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Brexitball: Dealing with disappointment


I can pin the last time I had that feeling down to the minute.

Sunday 13th April, 2014. 1.36pm.

Listen, I know I can’t complain about my life. I have a job I love and a wonderful girlfriend; I am healthy and have stayed out of destitution; I have good friends and live in a city I adore.

This is all fantastic but over all these elements I have at least a relative degree of control; this, sadly for a control freak like me, is not the case with everything, and of the things over which I have little or no control there are just two which really influence me: politics and football.

At 1.36pm on Sunday 13th April, 2014, Liverpool were playing Manchester City at Anfield. With the team on a Luis Suárez-inspired charge towards the Premier League title, Philippe Coutinho had put us 3-2 up against our only realistic challengers for the trophy. With only a minute or two to go, the game was essentially won. The title was all but in the bag. We could relax.

At that moment, in the 93rd minute, midfielder Jordan Henderson was shown a straight red card for a violent tackle on City winger Samir Nasri – and the world I dreamed of began to disintegrate. Continue reading


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I have nothing against your stick — just keep it to yourselfie

I own a selfie stick.

This is not really by choice. That’s not to say it was forced upon me; it was somewhat consensual, coming free with a purchase of something I actually wanted. I have never used a selfie stick, and I don’t think the mere fact that I now have one all to myself is going to change that. Its only benefit to me will be to reduce the net loss on the original purchase when it goes to a loving home via eBay.

Nevertheless, this glistening shaft of photographic egotism’s awkward intrusion into my home led me to consider the selfie more widely. This coincided with my reading a Guardian article by art critic Jonathan Jones who, even by the standards one might expect of a Guardian art critic, is so pretentious that if he were to look down his nose any more his eyeballs would be poking out of his nostrils.

Still, let’s try to forget for a moment about the fact that this is a man so out of touch that he thinks a member of the Royal Family is the arbiter of the cultural zeitgeist; instead, we will delve into his musings on the symbolism of self-portraiture:

The self portrait for Van Gogh and Picasso was a thing of fear and dread: we’ve taken that dread and airbrushed it out of existence. Selfies deny and erase a fundamental human self-consciousness. […] The widespread delusion that selfies have anything in common with real portraits – that when Rembrandt painted his own image he was somehow daubing a “selfie” – is a tragic attempt to reduce the most profound human experiences to total banality.

Is this really a “widespread delusion”? For me to try to compare a selfie I take with the work of Van Gogh would be like drunkenly falling on a piano’s keyboard and declaring through boozy breaths that the sound created was on a level with Debussy. However euphonious it sounds to me, I know this to be folly. The selfie is not about art, just as Picasso didn’t daub his visage to record his night out with the lads.

big nite wiv da boiz

big nite wiv da boiz

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There are nights when only writing will do.

Only tossing words from the cavernous locket of your mind into the unrippling pond lake ocean which aches before you, Continue reading

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Abercrombie & F*** You

I really want to go to a gala dinner evening at the foot of the dinosaur in the main hall of the National History Museum. Doesn’t everyone? Well, a colleague of mine lived that dream. He recently attended the European Diversity Awards along with a charity that he and our organisation have worked with. It sounds like a stunning event with an array of famous names — not to mention the charity itself did rather well.

After hearing all about it in the office, I had a bit of a look at the website. It was all rather interesting to see who’d won and who’d been nominated, but something nearly made me spit out my fat-free yoghurt:

European Diversity Awards

Okay, corporations sponsor diversity awards. It’s wonderful marketing and sends their Corporate Social Responsibility manager home with a smile on her or his face. I work for an organisation that is all about the intersection between business and charity, so I’m all for it.

But to see the words Abercrombie & Fitch so close to a charity that is all about raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders is an insult to anyone who has actually suffered from negative body image. Continue reading

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Songs about grandad

It’s pretty rare that you find a song that really twists your heart around; a perfect balance of melodic beauty and lyrical simplicity that also speaks to something inside you, leaving you fighting back tears on a packed commuter train while you nonetheless pull your phone out of your pocket as it comes to the end to make it start all over again.

This is the relationship I have with Afire Love, a song from Ed Sheeran’s most recent album. It’s by no means the best song on the album, and will never be a hit; they’re not the cleverest lyrics he’s ever written and nor does it show off the virtuoso guitarist that he is. What it is, however, is simple, beautiful, and about the death of a grandfather after suffering from dementia.

While the verses come across pretty bleak, describing a young Ed being told being told by his father that “it’s not his fault he doesn’t know your face – you’re not the only one”, it’s the choruses that get me. Continue reading

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My body, my mind and me: Part 1 — The journey

This is intended to be the first part of a series of posts discussing weight loss, body image and both the healthy and unhealthy mental and physical effects of going from being very obese to being ‘normal’. It is the first time I have truly taken the time to assess this in depth. Please accept my apologies in advance for the narcissism contained herein.

As of writing this, my last known weight was 10st 1.8lb.

That measurement was taken over a week ago. This hiatus in self-evaluation is something of a rarity for me. Living in London last year, I weighed myself twice every day as a minimum, typically more. It would only be twice if I was out of my flat for the whole day; I would weigh myself after first getting up – having been to the toilet first, of course, in order to enhance the illusory sense of achievement that comes with having as low a number as possible on that tiny digital display – and then once before bed. If I came home from university during the day then quite often I would weigh myself then as well. If I went for a run or for a game of squash, I tended to check my weight both beforehand and afterwards. I grew fascinated and frustrated by the hourly fluctuations, which did not always seem to match my expectations. Sometimes, after eating and drinking virtually nothing, I found myself infuriated by the stagnation or even increase in my alleged mass between the beginning and the end of the day; at other times I would step onto the scales with trepidation only to find it had significantly dropped.

However, since moving to Spain in August I have not had constant access to a set of scales. Continue reading

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It’s okay for men to hate Page 3 too

There are plenty of reasons to despise The S*n –– as a Liverpool fan, one that has been going on since the year I was born springs to mind – so far be it from me to try to narrow the focus. However, you may be familiar with the campaign ‘No More Page 3’ (and its Twitter feed, Tumblr and petition). It’s a great campaign with a great cause: get naked models out of the news section of the most-read national daily paper in the UK.

I’ll get back to the cause itself in a minute; for now, I would like to direct you to some secondary reading, a blog post by a fellow going by the name Fles entitled, simply enough, NO MORE PAGE THREE. In it, he outlines the difficulties being a man who publicly supports the cause as he is met by disbelief or ridicule simply for wearing the T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan in public.

It’s a great post, and I strongly recommend it, but it’s not the post that I want to write about. Scroll down the page to the comments, and what you see is painfully predictable; women saying how great it is that he’s spoken out on the issue and stood up for his beliefs, and men accusing him of insincerity, sycophancy, or even gender-based self-loathing.

What a stupid attitude. One doesn’t have to have a pair of breasts to be offended by the media feeling the need to shove one in your face in every situation. Continue reading


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