Monthly Archives: March 2016

What’s the deal with Metro articles?

Ah, the Metro. That free paper you get on trains. A nice little read that gets you caught up on the day’s events and celebrity non-happenings.

It reminds me of old school days, and the times I got the train from a friend’s house (my default commute was on the Harlow-Chelmsford bus, sadly devoid of any complementary news correspondence).

But recently, something weird has happened to the Metro. Specifically, their online offerings at I’m talking about things like this:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.12.06

Huh? This is currently the 2nd article in their ‘Trending’ section. I’m not sure what trending means in that context though. Maybe it means most read, or most shared? By comparison, here’s the current BBC top read:

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.13.46

Where’s the spot-squeezing article at, yo? I’m confused. It’s just bad news and death!

But maybe it’s unfair to compare the Metro and BBC in this way. They cater to different audiences I suppose. And the taxpayer-funded BBC doesn’t quite have the same financial pressures as the free online version of a free print newspaper. The reliance on clickbait in the Metro shouldn’t be surprising.

BUT WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO WEIRD?! Here are some more.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.19.06

Legit an article about a muscular bird.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.22.48ISIS? What ISIS? This is news about Chinese runners eating soap.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.25.53

No…. she doesn’t?


MUST READ lol. All the lads getting their online clickbait in.


Sounds like some good science.

They also have some strange fascination with aliens.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.31.02

Oh, and demons…

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.32.58 Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.33.01 Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.33.04

It’s that last one that gets me the most. DEMON USES TEXT MESSAGES. Putting the bit after demon in quotes doesn’t mean it doesn’t look like you’re endorsing the existence of demonic entities. You’re meant to put the WHOLE thing in quotes.

Unless the Metro genuinely does believe in aliens and demons. And the straight way they report these articles makes it hard to see otherwise. Hmm.

There’s only three possible conclusions then:

  1. The Metro is secretly run by aliens and demons, who keep forgetting that writing stories about aliens and demons isn’t a typical thing that humans do.
  2. The Metro is run by humans but to cater TO the alien/demon market. This implies that the Metro journalists are least aware of the existence of these creatures, and are partially complicit in their concealment from the wider populace, OR perhaps are psychically controlled to be ‘news-slaves.’
  3. All of the above.

But if any of that were true, you’d think they’d make it a bit more obvious. Maybe a hint somewhere. Hiding in plain sight and all that. Perhaps a little note in their website banner or something?

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 15.11.00

Oh, right.

Review: Faulty Towers – The Dining Experience

You might have read in the news recently that John Cleese is considering suing a theatrical dining experience based around his classic sitcom, Fawlty Towers. This of course meant I had to go and check it out for myself.

Well, to be honest, I’d booked the tickets long ago. A birthday treat for OJ, it seemed like a fun evening out, and an easy way to get a show and a meal in the same place. Anyway, long story short, I went there last night.

Currently based in the Charring Cross Amba Hotel, the Faulty Towers Dining Experience is basically everything you remember from the BBC sitcom condensed into a two-hour sit down meal, with little-or-not effort made to make it at all different from the real thing.

Last October I went to a Twin Peaks-based dining experience for my birthday. For that, they at least made an effort to be somewhat original, changing the characters names and such. They even renamed the town of “Twin Peaks” to “Double Pineview” (geddit?). Faulty Towers however, literally just changed the ‘w’ in Fawlty to a ‘u’, not only failing to be distinguishable to any reasonable person, but also losing the clever wordplay of the original in the first place. And apparently that’s all you need to do in order to get away with not paying the original creator any monies?

LEGAL NOTICE: I am not a lawyer and have no understanding of how copyright stuff works. My opinions are just my opinions.

All the characters are called the same too. There’s three of them, Basil, Manuel, and Mrs Faulty (I guess Polly didn’t make the cut), and they are just carbon copies of the originals.

2016-03-25 20.11.53

Well, close enough anyway. All credit to the actors, they do a fine job of channeling the performances of Cleese, Sachs, and Scales. But it’s all just too familiar.

Expect to see beat-for-beat recreations of all the ‘best bits’ of Fawlty Towers. Basil trying to get Manuel to place a bet on a horse, a floundering attempt at doing a fire drill, and – yes – the inevitable build-up to that German scene.

It’s interesting that photos are encouraged, but taking video isn’t. We were even politely reminded halfway through our meal of this fact. I guess that the fact that lawsuits are hanging in the air means that the cast don’t want any footage circulating of just how similar the show is to the original. A picture can’t show what lines are being repeated verbatim, after all. So I can really only offer my anecdotal opinion, and say that I think John Cleese has a fair point and there’s a good case that he’s being ripped off.

What about the food itself? Well, it’s a mere prop to the show really. Stale bread rolls are thrown across the room with reckless abandon. Soup arrives late and of inconsistent volume. The main is an uninspired chicken supreme that is anything but. Not even a Waldorf Salad in sight.

Compare to the Twin Peaks dining experience I went to, where the food was original and memorable. A mushroom soup served in a coffee cup, and so on. And considering the price of Faulty Towers (£60 a pop), I kind of expected better. The whole thing being a deliberate shambles is one thing, but it doesn’t really excuse low quality.

And overall the Twin Peaks thing was a more immersive experience. You were given a character, and you got involved. With Faulty Towers, you’re more of a passive observer of the evening. Aside from being called a pervert by Basil, and Manuel saying I looked like a rat, there wasn’t much for me to do.

On the plus side, the physical comedy and make-believe violence breaks up the evening and is pretty convincing.

2016-03-25 19.51.09

Maybe the evening just wasn’t for me though. The main demographic of the audience was couples in their 50s. An aging, white audience who are more than happy to laugh along with tired stereotypes and thinly-veiled xenophobia. Basil mocking any audience members for being even a little foreign is particularly problematic as you know he’s ad-libbing. I mean, he’s making up racist comments to say on the spot. That just doesn’t sit right with me.

And even the rest of the material can’t help but feel a little dated. A lot of the jokes, especially early on, follow the same format.

BASIL: Manuel! Please do [x]
MANUEL: X? Ok, I do [x]!
BASIL: What on EARTH are you doing?!
MANUEL: You said to do [x]!
BASIL: Not [X], you idiot! [X] like this….

Where [X] is something like ‘collect everyone’s glasses’ or ‘rolls on the plates.’

I think I’d have preferred it if it had been a more intimate experience, with a fresh script. I know everyone there just wants to see their favourite scenes, but it doesn’t do the show any favours. Several classic lines are built up far too much and receive a round of applause afterwards everytime – which just feels so cynical to me.

How about a dining experience with the same characters, but Basil’s had to sell the hotel and is now running a B&B in Dover, or something? Bring it up to date a bit. Manuel’s got a son now, and Polly has a screaming baby. You can keep all the dynamics and stupid jokes that people love, without having to recreate things exactly or cross the line on copyright.

So, go and see the show if you’re after an interesting night out with someone who’s an UBER Fawlty Towers fan. They’ll probably love it. And despite what I’ve said, I did have a good time. I just found it problematic in places and a bit of a let down in others.

Oh, and bring cash. You have to pay for all your drinks 🙁

Richard’s 2016: Week 12

(Read up on what #Richards2016 is all about here.)

Yup, twelve whole weeks! Wow. A LITERAL DOZEN. Not like that weird fakey Baker’s Dozen. Like what the HELL bakers, get in line or get out, that’s what I say!

Anyway, on with it.

March 19th: Poultry Day

I’m sure this day is supposed to be all about supporting poultry or whatever. But, in the spirit of this blog, I made it about EATING STUFF INSTEAD YOLO.


March 20th: Snowman Burning Day

Almost died for this one.

So yeah I drew a snowman on a post-it and burnt it. IN MY HOUSE OVER MY WOODEN FLOOR WEARING MY CHEAP FLAMMABLE PRIMARK TOUSERS. Pro tip: don’t do any of that.

Thankfully I had a bowl of water on standby and my house didn’t burn down and my fingers were only mildly singed. Yay!

And also, the half-burnt snowman swirling in the bowl at the end is a kind of beautiful metaphor for the end of winter, right? Well, I think it looks cool.

March 21st: World Poetry Day

Wrote some poems and stuff and shared them online.

READ THEM HERE. My favourite one is Growl which I even went to the effort of recording once. Listen to it if you are bored or something.

It has been described in the comments as Incredible! Very larkinesque.

March 22nd: Goof Off Day

I work very hard. So I find it difficult to “goof off”. So I just did it at home instead.

Look at that. Has there ever been a man in a clearer state of goofing off? Let’s inventorise:

  • Classic hawaiian ‘party shirt’
  • Glass of plonk on the go
  • 20 – count them, 20 – brownie bites.
  • Double stuff oreo AKA the food of kings AKA the diabetes express AKA the widowmaker AKA my favourite thing to eat and goof off to.


March 23rd: Melba Toast

I don’t really know what Melba Toast is. I was able to buy some and it seems that it’s basically just small ready-made toast. You’re meant to spread classy stuff on it like paté or fish eggs or whatever. NO SUCH LUCK HERE


March 24th: Tuberculosis Day

Short of contacting TB myself, I wasn’t sure what to do. I also have had the BCG jab which is meant to protect against that kind of thing.

So I just sent £10 off to the British Lung Foundation instead. They do good work, and I’d encourage you to consider chucking some wedge at them too.

March 25th: Tolkien Reading Day

Got a free sample of the Fellowship of the Ring off the Kindle store and read it on a train.

It was actually great and reminded me that I’ve never actually finished reading TLoTR. Adding it to my to-read list!


Coming up in the next seven days….

  • March 26th: Make Up Your Own Holiday Day
  • March 27th: Neighbour Day
  • March 28th: Black Forest Cake Day
  • March 29th: Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
  • March 30th: Doctors’ Day
  • March 31st: Eiffel Tower Day
  • April 1st: International Tuba Day

Erm…. ok. Well, I’m looking forward to all those CAKE days I’m guessing.

Wish me luck xox

Richard’s 2016: Week 11

(Read up on what #Richards2016 is all about here.)

Week 11! Who’d have thought we’d make it this far?

It’s certainly starting to take a toll though. I noticed the other day that my Twitter numbers were falling. Not good. And it wasn’t just the follow-for-a-day-then-unfollow Twitter scumbags you get. It’s like actual followers I know and like. I guess some people find me constantly spamming what I’m up to all day every day kinda annoying? Maybe I should stick to obvious jokes and tired memes, since that’s what people like. Or sexism?

Sigh. But I’m not giving up. In the words of my Mean Girls hero, Kevin G, “you should never allow those who fail to appreciate what you’re trying to achieve to prevent you from continuing to do so”.

Onto the week then.

March 12: Plant a Flower Day

Not a problem. I have naturally green fingers. And also, I’m good at gardening haw haw haw!

It me. In .gif form. Planting a hyacinth bulb. (FUN FACT: hyacinths were named by some dude randomly picking letters out of a Scrabble bag).

Don’t ask why I’m doing it at like 10pm at night. I just am ok.

March 13th: Ken Day

I’m all about reusable content. So I recycled an old sketch about Ken I’d written for a thing.


March 14th: International Ask a Question Day

Wow, what a day this was.

I started small, simply sending a question out to all my Twitter followers:

No responses. Dang. To be fair, the day is just ‘ask a question’ so I didn’t really need a response. But Twitter is all about conversations innit. I wanted more.

So I flipped it on its head and asked people to ask me questions:

I answered some questions there, which was kinda fun I suppose.

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 10.58.23

But THEN I noticed that good ol’ Boris Johnson was doing an #AskBoris Q&A session on Twitter. Now, I have a thing where every time this happens I ask him a very simple question.

Screen Shot 2016-03-19 at 10.59.38

Usually he just ignores it (FOR SOME REASON), but this time I was in luck.

Needless to say, I went nuts. I got lots of RTs and all those lovely nice warm social media feelings. Ahh. I also got questions from people replying to Boris, but leaving me in on the mentions. That was fun.


Sorry I couldn’t help, Muslim Patrol UK!

March 15th: Buzzards Day

Not many buzzards in Cambridge. So I just listened to my friend David’s band Buzzard King. They do a good cover of Ain’t No Grave that I recommend!

March 16th: Freedom of Information

It turns out basically anyone can submit an FOI request. I thought they’d at least ask you why you want the information you’re requesting, but nope! So you can literally request whatever you want from anyone in the public sector.

Except it can’t be too dumb or else they’ll just reject it. Also, it turns out that a lot of public sector stuff is contracted out to private companies. Like, you couldn’t ask the council about trains and stuff, because that’s all Train Operating Company info. Boo!

Anyway, I went with a dumb question about libraries and books.

They’ve received my request now and I await their response. Could take like three weeks though 🙁 STAY TUNED FOLKS

March 17th: Saint Patrick’s Day

Just did all the obvious quasi-racist St. Patrick’s stuff.

I also learnt that I have a super low tolerance for people who call it “St Patty’s”. Like, I understand the logic, but it’s just wrong. Further reading here.

March 18th: Awkward Moments Day

With me, every moment is an awkward moment!

But seriously, I have to pick one I guess. So I’ll just go with trolling a Vice writer on Twitter.

BEST PART: I wasn’t even the first person to make that joke. OH INTERNET.



Coming up:

  • March 19th: Poultry Day
  • March 20th: Snowman Burning Day
  • March 21st: Single Parent’s Day
  • March 22nd: Goof Off Day
  • March 23rd: Melba Toast Day
  • March 24th: Tuberculosis Day
  • March 25th: Tolkien Reading Day

A mixed bag there. Let’s see how it goes.

p.s. Remember those shoes I ordered and were too small and I had to get replaced? Well, guess which replacements still haven’t shown up? HAHAHA YES THOSE ONES.

Sketch: Hipster Ken

The following is a sketch I wrote for Newsjack that of course didn’t get used. It’s pretty stupid. But it’s Ken Day so I thought I’d share it again here. Enjoy?


Toy news now. Yes, we’re really doing Toy News now apparently. It’s not like the country’s future as one of the world’s biggest political groups is being under threat right now or anything, we’ve got bigger things on our mind.

At the New York Toy Fair, Mattel have unveiled their latest Barbie doll set, which is fully Wi-Fi enabled, features voice recognition technology, and even has wireless lightbulbs. This has sparked debate amongst toy fans as it now means that Barbie has a better life than me!

But for all the advancements in Barbie’s modern life, is her boyfriend Ken getting left behind? We smuggled a microphone-equipped Barbie into an executive meeting to find out.


This new Barbie sure is something. She’s got all the latest gadgets and gizmos, and each doll has its own Twitter account. And if there’s one thing that kids love, it’s toys featuring unnecessary technological innovations.


Yes, this is all well and good. But what about the Ken doll? We haven’t updated him since the 80s. I mean, he still hasn’t even got genitals!


No need to worry about that. We’ve had someone on the case. Send in, Gok Wan!


Hello darlings! I’ve got some great ideas to bring Ken right up to the 21st Century. First up, the name. Nobody cool is called Ken anymore.


I’m called Ken!


Exactly. So we’ve changed the name, and he’s now called… Trés Cool, which is French for ‘very cool’. Because he is very cool.


Trés… I love it!


Trés is a 20-something social media consultant who lives in a rented flat in Berlin. He loves artisan coffee and knitting his beard.


Oh my god, you’ve made Ken into a hipster!




Trés is über trendy. By which I mean he’s trendy and has Uber.


You really think kids will want to play with a weird loser manchild?


Oh no, Trés isn’t meant to be ‘played’ with. He’s his own independent person. He’s also a freelance blogger and full-time vegan. I wouldn’t expect children to understand.


I don’t like this idea.


But what else have we got? Especially after our disastrous run of Donald Trump: Action Man figures….


And I didn’t even mention the best bit! Press a button on Trés’ back and he’ll read you his dissertation on Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. See!


When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.


Well, let’s just hope this does better than our rebrand for Snakes and Ladders.


Oh, what was that?


We accidentally invented the Cereal Café in Shoreditch.


Richard’s 2016: Week Ten

(Read up on what #Richards2016 is all about here.)

Yay, week ten! That’s definitely a milestone right there. Only… 42 more weeks to go?

Like, I’m not saying that I’m running out of steam or anything. But if I was a steam engine, I’d be long overdue for maintenance!! This analogy works if you don’t really think hard about it or even at all, so don’t do that ok thanks.


March 5th: Cheese Doodle Day

It turns out that cheese doodles are just Wotsits! Well, technically there’s a trademarked foodstuff called Cheez Doodles but that’s spelt like totally differently. I think the generic term can refer to any cheese-flavoured puffy crisp. So in America you’d get Cheetos, etc. and over here you have the humble Wotsit.

I hadn’t had a Wotsit for a while before this. It’s a pretty nostalgic crisp for me. So I enjoyed that brief return to youth it instilled in me.

March 6th: Frozen Food Day

This is an interesting one. Like what are you meant to do with the frozen food? Eat it? But any kind of preparation of said frozen food would surely result in its thawing. Thus, something extra needed to be done with the food. Something special.

This isn’t just me balancing a frozen garlic flatbread on my head. I know it looks like it’s just me balancing a frozen garlic flatbread on my head, but it’s a lot deeper than that. Look, I’m not gonna explain all the deep and meaningful symbolism here (that would be an insult to your intelligence), so I’ll just let it speak for itself.

March 7th: Cereal Day

Ate some cereal, didn’t I?!

In this case, a bowl of Chocolate Shreddies. I am a big fan of Shreddies in general. So here is my umprompted list of Shreddies, ranked.

  1. BEST: Frosted Shreddies
  2. Chocolate Shreddies
  3. WORST: Shreddies

Now, don’t be misled. I’m not saying I don’t like normal Shreddies. I really do. They’re just less preferable to me than Frosted or Chocolate Shreddies. (ALSO in at #4 must surely go these ‘Shreddies‘ which describe themselves as  “flatulence filtering underwear”).

Also there apparently exist HONEY SHREDDIES but I have never ever seen this anywhere so I refuse to believe in them.

I’d like to call out the highly effective marketing of Shreddies in the 90s. They featured a anthropomorphised monster embodying hunger in all kinds of situations. Like this, which must surely be the greatest ever televised adaption of Romeo and Juliet:

INSTANT NOSTALGIA. Also the way that Hunger beats the spoons on people’s bellies looks highly satisfying.

March 8th: Proofreading Day

Can’t really prove I did anything for this. But I proofread some stuff throughout the day.

I’m terrible at proofreading though. This blog, for instance, routinely has dozens of mistakes in it. I’m just no good at reading over my own material. So I should really learn how to proofread better.

UPDATE: I also corrected some of my older tweets.

March 9th: Get Over It Day

This is supposed to be a day about getting over heartbreak and stuff or whatever. But that’s BORING. Instead, I did the ol’ cookywook switcheroo and physically got over something. In this case, my stuffed cat Trim.

I’m so clever! Thanks to Trim for going along with this. No stuffed cats were harmed in the making of this Vine.

March 10th: World Kidney Day

I had kidneys.

Ok, let me be the first to call myself out on this. Just ‘having kidneys’ isn’t really enough is it? Most people on the planet ‘have kidneys’ most days of the year. And mere possession alone isn’t the same as celebration.

BUT, I’d like to make a very fine point. We all have kidneys. But we don’t all have what mindfulness experts refer to as a “conscious experience” of having kidneys. It is in the noticing that we have kidneys and acknowledging we have them that we truly appreciate them.

So on this day, I didn’t just have kidneys. I absolutely rocked my kidneys.

I also drank a whole loada water because I think that’s something to do with kidneys.

March 11th: Middle Name Pride Day

There, I said it.

Yeah!!!!!!!! And now, for the next seven days we’ve got…

  • March 12th: Plant a Flower Day
  • March 13th: Ken Day
  • March 14th: International Ask a Question Day
  • March 15th: Buzzards Day
  • March 16th: Freedom of Information Day
  • March 17th: Submarine Day
  • March 18th: Awkward Moments Day


Richard’s 2016: Week Nine

(Read up on what #Richards2016 is all about here.)

Hello friends. Thanks for joining me on another week of this ridiculous life project I insist on putting myself through. I hope at least one of us is enjoying it.

Right then, let’s get to it.

February 27th: Kahlua Day

love Kahlua, so this was easy. A while back I even bought a little White Russian Kit that included a glass, a milk bottle, some vodka, and kahlua. It’s the cutest little thing.

So this meant I was well equipped for a delicious Kahlua Day.

Dunno why I’m pulling that face to be honest. Kahlua is smooth and delicious.


February 28th: Tooth Fairy Day

There is no tooth fairy. Therefore this day does not exist.

Call me a copout all you want, but what am I seriously gonna do for ‘tooth fairy’ day? Steal some child’s teeth and take them for my own? To then exchange for money under my pillow? Do you have any idea how CRAZY that sounds? Get a clue, Buster!

Anyway, my logic is sound. I can’t do a day that refers to a non-existent object. And I know this logic is sound because…..

February 29th: Bachelor’s Day

Awwww yeahhh, it’s my literal degree in philosophy. It was shoved down the back of my wardrobe under a load of hoodies, but I managed to find it! PRO LIFE TIP: no employer ever asks to see your degrees. So just go ahead and make up whatever you want and save yourself the £20k debt I’m now in.

And I know that Bachelor’s Day is probably meant to be about being a massive unmarried lad. But I am about the least laddish person in the known universe. I think I was born with an allergy to laddism or something. Thankfully, there is no cure.

I’m also not technically a Bachelor of Arts anymore. I got a Masters last year, but it was just a free upgrade from uni for doing absolutely nothing for a couple of years. I’m honestly surprised they’re allowed to do it. But yup, it’s a real thing. Sorry everyone who did all the work on a real Masters, I’m just as qualified as you apparently!!!

March 1st: World Compliment Day

This is one I mostly took offline. I went around giving everyone lots of lovely compliments. Of course, this comes easily to me as I’m SUCH A NICE GUY ALL THE TIME. But I put a few out on Twitter too.


March 2nd: Banana Cream Pie Day

Once again Cambridge fails to deliver on delicious deserts. So I had to improvise.

2016-03-02 21.17.552016-03-02 21.18.05

To make Richard’s Banana Cream Pie:


  • Co-op foamy bananas
  • Co-op squirty cream


  1. Sandwich bananas together with the squirty cream.
  2. Eat

I wish I could say this was delicious, I really really do.

March 3rd: Mulled Wine Day

Why exactly is Mulled Wine Day in March? Mulled wine is a wintery drink. It has no place in the early days of spring. And so of course you can’t buy it anywhere. But as always, I IMPROVISED:

Yes, Sangria, AKA Spanish mulled wine served cold. I even shoved a slice of orange in there to make it proper authentic.

You say it’s not mulled wine? I say I just invented a whole new genre of it, mate.

March 4th: Day of Unplugging

I suppose this is meant to be about switching off, letting go of your devices, not habitually checking social media all day long. But I can’t do that. Firstly, I’m legit addicted to it. Secondly, my job depends on me knowing what’s happening on social media all the time. So I’m not doing that.

I just unplugged a kettle instead.

I hope that’s understandable? Rewatching, my accent is a disgrace. I’m saying “gonna unplug this kettle, ain’t I?” followed by “oy oyyyyy!!!”. I attended the Danny Dyer School of Talking Proper English Innit.

That’s it, baby!

  • March 5th: Cheese Doodle Day
  • March 6th: Frozen Food Day
  • March 7th: Cereal Day
  • March 8th: Proofreading Day
  • March 9th: Get Over It Day
  • March 10th: World Kidney Day
  • March 11th: Oatmeal Nut Waffles Day

Ok, four food ones there. That might just be some kinda record!

Anyway, it’ll be fun. I hope. THANKS GUYSZZ.

ps. There is no ps this week.