Loyd Grossman- Meal for one


I would like to start this post by saying…If only I could afford a Loyd Grossman meal for one! As I write this I look down into a cold porcelain bowl, staring back is Heinz Spaghetti Bolognese. In a naive hope of some ‘Heston Blumenthal’ magic, I attempted to jazz it up with some stolen spices from my housemate’s cupboard; safe to say my culinary skills have slipped recently. It has come round to that time of year when Mother Hubbard’s cupboard is bare, and the next installment of student loan is a dot on the horizon. Creaking open my cupboard and sweeping away the cobwebs I peered inside ; a  tin of spag bol, some dried pasta, Uncle Benn’s microwave rice.I am a massive fan of carbs, but even I draw the line at combining those, after all… NO CARBS BEFORE MARBS. The fridge is an even worse state of affairs, a barren wasteland of off milk, odd coloured fluids, and sprouting veg. Realising defeat I slopped the contents of the tin into  a bowl, then awaited the chirpy ping of the microwave.


So reduced to boredom, leftover spag congealing on my table, I turn to my old friend the internet. Unlike friends, the internet doesn’t go home for easter, It doesn’t fall asleep, It can always keep you entertained. Sad really that I am forced to justify why technology is better than real human company. On a related note why not combine the two, Robocop was pretty cool after all. The idea of a robotic super-friend; if you get bored of them, just switch them off at the socket. My small troop of friends have in fact all now left me, as has most of the population of Leeds it would seem. The streets are no longer littered with trendy indie kids. Like a nosey old lady I peer from behind my permanently shut curtains; the only thing I see out of my window is  the odd tumbleweed of  student rubbish. (a bus ticket, Greggs wrapper, dirty magazine, Nandos voucher) There is an awful eeirie sense that I don’t like. My best friend Francine has now left, but even yesterday we compared Hyde Park to a zombie apocolypse; we both concluded the best way to survive a zombie attack: Who would live longer, where we would go.. then finished the day by doing research and watching the film ‘Zombieland.’ This brings me nicely onto my favourite part of ‘Zombieland,’ the rules to survive. My particular favourite “Rule #32- Enjoy the little things.” It is sad that the highlight of my day today is washing my sheets, what kind of student am I? But when you have nothing to do, it is surprising how much clean sheets and a bag of mini eggs will bring you, give it a go.


The anarchy of ‘The Monarchy’

I once again reach that time of the year where you will find me skulking around the darkened corners of Edward Boyle library. With all the grace of a baby elephant I stalk, looking for a free computer, or glaring until someone leaves. I interrupt my day with constant breaks of eating sweets, sticking Haribo to my eyes, making Francine laugh, and short bursts of Angry Birds. I was today asked:

“Do you do any work or do you just wander around the library all day”.

In short no…… the mere fact of being in the library manages to trick my head into thinking that I am doing work. In reality the time I spend in between my breaks is taken up by looking at things I cannot afford, drawing pokemon, and playing ‘spot the hotty.’ Unfortunately for the Level 10 computer cluster today’s offerings of ‘hotties’ were slim pickings. So the topic of all my current beavering is the issue of the Royal Family, as British as tea and cucumber sandwiches you could say. It is hard to imagine a Britain without the Royals, despite the arguments I feel that if they were abolished we would face a massive hole. For a start who’s face would go on the stamp, and what would we do with Buckingham Palace? All that room could be put to use as a safari park for the Aristocracy, observing them in their natural habitat.

If the Royals were abolished, then please send some of the money my way. Ironically the first thing I would like to purchase is a ‘Diana’ camera. I saw one on ebay, but my offer of £30 under the asking price did not go down well with the seller. I can see a promising new career in photography aslong as my chubby fingers don’t block the lense. There is something about using a reel of old film or and old camera that can instantly transport you back in time. Other possible careers I have contemplated while procrastinating from my essay are : ‘Paul Burrell’, ‘Kate Middleton’s footman’, and ‘Royal Correspondent.’ I can easily pull of the Jennie Bond of standing in front of Buckingham Palace in a pastel  coloured trouser suit, gushing my love for the royal family, whilst the monarchy crumbles. I sometimes wish we could go back to the times of Henry VIII when the Royals were much more interesting: heads on spikes, headless wives, public hanging, eating swans. History back then just seems much more exciting than now. What I wouldn’t give to grab a bag of popcorn and go to  public hanging, rather than be subjected to another ‘Step-Up’ film.

So after all my extensive (2 days worth) reading, what are my conclusions? The monarchy, outdated or institutional? In my eyes all the sex and scandal just make it more interesting, the historians will have a field day teaching the lives of Charles and Diana to the children of the future; who will play them in a film, an aged Robert Patterson and Hilliary Duff ? They may cost a lot of money, but they make for some excellent news stories and comedy fodder. My auntie in Australia does a wonderful Charles/Di impression, it is hard to distinguish which she is better at.  They have the ability to crash cars, dress as Nazis, flaunt racism, even get accused of being an alien race…oh it is a Royal life! For the future, well the prospect that Prince Charles will soon rule the country is one of mixed emotions. He certainly has rather big shoes to fill to live up to the success of his mother. My new idea is bring Philip in as King, with Boris Johnson as his top advisor, then watch the hilarity roll in; If this option fails then the only king that I want to see ruling in future is  ‘The Burger King.’ As for the Queen, I like Queen Liz, but she isn’t a patch on Freddie Mercury- GOD REST HIS BONES.

I like

Rain rain go away

Like a great cloud of misery, winter has descended on Leeds, bringing with it a thundercloud of  worries. The temperature drops, and the heating bill soars!  The bright colours of summer, student parties, and free time are washed away; they run down into the gutter, replaced only by the harsh greys of concrete and assignments. I like to think of myself as pretty optimistic, however it is hard to remain so when you drag your sodden body into to uni for a one hour lecture, then miserably drag it back home. I look around, peering through the driving rain at the many like minded students; bravely they battle the elements, like gargoyles grimacing through the biblical flood. Even Noah couldn’t prepare for this week’s truly torrential rain, gutters overspilling, drains filling up, the ringing out of non-waterproof clothing.  The streets are littered with the corpses of many an umbrella, turned inside out and discarded by their owners; bins overflow as new umbrella graveyards. Whilst friends splash around in Doc Martins or wellies I am forced to slop around in canvas shoes. If I had ‘William’s Wish Wellingtons’ I would wish for better weather.The onset of trenchfoot looks inevitable as my lesson is never learnt; everyday I seem surprised as my canvas Fred Perry shoes turn into sponge, then leave me hanging my socks up to dry when I come in. My mum always asks the question “How come you can afford alcohol, but not new shoes?” In all honesty I would rather walk around with a bad case of trenchfoot than miss out on the antics of £2 Savanna at the Faversham.

So here I am on a Friday afternoon, barely moved in 24 hours, catching up on a blog that seemed destined to gather dust in the corner of the internet. My best friend has gone away, and I am resorting to this. I had half toyed with the idea of going back home (to whatever home I have) to relieve the boredom of lonely weekends in Leeds. After all when the going gets tough…..the tough get going. A mountain of work has been sidelined by my new appreciation for the film ‘Jackass.’ On Wednesday I indulged in the 3D wonder of ‘Jackass 3D’, and since then have been watching the other films. The trick of Knoxville and co. is to get inside your head, sitting in your comfy cinema chair you think : “I could do that,” “That wouldn’t hurt,” “I could do that better.” The warning at the beginning complete with skull and crossbones means nothing to today’s hardened student. Who hasn’t accidently been smashed in the face with a bottle, or taken a tumble down the union stairs?

But it isn’t all doom and gloom, I would hate to think that my blog drives people to suicide; for the most part winter is a time to clamber into bed, snuggle down, and embrace your duvet. It is at this time that the television chirps brightly with those all too familiar Christmas tunes; you know the song, but have forgotten the words since your year 4 carol concert. The jolly red Coke Santa, or the dancing polar bears make a welcome return. Your television lights up as the bumper edition Radio Times crashes through the coffee table, I eagerly flick through the pages circling anything and everything I want to watch. When we were younger whole pages would be circled, if it was something good (Wallace and Gromit) we would circle it twice, or until the pen came through the other side. The miracle of Sky plus now means there is no need to mindlessly sit glued for hours in fear of missing Mary Poppins for the 12th time; You can come home from a drunken night out and watch Dick Van Dyke be a chimney sweep at your own leisure. We are no longer slaves to the corporate scheduling. The counter on Ebay’s website reminds me that there are now only 43 days left till Chrsitmas… Soon the streets will be filled with bustling market stalls, the smell of mince pies, and the glitter of cheaply bought council lights. There is the big rush that every town or city has about the turning on of the lights; they seem to compare their own offering to the Blackpool illuminations. This year Leeds City Council tosses us the sacrificial lamb of Shane Ward, there only to satisfy the young chav girls who remember his X-Factor days. We all pretend we won’t go, we all pretend it is a load of old rubbish, but we will all be there. So in conclusion, even with 43 days, no presents, no money, a tonne of work, and an expanding waistline, the little Grinch inside me will soon be dead. Happy Holidays everyone.

When life gives you lemons make lemonade…when life gives you a field, make mud

War torn, limping, and with a face like a beetroot crossed with a cactus; I stumbled across the threshold of my house, returning from Leeds fest 2010, a mere shadow of my former self. Quite what persuades me every year to spend nearly a week cold,wet, and pining for a real bed is beyond me; however looking back I smile to myself and remember the many reasons I do it. It is constantly pointed out for the price of a festival you could quite easily go abroad and be harassed by exotic looking women lying topless on a beach, but for me and my friends we choose to be harassed by cider swilling chavs at 4am in a West Yorkshire park. Leeds Festival is an experience you will never forget, standing on top of a hill you look out across the festival, people swarming around like ants, dragging mountains of alcohol and crisps to their proposed campsite. My friend Sam came up with the ingenious/annoying game of asking people if they needed a hand with their bags; you could see their eyes light up as someone offers to relieve them of the bag that cuts into their shoulder, this was then cut short as he simply stands there and gives them a round of applause. Faces like thunder they would soldier on, dragging their life with them, cursing under their breath as we rolled around in stitches. It is true though for festivals, you do seem to take your life’s possesions. I am one person who can never underpack, I get there and spend a good few hours angry that the item I want to wear I left behind; my solution? Take everything. I think if possible I would probably take the kitchen sink to a festival, then complain I didn’t bring the bathroom one aswell.

It would take me far too long to reel off  the items that I took, but top of my list every year is a ‘readybed’ (£29.95 Argos, currently out of stock at Chester Forgate Street.) It is the kind of invention you would see on Dragon’s Den, then hear Duncan Bannatyne grumble ‘Im ooot’ at. The premise is an air bed with attached sleeping bag, providing camping comfort and warmth; however the sleeping bag is wafer thin, so I end up taking another anyway. In total I think I took about 5 bags, one containing just food and alcohol, which required two of us to take onto the campsite. Before we even left one bag had ripped, so I spent the night before pricking myself with a needle, vainly attempting to patch it up; at the festival my shoddy stitches groaned under the strain, and I had horrible visions of my brightly coloured underpants rolling down the hill in front of hundreds of people. Luckily this year I used the transport of a car as an excuse to cram even more stuff into the boot. The look on Abbey’s face when I told her what I was bringing meant that me and Becki had to pack the car under cover of darkness when she was out, like tetris we tried to slot the bags in, making it seem like we had brought less. So as me and the twins pootled down the motorway in the tiny Volkswagen Polo, it’s boot bounced with camping chairs, wellies, a readybed, we knew we were on our way to Leeds 2010. Everytime we saw a sign for the festival Becki would scramble for her camera and try to take a picture; at 70mph her camera work was……..interesting, if anything else.

The early bird catches the worm, so the 3 of us stumped up an extra £15 to arrive a day early.As I stood in the queue I could feel the sun baking down on my exposed chest. My All-Saints reject, low cut top look would turn out to be my downfall as I am still nursing a very red chest. The twins said they would bring the aftersun if I took the sun tan lotion, unfortunately I forgot so spent the week after peeling my nose and being told “Oh…..you’ve got some colour!” I can’t complain though, this was the first year of any festival where the weather has held and i’ve not felt like a warthog wallowing in mud. The theory behind early entry is that we could get a good spot, set up the tents, and chill with a cider; but this also meant that on Thursday the lads would roll up, complain about our spot and tent erecting skills, then demand we find more space in the already cramped field. By Wednesday night the spaces around us were already vanishing, but they were bringing a 4 man, and 6 man tent with them! Last year space was so scarce Sam decided to lash his tent onto mine to keep it up, the downside of this was every gust would tug our tent with his, and our front door had now become part of his tent; I had to squelch through the squalor of his tent just to get to my own nice clean one. This year was no exception, his 6 man one looked a horse ready for the glue factory, it flailed in the wind, groaning, begging to be unpegged and let loose to fly away. Snapped poles stuck out from the top, like a giant middle finger to Sam and his many years of abuse. Me and Becki had it sorted though, a brand new tent, with two compartments, and ample porch space. I happily lay on my airbed and listened to the sounds of the others struggling, asking others to move their tents, just so they could squeeze in like an unwanted relative.

As above I seemed to spend most of my weekend in some sort of fancy dress; my friend Charles always wears a chicken suit, across the campsite you hear the shouts of ‘Chicken Man.’ It seems to work as some kind of pulling magnet, so when Sam offered me his Gorilla suit to keep warm how could I resist? On our trip to  the car to gather more stuff there came the shouts of ‘Chicken Man’, but no shouts of ‘Gorilla Man.’ Whilst Charles had pictures taken with pirates,  and hugs from girls, I trundled at the back looking like I was wearing a big fur coat. Sam asked one girl what she thought I was. Apparently the costume resembled a Raven more than a Gorilla, and didn’t have the pulling powers I required. We make an odd group of rag-tag people: Me, The Twins, Abbey’s boyfriend George, Charles ‘Chicken Man,’ Sam in his vintage BHS jumpers, and then there is Neil Murphy…… turning up on the Friday after impromptly deciding he would come, bringing with him a whole world of chaos. Clumsily he would stomp around the campsite like a baby rhino, first crashing into Abbey and George’s tent, then stumbling into ours and squashing my many packs of ‘Snack-a-Jacks’ and jelly pots. That was the unfortunate thing about having such a good tent, when it rained they would all pile into ours. One evening we fell asleep and it was left to me and Becki to drag them to their respective tents and tuck them in. I had pre-warned Becki about last year, going to Leeds with the lads is like one giant week of babysitting, excpet you have to pay to do it. Our trips to the arena were interrupted by toilet breaks, food breaks, sitting down, chatting up girls, and rolling cigarettes. Me and Becki invented the game ‘The old stand and wait,’ which seemed to become our most frequent activity. I would guess for my £230 ticket most of that probably went on standing still and nursing ‘the creche.’

To be fair though Sam was a lifesaver, his stove,burgers and sausages provided much needed warm food. I refused to pay the extortionate £5 for a burger, I would eat Sam’s day old, unrefrigerated, sat on burgers any day. Like a small schoolboy his mum had packed him off with food for all of us, cheese, sauces, a knife, and even some onions. I felt like royalty as we all sat round in our camping chairs, scoffing down a simply burger containing mainly cardboard and beef fat….. it is the simple things. In exchange for food I repaid Sam by waiting until he passed out, on his airbed I dragged him out of the tent, across the campsite, and left him in the capable hands of some chavs under a gazebo. 10 minutes later he stumbled back confused and dazed, then wouldn’t let the entire incident drop for the rest of the week. I also have him some of my ‘pixie juice.’ My wide variety of brightly coloured spirits in plastic bottles scattered around my tent, just the right size so I can slide them down my trousers and sneak them into the arena. The trick is to look for the steward not searching people, so last year I cockily strutted up to the barriers of the arena, a small plastic bottle stashed in my crotch. I took my chances and strode to a woman, just as the changing of the guards happened.  A gruff man yanked me forwards and began the routine grope, I felt his hand graze the bottle in my crotch; big pause, we made eye contact, and he let me past. To be honest if you were searching a man and felt something hard in his trouser area, would you question it, or make him move on quicker? I tried my hand at making winegum vodka this year, unfortunately I only decided the night before and didn’t have time for the proper fermentation method. On the last night I sat in my tent and looked at the bottle before me, how desperate was I to drink? Chunks of undisolved winegum fluttered in the bottom, looking like what I can only describe as a dirty fishtank, I closed my eyes, and began to gulp.

I will finally get onto the music. Originally I wasn’t too excited by the lineup of heavy rock bands and people that I could only pretend to sing the lyrics to; each band would only have a few songs that I would bounce around to , then quietly tap my feet to the rest attempting to look cool. For me personal favourites were Weezer; the geeky lead singer came out on stage looking like the alcohol in his system was more than the blood. He staggered around with a spaced out look in his eyes, and jumped into the crowd. At one point he made a dash for freedom past security into the crowd, the camera desperately panned trying to find him; like a hoard of zombies hundreds of fans ran to mob him. 5 minutes later he returned to the stage, missing his glasses, and wearing a different hat. He kept the crowd entertained with covers of ‘Teenage Dirtbag,’ and ‘MGMT- Kids,’ in the middle of ‘Kids’ he flung on a blonde wig and did a cheeky chorus of ‘Lady Gaga- Poker Face.’

Perhaps it was my homemade winegum vodka talking, but I enjoyed Guns ‘N’ Roses much more than I thought. Shouting until my voice was hoarse and forcing Becki to pull a hat over her ears. I spent the rest of the evening wandering around singing the Pink Panther tune because Guns ‘N’ Roses had played it; the whole crowd’ du du dummed’ and clicked along with it. Axl Rose was of course fashionably late, in the cold August night you could see people huddled round fires waiting for the final headliners to arrive. The arena had turned into some sort of shanty town with the bedraggled look of everyone, making them look even more like a giant colony of tramps, clutching their cut price booze to their cold chests and booing whenever someone made an announcement saying they weren’t ready yet. We spent most of Guns ‘N’ Roses set discussing the possible sexuality of Axl Rose rather than the music. Eveytime the pyrotecnics went off I would jump out of my skin and send winegum vodka spilling down my jumper, luckily it wasn’t mine; so In Sams woolen BHS jumper I drank the dregs of the winegum vodka and returned to the campsite knowing tomorrow we would leave.  This was not before Becki argued with the man in the van that I had got more chips and mayo than she had for the same price, happily I scoffed mine down and trotted back to the tent smuggly.

Next morning with an early start me and the twins stood atop the hill again and looked out over the wasteland of tent skeletons, exploding gas canisters, and discarded pants. The days were long and the evenings were cold, but Leeds 2010 is just as good as it has ever been, and it comes down to the people you are with. If anything the things like sitting around all day playing ‘paranoia’, eating canned fruit, and using the toilets make it. People always complain about the Leeds toilets, but for me they aren’t that bad. You go in, you read the graffitti “Eddie Murphy is a good actor,” try not to catch the person opposite in the reflection of the sewage and you leave. There will come an inevitable time though when you need a number 2, or as I called it ‘a pinecone’. Secretly you reel off the toilet roll and hide it in your pocket so no-one knows; checking around you skulk to the toilet and try to find a cubicle that is accessible, let alone squattable. We met a steward called frosty who told us that Leeds festival was moved to this site in 2007 beacause in 2006 at the old site someone had blown up the toilets during a riot. I think you would need more than a paper toilet seat to protect you in that instance.A personal highlight though was going to the toilet, opening the door and finding someone had already laid down a nice fresh loo roll toilet seat for me, then finding 20p on the floor and reliving the tale in graphic detail to my friends; things like that make festivals all the more bearable . My only regret is not visiting the human carwash, I had dreamed of standing there being lathered up by a sexy woman then blow dried in a nice warm shower with normal water pressure. In reality though it looked like standing infront of a crowd and being rubbed down by a balding Yorkshireman called ‘Phil’, or ‘Dave’ Every year we say we won’t go back, but like a moth to a bulb we are still attracted to the mud sweat and tears. Goodbye Leeds… see you in 2011?

Yesterday….all my troubles seemed so far away

I was going to write this yesterday….but couldn’t be bothered. So here I am, this is now day 4 of my isolation. For those of you who don’t know I am currently sat alone in my big empty uni house; for reasons beyond my control I found myself packing up two weeks early and being shipped back to Leeds. This in itself was a distressing 3 hour coach journey, lugging around a full suitcase, with no wheels (I refused to pay the £28 it would cost me on the train) Arriving back the heating was clicked on straight away, and I turned on every light i could find, apologies to my housemates; I slid the bolt across and settled in for 2 weeks of being a hobbit.

So now it is day 4, there is only so much entertainment I can find on the internet! I was telling my friend Francine that I am lacking human conversation. Since arriving back here I have barely said boo to a goose, just the simple hello/thankyou to shop assistants, receptionists, and even THE POLICE.

“Why the police?” I hear you cry! When I woke up on Wednesday morning there came a knock at the door, bleary eyed I slid the bolt across and creaked it open, half expecting the postman, who is not adversed to seeing me in pyjamas. However the glare of a reflective jacket and large bald policeman greeted me; there I was facing the law in blue checkered loungepants and a stained t-shirt with massive hole in the back, hardly clothes to be arrested in. My mind wandered to what on earth I could’ve done, and I felt myself go red; you know when your not guilty, but feel it anyway. The officer informed me that nextdoor had had their basement door kicked in, and they had been burgled. OH GREAT!, just what I want when I am alone for the next 2 weeks. As soon as I said I hadn’t seen anything he was gone, off into the sun, flicking his notebook closed without another word.

So with the burglary I have now taken to putting all my friends on deathwatch, if they don’t hear from me in a few days, avenge my death; this is met with the same response of “Stop saying things like that!” When leaving the house I cautiously dodge around, double locking everything, I leave the lights on, and whenever I hear a noise I bang around in a naive attempt to scare away any wannabe intruders.

Now I realise I am rambling, but I suppose that is what you are meant to do in a blog, so refer back to the picture at the top, RESERVOIR DOGS, Quentin Tarantino’s directing debut about manly men, doing a manly robbery, and getting shot by other manly men, in a manly warehouse; not meaning to sound sexist, but it is a typical man’s film. I watched this again yesterday. The film is featured in Wikipedia’s “List of films that most frequently use the work f**k”After my swearing marathon I then found myself feeling pumped, wanting to pull off a diamond heist, or shoot my imaginary intruder, then utter a witty one-liner. As part of my ‘manliness’ I took a trip to the gym, deciding I will start going more often again, well hey, i’ve got nothing better to do at the moment. It might make up for yesterday’s diet of haribo and easter egg. My hope is that if I keep going I will soon look like this man (Mr.Motivator), obvious differences aside.

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