Monthly Archives: October 2012

Stop ruining Christmas – an open letter to DFS, Next, House of Fraser and all other culprits.

Dear Sir/Madam.

I’d like you to cast your mind back to Christmas’s past. I don’t know about you but I used to get so excited about Christmas I’d be begging my Dad to go and get the Christmas tree for weeks! The first ones would go up in early December. The lights would be just visible through peoples net curtains, the wreaths would be hung on the doors. You couldn’t get your tree too early lest all the needles would fall off before boxing day, the dog would choke on them and it would be a disaster. Every year I’d worry that Santa wouldn’t be able to get in because we lived in a 1940’s terrace house with no chimney but my Mum would assure me he was magic, he had his ways. There would be a mad rush starting on about December 12th as people realised “Bugger! Christmas is soon!” Then for the entirety of January we’d be using Safeways own brand 1 ply toilet roll and couldn’t afford proper Cornflakes because so much had been spent in December on Tracey Islands and novelty singing ties and silly trinket boxes that were too small to actually keep anything in for distant aunties. There would be great excitement when the Coca-cola advert came on, usually during the ad break of Supermarket Sweep or some other quality prime time show at some point in early December. At that moment Christmas had officially started!*

Today is October 23rd 2012. It is not even Halloween yet. This time in 1998 the shops were full of ghosties, plastic vampire fangs, pumpkin carving kits, Scooby-Doo Halloween Special video cassettes and other  crap.** Would somebody PLEASE tell me WHY exactly there are Christmas decorations up in certain stores. Mentioning no names NEXT and HOUSE OF FRASER. Would somebody please tell me WHY there are elves in festive jumpers frolicking around my TV screen eating flaming Christmas puddings DFS?!

You are ruining Christmas. I no longer feel a pang of excitement at seeing that first lonesome Christmas tree because it is standing in all its plastic glory in the Oxford Street branch of Next in between the Scandinavian-esque cardigans and faux fur gilets. No more does that first Christmas advert send me in to spasms of joy because it is not even bonfire night yet. Maybe I’m missing something here. I am aware that this is a capitalist society and that companies want to maximise their profits by dragging out their Christmas marketing for as long as possible. I am aware that since the invention of the plastic Christmas tree we are no longer constrained by not wanting to get pine needles in Grannies slippers. However, my point is this – you are ruining the joy of Christmas. I don’t mind the arrival of charity Christmas cards – I’m not a monster. I just don’t want elves on my screen before we’ve even set fire to a effigy of Guy Fawkes. Go away and come back in about a month and a half.

Laura Martin

*The Coca-cola advert first being played is still the official start of Christmas.
** There is still Halloween themed crap in shops.


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“But where do you get your protein from?!”

It is time for me to write a post I’ve been planning for a while. So here goes.

On June 22nd 2012 I became a vegetarian. I know it was June 22nd because it was also my Aunt Mary’s birthday and we had all gone to the nearest local eatery to celebrate. That eatery is a restaurant called Gusto’s, pronounced in a flamboyant Italian accent of course – GOOSE-TOS, not GUST-OHs as I and the rest of my common South London family insisted on calling it. I’ve always felt very awkward in Gusto’s, mainly because I once sat in there reading The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac with a cup of tea until the girl serving asked me what it was about. She looked so perplexed by the idea of a white English girl reading a book vaguely Buddhist in nature that I avoided going back lest I be quizzed about being a Buddhist scholar. Anyway, I’ve digressed.

Yes. Vegetarianism. It was on this day, June 22nd 2012, that I decided that I would never again for at least a few months or until I get bored of it eat any form of meat again. I didn’t rule out eggs or milk. I like scrambled eggs on toast with a nice cuppa tea waay too much for that. But all beef, chicken, pork, lamb, mutton, veal (not that I ever ate that anyway), duck, pheasant, goose, tuna, salmon, haddock etc was never again to pass my lips! I ordered my Penne Arrabiata smiling and it was delicious. I didn’t feel like a fat murderer after eating it either! Unfortunately my dumbass waitress friend appeared and asked me if my choice was anything to do with my Buddhist beliefs. I let her down gently.

There were three key problems I had not accounted for.
1)  I am one of the fussiest eaters on the planet.
To the extent that it would probably be easier for me to list the things I will eat than the things I wont. Generally if it’s squishy, I’m not eating it, which rules out mushrooms, avocados, cheese, tofu, aubergines, gherkin and many many other things.

2) Bacon.
I had not realised just how much I love bacon. That shit is delicious. Even now nearly four months I still salivate at the smell of it. Just thinking about it is making me weak at the knee’s. I’m sorry veggie brothers and sisters but that shit is just delicious and there is nothing any of us can do about it.

and 3) the veggie options in most restaurants and café’s are piss poor.
If I ever have to eat another egg mayonnaise sandwich I will scream.

These issues aside, for three months everything went without a hitch. That was until my boyfriend decided to cook Chili Con Carne, my favourite thing in the world after custard creams. I wont go in to details but suffices to say I cracked on a massive scale. The point of this post is this though: if you’re thinking about becoming a vegetarian JUST DO IT. It’s a lot easier than it seems, even a lot easier than I’ve made out here. Generally people are supportive, even encouraging. You don’t miss meat, you feel so much healthier for it and – this is key- you will not be missing out on any major nutrients so long as you eat a balance diet. The only supplement I take is fish oil.

I’ve never felt better and encourage you ALL to try it. Even if you just do meat-free Monday for a few weeks.

In light of the theme of this blog, my good deed is @josephwicking buying me a vegetarian cookbook for my birthday. Thank you!

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Quarter life crisis

I’d like you all to think back to when you were a little person, sitting  crosslegged on the carpet of your classroom at school. Do this properly: the smell of Crayola in the air, the itch of the carpet on the side of your legs, the enormous jumper you mum bought you that you would “grow in too” etc. Your teacher asks the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
There were two ways you could respond to this question. Either a) throwing your hand up in the air with great enthusiasm to tell everybody about your dream career as a vet/astronaut/police officer etc or b) keeping your head down and your hand firmly by your side with absolutely no idea. I definitely fell in to the latter category. I did at one point entertain the idea of becoming the sixth Spice Girl or one of Charlies Angels but I’ve never really had a realistic ambition to aspire towards. Really, my ambition is to have a nice quiet life with a continual stream of tea and biscuits.

I have now hit a snag. At 21 years old and only a matter of months from graduating I still have my eyes to the ground and my hand firmly in my school cardigan pocket without the foggiest what I want to do with my life. I’m going through what I like to call “an existential quarter life crisis”. According to Wikipedia, a quarter life crisis is “a period of life following the major changes of adolescence, usually ranging from the late teens to the early thirties, in which a person begins to feel doubtful about their own lives, brought on by the stress of becoming an adult.” Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Every time I turn on my TV there’s a new story about out of work graduates getting rejected by McDonalds or some such horror. What I’ve realised is this: I am only 21 years old. I’m probably (hopefully) only a quarter of the way through lifes journey. What I chose to do now does not dictate what I will be doing by the time I retire. What I find comfort in is the fact I am certainly not alone. Speaking to friends and peers I’ve discovered that quite a lot of the “just-about-to-enter-the-real-world” demographic are scared shitless by the idea. Perversely what I’m most afraid of is going to a school reunion in 20 years time and meeting an old acquaintance who’s done fantastically well, being asked what I’m up too these days and being laughed at when I answer. Take solace: If this happens, that person is clearly a wanker. Chins up friends. We’ll be alright.

GOOD DEED OF THE DAY: To the kind man who lent me a tissue when my foundation exploded all over my belongings – thank you


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