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I wrote about the romance of small town Britain for The Guardian

Sometimes you just have to write what you know. So, I wrote about the hopeless quest for love in big cities, and the unsung loveliness of small towns for Comment is Free. You can read it online HERE or the unedited version below…

If there is anything quite so romantic as sharing a basket of slightly stale ciabatta in a chain restaurant overlooking a town square car park then, frankly, I don’t know it.

Small town Britain is the home of romance. The birthplace of nervous, Boots-scented meetings in pleather-upholstered bars. The natural habitat of lingering eye contact over uneaten olives and awkward half snogs next to the pay and display machine. I have been single for two years and by far the most romantic encounters I’ve had in that time all happened outside London. (Continued)

I wrote about booze for The Debrief

As the rest of the world slides through the grit of Dry January I was asked to write about moonshine and vodka tampons for The Debrief. You can read it online HERE.

Or the unedited version below….

With the news that 17 people have been killed and 122 hospitalised after drinking toxic alcohol at a cricket match in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, moonshine is no longer the twinkley-eyed hillbilly tipple of Mark Twain novels and Prohibition-era tv drama.

In fact, ingesting a nefarious home-brewed combination of hand sanitiser, mouthwash, fermented potatoes or anti freeze is just as dangerous, disgusting and unethical as it sounds. But the taste for off-grid booze is hardly the preserve of the Indian subcontinent. From the hills of Mozambique to the nightclubs of Germany, the trend for home-brewed liquor and the unorthodox ways we drink it seems to be as strong as ever… (Continued)

I wrote about objectum sexuality for VICE

VICE is commissioning and publishing such brilliant stuff at the moment. I’m very proud to be able to write for them. Last week my editor put me in touch with a woman who’s just written a play about objectum sexuality, who then put me in touch with Erika Eiffel – the woman who famously fell in love with the Eiffel Tower.

You can read the edited version online HERE – and I thoroughly recommend that you do.

Otherwise the unedited version, with a few quotes from Erika that I couldn’t fit in, is below…

Loss, grief, heartache: breakups are no less painful when you’re doing it with a bridge. Or a pylon. Or a wooden fence.

So argues Erika Eiffel, the tower crane operator and former award-winning archer made famous by the documentary Married to the Eiffel Tower. Erika is one of the few public Objectum Sexuals – people with a love orientation towards objects – and, as well as holding a commitment ceremony with the 186-year-old French iron construction, she has fallen for fighter jets, fencing and is currently in a relationship with a crane. She also runs the support website Object Sexuality Internationale. (Continued)

LTOTBH: Kathrine Switzer

Last night I took part in Josie Long’s lovely Lost Treasures of the Black Heart, dressed exactly as the photo above. You can listen to my crappy iPhone recording HERE: Kathrin Switzer. Or read (some of) what I said below…

Now, I know what you’re thinking. That guy on stage looks hella like an old pair of socks I once accidentally put through a boil wash with a bag full of conkers, labelled for the attention of the police. And, friends, I feel you. But the reason I am dressed like a geriatric cotton scrotum from the Countdown numbers round is because tonight I want to venerate the two twin tracksuited gems that are Kathrine Switzer and Rocky Balboa.

You have probably heard of the latter. If you haven’t then I’m going to have to take you home right now and sit you down with a live chicken, a sack full of terrapin food and a semi-pulverised beef carcass and make you watch Rockies 1 to 3 while I do single arm press ups and drag a dock chain back and forth across my sitting room floor.

But you may not have heard of Kathrine Switzer. I know, she sounds like a sex-doll-cum-high-performance-cleaning mop. She sounds like the sherbert girlfriend of Willy Wonka. She sounds like the account holder of a offshore nazi gold bank account. But, in actual fact, Kathrine Switzer is one of long distance running’s feminist heroes. (Continued)

Goppeldangers: Picasso’s young harlequin and acrobat

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I wrote about the housing crisis for The Guardian

On Saturday I watched the most revolting advert for luxury apartments. After reading The Road to Wigan Pier it seemed even more unbearable. So The Guardian very kindly let me write this today.

Read the much better edited version ONLINE HERE.

Or my first draft below…

It takes a certain type of man to walk past his sleeping girlfriend, to stand at a window, on a cocaine-patterned carpet and glory in the city that he crushed under his sharp-suited foot. That man is called a psychopath. And he’s buying flats in London, apparently.
For those of you who haven’t had the unutterable, soul-sucking pleasure of watching the latest advert from Redrow London allow me to explain. The advert, which is shot like the bastard lovechild of Her and Scarface, shows the selfish, insomniac, heartless rise of the archetypal psychopath city boy. He sits in a red-lit chair staring hungrily at dancing thighs, he screams at his girlfriend, he barely sleeps, he slicks back his gelled hair and shakes a congratulatory hand with his grey-suited bosses. (Continued)

I wrote about internet security for The Debrief

The brilliant Martin Kelly basically taught me how to be good at the internet. You can read the results online HERE.

Merry Christmas, Nerry Frizzmas

I wrote about the Pumpkin Cafe for VICE

You can read the online, edited version here.

Or you can read my original draft below…

In the Leeds City Bus Station, men in beige anoraks and nylon socks, with crops of ear hair like fields of wheat, queue up to buy £3.85 ham and cheese paninis.

In Norwich, a man in an armpit-soft Sisters of Mercy t-shirt and paint-splashed overalls is standing in front of a Walkers display rack, trying to decide between a grab bag of salt and vinegar or ready salted crisps.

In Didcot Parkway, a woman in a petrol-shiny padded coat is fumbling with her purple M&S mock croc leather purse as she counts out £2.35 for a frothy coffee to have with her Shapers crispy vanilla fudge bar from home.

In Crawley, three girls in novelty monochrome leggings and Jack Wills hoodies roll Maltesers across a coffee-sticky table top into each others cleavage, while WhatsApping the boys from their sea cadets meet.

You see, the Pumpkin Cafe is more than just a transport-specific sandwich chain. Above the rattle of fruit machines and the gurgle of milk froth, it is the basal level of British culture. It is what we all deserve and yet nobody asked for. It is a sporing mushroom of unambitious corporate convenience. It is the liminal, transitionary stop gap that everybody’s been to but nobody thinks they know. And if, like millions of us, you’re travelling home for Christmas this year, I’ll bet my bun that you’ll be wandering into at least one before the year is out. (Continued)

I wrote about clicktivism for The Debrief

The Debrief is great. You should read it. So I was very pleased to be asked by them to write something about the year of online campaigning and what it actually achieved. Read it online here.

Or the unedited version below…

Like so many young women, the internet is my lover, my mother, my brother and the blanket with which I smother so much of life’s boredom, discontent and solitude. And yet, barely a day goes by in which I don’t have to defend it with bared teeth and sharpened thumb; to come to its rescue and protect its honour. Because, yes, while the internet is the shit brown puddle spreading across the footpath of our collective experience, littered with the empty cans and fag butts of misinformation and reactionary offence, splashing across the shoe of feminist debate and hiding a manhole cover that drops into the sewer of serious international illegality, it is also the greatest forum for debate, of galvanising like-minded people, reaching out to the marginal, unmasking authority and supporting those we love that we have. It’s not the internet you hate – just some of the people using it.

More of us than ever before are using the internet as a tool of protest, political campaigning and to organise direct action. As all those inboxes full of bee-saving, NHS-protecting, Ugandan homophobia-attacking and public service-defending emails can attest – 2014 was the year of clicktivism. Where online petitions fluttered through our servers like a murumeration of swallows. Some were worthwhile, some were genuinely fatuous, many went ignored and several affected significant change. But have reached peak clicktivism? And can we really change the world by just clicking our fingers?