Dieting: Just Get On With It

My mother rang me this weekend to inform me of all the exhilarating things happening in her life, most prominently her new diet. “It’s happening this time Greg, I’m actually doing it, me and Virginia.” Despite being on a diet for the past nine years.

I’m quite sure that most people currently reading this have done one of the following things: been on a diet, think they need to go on a diet or have at some point thought of trying one. For all those who haven’t, I salute you.

The fact that most of us are now compulsively obsessed with our image has led to an absolute monsoon of new and more outlandish diets being implemented on the market and followed by those who are dumb and desperate enough to try them.

There are now an infinite different ways to accomplish weight loss: crash dieting, dehydration, liposuction (cheating), slimming pills, vomiting, body creams, starvation, its endless. One of my favourites is the ‘egg diet’, whereby you are required to eat no less than nine eggs per day, and for everyone nine, you only faint three times!

It’s not the constant array of diets being pummelled into my face I have a problem with, but the persistent daily triumphs and traumas those on diets cannot help indulge us on.

There are those, like my mum, who are seemingly on diets for years but barely scrape a pound off their hips, often enough to then turn around and start their perpetuating whining about why it’s not working as they glug the last calorie filled glass of wine and splurge out, ‘will start Monday.’

On the other hand there are the more successful dieters, the self-righteous smartarses. You will often find them gallivanting around like an ethereal bird, chin held high and boasting to you of how there life has been revolutionised by how much weight they’ve lost whilst emanating a lifeless feel of superiority.

The last group of dieters are those who are borderline underweight but still feel the need to lose all the hanging excess fat on their bodies that can only be seen by a NASA telescope. These are the equivalent of those consistent grade A* students you went to school with, who would panic when they got exam results that they were going to fail everything whilst you were shitting yourself starring down the barrel of your parents gun.

It’s really not hard to diet. Eat well, exercise, treat yourself now and again and don’t be moronic tool. Just keep it to yourself because I really don’t want to know.

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The Rise Of The Meme : The Web’s Most Inventive Way To Poke Fun

I’m growing increasingly fond of the internet meme. Once a tool for the graphic design student tryhard blogger people, (you know the sort), to poke fun out of mainstream culture, memes have recently seemed to break out to the masses and are no longer exclusive.

My first encounter of them was on LA blog Hipster Runoff, a satirical take on the world of hipster related culture, and the artists that seem to milk the “we’re so underground” sentiment.

Whilst Hipster Runoff is just harmless fun, some meme pages have been becoming increasingly competitive.

Why? Because of those pesky students again!

Back in October it’s reported that the first University Meme Facebook page was created by the Florida International University. It’s no surprise that Facebook as well as America are responsible for this phenomenon.

Soon university pages such as Westminster Memes, have been springing up all across the UK, Scotland and Wales, all celebrating the infuriating parts of university life in Britain. Social networking sites have fuelled the trend, which involves anyone creating a meme that resonates with the rest of their university peers.

But what actually is a meme? According to thefreedictionary.com a meme is, “A unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another”. I would have just presumed it’s a silly picture with a caption.

For many of these newly formed Facebook pages, memes are a pretty simple concept. It’s just about poking some lighthearted fun at the unvoiced annoyances that we all share about our educational institutions. For others though, offense is starting to be caused.

Memes like the one above, which is supposed to mock the intelligence of those who attend universities with a less than prestigious reputation, are causing online tensions between groups of London university students.

This is all a bit year 7 now, isn’t it.

A meme is just a picture, a piece of casual controversy that can occasionally make us laugh or baffle us if we’re not in on the ‘in-jokes’. It seems that they are here to stay, many of them spreading into other areas of life that infuriate us all, for example London Tube Memes, my personal favourite.

Here’s one meme that resonates with me more than any other meme I have encountered before.

Ahhh, I love memes.

Jack Rooke

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London pet peeves

London is an exciting and vibrant city, no denying that. Those who’ve just landed here must feel like they’ve just been dropped into a different planet and are busy exploring and enjoying themselves like the bloggers from The Young Londoner.

However for a typical Londoner like myself, frustration and outrage are the dominating emotions when living in London. Take for example our legendary reactions when we miss a Tube train despite the next when being a mere minute away. I took a little time out of my evening to ask my fellow Londoners what drives them mad living in the big city.

If you find yourself moaning in agreement with most of the list, consider yourself a Londoner.

 

1. Transport for London

No surprises on the number one thing that incites Londoners to tear their hairs (or what’s left of it) in a blind rage. From the rancid body odour that penetrates the air on both buses and Tubes to the expensive fares (a bus journey used to cost 70p; now it’s more than £4). And that’s just the crux of the problem. People’s other complaints are:

 

  • Lack of ventilation on both bus and Tube.
  • Being sardined during rush hour.
  • Not enough bins.
  • Tourists (see below).
  • Fare dodgers. Why should we pay large amounts why you hop on for free?
  • Bus randomly terminating before their last destination (route 391).
  • Confusion between zones. E.g. Notting Hill Gate station. Is it Zone 1 or 2?
  • The Wimbledon branch of the District Line.
  • Snow.
  • The idiot who plays his/her ‘choons’ out loud on the back of the bus.
  • Strikes.
  • The inaccuracy of the digital bus timetable.
  • ‘Passenger incidents’. Entire line suspended. Thanks.
  • People who get off tube/train/bus and stop dead on platform/pavement, preventing smooth flow of passengers out of vehicle.

The list is never ending. Although, just watching this BBC documentary shows how much effort is needed to keep all lines up and running. Unfortunately, it’s not going to deter those complaints anytime soon.

2. Tourists

Another favourite London pet peeve is, of course, the tourists. There are times where I just won’t acknowledge their value to London’s economy because they just won’t hurry up and get out of my way. They’re either too busy photographing every square inch or can’t tell the difference between Oxford University and Oxford Street on a map to acknowledge people are usually in a rush.

I find the best way to vent my frustration is either to send them the wrong way (‘where’s the King’s Road, Chelsea?’ You need to head to north London – it’s near Hampstead) or either casually ‘photobomb’ – jumping into a camera shot uninvited – the poor sods. Give and take, I say.

3. Racism in a culturally diverse city

Good grief.

 

4. Oxford Street

Shopping in the heart of London is like entering a never-ending war, with Oxford Street and its surrounding areas acting as the stage for battle. You enter along with other combatants – numbers reaching a hundred thousands – all looking for first blood at the shops. And that’s on a good day. Enter during the sales – particularly on Boxing Day – and you’ve got yourself a free-for-all merciless melee, which was highlighted when a young man died during last year’s Boxing Day sales. Shop locally instead. It’s calmer, safer, friendly and probably a hell of a lot cheaper.

5. Red telephone boxes

I used to love these things and this was before smartphones became prevalent in today’s society. It made me feel like a proper Londoner when I used them but now it’s become like a private booth for the uncouth, with sex cards plastered everywhere and the distinct smell of urine lingering around. You’re better off borrowing a stranger’s phone.

 

 

Nielsen Cerbolles

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Who ate all the pies?

Photo by the Great British Chefs Team

In case you didn’t see it noted on your calendars, today marks the start of British Pie Week. What a load of cobblers. It sounds to me like a marketing campaign dreamt up by pie manufacturers to boost sales. It’s like Valentine’s Day for the pie industry, but a week long and instead of buying roses we feel compelled to buy a Ginsters.

Don’t get me wrong though – I love pie. I mean there are so many options: steak pie, chicken and mushroom pie, shepherd’s pie, fish pie, a pork pie, meat and potato pie. And you can even have them for desert: apple pie, blueberry pie, custard pie, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, or maybe a bit of banofee – all whilst watching American Pie maybe? It gets a bit weird though when people take it too far and create something called: venison and double chocolate stout pie, or purple passion concord grape pie. I mean seriously? Some people just need to get out more.

Also, I thought there was an obesity epidemic – we shouldn’t be encouraging the rounder ones amongst us to waffle as much pastry down their throats as they possibly can. Although granted, “Salad Week” doesn’t have the same buzz. And I’m sure the cunning celebrity chefs will jump on the bandwagon and flog a few trillion copies of a pie-themed recipe book – all in the name of this wondrous celebration of course. Jamie, if you use this idea I want 20% commission.

So while the nation goes pie-crazy over the next seven days, I’m going to try and avoid this farcical excuse of a week. And if, by some outlandish reason I get caught up in the commotion – I will take my humble pie and eat it.

Matthew Burgess

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The Royal Family: It’s All Getting A Little Stale

The people of Belize were recently graced with the presence of our monarchies favourite maverick, redhead renegade son, Prince Harry. “The Royal raver”, has selflessly taken time out of his busy schedule of acting as a patriotic pomp pretending to be in the army to represent the Queen in a 10 day tour of the Caribbean. Just a couple of the harrowing tasks that the Prince will be required to take part in this week are a race against Usain Bolt and play Volleyball in Brazil. It’s a hard life.

 

Love them or hate them the Royal family are unfortunately wedged into our great British culture as tradition. One that is becoming rather stale.

 

I don’t personally hate the royals; merely see that the younger generation of our country today do not have the same admiration for them as our elders. Considering the media have turned the monarchs lives into a soap-opera that we MUST know about, then like all soaps when the ratings are getting low, why don’t they freshen up?

 

Television shows such as ‘Made In Chelsea’ and ‘The Only Way In Essex’ are extremely popular with the youth, why not implement this to the royals. We can follow the Queen’s strenuous daily trips to the beauty clinic for her waxing, uncover Charles’s many attempts to cull his mother for the crown and witness a drunken Harry stumble through the front door of Buckingham Palace at 4am with two respectable mistresses in his arms. Just a thought.

 

They can still be rooted into our society and culture, but to truly capture the general publics love once again more is needed from the Queen and co than simply giving us a wimp wave and using what facial muscle she has left in forcing a smile.

 

According to the dictionary a tradition is “the handing down of statement, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or practice.” FACT.

What I fail to see with the monarchy is where exactly they slot into this description. They are not a belief, certainly not legends and neither a statement. A tradition is something that is continuous, something that will keep recurring. The only two things I can think of that fit the Royals into this category is firstly the Queen’s annual inspirational ten minutes on the telly at Christmas and their existence.

 

In fairness to the Royals they do contribute to the country in some ways; bringing in foreign tourists every year ready to break their wallets with images of Prince Charming’s and medieval castles with dragons and wizards and other fairytale bullshit swirling around their heads.

 

Like I said I don’t hate the Royal family, but they’re not a tradition. And a bit more effort from their side wouldn’t hurt.

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Who’s teaching your children?

Photo by Marine Connan

So in the last week, the new head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has said: “All teachers should be qualified”. What an absolutely preposterous suggestion! You mean to say that, as citizens of this great nation, our children should be taught by professional people who have gone through the necessary rigmarole to be let loose in our schools? How dare we expect that from our education system. And while we’re at it – why stop there?

Let’s round up our homeless and get them working in our hospitals. It’ll get them off the streets and straight into promising careers. Youth unemployment is rife at the moment so let’s get them piloting our aeroplanes. Heathrow might even get its third runway so we could do with a few more pilots. I heard overcrowding in jails is a problem too – especially since the rioting last summer. Why don’t we just convert the miscreants to our side by giving them a uniform and a gun? They’re bound to see sense and start making our streets safer instead of causing the trouble. And lastly, with the Easter holidays coming up, young children will need something to keep them occupied. Maybe they can try writing for a Sunday tabloid – I hear there are vacancies at The Sun.

You may have sensed my slight sarcastic undertones – although that last suggestion might not be such a bad idea. Call me naive, but I always assumed that teachers were either qualified or training alongside someone qualified? It seems though that any old sod can do it. Is it any wonder then that the UK’s position in the international league tables has slipped?

So despite sounding incredibly obvious, Mr Wilshaw seems to have hit the nail on the head. Problem solved. I’m sure it comes as a welcome suggestion to all the fully trained, out-of-work teachers who struggle to get a job. Not to mention the ones who have jobs and have worked extremely hard to get there.

So until then – if you’re passing by your child’s school, you might want to pop your head around the classroom door. Just to make sure one of the dinner ladies isn’t also teaching maths.

Matthew Burgess

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Dear Facebook and Youtube, Please Don’t Nail Your Own Coffins.

I miss Bebo. Those were simpler times. The networking site unofficially died around 2005 when Myspace came along with a far stronger formula for social networking success. With a quick Google search you can still occasionally find a mate’s old Bebo page and use their cringeworthy past as ammunition. I used this form of terror against a friend I shall not name and shame, whose Bebo page described them as, “just a little bit odd but hopefully one day the world will get me”. Awh.

Yes, Bebo and Myspace are the cyber equivalent of old family photos you don’t want any of your new friends to see. But this is soon to happen to Facebook, with the widespread introduction of… Timeline.

Zuckerburg and Co. developed Facebook Timeline back in the autumn of 2011, and now they are forcing it upon us, like a vicious political regime.

One day (February 21st 2012), I logged on to Facebook to receive a less than courteous message from the people at FB telling me I had 7 days to prepare until my Timeline automatically went live. I felt the little boy in The Ring. It was distressing.

The basic premise behind the platform is to make your Facebook profile an online map of your life. Even your birth is on there. And to make it compulsory is a little too far.

For one, I don’t really like the way it looks. It’s confusing. I still don’t know how to change my cover photo, which makes me feel old, as if Facebook is now an under 15 thing. Secondly, you can access anyone’s cringeworthy statuses from the earliest moment they signed up to Facebook, essentially making the site as bad as Bebo, Myspace and Piczo. R.I.P.

Similarly I miss Limewire. It was my first port of call for any album, track or film I wanted to watch. Since being injected with piracy morals by a friend who is a part of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), a group of artists against filesharing, I now no longer download music illegally. But I still don’t pay for it. Instead I listen on Youtube, like many others do, just because I can’t constitute paying 99p on iTunes, unless I really really REALLY like the track.

But in the last few months Youtube has also become a similarly stressful experience to use. Everytime I want to listen to a song, I’m forced to watch a 30 second advert involving the human monstrosity that is Pitbull, prancing around some stadium in Brazil, or Cheryl Cole walking towards me with a L’oreal product and loads of weird bouncy hair that makes her look like an extra off My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. It’s unfair Youtube!

Hopefully these sites aren’t nailing their own coffins. The short history of social networking sites shows that with change people leave, and last year 6 million Americans waved goodbye to Facebook.

Will you do the same?

Jack Rooke

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Do we really need to partake in Follow Friday?

Apart from the constant hair-tearing tweets that contain ‘Bieber’ or ‘Belieber’, Harry Potter memes and angsty posts , one thing that you’ll see often on Twitter feeds are Follow Friday (#FF) requests.

As the title suggests, Follow Friday is an occasion on the social networking site where users make follower suggestions to their own followers. Like so:

OK, so it’s a good way to acknowledge someone who’s posted something interesting or kept you company during the week. That’s fine. But as the weeks go on, Follow Friday starts to feel tedious, soulless and rather automated as you go through your list. Maybe it’s because I spend far too much time with my streams (I help run 5 accounts which include my personal one) but it feels like I want to take a page from Matt’s post and tweet ‘happy Follow Friday. See last week’s list for recommendations’.

Ironically, a few people I questioned feels as if they see no difference in follower count when FF takes place.

I actually wouldn’t be surprised if the numerous follow buttons on this page did a better job. As Jade pointed out, only those with a large following can fully utilise FF and network effectively. Since the average Twitter user – according to the Guardian – has roughly 126 followers, ditching the trend looks the more attractive option. Obviously if someone were to mention me I would happily acknowledge it. Just don’t expect me to do the same (unless you smack that follow button at the bottom of the page, of course).

Nielsen Cerbolles

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Flipping The Bird : Is It Really That Bad?

When I was younger my brother always used to say to me, “How many fingers am I holding up?” The answer was always one. The middle one. Did I care? Not at all. It’s just a finger. Well at least it is to me.

British rapper MIA’s middle finger moment at last month’s Superbowl Halftime show, fuelled a media storm of outrage. The incident was barely noticeable to the average American viewer, with many taking to Twitter in baffled bewilderment at not even catching the bird being flipped. As per usual, the American press had a field day.

US blogs, papers and online magazines were a buzz with, to be frank, fairly poncey opinion pieces on the history of the middle finger, eventually picking on us Brits, claiming that we don’t understand the deep-rooted pride embedded in traditional American values.

In my eyes the Superbowl is a pretty dull watch anyway, and just an excuse for testosterone crazed yanks to scream at a plasma screen whilst drinking copious amounts of Bud light. But is it right that our “special” stateside friends can judge MIA and British society so quickly after the gesture?

Yes the Superbowl’s audience is roughly 117 million people, and flipping the bird during such a cherished event within American culture, is naïve to say the least. But what’s more annoying, is that MIA was rapping the line, “I don’t give a s**t”, and for many of us back in Blighty, that sentiment is synonymous with raising the middle digit.

She told BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe that, “The reason I’m performing with Madonna is because we’re two women and we represent two opposite sides of the world, and if we can come together at the Superbowl, I think that’s a cool thing to see this year… its kind of inspiring”.

Surely this should be the lasting message that the US media take from the performance. The fact that MIA, a Tamil refugee turned rapper, has made it to the biggest televised stage on earth thanks to one of the most successful female artists of all time, is far more of an inspiring story than a critical analysis of the middle finger.

And America’s deconstruction of modern day British etiquette was even more infuriating. The angle many blogs seemed to take, was that we have no pride for our country or national values. Therefore, we must all be running around rioting in Tottenham, looting Basmati rice and sticking our middle finger up to everything, a stark contrast to the ‘sipping tea’ stereotype.

However, America has recently been obsessed with Tottenham’s finest; one of Britain’s biggest transatlantic exports, Adele. And at this year’s BRIT Awards, Adele was more than happy to flip off ITV executives when they cut her acceptance speech for Album of the Year prematurely.

I applauded Adele’s middle finger response. Considering she’s the only famous spokesperson for frowned upon Tottenham, Adele telling us all that she was “so so proud to be British and flying our flag around the world”, was a positive statement. And the BRITS was the perfect platform to voice this. The fact she was cut off was pretty pathetic by ITV standards, and the gesture was more than deserved.

It seems that over there in the US, they’re fond of a drama. Here in the UK, we’re a little bit more jovial when it comes to the middle finger. Take for example the clip below of BBC weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker, and his little blip. A mistake? Yes. Headline news? No.

In the wider scheme of things, it’s just a finger.

Jack Rooke

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I Hate The Cinema

The last film I watched was rubbish. In fact, it was so bad I can’t even remember what it was called. It had Jonah Hill in it if that narrows it down for you at all. I no longer like the cinema and I haven’t got the patience or a solid enough internet connection (my broadband is supplied by Virgin Media) to illegally download a film. Besides, I find it difficult to watch videos or films on my laptop unless they contain terrible acting and euphemistic titles.

The real problem I have with the cinema is the price. I used to think it was slightly overpriced because you sat in comfort. However, in my relatively young age I seem to have developed what’s known by the chronic sufferers as “numb bum syndrome”.  For those of you who do not suffer with this condition I’ll briefly explain. If I, or any fellow sufferer, sit in the same place for a long period of time, typically over an hour and half (movie length), then my bum goes numb. The word uncomfortable doesn’t do it justice.

Unless your mobile phone is contractually linked to Orange and you have nothing better to do on a Wednesday evening, then the cinema is just overpriced and overhyped. It’s borderline daylight robbery to charge £7.10 to watch a film – it costs even more if you’re an adult.

Once you’ve overcome the ticket prices, you then have to attempt to smuggle your own sweets into the film. Unless, of course, you remortgage your house in order to buy pick ‘n’ mix or are in the minority of people who are partial to Flying Saucers. Incidentally, how does one go about eating a Flying Saucer? Do you eat around them, rather like a Jaffa Cake and then extract the sherbet? Do you just chew them and hope for the best? Or do you let them dissolve on your tongue? Answers on a postcard.

Congratulations! You’ve overcome all the hurdles so far. You’ve reluctantly purchased a ticket and managed to sneak your share-size bag of Minstrels past the spotty youth guarding the door to the screen. Said youth has torn your ticket slightly to acknowledge its legitimacy, as part of your soul dies at the fact that for £7.10 the ticket hasn’t remained intact. After several minutes of searching in the dark for your seat, knocking over fellow cinema-goers’ popcorn and irritating the shit out of everyone in the room, you’ve realised that “GA” means “General Admission” and you can actually sit wherever you want.

All that is left for you to do now is to sit and enjoy the 20 minutes or so of adverts and trailers that will shortly follow before the feature begins.

Please turn off your mobile phones. We hope that you enjoy the movie.

 

Matt Hill

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