Monthly Archives: August 2011

Parties: What to expect as a teenager

Teenage Parties by Tom NashParties. When you’re tiny they mean presents, games and all the e-numbers you can eat. When you’re a ‘tween’ (that period after primary school but before body hair) they mean shit pop music, all the boys on one side and all the girls on the other and at the end of the night, an awkward slow dance with whoever hasn’t already been asked. Ah, bless.

Teenage parties, however, are a whole ‘nother animal completely. Aside from the obligatory stabbings, fag burns in the carpet, broken windows and underage drinking, here’s a few of the partygoers you may bump into:
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Twitter: Who’s on your timeline

Twitter by Tom NashTwitter, like Facebook, is a social network but unlike Facebook, you are restricted to using 140 characters to inform people of things nobody else cares about. It also makes it easier to interact with wonderful creative types, such as the musicians you listen to and writers whose books, television programmes or films you enjoy, as anyone who thinks they’re anyone has an account.

A few months ago, the British press lauded Twitter for its part in spreading the word about protests in the so called ‘Arab Spring’ demonstrations across the middle-east and Africa. Then as recently as last week, it was denounced as a tool for disorder while parts of England burned, before Blackberry’s BBM became the latest social network to reach pariah status. But we’ve covered that already.

Not familiar with the tweet phenomenon? Here’s what you can expect:
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UK Riots: Thoughts from a Croydon boy

The London riots by Tom NashSo a week has passed since, to quote the immortal Martin Lawrence, ‘the shit got real’ in various areas of London, Birmingham, Manchester and some other cities I don’t care about enough to look up.

Many more eloquent and learned people than myself have shared their thoughts on what caused this spectacular series of events in the days that followed… and David Starkey too, so I’m not about to offer my theories on the whole affair. Instead, here are a couple of observations on the reactions to the disorder:

Social networking tools are the new Gangsta Rap
AAHHH!! A new thing the establishment doesn’t fully understand.

At first it was down to Facebook. Then we all realised that the people who were using that to organise looting were too thick to implement the security settings on their account and were therefore easy to trace and laugh at.

So blame then moved to Twitter, but those of us that actually use it and don’t get needlessly defensive whenever the site is mentioned soon stepped in to explain that it is just spambots, celebrities, aspiring writers and people who have transcended Facebook status updates that use Twitter and anyways; that shit’s more public than Facebook, just ask Paul Chambers.

Then someone in the news media heard about BBM (that means Blackberry Messenger, Grandpa) and got confused enough to get scared. Ladies and gentleman, our ‘fall-guy’.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s it was Gangsta Rap-influenced young people that friendly middle-class white people were instructed to fear. While young people are still terrifying, it is only occasionally that Hip Hop is considered scary nowadays so we top up our fear with other things that will herald the apocalypse… like video games and hooded sweatshirts.

Extreme behaviour wasn’t restricted to the streets
As I grew up in Croydon, plenty of people on my ‘friend list’ on Facebook are also from the town. Last week, as the BBC News Channel broadcast live pictures of Reeves Corner burning (and I’m sure those images were in no way influential in anyone’s decisions to go robbing, by the way. Absolutely certain they didn’t exacerbate the situation even a little bit.), the statuses started.

From the obligatory ‘Just saw you on the telly’ message from friends in as yet unsmashed towns to people sharing their outrage and disbelief, all emotions and ideological perspectives were soon covered.

However, disturbingly enough, the status that appeared more than anything was ‘they’ll regret burning down the chicken shop when it’s lunchtime tomorrow’ and variants of. In fact, before long, there were so many racist statuses popping up on my newsfeed that Facebook even started lumping all the racists together in a useful bundle for easy avoidance.

Yes, stealing is wrong. Yes, of course attacking people is abhorrent, nobody is saying otherwise. But your persistent casual racism? Just as emblematic of the issues facing twenty-first century Britain as every second of footage recorded last week…

Supermarkets: Who you can expect to see (Part two)

Supermarkets by Tom NashThis is a topic that can run and run.

More of the delightful people that frequent your local branch of whatever:

The aisle-hog
Usually a woman of a certain vintage. Just like on the High Street, she is oblivious to anyone else in the vicinity and mooches about at a snail’s pace like the fucking Queen of Tesco, stopping in the most inappropriate places. Value personal space? You better forget about that when she’s around; browse in one place too long and you’ll find a trolley nestled into the back of your legs and a crazy old lady standing closer to you than your better half when you get intimate. They are also responsible for the majority of trolleys left blocking access to aisles as they waddle off to get something they forgot from the other side of the store.

The lad
Usually dressed in a dirty tee shirt and sweatpants, there’s only one section of the shop he’s interested in… BEER!! If he’s with his friends expect any conversation to be held at volumes usually reserved for when you’re standing next to a speaker in a nightclub. Oh and chances are every second word will be ‘fuck’, even if he’s talking about his mother.

The student
There’s two types: The FE student and the undergraduate.

The FE student will be found anywhere there’s a large college but no McDonalds or rubbish chicken shop nearby, always as part a group and will generally be obnoxious and rude, as they are still trapped in the all-consuming vapidity that is teenage life.

The undergraduate is different. While also found in groups, the supermarket experience is new and exciting and is treated like a fun day out… Until the reality of a student budget hits home and the contents of their baskets change from fresh fruit and veg, brand name biscuits and chicken breast to value noodles, potatoes and whatever’s in the clearance bit. Then it’s a more subdued affair.

The stoner
Late in the evening they descend on 24 hour stores like a scene from a Zombie film. They can be found in either the crisps, biscuits or cake aisles contemplating what to buy with a seriousness you only usually encounter when you go to an airport. All night petrol stations are gutted; they used to have the late night snack market sewn up, now most Tescos sell Krispy Kreme doughnuts, competition is FIERCE.

Missed part one? Click here.

Supermarkets: Who you can expect to see (Part one)

Supermarkets by Tom NashThe local supermarket. Surely the best place to go if you want to get a feel for an area.

Now I don’t mean ‘this town has a Lidl- hahahaha, poor people must live here’, after all, there’s a Waitrose in the centre of Croydon and I am willing to guess that quail’s eggs aren’t a big seller in there.

And anyone who doesn’t live with their head up their own arse knows they’re more likely to meet a talking dog than stumble across someone from money who actually has manners and social skills. So forget about the preconceptions you hold regarding each individual supermarket chain (Sainsbury’s sells Special Brew too, you know), it is the produce on sale and the freakshows buying it that betrays the true aspiration levels of a community.

But enough of the Sociology bullshit. Let’s get categorising your fellow shoppers with ill-informed and sweepingly judgemental statements:

The hen-pecked fella
When he’s with the missus, his role is to push the trolley, reach things from high shelves and do any heavy lifting. That is all. If he’s on his own, he’ll be buying Tampax. That is all.

The builder at lunchtime
All he wants is to pay for his fahking sandwich and copy of The Sun so he can get back to work, but instead, fate has conspired against him and now he’s stuck in the queue behind someone doing their fahking weekly shop. He is not happy about this and for some reason, feels that everyone nearby should be aware of just how put out he feels.

If he just went to the self-service till, he would’ve been done ten minutes ago, but no; this fella can operate machinery that in the wrong hands can kill people, but a touch-screen is way too advanced; he ‘don’t do that computer shit.’

The man who’s given up
Not hard to find. Just bypass the fruit and veg section entirely and go straight to the ready-meal aisle. He’ll be wheezing his way along it, seeking out the microwavable Spaghetti Bolognese for one. As you pass him, sneak a peek in his basket (it’s never a trolley). Fray Bentos pies, right? Right.

The regretful mum
It’s the eyes that give them away. They’re glazed over, almost cadaverous. Her body may well be in the chilled meats aisle with her tribe of brats, but her mind is somewhere else entirely. Maybe on a beach somewhere hot. Maybe at home with a pillow, a firm grip and a blank stare… She’ll be that one mum that’s not afraid of threatening her kids with violence in front of strangers, as in her mind the idea of prison seems akin to a lovely holiday.

The judgemental shit on checkout
If you have the audacity to go to their checkout having, by mistake, left your canvas ‘bag for life’ at home, prepare for your level of service to fall somewhere between ‘stroppy teenager after bollocking by step-parent they don’t like’ and ‘Daily Mail reader interacting with immigrant.’ If that’s how they handle a mere slip of the mind, lets hope that nobody ever shits on their conveyor belt, eh?

Want to read more? This post’s about shopping