone's skill at the tube station. They've had a hard day at work. Or later on, they've had a night on the lash and they want soothing sounds on their ears. No-one wants to hear a massive guitar solo. They want to hear, I don't know, Coldplay, or Jack Johnson, or someone equally soothing.

So my advice to you, tube buskers, pick something that people want to hear. Not what you think showcases your amazing talent. Soothing, pleasant or plain what's in the charts at the moment. Something familiar. There is a potential audience of thousands here. Play what they want to hear, not what you want to play. That is what your mum's garage was for when you were in school.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Insider's Account of Gauthier's Critic Observations

I'm currently interning in the marketing team at Gauthier Soho, a Michelin star restaurant in you guessed it, Soho. On my second day, on a quiet afternoon in the office, I noticed on Twitter that Alexis Gauthier, the owner, was in Duck Soup, a restaurant just down the road and was liveblogging about it through Twitter. One of the things I admire most about my new boss is that he says exactly what he thinks (no holds barred), so I hastily pulled up the Twitter page. 

Something you should probably know about Alexis is that he has, in the past, been unafraid of upsetting Twitter users and bloggers with his controversial Tweets and blogs: he caused a lot of controversy with his comments about his outrage that London Eating, a review site, allows customer reviews to be unethically changed so easily after being posted.

In this instance, however, he was not critiquing the food, but the critics from The Telegraph and The Independent who were also in the restaurant. He started off with subtle observations such as 'There is also another critic from the independent- can't remember her name because nobody reads her column.' (!) and carried on to express his displeasure for the Telegraph: '(Matthew) Norman is a bit loud in such a small restaurant. That's kind of annoying;', whilst overestimating the Independent food critic's age (that was never going to sit well. He was only four years off, though). At this point the Twitterati began to pick up on this and the story gathered momentum - someone was surely going to bite back soon.

He carried on Tweeting, and more and more people were talking about Gauthier at Duck Soup on Twitter (who are yet to comment):
I can tell you as an insider, much to the simultaneous delight and despair of the marketing team at Gauthier, it was all real: Alexis Gauthier was at Duck Soup commenting on the critics' every move. A considerable amount of people also misconstrued where Alexis was - he was not critiquing the critics at his own restaurant. but at Duck Soup. Even he wouldn't do that (well, I wouldn't put it past him, actually).

Then the drama started. Tracey Macleod, the aforementioned Independent critic, got wind of this and Tweeted Gauthier these responses:
It was like a tennis match. Who would pipe up next?! Then Marina O'Loughlin, food critic from The Metro Tweeted: 'So: @GauthierSoho - hero or complete loony?'. Jay Rayner, food critic for The Observer replied 'probably both' (to over 32,000 followers). Which pretty much sums up what everyone said. Later, Jay even conversed further with other bloggers on Twitter and put Alexis in his 'hero column'. 

People were still talking about it on Twitter in the evening, and even this morning. So what went from Alexis making casual observations about two critics in a restaurant he happened to be in, turned into a full-blown Twitter scandal (ok, so it wasn't Ryan Giggs big but it got plenty of people talking) and people were refreshing their feeds every minute to see what happened (I know I was). Gauthier came away from it all relatively unscathed, considering, and we gained about 50 followers in under 2 hours. By this morning, Gauthier had gained over double that in followers. Now that's good PR. It is good to be controversial sometimes - but use with care.

www.gauthiersoho.co.uk

UPDATE: The Independent has been on the phone to Alexis for 15 minutes and they may run an article about his comments tomorrow - keep an eye out in case they do...

Here is The Independent's article - unfortunately, they seem to be under the impression that Alexis owns Duck Soup...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Duck Soup

Duck Soup is a small, friendly and busy restaurant in the heart of Soho, and I visited last week. They don't take reservations like quite a lot of places around there, which is cool, because anyone can get in, but also bad, because it is a small restaurant and if you don't get there early enough, you could be waiting at the door for some time (it starts to really fill up around 6.30).

Image c/o Duck Soup

The layout is similar to a lot of restaurant/diners around the area, with a large bar taking up most of the space, a reasonable-sized table in the back and a couple of tables squeezed along the wall (and I mean squeezed) - so you probably shouldn't come here if you don't want to be so close you can smell your neighbour's perfume.

We were handed a menu that was charmingly handwritten - I thought it was a nice touch. Unfortunately, on closer inspection, we couldn't actually read a lot of the writing and a lot of it was crossed out which looked a bit weird (not sure mistake or trying to look edgy?). Some of the menu was in Italian, so we had to ask in a most unsophisticated manner what about 7 of their dishes were, but the waitress was very obliging and patient whilst we made our minds up.

Once we had ordered the food and wine, we sat back (as much as we could) and waited for the food to come. It all comes out at different times, but it's a good thing as it's a kind of tapas-y set-up: we ordered a few small dishes and a few medium ones (partly under recommendations from the friendly waitress).

Our wine arrived (we went for a couple of glasses of the house white) and whilst I wasn't prepared for the yellow cloudy liquid (I was expecting a crisp Chablis. Not that I ordered it but it's what I expected of a house white. That was pretty prejudiced of me actually. Must try harder) it was actually pretty nice - quite sweet but flavoursome. The food arrived and it was even more impressive than it sounded like on the menu. We had:

  • Deep-fried courgette with tahini yoghurt (amazing)
  • Pork cheek on toast (far from what I imagined, it was a bit like parma ham: beautiful)
  • Purple sprouting broccoli, anchovy, ricotta and chilli (some of the broccoli went a bit stringy after a bit but when hot, was tender and deliciously contrasting)
  • Pumpkin puree, goat's curd and parsley (Easily my favourite, my only qualm that there wasn't enough) 
  • Plump chorizo pieces (we ate this with sourdough, which was a beautiful accompaniment) 
All in all, it was a most pleasant evening with tasty, surprisingly filling food and friendly service but space was limited (And bring reading glasses for the menu)! 8/10

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Annoying names you can call your boy/girlfriend / wife/husband

So, couples are annoying. Well, not all of them. I like the one I'm in, for example. But even the ones that are tolerable and I get on with still make me uncomfortable (that's the kind of person I am). You know, the times when you avert your eyes - when they kiss, when they hold hands, when they share a moment that you just know is probably some sort of disgusting shared sexual experience... And don't even get me started on people french kissing in public. NO-ONE WANTS TO SEE ANY OF YOUR TONGUE.

Anyway, this is a list of the names people call their boyfriend / girlfriend that just make my stomach turn:


My other half - so you are only half a person without them? Some say cute, I say you've set women's lib back 10 years. Because it's always a woman.
My hubby - I can't explain why this makes me want to stab them. It just does. Especially as it's usually by people who aren't even married.
The missus - See above.
My partner - just sounds a bit weird. It could be anything. A stone? Oh, and it's made 10 times creepier when 'life' prefixes 'partner'.
The ball and chain - Pretending your spouse is like prison. Hilarious.
Anything cutsey - like snugglebums, honeypie etc. Unless used ironically, it'll make everyone else vomit.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Ancient Art of Greeting: Hello

I would like to think that for the most part in life, I'm pretty good adequate at social situations but have long been flummoxed by that dreaded 'hello'. You may laugh, but it can go horribly wrong. And being English, it is somehow so much worse when it does. 

The trick is in determining what kind of a person you are greeting, and what the situation is. If it's a work thing, or a bloke, you're probably safe with a handshake. That's still a minefield, though, because if they have a limp handshake, I almost instantly, inexplicably hate them because it makes me feel uneasy. Man up chrissakes, or at least pretend you're happy to see me! *

If it's someone you haven't met before, in a social situation, it could go either way. I favour a handshake because I can't really get it wrong and it's the most understated greeting, one up on the social ladder from grunting 'alright' and looking at the floor (a teenage boy classic). This is where agendas can clash. If it's a hugging thing, I usually go in for a straightforward hug with like, actual arms and stuff but more often than not, the other person will go for an audible air kiss and pull away - resulting in me not having done the kiss and am still clinging to said person. Very embarrassing.

If I do judge the situation correctly, and go in for one kiss, the other person will go for two. TWO?! Or even worse, more - when does it stop, am I supposed to hug them as well? Am I actually supposed to make contact with their face? If I pull away after one am I supposed to carry on if they do more or just pretend it didn't happen?

So to sum up, it can be very difficult to gauge the situation re: hello sometimes. My advice for other occasionally awkward beings in the hello situation: gauge the person, the situation and if all else fails move your head vaguely in the other person's direction. The rest of your limbs can follow if necessary (or just hang awkwardly at your sides, if necessary). In this instance, less is definitely more (unless you enjoy clinging to people for several seconds after they have pulled away. I know people that do).

* Embarrassingly I have been known to cry (usually only when I've been drinking) "That was rubbish! We have to do it again!" which will end up in a high-fiving competition. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Threesome

I heard talk of the new comedy 'Threesome' on Comedy Central a fair bit on Twitter and thought that it might have some potential, the premise sounded ok and Skoose from Whites was in it.

So I duly streamed the episode on the website, which by the way, is pretty jumpy.

I tried to enjoy it. For eighteen minutes (I couldn't quite make the whole 21). But I just couldn't engage with it at all. The basic premise: Three best mates living together, one of them gay, two of them a couple. I'm sure that's been used before but it could work, right?

Unfortunately, there's not much going on plot-wise and I didn't even crack a smile once. The jokes were forgettable and the opportunities that did arise were thrown away (if I'd have coughed, I'd have missed the 'I can't even get paid to be a wanker' gag when one of the leads loses his job as a sperm donor. And wank gags are the best). 

So I probably won't be watching this next week. Well, maybe if there's nothing else going on. And all my friends are busy. And I can't change the channel. Perhaps I'm being unfair. But sometimes you just instantly take a dislike to something, and you can't quite put your finger on what it is - even the programmes that I'm a little ashamed to admit that I watch, I watch them every week because there is something there that I like. But here, unfortunately, nothing's clicking. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Gig Photos

I took some photos at some Camden gigs. They're ok. Ok, well they're there to prove I was there...

Exit_International at Camden Barfly 16 09 11




Novella at Camden Lock Tavern, 16.08.11


Shimmering Stars at Camden Lock Tavern, 16.08.11



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Twitter Crimes and Loves

I already have a guide of how not to use Facebook (Part I here and Part II here) but I wanted to do one for Twitter. Because Twitter, if possible, can be more annoying than Facebook. But despite boldly proclaiming that I would never get a Twitter two years ago, it's a really great tool when used properly. And sparingly. We all do it from time to time, but they are still... Twitter Crimes. However, there are some things on Twitter that have made me fall off my chair and it's also great because if you don't have someone's email address, just Tweet them - don't underestimate the power of the @ or even the #.


1. Using #hashtags purely because they are trending, not because you have something interesting to say. Currently #arealboyfriend is the Top Trend. I don't really think anyone needs to read them but they're all there for your viewing pleasure.

2. A play-by-play account of an event. Done well, it's hilarious. Especially when involving other people or unusual situations. Done badly, it's DULL. Like, even your mum wouldn't want to read it. Like:
  • @crappyusername is watching Wallace and Gromit.
  • @crappy username really wants cheese... Wonder why?!
  • @crappyusername is going to the shop to get some cheese.
  • @crappyusername got some cheddar. Sooo good.
  • @crappyusername feels a bit sick.
3. Now this is a guilty pleasure. Twitter can be really annoying if you are missing your favourite TV programme (there should be an app for that. Is there?) but I LOVE reading reality show tweets. Particularly Made in Chelsea (particularly my cousin's) and X Factor tweets. The sheer cringiness of Millie's inability to complete a sentence and Francis' inability to talk to girls without sounding like someone's uncle is ten times better when accompanied by incredulous Tweets. It's kind of like the entire of the UK on Twitter unites in one thought. Weird.



4. Tweeting Celebrities. If you have something to say to them other than 'OMG UR LEIK FAMOUS HEHE' it's fine or talking about them, but WHAT IS THE POINT of talking to them purely to ask them for 'a cheeky RT because it's my dog's birthday'? You just wasted your opportunity to talk to your idol by talking about NOTHING. And if they do RT, well... You look a bit silly. 

5. On a related note, I once mentioned how (strangely) hot Neville Longbottom (Matt Lewis) was looking in the latest Heat. Heat picked up on this and RTd and I atually got a reply from the man in question. He said 'Hmm' (not the most epic of replies, admittedly). I think he was strangely pleased. Or  just really offended.

6. Celebrity Twitter accounts that are pages and pages of 'thanks!' and answering the same question twenty times within three minutes. Perhaps they think it's polite to thank everyone individually, but quite frankly, it's really boring, I have now lost respect. I'm looking at YOU, Stephen Mangan. 



7. Alan Sugar and Piers Morgan. Get over it. Your Twitter feud is now officially boring.

8. Minor celebrities trying to get verified. Up-yourself, much?


9. It's incredibly scary how easily companies can find you, depending on how good their social media campaign is. I've heard of people complaining about a company, and five minutes later are replied to by said company and placated for said grievance. I can't decide if it's great customer service or just a bit creepy. 

And that is why Twitter is both brilliant... And shit. I won't even mention that it's career-wrecking and career-making it can be. Well, I just did but you know what I mean.

P.S. Follow me if you're bored or if you think I'm even a bit entertaining or even if you think I'm a knob and you want to read my Tweets and think, 'what a knob'. Not that I do that.

@girlscoutuplate

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Taking Pictures At Gigs: It's HARD.

It's great going to gigs. It's even better if you get some kind of record (so you can look back fondly and reminisce like, the awesome music, man) and also so you can boast to your mates about how close you got to stealing the frontman's towel.

As photography is not my forte, I just do it for fun. But the insanely cool people who are good at it, I have a lot of respect. Taking pictures at gigs is hard. First, you have to worry about obstructions. Being 5'2", there are a lot of obstructions. This usually results in photos which are mostly the back of someone else's head. Or bad placement of instruments over band members' faces. Like this:



Then, depending on what kind of gig it is, you have to worry about being bashed about by an over-enthusiastic windmiller or 'mosher' etc. which is not great for blurriness and even getting the subject in the photo. See fig. 2: No amount of photoshop could make anything except the bassist's guitar visible:



After all that, if you manage to get a decent-ish picture after all that, it's probably... shit. Because on your tiny camera they look like amazing pictures but when you get home and you see them on a bigger screen, they don't look that great. Because the seven pints you had whilst waving your camera around vaguely in the direction of the band are largely to blame. They were for dutch courage. And those three jagerbombs... they were for 'energy'.

Which is when you end up with this shot of a young man's crotch and rather larger, more impressive camera than mine.


So... people who take photos at gigs and still manage to make them look effortless and amazing, I salute you. I think I'll just stick to the reviewing.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lisa Swerling's Glass Cathedrals

I was reminded today of a link someone sent me at my old internship and it put a smile on my face on a grim Monday morning.

Glass Cathedrals doesn't conjure up an image of a massive glass-fronted box with one or several tiny people inside but that's exactly Lisa Swerling has created.. With a multitude of designs, including a vast blue expanse on which is a woman on a lilo:
A collective of nuns:
And my personal favourite, a customisable one on which you can put the hikers on any part of the UK you wish.
Ok, so they're a bit pricey at around £400, but it's a really cool idea for the minimalist type. If I had money and a large amount of white wall, I'd definitely buy them.

All images copyright 2001 Lisa Swerling's Glass Cathedrals. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

What's In A Name?

That which we call a rose... Sorry confused Shakespeare fans, this is not about Romeo & Juliet. This is about my actual name, which is a constant source of irritation to me (and occasionally a talking point). I was trying to think of a name for this blog and this is all I could come up with. It sounds er cool or something though?

I was christened Charlotte but I HATE it. I don't hate the name - very nice, normal name, but I hate being called it as my family decided when I was three that they were all going to call me Poppy (no explanation until I was about ten, it's a very boring story) and I got so used to this that I started to hate my name because it was no longer 'me'. Thing is, it suits me. I mean, you don't get opium from me, have a red face and green furry body but you see what I mean.

But how do I introduce myself formally? Can I really be bothered to explain EVERY time? Some people I've been emailing for ages have no idea that I hate my name with a passion. And why should they? Trying to establish my career as a journo, I simply don't want to confuse people as I am terrified of being credited with the wrong name - and lets face it, would you believe it was me if I showed you a newspaper with someone else's name in and claimed it to be me?

And thus, if I don't get in there straight away with the fact that I want to be called something different (and no, it's not my middle name), it's a bit weird (and largely irrelevant if I never meet them) and no, I do not want to change my name to deed poll. Far too much paperwork. So I'm stuck with two names and bemused looks from strangers I'm introduced to...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Shimmering Stars & Novella @ Lock Tavern, Camden

I have been going to Camden pretty much every week (and the North of London, for that matter), owing to the fact that someone's been planning all sorts of things that are near them in the North. Which, except for being rather convenient, is actually pretty awesome. I LOVE CAMDEN.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to see Shimmering Stars with Novella supporting. The venue itself is pretty cool in itself - it's a bit of a rabbit warren on the QT, with separate upstairs and downstairs bits, a fairly spacious bar area in the main part and a tiiny room on top for bands to play in. It was pretty packed but it's my favourite kind of venue - cramped and close enough to your neighbour to smell what deodorant they're wearing.

So Novella (all-girl dreampop band) came on and started playing and I was instantly captured by their likeness to Sky Larkin, but in a really good way. As the set went on, I realised that they were much more dreamy, very cool and calm and kept the low riffs coming throughout - there was a lot of non-vocal time which was actually really interesting, and I found myself really concentrating on the guitars - dreamy, melodic and absolutely perfect.

Unfortunately, we only saw a little of Shimmering Stars (also dreampop but different) but from what I remember, were charming, fun and jangly-sort-of-indie-pop thing - not really my kinda thing but easy to listen to and pleasant enough.

Dream-pop was really fun, and great venue too (also, it was a FREE gig).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Awkward Things That Happen in Life: Part II

I wrote a thing about awkward things that happen in life. Here is part I.

The second installment - just as awkward, if not more so. This will be less listy. Because I got bored of making lists. If you would like to read the first one, click here (Ahem, I only just noticed I did not in fact link this).
Like when you accidentally make eye-contact on the tube. And again. And then again because you're trying to work out who was looking at who (he was definitely looking at me, I was looking back to check he wasn't looking still).
Oh, and when someone really weird gets on and starts muttering to themselves.You actually look around and make purposeful eye contact. And maybe even talk ('who does he think he is - we're united grumpy commuters for once)! And afterwards, you remember where you are and bury yourself in your Metro.
Another tricky one is bumping into someone you know and then saying bye, and seeing them again in every aisle - and doing the awkward, oop, it's you again (but you don't have anything else to say to them, so you just have to sort of smile apologetically, hold up your frozen pizza and shrug your shoulders... And then you promptly start walking the same way. God, the horror.
Also, let us just reflect on the pub - so many potential awkward situations. Like one person gets their phone out to check it in the middle of a conversation and suddenly everyone has the burning desire to check theirs - five-minute silence ensues.Why do we now have nothing to talk about? Oh, I know, let's 'check in' to this pub and comment on our mate's post. It happens, I've seen it with my own eyes. 
And lastly - forgetting someone's name after five minutes. You could still smile apologetically and admit you've forgotten their name, but you're desperately trying to remember it, and it gets more unacceptable to say it, and before you know it, it's the third time you've met them and every time you want to attract their attention, you just sort of have to prefix everything you say to them with 'um', and tap them on the shoulder. And it's sooo obvious to everyone what you're doing (yes, even them)... 



Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hoarders


I get it. It makes you feel closer to your favourite band, or TV series. You can wear your idol's face, or band name, or words he or she said to let the world know you're totally enamoured with them.

But what is man's seeming obsession with buying stuff that you will never even look at again ("but I'll look at it and think of the great times, someone might like, go in my room and get the obscure reference that the plastic piece of shit is something from an unaired star trek episode"). No, they won't. And even if they do, will you get one, five minutes satisfaction out of it? After that, you'll never look at it again and it will become a redundant piece of crap that you will look at every time you clear out your room once a year and think, 'I really don't want this any more and it's gathering dust, but paid five quid for it and it's got sentimental value." I mean, spend your money on something that you can at least (and will) use!

I am as guilty as any - in my university days, I built up a collection of about 30 shot glasses in the grand vision that I will one day have a wild party in which I will be able to use them and impress people with my world shot glass collection - but even if that day does come, they will probably be in my loft, gathering dust and I will have completely forgotten about them anyway.

Unfortunately, I seem to retain this sentimentality through not just shot glasses, but life: every holiday I go on, I will collect every ticket stub, postcards from every town I go to and every letter I’ve ever got. I seem to be really good at throwing away bank statements though. Funny that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Office Tea-Making Politics (Yes, it's a Thing)

Ah, tea. Our saviour. The Briton's go-to in an emergency, a hangover and, well, when we just can't think of what to say (it's a conversation starter in itself - the sugar-milk conversation, which can go into a whole other conversation about biscuits, the weather... possibilities are endless).

It can be, however, problematic. Tea-making is a fine art - get it wrong, and there could be resentments for months. For example, the office. Ah, office tea-making politics. I mean, do you make everyone tea, or just your section? Just how many times is it OK to forget how many sugars (if any) your colleague has in their tea?

And it's different in every office - some of them it's every man for himself (but only sometimes - do I ask or not?). Most offices are pretty straightforward though, one person makes tea, that person asks everyone if they want tea. But there are still obstacles to overcome - if you are new, you're never quite sure if you're using someone's favourite mug (and you never find out 'til afterwards).

You might forget that they don't take sugar, or my worst fear, misjudge the amount of time in between cups of tea. It might seem silly, but an offer of a cup of tea too soon after the last one will be met with rejection (it somehow seems wrong to make one just for yourself); too late and someone else will make it. And you will have missed brownie points opportunities.

See? A veritable minefield.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Facebook Violation, or 'Fraping'

This weekend my Facebook was 'fraped', nay, violated, a total of four times by my little sister. For those reading who are a little older and don't know what it means (congratulations for finding my blog), fraping is well, Facebook rape. This regularly happens to me because I use someone else's computer and forget, or, more frequently, leave my phone lying around when I go to the loo when with friends, say (the cheek of it!) and to be honest, my Facebook friends are getting a little annoyed. Well, quite frankly, it's a lot more entertaining than many of the posts on my feed (what, you think your post about the soup you just made is more interesting? Okeeey).

There are several grades and types of frape, probably more common by boys (because it's like, well funny your mate is gay), but anyone can be a fraper (or frapee).

  • There's the aforementioned typical 'lad' style status - 'Ian Jones is Gay' - hhaha ur gay, omg hilarious. Ahem.
  • Or the slightly more creative 'let's change all their details: change sex, orientation, add some 'colourful' likes and such, which is great because it's usually not what the frapee would immediately look for.
  • There are those ones that are frankly disgusting, usually involving shit, golden showers, bums or bleeding of some sort, and always seem to be picked up by that family member you'd forgotten you had on your friends list...
  • The most effective, however, are the ones that would only be picked up as fake by only those who know you the best - phrases you would never use, cringey updates no-one would care about (this is my latest: "Ad a gr8 evenin with @___, @___ and da bruv! Deliverance and x factr. Perfect hehhee lol xxxx"). I'm still a little afraid that people who don't really know me think it might be true...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Islington Aventures

Continuing my London adventures, I went for dinner last week in Islington - from never having been there, I seem to be going there practically every week. Not that it's any hardship, as there's a lot going on.

We stopped for a drink at The King's Head Theatre Pub, which is huge and quite grand, but in a way that it looked really cool - I've heard from an (unreliable) source that it's Robert Pattinson's favourite London pub. Not a bad selection of beer and straight after work it wasn't too busy (but I can imagine it would fill up easily).

Onto eats, we went to Le Mercury and it was pretty good - reasonably priced food, with starters at only £3.95 (I had the duck for main course - it was good, a little fatty but then duck is), drink (we had the Pinot Grigio which was decent) and a decent ambience (though it would be better when it's not light outside and you can see the worn down candles in wine bottles (very French). And the crème brulee was pretty decent too!

Afterwards, to the Grand Union for a few more drinks. Seeing a long corridor leading into the pub, I was a tad dubious but it's a nice place. The music is good, current and cool, the drink is standard London prices, the decor is very cool, with floral wallpaper and lamps, plants and weird rugs on the floor (so kind of like your Auntie's house but with an American edge) and it's a pretty good atmosphere too, with an abundance of hipster kids congregating around the 10.00 mark (after dark is safe for them) but not detracting. Apparantly it's a restaurant, think American-style diner food (good-quality), with a total of 11 branches in London - maybe a return trip is in order.

8/10

Friday, August 12, 2011

Graze

If you haven't already had graze, you are missing out.

If you don't know what it is, it's a weekly (or bi-weekly, depending on how hungry you are), service for those who are fed up of snacking on junk food and paying a ridiculous amount for the pleasure.

Coming neatly packaged in a brown box, you get four little punnets of healthy snacks - olives, mini foccacia, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and now dippy things (I'm really excited).

And you get the first box free. I meant  to cancel my subscription after the first free box, but I didn't have the heart to after I got a dried version of summer pudding (sounds disgusting, looks... kind of disgusting, but it works). And the olives. Oh, the olives. The reason for this particular accolade is because I got the best box ever this week - you know with variety boxes, there's always one shit one, but this one was perfection in itself (all items pictured). 

I should do their PR. What's that, Graze, your don't need me because your products sell themselves? Worth a try...

www.graze.com




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

London Riots

I just updated my facebook status (a rarity unless it's something offensive to someone) lending my sympathies to those affected by the London riots and was asked by my little sister if I was fraped. Well, that's the last time I reach out (it was weird). 

Anyway, the riots currently occuring in London are getting worse and worse, spreading from Tottenham to Peckham, Enfield, Brixton, Ealing and even Fulham amongst other places, as well as nationwide with rioters storming Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham and Birmingham.

After Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in a taxi on Thursday after it is believed he started fire, people started protesting, non-violently. But soon the riots started and spread quickly around London, including Ealing Broadway which is only ten minutes away from where I live. Now 'protestors' and looters are claiming other excuses, such as 'Tory cuts', demanding taxes back and other. But these people don't need an excuse - shameless violence and greed are hid behind a thin veil of 'protesting for rights'. Indeed, some are not even making an excuse: starting fires, breaking into shops, mugging people and taking everything they can get. This image in the paper yesterday particularly shocked me:

Credit: Press Association

The riots are reported as being broadcast over social media such as Twitter, broadcast messages on BlackBerry Messenger and text and there have been talks of cutting off BBM for the time being.

There is already a clean-up act on the case, follow @Riotcleanup for news on what they're doing.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Awkward Things That Happen in Life: Part I

I don't know about you, but I delight in other people's awkward moments. I've had my fair share in life - I'm a little awkward on occasion. And the more you over-think it, the more awkward it gets, thus, the funnier it gets. Here are the first. But don't worry, it won't be like, you know, those 'hilarious' Facebook groups. Well, probably not.

1. A friend of a friend situ. You're with a friend and their friend who you don't know that well, and your friend goes to the loo, and you both know what's coming - and it would be fine, because you're already talking, but there's a momentary pause, that fatal pause, and suddenly, BAM! - it's awkward... ('I've just got to go to the kitchen, for er... something. ANYTHING.')

2. Silence at the dinner table. There's loads of you and you've all been getting on famously, but there's one tiny moment when one person stops talking and everyone is either drinking or chewing - shit, and you can hear the knives and forks scraping on the plates and every last gulp - the only option then is, 'terrible weather we've been having...'

3. When you just can't hear what someone's saying. You say pardon, and you've still got no idea, and then they say it with exactly the same intonation and garble and it's just easier to say 'yeah'...' or laugh. Everyone knows you just can't say pardon more than three times, it's the rules...

4. Seeing an acquaintance at the bus stop. Now, are you supposed to exchange pleasantries and then continue the conversation on the bus, or will they go to the opposite end of the bus and put their headphones in to avoid any more small-talk? If of the opposite sex, will they think I fancy them if I sit next to them on a bus that's less than full? Veritable minefield.

5. Making eye contact. Well, eye contact can be awkward in a number of ways, whether you're not having it, or you are. For some people, not me. Obviously. Like, when you look at someone in the street because you think they're someone you know, or a celebrity. And your face has the beginnings of the smile, and you're just about to open your mouth to say hi, and you realise that it's just a stranger looking at you weirdly because you've been staring at them for way too long.

Part II

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Dan Clark Review

On Wednesday I ventured out to East London to see Dan Clark. It was in a basement. Sweaty wasn't the word, but well, it was more... intimate that way, I suppose.

The warm-up act was billed as 'interpretative dance'. Oh, God, what had we let ourselves in for!? We were pleasantly surprised, however - he came out in mime costume and a German accent, with a brief 'serious introduction', then proceeded to act out such classics as Britney Spears 'Baby One More Time' (encouraging audience participation), totally unexpected but well-executed.

After a brief interval (enough to escape upstairs into non-sweaty air and get another pint), Dan Clark came on. He did How Not to Live Your Life, and was also Johnny Two-Hats.

As I wasn't really much of a fan of HNTLYL, I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this - but he puts on a fairly good show - he was at his best when talking to members of the audience - mostly brutally rebuffing hardcore fans being frankly, weird, and befriending a poor soul in the front row. Other highlights included little bits of human observation, like losing his virginity (touching and awkward) and putting kisses on the end of a text (why?). That aside, I did find him obnoxious and arrogant at times, to the point of insufferable, but it was good, and he will do well at Edinburgh festival (this was a warm-up gig), definitely if his hard-core fans follow him up there. 7/10.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Reuben

I started listening to Reuben again and forgot how good and satisfying they were to listen to. Especially this song.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Y Not?

So, instead of making it the magic number of festivals this year (three), Hannah and I have decided to throw down the gauntlet and admit defeat (y? a combination of broke and can't be arsed, but mainly that we're broke) and miss Y Not. It would have been great, but, well, 2011, we had a good run. 

Glastonbury and 2000 Trees were both amazing enough and to be quite frank, the thought of having to wake up hungover and needing a piss in a tent under the scorching sun was a little too much to handle. That said, I will probably listen to Feeder wistfully and think about what I will be missing (well, maybe definitely not Feeder).

Perhaps next year, Y Not. Based in The Peak District, it looks like a really good festival - a few good bands (Dananananakroyd, Duke Spirit, You Slut, Dinosaur Pile-Up and Sonic Boom Six amongst others) - it was voted best small festival last year, I think.

Instead, I will be going back to sleepy Shropshire for homecooked meals, family and friends. 

Who said rock'n'roll was dead?


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

2000 Trees Review

It's been a long time coming, but it is finally online. It's at Beat Review now. Read it here.

2000 Trees is a small festival for underground and new music which was a couple of weeks ago.  It’s full of all of the sort of music I like and people who like the music I like (and their hot fans).

It's a great festival, with a definite green and family vibe, great people, amazingly clean toilets (well, as amazing as portaloos can be) and lots of music you’ll love if you like post-hardcorey / rocky, underground, shouty, guitar-driven music (etc).

And everyone's just lovely. Also, the food was fantastic (put it this way: it was really hard to find a bacon sandwich in the morning). I'll definitely be going next year.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Favourite Blogs

Of course you must come back here. But these are a few of the blogs I love and read regularly, because they're rather entertaining (not wordy blogs, mind. Always looking for those if you have any suggestions).

Bent Objects: A witty look at life using bent wire and everyday objects such as vegetables and corkscrews. A really talented photographer with a creative interpretation that's a little bit punny. Never fails to bring a smile to my face (some of the images are really sweet).

Picture by Terry Border, the genius behind this blog.

Failbook: A pretty impressive collection of Facebook fails - bad spelling, weird family laundry aired, bitch fights...

Regretsy: Always weird, sometimes grotesque and plain amazing. It does what it says on the tin: the worst stuff that Helen from Regretsy can find - whether it be ridiculous prices for "shit you'd find at a yard sale" or something I saw the other day - a painting crafted from someone's er... monthly present. Which I can no longer find (though the colleague I emailed it to was distinctly unimpressed, so perhaps it's for the best).

Passive Agressive Notes: One of my favourites - I don't know what it is about me that just loves revelling in other people's awkwardness and conflict. Hmm. This is some great toddler passive-agressiveness (it's never too early to start), there's also a great one where the note-writer actually framed the note (as did the replier, subsequently).


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Norway tragedy and Amy Winehouse

An odd grouping of people at first glance, but these deaths of course have both made the news within days of each other.

92 people have been killed in the massacring in Norway on Friday, and then a bombing happened too - my thoughts go out to their families. Of course, this has recieved a great deal of media coverage, as it is a terrible tragedy, but just two days later, Amy Winehouse was reported dead by Sky News, having suffered from an overdose on Saturday.

Tragedies happen at the same time all of the time, but these were both notable for one reason or another - and there has been a lot of controversy on Twitter from those mourning the Norway deaths, angry at the amount of mourners tweeting and reporting the death of Amy Winehouse. The fact is, that all deaths that occured this weekend were equally as tragic - whether self-induced or not, Winehouse suffered and her family are suffering, highlighted even more by the abuse that they're probably getting for their daughter having 'stolen the limelight' from the sufferers.

The world of celebrity is always going to be huge in the media, and although I wasn't a fan of Winehouse personally, many, many people are upset about her death as she was a huge influence and talent for this generation.

Rest in peace, people who suffered at the hands of Anders Behring Breivik, and also Amy Winehouse, whose death is still very sad, and doesn't deserve all the moronic comments such as 'wat about the ppl of norway its her fault fuckin druggie' etc. She was cremated after her funeral today, Tuesday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

I love festivals, but...

Having just been to 2000 Trees, a lovely festival in Cheltenham for underground and new music, and having written a review (soon on Beat Review), I compiled a list of festival pet hates.

1. The dreaded cry of 'Alan!' If you don't know what it is, it's this. Usually some equally hilarious creature retorts with 'Steve!' from twenty feet away. Universally moronic. Well done.

2. People with flourescent messages on their backs. They're usually not funny and make people want to hit you in the face, yeah? 

3. Putting the tent up / down. Something ALWAYS seems to go wrong. For example, this year so far, it has taken two hours to deflate the airbed and we tried to pitch the tent with the wrong poles. It. Was. SAGGY.

4. People who piss on your tent. This hasn't happened to me personally but I've many friends who've lost good tents due to a hefty piss. It's rank and lazy. Go and pee in a hedge or something.

5. People who sit on people's shoulders. It's great you're having a good time and everything, but please try not to kick me in the head.

6. Toilet habits in general. There is a good, clean toilet right there so why did you have to POO NEXT TO IT!??

7. Couples. You're in love, but that does NOT MEAN you can chew each other's faces off when I'm trying to watch Frightened Rabbit (They got their comeuppance).

8. Looking like shit. I love camping. I really do. But I look back at the photos and think, was it really too much to ask not to look like I've drowned and then been dragged through a hedge backwards?

9. People who have no idea who they're watching and act like their biggest fan. I have no problem with the first part but don't pretend you would travel the world to see them and scream in my ear - I JUST heard you say to your mate 'Who is this?' (I have to thank Mason for this one).

10. Really tall people. I know it's not their fault but I'm short and I can never see.

So, there are some annoying things about festivals. But then there are bits like this (that's a man from And So I Watch You From Afar lying down on some people's outstretched arms), and it all seems worth it - great bands, great people and beer.

Check back for my review of 2000 Trees which should be up on the Beat Review site soon. And more blog posts, of which there will be more as I have ideas and a laptop now (crucial).

NB: As always, I'm sure everyone (even me) is guilty of a few of these things once on a while, so this is jokes, yeah folks?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Telegraph Supplement Contribution

Oh, and I feel that I should share that at my internship, I recently contributed to an interiors supplement in The Telegraph (just wrote a few reader offers and called in all of the items for the front cover shoot) and for that, I got a byline as a contributor on the inside cover. Not only that, I got to work with the print editorial team, who were great and very kind for letting me write.

My internship ends on Thursday. I can only hope I won't cry.

I'm the first contributor. Next to Orla Keily.



My New Favourite Places in London

This week I went to Cafe Boheme, recommended to me as 'louche' by my cousin - after I looked it up in the dictionary I knew I had to go there ( Disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way). It's a fairly small place - one could describe it as cosy - we were a little too close to comfort to the couple beside us trying to eat one another's faces but the atmosphere was good.

I had a crab and avocado salad which was bulked out with a large amount of chicory, but not unpleasantly, and my friend had moules marinière (not bad) with a bottle of wine - twenty quid each wasn't bad for a meal and a bottle of wine. We were also seated next to Rich Fulcher (AKA, Bob Fossil from The Mighty Boosh) which helped the cool credentials.

We went on to Bourne & Hollingsworth for a few cocktails, which may well become a personal favourite. A cocktail bar in the basement, replete with ripped floral wallpaper and the smell of damp (easy to ignore after a few cocktails), it attracts the hipster crowd to some extent. Serving really good cocktails (avg. £7) in teacups and jamjars, with wartime-style pictures on the walls and secret doors and even a DJ, it manages to be both cool and unintimidating. And the tube journey home was more than a little wonky.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Doctor Who and Orbital

Just when I thought I'd heard it all, a remix of Doctor Who theme tune by Orbital comes on in my brother's car (amongst some other erm, questionable stuff).

This is possibly one of my favourite things at the moment - I'd love to go and see Orbital, I imagine it's a very calming but intense experience.

(And of course, sadly awaiting the time when I have an excuse to be sad on a Saturday night and stay in).


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Glastonbury Review #1

So I wrote up my review of Glastonbury today for the people at Beat Review which should be up soon but this is a personal review concentrating on specifics as opposed to a general overview (ish). So I decided to write something here, but at the moment I'm not really feeling any inspiration. So I ate some mackerel (brain food, you know). SO. Glastonbury. The big G. 
Pulled Apart by Horses
It was pretty amazing. There was a lot of mud for the most part, but that just made it all the more fun (kind of). We went up to the Stone Circle (hippy central) on the first night when we'd pitched the tent, which I wish we'd seen more of, met some cool Scottish people camping nearby and Thursday we explored and went to the headphone disco - which started out with shitty, generic indie and continued to some classic songs (I can't remember what exactly but I danced a lot). We also met up with some friends by the Brother's Cider stand which was very pleasant (both cider and friends).

Highlights of Friday included Two Door Cinema Club (they were bouncy and so grateful to be there and can I marry the lead singer?) and Asian Dub Foundation - I hadn't listened to them in aages (I used to listen to them when my brother wasn't in his room) and they're still really good! Brilliant political, dub-rap. They've drifted a bit away from more dubby stuff but are still intelligent, danceable and put on a brilliant show (I didn't even know they were still around until I saw them on the line-up). We also saw Metronomy who had the difficult task of kicking off the Pyramid Stage, and they did a really good job - as a band they were really tight.

Glastonbury Review #2

Saturday, the winners for me were The Kills (VV is my idol for being ridiculously cool). They played an amazing set which just exuded cool and energy - when she started playing guitar and the drums... Wow. It was a shame, though, because we were so far back, the people around us were fairly static and, well, I looked a bit of a fool doing the standard 'I'm-at-an-indie-gig-rocking-back-and-tapping-my-foot' dance. They were still amazing though. We stopped by the BBC Introducing Stage a few times too. Also Krafty Kuts deserve a mention, as although we only saw a little of their set, were SO GOOD and really got the crowd going (I have never seen so many DJ sets within such a short space of time). Pulled Apart by Horses. Oh my God. Amazing, full of energy and shouty as always and the guitarist was hot... Chemical Brothers - we weren't even going to see them, but boy am I glad we did. Blew me away - they mixed their own songs so skilfully and really built up the suspense.

Sunday - the last day. Started out watching some reggae-ish people in The Park (who played 54/46 by Toots & the Maytals) by the Glastonbury sign, and went to see Dan le Sac Vs. Scroobious Pip who were surprisingly enjoyable since I'm not really a fan on record - it was their MCing which really made it for me - they were funny! After that we saw the Vaccines for a bit but didn't really pay much attention, and then a glut of DJs overlapping. The Freestylers were really good - breaks and dubstep mostly; we only saw a little of DJ Fresh but there was a massive crowd and he cranked out the big beats; and then back for our final act of the festival - Plump DJs. They really interacted with the crowd and because we were so close we could see every expression - they were genuinely happy to be there. And played some AMAZING breaks.

So Glasto was a success - I think with all the mud I'll need a couple of weeks to recover until my next festival (2000 Trees). Oh and one other thing - if you go in 2013, go to the Hare Krishna tent and get free food! Amazing (and tasty).

A lovely view of Glastonbury's sunset over some er toilets.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Glastonbury

I have just come back from Glastonbury - it was brilliant, I got covered in mud and saw some phenomenal acts. Now I'm home (via Cardiff for various reasons), I have been mostly recovering (and cleaning up) before I go back to work so there will be a review within the next couple of days.

Actually, maybe several reviews - there's just too much to fit in one post.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Beat Review

So I feel like a bit of a good Samaritan lately, promoting other people - perhaps because I've got a week's holiday to go to Cardiff and then Glastonbury or perhaps because I've just become a nicer person.

Nahh.

Anyway, you may not know that I do a bit of writing for Beat Review, an online music mag for Cardiff (why, you ask, am I writing about a place you don't live and let's face it, can never rarely afford to visit? Well, I don't know why but I know that I love music and Cardiff. And I can write. And they were desperate

I've just written an article for them (it was a long time coming since the last one) but from now on, there will be many more coming. This is my latest, about Primal Scream.

Sometimes controversial, sometimes funny and usually informative, you should read / follow / facebook if you don't already.

Some more articles that are worth a wee read:

Jobseekers - Connor Cupples (Co-ed)
Spotify - Charlotte Coxhead (Me, if you didn't know)
Twitter - John Shortland (Contributor)
Wimbledon Weather - Harriet Mould (Contributor)
Eurovision - Sprink Laysson (Contributor)

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