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Monday, June 30, 2014

X-Factor and the next ‘charitable’ act

X-Factor is coming, guys, a great opportunity for some entertainment, tears, and well…critical thinking.

I love the show for a number of reasons, even if it does cause a lot of distress for me personally. But I will start with the things I like. Because even when knowing that X-Factor became just a show and has nothing to do with helping singers (Black magic?), it does have its immense attraction. Apart from the fact that now quite a few great singers can really sing, thanks to the show, there is another aspect, which appeals to the viewers. Simon Cowell will be on it, and we all love Simon even when we hate him, because just the sight of him is enough to bring millions of viewers in front of the screen to check him for any signs of plastic surgery, whether he is still overly sarcastic and whether he has all his charm intact. I think he does, and he is the reason I am going to watch the show this year, as damn it, the man is simply irresistible. But this is my personal opinion and I find it a pity that he happens to be the producer of the monstrous capitalistic machine such as the X-Factor at the same time.

But while he is the main trigger for me to re-join staring at the screen after I stopped watching it two years ago, it doesn’t mean that I am ready for it whole-heartedly. I will stock myself with some herbal tea as well as valerian so that I will be able to calm down my nerves in case they present us with another ‘charitable’ act.

‘The act of charity’ I am talking about is the homeless guy who, and I quote was ‘homeless hopeful’ among thousands of other contestants but who made it to the bootcamp. ‘He needs a lucky break’, the judges repeated saying and the whole thing was, obviously, a total farce, but nevertheless, quite shocking. There was this guy, and his name is Robbie Hance, who was indeed homeless, but it wasn’t what struck me in him. It was his talent and the ‘back-up’ story was just well…a story.

Until something really unpleasant happened. Robbie forgot his words on the scene and walked out. The most unpleasant part happened after, I have to say, especially for me, as I was waiting that judges would rush after him (which they do on occasions in order to make a better show), that he would reappear, and I waited and waited for…at least something. A word about him, an apology to him, some mention of him from judges or producers.


As if Robbie Hance never existed, which was astonishing considering that the X-Factor is all about some impression management. I thought that after making out of the guy indeed a case for charity and pity, they would go as far as find him and help him somehow. After all, the reason of Robbie Hance leaving the show was that the producers wouldn’t even give him fifteen pounds for food and shelter. So, I suppose the charity consisted in bringing him on the scene, which is spectacular taking into account that the likes of Robbie Hance aren’t after the fifteen minutes of fame, but after some promise of a better life. Not a life consisting of stardom, but a life where one can eat and sleep in a warm place.

But well, show is just a show, but in case you are interested in what happened to Robbie Hance (like I am), he is out there, somewhere. He created his own website at some point (, he wrote his own songs (, and he was for some time on Twitter. He is no longer there, and I can’t find any info on him. So, I am just asking it here: does anyone know where is Robbie Hance?

To conclude, I will put a link to another song. The Show, in general, needs slightly more Faith

Sunday, June 22, 2014

On the matter of onions

Just like with coffee (my post on coffee can be found here this is an item that leaves few people indifferent. Either you like them or you hate them. I’ve never yet a person in between, someone who is indifferent to onions. One can’t be, surely!

You see, I like thinking about such things: onions, but also garlic, brands of coffee, or pumpkin oil (you can add it on roasted vegetables and it tastes delicious). I think that they all make our lives more interesting and more savoury. I truly belong to the camp of those who prefer salty products to the sweets. And onions make an essential part of my daily routine.

My son got it from me, I think. When we go to town, he asks sometimes for a hotdog and insists on lots and lots of onions in it. Not only does he eat it all, he also has the tendency to take the onions out, like big fat worms, one by one, and put it in his mouth as some sort of spaghetti, saying all the way: ‘nice, very nice’. I have to say that despite my own love for onions even I have to turn my eyes away during the procedure. This intolerance to the onions which look ‘boiled’ come from my experience in Russia, I think. Due to the rarity of products at some point we put onions everywhere, including the soups, and they would float on the surface like medusas in the sea. My cousin and I would refuse to eat it, driving my grand-mother (who made the soup) absolutely bonkers. She should see me know, adding them like mad to every salad I make.

So, as usual, I will try to connect onions to the topic of madness. In a manner of Proust, so to speak.  I think I have an idea how to enjoy the onions while being mad.

For instance, if you are in a psychiatric hospital and you don’t like the food on offer (my experience shows that psychiatric departments serve the best food, seriously), ask for a salad. I remember that during my stay, I was offered a choice between tuna, cheese or ham, and the end result was always delicious.

With plenty of onions.

And to my absolute, quite astonishing surprise (can one make a sentence like that?) I found a song about onions, with the singer even saying that she loves them!

How about that?

Listen to Susan Christie at

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The benefits of a good cup of coffee

I was thinking about writing a post on tea, at first. But then decided that it might be too boring.

What is there to say about tea? Here in England they could write a novel actually on drinking tea, but their habit of adding milk to the liquid would put me off reading any such thing from the start.

But coffee…you can’t really spoil it by mixing it with milk, can you? In fact it can even improve the taste, depending on a particular blend of coffee. And the idea of coffee is so controversial, that there is even expression going on like: ‘I will have a sneaky cup of coffee’. I heard it from a friend recently and it made me pondering over the matter. Why do we call an undeniably nice thing as sneaky? This, of course, doesn’t concern only coffee, but wine, chocolate and even butter (!). Tell someone that this is your everyday diet and they will look at you thinking that you are mad.

At first I thought that science is there to blame. Every year there is something new. ‘Let’s ban butter!’, read once a slogan in a newspaper. ‘Don’t drink more than 3 units of wine (or is it 4?)!’ With coffee it is even more confusing, as one day they say it is bad for your health, but the next day it appears to be beneficial. Having followed some advice from the science for a couple of years or so, I decided that listening to it was the quickest road to the grave, because even if I would manage to somehow eat and drink healthily, I would die either from guilt or anxiety. I mean, who really keeps up with what is healthy and what is not?

But right, the coffee. I like coffee. As with my lunches (my post about lunches can be found on I approach the matter quite seriously. I know that I like a number of good brands and try to budget accordingly. I also noticed that many mental people can’t live without coffee. Give me a chance and this is the only thing I would drink through the whole day (together with my wine, obviously).

But of course, since I do need to think about some remains of my health I restrict my consumption by alternating my coffee with green tea. I had to force it down on me for a week or so before I realised that it is an acquired taste. I even like it now.

So, what do coffee, lunches and tea have to do with madness, you might ask? And well, by thinking long and hard on the matter, I came to an incredible conclusion that once they give you a diagnosis, you can only defy it by embracing a happy, cheerful life full of treats. And it is not the science which is to blame if we decide to live highly regulated lives, but the idea of conformity. If someone said somewhere that this is what you should do, then you do it.

Well, no, you first should think about it. And if you are blessed with being mental, embrace it totally by knowing that you decided not to conform. Drink your coffee, smoke your cigarettes and don’t chase losing weight. We live once and we should live it whole-heartedly.

Being mad doesn’t equal being unhappy, and a diagnosis has the only weight that you give to it.

I think I might pay a sneaky visit to Starbucks right now (and this is sneaky as it would mean that I support Starbucks, which I don’t. But damn it, their coffees are good!).

And to conclude I will quote MUSE:

If we live a life in fear

 I'll wait a thousand years

 Just to see you smile again

(picture found on

Friday, June 6, 2014

Nothing better than a good lunch!

I decided that since it’s (almost) weekend it is good to talk about lunches. Everyone has a different attitude towards the matter (one can be on a diet, another doesn’t bother and I know a few people who even skip it) but I reckon that the topic does have to be taken seriously.

Because you see, if you are unable to divide your day by a nap (ah, a nap, it does deserve not just a post but a novel!) then you have to make some healthy boundaries in a different way. I am all for a nice relaxed living, just so that you know.

If I do have the opportunity, I go out for lunch. I like doing it on my own, and not because I don’t want to see some friends, but because lunch for me fulfils my meditation exercise for a day. I go, I explore, I eat, and I devour. I also take a magazine with me to read (while eating) and at the end of the journey I am restored, well-fed, not grumpy and know which beauty product to try next (from a magazine). Yes, I don’t understand why no one from the new self-help movement thought about putting the lunch on the menu (of meditation techniques) yet. Well, you saw it first here.

And so, lunches. A poem should be written about them. I quickly checked Google on the topic and was disappointed to discover that there is such a phenomenon as writing poems at lunch. It is called ‘lunch poem’. It looks like they even impose this on children at school, denying them the discovery of the true idle me. How can you write a poem when you are doing one already?

Let’s think about it for a moment. You do know, of course, that if you happen to work in an office, lunch is the best part of the day by all standards. We might not admit it out and aloud, but we silently agree. I remember that when I worked in an office, the thought of my mozzarella sandwich was enough to see me through till twelve. What happened after is a different matter, but I hear that some offices do have nap rooms nowadays.

Now that I am not in an office, I take the matter even more seriously, literally into my hands. I sit down every Sunday and make a plan. Which café to visit and most importantly, which ingredients to buy, that in case I make lunch at home?

And so that I don’t leave you without any tips, I have some advice on an ingredient that only a few use but which makes the whole difference once you know the trick. Buy halloumi cheese, cut it into pieces once you are ready for some piece of paradise, fry it and add it to salads, to vegetables or simply eat it as a snack.

As usual, I try to put a song at the end to watch, but as with poems, the only coverage on lunches comes from pre-schools and schools. Well, I suppose it will do to work up an appetite (no lines about halloumi, I am afraid).

(picture found on