Category: Culture

My everyday Grinch

I am usually underwhelmed by the entire charade that is Christmas, in all it’s soul sucking, pop culture regurgitating, fatty over-indulging distraction from how crap the weather is, offensively unashamed commercial enterprising on some baby that was born that did some good stuff (that’s if you’re not Jewish & he wasn’t actually born on that day anyway but who cares because hardly any of us believe in God), OhShitI’veSuddenlyComeOverAllSpiritualBecauseLookAtAllThesePrettyLightsRoundLutonShoppingCentre.

That is, until now.

I have a new found excitement for Christmas this year. It may be partly to do with it being the first Christmas in a while that I will actually have a decent period of time off work and I am anxiously anticipating a week of being mildly intoxicated for the sake of quality family time.

Also, I have recently discovered that I really like the colour red and have re-introduced it into my day to day wardrobe choices. Coincidentally, Father Christmas also wears red (and yes, I am aware that is the world according to Coca-Cola).

I watched ‘Home Alone’ a few days ago and as much as I try to resist it makes me feel all warm inside.

More importantly, in this little home, I feel like I need to stick up for Christmas because, like I thought I was, my boyfriend is a Scrooge/Grinch, depending on your capacity for literature.

If it is even possible, I think he may be a Grinch about a lot of other things that aren’t Christmas but are Christmas-like. Basically, anything to do with dressing up silly and having fun or people singing in the streets (he hates buskers, which is stupid because some of his favourite bands were discovered performing on the side of a street. I love buskers, especially the bad ones like this guy on the underground who I think just whistles through his nose.) I think in some situations the term is party-pooper. But that always makes me think of some weird guy that goes round parties doing poos in unusual places.

Last year, he wasn’t even planning on wrapping the presents to give to his family. Where’s the magic in that? I ended up doing it for him.

So to really piss my boyfriend off, we have had a pink plastic fir tree, decorated with gold baubles, in centre stage of the flat for a week (I put it up partly due to the fact that the TV is broken and it looked good in the space where the TV used to be). I have already started planning the style in which I am going to wrap my presents (I’m going for minimalist but with a silver ribbon), and I have planned an outfit which I am going to eat Christmas dinner in (stretchy – essential for mass eating sessions, but also smart, cosy and vibrant).

Perhaps controversially, the things I like about Christmas are the least Christian things about it. And that’s what I think I used to feel guilty for. Since I don’t believe in the good book I used to think that I should dislike Christmas as not to be a hypocrite. But screw that.

I love it when I see the house of some enthusiastic rebel on a terraced street with flashing neon “ho ho ho’s” precariously assembled on the walls along with a blazing string of LEDs and inflatable snowmen. It’s even better when no one else on the street has even attempted to out do them because then you know it’s the kind of street where most residents see it as distasteful but they can’t say anything about it – because it’s Christmas and Love Thy Neighbour and all that jazz.

I just want to make clear that ‘Love Actually’ still makes me want to vomit.


Globe Tripping

I’m happy that I’ve travelled about a fair bit in my life so far (and successfully managed to dwindle away any money I have ever saved). I’ve seen a lot of Europe and some of India – on a stretched budget – but I’ve still got the itch.

Some of those closest to me are sort of under the impression that I am ‘settling down’, especially since my boyfriend and I adopted our mad little feline friend. I love cats and they make my life complete. (Yeah, I can deal with that.) It doesn’t mean I’m ready to pop one out and start learning to bake. No offense to those who like baking.

So, I still have some radical expeditions in mind for the future…

Extreme Camping. I’m an experienced camper, when it revolves around music festivals (including the mud bath which was Bestival 2008 when I think my actual bones gone wet), but I have yet to take the concept to a new high, as in, TREETOP camping, rather than being high in the usual, festival sense. High Ropes Forest in Germany looks like a pretty unreal place to try this…

High Ropes Forest, Germany

I am slightly concerned about how the whole going to the toilet thing works, but look at the view.

Take the Trans-Siberian Railway. There’s something fascinating about Russia and the far East, and also something scary and alien to a westerner like me. People from these parts of the world don’t seem to smile much. I only guess this from when I worked at a heritage site & museum in London, where I noticed that certain cultures only pose for photographs with dead pan looks on their face. Anyway, I quite like being scared and I love travelling by train.

You can see landscapes that you could never normally encounter on foot or on road. This is the most famous train journey in the world, spanning 12 regions and 87 cities. The mountains, forests and the architecture to be seen on this trip are awesome, and I’d like to see for real the stuff of inspiration for that old literary genius, Tolstoy.

The classic American road trip. From San Francisco to San Diego you can drive along the Pacific coastline, stopping along the way when you feel like it and eating a shed load of Mexican food.

San Fran seems like a chill place with a lot of festivity. Personally, I’d like to go see Spike & Mike’s Festival of Animation and Noise Pop, an indie music and arts festival.

HELLO, Los Angeles. Obviously there’s Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. A good area to stay in looks like Silver Lake, which is supposedly the more diverse and hipster part of LA, with a big music scene. El Coyote is meant to be the best Mexican Cafe in LA, and I intend to go…

The plan would then be to drive cross-country to eventually fly home from NYC. There are some incredible natural wonders in the Arizona desert, aside from the Grand Canyon. Visiting the wave formation in the Vermillion Cliffs National Monument looks like it would be a truly psychedelic experience…

Visit Rio Tinto, Spain. So far, the closest I’ve come to Spain is a week long party in Ibiza. I have already planned to go to Spain again, as my boyfriend has a friend living in Seville, in the south, which is not too far from Rio Tinto (Red River). The place looks out of this world, lunar in fact…

The 62 mile long river runs red, partly thought to be due to pollution from 1000s of years of mining of gold, copper and silver there.

And lastly…

Get wasted in Dublin. I know this one is pretty crude but I once met some Irish blokes whilst travelling in Eastern Europe and was fascinated at their sheer, irresponsible dedication to drinking. They had some stupid techniques for getting hammered, like downing copious numbers of alco-pops with a straw in the side (I hate alco-pops). I’m assuming it was ’cause they were Irish, but in retrospect I think they were just chavs.

I’m in to the idea of being in a pub where local drinkers spontaneously break into old folk songs as I sit by the fire and wipe off my Guinness froth moustache. (Google ‘Guinness moustache’ images it’s quite funny.)

Ideally, it’d be around Christmas time and I’d be dragged up to sit on the bar to sing a duet with this handsome fella…

And then there’s the whiskey.

Now all I need is some dollar and a cat sitter.

Do share the wisdom if you’ve done any of the above…

Top Trumps

The etiquette of breaking wind is a disputed topic. It’s never pleasant when someone in close proximity decides to let off, but it’s understandable that sometimes it just happens when it happens. However, there are certain rules that, if broken, kind of disgust me. (I would just like to note that the mere mention of the words ‘let off’ has sent my boyfriend into ecstatic fits of giggles – well, guess what, there’s plenty more metaphors to come)

For me, the no go scenarios where holding it in is essential are: if we’re eating dinner, in the car, in an intimate situation, or if you can make an educated guess that it’s going to smell really bad.

It sort of baffles me that my boyfriend seems to find flatulence the absolute pinnacle of hilarity. I am not totally immune to toilet humour but I draw the line at categorising the sounds, smells or ‘flavours’ (as he puts it) of passing gas. I was once lured into an embrace just for him to let rip most horrifically.  Terrified, I tried to escape his clutches in case of intoxication but I was assured, ‘Don’t worry, it’s Ready Salted’. That’s romance for you.

I suppose the reason he and his mates find these bodily functions so amusing is the gross factor. They are just boys that like boy stuff like worms and mud and squishing ants and picking their nose and kicking each other. Except, they’re in their mid 20s.

I eavesdropped on a conversation on the subject of breaking wind (I swear they literally talked about it for 10 minutes), he was  recalling a specific fart related incident from the day before that was apparently so notable that it was a strong competitor for their personalised version of ‘Top Trumps’. Yes, I liked the pun so much I titled this post thus, but seriously, is that appropriate conversation for full grown adults?

I wonder if it’s a British thing to find passing wind embarrassing yet funny.

I did a bit of a google for different cultural attitudes on the subject. Apparently, fart humour in Britain has been documented as far back as the late 1300s. There seems to be a connection with things being funny and things being taboo or naughty. So, like, sex being a great British taboo gave way to ridiculous comedies like the Carry On films…

I read that in the Punjab, farting is dismissed as though it were the same as a sneeze or hiccup. But it looks like most cultures have a similar view point to us Brits.

Koreans must have a sense of humour about it since this years must-have toy over there was a farting baby doll named Kong Suni. She’s cute.

In Japan there are public toilets that have a button to press which plays a sound to cover up any embarrassing bodily noises, including the sound of peeing. I do admire this nation of innovators. In fact, after a little research I’ve realised that a whole blog could be dedicated to Japanese public loos.

There is a popular Japanese fable, roughly translated into English as “The Farting Wife” that tells the tale of a man who marries the ideal woman, but it turns out her farts so powerful they can blow people away and even knock fruit out of trees. That’s pretty out there and pretty explicit. That’s like superhero abilities. Stan Lee should have capitalised on this.

I found an article from a US website saying that some Marines in Afghanistan were banned from audible farting because it offended the Afghans. I think that’s a little unfair. Surely it’s the smell not the sound which determines the offensiveness?

I think I’ve exhausted this topic to my personal limit.

But here’s some trivia for you on the origins of the Whoopee Cushion:

The Roman Emperor Elagabulus was known to employ a prototype of whoopee cushions at dinner parties, although the modern version was re-invented in the 1920s by the JEM Rubber Co. in Canada by employees who were experimenting with scrap sheets of rubber.