How To Be A Traveller (Not a Tourist)

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Tourists. Don’t you just hate them? Standing around on the pavement taking photos, blocking the doorways on the tube or babbling away loudly on the bus when you’re trying to read your book. Why can’t they be more like the natives; soaking up the real experience of the places they visit? That, fair friends, is the difference between a tourist and a traveller. The traveller makes their own decisions. They go to a foreign land to see what it really has to offer. The tourist goes to another country and laps up a packaged experience. Be honest; how often have you been that tourist? The guy claiming the sun lounger with his towel at 6.30 in the morning? The girl pickled in sangria, one shoe lost in the high street? The next time you go away, be a traveller instead – doing what the locals do and going where the experience takes you. You’ll come home a a lot more interesting than you were before you set off. Stay in one place for a while Get any train from London Kings Cross to Aberdeen and you’ll be seated near an American family “doing” Europe. There’s a least one in every…

The Weirdest Things Found Inside Something Else

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As a civilisation, we love things being inside other things. Meat inside bread forms the globes favourite food: the sandwich! People inside rooms creates the best sort of dwelling: a house! Men with big beards inside caves are our most enjoyable type of weirdo: the hermit! But occasionally, due to human error or witchcraft, things that are never supposed to be in other things end up in other things. And then the internet writes about it. Here is just a smattering of bizarre items that have unexpectedly turned up within stuff they shouldn’t have. A CHILD IN A PARCEL Fans of the Velvet Underground will know the tale of poor Waldo who, in the song The Gift, who mails himself to his girlfriend in a big box with disastrous results. But Waldo wasn’t the first to try this. After the US postal service was created in 1913, people immediately started taking the mickey and pushing this new novelty enterprise to its limits by seeing what weird stuff they could send to each other. Including, in 1913, a baby which the Beauge family of Ohio sent parcel post to it’s grandmother, as it was cheaper than the train. Even though the…

How To Be Interesting

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Let me make one thing painfully clear. I am an idiot. I am not smart at all. My intellectual capacities are considered poor at best. Nicknames I have endured during my life have included ‘Dummy’, ‘Gumpy’ and ‘Old Dung For Brains’. But, by listening to people who are smarter than me and by taking covert notes or secretly recording them, I have picked up a few salient phrases and culturally relevant sentences that make me sound vaguely clever when dropped into the heart of a conversation. Let me share them with you. If, after you let one of these beauties fly, someone questions you further, either fake a heart attack or burst into tears. Then run. “YOU KNOW THE STAR WARS FILMS HAVE SUFFERED SINCE THEY STOPPED BEING BASED ON KUROSAWA FILMS” Perfect for dropping into conversations with film buffs, comic book nerds or sci-fi geeks. The parallels between the first Star Wars film and Akira Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress have been drawn for years and George Lucas admitted that he basically stole the plot from the Japanese film, then changed it significantly, then stole it again for Phantom Menace. Works best when spoken snottily. “WITH THE RITE OF SPRING,…

7 Reasons To Carry A Penknife

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You’re heading out the front door, checking your pockets. You’ve got your wallet, phone, keys… What’s missing? Ah – yes. Your penknife. Because no right-minded person leaves the house without one. More properly, no-one should be without a multipurpose penknife; like the famous Swiss Army Knife by Victorinox. We’d suggest going for a Victorinox Spartan Pocket Tool or Swiss Army Hiker Knife. Some multipurpose knives are overkill, but both these models are compact, useful tools you can pop into your pocket and forget. Until you need them, that is. And you need them more than you think. 1. Cut things up Yep – it’s a knife, so it’s ideal for cutting things up. Chop up your Snickers bar in half, divide your sandwich and save a bit for later or slice a banana into your porridge in the morning. Our personal fave; use a penknife to carve up and eat an apple. Sounds like a waste of time? Your Grandad probably ate apples with his trusty pocket knife, avoiding all the icky brown bits and worm holes hiding under the skin. Bonus points: slicing up an apple also makes much less mess than chomping into one bite by bite. Grandad…

9 Sexy Memes That Went Extinct

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Amazingly, sex was not invented by the Millennials. We did have erotic artefacts and suggestive materials back in the deep, dark, pre-internet days. They were all just really, really weird. And not very sexy. Almost as if we couldn’t really cope with that actual hanky-panky itself and had to dress the whole process up in a variety of novelty items and odd movements. They truly were innocent, baffling times. RUDE FOOD Back in the early 1980’s, pictures of naked people were considered far more acceptable and tantalising when a variety of fruits and vegetables were stuck on top of or near to the participants private parts. In the old days, you couldn’t move for nudes with a tastefully draped pineapple obscuring their modesty or else a couple of kumquats replicating the disguised organs, released as several volumes of a hardback, coffee table book called Rude Food. Many confused newlyweds fruitlessly searched for the fruit on their honeymoon. SUGGESTIVE ARM GESTURES Drop a sexy lady into any 1970’s sitcom or saucy English movie and you would be guaranteed to see a vicar tugging at his shirt collar before riding his bike into a hedge and a labourer of some variety vigorously…

How to Start A Fire With No Matches Or Lighter

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Everyone knows how to make fire. You just take out a lighter and flick a switch – or strike a match. But what if you don’t have those things? What if you’re stuck in the wilderness with just what you’re wearing between you and the elements? Clue: your new name is “Wolf Food”. Maybe not. The ability to make fire is what separates us from animals. Chimpanzees can use tools and communicate with sign language, but the minute they learn how to build a bonfire this’ll be Planet of the Apes. Fire civilises. It brings light and warmth to the most inhospitable places. It dries us when we’re wet and lets us cook our food. It scares away creatures that mean us harm and stops us from perishing from hypothermia in the desert night. It keeps us alive. So, if there’s one thing you should learn to do  – one thing you have a duty to learn as a human being – it’s how to make fire. Sparks As Bruce Springsteen will tell you, you can’t start a fire without a spark. Well, you can – but using a spark is a classic method. It’s how your lighter works, after all. Sparks…

British Summer Time: 11 Things You Won’t See Anywhere Else

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Ahhhhhh! Is there anything more glorious than a British summer? The intrigue, the confusion, the unpredictability. Sadly, other countries have to suffer the unfortunate condition whereby they endure months of uniform heat and sunshine. Now how is that supposed to keep you on your toes and form character? No, give me the UK summertime any day with it’s biting winds, sudden sleet and lobster red participants. And when you do luxuriate in our finest of seasons, keep your eye out for these idiosyncratic happenings. DOGS OUTSIDE PUBS DRINKING WATER FROM FRAY BENTOS TINS Some locations have their palm trees, tranquil lakes and unusual insects. But I challenge you to find any other country that has so many hot dogs standing in the street noisily lapping water from an oven-baked pie tin.  It brings a lump to the throat every time you witness it, especially if it’s a labrador. BUSINESSMEN LOOKING CONSPICUOUS AS THEY EAT SOLEROS Some things just look out of place when wearing a suit. Limboing. Deep fat frying. And, of course, eating luxury ice lollies. But once the temperature hits a certain point, you simply have no choice except to duck into a newsagents and avail yourself of…

How to Play Guitar: Get Your First Gig In Seven Days

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To become an expert in anything, it takes 10,000 hours practice. Stuff that, we say. You can learn how to play guitar in about seven days. Most of those days will be spent practicing over and over until your fingers feel like they’re made of leather – but it can, we promise, be done. First, gather together all the stuff you will need: An acoustic guitar Some plectra (the plural of “plectrum”) A guitar strap A capo (we’ll explain this later) Three chords Finger tips of steel (these will come with practice) Why an acoustic guitar? Electric guitars are more expensive and they require additional stuff to work, like an amplifier and electricity. You can play an acoustic guitar anywhere. Also, you don’t need to spend a lot on an acoustic guitar. You can pick up a playable instrument new for under £100. If you don’t mind buying second-hand, you can halve that. Take a muso friend with you when you buy your guitar to make sure it’s not a lemon. Or just borrow your muso friend’s guitar. Much cheaper. Plectrums are the little plastic doohickeys you use to strum the strings of your guitar. Get half a dozen, medium thickness from any…

How To Avoid Any Socially Awkward Situation

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Whether it’s a wedding with a hidden agenda, a christening that goes too far or simply a party-based conversation that is making you consider a trip to the Dignitas clinic, we all find ourselves in awkward social situations with alarming frequency. And unless you’re an Estate Agent, you don’t want to just use rudeness to extract yourself from the arena of woe. So how can you get out of there without any lasting damage to your standing in the community? Here are a few tips, tricks and techniques… START CRYING The water that leaps from your face can be the fuel for your escape in practically every terrible scenario. No matter what the conversation concerns or the occasion denotes, once things are starting to veer towards the interminable, just place a hand to your cheek, say something like ‘Oh Martin, how could you?’ while staring off into the distance and let the waterworks fly. If they insist on helping you in your time of emotional grief, just tell them you need to take an important tablet and head to the bathroom. MAKE YOUR PHONE DO SOMETHING Why were the bad old days so bad? Because no one had a mobile phone that…

How To Make Steamy Movie Scenes Less Embarrassing

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Obviously, the find the whole idea of X-rated entertainment and erotic cinematic elements to be vile and unethical. But there is no escaping it. We are now bombarded with love scenes from every television soap opera, foreign film and petrol station forecourt. And we are appalled. What about us pure, upstanding individuals who are forced to experience this stuff? Surely there’s some room for invention in an attempt to keep us feeling less embarrassed, especially if our mum is in the room? I believe the following elements would vastly  improve adult situations when they crop up and make them more palatable to those of us who consider the whole thing utterly wicked. TRIVIA SECTION If you are of a queasy nature (like myself) you’ll often be squirming in your seat when some rude scenario suddenly appears on screen. But if some competition element was introduced, I could be entertained and distracted during those bits. Perhaps a Krypton Factor style observation quiz could be added, with questions appearing at the end of the scene along the lines of ‘What colour were the curtains?’, ‘Which female celebrity does that lady look like?’ or ‘How would you react if your gran walked in right now?’ Just for…