Last weekend was the ultimate Christmas weekend; so if you are looking for a soiree of things to do before heading home for the day itself, then check some of these out, says Em Bell…
WE’RE NOT IN BROMLEY ANYMORE
After a cracking breakfast of scrambled eggs, salmon, bagels and bucks fizz (what a start), we realised that our next stop was Bromley. Where is that? On a map it looks like it’s close to Brighton. Well that’s an exaggeration but I swear we hit the countryside on the train ride there.
Anyway it couldn’t have been more worth the trip. It had been a while since I had been to a pantomime and they are spectacular. Not everyone’s cup of tea. But it was ours. In our Christmas jumpers, we sat in the back row and bobbed around to the explosion of terrifying enthusiasm, colour, music, genres and stories. Particular shout outs to Wired Wendy who was utterly brilliant. And the dude from Eastenders who plays Hook. Oh and the crocodile who actually dances to Gangnam Style (I know). Peter Pan at the Churchill Theatre in Bromley is worth the trip. And every penny. Take some red bull. Or a bucket of wine.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BEARDS
I love a dingy hovel with hot beared waiters, awesome cocktails and incredible service that makes you order ten £10 tipples each without even thinking. Post-pantomime and in desperate need for a something strong, we whizzed back into the city to Hoxton Square. Happiness Forgets is utterly brilliant. With a no standing policy, you are huddled at your tables, in the dark, with a proper Christmas smell, candlelight and old school tunes.
The cocktail list is extensive. When we asked for something gin based, they whipped something up for us especially, without questions. Mine had absinthe in it and tasted mildly of grass. But I loved it. The snacks were delicious. Our drinks were full. We spent hours there, working our way through the menu and left with a new love for beards, darkness, Christmas and gin.
I’m a sucker for a burger. Especially a rare one. To be honest it’s my favourite munch on an evening out. I scour London for burgers. I’ve been a fan of the Meat Easy family now for a while; from its measly beginnings as a burger van, to a pop up in New Cross – #meatmarket, it nabbed its first full-time venue in the form of Meat Liquor. I was in love from the beginning and am even more so after stumbling across Meat Mission just near Hoxton Square. I admit I have skipped out Meat Market in Covent Garden, but we will meet.
Meat Mission is utterly brilliant. It opened a few days ago so the staff were surprisingly friendly. The manager is the brother of the owner and he has just arrived in London to get this joint running. And boy was it running. Built in an old missionary, with plaques on the wall and stained glass windows, you better bring your halos. Chuck them on the floor and stamp on them in the naughty, ’50 shades of grey’ style room next door. We were given a tour, with jam jars of wine in our hands. We scoffed on spectacular chips, perfect burgers, lots of gherkins, all on a tray. The service was friendly, the venue was good and bad all the same time, and the food was my kind of food. Perfect pit stop after some drinks and before a night out.
If I knew the name of the place we went after, I would advise you heavily not to go. I’m afraid the night bus the whole way home was more fun. Especially than the sweaty hug I received from an obese sweating yankee dude called Chris. But hey, that’s what you get after being so angelic in a mission.
After a morning of presents, bubbles, food shopping and dog walking, we skipped off for some Ice Skating at the Natural History Museum. I mean skipped because there was thunder, lighting and pouring rain. There isn’t much to say except I. Love. Ice-Skating. Ok. Ignore the crowds, the mine sweep of ice skating blades that narrowly avoid your feet in the changing room, the psychos that are allowed on the rink and the feeling of wet socks when doing your shoe handover. I mean, what is more festive than wrapping up warm, holding hands with your friends/ lovers and scooting around on the ice under trees filled with fairy lights? Not much. Except ice-skating is slightly like allowing everyone in the world to drive without a license. Almost everyone is out of control in an ice rink. And if you aren’t you do twizzles and things in the middle. But now there is a tree there so the middle is filled with people clinging on instead. I still loved it. Some mulled wine after. A bucket of penny sweets. And then some hot cider in the Queens Arms up the road. What a Christmasey Sunday. I guess because I still have all my toes I can say this. I wasn’t the chick taken off the ice in a wheel chair.
With bucks fizz, Christmas jumpers, night buses, mistletoe, roast with a trimmings, presents, cards and all, it’s no wonder I’m feeling like I’ve already had Christmas. And I liked it. I’m the opposite of Scrooge. I’m the person with two Christmas jumpers. One with a Christmas tree on it. And one with bells on. Because my name is Bell. That’s all.
2012 is nearly over. The great year of British sport, the great year of miserable weather, the great year of royal milestones. All are nearly over. In fact, even the world is nearly over. Ah well, never liked it anyway.
The point is that the end of a year provides me with the opportunity to join in with every other lazy hack the world over and make a list of pointless and totally nonsensical awards for the past 12 months. These were originally going to be called “The TP’s” or something equally catchy and naff. However I succeeded in making them so opinionated and contentious that none of the rest of the editorial team wanted anything to do with them. So battle on alone I shall, the road less travelled by is mine. Without further waffle, here are the unofficial 2012 Trivial Pursuits awards of the year…
- Sports Personality of the year
There is so much contention over the official SPOTY award, that I wouldn’t like to kick the hornet’s nest and state that Wiggo deserves praise over Andy Murray, or that one gold in seven disciplines is worth less than two golds in a pair of very similar ones. No, instead of plumping for one of the favourites for the actual BBC award, I have decided to go for the underdogs who have impressed me this year.
Firstly, I think it would be impossible to go any further without praising the efforts of Lionel Messi. Sure the Argentine superstar plays for a team where even Michael Ricketts could probably make double figures every season, but (at time of writing) 86 goals… Eighty. Six. Goals… In a year. The feat was absolutely astonishing and it broke Gerd Mueller’s record which had stood for 40 years. Plus he didn’t even do a Gangnam celebration for any of them.
An additional overseen hero of the year was the talisman of Europe’s outrageous Ryder Cup victory, Ian Poulter. Europe were staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat in Medinah until Poults hit five consecutive birdies to claim a crucial point and keep the deficit to a just-in-touch 6-10. Had that match been lost, there would have been no hope and none of the outrageous drama of the following day. Poulter won 4 points out of 4 over the weekend and his overall Ryder Cup record stands at played 15, won 12. If Europe was a country, then the man from Milton Keynes would be a knight of the realm.
The hugely contentious winner though, is both a joint award and awarded to two beasts rather than men. 2012 saw the retirement of arguably two of the finest racehorses that we will ever see in Frankel and Kauto Star. The former was a merciless winning machine, unbeatable over an astonishing three year career. The latter a people’s champion and writer of fairytales, who just refused to bow to the passing of time and the challenge of young upstarts. While Frankel undoubtedly achieved more over the year, indeed Kauto’s 2012 consisted of a valedictory lap at Cheltenham, they will both live long in the memory. So thank you Frankel, merci Kauto, enjoy your retirement, gents.
- Non-Sports Personality
Maybe it’s just me, in fact definitely it’s just me, but I’m struggling to think of non-sportsmen who really did well over the last year. Labour on I must though… Her Majesty the Queen added another milestone to her wonderful tenure by passing 60 years at the head of this fair isle. She is now only four years off Vicky’s World Record and after the bloody-minded resilience of her mother, who’d bet against her smashing it?
Keeping it in the family, Prince Harry added a bit of light entertainment to silly season by getting his todger out in Las Vegas, while a mere month later we were treated to the sight of the Duchess of Cambridge’s norks. At the time, one suspected that the royals were doing a WI-style nude calendar, although a tasteful picture of Prince Charles sitting in the buff behind a strategically-placed item of fruit failed to materialise, which put paid to that theory.
Elsewhere a special mention is deserved by EL James for exposing the myth that girls have some sort of moral highground when it comes to smut. The 50 Shades trilogy was read by just about every girl in the country, taking over from Harry Potter and proving that dildos really are the new magic wands.
However the “personality” of the year had to go to one man, and a man who could conceivably win this award every year forever. Boris Johnson’s popularity, in his own words, went “zoink” over the summer as he managed to whip the general public into a state of hysteria and “Olympomania”. His speech on the eve of the London games swung rabidly between stand-up comedy and the Nurenberg rally as he piled into the likes of Mitt Romney (more on him later…), the French, the Spanish, the Greeks, the Germans and just about anyone who his insane mind settled on. Wherever he went, he received standing ovations. He even managed to make buffoonishly hanging from a zipline look good. The mayor’s job is his for as long as he wants it. Boris, we salute you.
- Album of year
I think it’s fair to say that this year hasn’t been a vintage year for music. There has been the odd release that has raised interest, but this is definitely one category where the field has been stronger in the past. Alt-J’s Mercury-winning debut An Awesome Wave deserves special mention, as indeed do other strong first releases from Alabama Shakes and Milagres. Frank Ocean and Swans garnered huge critical acclaim, while Jack White finally went solo and released a solid collection of stompy, bluesy rock.
The outstanding album of the year though was, from where I’m sitting, Ill Manors by Plan B. A phenomenal release of gritty, scene-setting music, the album was essentially the soundtrack to the film of the same name. Regardless of the often harrowing realism of the stories told, Ben Drew’s combination of rap, soul and slick production made it this year’s essential release and confirmed his exceptional natural talent. Full review here.
- Single of year
Much harder to judge, as it is tricky to define. Do you go for the songs that have been popular, the songs that are critically acclaimed, or just those that you personally enjoyed? On the whole the former can be discounted. Indeed the 2nd best selling song of the year is Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe, a song so bad that even the sight of scantily clad cheerleaders singing it can’t shake the fact that it makes me want to slice my ears off and set fire to myself. So I’ll attempt to strike a balance between quality and popularity…
In third place for this award is the all-conquering Gangnam Style by Korean rapper PSY, as beneath the absurd dance and hilarious video lay a genuinely catchy pop song. Runner up was Santigold’s Disparate Youth, a beautifully layered piece of reggae-infused pop that resembled a classier version of Rihanna.
The winner though (and given its position as top-selling single, undisputed song of the year) was Somebody I Used To Know by Gotye. You will probably never hear of Australian/Belgian Gotye again, so we must let him bask in his moment before he goes and joins Chumbawumba, Vanilla Ice and Europe in the great one-hit-wonder graveyard. Gotye, we salute you… And also those who performed this ludicrous cover version.
- Movie of year
At odds with the predictions I made at the start of the year, many of the bigger releases turned out to be disappointing. Both Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises were disappointing in their own ways, perhaps a result of artificially high hopes based on their predecessors. So what impressed me?
The latest instalment in the Bond franchise, Skyfall, was a hugely entertaining film and deserves mention. Bardem’s villain was both sinister and entertainingly camp in the grand traditions of bond baddies. The film also struck a balance between being modern but also true to Bond’s roots. Yes it was all spangly and internet generationy, but it also had corny one-liners and henchmen being eaten by exotic animals. A feather in the cap of Sam Mendes.
Another film that I enjoyed watching was the prohibition-era drama, Lawless. While I must confess that Tom Hardy is fast approaching the “I’ll watch him in anything” status enjoyed by Messrs Day-Lewis and Di Caprio, the big surprise of the film was in an uncharacteristically mature and un-annoying performance from Shia LeBoef. Hammer’s version of The Woman in Black was also very watchable in a “ghost ride at the fair” sort of way, while Ted offered immature laughs a-plenty especially for fans of Family Guy.
The best film of 2012 though was an idea that sounded absolute profiteering horse-shit on paper. It reeked of executive meeting in which some Hollywood bigwig pondered “here are a handful of franchises that have achieved commercial success in spite of mixed (bad) reviews, why not throw them all together for a quick buck?”… So they did. Only somehow it was absolute genius. Avengers Assemble was that film, flying in the face of half-baked load of rubbish it should have been. It was funny and gripping, it was cool and action-packed. Most of all it was immensely entertaining. This year’s Transformers. Full review here.
- Joke of the year
The official joke of the Edinburgh festival this year was this by Canadian comedian Stewart Francis: “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.”
I’m not really sure who awards these things, but having looked at the top ten for the award, there must be some sort of watershed agreement. Most jokes you’ll hear down your local Comedy Store are funnier than this, the only trouble is that you wouldn’t necessarily tell them around children. Fortunately as Justice Leveson ruled, the internet is an “ethical vacuum”, and unless he means that I’m posting this on a fair-trade Dyson (I-thankyou), then I’ll post as-rude-a-joke as I fucking like. The winner of the Trivial Pursuits joke of the year therefore is:
When will these Jimmy Saville sex allegations end? Police are now saying Jeremy Beadle may have had a small hand in it.
If you know any better ones, please pop them in the comments below…
- Dickhead of the year
The main event. The award that many, myself included, have been looking forward to. And I think we can start by saying that once again it has been a wonderful year for absolute dickheads.
Just 13 days had passed when the year got off to an absolute flyer in this category when Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia, decided to take a 300m long ship carrying 4,000 people off course and closer to the shore so that he could wave to some friends. After the vessel had sunk with the loss of 32 lives, it transpired that immediately upon impact he had tried to abandon ship, thereby adding cowardice to his official charges of “imprudence, negligence and incompetence”. A world-class berk, but not the winner.
Jimmy Saville’s exploits have been well documented after it transpired that he’d touched more minors than a Chilean rescue team, but posthumous awards have never been my thing. Then plenty of people covered themselves in glory as racism in football became front page news. John Terry would normally have done enough to secure his annual nomination, except that this year he brought a few friends along and it is hard not to see Chelsea FC as one collective candidate. Whether it was making racist remarks, a slanderous attempt to ruin a referee’s career or sacking their only relatively likeable staff member since Peter Osgood, you wondered if the FC really stood for “football club” rather than something more profane and appropriate. Also, their actions gave rise to another world-class tit in the form of Peter Herbert of the Society of Black Lawyers. Herbert seized his moment, basked in his fifteen minutes of fame, and seemed determined that some bizarre form of “positive segregation” was the path to racial harmony until Clarke Carlisle, the black head of the PFA (note “black head of the PFA” is not a position in itself, as much as I’m sure Mr Herbert would like it to be), essentially told him to get back in his box. But none of these candidates deserved to oust the winner from his title…
Mitt Romney came worryingly close to winning the US election, which was disturbing given that he’d spent the previous 6 months being a total arsehole to pretty much anyone he came into contact with. Romney’s PR masterclass began in July when he slated London’s preparations for the 2012 Olympics, he then pissed off Palestine (and as such, the arab world) by suggesting that Israelis were culturally superior to them. Back home it didn’t get much better, as he said he liked firing people, told a bunch of struggling out-of-work Floridans that he was unemployed too in a pathetic show of mock-empathy, and in a final act of Marie Antoinettian stupidity called 47% of his own electorate benefits scroungers. It is immensely fortunate that this prat didn’t win the election, the fact that he got so close reflects badly on the US population. But, in the grand traditions of so many game shows, he doesn’t go home empty handed, and Willard Mitt Romney, you are the official Trivial Pursuits Dickhead of the Year.
So there is the year that was. The papers have been full of Leveson this and Hillsborough that, but enough has happened in this valedictory year for the planet for a good knees up. I’m off to do something enormously reckless and regrettable, so that the end of the world this weekend will come as somewhat of a relief. On the off-chance that a bunch of loincloth-toting Aztecs who worshipped a cross-eyed sun god are wrong though, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and I’ll be back here to drag you kicking and screaming into the post-apocalyptic world of 2013.
by Harry Harland
‘You bra-burning rug muncher’
That was the abuse I received for last week’s post. Don’t worry though, loyal friends and readers, I am not deterred.
The Single Free Person’s Christmas Survival Guide
1.) Go out in packs
If you have any single friends left, attend parties with them. There really is strength in numbers. You’re far less likely to be attacked by smug couple questions on your relationship-status if you’re standing as part of a very obvious wall of feisty, tarted-up, prowling singles. You could eat those couples for breakfast – and they know it.
2.) Have a counter-attack in mind
You will invariably be asked who you’re dating – or worse, if there’s ‘someone special?’ The humble ‘no’ is likely to invite pity or further questioning. And we hate this. To help you out, I have come up with a few possible responses to this odious question, all of which are guaranteed to ensure your conversation is steered sharply in a different direction, or better still, obliterated altogether:
‘No I’m not dating anyone. I’ve always rather fancied your ‘someone special’ though.’
‘No I’m not dating anyone. You are though! When are you getting married?’
‘No I’m not dating anyone. Everyone I know in a relationship asks bloody dull questions like that.’
3.) Go out, get drunk and do something memorable
Charles Saatchi recently wrote a book called ‘Be The Worst You Can Be.’ For free people, I think this is excellent advice. We don’t want people talking about us because we’re single. We want them to talk about us because we did something memorable – even if it is stupid. Yes, we’d far rather they gossiped about the fact we snogged the hired Father Christmas, or fell off a podium and bared our knickers to the entire room, or talked so much gibberish they thought we were on opium. As Oscar Wilde once said ‘There’s only one thing worse than being talked about. And that’s not being talked about.’
4.) Bang on about your job – or if you don’t have one, make one up
If you have a job:
‘Who has time for a relationship when I’m working 15 hour days?’ you should say. ‘Sacrifice a fulfilling career just so I can spend Sunday nights on the sofa next to someone watching Downton Cathedral… Oh it’s Downton “Abbey” is it?! Silly me, I just don’t have time for television you see – but it’s sweet that you do!’
If you don’t have a job:
‘I’m in security.’
‘Ooh! Securing what?!’
‘The less you know, the safer you’ll be – excuse me.’ [Walk to the door, press your hand to your ear and mime talking into your lapel]
5.) Remember, most people want a kiss at Christmas
You’re more likely to get action at Christmas than any other time of year. Who doesn’t want a kiss at Christmas – it’s so exciting! Forget Valentines Day, which most people think is a pile of heart shaped crap anyway, it’s in December that you’ll find the Love, actually (groan). Take advantage of those mulled wine goggles and just LUNGE… but not at Carl in accounts… nor the photo copier guy… nor, if you can possibly help it, your boss.
Good luck and Happy Christmas
By Beenie Langley
Fear not the winter,
Let the crisp frost,
Stir your soul.
The morning sun rises
Brilliant, bright and clear,
Nighttime has left a
patina of white below.
A great ice canvas
For nature’s show.
Stop and look, listen
To the still of this grand
‘Speak less, hear more,
I would be your friend
Your dream maker’
Snow, ice and frost
Her potent elixir are.
Inside fires are lit,
Hypnotized we stare,
distracted by the
Moments fleet and
Love the night
Cherish the days,
Now is for living,
Open your heart,
See past the chill,
Embrace the dark
And calm my friends,
Hold your goodness
Tight, for who knows
When we may share
By Rob Sheffield
A procession of London’s A-listers gathered at exclusive public house, The Pembroke, last month to attend the greatest social event of the year (which has included, don’t forget, the Jubilee and the Olympics) – Trivial Pursuits’ first birthday.
Guests arrived en mass, furiously chain-smoking outside for fear if they weren’t Camel Light aficionados, they probably wouldn’t be allowed in.
Decked out in such wares as tailored jackets made from snow leopard and puppies coats (also known as crap from Topshop) attendees flooded the ground floor, rhubarbing away, whilst sipping glasses of 2012 Champagne de Fosters and 2012-Night-Before Chateau de la House White.
After an hour of tittering, their patience was rewarded by the arrival of a Rolls-limo-hummer-nightbus from which stepped The Trivial Pursuits Editorial Team: The Hon Harry Harland, Baroness Bell, Lord Lino and Lady Langley. To an almighty roar of applause – such which rattled the very tube lines at Earls Court, had Troubadour drunks next door diving headfirst into their tinnies, and was nothing whatsoever to do with the football – the trivial writers entered the establishment.
In an un-trivial, purposeful way, they worked the room, giving each guest (all 20 [thousand] of them) a moment to experience some of their spine-tingling plumby chat, such which had not been heard since Frou-Frou and Gub-Gub’s engagement party there the night before. The crowds surged forward to the writers’ hands (purportedly good luck) before the hosts were hustled away to deal with the press [ing issue of buying more drinks].
Caterer, The Wright Baker (or ‘Emma Wright’ as is on her passport) plied the party with cupcakes so delicious and “icingy” people actually started snogging each other afterwards just to eat some more.
Thus the night spiraled into a heady orgy of raucous, naked excess, ending in the early hours when this social commentator decided it was time to stop remembering things.
Thankfully by that time though, everyone else had too.
With so many thanks to all who came and a big tough-tits to those that didn’t.
Til next year.
It’s 11pm on a cold, wet, December evening, and my previously lively mood, is distorting rapidly into some horrible cacophony of frustration, boredom and multi-directional rage; we have arrived at the club.
Knowing the difficulties involved in entering one of these prestigious establishments, my friends and I have been well prepared and are in the privileged position of having our names on the guest list. Being part of this elite group allows us to bypass the slighter shorter queue which you stand in to be told you can’t come in this evening, and instead join the ‘special’ queue manned by two bouncers and a self-important, meretricious bimbo with a clipboard.
Usually physically attractive she tends to be sleeping with someone, otherwise unemployed, who is involved in promotion of that particular night. In return she is able to earn some money, but more importantly to her, she can indulge in the power trip of deciding (by some arbitrary standard) whether we are allowed in.
One universal standard given how glamorous these clubs are is that you wear appropriately smart shoes. I have no problem with this in principle, and understand the concept of appropriate footwear; standards must be maintained. However, when the floor is covered in an inch thick slurry of mud, faeces, chewing gum and booze, I would suggest that insisting customers wear smart shoes is a little inappropriate.
Anyway, having somehow reached her exacting standards, we are forced to wait until boredom becomes suitably intense so as to induce the lighting of a cigarette. Of course, just as when waiting for a bus, it is at this exact moment that one of the disagreeably hostile bouncers forces you to enter immediately, without finishing your cigarette, and pay a moron £20 for the privilege.
Having gone through this ordeal, one would hope to enter the kind of venue not dissimilar to a vision of heaven. Instead, one is confronted by horrible blaring music and a heaving mass of disagreeable, sweating troglodytes through which one needs to squeeze to join another absurd queue for egregiously priced drinks; they are of course watered down so as to deny any form of pleasure or essential anaesthetic qualities.
The rest of the evening is spent circuiting the club hoping to find the friends you have lost or possibly a passably attractive member of the opposite sex. There is some ritual shouting at people in attempted conversation, popping out for a cigarette to escape the awful place for a couple of minutes, and going straight back to the bar for more medication on the basis that your previous drink was confiscated when you went for the cigarette. This formula is repeated until closing time or until you have lost the will to live, which ever is sooner.
It astonishes me that any service-based industry can provide such a low quality product, treat its customers like shit, charge them a fortune for the pleasure, and still have them coming back time and time again. Restaurants and bars in London have improved immeasurably over the years because the competition is so intense. You can go to an incredibly good bar or restaurant, with a fantastic atmosphere, serving unbelievably creative, perfectly executed food or drink, all with impeccable service, and you probably wouldn’t spend as much as you would in a club.
Given the competition, the bad businesses die at the expense of the good ones and the overall quality of the industry improves. Somehow, while this has happened to restaurants and bars, the night club seems to be immune from this process of evolution.
The only thing that a club has that a bar doesn’t is loud music and a dance floor, so perhaps the clubs that survive are those that play the best music and offer the best dancing experience. This is clearly true of some places, admittedly not those that I frequent or have any interest in going to, but it can’t be true of the average club where the music is terrible and everyone is so crammed in that it is virtually impossible dance anyway.
I suspect the real reason for the success of awful clubs is that being ghastly actually makes the place more profitable. Think about it…you go to a restaurant to enjoy good food, a bar to enjoy good drink, a club to….perhaps dance, perhaps meet people – these are not really things the club can charge for, and most people are already quite drunk by the time they get there.
Given that the only thing a club really makes money on is booze, the ones that survive are the ones that will make their punters most inclined to drink even more, or alternatively pay the most to drink. As a nightclub owner your options are to make the place so exclusive and popular that you can charge a fortune for the drinks, or to make it so horrifying that the customers are forced to drink to make the place in any way tolerable.
Human-beings did not evolve in an environment of massive crowds, darkness and, incredibly loud noise; as a result most people are not naturally comfortable in a club. Drinking eases this problem, until you eventually reach the stage where you can actually have fun. The louder, darker and more crowded the place is, odds are the more you need to drink, and the more money the club makes. The fact that most people have to reach such a stage of inebriation that they could have fun doing literally anything does not make the club fun in itself.
Given that alcohol is associated with fun, misbehaving and a higher than usual probability of snogging a random punter, the fact that clubs open late means most customers are usually tanked up on arrival and primed to do something exceptionally stupid. By running a very selective entrance policy, and allowing in only superficially attractive girls, the club can induce a testosterone fuelled cock measuring competition which usually results in an article in the Metro about how a trader from Essex spent £120,000 on a bottle of Krug.
I have no doubt that very soon I will be found blind drunk in some horrible over priced dive with shit all over shoes spraying a bottle of champagne over some girls tits, but it doesn’t mean that I want to. Night clubs are awful and there’s nothing we can do about it.
by Marquez Johnson
My pet hate is hair on a swimming pool bathroom. I walk on my tiptoes and shivers literally go up my spine. Well I never ever thought I would go to a restaurant that would give me quite the same reaction.
Every Christmas, my family get dressed up to go on our ‘family Christmas outing’ which precedes our Christmas day run and performance. Yes. With a flute, saxophone, piano and singing. Oh and a special kiddies dance because we are so wild. This year we had tickets to see a play at the Royal Court. And as the writer of the bunch and lover of munch, I decided to find the destination this year.
So I googled somewhere near to Sloane Square. And up popped a new restaurant. Brooklyn Bite (cool name). Pizza (yes). Fingers crossed for the following –
* Buzzing crowd
* Music to slightly bop to
* Service that is so good you don’t notice it’s there. Or so spectacular you want to hug the waiter at the end of the meal
* Food that makes you go Oooooh and Ahhhhhh
* Value for money
* Somewhere to sit all night drinking, eating, chatting
And guess what. Brooklyn Bite officially has NONE of the above.
* No atmosphere – There was not one other person in the restaurant. It was so empty that I swear the chefs leaned out to take a peek at their first guests… ever.
* Gangster Rap – So loud and offensive that even my little brother, who is way cooler than me, thought it was rank.
* Average food – Between all of us we covered quite a few of the pizzas and I wouldn’t even pay a fiver for one of them again. The salad looked like a canteen salad with everything chopped up so small you couldn’t tell what was what.
* Enormous bill – For pizza you don’t expect to dish out the dollar. Unless there are diamonds dripping all over it. So when you see that a pretty rubbish pizza costs between £13.50 – £20.50, you should grab your coat and leg it. Whether you’ve pulled or not. In response to our reaction at the bill, the oh-so-lovely-waitress said ‘Well you saw the menu”. Valid but for a couple of glasses of wine and a pizza each with some salad thrown in, you certainly don’t expect a bill of £150.
* Booted out – On top of everything. The said waitress then spoke again, “Do you mind paying now, we kind of want to close?” Well yes we do mind you silly bint. That was it. If you had already decided you weren’t coming back, then she just put the nail in the coffin. Goodbye Brooklyn Bite. Never again.
* Bad service – When I sat next to Michael Fort (name drop) at an event last year, he said that “Service is the top reason people go back to restaurants”. Well if Brooklyn Bite is judged on that, then they are never going to have a guest again. Explanation included in points above.
Unless you want to sit by yourself, be deafened by heinous music, wish and you’d bought a frozen pizza, then head somewhere else. This is nothing like Brooklyn and it’s certainly not a cheap bite. Or a good one. If you’re looking for a real ‘bite’, then you’d be better going to Pizza Express. At least you can get dough balls.
By Em Bell
I love Christmas. Always have, always will. I especially loved it from the ages of 0-12 when it didn’t matter what I looked like, what I asked my Mum and Dad for (yes Barbies at 12, AND?) or what my latest crush was on – popstars, boys, older girls, who cared?
Now I am considerably older than 12, I find Christmas has become less about what I am and more who I am – or rather, who I am with.
The answer though remains the same: no one.
‘WOT?’ the people cry, ‘No one?! Oh dear Lord, grab the gin and force it down her sorry throat. There is a girl, at a party, at CHRISTMAS, and she’s….S-I-N-G-L-E. How unfathomably tragic! How old is the poor dear? Oh yes, very old. She had such promise. How miserable she must be…’
Well, sorry to disappoint you but… I ain’t miserable. Not one bit, in fact. What is sad however, is that no one reading this will believe me. Doubters assume I’m ‘lying’, ‘pretending’, ‘saving face’ and ‘being stoic’. I mustn’t worry, they tell me, because [whispered to me in hushed tones as GOD FORBID anyone hears it] ‘my time will come…’
Pass that gin bottle now please, I feel I need it…
I’d like to get something off my chest which I ardently believe and which is probably massively taboo but care I? No! Here I go, prepare:
I am not ‘single’. I am free.
Yes. Freeeeeee. Free to do what I like (within the confines of the law) with who I like, whenever I choose to do it. Is that tragic? Is that worthy of sympathetic eyes, ‘poor single yous’ and pseudo concern? Nón.
How to survive Christmas being single has now’t to do with feeling lonely and unwanted. It’s all to do with how to ward off the hordes who try to impose upon you a feeling you just don’t feel.
And when I properly think about it, it’s actually rather insulting. Why should I feel bad about being alone? Is my company that horrendous I should dread every second of having to endure it on my own? ‘God, I’m such a bore I even bore myself, quick, find someone to save me from…me.’
Well that all seems frightfully unhealthy. For if even I am unable to abide my own company, why the hell should I expect anyone else to? It’s quite vexing really.
Furthermore if everyone was ‘taken’ at Christmas, what the f*cks the point of mistletoe? To encourage infidelity, naturally. This wintery symbol of love and promise would fast become a tainted one of evil and wickedness, made so by us women (as most things of an evil nature are our fault). Yes, without singletons, what’s the betting the Catholic church suddenly discovers a version of the Bible which states plainly: Eve not only persuaded Adam to eat the apple but she also stole a branch of mistletoe and forced herself upon the snake.
I hold Bridget Jones partially responsible for the crap us free people have to go through at this time of year. Jokes about ‘tick-tocks’ and woolly jumpers and ‘how’s my little Bridgets?’ [high-larious] all came from that novel, so notoriously brought to life by good old Renee Zellweger.
In truth I actually end up feeling sorry for taken people at Christmas. The song ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You,’ has little meaning if you already have the one you want.
Also, Christmas with a significant other is wallet-cripplingly expensive. There’s the pre-Christmas dinner (if you’re not spending Christmas together), the big present (has to be a biggie if you really love each other) and if you think it might be wedding bells, well, a stocking too. Sayonara one million pounds.
So you see, I don’t give a Christmas cracker about being single at this time of year. That others do though, is the only reason I felt the need to write this ‘In defence of the single, how to survive a Christmas, manual’. Which hasn’t really been one, for I’ve not given any sort advice really. So I’ve just now decided this is Part One. Part Two follows next week.
If you don’t have time or want to read next week, know that a single person only needs one thing to survive Christmas: ear plugs. Ear plugs to block out tick-tocking titterers and patronising pouters.
Impractical? Perhaps. Unfestive? No. For if anyone questions your logic, you’re hushing the noise of men of strife to hear
yourself think the angels sing.
By Beenie Langley