Thursday, 28 April 2016

Ed Balls

Ed Balls.

Really, I should stop right there. It would certainly beat the waffle out of me for a change. But on the other hand, you’re here now, so I may as well go on: Happy Ed Balls Day!

As I write this, Ed Balls’ “Ed Balls” tweet has had 90,785 retweets, while the corresponding cock-up by Eamonn Holmes (the “Portugal Girlie” affair) is peaking at 1,504.

According to the maths, this means that celebrating the erstwhile Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer’s tech fumble is some 60.36 times more amusing than watching some beige sit-on-arse breakfast clown conflate Twitter with Pornhub.

But does this make it worthy of a hashtag day? We already have so many that they’re fighting for airtime (Hedgehog Day is on Groundhog Day – who knew?). They’re also stackable, like getting a double word score in Scrabble (13 April), as seen with World Stationery Day (27 April) erupting through the middle of National Stationery Week.

Enough of this hashtaggery is just marketing flannel, but surely that’s a good thing? If there’s one thing marketing pish means, it’s flash giveaways. Of course, some may be more eagerly anticipated than others: International Coffee Day (1 October) sounds promising; International Hashtag Day (23 August) less so.

Ed Balls Day, however, is at least organic. Perhaps that’s why so few promoters are bandwagonning it today. And when I say ‘few’ I mean ‘one’.

Ed Balls. This promotion is now closed.

I’m so glad we found each other, because somewhere out there are 42 grams of protein in a jiffy bag with my name on.

Ed Balls

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

When the Good Times Stop

I haven’t bought razor blades for over a year. It’s not that I’m a hipster or anything as exotic as that, but because I don't shave every day, the three-month subscription of blades that I won just before Christmas 2014 lasted for way longer than the promoter anticipated. Certainly way longer than the promoter could be bothered to update their social media channels.


Buying razor blades, I'm guessing, is a bit like buying stockings or tampons. It's a tax on gender. How much pleasure do you get from spending that money? None. These things should on tap. Instead, we have to pay over the odds for such essentials because their marketing teams are giddily spunking corporate dollars carpet bombing the countryside with menstruating women and trying to convince grizzly idiots that wiping their face with a sixteen-blade testosterone wand will make them look like David Beckham. Sometimes communism doesn't sound so bad.

But this is no time to debate the merits of the free market system. My smooth-face free-roll is coming to an end. At best, I have two free shaves left before I’m back to the antique face cleaver I cached in my washbag some fifteen months ago (it has two blades - TWO!). Which is to say, I obviously could just buy some blades designed after 1993, but I am so mean that I will literally cut off my face to spite my face.

In other words, I’ve got four days to win a new razor. #compersproblems

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Everyone Loves a Selfie

I don't. I hate them. I hate taking pictures of myself. Unless it’s documenting the progression of my facial hair, it’s just vain. As for selfie competitions … Really?! It was 2013 when the OED decided “selfie” was word of the year. And we haven’t moved on from here?

On the plus side, at least a selfie competition is neither as tedious as, nor open to the same level of bot abuse as a Twitter follow/RT comp; likewise, it doesn’t spam your social network like a Facebook like-share comp (which despite contravening Facebook’s T&Cs are still ten a penny). But still, as far as effort comps go, it’d be nice to see promoters come up with something a little more original.

That’s not to say I refuse to enter selfie comps. That would imply I had some kind of dignity I wanted to preserve. In fact, I’ve even won a couple. But mostly the experience has been about as productive as banging my head against a wall. Here are some head shots that failed to make the grade.

A selfie

"The Mirror Selfie"
A bit too self-referential, perhaps.

A selfie

"The Fakecation"
Wish you were here?

A selfie

"The Iceland Freezer Selfie"
I was trying to channel the Shamen. It didn't work.

A selfie

"The Toad"

A selfie

"The Perfume Selfie"
Probably not what the promoter had in mind.

Have you got a rogues' gallery of selfies or do you bin them as soon as you can? What was the most interesting selfie comp you entered?

Monday, 18 April 2016

Tickets! (I love tickets)

If sleep is the cousin of death, then parenting is surely the step-brother of PTSD. Oftentimes I’d rather host a cage fight on my lap than listen to another minute of their shrieking, fighting, yelling and door slamming. I can’t hear myself think, as my father used to say (and God help me, I catch myself saying these days too). I haven’t the wit to plan a cup of tea, much less a day's itinerary.

You can imagine then how chuffed I was to receive a long white envelope with instructions as to how my next Sunday was going to pan out: a family trip to the East Anglia Game & Country Fair!

Picture of tickets

There’s going to be a chain-sawing competition, 21 squaddies on a motorbike and EAGLES! You have no idea how much I love eagles.

I am so wearing tweed.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The First Big One

My first big win - a ridiculously fancy cartridge for my record deck and a hundred quid record voucher to blow on vinyl. Notwithstanding the fact that I’ve never dropped a ton in a record shop in my life, this cart is so fancy, it probably cost about the same as my deck (which may not be a 1210, but is certainly no heap of junk). As I recall, I did a little sick of excitement when I got the e-mail telling me I’d won.

I confess, I’ve not yet fitted the cart, but that’s chiefly because I’m not getting enough time to lay back and suck up sounds. When the children start putting less effort into draining my will to live, I will fit it, and when I do, I will love it. And these records, which already sound golden, will then be on-fire gold. Golden lava, oozing into my ears.

So, what was the challenge? Show off your vinyl collection and add a little tie-break text. It didn’t take long for this to turn into a pissing contest. Shelves and shelves and shelves of records. Photo after photo of shelf after shelf. There was no way I could compete, so I had to do something different. And for once, the boy cooperated.

my son pretending to be a DJ

Do you remember your first time, or the point you thought, hang on, I can do this?! I'd love to hear your stories in the comments below...

Lucky Fellow

In 2014, I decided to be more lucky. Doesn’t matter why. What’s important is that it worked. Since then, a whole bunch of people I don’t know have called me a winner. It’s a nice feeling.