The age of revelation

Jodie Foster has come out??

Lance Armstrong took steroids?!!

Tesco Everyday Value 100% beef burgers costing just £1 for a pack of eight aren’t made with actual beef??!?!!

Please stop, I don’t think I can take any more shocks today. Next you’ll be telling me that it’s possible to earn a six-figure salary and spend all day watching cat videos…

… waitasec… for real? 

Please excuse me whilst I reassess my career options.

And with a little help from our friends in China, you could also live the dream. Like this guy.

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Lost in translation

Language is amazing. The human ability to communicate complex ideas and lessons to each other is one of the key distinguishing traits between us and animals.

What is also interesting about language is how it shapes the way we think. This is called linguistic relativity. For example, put both your hands in front of you. The position of your hands signifies today. Where is tomorrow?

If you are from a Western European culture, you will have chosen a spot to the right of your hands. But if you were Chinese, you would have chosen a spot vertically below your hands. This is because our language influences the way we think about these concepts. For Western Europeans, the future is ahead and the past is behind. The Chinese visualise time moving from top to bottom.

Where things get really interesting is where certain languages have particularly descriptive words or phrases which are not found in any other language that also give us an insight into the national psyche. We are all familiar with schadenfreude. But what about jolie laide? Or insha’allah?

Check out more brilliantly untranslatable words behind the link.

Lost in translation…

Howlin’ for more

The Black Keys are officially one of my favourite bands. After being a cult success for so many years, they’ve finally broken through to the big time – and sadly sold some of their tunes as soundtracks to rather lackluster adverts (association with Hollyoaks will drag any band’s cool credit down a notch or two). However, who cares when they release such spankingly good retro blues-rock?

The cherry on their rock’n’ roll icing is the multitude of entertaining music videos they put out, with ‘Howlin’ for you’ being arguably the most famous. Admittedly, the fake movie trailer format barely showcases the song in favour of foxy assassins, cute puns and a not-so-hidden homage to Tarantino. But who cares when it’s this infectiously good?

For those who want to hear more, tickets for a February gig at Alexandra Palace are on sale now. I’ll see you guys there…

5 hidden treasures of London

London. City of dreams. Some say you’re less fun than New York, less historical than Rome, less beautiful than Paris. But what do they know? Allow me, kind reader, to enlighten you on a few of the hidden wonders of this city of cities.

1. Hidden lairs
Over the centuries, Londoners have shaped the environment they live in. We have built over the many rivers that now power our sewers, created underground stables in Camden where unfortunate ponies who pulled river barges never saw the light of day, and even carved out manmade caves in Chislehurst. Intrepid explorers should investigate the underground bunkers, ghost railway stations, and even Roman amphitheatre lying beneath their feet.

2. The seven noses of Soho
Urban myth or living legend? Rumour has it that seven noses are fixed to building walls in and around Soho and anyone managing to find all seven are destined for untold wealth. The most famous of these noses is on Admiralty Arch – some say it’s a tribute to the Duke of Wellington, long renowned for his prominent hooter. Passing household cavalry soldiers touch it for luck, in honour of one of the country’s most famous generals.

3. Covered up crudeness
If The Miller’s Tale by Chaucer left you with an impression that our medieval ancestors were surprisingly vulgar, you’d be right. They called it how they saw it in the Dark Ages, which meant Bread Street was, unsurprisingly, named after it’s bakers’ market. It also lead to thoroughfares called Gropecunt Lane in honour of the many prostitutes plying their trade in the area and Pissing Alley, whose unfortunate residents lived near a cesspit. Few of these street names have survived the centuries thanks to the censorious efforts of less open-minded local authorities, but London’s legacy of lewdness has not been forgotten.

4. The Secret Garden
Secret gardens aren’t only for orphaned young girls in novels by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Tucked off Kingsland Road in a bustling part of Hackney lies St Mary’s Secret Garden, a horticultural project offering a herb garden, vegetable bed, and sanctuary for frazzled Hackney-ites looking to reconnect with nature. Although only local residents are given a key to the garden, members of the public can visit between 9-5 on weekdays.

5. Secret fun
Secret cinemas, secret speakeasies, pop up restaurants, illegal raves. Nuff said. Those wanting recommendations need only get in touch…

Whatever you do, don’t mention the war…

Faulty Towers: The Dining Experience

I hopped aboard the good ship Hispaniola last Friday to experience the full force of Basil, Sybil and Manuel in the Faulty Towers restaurant. This wasn’t a strange dream brought on by too much stilton before bedtime, but an interactive dinner theatre performance from Faulty Towers: the Dining Experience.

After a five year run with rave reviews, Interactive Theatre Australia have taken their hilarious slapstick farce to its spiritual homeland, the UK, where the actors delighted, insulted and entertained their guests in equal measure.

Although Basil’s high-octane, goose-stepping performance was impressive, the show was stolen by a bumbling Manuel. His comical mangling of the English language set up the show’s funniest jokes, most memorably wailing ‘Why you wanna fork me?’ to an irate Basil.

From bread buns lobbed through the air to Manuel running riot with a fire extinguisher to the discovery of the chef’s false teeth in an unsuspecting diners’ soup, this is not a show for the faint hearted. Service was appalling and accompanied with a side order of good natured abuse. But fans of Fawlty Towers will revel in the opportunity to live through the mythical thirteenth episode of one of Britain’s best-loved sitcoms.

Tickets available here.