Tag Archives: food

The back page of bugger all

It’s my birthday.

All right, it’s not, calm down. Sorry, I know that sent you scrabbling about the back of the cupboard for an uproarious card to go with the gift you obviously picked out weeks ago when you saw it and thought of me, though I’m not sure how you think you’re going to be able to post a full pint glass.

But for when it is my birthday, please, please don’t send me anything in the mail, because it would never be seen again.

Ten years I’ve been living in the same medium-sized, gradually moulding flat in north London. This piece of real estate bears the grand title of ‘Garden Flat’ and is the building’s ground-level floor. No annoying steps to whirl and crash up when one has more sail than ballast. And, unlike the three floors of the building it sits beneath, our one has its own front door.

That no bloody delivery man can find.

Letters, parcels, newspapers, takeaway deliveries – no matter what it is, there’s a nine in ten chance that the hectic delivery person with my goods in their distracted mitts will see the words ‘Garden Flat’ on the address label and ignore them as a hung over commuter resolutely ignores a ‘baby on board’ badge. They will stride to the top door of the building, blind to the sign that says ‘Garden Flat’ with an arrow pointing to the left, and hammer on a communal door with the earnest haste of a herald proclaiming the Portuguese to have taken Cornwall. If they’re answered in the seven seconds they’re allotted to wait, it’s usually by my infuriated neighbour wondering when he signed up to be Pat Clifton to my Major Forbes as he trudges my mail down later on.

Those who have somehow seen ‘Garden Flat’ on the label are presumably under the assumption that, given the communal door is raised a few metres from street level, gardens can now float and my small lawn’s main purpose is to make the name Flymo dangerously literal.

Occasionally someone will follow the sign and begin to wander the path down the side of the building. It’s an open-air stroll to my front door of less than 10 metres from the street, hardly a frightening journey into the unknown, but that doesn’t stop half of them thinking “Well, it can’t fucking be down here, can it?” and reversing to somewhere, anywhere, that isn’t where I live. And I can only assume delivery people are getting either more hassled or more clueless, because it’s getting worse.

A few months ago, I ordered takeaway food at about 7.30pm on a Wednesday night, because I’m lazy and fat and the wheels of your exercise bike will spin on long after it has failed to grant you eternal life I’m afraid. To forcibly underline this, it was a kebab, and to make up the delivery minimum, some chips.

Some 90 minutes after ordering, I phoned the shop. Delivered it mate. Bloody haven’t. Have. Haven’t. Have. Haven’t. Have. Are you calling me a cunt? Are you calling me a cunt? Who did you give it to then? Your son.

Oh, him. I mean, he doesn’t exist, but let’s not allow minor details to stop you explaining how you knocked on the front door and were answered by a little boy who, in a stunning move no-one saw coming, gladly accepted a multicoloured paper bag filled with chips. Eventually the man shouting at me down the phone returned, reclaiming the uneaten food from the people in the top floor flat who’d left it outside their door, not knowing what else to do with it while warming the slipper for their now-tethered, bawling, idiot child. Cheeky bastard of a driver even tried to palm the congealing scran off on me for a fiver. Sold.

But the raging simpleton from ‘Best Kebabs’ is nothing compared to the Guardian newspaper.

My favoured newspaper going ‘digital only’ leaves me with little choice but to try the Guardian, smug and gigantic as it is. Within London they do a delivery service and I opted for a weekend-only affair, allowing me to decide on individual weekdays whether to take out the eyes of fellow Tube passengers as my arms flail about trying to control an enormous collection of staple-free sheets.

In the course of ten attempted deliveries over five weekends, the Guardian’s success rate of finding my front door stands at 30%. Three times on a Saturday they’ve worked it out, and on each of the other seven days I’ve been left reading the back page of bugger all. The most recent Sunday failure was preceded by me emailing them a Google Street View screenshot, complete with arrows pointing at the ‘Garden Flat’ sign, the correct path and which door was manifestly not bloody mine.

Assuming the Guardian have outsourced delivery in this golden age of not my fucking problem mate, how does a company whose sole purpose is to deliver things manage to get it right one day and so staggeringly wrong the next, three times in a row? There are four roads with the same name as mine within about five miles, and though nobody could seriously think anybody in Edmonton reads anything but Nuts, there’s probably some fucker in Crouch End right now enjoying a story about the ballet dancer who pirouetted himself out of the slums of Soweto or some other middle class horror.

For a man not known for hangover avoidance, it is nothing short of a miracle that the only company with a near spotless record of finding my door is Domino’s. The latest development is another, larger sign drilled into the wall along the side passage, which has proved as effective as a ‘No Entry’ sign in Sevastopol. Ordering anything is an exercise in faith, preceding prayer that a half-blind delivery berk will repay that faith by not delivering the fruits of empty commercialism to the mad bint next door who yells at crows.

So while I’m grateful for the many happy returns, if you send a gift don’t expect a thank you letter. My mystical Garden Flat is slowly retreating from the world, and much as I’d appreciate a Mock the Week DVD, a book about football or whatever else it is you’ve unaccountably matched with what you think are my tastes, you might as well address it straight to the Bermuda Triangle or air-mail the money to Malaysia.

Veganuary

A good many people will take the dawn of a new calendar year as a signal from some higher power to kneel at the altar of self-deprivation, pledging themselves to some puritanical amoeba-like existence in the blind hope that it will preserve their oh-so-precious bodies for a meagre few more years of life.

Meanwhile, I’m doing my level best to do all the drinking and meat-eating for them in a bid to maintain the rapidity of the universe’s collapse. This tired charade of human life has really gone on for far too long as it is; the pretence of sustainability in a world moulded by greed is as laughable as a pig on an ice rink – which would be perfectly hilarious if it weren’t a perfect metaphor for human progress. Whilst I’m loathe to dance as this grim cavalcade nears its end, I see no reason to delay that end.

I’m interminably incensed by the holier than thou horseshit that spews forth every time someone proudly proclaims that they’ve kicked a habit that they deem detrimental to their pointless existence. The only things that punctuate the grim monotony of life are those rare exotic substances that for a brief, fleeting moment rescue you from the seeping septic tank of the world and help launch you into the realm of sheer self-indulgent bliss. That might sound like an advert for pro-biotic yoghurt and other affordable placebos, but it stands as a defence for those life-shortening sweeteners that make the world we’ve crafted a bearable one.

Smoking that first cigarette after work, I’m almost inclined to believe there could be a god, such are the restorative powers of all that some seek to deny themselves during the bleakest month of the year. The prospect of Dry January or Veganuary – take a moment here to reflect upon the kind of world we live in where that is a legitimate term for the first month of the year – is so unceasingly dull it merely serves to stretch our tedious existence out for longer than necessary, which to me feels like a lose-lose deal.

Especially at a time like January! With such gibbering gumption do people decry the old follies of alcoholism and any other earthly pleasure that can be given up for a month in the pursuit of moral superiority. At this time of year there can be no greater need for the home-comforts of mind-numbing alcohol, tobacco and all the other vices through which we sustain ourselves amidst the madness of meal deals, fun-running and zero-hour contracts.

People always blather out of their gaping word-holes about how much they think this year will be full of positivity and change and progress and other buzzwords that middle-managers in PR firms bandy around when trying to flog a new form of hair-gunk or when David Cameron’s trying to bomb someone. Why? How in god’s tit did you reach that conclusion you fucking genius? Maybe these are the same people who believe in horoscopes, yoga, juice diets or sharing Britain First memes. Never mind Mystic Meg, these twats have been listening to Denial Deidre and Bullshit Barbara.

We inhabit a planet that rejects us, a world desperately retching like someone regretting a suicidal overdose. A world where everyone’s a salesman flogging themselves as a brand in a disparaging fire sale of our collective sanity. A world where style finally drove an ice-pick of idiocy through the skull of substance. A world we paradoxically wish to save and yet are pre-programmed to consume – how, here, can there possibly be something so flagrantly deluded as hope?

We’ve unwittingly been sold our own values back to us; whether we wanted to cut out red meat for quixotic desires or for the self-absorbed pursuit of health, beauty and all the other hypocrisies that humans beings are capable of, it doesn’t matter. We believe that by consuming a product, or not consuming a product, we have performed an act of free will, whereas in reality the values we try to exude, the ones that we feel define us and our conscious decisions as human beings who matter, are merely defined in relation to our consumption or rejection of some marketing executive’s wet dream.

Whether we buy into the wet dream or the dream of free will and rebellion through a month or even a lifetime of eating nothing but damp cardboard, we’re still buying in. And it costs us more than a loaf of artisan pumpkin-seed gluten-free bread.

The pious holy-rollers of the sustainability camp are merely prolonging a life that cannot possibly meet the unrealistically high expectations that their values set upon themselves. Abstaining from drinking or going vegan or vegetarian on the grounds of some moral bent somewhat misses the point, ecologically speaking – will these same people avoid combustion engines, mass produced electronic goods and anything that uses processed packaging?

Due to the ubiquitous nature of the aforementioned evils, such an absolutist morality is only serving to prolong human existence in a far from perfect world. The “every little helps” notion is quaint and commendable in some abstract sense, but I’d much rather these self-sacrificing Mormon-esque types get busy dying along with the rest of us. We live in a cesspool and you brought a mop of morality? There’s no undoing the damage and there’s really not a great deal to cry about or save, so let’s just snap the neck of the world rather than strangle it slowly. Let every cigarette, every drink, every sirloin steak be just another pillow in the greatest smother party the world will never see!

Whether we were designed or found such a pugnacious form by accident is irrelevant – we are all cursed with the same in-built desire to persevere irrespective of the consequences. At this stage denying yourself those deadly small joys is merely obeying that programming. Self-flagellation is just masturbation without the mess, whereas self-destruction is a noble act in a world of narcissistic self-belief. And it’s probably the only mercy we’re capable of collectively granting to all the other life that inhabits this planet.

Chef’s special

Vegetarians are lunatics; I think we can all agree on that. Somehow, the ever-reducing number of guilt-free pleasures available to the western consumer do still include a meat-laden meal, prepared to perfection and presented in such style it makes you glad you were able to dismiss that definition of ‘pearl barley’ you had to look up the other week as the ravings of a madman.

Oh but hang on – you’ve been led astray. Your mind has wandered off to a land of cattle shaped like deliciously tender and well-seasoned steaks, done to within a split-second of perfection with juices emerging lazily to blend with your mashed polenta. You’re picturing succulent pieces of chicken reclining in a polpette di pollo, laced with garlic and flat-leafed parsley and sprinkled with parmesan as though Edesia herself has blessed your majestic banquet. Roman goddess of food. Thank you Jimmy Wales.

That’s not real meat. That’s middle-class meat. Your imagination is filled with images of unreal meals cooked by that fat-tongued clown Jamie Oliver and no-one else ever because what the fuck is he on about, really?

Meat is the rotting flesh of dead animals, industrially reared and slaughtered, hacked up and transported incalculable distances so we can get fat on suffering and murder and call it ‘natural’. Meat is meant to be frightening, and if it doesn’t scare you you probably deserve the same fate as that sheep they made in a lab, named and marvelled at for a few weeks before beginning to look at differently, with eyes saying “That bit’s the shoulder, that bit’s the shank.”

Meat must be feared. That’s where kebabs come in. Don’t look at me like that.

There are people in the world who think kebabs are the sole preserve of the drunkard who’s given up all hope of a future without diabetes. At times it’s hard to fault that line of thought, and yet at 12.35am on a Wednesday, some hours before Wednesday becomes a serious and terrifying reality, there’s nothing more life-affirming than a hairy man regarding you balefully as you step across his threshold slurring “large doner please mate”. Witness him glide across the dubious linoleum towards the object of your terrible desire, sharpening his infernal weaponry and slicing through so many mashed-together ex-creatures in one swipe it’d make that arsehole who arrowed Cecil the Lion quake with fear.

Kebabs are a gift to Britain from a culture that has realised we’re fucked beyond imagination and only food that makes you genuinely ashamed can stave off the doom. But here, too, some will be thinking: “Actually he has a point. I had a lovely schwarma wrapped in a toasted tortilla from the new artisan Turkish on the High Street last week. They infuse it with herbs and they won’t give out the recipe for their garlic sauce, and believe me I’ve asked. It’s that good, I even had it sober once.”

You’re what’s wrong with the world, do you know that? You think Waitrose is fine for day-to-day items, but oh that new patisserie, they make the most wonderful cinnamon tea cakes. You regularly claim you prefer the feel of a ‘real book’ while never buying anything on your Amazon wish list unless it drops under a quid. You probably think Jeremy Clarkson was treated shabbily by the BBC. You’re the reason there’s such a thing as a ‘gastropub’.

What you imagine to be a kebab is nothing of the sort, but just as with dartboards, jukeboxes and faded pub carpets swimming in beer, our heritage is being lost in a blur of upward mobility. Genuine kebab shops of the type the past two generations have worshipped as temples of post-pub salvation are being replaced by places that are safe, non-threatening and, worst of all, clean.

This is summed up by the slow death of the pita bread. There’s a reason I go to Eddie’s by Kings Cross station – they serve me stacks of dirty meat, wrecked salad and ring-stinging chili sauce on Poundland-quality pita bread, and some minutes in the bread’s soaked through with more fat than the beach at Benidorm. This, I must stress, is a marvellous thing.

But we are being invaded by ‘wraps’. It’s impossible to describe the disappointment of a ‘wrap’, with meat that seems pre-chewed, sauce you can’t see and therefore can’t be sure isn’t “chef’s special”, and the culinary equivalent of a sheet of A4 holding it all together. There’s half as much food than in a proper kebab – and worse, the bit missing is the hangover-prevention ingredient that most of us have bought it for in the first place, that glorious pita that will gum you up like putty.

I demand that at least one aspect of my life be allowed to continue unmolested by the drive to make everything family-friendly to maximise revenue. Pubs that I can tolerate are disappearing as irascible landlords are replaced by apron-wielding ‘managers’. I feel increasingly uncertain in newsagents since energy drinks and devices for ‘vaping’ replaced Panini stickers and a proper top shelf. Even easyJet isn’t the comedy bunfight it once was, with reserved seating and fake tan no longer mandatory among staff of both genders. I think they’re allowed to fly to Monaco now and I don’t understand.

We, the standard bearers of a country that would have as much point as Switzerland without our ability to hold our ale, are hungry. Wraps will not do, damn it. Find some other way to describe whatever pitiful muck your people masquerade as kebabs, and a way to serve it that doesn’t involve me wandering into a place with an elephant leg on a sign outside and emerging with tears streaming down my face as a once-great nation allows itself to be emasculated by the rampant hordes of people who know what the holy Christ ‘chia seeds’ are.

Some things in life should be confusing, alarming and not for everyone, like animated porn. Kebabs are not yours, they’re ours. We will have sodden pita bread, and chili sauce of unknown provenance from a silver container, not a bottle. We will continue to say yes to chillies to look like proper kebab eaters then covertly throw them in the street for the rat whose brother we’re probably munching on right now. We embrace botulism like a comfort blanket.

We know our dinner will kill us, and you’d better let it. You wouldn’t like Eddie when he’s angry.

Pearl barley and quinoa

I wish I hadn’t watched that video. I wish I could roll back time and forget this moment of enlightenment. Why do we treat animals so badly? Why do we mass produce living beings just so we can eat at McDonalds? I’ll never be able to enjoy a burger again, or a flat white. Even honey is off limits.

Vegan. That’s the dirty word, that’s the descriptor I never thought would define me. I’m normal, I’m just like everyone else, and “I’ll eat whatever you’re having!” Except I won’t. Because I can’t unsee those images. I can’t pretend that it’s fine to stick my hand inside a dead decapitated chicken and fill it up with lemons and garlic. I can’t fry a steak, or wear a leather belt, because I don’t want to contribute to the suffering of other living things.

So my transition starts. My girlfriend watches on disapprovingly as our fridge loses all meat and dairy, and hemp milk, oat milk and almond milk take up increasing amounts of space. She’s even less impressed when I proudly state: “The cat ate smashed avocado on toast for breakfast today.” I’m turning that carnivore vegan; she gets special cat food delivered in the post now.

All I see are healthy guilt-free alternatives; all my girlfriend can see is boring plain food. I tell her; “It’s for the best, we can radically change the world one meal at a time.” She tells me she’s hungry, and she’d rather stay ignorant. I’m not allowed to show her the evidence of the terrible things done in her name.

Things come to a head at 2am on a Wednesday morning. My girlfriend has been out drinking with her workmates and she staggers in and wakes me up – she’s absolutely smashed. She’s hungry and I follow her into the kitchen and watch as the realities of my veganism wash over her swaying form. Sourdough bread, almond butter, bags of kale, fresh mushrooms, seven packets of lentils (green and red), pearl barley and quinoa – this isn’t the menu for a drunk twenty three year old.

She slams the fridge door shut and decries the “vegan shit” filling up our kitchen. She wants pizza, pie, kebabs, sausages, burgers, but all I can offer her is homemade soup, or a banana smoothie. And I remember the phrase that appears in nearly all vegan media: “See the world through the eyes of the victim.” And I’m torn – who is the victim in this scenario: my drunk girlfriend? Or the animals that die so she can drunkenly sink her teeth into their decaying flesh?

But context is important too. We sit around and stuff our faces and we owe our lives to mass production and deception. We’re sold images of happy animals who die quietly and peacefully (after content little lives) and we buy their dead bodies wholesale.

My drunken girlfriend has bought the lie. She’s drunk so she wants meat (of course), she wants to stuff herself on unhealthy foods because that’s what you do. You drink too much, and then you eat a kebab; and it’s fine, you can be temporarily hedonistic. Until you wake up the next day with a pounding headache and a bad stomach.

We’re all victims. We’re all sucked in by late-night advertisements. We’re enchanted by the kebab shop myth, those late night vendors in brightly lit windows, hawking horse meat at ungodly hours – the moments where people are at their most susceptible.

I realise that we’re all victims of corporations that fill their pockets with our pennies, the tiny pieces of money that we all tithe daily to keep Coca Cola, McDonalds and other global purveyors of repackaged suffering solvent. So I fill up my blender with chickpeas, I dice up a lemon, crush some garlic, and I make houmous, good wholesome Middle Eastern food.

I chop up a cucumber and I hand it to my girlfriend. “It’s finger food,” I tell her. “It’s good.”

She looks at my arrangement with disdain but her belly growls and she starts to eat. She stuffs her face and devours an entire cucumber, all of the houmous, and promptly falls asleep on the sofa with a contented belch.

We don’t have to eat the shit they tell us is good, we can change our perspectives, we can reassess and reconsider the myths we’re sold. I don’t eat anything that had a face, or a mother. I don’t drink cow’s milk, monkey’s milk, elephant’s milk or rat’s milk. I’m a human; I don’t consume animal products.

But it took a massive shift in my reasoning to change my diet, and it’s hard to maintain. I miss cheese, I miss milk and cookies, but I can’t go back. I’ve learned something, a truth that sits uncomfortably inside me, and one that I can’t forget – we don’t need to eat animals (even when we’re drunk).

So in those moments of weakness, in those times where advertisements define your response, take a step back. You can be radically different. You can change the world one mouthful at a time by not accepting the pain and suffering that meat-eating causes.

But don’t try and change your girlfriend’s mind too quickly. Take inspiration from fast food advertising. Wait until she’s drunk and at her most susceptible – then feed her cucumber.

A delicious two years

I’m not scared to admit that I am afraid of obesity. The health complications, the isolation, the social rejection. I have been a ‘fat girl’, and it sucks. It scares the hell out of me.

I have to live in this body for the rest of my life. I can’t have collapsed arches, collapsed veins, and diabetes and high blood pressure brought on by weight. I have a family bent towards excessive weight gain, especially in the waist, hip, and thigh areas. I see what it does to their knees, their hips and, most importantly, their self-esteem.

When it comes to weight gain, we as a society are not kind. I want to be able to run around with my kids when I have them and do what a woman my age should be expected to do, without complaint. I want to be happy in my own skin.

And I was. Very happy. I was a stone cold fox…until we moved to the UK. A slow creep started two years ago and I’ve gained a stone since. I’m 5 foot 7 with a medium build; I started out at the mid 140’s and now I’m at 158 pounds, and it feels fucking disgusting.

Plato said, “Think of the human body as a ship. It should not be overloaded.” And my ship is listing to port side. I’m fat and I have to shift this shit before it fucking takes over. I have to lose weight because if I don’t it’s too slippery of a slope for me to not roll all the way down.

Fear and panic is what helped me lose weight the first time and it’s what kept the weight off. But that’s gone away now. In fact, once I got married I can honestly say I stopped weighing myself. Not that I didn’t care about how I looked, but I was so happy and comfortable, I felt so loved, that the scales just didn’t figure into things any more. I didn’t need to be one number or another to feel comfortable in my skin. And it’s not just me – when I met my husband he had a washboard stomach, very nice arm/calf muscles, and could lift me up with no more effort than a mother cat with a baby kitten. No more.

The UK is a minefield of pub culture, grey meat encased in wet pastry, weather that makes you cry, and really tasty ale. It’s just we two; we have no children, no mortgage, no car payments. No car, in fact, just a Vespa. We walk a lot, but we have nothing to spend our money on but ourselves and we work long hours and have little time to do that. So, we started to eat. We’ve been munching a path through London’s gastronomic multiverse. It has been a delicious two years. It’s hard to say goodbye.

We started doing a weight challenge. It sounds stupid, I know. But what’s also stupid is that I can no longer fit into the Levis I bought just last year. I used to wear my husband’s dress shirts around the house of evenings after he’d taken them off and now I can’t – too much back fat. He looks like he has a bicycle tire around his middle and the pile of pants he’s had to throw to the back of the closet is growing.

So we made an agreement to get back to our pre-UK poundage. I make healthy dinners; my husband’s in charge of healthy breakfasts. His plan of “small sustainable goals” is a novelty for me – crash diets that produce results in short order are more my thing. But this seems to be working. It’s not easy for me to choose oatmeal over croissant or lentil soup over Chicken Tikka Masala, but we’re doing it.

We have made weight loss our bitch. There will be a few extra treats left on the UK’s shelves for the rest of you to hoover up. Sorry about that.

The gay wedding cake

I don’t have many phobias, but…fuck, who am I kidding? I have plenty of phobias. I’d make a nice case study for those of you interested in the brains of freaks.

One of these phobias is called musophobia and it means I have a fear of mice. And not like one of those “Ohmigosh I have a mouse in my house, I’d better get a jar and catch it because ew” kind of fears. More like being unable to move for 25 minutes because I just saw a mouse and even though it ran away as soon as it saw my ugly face, I feel like any move will make it come back with an army of little hairy wingless bats desperate to chew through me.

So here I am, at 4am, sitting in my bed, desperately trying not to wet my pants, because I saw a mouse two hours ago and now I’m afraid to step on the floor in case the beast attacks my toes. After half an hour of lying here, trying to regulate my breath and convince myself that no, a thousand mice won’t suddenly jump on my bed and crawl all over my body, I managed to move enough to get the computer from my desk and go online.

Facebook is very interesting at night. There’s only a handful of people online, half of them are drunk and the other half are either depressed or very tired but unable to sleep for various reasons. Also, there’s nothing interesting on newsfeed because, d’oh, everybody’s fucking sleeping in their pest-free homes.

However, after a lot of scrolling (hello, carpal tunnel) I come across an article shared by someone with the title: “The moral of the gay wedding cake row: the law can’t create tolerance”. The description of it says the following: “A Christian walks into a Muslim signwriter’s shop and orders a placard. He says it should carry a cartoon of the prophet and the slogan Muslims Go Home. The signwriter is deeply offended and says he cannot complete the order. The customer is outraged at the discrimination, is supported by the Equality Commission, sues, and the signwriter is fined £500 plus costs. I think most people would find such a saga absurd.”

When an article begins with such a ludicrous comparison, by putting hate speech and love together and saying they’re basically the same, I lose all interest in reading the rest of the piece. So I confess, for the sake of full disclosure, that I only read bits of it.

What I can say is that, for me, religion has no place in this debate. It has absolutely no value whatsoever as an argument in the issue of gay marriage. Law is above religion, period. Sure, everybody is entitled to their own beliefs, but making laws out of said beliefs, laws that millions of people will have to obey, is about as laughable as saying that the legalisation of same-sex marriage will turn more people gay.

Why is it that lawmakers keep religion as their ace in the hole, something to take out and flaunt when it’s beneficial and then conveniently put away when it’s not? A man beats his wife because she showed her ankles in public? Put that fucker behind bars. Where does he think he is? This is the West, we’re civilised here, people are free to show off some skin (although, if you’re a lady, keep your nipples covered, because that’s taboo even for the civilized and progressive Western society; not if you’re a man, though, because your nipples are special and can and should be seen by the world). A woman refuses to take off her veil for a license photo because of her religion? She’s a threat to national security, that freak.

Some old, white, Irish Catholic dude and his wife refuse to bake a wedding cake because it’s for a gay wedding? Well who the hell do they think they are? Oh wait, no. Actually, they can totally do that. It’s their right, because of their religion and their beliefs and… you know, all that freedom thing we have in the West. Sorry, gay dudes/lesbian ladies!

Yes, I’m aware this is not how it happened in this particular case, but it’s certainly the outcome a lot of people were hoping and arguing for. Because, in the words of this little genius who wrote the piece: “Law can’t create tolerance”. Well guess what? Law was just as unable to create tolerance back when black people had to ride in the back of the bus and use the back door to get into buildings. Same when women were not supposed to be in those damn universities, but at home nursing future misogynistic little shits and trophy wives to be. Yet it somehow changed and the world changed with it, because the fun thing about law is that it doesn’t give a fuck about your totally legit reason to break it.

It’s 2015, the world is going through economical, social and environmental crises that need our attention, so the fact that we waste our time and resources to debate the legality and morality of marriage between two people who are in love, based solely on their genitalia, is ludicrous to me. Can you no longer pray to whatever god helps you sleep at night if your male neighbour is touching his dick to another dick? Can you not attend your church on Sundays because there is some woman out there who just ate pussy for breakfast? And should your neighbour marry his boyfriend, will that make it physically impossible for you to breathe, blink, eat, piss, shit, reproduce, sleep etc?

I’ll go out on a limb here and assume the answer to all these questions is “no”. Based on that, I urge you to think of this: there was a time when Christianity was illegal and if you can now exercise your beliefs without fear of being executed it’s only because some people, thousands of years ago, fought for you to do so. Your battle is over. Now let others have their wins.

We’re not interested in quality

I’m no media guru, but I think anyone with any semblance of sense would find it near-impossible not to agree that “We’re not interested in quality” is a fucking terrible line to start an advert with. Yet in another instance of someone okaying another farcical entry into the commercial world, like those “Ride me all day for £3” South Wales bus adverts held up by naked men and woman, we now know that Papa John’s couldn’t care less about the quality of their pizzas. Way to make a first impression, Papa.

It’s like if Pizza Hut started an advert saying: “Here at Pizza Hut, we don’t care about pizza.” Oh wait, they’re kind of already doing that by slowly changing their name to Pasta Hut. Conveying a healthy image is all fine and well, but nobody goes to Pizza Hut, or any pizza joint, to be healthy. You go because Nando’s was full a bunch of dickheads trying to have a ‘cheeky’ meal (whatever the hell that actually means), and you fancy something easy and greasy to eat, at a reasonable price. Maybe if they’re offering you free access to the salad bar you might pick up a slice of cucumber or two, or maybe not since you want to save room to gorge on the unlimited ice cream dispenser (hoping you can pull off not looking like a child catcher while in the queue for it). As consumers all we care about is the pizza. We want pizzas from pizza places. Some things are inherently simple, and this is one such thing.

And yet pizza advertising has something clearly wrong with it. The aforementioned Papa John’s line is a testament to how they’ve misjudged the majority of their audience. People need a fast hook, and if you start off by saying “We’re not interested in quality” – even if you follow it up with the ever-so-clever caveat of “we’re obsessed by it” – then people will move on quickly. Or, at the very least, that is the one line that will stick with people afterwards.

And while we all like food that actually tastes pretty good, who actually goes to a pizza chain expecting something supremely delicious? If you want proper pizza you go to a middle-class Italian restaurant (or maybe Pizza Express, which, though a tad pricey, is an exception to the rule of pizza restaurant quality). Otherwise you should be aware that you’re getting pre-prepared dough squeezed between the sticky hands of a university student trying to earn their way out of absolute debt. Competent as that student may be, you can only get a certain level of ‘delicious’ when you’re titting about with something a machine made earlier.

We eat it anyway though, because pizza is really tasty and easy to eat. Still, why they think they can sell a pizza for just short of of £20 remains a mystery. When you try to sell something people want a basic pleasure from, keep it simple, and keep it cheap – which is why a £5 pizza from a kebab shop never goes down poorly. It’s not pretending to be anything more than it is, and sometimes it can actually be pretty damn good.

Because kebab shop pizza makers aren’t too interested in quality or ‘delicious’, and instead are putting all their energy into getting you and your drunken stupor out of their face as quickly as possible. Sometimes all the advertising you need is a lit-up menu board with a crude and gratuitously glistening picture of unhealthy food, and the price. Media gurus, you might want to take note.

Supermarket meatballs and processed parmesan

The true test of any diet is always, always the point at which a woman gets her period.

Sorry if anyone reading this is uncomfortable reading this next part, but you’ll just have to deal with it because I refuse to cave in to the mullahs who say that a woman’s period is never to be mentioned. If it’s pertinent, I will mention it, out loud. I will even call it what it is: a period. I may even use its technical, medical name: menstruation. I know, it’s revolutionary.

I have already lost just under six pounds in two weeks and I plan to keep going until the holidays when I will reward myself with a trip to some place warm, where I will sunbathe and show off my new , even hotter body. But back to the topic of monthly bleeding from your vagina, or getting your period.

As anyone whose ever been a woman, or met a woman, or who is currently a woman with a working uterus will confirm, the duration of menstruation is an interesting 5-7 days. Once a month from the ages of roughly 13 to 50, a woman’s body decides it wants to kill her. Accurately, it decides to start the potential baby-making processes from the woman end of things; every month your uterus gets all excited that maybe today, maybe this is the day, actually the few days when you might decide to reproduce.

In preparation for this, each of your two ovaries decides to release an egg. These eggs meander to the fallopian tubes, then roll down your tubes and implant themselves in the uterus – if they get fertilised by a sperm, of course, and only one of them can. There they glory in their newfound home and start growing into half a version of yourself and use the build-up of coagulated blood and nutrients in your uterine lining – which has been building thanks to hormones and such for the past few weeks or so – for sustenance as they evolve. Sounds rather alien-like. Creepy, right?

If they don’t meet up with a member of the spermatozoa persuasion they just, I don’t know…go away. Melt, disintegrate, like sugar in the rain. And this, along with the raw meat-like insides they were supposed to munch on (the uterine lining) spend the next week making you feel like you want to die. The uterus wants to get the gross stuff out so it causes cramping of the muscle. There are chemical processes that go on involving Science which cause nausea, constipation, bloating, vomiting, headaches and leprosy. Well, maybe not leprosy. It just feels like that.

Let’s not say leprosy. Let’s say…INCREDIBLE, UNDENIABLE AND IRRESISTIBLE FOOD CRAVINGS, the likes of which you’ve never had before. You can be the kind of person who can easily go without eating chocolate, or chips or pasta for 25 days a month. You could be a punk rock vegan who weeps thinking about the exploitation of bees or a strict vegetarian yogi for whom “eating clean” is your personal mantra. You could be a person who prefers to eat all organic, free range eggs and who wouldn’t touch a meat product who you weren’t on a first name basis with.

Once your period hits, its going to take more than an inversion or a show to get your mind off the primal urge you have to stick your face in a  bowl of gluten filled spaghetti, covered in canned pasta sauce, and drowning yourself in supermarket meatballs and processed parmesan.

I have become a completely irrational person when it comes to my period in a way that almost scares me. If it wasn’t temporary, this momentary madness where certain foods were concerned, I would think I had a serious problem. Once those cravings hit, cravings I feel absolutely driven by, I have to exhibit superwoman strength to keep myself on an even keel. One side of the boat is the pasta, the other side of the boat is a triple layer fudge cake with fudge filling and fudge icing garnished with fudge. I could eat an entire pot of pasta for lunch and an entire chocolate cake for dinner. And I actually have done.

Five days in every month my body needs carbs and fat and sugar for the mythical baby it thinks I may be gestating. It has a NEED TO FEED. It wants to make sure this non-existent zygote has food. It wants to ensure the literally fantastic embryo is well-supplied. It is fighting against all biology to try to stave off those urges. I tell you, you have to work really hard not to just become a Great White in human form…quietly salivating, roving the aisles of your local supermarket, teeth barely covered, hunting the corners of the local shop, grabbing boxes of macaroni and cheese and snatching the last box of eclairs from a horrified old lady.

So this week, my period should start. And with it there will be a sacrifice demanded. Will I be able to hold off? We shall see. Fuck the diet. I’m going to eat a whole wheel of cheese now. I’m going to own this shit.

Because I’m edgy

Shoreditch: the place that regular, uncool people like myself lament for being full of beardy hipsters and pop-up everythings, while deep down we’re secretly longing to fit in to such a trendy (is that even a word anymore?) town.

It’s also the place that I work. But no, unfortunately I’m not hip enough to work in a neat little boutique or perhaps as an exotic food vendor. I work at a company that many would perceive as the antithesis of Shoreditch: Network Rail.

Roll on lunchtime; I’m starved of food and coolness, and I’m meeting a friend for lunch in a surprisingly reasonably priced cafe we’ve visited before. Alas, despite the fact we were only there a few weeks ago, as is so often in the case in Shoreditch, we arrive and it’s no longer a cafe, but a seemingly efficiently established vintage clothes store having a closing-down sale.

No bother, there’s a plethora of stylish joints we can try. Accepting the fact we’re about to be robbed in broad daylight, we wander into a predictably modern yet traditional kind of place, perhaps drawn in by there being an apparent former Made in Chelsea cast member dining outside, or so my friend informs me.

Passing a delightful selection of fresh fruit & veg and pastries, we are shown to our table at the unnaturally light end of the bistro, noting the adverse table and chair-to-floor space ratio. Having pulled the table out for my friend, the waiter now traps her against the back bench and, though very kind in doing so, attempts to push in mine for me, except I take control of my seat because I’m out for lunch in Shoreditch, not having dinner at the Ritz.

Despite the bizarre decor and the confusing, expensive menu, we opt against bolting out of there as soon as we sit down, predominantly because we’re British and too scared to do things like that for fear of causing offence.

Our captors take our order: a jug, or, as I noted later, more like a rusty chamber pot, of water, a roast chicken sandwich for my friend, and, because I’m edgy and we’re in Shoreditch, a crab omelette for me.

Between whispered conversations discussing the disturbing vibe (yeah; ‘vibe’. Shoreditch, baby) we felt upon being seated, and worries that the other diners will soon recognise that we are impostors, our nervous waitress, who for some reason has replaced our waiter (perhaps he was irked by me controlling the seating arrangements), brings over our, for want of a better word, ‘food’.

On initial viewing, my omelette isn’t an omelette, but, perhaps, the futuristic version of an omelette thousands of years into our species’ future, after we have forgotten the original recipe.

However, the chicken sandwich has been successfully crafted in the restaurant’s kitchen, using, I’m sure, whatever up-to-the-minute equipment Shoreditch establishments use to prepare their food. Oh, no, wait! There’s gristle in it!

We’re unsure whether to complain or not, given that we’re not cool enough to be here and this could be common practice. But, we do. We’re not paying for gristle. I feel a little rush of pride as I unblinkingly put my foot down. God, I’m on a roll here, what with the chair situation from earlier too.

I begrudgingly finish most of my omelette; I don’t wanna be that guy, despite knowing I’m about to pay nigh on a tenner for a half-assed lunch due to extortionate prices and a “discretionary service charge”. Why is it discretionary? Everyone in the restaurant knows about it because it’s on the menu.

Of course, the bill we’re presented with has the sandwich on it, presumably due to a lack of communication between senior members of staff and our waitress, who we guess is enjoying her first day at work, hence why she is being followed, a little overbearingly, by another lady.

They correct our bill and I pay. On our way out we notice the pastries again, including some delightful looking and uncharacteristically inexpensive sausage rolls. Sighing, knowing full well we could have had those for lunch instead of gristle and space-omelette, we depart and vow never to return.

Unwittingly transformed into a restaurant critic, I proceed to warn my colleagues against the place and go about the rest of my working day a little light-headed and under-nourished, yearning for the salvation of dinner time. Thankfully, I live far away from the accepted whackiness of Shoreditch and my evening meal comes in the shape of a jacket potato, which, hopefully, won’t be futuristic or gristly.

From under the desk, he whipped it out

Some people can recall exactly where they were when Kennedy was shot. Others when Gazza cried. For me, on the eve of this particular historic event I was sitting in front of the television on my own. It was a Saturday night, and I was watching the Jonathan Ross show. You could argue that my life had already taken a somewhat downward turn at this point, but alas the worst was yet to come. After some inevitably sycophantic banter with a vacuous guest star, he turned to face the camera.

And then it happened. From under the desk, he whipped it out.

It was surprisingly long and a little bit more curved than I’d imagined, but there was no mistaking what it was. He waved it about for a bit and fondled it to demonstrate its properties to the audience, before inviting them to tell him more about it.

But I already knew exactly what it was.

In that crushing moment of misery I saw my life as it could have been flash before my eyes. Super yachts, fast cars, STAFF. All gone. Alone and in pain, I screamed at the television, “IT’S A BANANA CASE! IT’S A BANANA CASE!”

There it was in its shining yellow phallic glory. Somebody had beaten me to it, someone had invented the product which was to line the shelves of pound stores across the land. Someone had invented my invention.

Now, there are those who may argue that a solid plastic banana case is entirely unnecessary since bananas already come with their own cases designed by Mother Nature herself. The important point to make here is that those people are idiots who are wrong in a number of ways.

Firstly they clearly haven’t ever actually tried to transport a banana using anything other than a cushioned throne. If they had they’d know the anguish of finding an empty blackened carcass at the bottom of the bag, its former contents now inching into every orifice over all your belongings, tingeing them forever with the sickly sweet smell of infant penicillin.

Secondly, they are people who use the term ‘Mother Nature’ and should therefore not be given the time of day. They probably call it ‘making love’ too.

In the ten years since the harrowing Jonathan Ross incident I’ve held firm and refrained from purchasing a banana case, as a matter of principle. But it’s only a matter of time before the transparent toaster becomes a reality too. At that point I may give in and buy both, but only in order to create a ceremonial pyre using the toaster to watch the evil banana bastard melt and wipe its smug sideways grin from the Earth.