Category Archives: Health

Holy Smoke

I slowly lift my cup of tea to my lips, lean back into the sofa and take a long, luxurious drag on a cigarette. Mmmmm…lovely. One of the most satisfying things in the world is to lean back in front of ‘Countdown’ or ‘The Weakest Link’ clutching a cuppa, a few chocolate hob nobs and a Marlboro Light.

Trouble is, it’s bad for you (the smoking, not the consumption of hob nobs- I hope), meaning that one day one of two things is going to happen- the fags will either kill me, or I’ll have to give them up, which may also kill me. I know I have to give up. It’s a drain on my finances, it sort of turns my skin green if I’m standing in a certain light, and the flat just absolutely reeks in a morning as I stand ironing my work shirt, scowling in a bluey black fug, puffing on the first ‘clope du jour’.

It’s not easy, and it’s never going to be easy. Practically everyone I know smokes fags, except my mum. And she used to. Oh, and small children. So why DO people put bits of paper stuffed with dry old leaves, some mad chemical and a wee bit of foam into their mouths, set fire to them and then cough and splutter their guts up whilst doing irreparable damage to their bodies? You really need to ask? Because it is FUN!

I never did it to look cool, or because all my friends were doing it. No, in fact, at my school one was considered to be a complete dumb arse if you smoked and were a boy. It was for girls only at the tender age. I started simply for something to do, to see what it was like. And unlike all those anti-smoking campaigns, which show the new smoker coughing and spluttering into their 70s bowl cuts, I did not nearly choke and find it revolting. Unlike other public information propaganda, my furtive snogs at school discos did not find my ‘ashtray breath’ remotely unattractive. My parents never found out until I was old enough not to give a shit, either. Nice one.

Now, I find smoking as the perfect excuse. If I flip out at work over something trivial such as people speaking too loudly when I’m on the phone or the printer spitting out recipes for flaky pastry when all I wanted were some application forms, what do I blame it on? “Sorry, I haven’t had a fag for ages.” At which I will mostly hear the magic words “Och you go on and have a fag and I’ll finish these.” Works like a charm.

In every house I’ve lived in when the inevitable has happened and my dark side has finally surfaced with a cutting remark about a fellow housemate, I blame this psychotic state on lack of money or cigarettes (which are of course eternally inter-linked), and not the fact that, in the main, I really have hated them. Funnily enough, those flatmates who I have never upset and rarely fallen out with tend to be smokers…strange that, eh? There’s a message in there somewhere.

But it’s all in the mind. As I stand in the pissing rain outside the office and puff on a soggy cancer stick, my throat contorted and raw and raging with God knows what thanks to the ream upon ream of cigarettes I have smoked that day, I think ‘why’? Why do I spend a fortune on these ridiculous things that make my hands, clothes and flat smell, that spongers just steal or nag until they can have one, that I always lose when I’m pissed or stand on when I’m in a rush? I mean, if I didn’t spend my money on these bloody things, I could spend it on something much more worthwhile, such as wearing Prada top to tail, eating out in ‘fancy’ restaurants, or even cultivating an addiction to coke. It could all be mine…

And will it really affect me if I give up? Will I turn into an ogre who will bite people’s heads off, be tactless, get over emotional about matters that mean completely dick, dramatise and accuse people of being ‘out to get me’ and get into screaming rages about absolutely FUCK ALL? No, of course I won’t…I’m like that already, but at least I’ll have an excuse.

So, it may be unhealthy, anti-social, smelly, whatever. Save it. I’ve tried before to give up the dreaded weed and have just added the fact that that I can’t smoke anymore to my usual ten-foot long list of things to bitch and kick about. In that case, pass me a cigarette NOW, put a gas mask on or fuck off out of it if it bothers you that much and allow me and my best friend to indulge each other…

Who Cares if the Fat Lady Sings?

Having been labelled an uncultured drunken Aussie bird, I decided to try to boost my image by going to the opera. Yes, that’s right, opera.

Now, I have to confess that I hate all things involving people standing on a stage belting out tunes at the top of their lungs. I think it stems from my parents’ love of musicals, particularly (cringe) Gilbert and Sullivan. They would insist on dragging my brother and I along to these shows and forcing us to sit through endless productions. HMS Pinafore was the worst, as it would mean my father would spend the following days strolling around the house with a newspaper hat on his head, singing “I am the very model of a modern major general” in his best ‘modern major general’ voice. (I obviously use the word ‘singing’ in its broadest terms, especially as he would do all the parts).

I realise that The Mikado isn’t quite the same thing as La Bohème, but you know what I mean. This dislike for all things involving people on stage singing loudly was compounded by my brother’s summary that opera is nothing more than “fat bints warbling in some dago language”. Not very PC, but arguably accurate.

So, there I was, sitting in the Coliseum trying to ignore the urge to go to the pub instead, thumbing through the programme in a desperate attempt to come to grips with the story before the singing started.

The English National Opera’s Magic Flute was described in Time Out as “Mozart’s touching, funny, noble panto-allegory in Nicholas Hytner’s tried and tested family favourite production” so I thought “how bad can it be?”

I’ll tell you how bad – try a bunch of people singing as loudly and as dramatically as is humanly possible in … English.

Now, I’m no expert, but I would have thought that something written by a German, in German, should be sung in bloody German! Apparently it is sung in English to make it easier to understand which is totally untrue because the straining to make out the words detracts from the following of the storyline.

This is what I managed to work out : Tamino (hero, handsome prince etc) is on a quest to rescue the beautiful princess Pamina, daughter of wicked Queen of the Night (witch, not Whitney Houston) from the evil clutches of Sarastro – ‘the gentle high priest’. Along the way he becomes mates with the Queen’s bird catcher Papageno (as you do) who immediately breaks into several rousing choruses of “Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja” which loosely translated means “Oh, catching birds, that is my trade”. Tamino tries to escape from a giant snake, gets knocked out, misses Queen’s ladies-in-waiting who kill the snake, sing their own praises and then check him out. They disappear, Papageno appears and sees dead snake, Tamino lies about having killed the snake which is swiftly followed by the ladies reappearing and putting a padlock on his mouth (must find out how to do that …) they show him a miniature of Pamina, he gets horny and vows to save her, Queen appears, reinforces story and promises daughter, ladies reappear, take off padlock and give him a set of chimes and a golden flute – just what you need to save a princess – and wish him luck…. and so the story continued for what seemed like an eternity.

Needless to say, I left during half time (or intermission, as it’s called in the theatre) went straight to the pub and toasted the fact that I remained loyal to my Aussie roots. Cheers!

Sex, vodka and rock’n’roll

In the greatest rock documentary of all time, when the drummer of Spinal Tap is asked how he would feel if the band broke up, he replies that so long as there is still sex and drugs, it doesn’t matter too much if there isn’t any more rock ‘n’ roll. Two out of three is never bad, especially when it is those two in particular. But it is the music that allows for the excesses in the other two areas of the unholy trinity.

Music, then, is sometimes simply a means to an end. Or rather, the music is a means to getting your end away. Since the dawn of time young men have formed bands to get girls. Of course, thousands of years ago these bands were comprised of cavemen with clubs, but the principle is the same; the only thing to have changed are the tools of the trade – the cavemen now have guitars and only play in clubs.

What is it about girls that they immediately fancy any guy in a band? Shove an ugly bloke on stage, put a guitar around his neck and suddenly he is God’s latest gift since Mick pranced off to the nursing home.

I was mulling over this fact in a club the other night while watching a group of unremarkable lads murder the Stones classic Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker), to the rapture of eight young girls and would-be groupies, who had probably never heard the original. Now far be it from me to say don’t (don’t don’t etc) because it was clear the girls really would be groupies as soon as this last song was hurriedly brought to an end. So, if you’re ugly or just not getting any lately, the answer is to form a band.

The next group on that night had a female vocalist, a rock vixen with the cock-sure audacity of Courtney Love and the stage presence of Jim Morrison. Immediately I understood what the female fans feel: awe. I didn’t head for the front of the stage or throw my knickers at her or anything but I was captivated and seduced nonetheless. This sex bomb prowled about the small raised platform like a wild tigress and promptly fell off. I wanted her all the more. I was the groupie to be and I longed for access all areas. I made my way to the bar to buy her a vodka.

Well, I can’t say that sleeping with future rock goddess Eva did my ego any harm, unless it getting bigger is a bad thing (so most friends will undoubtedly think it is). I wanted her because she was attractive, yes, every guy in the joint probably thought that he’d ‘give her one’. But her lyrics, when they could be understood, were beautiful; I felt like I really knew this girl even before she left the stage (head first).

As it turns out the guitarist, Mike, wrote the lyrics, and she was boring as hell in bed, which only goes to show that contents and packaging are rarely in tune. As for her singing, well, ‘in tune’ would have been a good start.

Taking responsibility

I’ve just had a thought. My column seems to promote the consumption of vodka. Seems to promote? Does promote, more like. Well, yes, I do endorse it. Indeed, if any vodka company is interested in sponsoring my forays into the night, equipped only with my wit and a skinful of the stuff, then they are quite welcome to get in touch. Until then I shall refrain from mentioning any vodka brands, like Stolchinaya, which happens to be my favourite.

This then is simply a disclaimer to shrug responsibility and avoid the unlikely possibility of a lawsuit. And if you think I am being over cautious, just think how many impressionable adults you know. Then try to imagine the number that must exist in the entire world if you know that many. And remember, the entire world has access to this, a world where litigation is a vastly popular source of income for stupid people who cannot take responsibility for their own actions. It’s growing in popularity here too, in soon-to-be-as-bad Britain.

Haven’t you seen those adverts on TV by companies that offer to follow up your claims and only take a vast percentage of any compensation payout? Also recall the woman who sued a hamburger chain for selling her a coffee at a drive-thru, which she placed between her legs and subsequently scalded herself. See, I have to be careful. We all do.

Where will it end? Companies increasingly have to protect themselves against their products being put to any obscure and unlikely use for which they will be held responsible. Will microwaves come with warning labels dissuading people from drying their pets in them? When will we see stickers in cars telling a passenger that exiting the vehicle while it is in motion is a bad idea? What about a much-needed caution to gardeners not to be tempted to cut their child’s hair with the Fly-Mo?

I even suspect that Liv4now.com’s lawyers have made sure that written somewhere on this site is a declaration that the company distances itself from the writings and opinions of its contributors. I could not afford to be sued for encouraging appalling behaviour or self-abuse. I could only offer to buy someone drink to make amends, but I doubt if that would go down too well.

The British, in general, have always been rather naïve or perhaps normal when it comes to this sort of thing. If someone accidentally bumps into me in the street, I usually apologise (and then curse myself for having done so). How terribly polite we are. The last thing we think of is turning a simple human error into a lawsuit. We leave the dirty work for our insurance companies. These days they tell us to never accept liability or blame for a car accident at the scene. I’m sorry, but if it is clearly my fault – and it never is – then why shouldn’t I own up? If I crash into someone who was simply driving along quite innocently, then not only is it expected of me to get out, ask if they are alright and apologise profusely, mumbling something about having had to swerve violently into their path to avoid a small child, but it will be a natural reaction. I pay insurance so that I am covered. The insurance company will have to cough up. They will put my premiums up, yes, but that’s life. I should have kept my eyes on the road and not messed about with the stereo.

On a recent trip abroad I dropped and damaged my camera. Reading aloud the report I had just written to claim on the insurance and cover the cost of repairs, my friend sternly objected to my stating that a friend had accidentally bumped me and caused it to fall from my shoulder.
“You haven’t given my name have you?” She almost screamed.
“No. Why?”
“‘Cause your insurance company will sue mine!”

It wasn’t her who had knocked me and I can only assume that she thought she may have because she is such a clumsy person naturally. The point is that it hadn’t even crossed my mind that my insurance company would do such a thing for a relatively measly amount of money. It seemed ridiculous and I told her to shut up.

In the light of such things however I hereby claim in plain English, as spoken by Her Royal Highness the Queen of England and all who sail in her, that any use of the content provided herein is the sole responsibility of the reader. This column is for those of legal drinking age and I endorse sensible intake for pleasure only. Furthermore, I do not guarantee that application of the information provided here will not pose any harm to the user; in fact, excessive consumption of alcohol, or probably anything for that matter, will probably cause irreparable harm to your body.

I continue. If you choose to do as I say and not leave it to a professional then please do not drive while under the influence of alcohol. You may injure or kill yourself and I need all the readers I can get. Get a cab, basically.

I may as well take this opportunity try to make vodka-clear my vague motives with regard to the Vodka Diaries, or VD, as it’s known lovingly in certain (private) parts. Don’t worry; this isn’t a manifesto but merely the brief concept behind it. Oh yes, there is thinking behind this believe it or not.

The Vodka Diaries is about a certain lifestyle that seems to sit casually alongside vodka (perhaps on a black leather Italian sofa?) It is not meant to be pornography for vodka-philes or a connoisseur’s dry academic journal. It is about life and the observations on the city in general; glimpses of the urban experience and its vast possibilities; an intended celebration of life; a subliminal advertising campaign to boost vodka consumption among the 18-35 age group and, through use of a code, a way to transmit information to a criminal network that operates out of Cirencester.

It’s about an attitude, and a good one at that. So while we’re not hurting anyone, no one’s suing and there’s liquid in that bottle, let’s party – liquidation rather litigation as it were. I’ll drink to that.com

Don’t eat anything ever again!

After all the scares over beef, lamb, chicken, eggs and almost every other foodstuff on the supermarket shelves, it’s hard to believe that the whole country hasn’t converted to lentil eating veganism. For the hardy / foolish (delete as you think applicable) few who continue with their omnivorous tastes, this is a brief recap of the risks, but not necessarily the ones you will find in your Daily Scaremonger…

MEAT
Risks: BSE, CJD, ME, MD (Meatloaf Doppelgänger syndrome)
Reality: Bad breath, slow digestion, constipation, a feeling of meat-eating smugness

DONER KEBABS
Associated risks: Drinking twelve pints of lager and singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ badly whilst falling over.

FISH & CHICKEN
Associated risk: Being mistaken for either (a) the Queen Mother or (b) Roger Daltrey when you have to have a wishbone or fish bone removed.

FISH
Reality: Would you eat something that had been living in the toxic waste and sewage infested cesspits that pass for our rivers and oceans nowadays?

MILK
Risks: WMS (white moustache syndrome), people thinking that you’re a bit of wuss if you still drink milk (neat) and haven’t progressed to black coffee before you’re 30.

EGGS
Risks: Danger of burning yourself whilst frying, scrambling, boiling or poaching said items. Even worse, runny eggs can cause severe problems, most notably yellow splodges on ties, shirts, jackets etc and produce a by product known as Embarrassment throughout the day.

BAKED BEANS
Risks: Red stains on clothing, producing excessive quantities of methane gas.

BREAD (ciabatta)
Risks: Broken teeth; pasty, flour covered hands and clothes – the combined effect of which could lead to being mistaken for a boxer.

BUTTER
Risks: Acne, SFS (shiny forehead syndrome), a very thick waistline.

CHINESE TAKEAWAYS
Associated risks: Either (a) being taken for a prat as you battle to eat the meal the “proper” way with the cheap, throwaway chopsticks provided; or (b) accumulating a cutlery drawer containing 4 knives, 3 forks and 29 sets of unused chopsticks.

MARMITE
Risk: Never being kissed again.

Crash Your Car To Save the Planet

Have you been wondering what to do with that old environmentally unfriendly old banger of yours? Feeling guilty because it won’t take unleaded petrol and hasn’t been fitted with a catalytic converter? Then worry no more. Here’s the ultimate solution: CRASH IT!!

Yes, crash it, girls – you know it makes sense. 100% eco-friendly as all scrap metal can be recycled. Being such an earth saving saint you wouldn’t want to fob the ecological time bomb off on to some other poor soul through the small ads in the paper, would you? Of course not!

Anyway, the more outrageous and ridiculous your story sounds, the larger your social circle will grow. I guarantee you will be able to dine out for free on your wild and wacky tales of “the day I did my bit for the environment playing dodgems with a Lada”.

How do I know? Well, I had to test the theory out, didn’t I? And my Mark II mustard yellow Ford Escort 1300 GT (with obligatory “go faster” stripes) was the perfect vehicle to practise on. Of course, it won’t be going faster anymore, not since it hit the back of the milk float. Yes, a stationary milk float! What can I say – the sun was low, the road was icy and white and the back of the milk float appeared to be the same colour as the road? Oh, and the moon was full, my demister wasn’t working and it was that time of the month. Or something like that.

Should you decide to follow my programme to rid this world of useless lumps of metal, there are much better things you could choose to crash into. Tasty geezers in Audi’s and Alfa Romeo’s for a start. They might not be too happy that you’ve crumpled their expensive bodywork initially but a bit of demented eyelash fluttering and a cutie pie voice should smooth over the worst. At which point you can point out that you selflessly let your smaller, weaker mini metro take the brunt of the impact. Indeed, your car will be a write-off and what has he got to worry about? Only a bodywork bill of a few thousand pounds he can claim on his insurance.

However, for those truly selfless dedicated saints who wouldn’t want to harm a fly, let alone anyone else, you will have to arrange to crash into a stationary object such as a wall. Top tip: try to jump out of the car before the impact.

And when you’ve finished with your pile of junk and had it condensed into a cube by the local car crushers, you can send it back to the manufacturers with a note saying: “That’s what I think of your patronising, sexist, repugnant advertising, you male chauvinist creeps.” Under the Women Are Contrary Creatures Rules sub-section 3 on “Making It Up As We Go Along” you are of course allowed to employ this method whilst still dating Mr Tasty Geezer from the Alfa Romeo.

Tube rage

However antisocial it makes me seem, I am capable of tube rage. I hate the tube. I absolutely hate it. I strongly believe that we all cease to become human beings the moment we enter the station. It’s farewell to sanity, patience and good will. Armed for battle, we sink into these underground pits to fight our way to work. It really is a modern Darwinian saga of the survival of the fittest.

In my mind, I become Xena Warrior Princess; a fiercer, bustier, all-round femme fatale side of me emerges to help me inch my way into the smallest spaces and fend off the hardest rivals. “I will get into work before thee” becomes my mantra. My bag is my sacred weapon; it is both protective and preventative. Protective because it lets me charge through crowds and preventative because it prevents anyone getting any closer to me. The bigger the bag the better, really. It’s no wonder I am shattered and stressed out when I get home in the evening, all the more understandable seeing my Xena aura vanish and leave me to my weaker persona.

But on the tube I’m cool, with one set of rules for me and another for the others. How many times have you been on the tube and found yourself getting annoyed at the people who refuse to budge or move down the carriages to allow more people to board? Yet how many times have you also been that smug commuter with no intention or budging from the doorway? Do you not willingly endorse the hostile reception given to the brave passenger fighting his or her way onto the train regardless?

I hate it all. I hate the people who won’t let me read their papers and the people who read mine. I hate the people who won’t give up their seats for the pregnant or the old but then I hate the people that do, before me, obviously trying to make me look bad!

Of course some lines are worse than others. Travelling to work on the District Line is a breeze compared to the other subterranean routes. You are pretty much guaranteed a seat on these trains and if not you can occupy enough standing room to open a broadsheet paper in comfort and read it cover to cover. I am lucky if I have enough space to read my tube ticket on my Northern Line route, which is perhaps one of the grimmest.

There are some good things about the tube though, or at least some things which make the journey more bearable. The mice on the underground, for instance. You get quite a lot of entertainment from these little performers around the Leicester Square area and they can really brighten up a long wait for your vessel home.

Or the injection of a sarcastic comment from a tube driver booming into the loud speaker – “You guys really don’t listen do ya?” – does wonders for keeping the battlefield ambience strong. And anyway, is it my imagination or have the tube drivers become cockier?

But one of the funniest things has to be the travellers who come from the airport usually jetlagged and asleep, who take up about 4 seats with their entire luggage and then suddenly realise the implication of their actions as the regular commuters launch their attack. I think it’s funny because I know that when they try and lug it all off they will face great difficulty and that is sweet, poetic justice for me!!

And of course the addition of the Metro paper is a good one, a free paper with lots of good offers and clear, concise reading, but then you don’t have the satisfaction of taunting a fellow commuter with your copy because everyone has one.

I could rage on for a long time if you had the patience to keep on reading, but I think I can leave it just there. But just a couple of things, when are they going to have a Playstation game dedicated to the trials and traumas of the commuter? And more importantly can I be in it?

What is it with sex and you lot?

Today, whilst flicking through the discussion boards taking note of the sex section, I was amazed to see what sort of things turn you lot on! There are about 50 boards on role-plays, vibrators, role-plays, fruit and veg, phone sex, cybersex and stuff like that. Me, I prefer good honest clean rolling about on the floor/field/bed or bending over the toilet/sink/table sex.

Reading about the role-plays and hearing people discuss it in chat (and yes, they do!) it makes me wonder. I mean, if Matt flounced towards me dressed as a fireman brandishing his hose – wink wink, nudge nudge – I think I might laugh. And from what I can tell, laughing whilst a man is trying to be sexual and horny and turn you on, sort of, deflates the situation. It’s the same with doctors and policemen etc. I don’t see the point. To me, it’ just more clothes to unbutton and fling off in the fit of passion!!!

And like, hello, what is with this manic use of cucumbers, bananas and vibrators? I mean, why substitute fingers, tongues and dangly bits! Humph, the thought of a big black (or any other colour) plastic thing heading towards me makes me shut my legs quicker than the image of childbirth does. And as for fruit and vegetables… My word!

And the biggest turn on I really, really, really don’t get is cybersex. Nope. Not now, not then, not ever. I mean, why would people do this? Working in the chat rooms as much as I do, I get propositioned a fair bit by people wanting to have a quick pull of their plonker over their computer screen. People come in and say, “What are you wearing?”, “Do you look good in black underwear?” and “Want me to suck your fanny?”

Many moons ago, I was completely gob smacked. I didn’t know how to deal with things like that. Now I’ve realised that they are usually 12-year-old boys who are desperate for a quick bashing of the bishop and haven’t got the cuts to go buy a dirty magazine. OK, so maybe 12 is a little young, but you get the picture.

Now, I know that everybody’s turn-ons are different but you can’t deny that for 99.9% of the male population, the thought of two women at it spells instant soldiers to attention time. Also black underwear, thongs etc seem to be a major part of it for blokes! Me, nothing like that. I think it’s more when I shouldn’t really be having it – when we’re out at a pub or club, for example – that I suddenly get an extreme horn on – but that’s probably a lot to do with the alcohol! I think I just like a challenge and I get even more into it if my boyfriend Matt gets all embarrassed (like he does frequently).

SO, what’s the conclusion? There isn’t really one. I’ve just wittered on about sex yet again. I’m really ruining my innocent pure image aren’t I? Mwah mwah!

Getting a-breast of matters

Ola, bonjour, ello everyone, apologies for the wait, but like the thought of actually having to think of something in my life interesting to write about takes sometime since I spend most of it on a f**king computer.

Today I’m going to talk about my breasts. They’re not that big, and they’re not that attractive, but somehow, out of no fault of my own, they seem to jump out of my tops and show crowds of people in shops, or nightclubs, or just pubs.

It occurred to me last night that usually it really isn’t my fault, I’m just a clumsy cow, with a very evil boyfriend. Last night, we went out with another couple, and I wore quite a covered up top for a change (the one I wore to the meet up), yet halfway through the evening my top ended up around my neck. I attempted to do that curling away thing, you know, where you’re desperately trying to put it back to normal, but somebody who is bigger and stronger than you and less drunk manages just to stand there watching you struggle.

Thinking back, I wasn’t as embarrassed as the first time the city of Lincoln saw my breasts. I was about 16. Here I was standing in a changing room attempting to try on a nice dress in NEXT in a pair of old saggy knickers and grubby bright red ski socks, when it got stuck just above my shoulders. My mum then whipped open the curtain to ask how I was doing and the lucky Christmas shoppers got to see ickle me still not growing that much pinky and perky!

That was probably my most embarrassing experience as I’d just started the “F**KING HELL WHERE THE F**K ARE MY BOOBS!” stage. Okay, so that’s a lie, I’d been like that since I was 13, but by 16 it gets a little worrying that you’re still on picture two of the puberty book! Anyway, they obviously took a liking to the open air and since then have decided to pop out wherever and whenever they see fit! Pubs seems to be the favourite location, usually when I’m bopping away in my own little world to Britney Spears (did I mention, I aim to be her one day?) with my arms up in the air. Then either Matthew sees fit to whip my top forwards, back, up down, left, right or some poor unexpecting lad accidentally brushes past me and WOOOSH out they pop!

So where now? Should I carry on as normal and let them pop out at every opportunity? Should I wear a metal bra? Or should I just get them out constantly and be done with it. Please get back to me, because I’m fed up of making a tit of myself.