Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Clean Up Your Act!

I am a pacifist in every sense of the word.

If there's a brawl in a bar down the rough side of Swansea (which is the North, South, East, West and Centre of the city), you can be sure that I am running in the opposite direction, like a blubbering Forrest Gump trying to convince people it's nobody's fault at all. Nothing is too much of a crime for me. What's that? You spilled my drink over my final dissertation copy after you rocked my table so hard the cup fell over because you were ravaging my girlfriend on it whilst looking me square in the eye? Come off it! Everyone fucks up once in a while! Let's get a pint!

There is only one battlefield a student should ever occupy, and it isn't even a sports field (that's just another form of combat- even the (in)famously rowdy and absolutely fictional Swansea University Chess and Cribbage Society have been known to throw a left rook on a knight out... *cough*...). Some sports teams fight with other sports teams- Rugby Union and Football occasionally sparr over really important topics like whom spilled what over whom- and if you're incredibly unlucky, you could find yourself scrapping with a member of your own society, or even a good friend! But of course, when the red mist descends, the face doesn't matter, just as long as you manage to rearrange it into an unrecognizable pulp.

Why does the (mentally, sub) average man feel the need to show another man what his fist feels like at speed? Do actions really speak louder than words?

Now, I'm no psychologist, but I not only live with one, but have also been punched by him 3 times in the side of my head, and so hopefully can shed some light on the situation, and I have come up with two theories, which I shall briefly bore you with.

1. It's a chance for a man to justify to himself his gym membership. After all, as I argued in my previous post, lifting bits of metal up and down for an extended period of time repeatedly isn't very manly, but, thanks to violent TV films and TV shows, such as 1960s Batman (POW!), fighting is seen to be a sign (BIFF!) of valour and courage. I've never seen a picture (THWUNK!) of Chuck Norris lifting, but I have of Justin Bieber. I have however, seen Chuck Norris fight (needless to say, he won). So surely fighting is a manly activity? It's about as manly as buying a drill, or fitting a shelf!

2. His kitchen is a disgrace.

The kitchen is the one source of all students' rage. Deadlines, exams and positive chlamydia tests are bad enough, but a dirty kitchen is enough to put me in such a swirling rage, I'd be tempted myself to find the nearest bystander, force his teeth down onto the kerb and stamp on the back of his head. It's a disgraceful sight that would break the moral of any man after a tough day at university.

But because he is a man, and he is at university, his kitchen HAS to be a disgrace. Years of social inequality and shit jokes has taught him that the only person who should be associated with a kitchen is a WOMAN, and they are not very manly. In fact, they're the least manly people on the earth! They should be cleaning the kitchen while the big manly man is watching the big game on the big screen with a big beer surgically attached to his big arm, shouldn't they?

But secretly, men despise dirty kitchens. Nothing grates us more. A man's home is his castle! It should be kept in a pristine manner! Dust and grime is about as welcome in his house as an incontinent Jehovah's Witness, spewing shit out of two of his orifices! Leave my castle alone, you cretin! So when the penny drops that, because he's a man and because he's a student, he is destined to live in a shithole, the man is not happy. The man is mad. But he can't be seen to be mad, and herein lies the difficulty. What can be done?

A kitchen, as a communal area, is a minefield to negotiate. At first, you hope for a blitzkrieg against your housemates. Absolutely level them with your hygiene standards and inform them that they are in your eternal debt until they perform a similar act of heroism. This, in the history of university, has never happened. Trench warfare ensues, where you sit in your respective dug-outs, lobbing the odd passive-aggressive remark over the top, and hoping it hits somebody. Occasionally, you peek over no man's land, only to see a potato which didn't quite make it to the bin coming straight at you. Then, somebody from the north starts hailing artillery south. It's near you, but not aimed at you, you just watch on. Confident their artillery has made some inroads, the aggressor then marches across the battlefield, only to find his attack blunted by his own derelict bowl of half-eaten pasta, the hypocrite!

So battle rages on between the unstoppable force and the immovable object. But, like shaking a Diet Coke with a Mento in it, something's going to burst. Occasionally, it blows up in the face of the deserving criminal. But most of the time, it's just some poor bastard who trod on your foot in a nightclub. He's sorry, and you know he's sorry. But then you think about your shit kitchen, and you perform a David Haye tribute act in full view of 20 bouncers. If only they knew the truth! Your kitchen is disgusting, and this man here deserves to bear the full brunt of your wrath!

Maybe invite him round for a cuppa the next day to help him understand. Then knock the cunt out with an egg-stained frying pan.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Worst Question in All of University Life

It's the question I fear most every single day of my University life.

I'm sitting in my room. Nothing fancy, just relaxing. The music is on shuffle, the screen is on Facebook, and my mind is in "vacuous blob" mode. Staring at an article on the changing nature of the Internet. I have a study group tomorrow, and it is absolutely vital (to me) that I come up with 3 good points to discuss, and avoid looking like a total vegetable, who's only purpose in the meeting is to stop the chair from flying away in the breeze. I scribble down 4 dull and terrible points (which is the same thing as 3 good ones), and press Control and S. A solid day's work there, JB, now go and grab a cup of Earl Grey. By God, you've earned it!

But then the question comes and his me sideways. I know it's coming, but I never know when it's coming. The timing of it always catches me out.

"Mate, you wanna come to the gym today?"

What sort of question is that? It can come at any time, but the answer will always be the same.

I stumble for a moment.

"Oh, erm, what time you going?"

The answer is dependent on the timing of the question itself.


Occasionally I stand tall, and I refuse. After all, I have just spent the past 15 minutes doing work, I am pretty burnt out. But the worrying trend, recently, is a yes escaping from my mouth.

I want to go to the gym?

But why? There's nothing there for me! Gyms are where athletes push the very boundaries of what their bodies are capable of, or where bodybuilders go to burn off that last bit of pesky fat. It's certainly not where regular folk like you and I should be at all, let alone socialising and actually working out there.

In a house of 8 men, where I reside while I endure university ("men" is such an over-used word), going to the gym is seen to be a symbol of manliness and testosterone-fuelled credibility, though I'm not sure exactly why, or when it developed over time. Spartans never proved their worth in battle by lifting a heavier rock more times than their opponents. A veteran of the two world wars in the 20th Century was measured by his mettle, not by how much he could lift in one go, because its such a ridiculous way of assessing somebody.

And assessing somebody IS something that does go on, no matter how much gym-goers deny it. See that guy "doin' curls in the squat rack"? What an imbecile! Why doesn't he just go the whole hog and teabag the rowing machine while he shouts racist abuse at a treadmill? See that moron with matchsticks for arms thinking he can bench 100kgs? Just go home pal, I'm sure your lettuce leaf of a lunch is going off in the fridge. And that size 6, toned brunette in the super tight leggings on the cross trainer?... You can stay. Then there's the fucking huge mirror they put on one wall so you can even assess your own miserable time wasted on lifting bits of metal around. "It's so you can check out your form, bro". I'm sure it is- I'll tell you one thing it's absolutely 100% NOT for; checking either 1. yourself out or 2. the brunette on the cross trainer. But just in case she sees you, you end up just looking at yourself, just to be safe.

There is nothing positive about gyms at universities. From the overenthusiastic spin class instructor screaming at you to cycle a little bit more, despite the fact that you're sitting on a stationary object, quite literally going nowhere in life, to somebody who, until about 20 seconds ago, you classed as a friend urging you to do one more lift while you silently cry inside your own head "MAKE IT STOP! I DON'T WANT TO LOOK LIKE JODIE MARSH! I JUST WANT TO GO HOME AND BE NORMAL!", and it has to be inside your own head, because if you shout out like a Russian hammer thrower, you will get shifty looks. Yeah, it's okay to push yourself, but come on, do it quietly.

Why regular citizens of planet Earth visit the gym is beyond me. To be stronger? To run faster? To jump higher? Why? What is there to aspire to? I'm sure when we leave University, employers will jump at the chance to employ somebody who can squat well, or who can bench more. Maybe in the future, companies will choose who to employ by simply holding a massive arm wrestling competition, in a twisted mash of The Apprentice vs. Gladiators, where the strongest and fittest people on the planet get the best jobs, while the weak are left to wilt and die in the street like the useless shrubs they so deserve to be.

Can't we all just accept our bodies for what they are and do something constructive with them instead?


Wednesday, 20 March 2013


As you may have guessed if you had read a previous post, I enjoy going out clubbing as much as I enjoy slamming Mr Teeny (every man has a name for theirs, don't act like I'm the only one) in a rusty gate.

There are infinite ways in which I would improve the nightclubs, not just in Swansea (which isn't exactly synonymous with class and elegance at the best of times), but in the entire world. I've managed to squeeze it into 2 steps: 1. bulldoze and burn every bastard down to the godforsaken ground and 2. If anybody protests, repeat step 1.

But I'm a reasonable man, I know not everybody wants them scorched to oblivion, so let's all agree on the worst aspect of nighclubs; the one thing I can't stand about nightclubs isn't the fact that after you've queued for twenty minutes in the driving rain and ruined your hair (a big problem for me), or you've paid a few of your hard earned pounds to stand inside out of the rain, after you've paid a small fortune for a thimble of imitation vodka in a vat of imitation cola, or that it's all knocked out of your hand by someone who's had much more imitation vodka than is surely legal. No, through all of that, there is one constant which drives me up the fucking wall: the music. More to the point, how bloody loud it is all the time. 

This has been a problem which has plagued the history of mankind- even centuries ago when my ancestor Lord Walter Brittain IV walked into his local public house "The Duck and the Ridiculously Short Life Expectancy", and instantly scribed upon a piece of parchment about the shocking volume of Beethoven's Fifth- and that piece was the only thing anyone was interested in at the time. That and Madonna's difficult second album.

Loud music is to morons what huge portions of food are to fat people. Fat people seem to constantly think "these pancakes do taste good- but what would make them really good is if I had thirty of them in one go", like morons think "yes, this Nicki Minaj song is really hitting the spot for me, but isn't it just so much better if I play it so it's louder than Maria Sharapova holding a jackhammer, screaming on top of a jumbo jet?!", forcing you to lean into their ears and shout NOT REALLY YOU FUCKING PRAT ITS THE SAME THING!"

The killer blow is that the music is a never-ending stream of utter drivel played at a billion decibels with no intervals at all. No DJ has ever said "Okay, we're going to take a short break now, let you catch your breath, maybe have a toilet stop, go and get some fresh air, and we'll come back and have some more jolly good fun in about five minutes? Is that cool?", because DJs are employed specifically to keep the atrocity going, and run songs into each other. Any silence or pause between the music is a henious crime in the DJ world, punishable by torture, or death-by-boos-and-jeers.

Imagine for a second if a DJ in a nightclub played music at a regular volume... Blissfull, isn't it? Okay, so it's not your favourite song the DJ is playing (and if it's "Gangnam Style", frankly it isn't anybody's favourite song), but it's at such a volume that your riveting conversation about the appearance of the girl along the bar can simply block it out. Men would be able to talk to women in a normal manner, and because the music isn't as loud, they wouldn't be so inclined to act as if they know how to dance; they could just converse, share interests, and simply let their charm (or lack of it) dictate if they are going to get a taxi home with an attractive lady, or just stumble home with bits of chicken and kebab hanging out of their mouth.

I can literally see no downside in turning the volume down on nightclubs around the world, and therefore expect there to be borne out of this blog, the humbly titled "Brittain's Law", in which clubs are banned from playing loud music. It's a genius idea but, as is so often the case with genius ideas, it'll probably be drowned out. Probably by some loud shit music.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Don't You Know About the Word?

Studying a foreign language has always been a source of great interest for me. If I was perhaps a little bit better at French, I would have loved to have studied it at University. As it is, I study Politics, which is like French, but it isn't as cool... or romantic... or interesting... or fun... or anything really.

But I feel I have a licence to study French, because I've already mastered my own language (English, in case you didn't notice), to a certain extent at least. Alas, there is still one part of our glorious language I haven't quite conquered: slang.

The whole 'yoof' population went through a phase where txt spk woz rly kool, lyk, u get dis? An era of when to speak in slang was quite cool. It was when Nokia phones were at their peak, when everyone had a 3210, 3310 or something similar, and it was much quicker and cooler to rite lyk u wer in such a rush dat u had 2 txt quik cuz u iz a busy fella. Now iPhones and proper keyboards have put paid to that- what excuse is there for such atrocious language?

Language changes all the time. Slang changes pace so much after the solid 3 months it takes me to master the proper use of a phrase, it's gone completely out of fashion. I left University in 2nd year thinking that "buzzin'" was slang for "a heightened feeling of excitement", like;

"Yo, J-dawg! (Nobody has said this ever, I don't have a nickname) You goin' out tonight?"
"Hell yeah! (I have never said this ever, either) I'm buzzin' for it!"

However, now I'm told that "buzzin'" means "somebody who isn't attractive", e.g...

"Yo, Jay Bizzle (I'm so lonely...) Saw you hittin' on some BUZZIN bird last night!"
"Excuse me? I was just chatting to my friend from spin class (this would have happened if I wasn't so goddam shy)"
"Oh sorry butt.... AWKS"

Luckily, the word for someone who uses all this language has never changed. It's always been "dickhead".

It's also the use of a phrase in a situation which doesn't really suit it. For example, if you were walking to work and you were suddenly attacked by a ravenous chicken, you'd be forgiven for saying "Holy shit! That was crazy!". But if you just make a piece of toast with some jam on it, take a photo of it on Instagram and put "#thatshitcray", it obviously isn't fucking crazy, is it?! It's actually quite regular, it's the opposite of "cray!" If anything, you should be writing "#thatshitratherbanal".

Another disgusting craze recently (no, not the Harlem Shake, but that also bloody sucks- basically there's an establishing shot of a normal situation, when some berk wearing a horse's head jiggles on acting like he's trying desperately to hold in a shit, then the bass drops and somehow in the 0.098 seconds it takes to change tone, everyone else in the scene has leaped on each other and flailed about like they've lost all control of muscles and common sense, all for the sake of a few views on YouTube?! That's a very valuable 30 seconds of your 15 minutes of fame down the fucking drain there) is people saying "UNNNAAAYY". There is simply no need for it. When people eventually do get a degree and a job, are they really going to go into their office on Day 1 and shout "FINAAAAAANNCCEEE!!!" "RISK ASSESSMEEEEEENNNNTTT!" "TRAINEE MARKETIIIIIIIIINNNGG!" I really hope not.

We, as students need to take a stand against this shoddy language. Not swearing (It doesn't show a lack of vocabulary you totty fucking spunkmonkey), but atrocious slang which doesn't really mean anything. Students who cannot think of 1. Anything nice to say or 2. A decent bloody way to articulate themselves should do their classmates a huge favour and keep their jaws firmly locked together, and don't open them again, preferably until you graduate.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Wednesday Night's Alright for Fighting!

Ladies and Gentleman, raise a glass for the Wednesday night.

It beholds love stories even Hollywood couldn't write. Boy meets girl, boy buys girl a drink, girl walks off with free drink, boy punches other boy for spilling his drink, which has effectively now cost him twice as much, since the other one vanished from straight under his nose. "That's eight quid worth of something remotely like vodka and imitation cola you've knocked over there, you cunt!" et cetera. Wednesdays eh?!

Whilst there are a plethora of societies at Swansea, ranging from the very popular football society, to the not-as-popular James Brittain Appreciation Society (which is always looking to recruit new members if anyone wants to squeeze in a bit of razzle dazzle before May?), whatever their differences, all societies run off to their own bar which gave them a little bit of money so that they could spend amounts in there that even The Queen would call "excessive", and then all come out and congregate in a very limited number of nightclubs for one night each week. These nightclubs stay exactly the same for a while, then, for some reason, they all completely change, because "nobody goes there anymore".

This concept of a Wednesday has always baffled me because, until last October, I wasn't in any society, other than the aforementioned Appreciation Society (still looking!), and the only "socials" we had were coffee mornings and a very, VERY brief meet and greet. Thankfully, this year, I'm essentially friends with benefits with the very hospitable and banterous (if such a word is still cool, or even actually exists) Rugby League society. The friendship being the captain is my housemate, and the benefits being, courtesy of a neck injury which I tragically picked up when I saw the size of everybody else, I don't have to risk having my face reshaped each and every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. At first I thought everyone would look at me like you would at somebody who got a job in an office for sleeping with the boss, and whilst that is entirely true, they've been kind enough to look past it for my sake.

So I stand for a couple of hours on the touchline, each Wednesday like a sheepish father coming to watch his son, shout a few unhelpful things like "tackle him!" and "argh, ref!", pat a few players on the back for their efforts, make a special effort to pat the captain (after all, it is down to his grace and my sleeping with him which got me in this society in the first place), go home, get changed, drink with them, and talk to them about all I've just seen at their game which, is A. Quite a lot, as I didn't have to concentrate on playing my own game, and B. the last thing they want to talk about, because they know what just happened, they were bloody there, and they certainly don't need the opinion of someone who has the air of a snidey supporter who somehow always sneaks a VIP pass onto the touchline.

By about 1:30 in the cold, stale morning, I'm a quivering wreck after spending a four or five hours being intimidated by men who can polish off a pint as if it was a thimble of water, trying my hand and failing miserably at dancing in order to impress a lady, making the best effort not to look casually racist as I try to order some chicken for the walk home, but can't hear a word the vendor is saying because my eardrums have been shattered by atrocious music, give up, get some sushi and water from Tesco and lie in bed regretting I ever went out.

Then Thursday morning ACTUALLY comes, and you just wish you had never been bloody born. Or at the very least, drunk so much.

Still, I bet it doesn't stop you doing exactly the same thing next week.  

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Student Elections- The Definitive Guide of Who to Vote For!

Elections. They come but once a year, (if you're in University).

Voting is taking place for Swansea Uni's Student Officers for the next 2 days, after at least a week of hard campaigning (well, changing your cover photo, anyway). From what I gather, candidates spend a wad of cash on paper, sharpie pens and pritt stick, put their posters in every lecture theatre under the Sun (not the newspaper, but maybe they slip posters in The Sun paper as well? Target those intellects and get them on board early!) so that we can choose who can join our fine establishment and work for a bit less money than a lecturer would if they took on that responsibility.

I am in the massively well-informed position of knowing ONE officer from this vintage (ahem) year of Swansea University's history, and that's only because I heard my housemates talking about them (I'm not going to give them the satisfaction of being associated with me, they could use my massive network of Uni friends (ha!) to their advantage). As far as I, average Joe, could tell, nothing has changed at all in the three years I have endured here, except I'm certain the Athletics Union (AU) membership price has gone up by 50%, which is ever so slightly above inflation, but only 250% down from what the University fees have increased by. Mind you, I didn't buy an AU Card in 2nd year, so maybe I missed the small step up to the cost it is today. The reason for my non-membership was partly down to my failed Football trials, where I kicked a ball near where a goal should have been, was forced to strip until the Little Lord was out on full show in the cold and rain, and chase footballs and other men around a muddy field.

I didn't make it into a team. All 9 of them.

So apart from absolutely nothing, what have the Student Officers done?... No really, that's a question I'm asking you. I literally have no idea.

This year's candidates all look strong and able & willing (No, of course I haven't read their manifestos, I'm a busy 3rd Year goddammit!), and I will give my vote to the candidate who does something. It can be anything. It can be absolutely wrong and completely against what I want. But at least you can say you did something, and didn't pale into the obscurity of a yearbook with nothing to show for it. If you're motivated by how this will look on your CV; believe me, employers would appreciate someone who said "I tried a few things, but ultimately, it didn't work out" than someone who said "I spent all this money on paper and sharpies and pritt stick so I could sit in an office and see how many times I could swirl my chair around and around without having to use my legs!"

The way to vote is simply thus- simply hover your metaphorical pen over the metaphorical ballot (or just do it in your head) and say to yourself "eenie meenie miney mo, pick the person that you know!" and voila! If you don't know anyone in a particular category (and out of 7, there's 4 in which I know nobody) I'd stay out of this contest all together. The likes of you and me clearly don't belong in a world of this level of popularity. We're much better sitting here with an Earl Grey being told who to vote for.

If anyone can nudge me in the right direction in the next 24 hours, that'd be swell.