Category Archive : Popular

Tips to Stay Healthy During Business School

If you’re studying for your MBA, there’s no doubt that your time is limited. Trying to find a balance between school, your relationships and your health can be difficult, if not downright impossible. What you must remember, though, is that if you don’t keep yourself healthy, you will suffer both physically and mentally. Failing health will ultimately take its toll on your studies.

While you may think that you can’t fit a health and wellness program into your hectic schedule, you’re wrong. There are very simple things that you can incorporate into your daily routine that will keep you in top physical and mental condition. You can also learn about “what are the best facial fillers“, click here


Many students consume alcohol as both a way to relax and socialize. The good news is that you don’t need alcohol to survive. Drinking is a choice that you make and something that you can just as easily give up. Alcohol not only dehydrates the body but you may also find that you are unable to concentrate on your studies thanks to a whopping hangover.


If you are living on or near campus, skip the bus, taxi or car and walk to class instead. Yes, you may have to get up a half hour earlier to make it there in time, but the health benefits far outweigh the effects of losing 30 minutes of sleep. Walking will give you more energy, help you burn calories and strengthen your muscles. If you work, try to incorporate a walk into your lunch break.


The average adult needs between six and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to maintain optimum health. If you plan on getting up early to walk to class, go to bed early. You’re an adult now and your parents aren’t around to make sure you get to bed on time; it’s up to you. Remember, you can never ‘catch up’ on sleep. Sleeping in on the weekends because you skimped on sleep during the week won’t keep you healthy; only a proper sleep schedule will do that.


It’s very easy to rely on fast food when you’re on the go, but try to skip the drive-thru and cook your own meals. You may find it easier to cook on a certain day of the week and freeze your meals. A handful of nuts, a few carrot sticks or a cup of yogurt are quick and easy snacks to grab in between meals. If you know you’ll be too rushed to eat properly during the day, toss a protein or granola bar into your bag and couple it with a bottle of water for a quick, midday pick-me-up.


Yes, you can sleep when you’re dead and you can relax once you’ve earned your degree, but if you don’t take time to unwind now, you’ll soon find that you’ve run yourself right into the ground. Spend 15 or 20 minutes before bed relaxing. Read a chapter in a book (not a textbook!), take a hot bath, meditate or practice your Yoga poses; whatever activity, or non-activity, helps you unwind. Not only will you quiet your mind and body, but you will also improve your mental health simply by taking these small breaks.


Keeping Your Cool At A Hot Table




I had a wonderful dream a few nights ago. I dreamed that a benevolent alien being from another dimension in time woke me from a sound sleep. He (she?) told me that he (she?) had been watching me for many years and, since I was such a kind, generous, loving human being, I would be granted one wish that I could use for the rest of my life. Since it was obvious that this alien creature had seriously misjudged my true character, I quickly wished for the one thing that any degenerate blackjack player would wish for: I wished for the ability to know if my next hand of blackjack would be a winner. The alien said, “No prob, Buddy. You now have the talent you wished for. See ya,” and then disappeared.


The next evening I gleefully rushed to my local casino to try out my newly-granted talent, and much to my dismay discovered that it was all a dream ‹ a bad dream at that because I got hammered at the tables. My ability to predict winning streaks was even worse than usual, and my faith in wishes granted by alien beings from other dimensions was seriously shaken, to say the least.


But working on the assumption that it’s always good to find something positive in a negative experience, and accepting the fact that there’s no free lunch at the blackjack table, I decided to give some serious thought as to how to take advantage of winning streaks when I was fortunate enough to experience them.


Any experienced player can relate to the fact that blackjack is a “streaky” game. After 30 years at the tables, I could tell you dozens of stories about winning streaks that went on for hours, days, even weeks at a time. Unfortunately, these winning streaks were often followed by losing streaks that also went on for hours, days, or weeks at a time.


The problem is, even though it’s obvious that streaks occur, it’s darn near impossible to take advantage of streaks because we only know that they exist in hindsight. We have to look back at previous play to see that we experienced a winning or losing streak, and by then it’s too late to take advantage of a winning streak or avoid a losing streak. So what is one to do? Do we just ignore streaks as if they don’t exist, or do we seek out and apply some “mystical” method to take advantage of them?


Most statistical analysts of the game (the math guys who believe that card counting is the only way to accurately predict the outcome of the next hand to be dealt) take the former approach. They ignore streaks, refer to them as natural “variance,” and play the game with total confidence that long-term results will allow them a slight “edge” over the Slot Gacor casino. They gradually increase or decrease their initial wagers based upon deck composition, and ignore the short-term fluctuations in win/loss results.


Other players take the latter approach to the game by attempting to intuitively decide when they are going to be lucky and win, or unlucky and avoid play. They dramatically increase their bets when they “feel” a winning streak coming, and they quit playing when they feel a losing streak is on the way. They live for the moment, and base the size of their next wager on the win/loss outcome of the previous hand(s) played.


After much thought, research, and personal experience at the tables, I’ve come to the conclusion that neither of these approaches to the game offers any reasonable chance of success for the average recreational player. Card counting requires skill, discipline, longevity, and a bankroll that few players have, and no one has the mystical foresight required to predict future results of play with any successful degree of accuracy.


In spite of my pessimistic attitude toward these two common methods of play, I believe that there are a number of actions that we can take that will allow us to benefit from winning streaks ‹ actions based upon principles inherent in the previously described methods of play, the basic mathematics of the game, common sense, and money management.


Before exploring ways to “be cool” when winning streaks occur, let’s look at a few of the mathematical “basics” of the game.


1.) The casino has a built-in advantage over the player, primarily because the rules state that the player loses his wager if his hand exceeds a count of 21, even if the dealer also exceeds 21 on the same round of play.


2.) Game rules vary from one casino to the next. The more “player friendly” the rules, the better the chances that he will win.


3.) In the long run, the average player will lose about 2% of the total amount wagered (about $2 for every $100 bet).


4.) Excluding “pushes,” players will win about 48% and lose about 52% of the hands played.


5.) The “chance” factor can seriously affect the results of short-term play. For instance, even though long-term probability states that skilled basic strategy players will lose about 50¢ for every $100 wagered, it’s estimated that a player still has a 25% chance of being ahead at the tables after 25,000 hands of play.


Based upon the preceding generalizations, it’s obvious that a player can only make a profit at blackjack if he (A.) Wins more hands than the average player, (B.) Wins more money on his winning hands than the average player wins, or (C.) Is more lucky than the average player.


By applying most or all of the techniques listed below, I believe that the average player can seriously improve his long-term outcome in all three of these categories.


1.) Learn to apply perfect basic strategy all of the time. Most players use some form of basic strategy (based upon the values of the player’s first two cards and the dealer’s up card) to help make hit, stand, split, and double-down decisions. All of these strategy recommendations favor the player, and collectively reduce the house edge from 2% or more to one-half percent or less. Unfortunately, most players arbitrarily alter or ignore the proper playing strategy because of bet size or intuition. You must not do this. Do you seriously believe that the cards know how much money you have wagered on a particular hand, or that the cards care what you think the next card out of the deck will be? Of course not.


2.) Play at casinos with rules that favor you. Casinos that allow you to split any pair, double down on any two cards, double after splitting, split aces more than once, or surrender a weak hand, are offering you game rules that improve your chances of winning. If we all refused to play at casinos that have lousy game rules, they would eventually change the rules.


3.) React to the flow of the cards, even if you’re not a card counter. Common sense dictates that decks with a disproportionately larger number of 10-value cards and aces remaining to be dealt favor the player because he’s more likely to draw a two-card hand of 20 or a blackjack. You don’t have to be a math guru to realize that 10 small cards have appeared for every face card dealt, or to observe that no aces have been dealt in the first two-thirds of the deck. Pay more attention to the table, increase your bet appropriately, and you’ll most likely see an increase in the size of your chip stack.


4.) Don’t get greedy. Many’s the time I’ve seen a player on a winning streak over-bet his hands. After a few consecutive wins, a feeling of invincibility overcomes sensible prudence, the size of the next bet increases substantially, and the profit from many previous hands is wiped out on the turn of one card. It’s even worse to increase initial bet size after a series of losses, on the assumption that you’re “due” to win a hand. Remember that you’re more likely to lose a series of consecutive bets than you are to win a series of consecutive bets.


5.) Don’t become too conservative. Expecting to not win a lot of money during any particular blackjack session is almost as bad as over-betting your hands. Many gambling book authors suggest that you set a loss limit and a win goal for each session of play. They recommend that you start with a specific bankroll, quit play if you lose all or a portion of that bankroll, or quit play if you win a predetermined amount in proportion to that bankroll. For instance, if you lose all (or 50%, or 30%, etc.) of your session bankroll, quit play. Or if you win an amount that’s equal to your bankroll (or twice your bankroll, or half your bankroll, etc.), quit play.


I see nothing wrong with quitting play if you’ve lost all or part of your bankroll, but I see no reason to quit while you’re winning. We know that streaks occur, and we know that there’s no obvious way to determine when they will end, so I advise you to keep playing until they do.


Personally, I’ve never intentionally stopped playing while on a winning streak. In fact, my normal method of play is to double my initial bet once I’ve doubled my initial bank. I “predetermine” how much I’m willing to lose before reducing my initial bet or quitting play, and make the necessary changes based on my current win/loss results. In retrospect, my personal record for several years shows that profits for 25% of my sessions exceed losses for 75% of my sessions, primarily due to the fact that I didn’t limit my potential profit during winning streaks.


6.) Develop your own style of play, but don’t fall in love with it.


Consistency is the key to success at blackjack. Many players are habitual losers because they fail to stick to a game plan that fits their personality and bankroll. As a recreational gambler, your overall objective should be to win more money (or lose less money) than other players, and it’s unlikely that you’ll reach this goal unless you “stay with the program” and give your plan a reasonable chance to succeed.


By the same token, don’t become so entrenched in your plan that you stay with it through thick and thin. The most common example of this mistake is when players have short-term success by varying from correct basic strategy. I hear it all the time: “I don’t split aces, because I lose both hands every time I do.” “I don’t hit 12 against a dealer’s 2, because I always bust.” “I split 10s when the dealer shows a 6, because I almost always win both hands.” “I never surrender.” “I never split or double-down when I have a big bet on the table, because it doubles my chances of losing a lot of money.” Players develop these bad habits because they “tried it” a few times, and it worked. Based on these short-term gains (in defiance of more probable outcomes) some players retain these incorrect strategy decisions as part of their long-term game plan, and seriously reduce their overall chances of winning.


7.) Be honest with yourself. One of the best ways to measure the quality of your chosen style of play is to keep an accurate record of your results. Most players tend to exaggerate the amount they win and understate the amount they lose. Write down the results of each and every session, and there will be no question as to how well your plan is working. If you show a profit after several thousand hands of play, stay with your game plan. If you’re a consistent loser, review your plan …

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The WORST taxi driver ever!

If you want to get home without having to call the police, DON’T pick up a taxi from

2am, Monday night. We finish up an evening of teppanyaki dining, access all areas passes and tourbus shenanigans. Needing to get to the other side of London, one of the roadies hands over a number of a taxi firm. Within minutes, the driver arrives and we get in.
“How much will it be?”
“£30, is that ok?”
“Yeah, fine.”

The journey goes without hitch until, at Surrey Quayes, the driver pulls into a petrol station.
“I need you to give me money for my petrol.”
“Err, no. We’ll pay when we get home.”
“No, you must pay now.”

An argument ensues. The driver threatens to phone the police, but I swoop in first and beat him to it.
“Can you tell me where you are?” the policewoman says.
“I’m not sure,” I respond. “I’ll ask the driver.”
“I’m not telling you,” replies the driver, getting more and more red-faced.

Shouting continues until the police arrive.
“I don’t think they’ll pay me, so I want them to pay me now,” explains the driver.
“Why would we not pay you?!” I question. Since public transport back to our house still requires us a lengthy walk – uphill too! – we regularly take taxis. And always pay. And sometimes even tip.

The policewoman intervenes.
“Can everyone stop shouting? I’ve been called out here on an emergency, and quite frankly, this is anything but an emergency. This is a waste of my time!”
3am on a Tuesday morning is a busy time, right? Maybe if it was a single woman in the taxi she might have perceived the situation differently.
“Have you got the cash for the taxi?” she asks.
“No, the cash point doesn’t work. But there’s one at the end of our road before we get home and we planned to get it out there.”
“Right, well, how about you get back in the taxi and we’ll follow you to the next cash point. You can get the £30 out there, and then he can drive you home, and you can pay him when you get home.”

We all agree. We stop at the next cash point, and I withdraw the fee. The police, not even out of their car, shout across “Have you got the cash?”
And off they go.
“Right, now you pay me,” the driver says.


“No, the police said we’ll pay you when you take us home. We’re still at least five miles away.” The driver had clearly lied about needing petrol, since he didn’t refill at the station, and we didn’t want to be fleeced for thirty quid and stuck on Lewisham High Street at 3am.

“You have to pay me now.”

I’m about to go mad. I’ve got a flight to catch in a few hours. I could’ve been home already. Instead, he continues to argue – bizarrely – that we must pay him in the middle of the journey.

One final attempt, I think. “Listen, we’re not paying you before we get home. If you’re not going to drive us home, then we’ll just call another cab.”

He stands fast. “No, you pay me now, or I’ll phone the police again.”


We walk to the train station – having paid our bitter driver not a penny – hoping a black cab might be sloping around, waiting for its final customers of the evening. No luck. We telephone our wonderful local taxi firm, who pick us up in no time. He drives us straight to our door, as we recount our experience, which dumbfound him as much as us.

“How much is that?” I ask, as we pull up outside.
“Eight quid please love.”
“Here’s ten.” I smile.

We’re finally home.…

How NOT to ask us to review your music

Here at RHV HQ, we receive many an email asking us to review an artist’s music. Often times we take a listen. Other times, we simply don’t have the time. Less do we have the inclination to review something we’ve never heard of that has landed in our inbox without introduction. Here’s an email thread of a recent conversation I had with one such happy-go-lucky type, who seemed entirely confused that his band was not my top priority.

Band: Just to clarify, the ep is out on 28th JUNE. NOT 28th MAY. Apologies, x

RHV: What is this referring to? Cheers.

Band: Hi, Was referring to THIS:


Hey, I hope you’re well. I’m just emailing to announce the release of our debut ep, ‘Sink’, which will be available at all good online retailers on 28.05.10.

I was hoping you’d be interested in running a review of the ep? Instead of sending out hard copies, we’ve created an EPK on our website where you can download or stream the whole ep for free and also get hold of a press release, bio and some pictures. Basically, everything you would usually receive in an envelope from an annoying PR company, we bring you in website form from us, the band.

Please download it here and let us know what you think! Would you be interested in running a review? If you need anymore info, don’t hesitate to contact me here or using the details on the EPK.

RHV: I don’t think I got this before.. I’ll take a listen in the morning! Cheers

Band: Did you get round to having a listen in the end? Would love to hear your thoughts…

RHV: Yeah, I quite like the first track. If you want to post out a CD to the address below, we can do a review.

Band: Thanks! Can you review it off the back of everything on the epk? I’m afraid we’re being green (Ed: or is that being cheap?!) and not making physical copies! There are photos, album art, press release and a bio on there!

RHV: We can add it to the list, but to be honest, the amount of stuff we get to review via email is so huge, and we deal with CDs first just because we physically have to deal with them!

Band: I’ve had this back from a couple of journos and I really don’t understand it. Everything you would receive in physical form in an envelope is available at the click of a button on our epk. You have exclusive access to that – why is it harder to access all of this at the click of a button than to receive it through your letterbox? This may sound confrontational but is genuinely not meant to. I could just really use some explanation!

RHV: We get 100s of emails every day asking to listen to a new band/artist, we’re simply inundated. Online submissions have sometimes caused a problem with security. Plus, our writers like to receive CDs in the post more than they like to receive emails. And not everyone listens to music at their computers. In fact, many of our writers prefer not to (comfort, bad speakers etc)

I suppose it really boils down to the fact that if a band can’t be bothered to make a CD, send out a press release and a decent print, then why should we bother reviewing it? We only really use online streamings when there’s a big security issue (i.e. for a major band) so that listenings can be tracked by PR companies.

At the end of the day, we’re under no obligation to review or comment on anything we don’t want to, so if submission guidelines aren’t followed, then it’s straight to the trash can, or in our case, onto an ever increasing list of ‘Things To Consider’ if we ever get round to it, which is unlikely since we get more and more through the postbox every day.

If it’s any consolation, we do exactly the same with writers who ask to write for our site. Unless they submit stuff exactly as we ask, we just don’t have time to explain, edit and lead them by the hand through everything. I hope that explains a bit from our perspective!

We never got a reply.…

Dear Royal Mail

Dear Royal Mail,

I have a few questions for you.

Why does our postman leave packages outside our front door, in full view of the street? The clue is in the job title: POSTman. You post things. How can you fail at that?

Why does our local sorting office not answer the phone? Are they too busy adding charges to our packages because the postman didn’t have anywhere to display our mail outside our houses?

Why does your head office – when finding out my phone call is in relation to a complaint – put me through to an automated service? Is your automated service any better than my answering machine? Would I be better off asking a Magic 8 Ball? Probably not, because I don’t have one, so I’d have to order one online, and it’d never get delivered.

Why does our postman not even knock on the door when a package does not fit through the letterbox? Does he have no hands? That’s the only conclusion I can draw, but even then, perhaps he should use his head, because he certainly doesn’t use it for anything else.

Why does our postman not ask us to sign for packages which senders have paid a large sum of money to have Signed For status? Can he not read the large red sticker which adorns the package? Maybe being a postman isn’t the right job for him.

Why do we receive mail for our neighbours? We live on a street where all the numbers are clearly displayed right next to the front doors. Does he not understand the difference between 55 and 53? We just put it back in the post box so that you can try again.

Are any of your postmen actually capable of reading, or understanding numbers? Are they able to post things? What exactly is the process you have to go through to become a postman? Do you just pick brainless, armless aliens who have a predilection for short trousers and the colour red, and happen to stumble near a post office one murkey night? Is some kind of secret scientific experiment going on where sheeps’ brains have been put into human bodies to see if the rest of us real humans notice any difference?

The worrying thing is, what happens when your postmen get a promotion? Is there any intermidiary training? If my postman can’t read the words ‘SIGN FOR’, are you qualified to answer this email? Or do I have to phone up your extortionate 0845 number, complete an assult course through your telephone system, and have a discussion with your automated services to find out the post codes of Adam Crozier’s and Moya Greene’s houses, so that I can personally ask a CEO why your staff are less than incapable? What happens when Mr Crozier has ordered a £50 Blu-ray boxset of season 7 of 24 from, and it’s just left out on the street for passers-by to take at their will? Who does he complain to? Himself? I bet Mr Crozier just picks up his own mail as he leaves the office, fully aware that his staff are merely there so that he is CEO rather than the sole postman of the entire UK. Incidentally, I’m sure Jack Bauer could have the entire Royal Mail system running far more effectively in 24 hours.

Since you have created your website and phone systems so that customers are unable to complain, I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to make sure I’m ready for when our postman arrives, and pose these questions to him myself. I’ll have a video camera ready.

I look forward to your answers – and to a time when everything is done digitally and the Royal Mail staff can go back to being single cell amoebae who don’t have to worry themselves with the taxing task of knocking on a door or putting an envelope through a door.

Warm regards,

A foreigner’s guide to surviving London

“What?!” you say. “You belong here. You’ve lived here your entire life. How can you write from the perspective of a lost traveller on their first visit to the Big Smoke?”

True, I am. But I have the authority. I’ve had Couchsurfers surf my couch (well, I never!) since 2008. And in that time, I have come to realise that foreigners — French, American, Turkish, Martian — all make the same mistakes when travelling to London for the first time. I now keep a list of essential tips, ready to impart. If you’re planning your first trip to London, put down your guidebook. This is what you really need to know.

1. Remember that rule about getting out everything you think you want to pack, and then only taking half of it? When you’re coming to London, take just a quarter. When your backpack hits another angry businessman on the Tube, you’ll be wishing you hadn’t bothered bringing three pairs of trainers.

2. However, you will be wishing you had twice the money. Look at what any guidebook suggests you need, and double it. A daily travel card for unlimited use on all transport is around £7. Many museums are free, but other attractions have sky high price tags.

3. Don’t forget a lightweight raincoat and a jumper — even if it is July.

4. It’s likely that the first time you feel utterly bewildered in London, you will be entering the dreaded Underground. All those lines, colours and zones. Some go east, some go north. The Northern Line even travels south. And the circle line isn’t a line at all. It goes round. Even if you do work it out, it’s likely that the Tube you need isn’t running. So, don’t waste precious time trying to figure it out; just ask at the ticket desks. Use to plan journeys in advance.

5. Pay-as-you-go Oyster cards always save you money. And don’t ever buy a ticket to travel one stop in zone 1. It’s far quicker to walk.

6. Don’t expect to see the Queen outside Buckingham Palace, watering the flowers or going for a jog with the corgis. I’ve been five times, and have never even seen her poke her head out a window.

7. When crossing the road, look the wrong way.

8. Don’t expect cyclists or rickshaws to be any less ruthless on the road than other vehicles. They’re the meanest. And they pay no attention to traffic lights.

9. Don’t feel obliged to take every newspaper and flyer that is thrust in your face.

10. The funny shaped building at St Mary Axe is called The Gherkin. Gherkins are also the green bit you have to pick out of McDonalds’ burgers.

11. Big Ben is just the bell. The building is St Stephen’s Tower.

12. We only tip after served meals in restaurants. Not in bars, not at petrol stations, not in shops.

13. Tea is a very popular drink, but most of us have never drunk it with the Queen.

14. Travelling on a London bus or black cab is nowhere near as fun as you imagine it will be.

15. Cockney rhyming slang. No one really uses it.…

Why do festivals turn normal civilians into numpties?

As the bulk of festival season draws to a close, we can all return to our daily humdrum of bland grey work suits and under eye bags, shuffling along the street to the bus stop. Yes, it’s time to put away your festival essentials for another year. And that doesn’t just mean putting the tent back up into the loft. If you are like anyone we’ve noticed at festivals this year, you’ll also be putting your mankini to the back of your underwear drawer, throwing out your fluorescent face paints, chucking away your glittery tutu, and packing up your banana outfit.

In the real world, you have no need for these items. You have no need for these items at a festival – yet still, as the years go by, it is becoming somewhat a necessity to dress up, act up and throw up to make it a true festival experience. A decade ago, festivals were populated by music lovers. You would expect to get rained on and muddy, and you wouldn’t bother packing a hairbrush. Now, festival goers fall neatly into one of four camps.

The Sensible Campers
These festival lovers bring a camping stove, camping furniture and have a tent large enough for a Romanian family. They carry crates of beer to their campsite to avoid paying arena prices, and undercook fatty bacon whilst perched on a stool to avoid the £6 burgers. It doesn’t matter if they get food poisoning; they’re armed with wet wipes, hand sanitiser and a four pack of Andrex.

The Excited Girls
They’re, like, sooooooooooooooooooo excited!!11!” They can’t help but scream things to their orange faced, slightly chubby friends, even when they’re standing right next to them. They bring hair straighteners, full masks of make up and umpteen changes of clothes, just in case they run into Brandon Flowers, and walk around with cardboard signs around their neck saying ‘Free Hugs!’. They paint each other in glitter and illuminous paint, and are usually found alone on the Saturday evening, inebriated, having lost all their friends and dropped their favourite bangle somewhere by the main stage. Can we help her find it? Absolutely not.

The Comedians
Yep, these lot think they’re real funny, but actually they crave attention. Whether dressed as a banana, a polar bear, a Rubix cube or a jar of mustard, it really doesn’t matter. They’ll get a few laughs from The Excited Girls, but dressing as a tree is neither comfortable, humorous, or functional. These lot also like to slide in mud and then run up and hug people. Uh huh, that’s real funny. You twat.

The Repressed Homosexuals
The mankini rose to popularity in 2006, and every festival since then has had its staunch mankini wearing crowd. It doesn’t matter than young children are running about. It doesn’t matter that the mankini wearer is fifteen stones and his shrivelled nut sack flaps about as he jumps up and down to Kasabian. The mankiners will still wear their mankinis. Other variations on this theme include the guys in ballgowns, tutus, leotards, and other girly clothes. Just about still in the closet, they use the festival as an excuse to exhibit themselves, and end up “drunkenly” having a fumble with their best mate from uni. It’s all a convenient cover up.

Roll on Winter…!…

Rant: £4.50 for a festival beer?!

Picture the scene: it is one we have all endured, gleefully bounding through the festival gates, fresh from a sleepless and uncomfortable stay in a suspicious-smelling tent. Your sneaky and ingenious methods of smuggling a litre of Stella in a water bottle have failed you but “No matter,” you think to yourself, “there is beer inside!” Yes, there is beer inside, but rather than the cheap and cheerful fare of a semi-chilled can for a reasonable price befitting of such an event you stare in abject horror at what you see before you. Yes, my friend. The large signs that proclaim: CARLING £4.50.

A chill goes through you (which has nothing to do with the presence of the beer, lukewarm and sticky as it is) as you gaze up at this ominous legend. There are two things very, very wrong with this. Firstly, £4.50 for a beer? Why, that’s more than you pay in the heaving pubs of Central London! Secondly, Carling!? Or if fate deals a further blow, Tuborg!? Possibly the worst lagers in the world and the festival organisers have the audacity to ask you to pay through the nose for it! What do you do? Go through an (unthinkable) beer-less day while your more foolhardy friends get fuzzily drunk on these warm monstrosities? Or do you suck it up and gloomily fork over your hard earned cash for a drinking experience that would usually be deemed less than adequate? A conundrum indeed.

Why do festivals feel the need to charge such ludicrous amounts for a beer? (And food – if you can call it that as well, for that matter?) After asking for an arbitrarily high wad of cash for the honour of camping in an uneven field the organisers refuse your attempts at supplying your own food and drink in the arena then whack up the price. Sure, you may say it is good business sense to fleece your customers, and again, sure, it’s slightly more difficult to supply these things in a field but not that difficult. And what about festivals on the continent?

The Groezrock festival, held in late April is a smallish punk and hardcore venture just outside of Antwerp, Belgium. In a relatively remote area the organisers manage to set up a pretty civilized environment which makes Reading and Leeds resemble a medieval battleground, complete with associated diseases. There were a variety of beers on offer, including some for those of adventurous tastes, and of course the obligatory Jager / energy drink combo. Every possible combination of food is available from the stalls that line the main festival area, from stir-fry to paninis and spaghetti. Vegetarian options were fantastic and most importantly, everything was satisfyingly low priced, with queues reduced massively through the use of food and drink tokens. These tokens could be bought in groups of five or ten for a meagre amount of Euros, then used each day. Additionally, picking up thirty used cups from the floor earned punters a free Jupiler beer, encouraging a more environmentally friendly attitude to things.

The thought put in to this festival made for an incredibly friendly atmosphere; no fights breaking out over a spilled pint or a dropped burger. Just a field full of satisfied customers feeling that rather than the aim of the festival being to suck their finances dry, perhaps the organisers’ aim was towards everyone having a good time?

We’re starting to see the use of drinks tokens and cup returns in some of the UK’s major festivals, but here’s hoping they soon follow suit in lowering their extortionate beer prices!…