personal philosophy

The Trials and Tribulations of a Life Worth Living

It is a funny old thing we call life. We analyse, we plan for the future, we attain qualifications and experiences for growth and a happy future we could only dream of. I’ve personally lived my life with an intentionally gung-ho attitude, with the mantra of every experience is worth experiencing, every job is worth your time, every place you visit should be explored like a tourist. All the people you meet along the way should be invested in; despite the amount of time you’ve known them. Everyone and everything brings something to the table of life. Big or small, rich or poor, expected or not.

Living life this way has led to one that has been emotionally, philosophically, and mentally fulfilling. In 24 years of I’ve lived in the English counties of Cheshire, Merseyside, Lancashire and Herts. I created a new home for myself in Catalonia and experienced the vote for independence first-hand. I volunteered in some of the poorest regions of Tanzania, sleeping in homes with no windows and bats that circled above my bed at night to aversely Airbnb-surfing through the various boroughs of London.

At a viewpoint atop La Seu Vella, Lleida. 2017.

These have been some of my life’s proudest achievements, but aside from my International Journalism degree from John Moore’s University, my ‘career’ thus far could and should be labelled as a flop. This website has been radio-silent recently as I’ve been working on a new novella when I’ve had the time to write. It has been something I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and should I complete it, it will be my proudest accolade as a writer thus far – alongside the founding of this humble site. Thank you to all of you that read these by the way, it gives me such purpose to finally write for an audience.

I preach to not live with regret. However, I let future prospects from my internship at the Liverpool Echo pass me by. I impressed with my writing and was told to keep in touch with the Sports Editor. I didn’t. This has been an increasingly difficult pill to swallow in the years following. So too the decision to abandon my craft for a time following university, and instead pursue a fruitless marketing career. This was something that in the end brought me great unhappiness in myself, especially as a born socialist and only acted as a reinforcement of those beliefs in the shadow of the wealthy families I worked to the bone for. Alas, with a Certificate of Higher Education with Merit in digital marketing and a lesson learnt to stick to what you love , I escaped from that world. Like most in the face of failure, I licked my wounds and carried on.

The Japanese Garden in Kensington, London. Now with added beard. 2020.

After that role and fleeing to London in the midst of a pandemic, the only goal was to experience the taste of life again, for it had grown stale and grey in the cold, wet hills of Lancashire. I stopped and looked around at the urban jungle around me. What now? I’d attained a role that could have been mine for life. It was secure and offered albeit minor career growth. In plain English, I’d gotten a big boy job. This was what I was supposed to do, according to society at least. Why did I hate it?

We live in a timeline where most of the well-paid, well thought of vocations have you sat at a desk. You partake in water cooler office gossip, you drink far too much English Breakfast Tea and you buy specialist glasses because you spend so much time facing a screen. Maybe you’ll even get a back support because companies never invest in decent office chairs. To phrase Dolly, what a way to make a living.

There are exceptions of course, but these are few and far between. Especially for someone who wishes to write for a living.

It’s an interesting place to be at mentally. I’ve shed my post-university naivete and dealt with the problems thrown at me along the way. After London didn’t work out permanently, a close-friend of mine hooked me up with a job in Hertfordshire where I’ve been since around August. I’m comfortable yet unfulfilled in my current role, but it’s not forever. The role itself is on a COVID-19 test site, so it should only last as long as COVID does – which is both a blessing and a curse.

Alongside my efforts at being an author I’m finally getting around to completing a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language Qualification) for when I fancy going abroad again and in the future I’d love to complete a master’s degree in Geopolitics to fulfil a lifelong pursuit of understanding the world around me. But that raises the point one more – will any of these experiences, qualifications and dreams ever line up into one coherent career? Or am I destined to be one of life’s ‘nearly-men’ who never lived up to their potential, despite some false dawns.

I guess the only way to find out is to keep living the life the way I want to.

I’ll let you know how it works out in the end.

video games

Nostalgia Trips: From Blastoise to Bakura

So, I’ve been on a bit of a nostalgia kick recently. I purchased an old Gameboy Advance SP with a copy of Pokémon Fire Red and journeyed through Kanto just as I did as a whippersnapper. With Squirtle by my side I bossed the elite four and captured all the legendaries. Signed, sealed, delivered.

The experience was brought on by playing the newer Pokémon Sword and being disappointed with not only the dire selection of Pokémon available in the base game, but the storytelling and the lifelessness of the 3D monsters on the screen of the decently powerful Nintendo Switch.

I always found the 2D games so expressive with their fantastic sprite artwork.

photoset pokemon Squirtle Sprite blastoise wartortle pokemongifs  TwilightBlaze steelix •

Take Blastoise for example:

How did we go from all that expression in Pokémon Crystal – cannons pointed, snarling and ready for battle to, look at me, I’m standing.

Blastoise • Competitive • 6IVs • Level 100 • Online Battle-ready |  PokéFella - Pokémon Genning, Editing & Trading Services

I’ve never understood why everyone just assumes that 3D animation has more worth than 2D animation. Nothing beats the hand drawn storytelling of a Studio Ghibli masterpiece a-la Kiki’s Delivery Service or My Neighbour Totoro, or Disney Classics like The Jungle Book and Treasure Planet.

One of these is full of creativity, colour and expression. Everything that animation stands for. The other is the cash grab remake of The Lion King. Looking at it closely, I think it would make a great advert for Compare the Meerkat.

Studio Ghibli Mei GIF - StudioGhibli Mei Totoro - Discover & Share GIFs
3 Reasons Why We Didn't Love “The Lion King” (and 1 Reason We Did) -  AllEars.Net

It makes the game feel so boring, especially when you compare it to the dynamic worlds of Mario Odyssey and the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the same system. It makes Game Freak look so lazy and devoid of ideas for the franchise.

Hell, the main gimmick was making the Pokémon ‘bigger’.

After my Kantonian adventure drew to a close in the Sevii Islands, my mind began to wander about other old video games that had been banished to the depths of my childhood memory.

I had been enjoying the early Pokémon games with a few staff members at work and collectively discussed that Yu-Gi-Oh was the next in the line of franchises we’d all played.

I recalled a gem called Yu-Gi-Oh: Forbidden Memories on the Playstation 1 that I had played to death as a child. Played the same levels over and over again at least as I didn’t really understand save mechanics, and the furthest I had gotten was to Yami Bakura – anime bad guy and owner of the Millennium Ring. For those unaware, that’s probably just before the middle of the game.

Frustrated at my lack of PS1 ownership and unwilling to part with the money to begrudgingly purchase one, my quest led me to the sprawling pages of google search.

Did you know that PS1 games are backwards compatible on PS3s? All of them. The console even has a feature where you can create memory cards inside the system itself. I know people probably found this out years ago, but wow. Made my day. The first generation of PS3s could also play PS2 games, but they cut that function out to reduce costs (boo).

A quick order from CeX later, and Forbidden Memories was mine again.

It was just as difficult as I could remember, and just as addicting.

Great cover art as well

Also, the soundtrack on this game absolutely bops. Especially the ‘Free Duel’ music, which is a blessing because the grind required to complete this bloody game is actually insane. I have defeated the Meadow Mage over 60 times, have I received the Meteor B. Dragon card you literally NEED to beat the game? I have not. But I can turn the stage into a field multiple times during the game, so that’s great.

The game is everything I can remember and more. The duels are intense and require the right tactics to defeat each duellist, the game is difficult but beatable (up until the late game) and the story is actually great – telling the story of how the Egyptian Spirit Yami came to be trapped in the Millennium Puzzle in the first place.

I had put a fair few hours into the game and came back to my nemesis, my arch-rival, Yami Bakura. I tried about 10 times between rounds of grinding, and still his Millennium Shield was victorious with its staggering 3000 points of defence. I was down and out, dominated by this man and his demonic stare.

I hate this screen

It was then that my girlfriend asked for a turn. I scoffed, presented her with the remote and a wry smile. She defeated him on the first try. I had waited 16 years for this moment, but for me, this was no victory.

The worst part of it all, I defeated Pegasus first time. I went back into free duel with renewed belief and lost to Bakura, again.

homework help GIFs - Primo GIF - Latest Animated GIFs

I returned to Ancient Egypt on my save file and defeated all the mages that assisted in my demise in the first place. But, what awaits me is an onslaught of battles with no save point. I have beaten the Labyrinth Mage, but following that only the game over screen.

I’ll need to do some more grinding before I resume my adventure, but It’s been such a good time revisiting a game that I had loved so much as a child. Anyway, it got me thinking… While common pastimes (such as travel and seeing friends) have become so difficult, we can delve into our childhoods and reclaim the things we lost growing up.

I don’t think I’ll ever sell this game, in fact it’s one that I’d love to share with my future children because it gave me so many good memories at that age.

My only wish is that I could stab the moon with my stone guardian and defeat Heishin that way, but I don’t think the TV show actually follows the same rules as the card game.


Maybe I’ll play one of the more recent Yu-Gi-Oh titles, but it seems like they’re going down the same overcomplicated route that Pokémon is.

In an age where loot boxes, pay to win titles and EA are trying their hardest to ruin the video game industry – at least we’ve still got the classics, and that, nobody can take away from us.


Brad Pitt, Mint Tea and One Very Hungry Camel

So there I was, at high altitude in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains. My ears filled with the droning of a distant goat as it lazed between the Berber huts, seeking shade from the intense heat of the North African sun.

I reached for the bowl of crunchy snacks and grabbed a handful to chew on. As I leaned back against the wall, the straw seat underneath me huffed with dust at the minor movement. I watch as Brad Pitt ran animated on a treadmill, speaking words of a language he did not understand.

burn after reading gifs | WiffleGif

Not where I thought I’d be during an early afternoon in September.

The morning had started like any other during our trip to Marrakech, I had been awoken from my slumber within our quaint riad by the droning call to prayer from the El Yazid Mosque. It was dark, either 3 or 4am. I’d sat and listened to the call everyday since arrival. We were staying deep into the Casbah, but it wasn’t the Clash playing – just the ordinary routine for the Moroccan people.

A few hours pass and the mosque wakes me again. This time I get up to get ready, we’ve got a bus to catch early doors and El Yazid is the most efficient alarm clock I could have ever asked for.

The aforementioned El-Yazid Mosque, a stones throw from our riad.

After some delightful grub from our host, we’re wandering the medina in search of a plain white van. I know this doesn’t sound like the safest course of action for 7am, but around that time they’re sprawled across the streets picking up tourists to take them on their pre-booked TripAdvisor tours. I don’t want to think that happens to the rest.

We were those people. The pair of us, a couple of Glaswegian ravers and two southern fairies later – we’re on the road out of Marrakech. The first stop, some camels.

We’ve all heard about the horror stories of animal mistreatment in this part of the world. We hadn’t booked the tour to do the camel ride – it was anything but. We wanted to hike in the mountains, they just insisted that we dressed up like Berbers and got walked around by the beasts for a bit.

We obliged because the camels seemed well nourished and looked after. Or so we thought, until my camel got the ‘hump’ and started pinching at my girlfriend’s derriere with its teeth.

Being honest with you, I’m no Eliza Thornberry. That wasn’t the first time I’d been removed from the pack and my mule was supplied a leash. It happened during my first time horse-riding as a kid. My charming steed? Gypsy. I was ecstatic, she repaid my excitement with running me into a field and bucking me off before fleeing. The ensuing chase to get her back was hilarious for those watching on, for me I was face down in the dirt.

Me and dogs? We’re amazing together. Just keep me away from any other animal.

A mint tea later, we’re back on the dusty tarmac – full throttle towards the mountains. On arrival we meet our guide, a Sebastian Giovinco lookalike whose name for the life of me I can’t recall. We’ll call him Seb. Sorry mate.

My tour guide before a match with Bulgaria, Credit: Biser Todorov 

As we were hiking the trail towards one of the mountain ranges’ many beautiful waterfalls, one of the southern lads enquired with dread,

“Is there much longer to go?”

His forehead is plastered with oozing sweat, his eyes a flicker of hope. Unfortunately for him, it’s 11am – and this is a day trek. Some people need to stop skim reading the information portion of the booking website. Or at least read the title keenly.

He dragged himself along for another 20 minutes, he’s slowed the pace. My man Seb has hung back to make sure he doesn’t get lost. In a mixture of horror, bemusement and I’m assuming relief – he is unknowingly hoisted onto the back of a donkey, where he will remain for the rest of the trek. In quiet defeat I assume, but happy as long as it was nothing akin to Gypsy.

Seb guided us around several traditional Berber villages during the hike. He filled our ears and eyes with the beautiful culture in which they practice. The Atlas Mountains are truly phenomenal, as is the country of Morocco. Other than being mugged while walking through the tanning district, the rest of our stay was filled with fantastic hospitality and genuinely lovely people.

This hospitality was how I first watched the movie “Burn After Reading”. At Seb’s family home, sandwiched between my girlfriend and his Mother, arguably drinking the best mint tea I’d had during the entire trip.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched “Burn After Reading”, but that film doesn’t make sense half the time in English. Nevermind when you’ve joined in halfway through and the whole thing has been dubbed in Arabic. But hey, George Clooney! I’m sold.

What the hell?

The day came to a close with a tagine cooking lesson from our riad host, who had gone out and sourced our ingredients whilst we were away for the day. That night we both lay in bed with full bellies, a mind full of memories and no idea what the fuck had just happened.

I closed my eyes and nodded off.

Then the mosque woke me at 4am.

Give this man an Oscar! | Brad pitt, Burn after reading, Me as a girlfriend
A visual representation of my mornings in the Casbah.
personal tv

The Beauty in Ordinary: Why We Watch ‘The Office’

We’re all guilty of making our lives look better for the phone screen. Maybe this is a defence mechanism because everyone else is doing it – or maybe we’re trying to feel like deep down we are something ‘special’, like these celebrities we’re all told to care about.

This blog is my own personal attempt at bringing light to my own stories that looked better through the skewed lens of social. As much as we would like it to be, not everything is amazing all the time. That is just part of life I’m afraid.

The same goes with so-called ‘ordinary sitcoms’. People get offered crazy jobs across the other side of the world, leading lives that are beyond belief with little to no effort required. Their only problems being that this hot guy or girl doesn’t like them back. This new Emily in Paris is the latest in the long line of this trend.

Plucky Junior Marketing Executive picked out of obscurity by her manager to move to Paris as part of a merger, who can no longer relocate herself due to an unexpected pregnancy… Because who else should we send from this office of seasoned professionals?

The pretty one with a goldmine of ideas that work out every time of course 😊

I’ve worked in marketing, and if you’re a junior the only thing you’re considered for is being the one who has to go and fetch lunch for everybody else.

These shows do not feel real. If I lived like the cast of Friends, I’d never have any money because they seemingly don’t work. Never mind having a swanky large apartment in Greenwich Village, and being able to drink so much coffee that it catapults from my eyes over the rest of my ‘f·r·i·e·n·d·s’ who don’t do much else either.

There is of course the argument that this is TV – people don’t want to be reminded of their boring old lives. They want to be transported to the lives that they could have had, had they been born a few steps away from a MacLaren’s Pub or Central Perk.

This is what makes ‘The Office’ so special. This is the average day to day life of a corporate office job worker. Albeit in real-life their is a lack of Michael Scott, Gareth Keenan or Dwight Schrute. Although I do think we’ve all worked with our fair share of David Brents, Jim Halperts and Pam Beeslys. That’s what makes these two shows so hilariously funny.

(PSA. I’m not getting involved in the debate on which one is better, make your own life choices. It doesn’t matter what one guy on the internet thinks.)

I once worked under a bloke in a store I do not wish to name, and honestly you would have believed Ricky Gervais based his character on him and him alone. There are people out there who are walking memes of themselves, and this show captures them all brilliantly. Like perfectly etched caricatures with all their deepest faults extended and warped for the world to gaze their eyes on.

Characters in these shows need to be coerced into hanging out with each other after work, half of them don’t want to be there at all and the others are shown to have reached their potential ceiling – and that is perfectly okay.

Not all of us will be an Emily in Paris, a Jess in Los Angeles or a Dan Humphrey making his way into Manhattan’s upper elite.

For me, watching The Office made me realise the joy in everyday life. Sure, the characters are overexaggerated, but you do genuinely see some people day to day and think ‘what are you doing?’ – ala Michael Scott.

Granted, the US version lost its twinkle once Steve Carrell left and the characters became overtly flanderized to the point of no return, but we still have the early seasons to cherish. That’s what I’ve found with British sitcoms, we never squeezed them until you were sick of them – they always ended before their time and gained cult followings as a result. The UK Office being one of them.

The moral of the story I guess is that there is beauty in ordinary life, there is comedy in day-to-day and you don’t need to traverse continents to find adventure.

It’s everywhere you decide to look for it.

Even if you work in finance.

personal writing

Why I Never Finished My Book

While studying in my first year of university, like most young writers who dreamt of fame, I began writing a novel. The name? Pawns of the Gods. It was a religious themed epic inspired by the Fallout universe. This post-apocalyptic young adult novel was to be my magnum opus. It was a story of an angel sent down from the heavens as the Earth was tormented by Judgement Day, to assist a girl corrupted by Satan himself to end the impending reckoning.

The concept sounds incredibly cringe looking with the 20/20 vision of hindsight. It is key to remember however, that young adult post-apocalyptic novels a-la Hunger Games were all the rage back then. I was also 18 years of age.

Although admittedly, I recall giving it Christian themes as my way of making it ‘edgier’ – and to put my A-Level in Religious Studies to good use.

Crucifix Illustration

I worked hard on and off on the novel for the next three years.

I’d managed over 50,000 words in the end. Not only that but I’d had some good feedback on my work from family and friends who I’d deemed worthy enough to read segments of the story.

One day however, I just stopped.

Weeks and months went by and I never touched the thing. I tried to start it up again but with no luck. All that remains now is a half-finished rough draft printed and stuffed in a box, with a few story notes either stapled to it or scattered in various notebooks.

An unflattering end for my magnum opus.

There are a few reasons why I stopped I suppose, the number one being that I fell out of love with the written word for a time. University made me loathe writing after years of adoring it. Journalistic writing is formulaic and structured in a top-down boring way. Essays weren’t much better, and SEO is horrendous for a creative writer.

Instead of feeling like an escape from my other writing, it became a chore amongst them. I’ve spoke to many graduates about this phenomenon since my realisation. French students lose the passion to learn it for a while, art students put down the brush while philosophers rest their weary minds. I set down the pen, and I didn’t properly pick it up again until I started this website.

I think burnout is inevitable, especially after three non-stop years of pumping out creative work and you’ll find that those that didn’t burn out then, will do so down the line eventually.

Secondly, life just got in the way. Your post-university 20’s are some of the craziest, messiest and most intense years of your life. I had no time to sit and write my novel. As a kid I often wondered why all the authors I read were 30+ years of age. Other than experience and years of practice – it’s because younger writers are too busy living their own lives, never mind writing someone else’s.

Then there’s the issue of length. Every wannabe writer has Googled “how many words are in a novel?” and from experience I can tell you this is 100% the wrong approach. You should never measure your creative work by obligatory lengths. This ‘novel’ should have been a novella, yet as it was beginning to draw to a close I extended it because I didn’t believe it was ‘long enough’.

I make myself sick.

Remember the Shawshank Redemption? Barely anything to it. The same applies to the Very Hungry Caterpillar. I’m not comparing my teenage works to these behemoths of literature, but you understand my point right?

The Very Hungry Caterpillar [Board Book]: Carle, Eric, Carle,  Eric: Books

Finally, my love for the idea just… went. I lost my spark with it. The piece was a literal telling of a mental battle of somebody very close to me at the time.

The would have been ending to the story, captured what eventually happened in real life. In the end it was too painful and real to dust it off and finish it. In a sort of poetic way, because of those events the story had already finished. There was nothing left for me to write.

I’ve moved on to other projects now, this website being one of them. Hopefully the next story I tackle, I’ll be able to show off the complete work, rather than half-finished drafts.

The moral of the story? Pawns of the Gods was a massive learning experience for myself as a writer, despite the lack of cohesive ending to the project. Maybe one day I’ll go back to it.

Whatever sort of creative you are. Just keep creating. It might be terrible, or you might not even finish it and move onto something else, but you’ll always learn and get better.

Oh and don’t be scared to show other people your terrible work – even if it’s scary.

So here is an excerpt of that very novel:

The beast stood staring at the light that shone before him, expecting to see his mortal enemy, the one that imprisoned him since the creation of this world. The Wicked was about to get his revenge. The demon was taken aback when the light began to materialise, the figure was about the same height as the girl he had struck with his hellfire only minutes before.

The light solidified revealing a scruffy brown haired boy, dressed in
a sleeveless tunic of crystal white and sandals to match. His arms were muscular but lean, and a white bow was held in both of his hands.

The angel pulled back his bow and took aim at The Wicked that stood before him. The boy’s wings burst out from behind him in a wave of blinding white light. He looked carefully down the light blue arrow, with his matching sapphire eyes and took aim at the demon in front of him.

“Time for you to die” The youthful angel screamed as he fired his shot toward the crimson demon.

*chefs kiss* What incredible dialogue.

PS. In my head the angel was literally Pit from Kid Icarus.

Nintendo's games of the decade: Kid Icarus: Uprising
Copyright Nintendo.

personal travel

Reclaiming My Roots: A Liverpool Story

“A good place to wash your hair, Liverpool. Good soft water.” – John Lennon

Liverpool was the heart of my childhood. Coming from a working-class background my parents would often leave me in the care of my grandparents. We would walk around the Wirral and North Wales; but Liverpool was by far the most common.

I’m not a traditional Scouser in any sense of the word, my accent sounds far too south of the Mersey –  but my soul has always belonged to Liverpool. My grandparents on my Dad’s side are originally city natives, which is why we visited so often. My Great-great-grandfather on my Nan’s side was a resident of Llanwyddn, a traditional Welsh-speaking village that was later flooded to create the Liverpool reservoir in November 1889. That area is now known as Lake Vyrnwy. He was offered accommodation in another nearby Welsh village or the chance to move to Liverpool for work. Without a word of English in his brain, he chose the latter.

My Grandad’s side originates from Enniskillen in Northern Ireland, making their way over to ‘Ireland’s Second Capital’ for a better life. The towns name comes from the Irish ‘Inis Ceithleann’, referring to ‘Cethlenn’ – a goddess in Irish mythology. Her story is that she was wounded by an arrow and attempted to swim the River Erne to reach safety. She never reached the other side; the island the town is on was named in her honour. Luckily, he made it to Liverpool, and the Isle of Man isn’t called Andy’s Ancestor Island.

Born in his Nan’s apartment with a view of both Goodison Park and Anfield, my Grandad fortunately chose to support Liverpool. If not for that fateful decision, me and my Dad wouldn’t have our tradition of always watching the Champions League final together when we play in it, instead we would watch the Toffees limp to mid-table every season. So, cheers Grandad!

The reason my family left Liverpool was due to the overcrowding problem. They had moved from Everton to Kensington (where I would later live) and grown disgusted with the rat problems that plagued the area and all the demolition work that was going on.

Liverpool Council funded developments for population overspill in Skelmersdale, Runcorn and Ellesmere Port – the latter of which being the area my family decided to relocate, my Dad at the tender age of 18 months.

This was why we always returned to the city, so me and my brother could reconnect with our roots. I remember the Capital of Culture win in 2008 and being mesmerised by the dilapidated building with the rotating circle within it, fish and chips on the docks and the bustling streets of the pre-Liverpool One high street.

I’d boycotted my high school prom to see Blink-182 at the Echo Arena and I’d watched the Liverpool team bring home the 2006 FA Cup under the deafening hum of vuvuzelas, giddy as Pepe Reina waved at me personally. My Nan had been a painter and she used to craft canvas art of the Beatles in the static caravan at the end of her garden. The city was in my blood – there is no surprise I went for university.

There is a famous quote from one Margaret Simey, a politician and activist from Glasgow. She said that “the magic of Liverpool is that it isn’t England.” The city isn’t too fond of politicians named Maggie, but this one hit the nail on the head. Liverpool was a different world to me growing up, everyone was so friendly and outgoing. I was able to explore the city for myself, it was unique, it was bohemian and most importantly – it felt like home.

In my first-year studying International Journalism at John Moore’s, I lived opposite the still incomplete Royal Liverpool University Hospital, which has been a complete farce worthy of its own article (its actually been pushed back again until 2022 and has incurred a cost of £335 million).

Following that I lived in Kensington and understood straight away what my Grandad had warned me about the rats. They ripped bins to shreds and scuttled around chewing leftover student takeaway from the open-air dinner plate that was the pavement. It was grim. There were also two shootings on the street I lived on, both late in the night that woke me as the shots were fired. I’m also pretty sure we lived in an old drug dealers house as someone would turn up occasionally for a pick-up and bang on the door and scream through the mailbox.

It was during this second year that I’d frequent the Krazyhouse, which was in my opinion the best nightclub in the city before its closure. Sure, it was always dead, but it had a whole floor dedicated to 2000s Kerrang hits, so I loved it. I also bumped into my Dad there once.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling
Classy with his two-cans of Red Stripe (Krazyhouse, January 2015).

These nights of fun were paid for by a part-time job at Anfield. It was a dream come true working the kiosks of my beloved football club. My favourite shifts there were in the away end, where the staff and travelling fans would hurl abuse at each other. They were good times, but man am I sick of the ‘slippy Gerrard’ chant.

The Scouser in our team

In my third year, rodent problems persisted as I rented a flat in Toxteth with my partner. Our apartment overlooked Falkner Square; it was brilliant if not for the mice. On the positive side, the best thing about having mice is that there are no rats. As I wrapped up my degree, I had a chance to intern at the Liverpool Echo. I worked alongside cult hero James Pearce, David Prentice and Andy Kelly. The latter of which took me with him to the Liverpool Kirkby Academy to interview then academy player Matthew Virtue. On the drive there he mentioned to me an academy prospect destined for a bright future in the game, his name – Trent Alexander-Arnold. The rest as they say, is history.

I left Liverpool for Spain with a 2:1 degree, a lifetime of memories and a rekindling of my family history. I miss the city whenever I’m not there, and I know deep down I’ll be back again.

Thanks for reading.

personal short stories

Athena the Impersonator: A Short Story

The alarm blares for 7:00am. The screeching echoed around the four-walled trap I call my bedroom, my brain snaps into consciousness but my eyes refuse to open. I already know that I’m not leaving this bed today, through sheer determination today wasn’t going to be a school day. I searched my cerebral for excuses I could use to inform my mother, but without a morning coffee, the start-up time on my Windows 98 operating brain was slower than usual.

Eyes sewn shut, I slapped the alarm on the table, ceasing the incessant whining that had rudely awoken me from my peaceful slumber. It was then that I heard them, the dreaded sound that every teenage girl craving a sick day didn’t want to pierce their eardrums. Footsteps. The fact that my eyes had not yet opened gave me a convincing teary-eyed look. Before the door swung open, I clutched my stomach and lifted my legs into a foetal position. The wind from the sheer force of the door tickled my ears as my blonde hair fluttered over my face, yet a smile did not escape my lips.

“Athena, I don’t hear getting ready?” My mother questioned upon entry, before rolling her eyes down to her crumpled heap of a daughter that still lay under the covers.

“I don’t feel good mama,” I lied, before opening my eyes and crashing a pair of teary teal pupils into my Mother’s vision, “I can’t move from my bed, it hurts,” I stifled slightly, adding to my performance.

“You were perfectly fine yesterday Athena, just a bit quiet before bed,” my mother began. I knew where this was going.

“I hope you’re not trying to get off school because you ‘feel sad’ again,” she gestured quotation marks with her hands and tutted slightly.

“No mum, I’m really sick I promise,” I gritted my teeth, she needed to believe my story.

​She lifted herself to her feet and wiped off imaginary dust from her ironed beige trousers, it was obvious she didn’t believe me, she crossed her arms and stared down at the mess beneath her.

“Get out of bed. Now. I won’t stand for this constant and incessant whining. Everyday this week you have tried to get out of going to school because of this stupid and ridiculous reason,” she grabbed the corner of my single duvet and yanked it off my person, leaving me in just my Dragonball Z pyjamas. She dropped the bedding to the laminate floor and swivelled on her heel towards the entrance, she grabbed the handle vigorously.

“If I don’t hear movement in five minutes, being upset will be the least of your problems,” the door slammed immediately after her last word, acting as a sort of full-stop where anything afterwards would be needless and unnecessary.

I sighed, swung over the mattress and planted my bare feet on the ground. November is a cold month, and laminate floors do nothing to help the feeling of ice that burns through your blood when you leave your bed in the morning. I stomped over to the bedding that sat crumpled on the ground. I made sure to over-amplify my movements to my Mother, who was probably stood on the couch with a glass to the ceiling. I threw the duvet back onto my bed, a stray thread caught onto one of the scratches on my arm, causing me to wince as it tore the scar tissue.

I wandered over to the mirror and stared at my gaunt facial expression. Another night of little sleep was beginning to take its toll. The bags that were once under my optics appeared like suitcases and my eyes that were once the roaring blue of the pacific, now a dull lifeless abyss. I prodded the underneath of my eyelid and gave myself a little cheek squeeze in an attempt to gee myself up for the day, but alas, nothing worked. I opened the wardrobe and grabbed my favourite black jumper, and pulled it over my head. It pulled the plastered blonde hair from my forehead as it squeezed over my form. I looked at myself again for a moment, I made sure to pull the sleeves down to my wrists and grab them with my fingers.

I took the brush from my dresser and combed my hair from a blonde frizzy mess into one that was more manageable. I slipped on my skinny jeans and an old pair of Nike’s that my step-brother had passed on to me. They had grown too small for him, but they were still new-ish. I pulled a burgundy beanie hat over my head and grabbed the door handle to leave. I took one last look at my bed before leaving, faint sadness still plastered onto my face.

“Sometimes I need a day like an unmade bed, just so I can feel human again,” before I put my smile on for the day and left.


Don’t Pursue Happiness, Let It Come to You

The Declaration of Independence guarantees all Americans the right to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’. Now, I am not at all American – and never have I desired to be. But having a right to pursue happiness appears to me like some sort of paradox. This is because, to me, happiness is not something that can ever be chased successfully.

By now we’ve all heard the age-old John Lennon quote, for the sake of inclusiveness I’ll paste it below for all eight of you that haven’t seen it regurgitated across the internet.

I tell you what, I’ll even post it how it looks when your Mum shares anything on Facebook. It reinforces my point.

Oh yeah.

It’s a lovely sentiment at its core and I do believe we should all aspire to be ‘happy’ in our own lives – of course I do. But I do feel quotes such as these are being misconstrued, making multiple generations believe that happiness is some sort of aspirational goal in a similar vein to a career, perfecting a craft or having children. I believe the act of pursuing happiness is in-fact making people unhappy.

Happiness at its core is not an attainable trait, it is a fluctuating feeling that comes and goes in fleeting moments. It arrives when you would never expect it to and aversely never appears when you think it’ll be there. Think of it as those little light specs in your peripheral vision that disappear when you look at them. Liberty and freedom can be achieved, but happiness? No – it is a side-effect.

Attempting to seek a consistently ‘happy’ state is foolish, in the same way that one cannot exist in a constant state of luck. None of us can decide to be luckier because our heart desires it. We can, however, seek contentment.

Being a happy person stems from the roots of appreciation. Instead of being envious of a colleague for their higher salary or their fancier car, realise that yours fulfils all your needs. Never look at another child and compare it to your own, do not strive for that even more expensive watch because yours is only a year old. Not only can living like this make you a more content human being, it pulls you from the material rat-race and saves you money by living through your own means. Spend the money on the things you want to experience. Nobody thinks about their designer clothes on their deathbed.

Actively pursuing material happiness is the best way to drive true contentment away. The moment you buy that new car, your eye is almost immediately on the next one and you think how much happier the other person with that better car is. This drives discontent in your situation once more, even though you longed for this car for a substantial period of time.

You’ve heard the age-old quote that money doesn’t buy happiness, and this is why. We’re using it wrong. I’m not telling you to donate all your money and live on the streets. Just reign it in a little bit.  While money doesn’t necessarily buy happiness, a lack of it often leads to unhappiness.

Money is your greatest tool to craft a path towards contentment. This constant strive for more is what makes the pockets of billionaire’s jingle.

Take note of what you’ve got around you, not your bank balance.

Close friends, a loving family, having new experiences or embracing your own creativity. Contentment comes from letting go of the idea that material possessions allow it to happen.

The U.S. may grant a ‘pursuit of happiness’ in its constitution, but I’ve spent time in some of the poorest areas of rural Tanzania and they are much happier than many people I’ve seen back on home turf.

Look internally, not externally.

Waffle over.


A Northerners View on London

A quick disclaimer for y’all, I’m no London expert. I’ve visited a handful of times and I’ve been here for about three consecutive weeks so far. If anything, it means I’m definitely not the person who should be writing this article. But here I am, it’s my blog so deal with it. There are some things I’ve noticed since being in the Big Smoke that are completely different in the land of pies and gravy.

There Are Literally Prets Everywhere

Honest to God, why are there so many Prets? It is the overrated coffee chain for toffs. They’re literally on every corner of this bloody city. Pret for me was an occasional lunch I purchased mid-shift at the Cheshire Oaks when I’d forgotten my own and Maccies was closed. While their delicious brie and avocado toasties were to die for, I wouldn’t flood the city with Prets at the same ratio as Tescos.

I literally got my girlfriend to take this photo to prove a point. Trafalgar Square. (July, 2020).

It is completely bonkers. I’ve spotted a single Gregg’s for every 20 Prets on my wanders around. Trafalgar Square has two across the road from each other. You can literally look longingly at another Pret while you consume your overpriced Pret that you just purchased. I wouldn’t mind but the coffee isn’t even that great – I don’t understand it, I don’t even want to say the P word anymore. Moving on.

You Can Tell There is Actually Funding

Coming straight from Lancashire, this is no surprise. Central London is the richest area in the entirety of Northern Europe, Lancashire is the 7th poorest within the same area. The difference is genuinely stark, and it makes you realise the centrism of the government in this country. The population of Greater London is expected to reach 10 million by 2030. Half the reason for this is migration of labour. The government can use buzzwords like ‘northern powerhouse’ as much as they want, but when the solution is literally to attach the North to London through HS2, you need to rethink your plans.

It’s Unbelievably Flat

I expected so much more from Primrose Hill. Again, coming straight from Lancashire I expected it to be a relatively substantial height. Nope. The word hill is massively misleading. I’d have called it Primrose Lump, or Primrose Slightly Raised Grass.

The view from Primrose Lump (July, 2020)

The view from the ‘top’ is admittedly fantastic, but if this was up north it wouldn’t even have a name. Being honest with you all, it would have already been torn down and made into ‘Primrose Housing Estate’.

The People Are Genuinely Really Friendly

This really took me by surprise, as you hear some horror stories about the abhorrent unfriendliness of ‘Londoners’. Other than one lad who told me to f*ck off for no reason, or the other who walked around the Rose Garden in the Regent’s Park tearing off the unflowered buds like a small child – everyone has been lovely.

Living in Lancashire, even just sitting in a park or walking home I’d get abuse hurled at me for being ginger. I’m not really sure why, it’s great. We all have a massive WhatApp group where we all update each other on our ginger lives. Ed Sheeran, Paul Scholes and Prince Harry are always typing away.

In London though, I’ve had none of that yet. I’m not writing this for sympathy or anything, I’m a big lad and I only cry sometimes. Jokes aside, it’s just something I’ve noticed.

People often talk about the ‘friendliness’ of Northerners, which is true if you’re hiking through the Lake District, smile and say hello to the one other person who walks in your general direction. However, and I don’t know about you, I actually hate it when someone tries to talk to me on the Merseyrail. Please leave me alone. I do not want to become a Mormon; I’ve seen the musical. Even worse is conversations at the urinal. I’m pretty sure that goes against every rule in the bloke handbook.

If you ask me, all of us should adopt the etiquette of the tube. Don’t look at me, let me ride the train in peace unless I already know who you are. The North is very friendly, but so is London. I just find that the friendliness is in more appropriate places. But maybe that’s just me…

Nobody Walks Anywhere

I really enjoy walking, which is lucky considering I passed my driving test and never bought a car. If a journey is an hour or under from my door, odds are I’ll walk it. I met my friend by the Shard the other day and walked there from Marylebone. She was visibly shocked; it was about an hour and a half, but it was almost 30°C out and I didn’t fancy taking the sweat-box that is the tube.

I find walking gives you a better feel for a place compared to popping in and out of the underground like a whack-a-mole. Maybe in the future I’ll become magnetized to the tube like a regular old Londoner, but that’s yet to happen. Being fair though, the weathers been great.

There’s so much good food. Brood, Borough Market. (July, 2020)

There is Something for Everyone

I’ve spent the last few weeks exploring my new surroundings and honestly there is just stuff to do in every direction. Feeling bohemian? Hackney, Shoreditch and Camden Market. World renowned tourist sites? Check. A massive choice of cuisine from everywhere you could possibly think of? Another check. Graffiti? Waterloo. Seeing how the other half live? Kensington, Chelsea, Hampstead Heath and Richmond. Parks? Yep. Hills? No – actually. But the beaches of Brighton aren’t too far away!

Blood sucking corporate buildings with no character?


Canary Wharf is Terrible

I don’t care if it’s the safest part of London. I’ve never seen a place so devoid of life and filled to the brim with commercial boredom. Every shop is a chain (there are bloody Prets everywhere) and it’s all so grey. The only thing that isn’t grey is this golden egg for some reason.

Somebody call the Easter Bunny. Canary Wharf. (July, 2020)

There is more personality in a lump of cement-coloured clay than Canary Wharf. London is packed with so much culture, so why would you choose to live in the one part that doesn’t have any? Nah, pull it down and try again lads.

No offence if you live there, its just really not for me. I bet you’ve got killer views of the good parts of London from those skyscrapers though.

In conclusion, I’m really enjoying my time in London so far. You can only get so much of a feel for a place so big in a hand full of visits. I’ve barely even scratched the surface of the city and it feels like I’ve done nothing but walk around since I’ve been here. Long may it continue!

Now, I’ve got a hankering for a soy vanilla iced latte from a Pret in Canary Wharf.


PS. After a quick Google search it turns out there are 237 Prets in London (back in 2018 at least, so they’ve probably carried on breeding). Told you.

How stunning is Little Venice? (July, 2020)

The Genius of Declan McKenna

On the 11th of April 2015, a 16-year old Declan Benedict McKenna topped Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent competition. The teenager beat out Shields and Kog and the Zongo Brigade to the top spot as they finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. His spoils? A £5000 cash prize and a main stage slot at the festival that year. Can’t be bad for a kid who still lived at his Mum’s house.

Before his win, NME had named him ‘one of the most sought-after acts’ in the UK. Why? You might have heard of a little song called ‘Brazil’ he had released that year at the age of 15. The Enfield native penned the political banger as a ‘triple collateral’, targeting the ill-prepared 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian government and many corrupt FIFA officials: especially the infamous Sepp Blatter.

He was even invited onto Sky News to talk about the correlation between football and poverty, he told them, “[i]t’s expanding into things further than I ever meant it to. It’s quite cool, thinking about the monster I’ve made with that song. People take a lot of different things from it”

The tune was staggeringly adult from a lad who was still sitting his GCSE’s, but it set him on the path to become one of British indie music’s future darlings. ‘Brazil’ would later appear on his 2017 debut album ‘What Do You Think About the Car?’, the name of which stems from a home video recorded when the Londoner was 4-years old. His parents had come home with a new Toyota Previa, and his sister asks the then toddler:

That’s So Raven. (Declan McKenna, Patterns, Brighton 2018) Credit: Drew de F Fawkes

“Dec, what do you think about the car? Do you like it?”, to which he replies…

“I think it’s really good, and now I’m gonna sing my new album now!”

The title track ‘Humongous’ has the audio of this exchange as it’s introduction, meaning it’s the first thing you hear when you pop the record on. It’s a charming opening to an album that spawned some massive tracks for McKenna, including: ‘The Kids Don’t Wanna Come Home’, ‘Why Do you Feel So Down?’ and ‘Paracetamol’.

Rolling Stone claimed on its release that “McKenna has built an activist-centric body of work exploring religion, gender identity and other thorny political topics’. The youngster is astonishingly mature in his song writing, an example from this album is Track 6, ‘Isombard’. The song is a catchy electronic pop tune blended with a catchy hook as a melodic guitar that slips in and out of the mix as it meanders through its 3 minute and 43 second runtime.

Lyrically, ‘Isombard’ is a satire on right-wing news corporations that is loosely based on the famous sonnet ‘next to of course god america i’ by E.E Cummings. The poem is a satire itself on blind patriotism. It speaks through the lens of a nonsensical drunkard who is unaware of his country’s distortion as all he can see his is own nationalism. In a strange twist of irony, this track would later join the FIFA 17 soundtrack, obviously they hadn’t heard ‘Brazil’.

An activist on the pavement in Whitehall opposite 10 Downing Street in 2018. Source: Alisdare Hickson

McKenna followed up his debut with the politically charged ‘British Bombs’. To the backing of a bouncy Britpop beat the artist heavily criticises the UK’s international affairs approach, with particular focus on the country’s involvement of selling bombs to Saudi Arabia. This ammunition is used by them to bomb the innocent civilians of Yemen, who are stuck in a proxy war between the Saudis and Iran.

And if it’s not a f*cking war crime. It’s a total waste of your time. And getting so much worse. Get real, kid, your country’s been at war since birth now” (British Bombs, Declan Mckenna)

There is a comment on the music video for this song that encapsulates his efforts better than I ever could. Eva Sjö writes, “Declan makes music for politically frustrated indie kids and I’ve never felt more represented”.

We live in an age where kids can no longer be told what to think. British teenagers are ashamed of their imperial and colonial roots, Generation Z are stewards of this Earth and they want to leave it in a better way than they found it. McKenna is the poet to their post-modern beliefs.

McKenna is releasing his sophomore album ‘Zeros’ this August, and I for one am beyond excited. Three singles have already dropped, each more interesting than the last. The new sound is sonically thunderous and booms with new confidence  from the springboard of his greener first effort. Lead single ‘The Key to Life on Earth’ tackles how badly human beings interact with one another. The video includes Alex Lawther from the critically acclaimed Channel 4 show ‘The End of the F*cking World’ because McKenna’s fans think they’re doppelgängers. Not only is he politically woke, he’s also social media savvy with his hordes of fans.

Follow-up single ‘Beautiful Faces’ critiques the façade of influencer culture and even his own career as it is made to look better than it seems. His newest effort, ‘Daniel, You’re Still a Child’ dropped last week and tells the story of a boy who is alienated by his own world as he grows older. With a maturity beyond his years and a writing style reminiscent of the late David Bowie, McKenna is one to keep a keen eye on as he sprints headfirst into the future (probably in front of a green screen).

I’ll see you when he plays in Brixton next April.