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Alex: “I’m Going to Blow Myself Away”

Yesterday, London was visited by some particularly strong winds which were literally shaking my house and howling like nothing I have ever heard before. Alex became increasingly intrigued by the wind speed, studying the trees and the fence, and noticed that they were shaking quite violently. I took one look at her, she looked at me and then said “Victoria, I’m going to blow myself away.” I quite literally facepalmed at this point but Alex got off the sofa, fetched my Dad’s Hi-Vis jacket (“because if I blow away, I want the planes to see me”), headed out into the street in broad daylight, spread her arms and waited.

As Alex is literally quite mad, I decided to turn this into an experiment which would enable me to spend an extra ten minutes avoiding coursework, and so set out to determine whether a wind speed of 45mph is strong enough to blow away a tiny human. After all, it is rather amusing, if a little embarrassing.

Alex’s first attempt on the street didn’t work too well, but you can see that she appears to be having a jolly good old time playing outside the front of the house. My mother, who is just to the left of her, you can hear quietly speaking to our dog walker Siobhan, who has become accustomed to Alex’s shenanigans and now ignores her. Alex does things like this on a daily basis, and so people in the street are no longer shocked.

Following this first failed attempt, Alex decided to move into the back garden, where she believed that the wind was blowing stronger. We were actually met with a slither more success, but this was only in the form of the wind blowing her top up slightly, and Alex hadn’t moved a muscle as a result of the wind.

In conclusion then, it is clearly impossible for 45mph winds to move a person, even if they are attempting to ‘catch’ it in an item of clothing.

 

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The Tower of London Dare: THAT Video

A while back, I wrote a post about the fact that I literally can’t take my sister anywhere without her threatening to do something completely stupid or outrageous. One of the occasions that I mentioned involved a trip to the tower of London, where she sported a cape and a Beefeater hat for the entire duration of the visit.

Whilst cleaning up my facebook page and removing posts relevant to an older blog that I have but no longer use, I came across this video of Alex post Tower of London visit. Again, it proves that Alex can go literally nowhere without causing a scene or making a fool of herself. She can’t even run with a lollipop without choking. And she wasn’t even eating it.

The Pros and Cons of Outdoor Cinema

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Outdoor cinema is something I’ve wanted to experience for ages, yet hadn’t had the opportunity to up until this weekend. In fact, I hadn’t heard about it until earlier this year when a few friends of mine were complaining about a screening of Back to the Future being cancelled after shelling out an incredible amount of money on the tickets. I’m a bit of a romantic at heart and a fan of the outdoors, so the idea of having a picnic while you watch a movie is too good to pass up.

I came across the Essex Outdoor Cinema completely by accident,  walking to Upminster in search of a pair of trousers to replace the ones I had managed to unceremoniously destroy earlier that morning. Walking up a hill, complaining about the fact I was having to walk up it in the heat in the first place, I stopped in front a banner advertising Essex Outdoor Cinema. A bit more investigation revealed that it would be showing Captain Phillips on the grass outside a rather lovely looking windmill. David and I talked it over a bit, and decided that since he’s never seen the film, and it’s one that I really enjoyed, we should do it. After all, we’d regret it if we didn’t.

Your typical cinema will charge you £10 for a ticket, con you into paying 300% more for your snacks and drinks than you would anywhere else, and before you know it has cost you £45 quid for two people. Either that, or you’re left sweating whilst you attempt to smuggle your own snacks past the spotty teenager who’s day will be made if he catches you with contraband. The seats are uncomfortable, usually covered in popcorn or someone’s spilled drink and have very little leg room. David is 6 foot 3, and I’m 5 foot 8 and a bit. If I’m complaining about cramp in my legs, you can guarantee he’s suffering about 64787 times more than I am.

The Outdoor Cinema cost was £10 per ticket, which I think is amazing value. We paid online via PayPal, but there was also the option to pay in person.  You could bring your own food and drink, including alcohol. You could choose to sit wherever you want, on your own chairs. You could lie down if you wanted and wrap yourself up.in as many blankets as you could possibly want. To me,  that’s much more appealing than trying to squeeze myself into a chair and sit uncomfortably whilst trying to watch the latest film release. Besides, it’s romantic. You can enjoy spending time with the person you’ve gone to watch the film with and interact with them in ways you couldn’t in a normal cinema.

Despite the many pros there are, however, a few cons. For example, the elements are beyond your control. You are entirely at their mercy. Whilst it didn’t rain on Saturday when we went it got quite chilly. Not unbearably so, but it was cool enough to make you wish you’d packed an extra jumper. The other issue was the number of mosquitos. The film we saw was shown quite late at night in order to coincide with the sunset, and as a result we were bitten to death by mosquitos. Next time I will be spraying myself with as much insect repellent as possible; I dont care how bad it makes me smell. The final negative point is that they didn’t supply seating. David and I were led to believe that the company would provide seating for the guests to sit on, as suggested by an image on their website. They also hadn’t stated that visitors would need to supply their own.

Cons aside, the whole experience was completely magical, and it’s definitely one that I am keen to repeat again in the near future. Next time though, I’ll be much better prepared as the experience this time was a bit rushed and we didn’t really know what to expect. If you’re keen to find out about the Essex Outdoor Cinema and see what they have on and where,  you can find their website here.

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15 Signs That Work is Taking Over Your Life

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"I am not a Workaholic" by Daily Dishonesty

Ahead of going to back to University in September to voluntarily test my stress levels with a postgrad degree, I’ve found myself spending the past 7 months working full time in a bar in Wandsworth. Initially I accepted the job there because I’d hated my city job, and knew I could continue to work there whilst studying in order to fund my education. However, this has now become more than just a bar job. It’s become my baby. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for the place. That’s when it hit me; I’m a workaholic.

1. You take every single phone call you get from your workplace, regardless of whether you’re in the shower, or eating a romantic dinner with your partner. Why? Because you’re convinced that something awful will have happened to in your absence. Like your cleaner has managed to burn it down, or someone’s forgotten to turn the gas off when changing the Fosters.

2. You call your boss. A lot. Not always with an agenda. Sometimes, you just want to see how they’re surviving without you and whether or not you can do anything for them.

3. You find yourself playing middle man between the other staff and your boss, because they’re convinced he likes you more than them. To be fair, he probably does.

4. You make your boyfriend go out and play football on date night so that you can pick up an extra shift guilt free. You don’t even feel guilty when he says his legs hurt, because you got paper.

5. You end up staying an hour past your shift’s end time, because you have more things to do and you’re convinced that nobody else can do them like you can. In fact, you know they can’t.

6. The advertising blackboards are your babies, and if anyone smudges them or attempts to write on them you hulk out. In your head you’re an artist. They’re not.

7. Lunch becomes a thing of legend. You’ve heard people speak of it. Hell you’ve seen people eating it! But lunch? For you? Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no time. Anyway, who’s going to look after the bar if you take a break? The chef?

8. You find yourself talking about work. A lot. You’ve got nothing else to talk about, because you do nothing else with your life except spend time with your partner. And as flattering as it might be in the beginning, they’ll soon tire of hearing about themselves.

9. You complain that you could do better at X, Y and Z with other members of staff and your family, but as soon as a customer points out the same thing you immediately tell them to shut up because they are completely and utterly wrong. Your bar is perfect.

10. The number of hobbies you have equals zero. You have literally none. Besides, you don’t have time. What if work needs you?

11. You say you’ll be home in twenty minutes, but you find yourself getting so immersed in the job that before you know it you’ve drawn an accurate picture of the globe on your FIFA World Cup score board complete with shading, you’ve made 437828 posters and hung them everywhere, and you’ve spent time designing and laminating 636253 specials menus because the world will end if they’re left until tomorrow.

12. It doesn’t matter how busy the previous day may have been; if someone’s forgotten to take the filter out of the dishwasher and there are still glasses to wash, you’re going to rage. You mention it to the person the shift belonged to, gauge their reaction, then tell them you were joking. But you weren’t. You definitely were not joking. In fact, they made your hit list,

13. You cannot justify missing work. It doesn’t matter if you’re due a holiday, you’ve got a broken elbow or if you’re dying; you will be there. Unless you have the Nora Virus. But only for health and safety reasons.

14. The word ‘no’ is no longer a feature of your vocabulary. No matter how many times you try to use it, you still end up on your hands and knees designing blackboards for the next three weeks when in fact you should be at home, eating pasta and watching rubbish on TV.

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Rushed 30 minute board, as I was informed of the performer last minute. Plus, dinner was calling.

15. You deny that you’re a workaholic because you aren’t. You really aren’t. You just like your job. A lot.

On the off chance that you like the image I’ve used, it’s available in print form from society6

The London Underground: Where Chivalry is Dead, and Gentlemen Don’t Exist

“Perhaps a gentleman is a rarer man than some of us think for. Which of us can point out many such in his circle; men whose aims are generous, whose truth is not only constant in its kind, but elevated in its degree; whose want of meanness makes them simple, who can look the world honestly in the face with an equal manly sympathy for the great and the small.” – Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray

Even when William Makepeace Thackeray first published Vanity Fair in 1847, the gentleman was an elusive being. Now, 163 years on, it would appear that very little has changed in London despite attempts to demonstrate otherwise with the airing of television shows such as Made in Chelsea which, ironically, ends up showing that the rich and affluent can in fact be among the most ungentlemanly characters in London society. I’ve seen piranhas with better table manners than the cast of that show. They create drama where there is none, their manners are largely non existent, and their behaviour leaves much to be desired. In complete contrast, then, with what is traditionally expected of individuals who frequent the most upmarket establishments in the city.

One of the places that I find this ignorance to etiquette to be most noticeable is the London Underground, where commuters from all walks of life are forced to interact with each other on a daily basis in the most extreme travel conditions possible. During rush hour, it is not uncommon to find yourself standing in a packed tube carriage with your face in the armpit of a sweaty businessman, your hand on the crotch of the person stood next to you, and your backside dangerously close to the face of the person sat behind you. The carriage is so packed full of people that if you move to avoid the unfortunate position you’ve found yourself in, you’ll find your face in another armpit, and your hand on another backside or crotch except this time, there’s the risk of castration for the poor bugger you were initially ‘cosied up to’. So, when faced with these conditions people appear to lose their minds and all social graces go out of the window. The following situations are a handful of those I have found myself in or witnessed when making such journeys.

The Battle for the Priority Seat

As is common with trains and buses all round the country, the tubes are equipped with clearly marked priority seats which are like gold dust to rush hour commuters. Situated on the end of a row next to a plastic ‘wall’, you only have to sit next to one other passenger and have a means by which to rest your head after a busy day in the office. The number of people that can fall on you are limited and, when you reach your stop, you don’t have to battle through a huge sea of people to exit the train.

Barman moquette priority seating, Central Line 1992 Stock (23 Jan 2014) by Daniel Wright,

Barman moquette priority seating, Central Line 1992 Stock (23 Jan 2014) by Daniel Wright

However, the lucky individuals who have been waiting for one of these seats to become available, and battled their way like Vikings through the mob of people who have also noticed that it is vacant and are rushing to plant their arses on it, all of a sudden seem to lose their ability to see when someone who is entitled to rob the seat off them boards the train. I have witnessed heavily pregnant women stand directly in front of a priority seat, while the well dressed young businessman occupying it in a tailored Savile Row suit stares at the floor and refuses to acknowledge that she even exists. I have seen elderly men and women close to passing out due to the extreme heat, whilst struggling with their weakened muscles to hold onto whatever they can find for their dear life. Occasionally, this is another passenger. Nobody offers them their seat, and they are too polite to ask. They suffer in silence, while the twenty something young man sits and plays Angry Birds or Candy Crush on the latest piece of technology they have acquired.

The priority seat blockers are not alone in their crime, however, as the men around them also fail to get up and offer their seats to these fragile individuals. It’s as if there’s an unwritten code which states that no man will acknowledge the infirm or the pregnant when in a seated position on the tube. Usually, I am only able to endure five minutes of this madness before I get up and offer my seat if I’m lucky enough to have had one. It’s either that, or slapping the nearest male around the chops, dragging him out of his seat and then giving him a lecture about priorities before instructing him to sort his life out.

Occupying Multiple Seats

This is something that really irritates me, as I’m a firm believer in the motto “seats are for bums, not bags”. There’s also a huge area when you board the tube which is dedicated to overspill of passengers and storage of larger items so that individuals who wish to sit are not forced to stand while a chest of drawers humongous cardboard box denies them access to one or more seats.

Courtesy of Annie Mole

Courtesy of Annie Mole

However, there are those who are worse that the individual who uses a seat to store their shopping and those who like to rest their furniture against them; they are The Resters. These are the individuals who stretch their legs out in front of multiple sears, fall asleep on your shoulders and drool all over your t-shirt, and use the seat opposite them as a leg rest because they’re incapable of sitting properly.

A couple of months ago after a particularly stressful day at work, I found myself getting onto a relatively busy tube to find that the only four seats available in the carriage were being occupied by a young man who was lying across them, his shoes on the floor next to him while he watched a film on his phone. I asked him if I could sit on the seat at the end, and he replied with “sorry, I’m injured and I’m in a lot of pain,” then returned to staring at the screen on his phone. I didn’t ask again, and stood for the next couple of stops. After ten minutes the young man tore his face away from the screen and, noticing we had arrived at his stop, jumped upright and sprinted off the tube carrying his shoes just in time to make it out of the door. Clearly, he hadn’t been as injured as he’d made out and just couldn’t be bothered to move. Meanwhile, I’d been forced to stand with three bags full of heavy books, my handbag and a violin.

Blockers of the Exits

Although this name is far from glamorous, I cannot think of any other which can be used to describe these individuals which doesn’t involve the use of very bad language. In fact when I just asked the boyfriend for his help to describe them, he merely turned to me and said “bastards.” Very helpful.

There have been innumerate occasions where I have found myself unable to exit the train at my desired stop because  Exit Blockers have not moved to allow me to disembark the tube. This hasn’t been for want of trying either. I’ve politely tried to excuse my way past people, hoping that manners will be enough to cause the obstruction to part like the Red Sea and allow me to cross. If that fails, I attempt to use a bit of force and push my way through any weak links in the chain. Unfortunately in rush hour, however, trying to push your way through the crowd is like attempting to knock down a wall with a feather. By this point, the doors are close to closing, and the only option you have left is to launch yourself at the doors with as much force as possible in the hope that you are able to propel yourself through the ignorant people who are refusing to let you out. Nine times out of ten, I find myself still failing to break through, most likely because I’m far too terrified to have the contents of my bag spill out all over the floor.

Personal irritations aside, these people are unbelievable for so many other reasons. They refuse to let travelers board, most likely due to a sense of panic which overcomes them that they may have to share their personal space for a mere thirty minutes of their day. I’ve also witnessed families become separated because the child has been small enough to squeeze through people’s legs and get off, but the mother has been unable to break through and watched, panic stricken, as the doors close and her child is left on the platform as the vehicle starts to move. For the life of me, I cannot understand why people allow this to happen or why they would be so selfish

So, having examined three separate scenarios and type of individual who travel the tube on a daily it is undoubtedly clear to me that chivalry is dead and that gentlemen do not exist. If they did, I would be able to exit the tube without issue, the disabled and pregnant would not be left standing when they clearly need access to a seat, and seats would be reserved for bums and not bags. However, things haven’t changed over the past 163 years, so I don’t think they’ll be changing any time soon.