Friday, 29 June 2012


An actual tramp, Holborn, London, 2012. Product placement by Pret-A-Manger.

Gavin Turk, Bum, 1998. Image courtesy Inspector Google.

Life's sweet I love you. In the same week I attend the Marketing Strategy Summer School at eminent academic institution London School of Economics, (alumni: pants man JFK and tobacco connoisseur Monica Lewinsky), I receive the possible news that me and my media crew MAY be facing redundancy. Ironic in that my faithful employer, an internationally recognised media organisation with a short name and a long roll call of Liferesque employees contributed a very tidy sum toward my course fees. The lord giveth, it seems and the lord taketh away.

This got me thinking about Technology Creep. Its what we all suffer, whether we like it, acknowledge it or even realise it at all. Its that rush of anxiety you experience on the morning commute when you realise in a hungover stupor you've left your iphone charging at home next to the iron. But you're more panicked about the iphone. How will you tweet in real time that funny joke your hipster colleague told at lunch and pass it off as your own? What if an invite goes out on facebook and you can't be the first to Yes, I will Be Attending it? Technology Creep, sir.    

Certain humble colleagues of mine have been discussing this and related phenomenon for years now. How the odious onslaught of technology is changing the world at an impossibly rapid rate. An undeniable advantage on many levels. A different kettle of fish when your employer's entire business strategy is reconfigured internationally in a desperate 3-5 year plan to compete with the internet and emerging markets. Globalisation Creep, sir. Being a highly-skilled-migrant hailing from the New World with an LSF qualification no less, I should be ok in the cold, hard, new dawn of unemployment. But many of my British colleagues lacking the same advantages won't.   

Lifestyle Creep is a financial term defined as 'an improvement in the standard of living of people as their discretionary income rises either through an increase in income or a decrease in costs, to the extent that luxury goods turn into necessary goods'. Clearly a phenomenon thats been happening for decades in western economies. Except we're not in Kansas anymore, Dorothy. The reality of the UK's 'squeezed middle' remains depressed wages, increasing costs, and in London at least, astronomical property prices. Poverty Creep sir. Most of us are getting poorer in real terms and the bandwagon pulled out from the kerb bound for the BRIC countries when we we all busy watching turgid bile like The X Factor.

Which brings me to our gentleman pictured at the top of this post, captured on my lunch break today from the LSF course, in Holborn - a central London area defined by its high concentration of straight world academic institutions of the legal, financial and business ilk. An incredible example of product placement created by some altruistic onlooker placing their Pret-A-Manger Brie & Bacon on Artesan (to give it its proper corporate title) artfully bottom right of the shot? This could be be the perfectly ironic anti-advertisement for the Olympics Lord Coe and Boris Johnson have been beavering away for years to conceal. What price in real terms for local people this vile spectacle (the Olympics, not the bum)? Are Pret-A-Manger one of the primary corporate sponsors? Is this even a genuine bum or a piece of performance art echoing Gavin Turk's life-size wax model 'Bum' exhibited at The South London Gallery in 1998 (pictured above)? Art...or arse? Or a genuine human being, down and out in (Paris and) London...glibly stepped over by busy worker bees distracted by their smart phones rushing back to the office in a vein attempt to avoid imminent redundancy? Reality Creep sir. Now where the f*** did I leave my iphone??? 

Saturday, 16 June 2012


Today I learnt from the hip, young, gunslinging East End gentleman I sit next to at the workhaus the meaning of the phrase "buff ting". It really made me titter listening to this co-opted Jamaican patois being delivered in cracking style by my white, ginger barneted, plimsoll wearing, Patrick Bateman worshipping born and bred London colleague.

Allow the Urban Dictionary to enlighten you :

If a thing is buff (ie attractive), it is a buff ting. 'Ting' being London garage slang for 'thing'.
Err, that bird down Twerton Park was a right buff ting.
Not to be confused with a buftie. A term more familiar to my Trainspotting generation...
One who displays homosexual tendencies whilst not actually being a poof.
See all they Italians that live in Glaaaasgow, they're all bufties.


You got that?
Though obviously Sir Moz's 'not actually being a poof' status is up for debate.

Sunday, 3 June 2012


Easter this year involved rambling around Cumbria's spectacular Lake District, marvelling over some of the most romantic scenery England has to offer. Being a complete amateur, my first walk was the 'gentle' Orrest Head, an easy 20 min ascent from Windermere village over the rolling hills surrounding the district's largest body of water, Lake Windermere. Affording the impressive view pictured above (top), the scene proved an instant panacea to my soot-addled, gin-blossomed, poverty-stricken London soul. You can see why famous Lake District rambler and author Alfred Wainwright characterised the view as 'an introduction to a dream'. Further south down the lake sits the larger town of Bowness, the starting point for another fabulous and easy walk, to Biskey Howe and Post Knott, pictured above (bottom). What these names mean...I know not. I did get chatting to a family on the walk however who, upon hearing my accent reminisced about their Christmas visit to my Antipodean home village, trying to remember the name of the beautiful cafe they visited there, Bygone Beauties. Well worth a peep if you're ever in those parts! 

The rugged idyllic charm of Windermere was a total delight, matched by the genuine hospitality and warmth I encountered from the locals who went out of their way to make me feel welcome. On the winding bus route through wild landscape from Windermere to Penrith (where of course, I was planning to demand the finest wines known to humanity, then threaten to fire the old lady at the Penrith Tea Rooms), I met a very nice couple, Pam and Don who later drove back to Windermere to treat me to a delicious ale at their lively local pub in the next village of Ings. Don was off to climb a fell with his buddy while Pam and I hit the charity shops of Penrith after putting the world to rights at the atmospheric cafe inside the grand George Hotel. The Penrith Tea Rooms presumably having been closed down by Withnail & I.

The local hoodlums of Penrith clearly have a penchant for shoplifting whats more....

Watch Withnail and I's Penrtih tearoom anarchy below :

The Cumbrian natives seemed utterly attached to their dogs and Pam and Don were no exception, their friendly creature Topsy accompanying us like a treasured family member on our expedition to the Watermill Inn. This eccentric little watering hole actually included its own brewery on the premises (below), a smattering of amusing local personalities and of course some very fine ales indeed. We had a great evening and I got to experience some genuine Lake District thank you Pam and Don and I hope you are well :)