“Thank you for travelling on the Central line”


Did that actually happen? Right, status check: Am I still asleep? No. Am I drunk? No. Is the body odour emanating from the man whose armpit I’m now inhabiting causing me to hear things? It’s possible, but normally there are more dancing rabbits by this point.

No, my ears did not deceive – a mode of transport just thanked me for choosing it.

I’m not sure how many of you have experienced the joy of any tube line at morning rush hour, but choice is a concept that is far removed from such an environment. Unless you’re into being half-crushed by leaking strangers in a box that makes a clown car look roomy, it’s very unlikely that you’ve expressed a strong consumer preference to travel on the Central line.

That’s not to say there aren’t options. There are certainly options. I’ve even tried some, a personal highlight being the bus, which assured me it was a 40 minute journey and then proceeded to take two bloody hours. Cycling won’t get me killed but will make me unsuitably sweaty for a work environment which is distinctly lacking in showers. Walking is a stretch at 5 and a bit miles. So yes, in one way I am choosing to travel on the Central line, but in another, much more realistic sense, of course I’m fucking not. Allow me to paint a word picture:

Person: “I’ve chopped my arm off by accident.”

Doctor: “I can see that.”

Person: “Can you help?”

Doctor: “I can. But first I’d just like to thank you for choosing our hospital today. It really means a lot to us that you’ve chosen to have your gushing, terrifying wound treated here.”

Person: “But the next nearest hospital is 30 miles away.”

Doctor: “I know, but still, you’re a valued customer.”

Person: “I really am losing quite a lot of blood.”

That is the kind of thanks you’re getting on the Central line.

No TfL, thank you.

No TfL, thank you.

This sort of unnecessary, simpering, hollow adoration is becoming more and more commonplace – and it’s unbelievably annoying. Somebody, somewhere, has sat around a table and said “Tube users need to feel more valued. Why don’t we thank them every time they step into a carriage?”, and a group of other, supposedly rational and qualified people have agreed that this is not a wholly shit idea.

It is a wholly shit idea. It’s a massive, flashing, neon sign that says that you know your service is horrendous, and the only thing you’re going to do about it is record a short voiceover. The worse a company is, the more thanks they offer. TalkTalk are serial thankers who are unable to provide even a vague semblance of internet for vast swathes of the year, while Ryanair host a small party for their customers whenever a plane lands on the same day it was meant to.

Meanwhile, better organisations spend less time trying on the empty platitudes. (Sadly, this doesn’t mean they’re actively rude to customers – it would be a glorious day when John Lewis unveil the slogan “Shut up – you fucking love it”) What they do do is spend more time on actually doing things to improve how people experience their brand, which is easy to lose sight of when your company is juggling the really important stuff like getting more likes on Facebook. The best brands don’t tell customers how much they love them, they show them. Actions speak louder than words.

In summary, keep the thanks, buy more fucking trains.

World vents anger at lack of lab-grown chips

Scientists have today faced the wrath of the western world by announcing that they are yet to grow chips in a lab.

Attempting to mollify an outraged public with a burger grown from the stem cells of a dead cow backfired spectacularly when it was pointed out that there are live cows literally everywhere. There remain, however, a critically low number of live, wild chips in the world.

Food critics were visibly disappointed when they were presented with the chip-free pseudo-meat, with one heard to audibly remark: “Well this is fucking pointless”.

"What a rare sight! Oh wait no it's just a cow."

“What a rare sight! Oh wait no it’s just some cows.”

With an estimated 1.3 billion cows in the world, and stacks of vegetarians who don’t really want to eat them anyway, it seems unlikely that the globe will be running short of the beatific, flatulent, delicious meat-vessels any time soon. Which begs the question as to why on earth anybody thought it was a good idea to produce an inferior copy when the world is in such desperate need of real synthetic essentials like chips, cookie dough and gin.

Everybody loves gin.

The time, intellectual effort and money taken to produce the singular, uninspiring burger have lead prominent thinkers to question whether science ought to be concentrating on other areas instead of spunking £215,000 and many years of research up the wall to make a shit Big Mac.

Like a cure for cancer.

Or a working jet pack. That’d be ace.

Or, as previously stated, some delicious chips. Mmm, chips.

Manning celebrates ‘slap on the wrist’ verdict

Bradley Manning, the world’s most dangerous human being ever, is tonight celebrating the fact that he’ll only be in prison for a paltry 136 years.

The terrifying cyber-villain, disguised as a meek, beaten-down manchild, has breathtakingly evaded a charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ which would have seen him spend the rest of his life in prison. As it stands, Manning will be out and roaming the streets, armed with his powerful truth nukes, by the time he is 161.



Manning is by far the worst thing to happen to the USA, and possibly the world. By revealing how brave American soldiers heroically, and at great risk to their own safety, gunned down hordes of menacing unarmed Iraqi civilians, Manning directly endangered the lives of every American ever, including the dead ones. And children. Did he ever stop to think of the children?

To think that this madman will be out on the streets by 2149 is an outright abomination. To think that he’ll be living it up in solitary confinement, likely being subject to only several hours of torture a day, while real American heroes are out risking their lives to defend the insanely-heavily-armed nation against oil-rich, weapon-poor peasants, is frankly sickening.

The small consolation in this whole sorry mess is that with Bradley Manning behind bars, the world is a less informed and safer place. Without dangerous information which can cause ordinary Americans to question the atrocities casually carried out by the military in wars based on thinly-veiled neo-colonialism, everyone can sleep more soundly at night.

Unless they’re brown people, obviously.

God bless America.

Skincare adverts ‘based entirely on what genitals you have’

Advertising agencies have finally admitted that every deodorant, skincare or hair or fragrance advert they have ever created revolves completely on what their target audience have in their pants.

According to an industry spokesman, the whole game is run around the ‘willy/fanny method’ which determines exactly how your advert will run.

If your target audience has a penis, you will create an advert that visualises the following schema:

You’re a man.

You should be out drinking and watching sport with your exclusively male friendship group.

You shouldn’t have to worry about how your skin or hair looks, because you are not a woman.

Ha, women!

You should buy our product to make your skin feel great, even though we’ve already said you shouldn’t have to worry about your skin.


Look, attractive women want to have sex with you!’

Conversely, when advertising to women, the narrative is on the lines of:

‘You are a woman.

You are naturally strong and beautiful – we really can’t stress that enough.

Without constant attention and upkeep to literally every part of your body you will likely fall apart and die.

Buy our product to prevent the above.

Our artificial product with added technical jargon will help you maintain your natural beauty.


82% of women agree. (7 women asked, 5 under duress)

Look, the girls are here! Let’s watch a film.’

You need this to live

You need this to live

Batting off suggestions that these tired, laughable cliches are at best heroically outdated and at worst downright offensive, ad agencies have, if anything, stepped up their game recently.

Nivea for Men have developed an advert which spends the opening 20 seconds slagging off women and the remaining 5 seconds having a woman looking so impressed at a man’s newly-moisturised skin that she actually drove into the back of a van.

“This happens all over the world every day”, insisted a spokesman.

Boots and Sure, on the other hand, have been trying their hand at advertising to women.

Somebody at Sure appears to have been reading a book at some point and has seen the word ‘feminism’. They have then gone back into work and tried to make an ad with empowering, strong woman themes.

The result is a hilarious 30 seconds opening with the classic line ‘Strong women sweat.’ This is followed by various shots of incredibly angry looking women, mostly with short hair and tattoos, which is apparently the only thing that constitutes a ‘strong woman’.

[Aside: this is even better when watched with Youtube’s new auto-captions.]

“Strong women sweat. And glare. Other women don’t. This happens all over the world every day”, insisted a spokesman.

Boots, on the other hand, still hold the world record for most ridiculous commercial, working on the premise that it was a really sound idea to portray every woman in the world as a makeup-obsessed pack animal just dying to form part of a screaming herd and get on the Bacardi breezers.

This happens all over the world every day”, insisted a spokesman.


Elderly woman dies

How much more coverage do we need?

And before you start, this is not a post about the death of Margaret Thatcher, it’s a post about all the articles about the death of Margaret Thatcher. So that smell is not hypocrisy, ok?

So to summarise the main news of the day, an 87-year old lady has sadly died of a stroke. And the country has lost its shit about it.

The BBC had a live blog going by about 10am. A live blog. For the death of an octogenarian. A headline would probably have done, given that the person was formerly of some note. A live blog implies developments – uncertain events unfolding at great pace, with people allowed to text in their completely irrelevant thoughts on the matter.

If we were expecting a resurrection, or perhaps the start of a terrifying Thatcher-zombie epidemic, that would have warranted a live blog. This did not. What else can they write apart from hourly updates involving variations on ‘she’s still dead’?, with Wayne from Hartlepool tweeting in to say ‘I think it is bad/good that she is dead’.

Did wear awesome jumpers though.

Did wear awesome jumpers though.

The Guardian have immediately ploughed in with a pretty low, thinly-veiled hatchet job containing the least genuine use of the phrase ‘there should be no dancing on her grave’ ever committed to paper.

If you flick over to the Telegraph you would be forgiven for thinking that Princess Diana had come back to life and then died again.

I presume the Mail has stopped working altogether, or else tomorrow’s edition will just be a small bucket of tears and semen.

Eww. Sorry. Too far. I apologise, I’m in a fairly ropey mood anyway after playing football tonight and having to mark my boss; which was a lot like marking a racehorse. My legs hurt.

Also, all of the TV networks seemed to have Thatcher memorial shows cut and ready to air by 7pm, which is a wee bit sick. The BBC one was voiced by Andrew Marr – you somehow doubt that was filmed too recently unless his powers of recovery are phenomenal.

If I knew that somebody had already lined up a show about my death whilst I was still alive I think I’d probably do something drastic like get a swastika tattooed on my chin, or punch a nun, just to show the presumptuous tossers.

All this bullshit, this torrent of love and hate, hyperbole and hysteria, is just wrong. It’s irrelevant. It’s hypocritical and it’s demeaning to everybody.

This whole practice of forgetting about people until the very moment they stop breathing defies logic, and makes us all look a bit petty.

Old lady dies. Pay respects. Move on.


You do understand the concept of March, don’t you?

Spring has sprung.

Spring has sprung.

Ah yes, March.

The first wafts of Spring. Winter receding into a memory of warm fires and mulled wine. Sunshine. Lambs. Buds on the trees. Thoughts of Summer, the promise of heat.

These are some of the more accepted traits of March.

Unfortunately, Britain appears to have eschewed the classical approach to March with a fresh, edgy look based on howling winds and arse-clenchingly low temperatures.

A bit of my face nearly fell off on the walk to work today. I had to stumble the last 20 yards trying to keep my nose in its normal position after it lost circulation and decided to try and jump ship. I’m genuinely amazed that both of my ears are still here.

It’s also started snowing aggressively. Snow is meant to be a graceful, meandering weather event; if it made a noise it would sound like tinkling glass in slow motion. Pretty.

Today I had to fend off a coordinated attack from what felt like a hail of frozen wasps, angrily buzzing around my head. A bit like the snow had been out all night on Jagerbombs and Stella and was feeling a bit fighty.

This is absolutely unacceptable. I was in the Alps last week. It was 11 degrees. To be honest, I found that a little unusual but I most certainly did not expect to come back home only to crave the sweet, warm embrace of the Aiguille Grive.

I really crave the sweet, warm embrace of the Aiguille Grive.

Around this time of year, I (being, at heart, a man in his mid-sixties) like to start referring to things as ‘mad as a March hare’. Well I can tell you, the March hare is mad this year. He’s absolutely fucking livid. He wants to be out frolicking around, gambolling and doing other things that March hares generally do to indicate the scale of their madness. But he can’t. He’s trapped under four feet of ice in his burrow just outside Chester. The March hare is not just mad, he’s completely livid.

Weather, sort it out. This is ridiculous.

In other news, am I the only one who physically shudders every time I see either Chris Huhne or Vicky Pryce?

Shut up. It’s food, not the renaissance.

I think I have to stop watching television.

Based on my extensive research, if you turn on the telly there is now a 103% chance that you will come across some kind of cookery show.

I used to like cookery shows. I used to like it when they cooked something that I might one day eat myself, like chicken doused in curry powder or something involving fish fingers. I didn’t even mind when it got a bit fancy; aspiration is good. As long as it was vaguely humble or realistic, and there was at least a tacit acknowledgement that they what they were actually making was food and not a recreation of the happy tears of God, that was pretty much fine.

I’ve been drawn into Great British Menu recently. In much the same way a bear trap draws you in – whenever I encounter it I end up swearing, shouting and missing a leg.

Again, the first series, fine. This series, however, has disappeared so far up its own arse that it’s trying to serve it’s own kidneys as a delicious amuse bouche with some duck’s milk creme fraiche.

Last week I watched a man, who is paid to professionally cook food, that he was going to create a witty deconstruction of a kebab.

He then proceeded to just make a kebab. A regular doner kebab. He then served it in a kebab box. He then put it in a bag.

Creamy. Unctuous. Aggressively avant garde. A revolution!

Creamy. Unctuous. Aggressively avant garde. A revolution!

Today another man made a salad, then put it in a box with a barcode on it. Like they do in exclusive shops like Tesco. The voiceover described it as ‘quirky’ at least nine times and then his fellow contestants fawned over how quirky it was to serve a salad in a box.

They ought to come to my work cafe, they’ll have a fit.

I know food has a propensity to get a bit wanky, but we’ve now reached new heights in self-aggrandising bollocks. This isn’t just restricted to the tellybox. In London you can’t move without walking into the next hot Japanese-Ethiopian fusion indie new popup inside a functioning crack den where everything is cooked by trained pianists using irons and served by people who hate you.

And the language! I won’t go into a restaurant any more unless the grub has been described as orgasmic, groundbreaking, edgy, clever and overtly sexual – anything less suggests that somebody may have shat in the fairtrade peas. Even if you want something simple as sausage and mash in even a mediocre pub restaurant you now have to read a brief statement indicating the pig’s breed, name and marital status. This vital information also appears to lead to a £4 surcharge on your dish. I do not care whether the pork was rare breed or found wandering drunk along the M4. It’s now in a sausage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love food. I’m an eater. But please, please can we get over this bullshit?

I had toast for dinner. It was brilliant.

“This all appears to be in order Mr Murdoch,…

…you can have the BBC for an extra few quid?”

Some people own an orchard. The orchard is bursting with all kinds of fruit. There are apples, pears, some plums, and look! Aunty Mims has planted a lovely peach tree in the sunny corner by the stream. Isn’t the orchard lovely!

One day, some new people come in to run the orchard, but they aren’t happy with what they see. Too many leaves here, too much fertiliser there. They chop quite a lot down, but something is still missing. “A-ha!” They think, “That man at the apple tree is really rather good at growing lots and lots of apples. Why not let’s sell him the rest of the orchard, then he can grow all the lovely fruit and there’ll be food for all!”

So they sell him the fruit trees, and come back a year later to see how the orchard is coming along. But they don’t see the pears. They don’t see some plums. They don’t see the peach tree that Aunty Mims so lovingly grew in the sunny corner. They see apples. Lots and lots of apples. As far as the eye can see. And from then on it’s apples for breakfast, apples for lunch, apples for dinner; apple everywhere, apples up to our ears, we’re drowning in the apples, MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE!

The edible harbinger of doom



And so crushing inevitability is brought to bear on possibly the longest car crash in British media history. Our supposedly world-renowned media has effectively been swallowed up by one man and his empire, largely in part to a culture secretary who has shown all the characteristics of a love-struck puppy in his handling of the situation.

Even before the BSkyB debacle kicked off Jeremy Hunt was a self-professed Murdoch-lover:

“Rather than worry about Rupert Murdoch owning another TV channel, what we should recognise is that he has probably done more to create variety and choice in British TV than any other single person because of his huge investment in setting up Sky TV which, at one point, was losing several million pounds a day.”

Ah yes. Good old variety and choice. With the Sun, the Times and Sky News, you can choose whether you want your strictly-right-wing-news in less than two syllables, more than five or spoken to you, with flashy graphics and Kay Burley. And you only need to look to other countries where News Corp have a few media outlets to see how much variety, choice and absolute impartiality Rupert insists on from his channels.

Unfortunately, Hunt et al. are, as is to be expected, running down the classic Tory line, undoubtedly with their theme song playing in the background. Ever since Vince Cable stupidly said he was ‘going to war’ with News Corp, allowing the Conservative front bench to remove the last line of resistance from the situation, there has been no doubt that a Murdoch takeover would happen, and that the media regulators wouldn’t get a chance to, erm, regulate.

Did we vote for this shit?

Murdoch is held up on the right for several reasons. First and foremost, he generally provides a free advertising service for moderate right wing parties, which must be just dandy if you’re a moderate right wing party looking for some free advertising. Second, and probably equally important to the current administration, Mr Murdoch has proved himself to be very, very good at making lots and lots of money on the free market. Given that the government is hell-bent on turning the UK into a horrible cross between Ebeneezer Scrooge and a prostitute, simultaneously squeezing every penny whilst trying to sell everything we have to the highest bidder, it’s not entirely surprising the Dave and pals are cosying up to the Aussie tycoon. Whispering sweet nothings in his ear.

I wonder if Hunt calls him ‘Daddy’ and makes sure to swish his hips just that little bit more when they’re together. I say ‘wonder’, I more mean I’m going to have nightmares where that happens. Is there such thing as economic dirty talk?

“I want you to stick your bell curve right up my pre-tax profits; I’m sure you’ll get some great returns;my interest rates have shot right up…”

That was unnecessary. Sorry.

Back on the main point, what the worshipping servants of Guru Murdoch have failed to realise is that the antipodean news machine makes his money by ending competition. A market with Murdoch so dominant, and with government regulation evidently so impotent, only serves to create a climate where it is impossible to compete or for new outlets to enter the market, so the realm effectively becomes his. This then paves the way for the government to make even more concessions to the dominant force, which lowers media standards, eradicates plurality of news sources, and is proven to lead to nuclear holocaust.

On the plus side, the man from down under has offered to sell off Sky News. Plurality lives! But only for ten years-ish. And with a heavy, heavy ‘subsidy’ from News Corp. RIP plurality! Potentially the biggest cop-out since the end of Lost.

So, as ever here at rantraverelax, the concluding message is simple:

Unless you really love apples.


P.S. Finest resignation letter ever.