Friday, 9 October 2009

On foreign language faux-pas

Two shorts here -

A couple of months ago, my friend from Sweden was visiting me here in Vienna. She did ok with speaking the odd word of German whenever needed but could never get the hang of the word for sorry or excuse me - 'Entschuldigung'. She said it reminded her of the word 'Golliwogg', since most people pronounce it kind of like 'shulligung'.

Anyways, following one particularly drunken evening, myself, her and another visiting friend got into a taxi. She decided to apologise for her innebriated state and so exclaimed, loudly, "GOLLIWOGG DRIVER!"

If you're unsure what a Golliwogg is, see here:

So why was this so ill-advised? Well, since the taxi driver was a black man, I suppose her outburst is the equivalent of yelling "PAKI WAITER!" whilst sitting in an Indian restaurant.

Luckily, either he didn't hear, didn't understand, or somehow wasn't offended.

Then last month I was paying her a return visit in Stockholm. Whilst sitting on the underground I asked her how to pronounce a particular word I'd seen on a newspaper headline. The word was 'Flycktingen'. She found it hilarious that I couldn't pronounce it correctly, and I found it increasingly frustrating - apparently I was adding a 'h' sound after the 't' which shouldn't have been there, and this confused me greatly since when I asked her to say it correctly and then to say what I was saying, I could discern no difference whatsoever. That's why I suck at languages I guess.

Anyway, I sat there repeating the word over and over, until she started giggling and urging me to stop.

It was the word for 'refugee', and I'd been looking absent-mindedly (but probably staring aggressively in their eyes) at a family of Middle Eastern looking folk.

Friday, 28 August 2009

On laziness

I just re-read through this entire blog. All the good stuff's at the beginning. Either my life isn't as exciting these days, I'm not as accomplished an embellisher/storyteller anymore, or I've just gotten lazy and desperate.

I can think of at least three seperate events I've experienced lately that last year I would have made into some mildly amusing anecdotes, but I just never bothered writing them up and now the moments have passed.

If you're new to this blog, I'd recommend skipping back to its conception and reading those. If you like, then maybe read the new stuff. Or maybe not.

Friday, 21 August 2009

On ants

I fucking hate having ants in my flat. I've no idea how to get rid of them. It's not like there are ever large visible hordes of them (unless I leave food out) but it's still pretty vile having a few running around my bedroom and kitchen floor. What the fuck are ants doing hanging out on the 6th floor anyway?!

I have ant traps, but they're not much use unless I know where they are coming from. Yesterday, having tried and failed reasoning with them I decided to set a trap. I noticed a few on the floor in my room so strategically placed tiny pieces of ham and bread in their path. One went for the ham, so I painstakingly followed him, and to my dismay found that he went back into hiding via a crack between my floorboards! If that's how they are getting in and out I don't stand a chance against the little fuckers since there are literally hundreds of these cracks. Anyway, being the professional I am, I sellotaped over that particular one, leaving the little guy's followers somewhat confused. One of them then went for the bread, so I got down on my knees and followed him. After almost an hour of tracking (I think he was wise to my game as he kept doubling back on himself in an attempt to throw me off the trail) he finally headed towards a relatively large crack in the corner of the skirting board. The breadcrumb was a bit too large to get through so he hollered to his mates for help, and when they emerged, I squished the lot, taped up the hole, and laid the trap there. So far so good...

Friday, 17 July 2009

On a refreshing change from the norm - a continuation of sorts

Fucking mental perhaps, but also refreshing. Here's the deal:

My last post here detailed the gist of my trying to get an internet connection sorted at my new flat here in Vienna (I can't be bothered to check what I wrote right now so I may well repeat a bit here - deal with it).

Basically, I spoke for longer than accustomed to, to a slightly odd, yet very friendly lady on the phone, who began asking questions about my personal life, albeit in a non-invasive way. She'd informed me that within a couple of days I'd receive an email with a form I needed to fill in and return and then Id be internetagogo. A couple of days pass, no email. It was vexing me slightly as it means I have to patronise various pubs and cafes in order to use their free wireless, since the one I was leeching from a neighbour suddenly stopped working. Lousy neighbor. I sent my crazy internet lady an email asking when I'd be likely to receive the forms. She emailed back explaining how she'd had a busy Monday so hadn't been able to call but would try to call me the following day. OK, fair enough I thought.

A cople more days passed and still no contact. I tried calling the number she'd left but apparently it didn't exist. Frustrating. Then I got a call from her last night:

"I'm very angry," she said. "You have to understand, I thought I could count on people." She did indeed sound distressed.
"What's wrong?" I asked. Already I'd decided she was nice, and that it probably wasn't her fault."
"He sent the forms to the wrong email address, the idiot," she protested, "I didn't know. I can't be expected to check on every outgoing email here. Thank you so much for your email - I would never have known otherwise."

he more she spoke, the more endearing I found her, her accented English making her plight (which was really my own) seem even more heartbreaking. She explained that she'd see to it that the forms were resent, to the correct address, immediately, sighing and apologising the whole time. I stressed that it wasn't a big deal and thanked her for her attempts to recify the error, a smile on my face the whole time. She sounded so sweet and well-meaning.

So we got that sorted - end of phone call right? But then she wished me a good evening and began telling me how she had the weekend off and would be going to Prague. And then it got odd, but amusingly, rather than irritatingly so. She'd just bought some Stoff (she implored me to tell her the English word - it's material), and with it would be constructing hats.

"I'll make one with fishes. Fishes on Stoff. It'll be like wearing an aquarium!" (giggle).

I'm stifling giggles myself here, but wanting to hear more, so humouring her as best I can.

"And one hat will be red with bells. Like a wizard's hat!"

God bless this lady and her hatmaking eccentricities.

The conversation, post internet sorting, lasted 20 minutes, and left me with a grin and aching cheeks

I truly hope she has a good time in Prague. When my internet is sorted I will be calling her regularly with invented problems, just to hear her madness some more.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

On stupid people and odd people

I just moved into a new flat here in Vienna and have been trying to get hooked up to the internet. I chose the package I wanted - I'm a bit ignorant when it comes to all the technical terms, but I knew it had the download speed I wanted, and I could use it via ethernet as my computer's not set up for wireless. I ordered it online and waited for a phone call.

A couple of days ago it came, from a lady who didn't seem to have a clue. After the initial greetings and confirmations, her first question relating to the actual setup was, "Which kind of Fritz Box do you want?" I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in not having a fucking clue what a Fritz Box is. So I asked. She laughed as if I was an idiot for not knowing and then proceeded to explain:

"Well, the free one is an old model. The newer one will cost you 39 Euros, or something like that, I'm not sure exactly."

Well, that's cleared it up. Thanks.

"What is a Fritz Box?"
"It's the modem you need."
"Ah, ok. And what benefits would the one I have to pay for give me?"
"Well, it has 3 antennas."
"Three antennas for what?"
"Well, the old one only has one."

You're shitting me - what kind of a sucker uses only one antenna?

"What do I need antennae for?"
"It's for wireless..."
"Ah, yeah, like I explained before - I don't need wireless. Give me the free one."

I thought that was settled, but she proceeded to talk nonsense for ages, before I practically had to shout at her to just give me the free one.

Then she started asking questions about where I was from, and why I'd moved to Vienna and did I have a girlfriend here... fucking hell! Just hook me up to some internet already!

Then on Tuesday, at the pub I work in, this occurred:

"Hi, are you open?" (I had 3 tables of people in already)
"I saw the sign outside. I'd like to order breakfast."
"I'm afraid we only do breakfasts on the weekends."
"But it's Tuesday."
"Could you not make me eggs and bacon please?"
"No. I have no eggs. We buy them on Saturday morning for the breakfasts. Which is only served on weekends, as the sign says."
"But you don't look busy. Just some eggs and bacon."
"I have no eggs, regardless of whether I'm busy or not."
"But Billa (supermarket) is just around the corner."
"Then you'll be able to get yourself some eggs on your way home. Now, can I get you anything else?"

With that she grunted and left. Stupid bitch.

Today I had an experience with a more pleasant weirdo.

First she came up to me and asked what year the film The Gift was from. I said it was 2000 and for some reason this made her laugh and say, "It doesn't matter."

Then she went downstairs to the video shop, which was closed, and started looking around in the dark until I called her back up.

Then she said, "If I want to eat a salad, where should I sit?" I told her she could sit anywhere she pleased, gestring to all the empty tables and handing her a menu, saying, "All our salads are listed inside. Take your pick." Again she laughed and after studying the menu said, "I saw some green leaves and tomatoes. If I wanted tomatoes in a salad, what should I order?" I recommended the tomato and mozarella salad. So I made this, she ate it and expressed how delightful it was.

Finally, she asked for "a coffee with Irish". I said, "an Irish coffee?" and she said, "No," and pointed to the menu, where it said 'Irish Coffee'. I made her this, she drank it, grinning, and then came and asked for the bill. It came to 16 Euros for the salad, coffee and a ginger ale, and she gave me 30, saying keep the change. The odd thing is, she didn't look weird at all. Kind of like someone's mum, or a teacher.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

On a very odd man (2)

Hmmm, having one guy regularly providing me with entertaining if
slightly insane snippets of conversation may well mean this blog
receives more updates in future.

Today's conversation:

- Stuart, what is the musician?
- You're gonna have to be a bit more specific there I'm afraid.
- Hmmm... a British musician, from the 60s. Not Bob Marley... the
other one.
- OK. Well, Bob Marley was neither British, nor that active in the 60s.
- No not Bob Marley. The other one.
- The other British musician from the 60s. Let me see...
- Like a rolling stone...
- Ah, Bob Dylan?
- Yes!
- He wasn't British either.
- Bob Dylan. So, does he play? Here?
- Does Bob Dylan play here?! In this pub?!
- No. *thoughtful pause* Is Bob Dylan Bob Dylan?
- Is Bob Dylan Bob Dylan? You're asking me if Bob Dylan is himself?
- Yes. Is Bob Dylan Bob Dylan?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

On a very odd man

This post is dedicated to a guy who comes into the pub I work in, every single day. He's harmless enough, but can get a little annoying at times. Still, he makes for choice entertainment during slow shifts. I'll attempt to explain a little about his basic nature. He's quite capable of holding a normal conversation, and in fact talks a lot. Too much. He'll slip from bursts of hearty laughter, often completely random and unrelated to the topic of talk, and bouts of earnest concentration, which usually precede a question, uttered in the most serious tone of voice despite the fact that they are usually something mundane. Example: He'll look you in the eye, and talk in a low voice, as if a doctor informing you you have terminal cancer, and then his question will be, "Do you enjoy sports?" Whatever the answer, he'll either consider it a little and ask a follow up question, or just chuckle. If you join him in the chuckle, he'll chuckle louder, and I've discovered it's quite possible to induce the heartiest of guffaws, if you gradually increase the volume of your own laughter. Fun.

Sometimes, his questions are utterly random, as if he's just voicing the end of a thought process that's been going on inside his head for a while, but which obviously no-one else has been privy to. Example: He'd evidently been considering the concept of vegetarianism, and had possibly had a prior conversation with someone about it. His question to me, preceded by nothing related was, "Stuart. Tell me, would you ever eat a fish without a face?" From this I can only assume he'd been involved in an earlier conversation in which someone had mentioned that they wouldn't eat a fish served with its head still attached, but coming out of the blue like that, it threw me a little. I humoured him and told him that faceless fish are the only kind of fish I'll consider eating, and now he's obsessed with finding out more about these mythical faceless fish.

A couple of nights ago, this conversation happened:

- Stuart. Who is this playing? the music.
- It's Joni Mitchell
- Ah *customary thoughtful pause* and... is it an album?
- No, just some odd songs
- OK. Did you... buy... the album?
- It's not an album. Just a few songs.
- Oh? And where does it come from?
- I downloaded the songs. They're on my iPod. It's playing from my iPod.
- *really confused look and pause* It's...*thoughtful pause* ... a computer?
- No. It's playing from my iPod. Through the computer.
- *slightly scared look* But... how does she get here? How does she come through an iPod into the air here?

So now he thinks Joni Mitchell is some kind of futuristic sorceress.

Friday, 24 April 2009

On homesickness

Well, it's been a considerable time since I updated, so uneventful has my life been in recent months. So long in fact, that I'd forgotten my login details. There was a mildly amusing incident involving a desk, a stolen trolley, a hill, and lots and lots of sweat, but as I began to document that I realised just how mild the amusement was. 

This post isn't really a worthy addition - if you're after gags and interesting happenings, stop now and go read something by Charlie Brooker instead.

This is about me, and my really missing home for the first time since leaving sunny England one year ago, almost to the day.

Even last September, when my life pretty much hit an all time low, I still never craved a return to home shores - I lost my girlfriend here, my home, my job, and almost my parents, yet I still didn't miss the golden gloomy sunsets of England.

Things are good now. I have a relatively well-paying job that I enjoy, and a comfortable living arrangement which as yet, remains rent-free - just as well since as yet, my finances haven't recovered from those 2 and a half months of unemployment I experienced here whilst still paying rent.

A couple of weeks ago, two of my good friends here left Vienna permanently, and whilst I still have friends here, their leaving gradually had an impact on me. One in particular is the dearest, most selfless person I have ever met and Vienna has a very different level of appeal now that he's not around.

Around the same time, I booked a flight home. I'll spend 10 days there in which I'll see my family and friends for the first time since Christmas and for only about the third time since I moved out here. In fact, some of them I've seen even less than that. I have mixed feelings about this. I'm so excited to see them all again, but I know that it will make the few weeks following my return that bit bluer - I've never taken my friendships for granted, and I know those back home will always be the best friends I ever make, so it's hard seeing them only once or twice a year, and missing out on all the shenanigans we used to have, which they're now having in my absence.

I also realised how out of touch with things back home I am. I was never an avid TV viewer, but I do miss being able to turn on the box, whatever's on, and just have English voices fill the room. I miss watching football on a Saturday - it's possible here, but it means going to the pub to do it. I miss English newspapers, even the shit ones. I miss other aspects of my homeland too - sitting on a bus or train and being able to overhear and understand all the cconversations around me, however dull they may be. I miss good sliced bread.

With all this in mind, I have begun to question why I'm even in Vienna. There's nothing really solid keeping me here, although certain relationships would make me sad to leave. It's a nice city, but not one I would have ever chosen to move to without a reason, and there's nothing here that isn't a person, that I would really miss if I left. But I'm definitely not ready to return to England, and I'm not sure I can face the hassle of moving all my belongings and attempting to settle somewhere entirely new, not just yet anyway. Besides, my wallet wouldn't let me.

Friday, 27 February 2009

On spirits

I went to the pub I used to work at last night to meet a mate and stayed for 7 beers over 5 hours, leaving at 10pm, still pretty sober. I went straight home.

At 1am, My flatmate came home to find me in conversation with someone. She asked who I was talking to as there was no-one else here and I said a girl. She decided I was hammered and humoured me, asking if she was pretty. I said no, she was pale and gaunt looking and and asked where she'd gone. Vicky said maybe she's in the kitchen so I went to look there and was then really confused. I remember thinking I'd been talking to someone but don't remember the conversation or the person. I found out this morning from Vicky how I'd described the girl - Vicky couldn't remember the word gaunt and at the time didn't know what it meant (she said "you said the girl was, something that sounds a bit like cunt and means thin").

So, having been soberish at 10 when I left the pub, how come at 1am I was hammered and delusional despite not having had a drink in 3 hours, and what the fuck was I doing for those 3 hours?! And this is the second time this year that I've had lengthy conversations in our flat with people no-one else could see.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

On icy assassins

On the way back from the shop this morning I had to go through a bunch of kids having a snowball fight. They started lobbing them at me so I quickened my pace toward my building. I didn't want to start throwing back as I throw like a girl and would only have been ridiculed. But they started ridiculing me anyway, taunting me in German as they bombarded me. When I got to my building's main gate, I remembered the maintenance guy had been doing something with the lock as I'd left earlier. My key wouldn't turn, so I was left there frantically rattling the gate and looking pleadingly around for help, as the kids continued their assault. I couldn't even answer back in their language so I must have looked like some panicky deaf mute!

Also, my chair has been busted for a while, with the backrest just hanging off and useless. This morning I dismantled it and removed it completely but just now I forgot, leaned back, and went arse over tit. Wish I'd had my webcam on recording - I could have become a YouTube star.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

On ghosts and strange occurences

I've always been fascinated by anything that cannot be explained rationally, but I've been obsessing over ghosts recently - moreso than usual.

For today's brief and unexciting (I'm getting desperate for material here) tale of idiocy, a little background information is needed. A friend of mine is convinced my flat is haunted, despite having only stayed here once, and I've often felt like someone else was in my bedroom as I lied in bed, even if I was alone. Nothing too out of the ordinary though.

A couple of nights ago, something very eerie happened here.

I haven't been sleeping recently so when my flatmate had retired to her room for the night, I laid in my bed with the light on and read for a while. This was around midnight. A couple of hours later I'd turned off the light and been having coughing fits, whilst perhaps dozing for a couple of minutes before coughing woke me up again. I was never fully asleep. After one particularly nasty spluttering session I looked up to see the silouhette of my flatmate standing at the door of my room, I assumed checking to see I was ok, but it startled me so much I shrieked and said "Jesus you scared me!" She giggled and left.

The following morning we were sitting on the sofa and she asked how I'd slept, to which I replied, "You heard me coughing! I assumed that's why you came to my room," and she looked all perplexed and said she hadn't, and that she'd slept through the night. When I told her what had happened she went white.

To her knowledge, she's never sleepwalked in her life before, and it may have been that I'd seen this figure during one of my brief periods of semi-sleep, but still, it sent shivers down us both.

So, today I was alone in the flat, sitting at my desk, in darkness except for my bedroom, when I heard a slight whistling, groaning sound, like someone gasping for breath. It was barely audible though so I did my best to strike it from my ears and carry on working. But the volume and intensity gradually increased until it was all I could focus on. It was now accompanied by a spluttering sound, and was definitely not in my imagination. I began to freak out a little, looking anxiously around me. It was then that I noticed the kitchen light on and went to investigate.

On entering the kitchen I saw the source of the noise and yelled.


I'd put a pot of coffee to brew on the stove earlier and obviously forgotten about it. It had boiled over and sprayed itself all over the wall and oven top. No ghost, and now no fucking coffee either.

I told you it wasn't a good story, but while I'm on the subject I might as well fill some more space with a couple of genuine tales of terror.

It's my lifetime ambition to see a ghost, although preferably whilst I'm not alone - a) so I have someone to back up my story, and b) because I would probably scream and panic like a small child if alone - although I'm pretty sure ghosts don't judge people, and I could probably explain that I'm pretty manly usually.

I have had two experiences in years gone by where I think I may have witnessed a supernatural being, but there are probably rational explanations (care to offer anything up, science?).

When I was about 13, I was mucking about with a few mates by the river in my hometown. It was dark and we were walking along an unlit path when suddenly the lad I was walking beside got a right panic on and started frantically thrashing the air and throwing punches around. He then screamed and ran off and the rest of us being the pussies we were just ran with him.

As we slowed, he asked me in a terrified voice, "Didn't you see it?!" At that point I turned and looked and saw a clear humanoid outline in purple on the path back where he'd gone nutso. I shat it and ran with him off the path around the corner where the rest of our bunch were waiting.

Most of them were clueless as to what had spooked us, but when asked if they'd seen anything, a couple of them also described the purple shape I'd seen.

I still don't know what it was.

Weird, and terrifying in retrospect, but as I said, there's probably a rational explanation.

A couple of years after the above happened, I was walking with a friend by the same river but a mile or so away from that incident. There's a bit where the path is interrupted by a deep trench which you have to clamber down, cross the mud at the bottom via precariously balanced stepping stones, and then clamber up the other side. It's not something you can rush.

As we approached the trench I happened to glance behind and saw an old fella a couple of hundred yards back on the path. He was wheeling a bike with him, and I thought nothing of it.

My friend and I crossed the trench in the usual careful, laboured manner and began to walk the other side. I wondered how the old boy would manage with his bike and all, since it's not a simple operation even for a young lad with no bike to hinder, so I turned round again, only to see the guy, bike and all, already on our side.

At the time I didn't really think about it or consider it too strange but later that day it hit both me and my friend - how the hell had this old chap, with a bike, covered 200 yards, and crossed the trench in a matter of seconds?! Sure, he may have decided to hop on the bike pre-trench, but the mounting and dismounting alone would have taken almost as long as the time he took to ride/walk/climb/carry his bike to the other side.

Again, almost certainly not a ghost, but I'm still to hear a definitive alternative.

So there are my ghost stories, and to follow and conclude here are a couple of instances of odd coincedences that I've experienced.

A few years ago, whilst living in Lincoln as a student, there was a period where clocks in films we watched would show the same time as the actual time at the point we were watching. It started with The Karate Kid I believe and happened again with about 10 other films over a year or so. Just coincedence I guess, but weird.

Also, I was once house sitting for a friend and he said, "You'll need to know the alarm code, it's..." and I finshed with, "6458?" He looked shocked and asked how I knew, but it was a total guess, a shot in the dark, and the number has no relelvance to either of us or anything.

Another time, the father of a friend of mine came home all excited and asked his son, "You'll never guess what I saw this morning!" His son shrugged and said, "I dunno? A kestrel chasing a sparrowhawk?" His dad went white and asked if he'd been followed as that was exactly what he'd seen, but I'd been with his son all day and we'd been nowhere near his dad and the birds - it was a completely random guess, and neither bird was anything like common to the area.

I still put it down to some kind of involuntary mind reading or something. 

On a change from the norm

The next few posts will see my blog take a new direction. Being unemployed, broke and pretty much a creature of solitude of late has not seen much scope for new tales of idiocy. I was hoping my Christmas break back home would but whilst good times were had, and brain cells killed, there was nothing truly storyworthy to write about.

So, observations...

Here's the first, in which I tell you of things that I don't care about as much as you do:

Not sure where I'm going with this, but I may develop into some kind of ongoing project, although I have no idea how. It strikes me from time to time that the majority of people of my own generation and with similar interests focus way more attention than me on certain things. Should I maybe care more about...

Mobile Phones

It never ceases to amaze me when people I know get a new phone, often spending hundreds of pounds on it, and other people I know are eager to examine it.

"Gi's a look at yer phone! Oh wow! Cool!"


And when people see me using mine and sneer at it's ancientness.


As long as it performs the basic functions required by a phone, namely calling people, receiving calls, and sending and receiving texts (which I actually prefer, since I hate phone conversations), then I am happy.

I've had the same one for as long as I can remember and have had perhaps 3, since my first one around 10 years ago (Yes, I got by just fine without one until I was 21 - back then I was content to arrange to meet someone at a certain place and time, and trust they'd be there).

Remember, IT'S A PHONE!


I've never owned a car. Technically I can drive one, but legally I can't. Meaning I never got my license, but stick me behind the wheel and I'm capable of driving. As with the phone thing, I have no interest in the supposed aesthetic attraction of a car - if it goes, it's good enough for me. Of course I understand that some cars provide a more pleasant behind-the-wheel experience than others, and that I can appreciate, but how anyone can get truly excited about a car, unless it flies or travels through time, is beyond me.


Now don't get me wrong, I am a football fan. I have a favourite team which I have followed for years, and I love watching football and take an interest in the latest goings on within the game. To an extent. I do not understand how certain people will put football before family, or something similar. Me and my father and brother do not have a great deal in common. If we're together, conversation generally does not flow. But switch the subject to football and those two will talk forever as if it's the most important thing in the world. My dad proudly boasts that he has "never read a book in his life, but read the biography of Roy Keane from cover to cover".

I enjoy watching football, but I do not enjoy discussing and analysing it in detail for lengthy periods of time. It's just a game.


Controversial? Maybe. I love to design, and I'd love to be able to make money from it regularly, but ask me who my favourite artist is and I'd struggle. Ask me who influences me and I'd draw a complete blank. Ask me to draw meaning from any piece of art, mine or otherwise and you'd get a blank look. If something looks nice, if it pleases my eye, I like it. I care not for meanings and metaphors within the art world.

I've been to many of Europe's finest galleries, and whilst there have of course been exhibits which have wowed and impressed, the most constant single feeling I've left with has been boredom.

I remember once I made a passing comment about my own design saying something like, "I'm no good at drawing really and don't have the motivation to practise that much," and I was reprimanded by a designer, respected here and elsewhere, saying that if I'm not prepared to put my soul into it then maybe art isn't for me. That is the most bullshit remark I ever read. I have fun designing and that's good enough.


I have three criteria when choosing clothes for myself - they must be cheap and comfortable, and they must look good, to me.

I think the most money I ever paid for any item of clothing was £70 for a suit. Following that, I once bought a pair of shoes for £50, and then I'd say everything else I ever bought cost under £30. I hate labels, and don't see the appeal of paying lots of money to advertise an already rich company - I'm sure most people here feel the same. Give me a £6 plain black jumper from Matalan over the £60 alternative from TopMan, or wherever the cool kids shop these days. If it perishes within a year, so be it, I'll buy another.

That said, I did once own a pair of apparently limited edition Levi jeans which were easily the nicest jeans I've ever owned. My mate found them brand new in his pub, tags and all and passed them on to me when no-one claimed them. The price tag stated they'd cost £150. For jeans! These have since fallen apart and shall never be replaced, and I'm finding it increasingly difficult to find a nice pair of jeans - what's the obsession with all these ludicrously over-bleached patches, crease lines and holes already in the jeans?! Why would I pay £50+ for brand new jeans that look old when I could pay 50p for old jeans at Oxfam?