Monday, 2 June 2014

Chopper in Church Crookham

A helicopter lands in Fleet.

Rooftops are shaken, dogs bark. The conservative Tories in their conservatories emerge blinking into the evening air to find out what the bloody hell the racket is all about.

You can hear it land in the distance. Some come to the streets to go and find out where, and in the living rooms, you can imagine the people looking out and asking 'Don't they have anything better to do?' whilst Paddy or Ant or Dec or Jeremy shout on the television.

The locals are stirred. Drama seldom comes to visit Fleet, and when it does, it is treated as a carnival. Responding officers reassure the people: 'Nothing too dramatic.' Someone needs surgery. An ambulance wouldn't get him to Southampton Hospital fast enough.

Someone, somewhere, despite the official reassurances, finds this dramatic.

The generation of content-generators set to work. iPhones are held up in that familiar craning arm seen often at concerts and car crashes. They point out something of interest, something worth documenting.

'What's the ISO on that?' one camera man, holding up a lens longer than his forearm, snidely asks another. He doesn't respond. Cameras, much like other phallic objects, are cared about more by men who worry about whether or not they're using them enough.

Friday, 23 May 2014

I Learnt From The Best

Murakami taught me how to live alone: go food shopping and get a case of beer with your groceries. Don't eat things if you don't know where they came from or how they're made. Read a book once in a while.

Remember that sex isn't something you can use to judge yourself or judge other people. It rarely reflects on those involved, it just happens sometimes - like rain in Summer, or sunshine in Winter. Enjoy both. Never become too attached.

Cook nice things, even if you have to burn a thousand slices of toast and occasionally live off of instant noodles. Go outside once in a while.

Realise that exercise is necessary. This might mean jogging on the spot in your room because you can't breathe well enough to run, or doing sit-ups alone because gyms are expensive and frightening. Take care of your body. It's going to belong to an old person one day.

Never turn down friends to do something that can wait. You don't know how lucky you are until they stop calling.

If someone is sat on the side of the street in the cold, asking you for money, have the courtesy to apologise if you don't want to. Better yet, give them some change, without being condescending and worrying about how they're going to spend it. If you don't need something, find someone who does.

Realise that Store Cards are there to make money for that shop. Care about your appearance, but not so much that you find yourself in debt.

Meet new people, and be there for those you already know. Love one another.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


You'll notice that the phrase 'unrequited love' has been around a lot longer than this concept of 'the friendzone.' There's a reason for this.

The concept of liking someone who doesn't like you back isn't exactly new - it's a stale form of heartbreak that has inspired countless works of art over the centuries. But the concept of the friendzone (and particularly the material used to interpret and explore it in popular culture) is a sour addition to this idea.

The friendzone, in its purest form, tells us exactly how obsessed with sex we are in Western civilization. The idea that you should only be friends with an attractive girl - because let's face it, nobody seems to complain about men putting people in the friendzone - is not only laughed at, but is seen as a form of torture put to us by those fiendish ovary-coveting creatures known as women.

If you're one of those people who regularly laments 'the friendzone,' you've probably heard of women before - those people that your Mum has over for tea and conversation sometimes, those members of the population that grew lumps on their chests when you started secondary school, the ones that you've heard rumours about not having the same bits as you.

That's the thing about the concept of 'friendzoning' - it's innately hostile to women. How dare she not want to be more than friends! It's not a choice, if we're to believe pictures on 9GAG and enraged forum posters. It's an insult.

The idea gets yet more absurd when you look at it from the perspective of any person who isn't heterosexual. I personally like men AND women - and boy would you believe the amount of friendzoning that gets me. If I were to take offence at every person that I find attractive not wanting to reciprocate that, I'd surely get arthritis from all of the spiteful tweets and vengeful 4chan posts I would be forced to make.

But you're reading this, and you're begrudgingly agreeing, because in the past you've liked someone who has admired you but not enough to have a romantic relationship with you. You got frustrated, you wanted more - hell, maybe you even tried to express your feelings, and if so, good on you.

But say she still wasn't interested, and you were left at a crossroads. At this point, you either get sour, or you get wise. Say you get sour - you blame it on her, you blame it on the friendzone, you go to support groups, you go on WikiHow and read their article on how to get out of the friendzone.

Or you get wise. You realise that this is part of growing up, and that if you lived your whole life like this, you'd have a tough time coexisting with attractive people. That maybe, just maybe, the friendzone doesn't exist.


Friday, 28 February 2014


On a recent writing job, I went through the profiles of some of the biggest companies and corporations in the world. For the job at hand I had to cherry pick the good points, but I took in a lot worrying information as well. Out of all the consumer companies I looked at, only one - which for legal reasons I’m not allowed to name - had an acknowledged, functioning responsibility to the environment and the world around us – in other words, a business plan that took responsibility for its actions without neglecting product or service quality.

I live in Southampton. Not a mile from my bed is the Port, wherein ships filled with cargo and passengers come and go, all through the day and all through the night. When I’ve nothing else to do, I go there. I look at the ships, the ferries, and think of all the thousands of people on board these vessels. I think of all the cargo, and how strange and wonderful it is that all these passengers, and sailors, and commodities, have come all this way. Long-time readers might even remember an incident in which I drove a completely-assembled kitchen to a dock in Holland. 

However, it only recently struck me that all this global infrastructure might all be unnecessary.

Retail website Made Closer is a company with social responsibility written into its constitution, founding itself on the principles of ‘progressive localism.’ As a person who scorns ‘localists’ who stand in the way of wind turbines so that they still have a nice view to look out on, I was sceptical at first, but the more I read, Made Closer’s ethic of selling you the product you want from as close as possible seems to make more and more sense.

Founder John Palaguta-Iles is a self-confessed ‘craver of convenience.’ Like many of us, he would rather go to the same website every time to buy whatever it was he needed. His idea relies on the fact that if there were someone near you who did the same job for a better price and gave some of that price to charity, you would go there.

Multi-national companies pour money into advertising and marketing to make themselves the most obvious and easiest option, immediately putting themselves in front of local businesses. To make it worse, prices for high street locations are soaring, making it impossible to start a shop without a huge income or a risky loan. These things make it hard for would-be ethical shoppers to support the businesses that need it – but with the help of Made Closer, it doesn’t have to be difficult.

The website acts as any other online retailer does, letting you search for products and giving you people who make them locally. As the amount of manufacturers signing up to the site increases, so do the products. Whether you want thermal underwear or handmade iPad cases, they’re right there on the site.

A functioning, ethical, online retailer? That’s not even the best part. Made Closer gives two thirds of its profits to charities that it lets the customer choose. Still not convinced? Previously, John Palaguta-Iles has run companies that have turned over £15-20 million a year, making Made Closer not only a good idea, but a good idea in the right hands.

People who are conscious of the realities of our big business economy tend to be rather pessimistic about things - and rightly so. What Made Closer brings is a sprinkling of forward thinking.

This post is sponsored by

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


Image: Clare Hudson
Ask your average man or woman in the street and they will probably tell you that a Buddhist is a mysterious creature that lives in the mountains (probably in a country such as Tibet or Nepal,) wears brightly coloured robes, and hums a lot.

For many people, this is not the case.

Click here to read the full article on

Monday, 3 February 2014


Photo - Daniel Olgren
J.K. Rowling is easily one of the sweethearts of the publishing industry, having not only created a world of much-loved characters, but also having stood up for the little man, making her views on tax evasion widely known.

But if that small display of opinion-holding wasn't enough, Jo-Ro has stirred up a veritable fan-base shit-storm this week, by admitting that Harry Potter characters Ron and Hermione shouldn't have been married after all.

Talking to Emma Watson in an interview for Wonderland (an interview I could only guess was fraught with awkwardness) she admitted that the pair ended up together "for reasons that have very little to do with literature and far more to do with me clinging to the plot as I first imagined it."

The interview led many journalists to realise that the word 'Hermione' doesn't actually come up on spell-check as a real word, and many die-hard fans to cry into their first editions.

More importantly, the story brings up many debates of authorship - mainly the degree to which an author has the sole property of the characters or story that they created. Young adult novelist John Green is often quoted on the subject, saying of his books:

“They belong to their readers now, which is a great thing–because the books are more powerful in the hands of my readers than they could ever be in my hands.”

This idea was explored on it's head in his most recent novel The Fault in our Stars,  in which literary novelist and drunken bastard Peter Van Houten is followed to Amsterdam by a fan of his novel intent on finding out what happens to the characters in his book after it finishes. Being the drunken bastard he is, Van Houten makes a point of reminding her that the characters don't exist beyond the end of the book.

Rowling-gate also brings up a point of realism. Her regrets bring to light questions of whether or not the characters would have been compatible at all, going as far as to say that the pair would have likely needed marriage counselling, (an idea that might provoke a scoff from people with a distant relationship with fiction.) Is realism this important however? With the fan-base for the series being the record breaking size that it is, Rowling foresaw " the rage and fury it might cause some fans" - opting nonetheless to be honest about her feelings.

Personally I can sympathise with Rowling. As a person who has spent hours of my life putting to paper events, people and worlds that don't exist, I really do get the idea of writing things as I first imagined them. Nothing compares to knowing a character so well that you can conjure up facts about them with a convincing confidence.

However, with the considerably less amount of experience I have in the craft, I don't know where I stand in terms of letting what I imagine and what would really happen see eye to eye. Either way, it's evident that realism is hugely important: even if you write about wizards for a living.


Saturday, 1 February 2014


It’s official, I’m rejecting people. I’m going to sit in the dark for… most of the time. Wall-E will be my only company. If old friends come by they’ll say ‘But Lewis, you hate Disney!’ And I will tell them to go away and throw empty Nutella jars at them until they do. Wall-E serves as a wistfully palatable criticism of consumer culture; you just haven’t realised it yet.

In a few years, the only people who will care will be VICE journalists looking to write a shocking article about the man who ‘REJECTED REAL PEOPLE IN FAVOUR OF AN ANIMATED ROBOT.’

I will be like the Captain of the Axiom, sat in a darkened room, sleeping and getting fat until I’m needed.

I will rely on the sun for Vitamin D. I know I’ve got at least that much of my nutrition covered, because the guy in the film Oldboy said that’s where we get vitamin D from and it helps boost our immune system. I haven’t yet checked what nutritional properties Nutella has in it, but it’s got ‘Nut’ in it and so does nutrition so there’s obviously some.

Someone will have to pay the rent on my bedsit for a few years so the landlord doesn’t bother me. In return, I may or may not produce a saleable manuscript for a novel worthy of a Nobel Peace Prize, the proceeds of which I will happily give you in return. I’ve already got a working title, actually. ‘Nutella and Robot.’ Like I said, it’s a working title. We can change it if needs be.

Domino’s deliver, and also do vegetables all sliced up and ready to eat on top of the pizza itself. The only problem will be getting them to the door of my room. Maybe I will have to come to an arrangement with the landlord. Maybe my benefactor will have to pay for these daily pizzas as well.

I don’t know. I haven’t quite thought this through yet.

Anyway, fuck people. Time for lunch – in a jar!

- Lewis

Friday, 31 January 2014


Josh walks into the kitchen, headphones in. Immediately, I tap an open copy of Shortlist on the table.
‘You see this? I fucking told them,’ I say. Inside the magazine a guy (dressed tastefully in a navy sweater, blue jeans and blue brogues) lounges on some stairs. ‘I told them monochrome was coming back in.’ Josh doesn’t respond. Instead, he turns on the kettle and begins to stair absent-mindedly out the window.

‘Still raining.’ I take it upon myself to fill the silence. ‘It’s like an absolute monsoon out there. Went out to get my post earlier and was only outside for what, a minute? Completely drenched.’ He seems to be nodding. Either that or his head is slightly moving back and forth, I can’t quite tell. I tap the magazine again, reinforcing my point. ‘This though. They never listen to me.’

‘I think Ani might have died,’ I say. ‘I texted her to say that Space Jam is on LoveFilm. No response. Probably a heart attack.’

The kettle boils and Josh starts to make a cup of tea. I take to scrolling through my phone instead. Like a flame, a complaint strikes up in my mouth.
‘Friend on Facebook just posted a status: “omg in such a bad mood” with a little sad face.’ A flicker of recognition flashes across Josh’s face. I’m not sure if he’s just thinking about adding another sugar. ‘Why do people constantly feel like they need to notify us how they’re feeling? What’s wrong with just… I don’t know, keeping things to yourself?’

Josh adds a dash of milk and makes towards the door. I look back at the guy in the magazine – is there a slight blue tinge to his hair? This is ridiculous.
‘I’ll see you later.’ Josh says. ‘I’m going to go smash my head against the desk.’

Monday, 27 January 2014


Monday is Funday. Perhaps First-Time Friday would have made more sense given the circumstances; but nonetheless, it was decided today that Monday would be the day that we took time to chip away at the ever-growing bucket list.

Today was concerned mostly (but not entirely) with making holes in peoples bodies.

In a world largely concerned with things that are on offer, tattoo and piercing parlours have gotten smart. Too smart, in my opinion. The 2-4-1 deal that we all know and love, it turns out, applies to nipple piercing, as if a nipple piercing was something you might only get one of. That said, I can't speak with authority on the matter, never having had or wanted one myself.

Unlike Grace.

We marched along to Asgard Tattoos & Piercing of Southampton, wherein Tom booked a tattoo (His first First Time of the day) for a bear on his ankle, which is now going to happen on Thursday (a sight which I can't wait to see, given that he gets hilariously freaked out over games of FIFA.) In case you were wondering, they run a very professional and polite establishment.

Grace got her nipples pierced - yes, both of them, thanks to that aforementioned deal - an ordeal which she later described as 'It's really cold, ow, erections are happening.' I never suspected Grace of being the sort of person up for such endeavors, and am not entirely sure whether I'm a poor judge of character or whether she genuinely isn't the sort.

Whilst all this was going on, I achieved a first. The opticians called with the news that my glasses were ready - at an opportune time as well, given that I was a quarter of an hour away from a lecture, which without the aid of glasses usually results in an attention shattering migraine. I popped into the branch five minutes later, picked them up, and now I have a very trendy pair of eyeglasses.

Later, Tom appeared still in the piercing sort of mood. But the shop was closed.
'Tom, don't look at me that way. I'm trying to cook my dinner.'

Cue our second firsts of the day. This mainly involved me trying to balance cooking dinner with pushing a piece of cold metal through Tom's ear whilst he yelled at me (as though it were my idea. Which it wasn't, for the record.)

Generally speaking this wasn't my first go at ear mutilation - I harked back to a simpler time, back when stretchers had just come into fashion. That old chestnut can easily be summarised with the quote 'Lewis, I can't do it, you do it - [screaming].'

This time wasn't so traumatic.

Grace assisted with the pushing and the puncturing and the disinfecting and putting an apple behind the ear (a trick she apparently learnt from The Parent Trap, of all things.) We filled in the bloody gap with a fox/wolf/generic-beast earring that he had bought, until he decided that it looked 'gay,' prompting us to push a whole new stud through.

If I go a whole year without having to puncture another human being, I won't be saddened by it. On the bright side, this whole situation gave a great opportunity for a selfie with my new glasses.

Bis Montag,

Tuesday, 7 January 2014


I know what you're thinking. And I want
you on my Pictionary team too.
People are always asking me: 'Lewis, how do you juggle keeping up that beautiful bonnet of hair you have with the tolls of being a noncommital socialist who doesn't want to be pigeonholed but nonetheless identifies to many of the stereotypes of the modern anti-capitalist thinker?'

Well folks, I think it's about time I gave an answer.

Here's some science: hairdressing. I know what you're thinking: Hairdressing? Science? But aren't hairdressers meant to be really stupid? Don't they just want to know where you went on your holidays? No.

Here's the deal with hairdressers: they're kinda like computers. They serve a function, yes, and on the outside they look simple enough, but if you cut into them, they're full of cables and wires and circuit boards and stuff.

Back up.

What I'm trying to say is hairdressers are full of hidden knowledge.

Let's go back to the basics. Shampoo is evil as shit, right? That stuff is like heroin for your scalp. Sure, it makes your hair all nice and fluffy/shiny/sparkly or whatever, but after a day or so, your hair goes all greasy again and you have to buy more shampoo - and nobody wants to look like they washed their hair with an oil derrick just because they want to shun capitalist urges. Shampoo does this because - and brace yourselves, because I'm going to use some serious scientific terminology - chemicals fuck with your body.

If you're reading this in 1960, I'm sorry if I dropped that bomb prematurely.

I stopped using shampoo and stuff last year, instead opting for a hot water regimen to keep my hair looking lovely, because being a Marxist shouldn't mean you should be any less fabulous (Do note, when you start washing your hair like this there is a day or two of greasiness - this is your natural oils overcompensating as a reaction to shampoo). For some people, shampoo simply makes the problem of grease worse, and a shampoo-free life is the alternative to twice-daily washes.

You'd be surprised how many people live like this, because nobody ever mentions it. This is because people are dicks. As soon as you come out of the closet for not using shampoo, for about five minutes, everyone in the room treats you as though you're a homeless person who just materialised in front of them. Once, someone sniffed me.

Surprisingly, this led to me mentioning it as little as humanly possible. However, one time when it is appropriate to mention your hair care regimen, is when you're at the hairdressers. Because, like I said before, hairdressers just cutting hair is a bit like brain surgeons administering plasters.

As an example of some of the wisdom a good hairdresser can bestow upon a Fabian with an image to uphold, here's some advice I picked up upon my last visit to the beauty parlor:

1) Stroke that shit.
When massaging your hair in the shower, don't get too into it. No, not like that. Massaging your scalp opens up the pores, and encourages oils to escape. So be gentle.

2) End it on a cold note.
Warm water also opens your pores. If you have the luxury of a shower with heat controls, you can give your hair a cold rinse to close them up again. If you shower in the mornings, this also helps wake you up.

3) Drying.
The heat rule also extends to drying - use either a light towel dry, or a cold/medium temperature on your hair dryer.

Viva la hair revolution. Fuck L'Oréal, yeah?