Category Archives: Entertainment

World Cup 2014: The Spitfire Experience!

fifaSooooo, slightly overdue as this blog post is, I am compelled to write about my experience during World Cup 2014. Do not be fooled by my dazzling rants about the unjust state of the world, nor my refined tea-drinking posts about what one should drink during one’s peaceful afternoon – when it comes to (international) football, I am right up there with your traditional English footy hooligan (minus the violence), swigging the beer, draped in a long England flag and singing ‘God Save the Queen’ in a loud, passionate, tuneless voice. 

At least, I was at the very beginning until England proved YET AGAIN what a sloppy team they were. The last time I wrote about England and an international cup was here in 2012; needless to say, I have no desire whatsoever to repeat myself, which I’m sure would be a hundred times more scathing than last time. I suppose I should have seen the signs; on the day I uploaded the blog post, it received exactly 666 views worldwide. If that isn’t a portent of doom then I don’t know what is.

Moving on, this is not an article about England and their ultimately useless players. It’s about the World Cup as I experienced it, it’s about the excitement, thrills and countless gasps of awe that almost had me in a seizure, it’s about how I (by some bizarre twist of fate) found myself employed as a World Cup Commentator halfway through the Cup, and it’s about some outstanding performances and incredible players that really left a mark in my mind. If there’s such a thing as an unforgettable World Cup then this was surely the one.

jamesWhere do I begin? First with James Rodriguez of Colombia. That boy had some skills! I had never heard of this player before in my life (and I will not lie; much as I enjoy the international cups, I’m pretty much clueless as to who most of the players are – with the exception of Christiano Ronaldo. Who doesn’t know him? Didn’t the man create a museum in his own honour, comprising photos, waxworks and trophies dedicated to him, and him alone? The wonders of an over-inflated ego never cease to amaze). So. Rodriguez. How many goals did he shoot into the net again? And let’s not forget The Mystery of the Magical Locust. The enormous bug landed on his arm just before he scored a terrific penalty. Apparently, this critter represents good luck in South American countries and if anyone tries telling me that that wasn’t a sign then I’ll kindly tell you to open up your mind! Colombia did find themselves booted out, but I’m pretty sure that no one will forget their performance and how well they excelled themselves, same as I’m pretty certain Rodriguez won’t be forgotten in a hurry. 

Guillermo+Ochoa+Mexico+v+Cameroon+Group+70l-AziQZailWho else really stood out for me? Well, of course, Ochoa of Mexico! The wizard goalie whose incredible, albeit ungraceful, blocking proved deeply frustrating for opposing teams. With his practically X-Men reflexes it was impossible to fault him during the matches – and did I mention how handsome he is? What I wouldn’t give to be a football flying straight into those magical hands! Hubba, hubba! You can save me any day! *Wink, Wink!*

Joe Campbell of Costa Rica really impressed me (also for the fact that during my more daring days, I was gambling on the Costa Rican team and they didn’t fail me once) and I also thought his humble, generally pleasant demeanor was a pleasure to watch. Quite possibly the most heart-stopping match I saw was the one between Costa Rica and Greece. Costa Rica were ten men down and completely exhausted, but they still managed to win on penalties. I was hugely impressed by the Costa Rican team and, like Colombia, they truly exceeded all expectations during the tournament. 

pepeOnto the significantly interesting moments of the Cup. Watching Portugal’s Pepe headbutt Germany’s Muller like some kind of angry bull during mating season was an entertainment in itself. Lesson learned, hopefully, Pepe (though judging by your past explosions, we can’t be too hopeful): never headbutt a German. You’ll end up red-carded and on the loser’s bench, frothing and spitting at the mouth. 

And, of course, we cannot forget Suarez. The World Cup is hardly the place to be chomping and biting your fellow human being, but Suarez outdid himself with his enthusiastic gnawing on Italy’s Chiellini, whose subsequent panicked outcries and howling protests would have led us to believe he’d just been bitten by a rabid dog and had contracted a life-threatening disease. Still, Chiellini’s ultimate drama-queen showdown only enforced the incredulity of everyone watching that Suarez the Uruguay Star had just bitten another player on the pitch, and it was off to the airport for him. What was most bemusing was that Suarez gripped his teeth as though in agony right after biting the Italian player; it was almost as though he was shocked at the fact they had just pierced through Chiellini’s flesh. Odd. Perhaps his molars have a mind of their own and they had plunged him forwards without his consent. Either way, we’ll never know. 


The thrashing that Brazil took from Germany (7-1? Don’t think any of us saw that coming!) was astonishing to watch and I say it with the most genuine empathy that I truly felt for the Brazilians and the fans watching them. I mean, I really did. Watching your home team (and worse, the host nation) be thrashed in such an embarrassing way really pulls at the heartstrings, and I say this as an England fan. Watching Neymar go down also was pretty shocking and his condition was closely monitored with concern by much of the world. I also want to point out a special congratulations to the U.S.A who did very well during this tournament – no doubt this has something to do with being led by the almighty Klinnsman! Speaking of Klinnsman – did anyone really doubt that Germany would win the Cup?

Probably one of the most amazing things about this World Cup was the bizarre shift, the topsy-turviness of traditionally ‘great’ teams being kicked to the curb. Reigning champions, Spain, reigned no more after they were booted out in the first round. Brazil’s performance was hardly superb from the start; Italy failed to wow. If there was ever a time for the underdog to rise, it was during this tournament.

So you may be wondering how I, with my extremely limited knowledge of football and being a woman to boot, ended up as a World Cup Commentator. The answer is, pure chance. Lucky, lucky chance, A very lucky, financially prosperous chance, might I add. And it didn’t matter to me that I had to endure the snide guffawing of men who rarely failed to remind me that I had little knowledge of the game, little knowledge of the players and, therefore, my commentating must surely be void. The fact was, I enjoyed the tournament, I enjoyed the matches and, ultimately, that was all that mattered. I commentated with such fervour that it wasn’t long before I was eating, sleeping and breathing football. So by the end of the tournament I was experiencing post World Cup 2014 blues and aching for the next one. But until that day … onto the Euro!

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The Problem With Gumtree

GT_FINAL_LOGO_040210Gumtree. I’m sure we’ve all heard of the name. That handy website where you can search for jobs, flats, cars, pets and Gumtree Fun (this ominous, baffling category is one I shall elaborate more on later) to name a few. Like most websites, Gumtree has its ups and downs; personally, I’ve found several jobs on there in the past, two of which I’m currently in and rather satisfied with. The same can’t be said for a close friend of mine, who unwittingly applied for a role as a P.A and is now being bombarded with calls from ‘companies’ who are asking for an £80 deposit in order to train her how to use a telephone. So yes, the P.A role turned out to be bogus. As mentioned,the calls still come streaming in and she either doesn’t answer or (if she accidentally picks up) tells them she’ll ring them back in five minutes and leaves it at that. Being of a rather peaceful stature, my dear friend would prefer to avoid telling them to shove off, though I would happily do so if I were in her shoes. The cheek of these scammers is unbelievable.

Landing a job on Gumtree is really a question of pot luck; you could get lucky like me, you could fall victim to scamming sharks like my friend or you could wind up in a role which truly does sound too good to be true – and this is the truth of it. Another friend of mine ended up in one of those charity chugging roles. You know the type … You’re walking down the high street one day and some zit-face fresh out of university with his bogus degree in Politics or Philosophy stops you in your tracks, comments on how attractive your four-year old trainers are and then starts bleating on about starving children, endangered species or the homeless. It might have some credibility if these people actually cared about what they were campaigning for, but you can practically see the pound signs flashing in their eyes as they eye your bag with almost wolf-type salivation. If I want to give to charity, I will do so of my own free will – not due to some late-teen or twenty-something hounding me down the street and spewing a memorized script at me in an attempt to gain commission for himself. Anyway, back to my friend who was in such a role – lasted three months and then quit. Which is why the turnover of staff is so appalling in these roles – you see them advertised in their sackfuls on Gumtree everyday. So much for the genuine, caring nature of the campaigners – it appears their compassion only extends to about twelve weeks. And £8 to £12 an hour? With managers that appear to be rolling in it? This is what you call the concept of charity being tainted to extreme levels. Sickening. And let’s not forget those fearsome ‘charity bucket jobs’. You stand outside a supermarket for eight hours a day with a bucket in your hands for £6.19 per hour, while passers-by occasionally drop their 1ps and 2ps in your little bucket, pennies that contribute towards greater sanitation of public toilets. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

Then of course you have the infamous money laundering roles. If you are stupid enough to accept a role whereby you’re earning something like £2000 a month for something as easy as having money deposited in your account, then steer clear of this site. Gumtree chews up and swallows the brainless for breakfast. And let’s not forget the rich mums and dads who need someone to take care of their little darlings; of course, some of them are pretty decent and genuinely do have a couple of little darlings to look after (like my own current ones) – others, however, are the epitome of the ignorant rich person who has so much money but absolutely no concept of life, and regularly indulges their brat in materialism while encouraging them to be as ignorant as they are. My friend recently got accepted for the role of nanny for a family that owned a successful recruitment company – on her one and only trial day, the mother ordered the elimination of all dust in the house, stressed on the importance of ensuring the dogs were kept to their own bedroom (complete with bed, TV and Wi-Fi) and how crucial it was that the dogs were walked for exactly one hour in the park – and no, the hour does not count from when you leave the house, it counts from when you step foot on the grass in the park! No mention of the kids then. Needless to say, my friend was quite unable to live up to this woman’s preposterous high- maintenance standards and was given the boot after the first day after being bluntly told that she was not quite ‘active’ enough for the role. Charming.

Then we come to the pet section. It always deeply saddens me when I see how many dogs, cats and other animals have to be given away because some irresponsible owner was incapable of foreseeing that they wouldn’t be able to look after them in the long-term. Undoubtedly, there are the rare, few genuine cases but the majority of them are nothing more than lazy, good-for-nothing excuses. Really, your flat’s too small for the animal, so why exactly did you get one then? Or you’re about to have a baby and simply cannot have a dog running around the house – no chance of you properly training it or making the appropriate arrangements so that everything can work out, oh no, certainly not. I will never understand this; my pets have been like my children – the thought of ever giving away my dog would have appalled me and if it meant making certain sacrifices, then I would do so. The attachment an animal, particularly dogs, feels towards their human is no different to the attachment a child feels towards his parent and I am firm in this belief.

The ‘For Sale’ section is an interesting one too; there have been numerous reports of people paying for their goods and not receiving them on Gumtree, then expressing their anger in a rage of froth and spit on various web forums. Again, scammers who prey on the vulnerable. But just as you have the slimy, deceitful man who will profess undying love to the gormless woman on a dating website and then run off with her money, so you will have the scammer who will promise you goods, only to disappear with your cash. Stick to the websites that track this type of thing – Gumtree fail miserably at this. And let’s not forget the ‘Flats and Homes’ section; it’s always wonderful to see some cheap little room in some dirty dingy estate running for £120 a week – and that’s not including bills. Ah – London and its fair, affordable prices.

Earlier I mentioned ‘Gumtree Fun’ which is always good to have a skim through if you’re in a bad mood and fancy a laugh. You get all types of weird characters on there, ranging from the desperate, single (or not) Asian man in his thirties who is pleading for a ‘hook-up’ on the same night he posted the advert, or the melancholic, woebegone depressed businessman who hates his job and can’t find anyone to rant to except other poor saps on Gumtree who can also share in this great depression. You also get the incredibly strange people who will post about how they intend to travel in the summer, usually to the likes of Spain or Portugal, and are looking for a ‘travel buddy’ to accompany them. How is this possible? You would go with a complete stranger to another country – and possibly pay for them too? And find them on Gumtree of all places, the hangout of many creeps and turds; I’m amazed that the thought of not being murdered in your bed by this complete stranger wouldn’t even cross your mind, but that’s just me. More recently, I stumbled across a heading with these enraged words, ‘I have been lied to’ and the following passage:

Ok so I put an advert on here few weeks ago looking for a travel partner to Paris. I received a message from this guy who was interested in going with me. We booked a hotel and travelled and got back last night.

Whilst on the trip we grew very fond of each other and he told me he loves me and I started to love him too. It was perfect we had a lovely time. When we arrived last night I seen lots of miss calls on his mobile which to my amazement was his wife.

This was not true as the lady I spoke to was indeed in love with him and it was a real relationship. I feel I’ve been lied too and really hurt about it I also feel used and let down.

All advice is very much appreciated.

Not sure what type of advice this person is looking for but the words ‘gullible’ and ‘idiot’ spring to mind. Not to mention ‘downright dangerous’. Sometimes, I wonder if people like this actually exist or if it’s all just one big fat joke designed to toy with my head.

Anyway, Gumtree advice over; some of it can be pretty beneficial but, of course, like with most of the online realm, you have to watch out for the numerous sharks, scammers, scumbags, cheaters, liars, frauds, psychos and desperadoes. Not too different from the real world then.

The Truth About Plenty of Fish

For those of you who don’t know, Plenty of Fish is a dating website used by millions of people around the world. The one special factor regarding this dating service is that, unlike many others, this one is free. However, you may not have to pay in terms of money but you might find yourself paying when it comes to your very sanity.

If you are a man, you will initially view this website as a treasure chest of gold that has fallen into your lap. A free website with the opportunity to meet lots of women in your area? You never need enter a bar again and stumble up to that attractive woman by the counter with a gallon of Dutch Courage inside you. The reality, however, is far different. The ratio of men to women is about 7:1 and the end result is swarms of men fighting for the attention of one woman, not different from the barbarian days of the cavemen when they would clobber one another over the head in order to win the partner of their dreams.

Alas, these poor, naive souls are not even fighting for the partner of their dreams. Upon viewing the female profiles on the website, I discovered that there were a great deal of the following:

  • Obese 18 – 30 year olds in skimpy clothes, pulling provocative, pouting poses and stating they need a ‘real man to handle a real woman.’
  • Defiant single mothers with pictures of themselves and their kids, claiming that the kids come first and if the men on the site don’t like it, they can get lost.
  • Women with their breasts out in their profile pictures with the headline, “DO NOT MESSAGE ME IF YOU ARE A PERVERT AND ONLY AFTER ONE THING.”
  • Average-looking women who will have a long list of their likes/dislikes, needs and wants. “No tattooed men, no men without a car, no men who are shorter than 5’10, no men who live 20 miles away from me, no divorced men, no men who are still living at home with their parents…” And so forth. They will then go on to state that they want “a sweet, romantic, sensitive man who knows how to treat a woman.” In reality, no matter how sweet, romantic and sensitive the man messaging them is, if he isn’t harboring the same devilishly handsome looks as the majority of Hollywood actors, his message will be swiftly deleted. Oh, this cruel, shallow world.
  • Older women over 50 who are searching for a toyboy.

This is only the beginning of the vicious cycle. A lot of the men on Plenty of Fish are only looking for one thing and they are willing to drop their standards to the bottom of the bucket in order to get it. No matter how overweight, ugly, demanding or rude the female may be, she will be inundated with messages from desperate men who need to satisfy their wayward libidos. Such men fall under the following:

  • The ‘Sales’ man. This man will type out a general spill of, “I have read your profile and you sound extremely sweet. You look absolutely beautiful and I would love to have the opportunity to chat with you.” Without reading their profiles and regardless of what they look like, he then copies and pastes it out to a hundred women in his area and may receive about five responses in return, if he is lucky.
  • The ‘Muscles’ man. This man will post numerous pictures of his rippling, toned torso, pout into the camera, and then send a message with one word, “Hey” in the belief that his bulging biceps will warrant a response. For some women, this does work.
  • The ‘Joker’ man. This man will google an extremely unfunny joke and then post it to a bunch of women, hoping that this “humour” will strike him lucky. Usually fails.
  • The ‘Great Pretender’. This man will pretend to be interested in aspects of the female’s profile but it isn’t long before he is asking to hook up for a drink to ‘discuss’ her interests in cycling and hiking.
  • The ‘Straight-forward’ man. This man will just come out and say whatever he is hoping for, which is usually followed by a swift finger on the block button.
  • The ‘Clueless’ man. This man will, like the ‘Sales’ man, send out copy and pasted spills; however, his will be about him and him alone. He will write 500 words on what he does for a living, what he is looking for, how he believes others view him, how he wants to find someone to spend the rest of his life with, his life’s work, his ambitions and what sports he likes. He will then end by saying, “Hopefully I haven’t bored you!” The irony.
  • The ‘No-Pic Cheat’. This man is usually married or in a relationship and seems to think it is acceptable to flaunt his immorality in front of everyone with his audacious, “Not getting it at home, looking elsewhere: Females apply within” heading.

Thanks to such desperation, the women’s egos will be fed to the point of explosion. It no longer matters what the woman looks like (despite the fact that appearance is everything on Plenty of Fish). It won’t be long that the woman genuinely believes she really is this beautiful, stunning creature that she is being told she is every day by the overflow of males. Her ego will shoot to the roof and, as she is able to take her pick of any man on the site, the list of demands will become more and more unrealistic; any confidence which she possessed will immediately turn into arrogance and, suddenly, no man on the site is good enough, even the ones who are actually genuine; they find themselves falling into the same category as the desperadoes and creeps. This self-delusion soon creates bitterness and frustration in ALL of the men, who cannot understand how they are constantly rejected in such a rude manner by women they wouldn’t give a second glance to in the real world. They are usually completely ignored or receive a “You’re not my type” response to their well-planned message.

Personally, I find this type of arrogance mind-blowingly funny. I am strongly reminded of the children’s story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ about a vain, self-infatuated Emperor who was conned by a pair of tailors into thinking the suit they were weaving for him was of magnificent splendor. They told him that the fabric was invisible to his eyes, but that everyone else could see it. The result was the Emperor stepping outside stark naked while his subjects had to pretend to admire “the suit.” In the end, the home truth was revealed by a small boy, who couldn’t understand why the Emperor was strolling around in his loins and flabby bits, and asked why he wasn’t wearing anything. In this instance, the deluded women represent the Emperor and the desperate men are the wily tailors.

I have spoken to many of the more decent men on the site who have been thoroughly dissatisfied with their experiences. One, who considered himself above average in looks,  informed me that he couldn’t believe it when an extremely large, 21 year old mother of two turned him down with a, “Sorry, you’re not tall enough.” He was 5’9, she was 5’5. Yet, despite the dismissive arrogance of the woman, her rejection was not with the intent to be cruel, but simply because she was probably so overwhelmed with messages that she only had one minute to spare typing a response before returning to the other 100 messages in her inbox. Besides – if she is receiving messages from the ‘cream of the crop’, she can take her pick and anyone not meeting the absolute requirement, sadly, has to go.

The problem with this site, as appears to be the problem with internet dating in general, is that people’s expectations are far too high. The truth is, everyone is riddled with flaws and we should take the bad with the good, or not at all. To create a list of what a man/woman should be and shouldn’t be is preposterous, not to mention downright hilarious. Similarly, there are a great deal of men and women on the site who completely contradict themselves. For example:  “I am a down to earth, intelligent person looking for similar. I have an excellent sense of humour” (even though there is nothing in the profile to suggest this). “I am open to most people for I believe that looks get boring after a while” (They then go on to state ‘No fat/short/etc men/women).

Meeting someone off Plenty of Fish can be similarly gruelling. When someone finally gets lucky enough to bring things into reality, it is not uncommon for the following to occur:

  • People are usually ten stone heavier than their pictures.
  • People are usually ten years older than their pictures.
  • People are usually not the person in their pictures. (This is something I have difficulty understanding. If you are going to meet the person outside of the internet, wouldn’t it make sense to let them know who you really are? After all, they’re going to find out anyway.)
  • Men will meet women who turn out to be a transsexuals.
  • Women will meet men who are hooked on drugs.
  • Men will meet women who are only interested in converting them to their political/religious beliefs.
  • Men will meet women who are simply trying to make their boyfriends jealous.
  • Women will meet men who will suggest living together on the first date and marriage on the second.

And after these disastrous experiences, people will resume their fishing and look for someone else, for the site is strangely addictive. The mind-boggling, disturbing cycle will then continue.

So, as you may have learned, Plenty of Fish is not all it’s cracked up to be. Despite the ‘Chemistry Tests’ (which apparently matches you with those who have similar results to you) and ‘Relationship Needs’ (which obviously knows you better than you know yourself and tells you what you need in a man/woman, including a customized, step by step plan of how to get it) and the range of ‘success stories’ printed on the site, it appears that this particular ocean is overflowing with angry, bitter men and stuck-up, deluded women. I’m sure the odd seahorse does spring up among all the trout but you would really have to wade through a lot of dirt to find it. So if you’re thinking of giving it a shot, happy fishing – or more importantly, good luck! (You’ll need it.)

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A Little Bit About Me (for anyone who may be bored or curious enough to find out).

10423821_674862212596098_5091246013496330627_nWhen I was about 15 years old, I had a very vivid picture of who I would be ten years down the line. In my mind, I smugly envisioned living in a ten-bedroom mansion with servants, butlers and cooks at my command due to being an extremely rich and successful author; I indulged in regular fantasies about attending book signings with queues five miles long,  fans including old playground bullies that I could now gloat in the faces of (they, according to me, would be flipping burgers for the rest of their lives, much to my pleasure.)  I imagined sailing on yachts, taking long, lazy holidays in the Carribean and beyond, feasting on the finest delicacies and, all in all, having my every whim catered to.

Of course, this desirable fantasy soon came crashing down when I discovered that the reality of life was absolutely nothing like I had imagined. Ten years down the line, at the age of 25, I am hardly sipping champagne and eating strawberries and cream served to me by a faithful servant, nor am I basking in the joys of being a successful author. Instead, I am the servant, earning per week the equivalent of what that fancy bottle of champagne would cost. The only joys I have experienced have been the numerous rejection letters/emails I have received from agents and publishers, who have politely informed me that my work is not what they are looking for. One miserable rejection after another, the only thing that keeps me going is the faith that one day this dream shall be achieved (plus several instances using Google to inform me of the amount of times published writers were rejected in the past; I have found this is a wonderful remedy to sooth a wounded ego.)

For the past seven years, I have found myself in a multitude of jobs, very few of which have provided me with any sense of worth as a human being. I am quite sure that a well constructed computer would be able to deal with the incredibly mind-numbing, soul-destroying roles that I have found myself in. For example, working in customer service for a well-known cinema chain and dealing on a daily basis with people who actually took the time out of their clearly dreary existences to write 700  word emails on how their hot dogs were inches shorter than they had expected or how there was nattering from customers in the background, (why don’t you simply tell them to be quiet at the time, rather than whine about it afterwards when it is too late?) is enough to crush even the most resilient of souls. Day in, day out it was the same routine, having to display the same ‘sympathy’ for people who wanted to have a gripe and moan about trivialities that mean absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. I started to question my very existence. Surely this isn’t what life is all about? Being a slave to the system, a Samaritan to complaining nobodies and putting on a fake grin everyday, as though it was the greatest pleasure and ambition to be yelled at by a customer who was shortchanged 50p by a staff member at the cinema who cannot speak English. But yes, unfortunately that is exactly what it is all about. Because each soul-wrecking role has revolved around money, the heart of survival, whether I like it or not. Another position that swirled in darkness was working in a busy law firm. With all due respect to solicitors, who do indeed work extremely hard, they are some of the most stressed, high-strung people I have ever encountered; I’m sure that most of them will end up suffering with high blood pressure at some point. On one occasion, I informed one of the solicitors that the client file he had asked me to search for was currently in the hands of a sister branch. The transformation that occurred was petrifying; he swelled to the size of a helium balloon, his face enraged, red and bloated, and then screamed a load of incomprehensible words as he released his steam. And all it would have taken was a simple phone call.

I am sure that those much older and wiser than me reading this will chuckle at my seemingly defeated attitude and advise me that the time will come where it all pays off. And I do not doubt them. For now, though, I will have to grin and bear it, for that is all that can be done – oh, and persevere.

I’m pleased to announce that my new novel ‘How The Wolf Lost Her Heart’ is now available on Amazon and all good online retailers. It’s exciting, gripping and based in London 200 years down the line. Dystopia, romance, comedy – it’s all there! Click the link to find out more! You can also find me on Facebook.