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think piece

Comedy, Think Piece

The Intergalactic Naughty Corner

Author: Danny Robertson

Illustration: Mark Smith

Since time immemorial, there has been speculation, news stories, scientific research, literature of the fictional and non-fictional variety and some really bad straight-to-video movies, which all pondered and asked the question…. Are we alone in the universe? Are we, on our spinning blue and green ball of mostly water and spam mail, a biological fluke on a galactic scale, or, in some distant region, are there other planets of equally baffled races, with their own curiousness, their own need to know, their own brands of bad daytime TV?

Whilst I personally, quite reluctantly, would say that we’ll probably never truly know within our lifetimes, I would like to think that there are indeed hundreds, thousands, of other races out there, some making their first tentative steps into the unknown, others more advanced who are already boldly going, and others like us who just quite aren’t ‘there’ yet.

BUT, here’s the thing…. I’m not convinced there’d want to come down here….just yet. What if there are races out there, who are well aware that we’re here, but have decided NOT to come down for a spot of tea and a chat just yet, but have instead decided to wait another century or two (or more?) for us to stop blowing each other up, to stop shouting at each other over fences/radio waves/the internet, to maybe grow up a bit? In essence, we’re on time-out, placed in an intergalactic naughty corner at a safe distance from everyone else until we’ve decided to play nicely with the other children. It’s not bad town planning – we’re remote for a reason, still thinking about what we did.

Imagine being an observer on the other side of the stars – would you want to come down here? I personally would rather wait until a real-life Picard made themselves known. Rather him than Kirk. Shut up, Picard was better…. look see, now they’re never coming down.

That said, if they wait for us to hit ‘puberty’, so to speak, they’ll encounter an entire race of awkward folks with mood swings and strange clothes, listening to angry music that no one gets. Oh wait, has that already happened?

Imagine though, if they’ve been monitoring our ALL our satellite transmissions, film and TV included?

“Trev? Trev! I’m just going for a hover around that Earth place for a bit.”

“Fine, but cover your USB ports; you saw what happened to those other guys. Oh and get some milk.”

There could be aliens named Trev. You don’t know. I could’ve called him Flogglegargen, but that could be a terrible word in their language.

Whilst it’s safe to assume that any alien races out there watching us are already technologically superior, as far as communication and travel is concerned at least, here’s hoping they’ve progressed beyond the need for petty squabbles, one-one-upmanship and bragging rights for the biggest rocket boosters.

I bet they’d be great at Cards Against Humanity though.


Comedy, Think Piece

Global Warming and the Arctic Pub toilet


Author: Hannah Smith

Illustration: Christopher Harrisson

You’re halfway through your second pint and a feeling has been gathering for a while, you know that you don’t have long left before you are going to have to just break that blasted seal. Once you’ve popped…you can’t stop. Oh please, no I didn’t just fart.

This is problematic for a couple of reasons, one, the obvious, this is a stream that will just keep coming, a tap that is constantly turning, an inconvenient interruption every time your friend gets to the punch line of their story. It is a constant interruption to an otherwise pleasant evening. Two, and this is far more disturbing, you know that no matter what pub you are in, no matter what part of London this is, from your trusted local to the brand new pub you’ve just stepped inside, this is the first wee of many where you will be forced to risk your genitals actually freezing over. And you’re going to have to do that a million times in the course of the evening.

You open the door to the toilet and an arctic wind hits you, in the corner of your eye you think you saw a Polar bear but it’s hard to tell, your face is whipped and tingling with cold, your eyes have started to water from the pain of the cold, dry air. Your fingers lose all feeling as you fumble with first the lock, and then your clothes. Bracing yourself as the cold wind hits the area and almost tears off a layer of flesh. The pee when it comes is steaming at first but turns to icicles as soon as it hits the air. Your vajayjay could actually freeze over and now the eye contact you made with the hot guy on the way to the toilet feels hopeless. “Yes, I will go home with you but we’re going to need a pick axe.”

You John Wayne it out of the toilets because your entire nether regions have now frozen over, having barely shown your hands at the freezing cold water you tried to clean them under. Shivering as you attempted to clean your hands and fix your make up. The arctic sea ice might be melting but go to any pub in London and you’ll find a new one developing in the toilet bowls.

You seriously consider saying no to a third pint but then, it’s Friday (read every day of the week), you’ve earned this. If a frozen vagina is the price you pay, well, it’s the price you pay.

Look, pubs, we know that heating your old Victorian / Edwardian building is expensive, we know you’re slowly turning into crèches and restaurants and flats, we know you have your struggles, we get it, we sympathise but please would you stop taking it out on my reproductive organs?

I’ve worked in pubs and I know that managers and owners are very concerned with making the toilets look like old Victorian lounges, a sofa here, an ornamental soap dispenser there that will run out within an hour of being filled, paper towels and a small antique bin to put them in, the kind that is full after one empty toilet roll holder, toilet roll holders that will beautifully carry one bloody roll for an evening’s worth of drinkers to share, cling onto, fight for. They want everything to look good. Great, brilliant, I will step over the over-flowing paper towels, I will get my anti-bacterial out when the soap is empty, again, I will drip dry…except, no, I won’t because the drips turn to ice and now I’ve got a sheet of ice covering what used to be my vagina.

The brave of you might even take the time to look for a radiator, you won’t find one, or if you do, you will touch it and not only will it be turned off, it will be so cold that your hand will stick to it until a family of penguins take pity on you and peck you free. Crying with relief, you look up at the skylight to catch the Northern lights dancing above the OPEN bloody window that no one can reach. There hasn’t been a star seen in London since sometime in the 80’s but over every pub toilet in the Capital dance the Aurora Borealis seven nights a week, twelve months of the year.

I’m not sure when global warming first started to affect the London ladies toilets but I do know we have to do something to halt it. We have to stand up and say we want to do our million-in-a-row-wees of a Friday night in warmth, without threatening our ability to reproduce, without crying tears of frozen pain every time we pull down our knickers, we want to be able to wash our hands without chattering teeth, we want to enter the toilet and exit it without our body temperature plummeting to damaging degrees, we want to know that we won’t be found frozen to the toilet seat, dead from hypothermia at the end of the night as the pub is locked up, we want to know why in 2016 the only room in your Victorian / Edwardian building without central heating is the dunny? We want to stop this before the worrying trend of the restaurant with the arctic toilets starts to creep from the odd one, to all of them.

Please, someone, please help.

And she exits, pursued by a bloody Polar bear…

Comedy, Think Piece

Dogs suffer from deja vu but don’t know how to tell anyone

Author & Illustration: Mark Smith

Déjà vu literally translates as “excessively remembering” and has been a prominent force in Western culture since the 1970’s, muscling out fondue with gay abandon. Déjà vu travels in clouds but you will never see it because as soon as you turn around it hides. Before the 1970’s people just remembered things without remembering remembers so they were generally happier, hence the expression “always remember but not excessively”. Déjà vu sounds funny, much like “milk” if you say it over and over, but has little of milk’s nourishment and is almost entirely different. So I’d like you to stop repeating milk in your head as it’s not getting us anywhere. Here is a little side challenge; say milk but make L the loudest letter and the K almost inaudible. You don’t half sound daft PMSL.

But is memory smog exclusive to humans? No. No it is not. Dogs ape what we do, they even learned doggy style sex moves, and some have been seen to wear human clothes, so it really isn’t too surprising they also get déjà vu. But how on Earth do they tell us?! When humans get déjà vu the first thing we do is freeze and tell everyone in the room we’re having déjà vu and then do that thing when we say OH MY GOD I’M STILL HAVING DÉJÀ VU EVEN THOUGH I’M AWARE I’M HAVING DÉJÀ VU?! I don’t know why we do this as nobody else in the room cares. Imagine coming home and saying to your wife “Oh fucking hell, I forgot to tell you, Steve at work had déjà vu today?!” then your wife is like “SHUT UP?!” and you’re like “I SWEAR TO GOD, RIGHT IN THE OFFICE” and she passes out from shock.


Dogs tell us they are suffering from déjà vu by pooing in unusual places. Pooing in a field? No déjà vu. Pooing in your kitchen? Massive déjà vu attack. Pooing in your garden? No déjà vu. Pooing through the straw in your milkshake? Ginormous déjà vu. So next time you’re cleaning the poo off the bristles at the bottom of your front door maybe spare a thought for what your dog is trying to tell you before you vomit.

Comedy, Think Piece

I really like birds

Author & Illustration: Mark Smith

I really like birds. I want to rub their soft bellies. Maybe one will call me dad and I’ll look all bashful and tell him to knock it off but he’ll keep calling me dad until eventually I have to explain that it’s scientifically impossible and he’ll fly off crying like a little cry baby prick, but also slightly more knowledgeable. Maybe the birds son will turn up a few days later and confront me about the way I treated his father but I just tell him his dad is a cry baby prick and maybe he should fight his own battles which surprisingly diffuses the situation so we play badminton for AGES and he doesn’t win a single point because he can’t even hold the god forsaken racquet.

 I really like birds but I cannot, and will not, stand for stupidity.

 My top 5 favourite birds, in no particular order, are; Great crested Grebe, Barn Owl, Heron, Golden Eagle and the Kingfisher. I know you’re screaming at the computer in your mum’s spare room that I should have the humble Robin in there but maybe you should wipe the phlegm off the computer in your mum’s spare room and write your own flipping list. And for pity’s sake help with dinner.

 Anyway, what does a bird loving dreamboat do entice more feathery pests in to his loving arms? Massive fucking birdfeeder, that’s what. So I headed off to Wilkos to indulge my beaky buds with a food cage. I based my choice on the birds pictured on the packaging, which makes me wonder why they don’t put pictures of Pterodactyls and Emu’s on there instead of a bored Starling with poorly conditioned feathers and a look so sad it could melt the swirly bit in marbles. I settled for a feeder with pictures of Blue tits. They are probably in my top twenty but only because I don’t know any more types of birds.

Now I wasn’t expecting a Puffin to rip the feeder out of my hands as I put it up but I was expecting SOME birds within two weeks. NOTHING. At times I checked there were actually birds still by googling “birds in the UK?” and the results were astounding; there were birds everywhere, even Luton.

Then I realised my error. How could I be so STUPID?! I had set the bird feeder up in the jaws of a cat. I repositioned it to a bush and now it shits sparrows out.

Comedy, Think Piece

Ways to convince people that you’re okay after a break up

Author: Jessica Patient

Illustration: Christopher Harrisson

It’s good to have lots of friends and family around you when you’re dealing with a break-up but sometimes you just need some space so you can get back to being a cliché – curled in the foetal position, filling your belly with junk food and bingeing on box-sets while your mind is swallowed up by sadness.

1)  The Fridge

All visitors will head to the fridge either to make you a ‘lets talk’ cup of tea or to make you a sandwich as your chubby face has lost its roll of fat from around your chin. Ditch the mouldy slab of cheese, tuck away that bottle of rose, and bin those cherry-flavoured yogurts that you’ve been saving for when your partner (or should that be ex-partner) comes back. Before they visit, I’m afraid you must drag yourself to the shop and buy some fake food like fruit especially something exotic as that will make your visitor think you’re really coping. Definitely buy fresh milk but the size down as you don’t want to be one of those empty-nesters and keep buying and cooking as if there are more people in the house. Also think about removing your set of keys out of the fridge. It seemed like a good idea at the time but it really does show the state of your mind.

2) Curtains

It’s time to let the light back into your home. I know you want to be a vampire, and sit stewing on the sofa with a bottle of vodka as your best pal but this is only temporary. Pull back the curtain and see for certain – that’s what Joseph with his technicolour jacket would say. Maybe open the window too just to stir up the air – no visitor should have to smell your stale farts. I know you don’t want to see the world in its brilliant HD-ness but sometimes it’s nice to be digital for a moment or two before going back to analogue.

3) Clothes

For fuck’s sake, stop wearing your ex-partner’s clothes – slash them with a knife and then dump them in the bin – make sure the knife is sharp as Levi jeans have strong seams but can, eventually, be forced apart. But most importantly, I’m talking about those jogging bottoms. Put them in the washing machine, please. No one wants to see last night’s microwave dinner stain near your crutch.  Letting your visitor simply hear the washing machine spinning around will definitely provide that you’re doing okay or even more than okay as you’re back to doing house chores.

4) Picture frames

It seemed a good idea at the time to crack the glass in all of the cute couple pictures and hang them back on the wall as it made a ‘great metaphor’ but it’s time to swap them for pictures of flowers that you’ve printed off at work on the crappy printer and hang them in interesting frames. Maybe leave up one picture and casually dismiss it when your visitor questions why it’s still hanging above your sofa.

5) I’m okay

I know it’s the go-to phrase when people tilt their head to the side, stroke your arm and ask if you’re okay. Avoid it. People knows you don’t really mean it and they’ll just start asking more probing questions, and before you know it they’ve made you use up the last tissue in the house, and saying that they’ll be back tomorrow. You don’t want that – remember there’s a box-set that needs your attention. Either ‘I’m coping’ is a good phrase or ‘I’m taking each day as it comes’ will get you bonus points.

6) Flowers

Those dried, shrivelled up carnations sitting in stagnant water with mould on the stems need to go in the bin as soon as possible. I know your ex-partner bought them to cheer you up. Your ex-partner left two weeks ago and so should have those flowers.

7) The blanket aka blanky

You can pretend that the blanky is a cape once your visitor has gone but for the time being it needs to go in the washing machine along with your jogging bottoms. Rolling it lengthways, pretending it is a doughy human and hugging your blanky isn’t healthy when visitors are sitting next to you on the sofa.

8) Your computer

Chain-reading your ex-partner’s dating profile until you know it by memory isn’t a skill to show off to any visitors and it’s definitely not a trait to boast about on your LinkedIn profile.

Article, Think Piece

Fat for life

Author: Lydia Smith

Illustration: Chris Hollis


How is it that we can live in a society where a processed food giant (naming no names but rhymes with Hestlé) can be part of our solution to diet and lifestyle issues? Where they can have direct links with the Change For Life project that is at the forefront of the government’s approach to tackling obesity and encouraging healthy diet, exercise and not to mention (the forerunner for child and adult health) infant nutrition. So this company that makes its profit from marketing chocolate bars and infant formula is now part of the solution to our countries unhealthy lifestyles. Really…..

That is never ever ever ever ever ever ever going to work; it is like Benson & Hedges being part of the solution for smoking, or Smirnoff arranging the solution for alcoholism, or a Columbian drug baron having direct access to influence recovering cocaine addicts. Yes it is the same!

How did anyone ever think that this could work? Of course no one actually thought that it could work, I dispute the argument that people at those levels of power can be so fundamentally stupid. Stupid they are not, but open to bribery and an easy life, oh yes they definitely are. It is a shoe in, a quick fix, a price for their soul which the whole nation will pay for.

Of course these social solutions don’t work for the general population at all; they do however work for the big businesses that get unprecedented, direct and personal access to people who are in real need of genuine support.

But then this seems to be the current function of our governments; to facilitate big businesses to make even more money, with little or no regard for the individuals of this country, depending on how much they think they can get away with. And do not be fooled, if they think they can get away with it then they absolutely will.

We see it time and time and time again, they are exposed for the unmitigated corruption that they have been involved with, but then we have 20 enquiries and forget about the whole thing, leaving people open to the same abuses that they ever were.

There must be a solution – but the only way it can be tackled is by us, the consumer. Can we, together, take on these people and make the world a better place?