Category Archives: Uncategorized

Great Expectations: Life as an Unemployed Graduate

This summer university campuses across the land will bear witness to final-year students tossing mortar boards into the air amid scenes of jubilation to celebrate their collective academic success. Many graduates will return home for good in search of work and find themselves facing up to the grim reality of unemployment, a term synonymous with notions of failure and despair, and about as far removed from the joy of a graduation ceremony as you can get.

I graduated in July 2010. I’d had three years suckling on the frosty teat of independence, living away from home with friends and ‘finding myself’ as is de rigueur for the arts student. My student house was shambolic; the washing up never seemed to get done, we’d stay up all hours philosophising about life and no one ever had any milk.

The halcyon days of going to bed at daybreak and irregular mealtimes were soon over. I moved back in with my parents after my graduation ceremony with high hopes of moving out imminently and reclaiming that independence. Except living at home was different now. There were grumblings about how I would have to “pay my way” and “earn a living”. I couldn’t dangle the unconditional-love-of-a-mother-to-her-child carrot in an attempt to sponge off Ma and Pa any longer as this “child” was now a 21-year-old man. The good life was over, but who was I to complain? I expected to find a job soon enough.

I kept reading in the papers how I was part of a “lost generation”, as if I’d sacrificed myself in World War One or something. What if I could never have a career? Continue reading

Stand-Up Review: Simon Amstell, Numb – Brighton Dome 2 June 2012

Simon Amstell’s star is shining brightly at the moment.

After a few years in the comedy wilderness following 2010’s Do Nothing tour, Amstell returned to our television screens with the second series of the superbly bleak Grandma’s House in April. He is currently touring the country with his third standup show, Numb.

Last night Amstell brought his brand of anxious philosophically-inclined standup to a packed-out Brighton Dome. The main motif is his social-awkwardness, as he details a number of scenarios in his life that have left him feeling “numb” –speaking to strangers at parties, living alone with his cat, and making conversation with the trendy but humourless Shoreditch crowd – one of whom is actually called Merlin. Continue reading

Stand-Up Preview: Simon Amstell, Numb – Brighton Dome 2 June 2012

Award-winning comedian Simon Amstell brings his Numb tour to the Brighton Dome on June 2.

It’s been four years since Simon Amstell shocked irreverence fans when he quit as presenter of Never Mind the Buzzcocks to concentrate on his stand-up tours and writing projects. A more playful, but no less acerbic successor to the NMTB chair’s first incumbent, the spiky ‘50s throwback Mark Lamarr, for three years Amstell’s sardonic put downs reinvigorated an oversaturated field of stale panel shows.

Amstell’s time on Buzzcocks is fondly remembered for the multitude of infamous incidents that occurred involving the guests: Amstell causing the Celebrity Big Brother star Preston to storm off set while reading out extracts of his then-wife Chantelle Houghton’s autobiography – “the photoshoot was for the Daily Mail, which made me feel really posh and upmarket”; clichéd punk Donny Tourette showing two fingers to the system by sparking up a fag; and the time an inebriated Amy Winehouse – in a particularly chaotic appearance – spat onto the studio floor. Continue reading

Oscars, Schmoscars


Following Sunday night’s tediously predictable Oscars ceremony, the awards season is over for another year. Anyone with even a passing interest in the film industry could have correctly identified the major winners a month or so ago.

I have no problem with Michel Hazanavicius’ charming The Artist taking home the honours and plaudits. Alexander Payne’s win for adapted screenplay was deserved too – The Descendants is one of my films of this year so far. Because, Hollywood, when considering the best films of the year I go by the Gregorian calendar (January-December) and The Descendants wasn’t given a wide release in the UK until January 2012. Still, it has won the 2011 Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, presented confusingly on 26 February 2012. Continue reading

Film Review: Shame ****

I went to see Shame on Friday evening, a film surely destined to become infamous due to its content and topicality, which if you didn’t know, concerns addiction of the sexual variety.

Shame stars Michael Fassbender, whose ubiquity in films over the last year or so ensures lazy tabloid hacks invariably prefix his moniker with ‘flavour of the month’ in every single article they write about him.

Fassbender is Brandon; a handsome, corporate, quite literally dick-swinging New Yorker with a penchant for sex in all its myriad forms, and impeccable taste in scarves. The explicit scenes are lushly – but not glamorously – scattered around the film by director Steve McQueen (not that one). We see Brandon masturbate, indulge in cyber sex, solicit prostitutes, engage in ménage à trois, have rough sex with a woman in an alleyway and even receive a blowjob from a bearded man in a gay bar, to assuage his unwavering libido.

Of course we don’t actually see the aforementioned acts in their entirety – this is arthouse cinema, not a porno – though Brandon’s/Fassbender’s penis does make an appearance, in all its, ahem, considerable glory. Continue reading

Gig Review: The Fall – Concorde 2, 17 November 2011

Mark E Smith’s 203rd incarnation of The Fall took to Brighton’s Concorde 2 stage at 10pm on Thursday 17 November for something like their 2,684th gig, delivering a rousing, raucous set to a sell-out crowd of Fallheads.

Such is the unpredictable nature of The Fall, well, specifically MES himself, the gig was notably incident-free, rather a showcase of a band that on paper have no right to be as exciting and frenetic as they proved on the night.

Typically anti-nostalgic, this was no 30th anniversary farewell payday akin to some recently touring first-wave postpunk bands. The setlist predominantly featured songs from the last three albums, drawing largely from the band’s 29th and latest, the acclaimed Ersatz G.B., chucking in a few early hits to satiate the diehards. Continue reading