The Importance of Talking Bollocks

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Is red really a colour or just a dark shade of pink? What alcoholic beverage best represents your personality? An evil wizard has decided to turn the love of your life into a half fish half human monstrosity, not being all bad, he’s left the ordering up to you. So how do you want them? A careering rollercoaster ride for the imagination, in which wild ideas and preposterous propositions abound at a Mad Hatter’s tea party of pure nonsense, what’s not to love about talking bollocks? Well maybe on occasions it’s a tad pretentious, “The unrealistic special effects of the monster in John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ makes it all the more real given that on a very basic level it’s meant to embody the other”!!! As the election draws close here in the UK, I wanted to discuss the merits of talking bollocks. Fear not, I’m not about to go off on one about bullshit spouting politicians who are slowly eroding the fabric of our society. For you see dear reader bollocks and bullshit are entirely separate matters, even if they are perilously close to each other. The former is jovial and irreverent, the latter is just a ridiculous lie told with far too much confidence for my liking. What I want to argue here is that talking bollocks is not just a fun past time but a playful activity with some merit in developing our ability to entertain others ideas and better temper our emotions when our own ideas are shown up.

For evidence of this, I take you back to Christmas and the realm of the geeky. A single line spoilt the Doctor Who special for me last year. ‘Those windows like everything in this building are built to stand a blast equivalent to four nuclear explosions’. Now this had me fuming, as surely a paper thin see through material couldn’t have this property. It threw me out of the fantasy; the writer wanted me to believe that some flimsy paper thin glass was super-duper nuclear proof, just because. So when I saw a friend for a pint the next day I brought it up thinking it would provide a great topic to have a comical moan about. Instead his response was, “that was fine”, to which I replied ‘it was wholly unbelievable and completely inconsistent with our expectations about how the world works’. He retorted with a smile “name a fantastical show that isn’t like that”, sticking to my guns ‘yeh, but it didn’t even have an internally consistent explanation’.  Then came his ace in the hole, ‘what about Ant Man?’ Now he was just playing games with me, he soon explained…  In Ant Man, when the character shrinks he becomes super dense and that means despite his size he can knock people out. Yet with no explanation when he becomes super big he somehow gets super strong when he really should be a flimsy balloon. My friend knew I absolutely loved the scene in Civil War when Ant Man went supersize and smashed the place up and that I hadn’t complained about inconsistencies then. My response was comically complicated; evolution had predisposed me to expect big things to do damage and so the inconsistency was easy to overlook as it chimed with my expectations. I smiled; I was on thin ice and knew it. My friend smiled for the same reason, ‘so when you go into a police box what do you expect?’ ‘Also the TARDIS is bigger on the inside because…’ Check and mate, I chuckled uproariously and then bought the next round. I might have been annoyed by the glass, but as a criticism of the writing it was pathetic in that it lacked consistency with my other opinions. Oh, the sweet irony.

I know this has been a bizarre post but I think its heart is in the right place. It’s easier to entertain others ideas and accept that you’re wrong when the conversation is ridiculous. More personally, if I can be so plainly wrong and yet emotionally vehement about something as easy going as a TV programme, then sadly I’m probably not much better in assessing the most important questions facing society. In the UK we seem to live in an increasingly polarized country, in which two sides both assume they’re completely right and so end up talking past one another. We need to talk more bollocks to each other and playfully trip each other’s irreverent opinions up. That way when we’re wrong about something important and someone points it out there’s a greater chance that we’ll have developed the skills to acknowledge this.

Of course this could all be a load of old bollocks on my part.

Falling With Style

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This shall be a day long remembered! Only the most ardent of my readers are likely to have read my long winded first post, but to recap when I first embarked upon this blog I set myself the challenge of three, knock your socks off,  are you out of your tiny mind, make you scream ‘I’m alive’ adventures. After several years of the boring and mundane I’d finally put my foot down and decided that this time it would be different. Having resolved myself to completing one every four months, I then entered into a rigorous regime of procrastination in which the wild side of life was forever postponed by the allegedly essential. Thus after a great deal of time passed, I suddenly felt a little low on realizing that this time it wasn’t any different. Only, as the totally crazy photographic evidence above shows, most unexpectedly and quite delightfully, this time it is different! I have undertaken a true out of this world worthy of a bucket list adventure. And as you’re about to find out I loved every precious second of it.

So there I am, strapped to a stranger sitting in a rickety plane flying two miles above the earth and I have to pinch myself it feels like a dream. There’s a red light that’s about to turn green and I can’t help but briefly imagine that I’m a commando on a super-secret mission in a war film. My imagination is working overtime, as I try to ignore the very basic mechanic that I will have to execute in order for this adventure to occur. I usually get a tad frightened on normal plane journeys and that’s without the thought that at some point during the ride I’m going to have to bloody well jump out of it. It turns out I didn’t need to jump, oh no! I had to cumbersomely sit down on the edge of the exit and then as I teetered on the abyss I had to cross my legs and wrap them around the fuselage. I then felt a light tap on my shoulders which was my cue to fall forward like an undignified drunk. Upon reflection, I think I would have much preferred a short swift jump.

Whoosh! The first few seconds of the jump are a total blur as a result of the fifty espressos worth of adrenalin that automatically pumped through my veins on account of me doing something very stupid. I came to my senses a little while in, to find the camera lady falling below trying to grab my attention, she was blowing kisses. I’ve desperately tried to avoid using this word, but it was truly surreal. It sounds mad but after the initial fright of exiting, the experience of falling was a wonderfully pleasant affair. A beautiful majestic scene before me coupled with the exhilarating and calming white noise of the wind gave me a brief moment of ecstatic clarity. It came to a close when the parachute deployed and I suddenly felt like I was pulled up to the heavens.  Looking at the amazing higgledy piggledy farmland below, we now fell gracefully as we gently twirled our way back to earth.  Arriving with a bump, I was brimming ear to ear with joy having experienced the extraordinary.

I can safely say that exiting a plane from extreme height is terrifying but I also cannot recommend this experience highly enough. After the initial shock, the fall is pure magic. I’d like to give a big thank you, to all the wonderful people at the London Parachute School who made this most excellent adventure happen.

I’m Alive!!!

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Word on the Water

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If there’s one word I’d use to describe ‘Word on the Water’, it would be charming. There’s something incredibly magical in the simple idea of combining a canal barge with a book shop. You look at the barge and go wow, it’s quaint, eccentric, and oozes character. Like Herbie the Love Bug, you can’t help but think that it’s alive. You can just picture this beautiful rickety barge in a fantastical story and yet here it is in dull old reality beckoning you to partake in a literary reprieve. It’s not complicated, and one could just write it off as another bookshop with a gimmick. But as a frame for emphasising the wonders and endless possibilities that reading has to offer, I think it is hard to deny that it’s perfect. If I had children this is the first bookshop I would want to take them to. I’m really glad I dropped by this charming bookshop today. I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit this place but given that it’s so close to some big attractions, platform nine and three quarters anyone, I can find no reason why you shouldn’t swing by. On a sunny day it is truly sublime.

I’m completely exhausted after a most hectic day, so I’m afraid to say that I’ll just let the photo’s do the rest of the talking for me today.

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London’s Monster Supplies

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One of the things I love most about London is the way it can remind you at practically any moment of the sheer wonder and absurdity of existence. Such occurrences are infrequent enough never to be considered dull and yet somehow simultaneously manage to be frequent enough to be considered a regular fixture in one’s life. Bored out of your brains, desperately trying to write something for your blog, you look out the window completely lost only to see a grey hound dressed as an AT AT walker from Star Wars go by. You slip out the door for a closer look, and chuckle as you consider if it’s possible to get arrested for stalking a dog. You don’t get anything written that day, but now you’re armed with a spectacular excuse. Or, there you are on a beautiful summers day, drinking coffee with a friend, completely content, when out of nowhere a hundred odd people dressed as zombies suddenly go by. A brilliant day made brilliant-er by the oddest of occurrences. Or, it’s been a hard day, you listlessly stroll along, deep in thought bemoaning your lot, when suddenly a part of your brain pipes up to inform you that you have just walked past an abandoned Russian tank.  How it got there and who painted it pink, you ask, but there are no immediate answers. Face to face with the inexplicable, all you can do is smile, as whatever you were worrying about suddenly evaporates. No matter ones mood, Lady London will always find ways to interject and remind you of the, sparkling, majestic, joy, that life can offer if you just look around once in a while.

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Quite recently I took the liberty of giving the world a good old look around, and to my considerable good fortune spied a most excellent little oddity. I was in Hoxton market minding my own business when my mind was set ablaze as I beheld a monster supplies shop! Flabbergasted, I quickly checked I wasn’t in Diagon Alley, and once assured of this, simply stood in awe as a sense of childlike wonder came over me. The shop, with the exception of the signs, had the appearance of a painting and decorating supplier. As I entered I noted that the sign outside permitted only one giant to enter at a time. Inside I found a host of interestingly labelled tins and jars. The items had some truly marvellous balderdash written upon them. Having annoyed the invisible cat Wells, I grew concerned that the overly friendly staff might eat me. Fortunately I managed to appease the despicably friendly fiends that managed the shop by making a few purchases. For the record I bought a vague sense of unease and some salt made from the tears of boredom.

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I cannot express the pure whimsical delight that I found myself experiencing on suddenly discovering this place. I later learned that this inexplicable store with its strange supplies helps support the Ministry of Stories, which is an organisation that pairs professional writers with children so as to induct them into the great art of yarn telling. If you’re ever in Hoxton market I strongly recommend you check this place out and while you’re at it be sure to buy some overpriced knick knacks and help this fantastic enterprise out.

In the meantime be sure to keep your eyes peeled for life’s pleasant surprises.

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A Little More Pollocks

Last week I had a reader request a few more photo’s of Pollocks toy museum, so as to get a real sense of this little wonder. Ever keen to bring reading satisfaction, LWA is proud to present, by popular demand,  a second helping of toy treasures.

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I do apologise for the terrible reflections in some of the photo’s but it was unavoidable given the sunny day! Looking back over all these treasures, I must say that I fancy another trip. I do hope the photos will inspire a few people reading to venture forth and visit this most excellent museum.

 

Jameson Gold Reserve

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Astute eagle eyed detective that you are, you may well have noticed that I haven’t bloody well posted a new article in five weeks! I do sincerely apologize for this dear reader, but my arch nemesis Darth Real Life has once again been snapping at my heels with the essential and oh so boring side of existence. Not to be melodramatic or anything. Still the waters have calmed and I declare that once more I shall prove an outstanding citizen and upholder of all that is light hearted and whimsical. This glittering citadel of foolishness is once again open, hurrah! To this end, please find below a most splendiferous St Patricks whiskey special, which has arrived but a month late. One can only assume it took the scenic route.

The Irish make some of the finest, most incredibly unique, and wonderfully complex whiskeys in the world. It thus astounds me that people celebrating St Patricks day around the world, usually honour the Irish by dumping green dye in their beer. God forbid that they might try some culturally significant, knock your socks off whiskey, which will get them drunk twice as fast. Thus let me bang the drum for one of Ireland’s greatest achievements, honestly it’s up there with Joyce and Beckett. Irish whiskey has two unique defining features. Firstly it is triple distilled which makes it incredibly smooth and easy to drink. Secondly it is made in pot stills that mix malted and un-malted barley, this practice came about as a means to keep costs down when the English introduced a tax on malted barley in 1785. The result is a whiskey which can have a great deal of complexity at a young age. Generally speaking Irish whiskeys are lighter and less bombastic than their Scottish cousins, but at their best they offer an incredible array of delicate flavours which are positively mind blowing. As introductions to this style go, you can’t go wrong with Green Spot and Redbreast 12. However in this instance I’ve opted to review Jameson’s Gold Reserve as it’s more widely available and a personal favourite of mine. Enough with the history lesson, let’s get on with the tasting notes!!!

Jameson Gold Reserve has a pleasant gentle nose, with honey, vanilla, green apple, and a majestic menthol mint. It’s an odd thing to say but it smells smooth. Upon hitting the taste buds, this whiskey springs to life, first with vanilla and sweet honey, then a brief toffee banana that somehow seamlessly blends into green apple and bitter gooseberry. The finish has some more gooseberry, incredible virgin oak tannins, and a subtle black pepper. It’s crisp and dry, which makes the whole experience feel refreshing. Ultimately I think this blended whiskey is a master class in perfectly combining bitter and sweet notes. If you’ve never had an Irish whiskey before you’re in for a treat and personally I think the Gold Reserve once acquainted with is sure to become a lifelong friend, Sláinte.

Verdict: The Wild Rover

Score: 90/100

 

Pollock’s Toy Museum

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A museum full of toys that has a name that rhymes with bollocks. It’s fair to say that Pollock’s was an easy sell for this big kid. It specializes in 19th century toys but has a wide array of playthings from all sorts of periods. Sadly a few highlight the offensive attitudes that Europeans have held at various moments in history. Thankfully the sparkling joy of childhood play makes up the majority of the items. Like so many of the unusual museums that are dotted around this part of the city Pollock’s is on the small side and some may be put off by the £6 entrance fee. I’m so glad I wasn’t one of them. It may be on the small side, but there are intriguing sights and items of interest everywhere in Pollock’s. Little gems included, the saucy Fraulein’s from 1925 with a string that lifts up their skirts, a four thousand year old clay rat from ancient Egypt that has moving wooden tail and mouth, and oh look Buzz and Woody are attempting to escape the museum! I also really liked the row of Russian nesting dolls that had Brezhnev, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin at the centre. It didn’t make my top three little gems though. It could have but alas where for art thou Putin?

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My favourite section in the museum without a doubt was filled with giant toy theatres. They were so beautifully crafted, with such an amazing eye for detail. One could imagine what a delight to play with they were, and I could just picture kids putting on a play with cardboard cut outs for Mum and Dad to enjoy. A close second in the favourites department was a room packed to the rafters with exquisite and oh so creepy Victorian dolls. The creaking wooden floors of the museum added an atmosphere of suspense and for a moment I could not help but feel that I was in a horror film. I should also mention the awesome 1950’s alien, robot, spaceman, Goodness. How could I possibly forget that! As a child who was constantly pew pewing laser death at the world, these incredible tin toys were my childhood dreams come to life!!!  At the end of the museum tour one is faced with the ultimate test of willpower, a shop full of toys. I was dismayed by how many grownups effortlessly succeeded at this ultimate test. Let me assure you dear reader that I was not one of them. All in all, I had a rather jolly and dare I say it fanciful hour of imaginary wondering walking round this museum. I definitely recommend the trip.

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Swingers (Crazy Golf)

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Having done a ton of work last week and organized what I hope will prove a most excellent Bachelor’s Party; I was most pleased to suddenly have a day all to myself. At last time to read philosophy, create art, and realize my potential! To be honest I mostly watched TV and worked on my couch potato skills. Nevertheless the day was not without some adventure.  For today I put pay to life’s boring bits and enjoyed some silly fun with a spot of golf in the City. Located right next to the Gherkin, Swingers is a terrific bar which has two awesome and dare I say it fiendish pitch and putt courses inside it. Entry is yours for a mere ten pounds. A great deal of my cousins are amazing at golf, I mean they’ve won trophies and stuff. As such, I’ve always harboured delusions that I would one day try golf and just find that I’m super humanly good at it. Thus today I was really looking forward to playing with my friend, stoked by the fantasy of finding a hidden talent. Unfortunately the bounder never showed up and sent a txt at the last second with a lame excuse as to why. Thus Johnny no mates found himself playing golf all alone.

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On this day however, the Gods were with me! It wasn’t long after I started to play, that I was joined by three incredibly kind staff members, Soli, Jasmine, and Ally. They let me try the second course for free, bought me a drink, and were fantastic fun. So a huge THANK YOU to them. On the hidden talent front, initial evidence was promising. I got a hole in one on an insanely difficult shot that involved a jump. Further scientific investigation though, indicated this to be a complete fluke. At the end of the day, it was hard not to conclude that my innate talent was average maximus. The real star in our group was Jasmine, who pulled off some super smooth shots and made it look easy, she won by a mile. All in all, I had a wonderful time at Swingers and think it’s a great bar to go to if you’re in the mood for some kick ass shenanigans. Once again I’d like to thank the super kind, Soli, Jasmine, and Ally, who went above and beyond the call of duty to make my day blooming brilliant. I cannot recommend this place highly enough.

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Poit Dhubh 12

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The common reaction of most people on seeing a bottle of this stuff for the first time is a look of bewildered bemusement, as they try to work out how the hell you’re meant to pronounce Poit Dhubh. I have it on good authority (the back of the bottle) that it’s pronounced Potch Ghoo and that it’s Gaelic for illicit still. Though I must confess that I’m still a little baffled as to how one gets from reading Poit Dhubh to saying Potch Ghoo, but I digress. Four years ago I received my first bottle of Potch Ghoo for Christmas, I had never heard of this blended whisky from the Isle of Skye before, and hence was a little dubious as to the quality of the contents of the bottle. As so often in life, I need not have worried, as the contents proved positively mind blowing. A fantastic whisky most people had never heard of, it soon became a frequent topic of conversation. More recently I was in a newsagent and to my considerable surprise I discovered perched on their top shelf a single bottle of this uncommon whisky. I wasted no time at all and immediately bought the bottle, eager to discover whether my younger self had a bloody clue in what he was talking about!!!

Anyhoo enough with the backstory, let’s get on to the tasting notes of this magnificent dram! The nose has some honey, a hint of sea salt, plenty of sherry, and a pleasant smokiness that has an uncanny resemblance to the smell of the vanilla tobacco that a friend uses. The drink itself is full of twists and turns. Initially one is presented with incredibly sweet honey, next a toffee note, followed by salted caramel, some sherry, a zingy bitter lemon then emerges, before a delightful peat draws proceedings to a close. The finish is fairly long; it’s peppery, with plenty of peat, some oak, and a faint reminder of sherry. In this manner, Poit Dhubh delivers a wondrous drinking experience. A fantastic quality whisky, of considerable complexity, at a decent price, I strongly recommend you give it a try.

Verdict: A nimble acrobatic display of varied flavours!

Score 88/100