nail ting

My Russian friend Olga has the flyest set of nails this side of the Kolskiy river that creeps frozen through her hometown of Murmansk. And guess what. The words you see are none other than her favourite excerpts from War & Peace, immortalised right there on her nails. She explained how she did it, something involving alcohol, trawling through all 950 pages of Tolstoy’s megalith, and with the help of a crane, pressing the book down in all the right places.

It took her eight hours.

They’re actually excerpts from a newspaper.



How cool is that though.

hackney square

I remember a few years back when this popped up in my inbox, a pdf brochure for a new housing development called Hackney Square.

I thought it was a joke.

The definition of Urban Living?

Sterling Ackroyd have got their wires crossed with this one. Besides the fact that only about three people in east London have a moustache quite as ridiculous as that, people hate hipsters. I don’t understand how putting two guffawing hipsters on a housing brochure is going to entice anybody to move there. It’s like advertising a new-build in Camden and putting three goths on the front.

Does anybody see this and think, I want to look like that, perhaps if i buy a 600K hamster cage in Hackney Square and keep the razor away from my top lip for six months, I could be that guy. I’m not convinced. Hipsters are labelled that because they congeal in poorer/more scuzzy/more vibrant parts of a city where they can feel safer expressing their individuality.

Nobody aspires to be a hipster.

Hipsters are hipster by default because they wear outlandish clothes and grow stupid moustaches and act different to the mainstream. But in doing so simultaneously and all in the same place, by being different together they all become the same, and lose all the individuality they sought to express in the first place. At least this seems to be the approved theory of anybody who lives a stone’s throw west of Aquarium on Old Street roundabout.

What a place.

It strikes me the only folk looking to move into expensive new builds in east London are young french bankers, who let’s face it aren’t the coolest cats on the planet. Will they assimilate to the Hackney Square demographic so explicitly painted by Sterling Ackroyd? Will that kind of moustache cut it amidst the marbled atriums and escalators of Deutsche Bank? How will this work? Will they move in, keep hitting the Gillette with abandon but still hang around with Mr Walrus up-top, keeping a safe distance whilst being cool and hip by association? What is the future of Hackney Square?

Who cares.

squeal of pain

This book is great.

Take a read of Vita Sackville-West writing to Virginia Wolf.



Fire.

Milan, January 1927

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite desperate human way. You, with all your undumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. 



And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap. But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is really just a squeal of pain. 



It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this – But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. 



You have no idea how stand-offish i can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it down to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it.

swagrid

neruda

I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.

Pablo Neruda 1904-1973 Chilean poet

obama

Obama cares.

spokenwurd

The other night, me and my man Greg hit up a spoken word event at Shoreditch House. We’re classy like that. It was great, some very talented and under-appreciated bards who went at it for over two hours. Perhaps none more talented than this guy, Sean Mahoney. He performed the poem below on the night too. It was a game-changer.

So just before the interval the emcee, a man called Lionheart, took the stage and grabbed the mic and said, I want to prove to all of you that anyone can write a poem if they try. So I’m going to pick 3 people at random from the audience, and they’re gonna spend the next ten minutes writing whatever comes to their head. Then at the start of the second act, they’ll get up here and read it out to everyone.



Poor fuckers, I thought. Next thing I know Lionheart’s finger was pointing directly at me and I felt an excruciating urge to hit the gents and stay in there til 2056. By the time I’d come back, located a piece of paper and a biro, I had six minutes left.



He asked me if I knew what I wanted to write about. I said yeah. He asked me what he could do to help out. I told him given the amount of pain he’d caused me in the last four minutes, the best way to make the remaining six as painless as possible before social suicide in front of 70 strangers was to leave me alone.

When you have no time at all to write something, editing goes out the window. So it’s pretty much stream of consciousness scribbled onto a page. Lionheart surpassed himself once again, and 43 seconds later called time. I hardly had the chance to read it through before I was reading it out.

But it went okay.

Until one point half way through when after an especially poignant line the whole audience pissed themselves. I stopped, but then realised they were laughing with me. I was killing it. Check out the dude behind me. The three pixels that make up his face say more than words ever could. Something like stunned surprise. And then enraptured admiration. As clear as mountain lakes on crystalline mornings.

Anyway the room seemed to like it and I got some pretty nice applause.

Greg reassured me I hadn’t totally bombed.



The best bit was when Sean Mahoney came up to me at the end, and told me he’d loved what I’d written.



Really? I asked. Yeah, he said. Your poem broke my heart.

Whaaaaa

wake up with

I read this once in a doctor surgery waiting-room magazine.

People spend all their time trying to find the person they want to go to bed with, when they should really be looking for the person they want to wake up next to.

marion

None above.

giuseppe

Style goals.

When Giuseppe walks through la piazza la nonnas they stop their yabbering.

non c&h

Cool non-calvin & hobbes calvin and hobbes stuff.

alfie shrigley

hesse

A longing to wander tears my heart when I hear the trees rustling in the wind at evening. If one listens to them silently for a long time, the longing reveals its kernel, its meaning. It is not so much a matter of escaping from one’s suffering, though it may seem so. It is a longing for home, for a memory of the mother, for new metaphors for life. It leads home.

Hermann Hesse 1877-1962 Poet and novelist

do it now

Sheeeeed.

rainer

Let this darkness…

Rainer, what a guy.

popular songs

Some people are like popular songs that you only sing for a short time

Duc de La Rochefoucauld 1613-1680 man of letters

Naughty List

Kid threatens Father Christmas with an uppercut.



Respect.

The Martian

The Martian is fantastic.

There’s a scene near the end once Matt Damon’s character has come home to earth after spending a somewhat traumatic time on Mars, where he gives a speech at the Nasa space-centre to a room full of budding astronauts.

I saw the film first time round in the cinema and the speech hit me like an uppercut from a 145-pound Conor Mcgregor, but obviously since I’m not heavy into the pirate dvd scene I happened to not be recording it from the back of the auditorium on a tri-pod, and being unable to watch it back, the scene lingered instead long in my memory, until it slowly evanesced into a muddle of garbled sentences that made no sense. I searched for it on YouTube for a few months but in vain.

It was only when on the plane to New Zealand a few weeks back that I got a chance to watch it again.

Sitting there, breathing in the recirculated air and dreaming of the snack trolley, at last the scene in question came into view. And once again it was a total KO, giving me no option but to pass the hell out. It was only by dint of the 15 hot towels dutifully brought to me by the stewardess that I eventually came round, watching it a cool 68 more times before transcribing it onto my boarding pass.

*

When I was up there, stranded by myself, did I think I was going to die? Yes. Absolutely. And that’s what you need to know going in, because it’s going to happen to you. This is space. It does not cooperate. At some point, everything is going to go south on you. Everything is going to go south, and you’re going to say.. this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that. Or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just.. begin. You do the math, you solve one problem. Then you solve the next one. And then the next. And if you solve enough problems you get to come home…


*


I think the words speak for themselves. But it’s not about space. It’s about every day of our lives. The myriad of tiny hurdles that emerge from each new day, and how the solving of these little problems ends up being the best portion of our lives. To roll the rock up the hillside every day. If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself, each day has enough trouble of its own.

It’s a reminder of the power of writing, and oratory, and of art in general. To transcend, and to say something well-trodden so well that it makes the subject matter new again. And you can’t but pay it attention. For those of you who find this all pretty unremarkable, I doff my cap, you’ve worked out a bunch of things that will take me a lifetime.

say what?

On those rare occasions when one pipes up with an opinion one has put some thought into, the result of a few idle hours of concentrated daydreaming, something on the whole a bit more meaningful than your sandwich-preference at Pret, I’ve found that the manner in which people respond to your waxing can be split up into six different character types.


*


The first type is the what the fuck are you on about type.

The look your five year old might shoot you when he clocks the topic of his bedtime story is fiscal policy in the upcoming US elections, or the reaction to removing the Sky remote from the clammy hands of some horizontal brother settling in for a Sky Sports News marathon. These people will never get you. But they never professed to. You might never get them. They’re harmless. You enjoy their company but you can’t really figure out why. For some reason inside they make you feel warm and fuzzy.


*


The second type is the yeah I kinda get you but I don’t really give a shit type.

These are the straight talkers, they’ve got the decency not to blank you completely, but they’re not exactly on your tip. They deem your philosophy to be pretty fucking far from the most important thing on the agenda for that evening’s pale ale smackdown. They’re probably one of your oldest mates, ones you made when you were twelve, ones you might not befriend as seamlessly now because you wouldn’t have that much in common. They think you just as stupid as you find them insensitive. But there’s no beef, you’re happy to be different. And they make you who you are.


*


The third is the but that’s completely fucking obvious type.

They look at you as if you’ve walked in the pub and announced on loudspeaker that you can spell ‘dog’ without fucking it up. And then fucked it up. They drink at the shallow end of the sensitivity-pool. These cats are so intelligent they already know everything you have to say. They like to turn discussions into arguments. They’re not overly interested in asking you about yourself, but they do like to shoot you down. They’re drowning in opinions, by far the cleverest guys in the room. So clever in fact, they’ve mastered the art of making you feel stupid. These people are the stupidest of all.


*


The fourth type is the do you really think so type.

The wide-eyed amazement type. The child in all of us. They make you feel like the cleverest people in the world. Almost too clever. Almost Godly. The drawback is they leave you with the sneaking suspicion that if you said the exact opposite, they’d react in the same way. This is a pretty great way to be. Grown adults with the open-mindedness of five year olds. I’d take this person over the previous three any day of the freaking week. These people are heaven-sent.


*


The fifth type is the silent serene nod of the head type.

No words. Perhaps not even any eye-contact. Just a few imperceptible nods of the head, and the hint of a smile. An understanding. These people make you feel everything is going to be okay. They make you feel like you belong at least somewhere. The people you could walk 56 miles along the hard-shoulder to Brighton with. The people you talk to past closing time, the people with whom you’d never think of pre-formulating conversation. The people you can be silent with.


*


The funny thing is although none of the first four might have understood you the way you wanted them to, each of the first four will have someone who reacts to them like number five, like Mr Miyagi. Their number five. The guy lying on the sofa opposite when number one suggests getting a Dominos in during the Sky Sports News break, for example. Or the person staring back at number four in stunned silence with pupils the size of suns.



Everyone has their Mr Miyagi. Everyone can find someone who agrees with them, even if they don’t agree with you. In here lies the endless variety in people, the spice of life. The reason you’ll see someone in the corner you had absolutely no vibe with whatsoever, laughing their arse off to the point of KO with someone else you never had any vibe with. Thank God for that. Otherwise we might all be the same. We might be the sixth variety.


*


We might be… 



Tom Cruise.



I can’t really figure out who or what Tom Cruise is.



But he scares the shit out of me.



There’s no communication there. At all. None.



… so those are pretty much my thoughts on the universe.




Did you hear what I said?



Why do you never clock anything I say?



Tom?



Did you really do all your own stunts in Mission Impossible 2?



What’s with the scientology shit?



Did you love Nicole or was it all a cover-up?



Tom why do you never answer me?



Tom?



Tom?

william gee

You mean that big sewing shop on Kingsland Road?



Yes! Run by that lovely old man. William I believe his name is.



Yes exactly, that’s him. What a gee.

ipad

Thanks a lot Rachel.



Thanks A LOT.



Lil sis leaves an irate message on her older sis’ ipad.

yeaboi

Asian kid attempts the longest ever yeaboiiiii and passes out.



Respect.