I am ambitious and looking for real men.

There have been a few ripples in the media, lately, about the experience of men in the dating realm presented alongside studies showing a decline in sex and relationships, usually written by women. It’s the kind of easy, writes-itself pseudo-journalism that invites clicks and eyeballs and doesn’t really do much to even properly acknowledge the issues, never mind advance them or offer meaningful solutions. I would like to offer a different, more anecdotal take, through my own signature doom-laden prism.

I matched with two women this morning whose profiles gave me not just pause for thought, and an opportunity for wider reflection on online dating in 2023, but the fodder for a full-blown existential crisis.

One would-be suitees’ (that’s not the opposite of a suitor, but it should be) profile notes simply that she’s “Looking for real men.” First, you will note my utter astonishment at having made it through such a filter – or the initial stage, at the very least. Here it is, finally: external validation, by a woman, that I present, on the surface level, as a Real Man. In days of yore, I might have been sent off into the wilderness to hunt and bring back a deer for the tribe in order to attain such a title, or receive some elaborate tattoo laced with profound masculine meaning, or genital mutilation ritual by a dope-maddened Shaman. But today, in this moment, via the swipe of a finger on a telephone, my rites of passage has finally commenced. I’d better not spoil it by, y’know, messaging her anything whatsoever, lest the jig be up. Then there’s that pluralisation – not, “looking for a real man” singular, the monogamous ideal espoused in our cherished holy scriptures and March Of The Penguins – but men, plural. Dare I, reader? Dare I submit myself, prostrate, to that orgiastic conveyor belt? To what end are Real Men being sought and what lies at its end? Perhaps neither Heaven nor Hell – but assistance, among a team of assembled Real Men, put to work assembling flat pack furniture, bewildered but unbowed amid that surfeit of sausages, under the guise of a date. It genuinely wouldn’t be the first time – but those are stories for another time.

The other profile – and as I contemplate it, I am sure that it represents a nexus for all that is wrong with not just online dating, but human relations and our interactions with the natural world as a whole – states: “I’m ambitious.”

Ambition. Like “professionalism,” and indeed “real men” – “ambition” is an over-used to the point of meaninglessness, hollowed-out, fundamentally ambiguous word, and a sword suitable for extraction from the stone, malleable for wielding and mass persecution by only the sharpest-elbowed duelers. The critical self-reflection component of “ambition” is of course to be lauded, as is the inherent consideration of the passage of time – one must assume that those rendered immortal must lose any aspirations of ambition, favouring a “when it’s done” approach to all things. But just like there’s no entrance exam nor certification for an “audiophile” – ambition is entirely subjective. And, surely, the truly ambitious – the post-ambitious, or rather: successful – would be possessed of a far greater and more well-rounded clarity and humility of personal vision to shirk such a classification? Perhaps a more charitable reading, rather than seeing it as a sword, is that the claims of ambition among those with less than a billion in the bank, or millions of followers, or currencies bearing their visage, should be considered a shield – an aspiration, a plea: “I’m aiming higher than where I’m currently at.”

Fine. But where can any of us truly aim, in this day and age? And I’m not talking about the impossibility of reaching the housing ladder that is a reality for so many, the rise and permanence of food banks, the cutting away of safety nets, the absurdity of Brexit and the decline in living standards and rises in the cost of living and so on.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Zoological Society of London have published the Living Planet Index (LPI) which has tracked the average decline in wildlife populations since the 1970s. It’s fallen 69%. It coheres with an infamous 1972 MIT study that predicted society would collapse due to economic growth in the middle of this century, whose hypothesis was revisited and confirmed by KPMG’s sustainability and dynamic system analysis lead at the end of 2020.

Doesn’t it at some point become obscene to think about personal ambition amid such a crisis? And yet the business-as-usual vacuum that we all live in – its complete perimeter and shape having revealed itself fully during the 2020 lockdowns, those edges softening and fading away, now, for the majority – continues apace. With even bigger blinkers on.

Although, as with all science, there are issues with the way this data should be taken, the bottom line, if we are to counter the climate crisis, which is perhaps the greatest existential crisis we’ve ever faced – The End Is Nigh to end all End Is Nighs – is that we need a few billion psychic light bulbs to get themselves illuminated – really fucking quickly. And it must be a broad church: it must occur across the board in real men, real women and real non-binaries, or even the unreal, and simulacrums of every shade of grey therein, among the self-described ambitious, or even the sofa-dwelling inertia-riddled ones.

At its height, Nasa had 400,000 working on the Apollo moon program. It’s a cliche that everyone wants to build something, but nobody wants to maintain it, and it is a source of deep sadness in any space nerd that we haven’t got moon bases or had more frequent trips up there. But if we roused 400,000 for that noblest of ambitions and giant leaps of adventure, surely we must be able to rouse a few more zeroes on top – 4 billion? – to dedicate ourselves earnestly to the cause of reversing the monstrous harm humans have inflicted on the natural world and securing our future?

It’s quite likely that the small matter of our impending oblivion’s obfuscation in daily discourse and swathes of the mainstream media (even climate crisis reports don’t lean in as hard as many climate scientists) is contributing to the very same relationship malaise outlined at the start of this article. It’s so much bigger than money and sex and relationships and any ambition any individual human may have. And although I’m preternaturally comfortable in my solitude, at times having that awareness does feel like an outrageously lonely place to be.

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“Britain is open for business,” and other ineffective, lazy rhetorical tricks the shape-shifting lizards think sound really clever


The phrase, “Britain is open for business” is invoked incessantly by UK politicians these days –  as they swoop off their private jets and pull serious faces and puff out their chests for the waiting media – and it’s beyond tiresome. It sounds utterly stupid, and makes their horizons (and, by extension, ours as a nation) seem completely diminished.

All three main parties are guilty of this, but none moreso than the Conservatives, particularly Cameron, Osborne, and now Prime Minister May.

To continue the metaphor, when did the shop shut? Where’s the fire? When you hear that phrase in the real world, it’s normally invoked after a renovation or protracted closure, or a terrible event like a stabbing or a flood. Every time it’s used, I can almost see the owner of a cornershop pacing about outside his store, desperation etched in his face, the day after a gang fight on his doorstep: ‘Don’t mind the blood and broken glass, we’re still open for business! Please buy my red-tops and flapjacks.’

It’s not the confident assertion this increasingly weird, disconnected class of people think it should be. It bristles with obvious doubt and blind, dumb hope. And is that all we are now, a business? Is that the sum total of their aspiration for our nation? Fretting about the AAA credit rating as it falls by the wayside, instead of a AAA morality rating, or AAA ratings for scientific and artistic endeavours.

David Cameron was full of these lines, and used them whenever he could, as he pretended to be a man of the people (despite, y’know, forgetting what football team he was supposed to support, and all those times his prole mask slipped). Like his dismal, overused “hard-working people” line, which was supposed to subliminally sink into our minds, as a cozy concession to tuck us in at night: ‘You gave it your best shot today. Keep up the toil, pleb, it’s really valued. And, oh, don’t mind us – we’ll keep cutting your public services in return.’

Another one was “important work,” usually delivered with pursed lips and rolled up shirt sleeves. Cameron sounded like a guilty public schoolboy when he dropped this one, forever covering his arse after his chillaxing with Fruit Ninja on his iPad.

Or all that forgotten talk about “pulling up the drawbridge” with Europe, but failing to make anything resembling a convincing, positive case for remaining in the union.

These are lazy rhetorical tricks, unworthy of even a remedial English Language class. And yet, I suppose, for the distracted, bovine masses of this green and pleasant land, they work quite well.

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Jeremy Corbyn stars in GAME OF DEATH

jeremy corbyn game of death tb


Synopsis: after winning the Labour Party leadership campaign in September 2015, rank outsider Jeremy Corbyn enjoyed a tidal wave of popular support. The Islington North MP looked set to provide a much needed return to socialist values for the party, until he was confronted by shadowy forces bent on destroying his chances, and the hopes of all those who voted for him.

It soon emerges that the Parliamentary Labour Party is behind a series of desperate attacks against him, and are in favour of a return to a Tory-lite Blairite agenda, which previously saw destruction and death inflicted on the Middle East, growing inequality in the UK, and a dramatic upswell in food bank usage.

After seeing off a challenge by saggy-eyed tedium-monger Angela Eagle, Corbyn is soon confronted by Pfizer PR man Owen Smith, whose principles and fighting style seem as malleable and unknowable as his sinister, playdoh face. But despite the challenges, Corbyn continues fighting for what he believes in, with grace and good humour.

What lies ahead in the upper echelons of the Pagoda of Power for our understated, bearded scruff ((c) The Daily Mash)? And will Corbyn still be standing by the next General Election, currently scheduled for May 2020? Find out in GAME OF DEATH.

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PR jobs: EU project – head of policy sought


It’s just seven days to go until the UK holds its referendum into EU membership, and I fear that the leave camp will win.

A lot of EU leave voters hold the mindset that in the UK and Europe, we’re all from different tribes, and as a result the union was doomed to fail from the outset. A British soldier would never take orders from a French general, so extrapolate that example across relations in the continent as a whole and you get the picture. “Beleave in Britain [we don’t want no Frogs nor Krauts tellin’ us what to do],” and so on.

So I think it’s admirable that we’ve got this far without a simple, compelling, unifying narrative for the European project. Let’s, for a moment, consider ISIL – how is it that a brown-skinned man from Pakistan could fight alongside a white, ginger man from England? How can they be so ready to take up arms and even die alongside each other on the battlefield? Because they share a common cause, obviously, that was literally designed to be passed on through the generations, spur people into action, be adhered to through routines and rituals, and never be forgotten, yet is malleable enough to have been warped into the radical Islamism of a brutal minority today. And for all the United States’ faults, you can’t fault the patriotism of a large bulk of the populace. Their belief in a shared destiny, pledging allegiance to the flag every day at school, the Bellamy Salute.

What separates us from the other hyper-evolved monkeys that went by the wayside, like neanderthals, homo erectus, and so on, is that we as homo sapiens have the ability to gossip, and construct and then submit to sophisticated, mental fictions like religion, culture, and art as a whole.

In their quest for ‘Ever Closer Union’ – a not unreasonable ambition – the enablers of this project have singularly failed on this fundamental issue to create a simple, compelling narrative to unite all European Union nations, which should have been their primary action item, back in ’51. This failure to do so literally misunderstands, even denies, our humanity. And – worse – their actions in the last few years have utterly undermined the idea of a cohesive, unified EU. Look at the way the Greeks were shat on, from a great height. Look how our Ukrainian brothers and sisters bled in the streets during the Euromaidan, desperately waving the European flag for the EU Superman to come and save them. But neither Angela Merkel, nor Francois Hollande, nor David Cameron are Clark Kent, waiting to spin into action.

No, the pathetic, uninspired extent of our leaders’ ambitions since 9/11 have led to pointless wars in the Middle East, leading to more destabilisation – indeed, the outright destruction of entire nations – and two million dead. Four-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools filled with blood. It’d take a crap swimmer about five minutes to wade through all of it, not even counting for its viscosity versus chlorinated water. A third of the Holocaust. Not to mention GCHQ’s five football fields’ worth of underground servers, dedicated to cataloguing the internet, and spying on us on a population-wide scale. And are we safer, for pursuing this revenge against the primitives? What has been achieved at the end of it all?

Whether we leave or remain, the EU needs a unifying narrative in order to survive. It needs to be about more than just tying up Germany and France to prevent another world war starting in Europe. It needs to be about more than revenge against the primitives.

This is a public relations problem, as much as it is a political one. And it goes to show that, as well as being an absolutely awful Prime Minister, the former public relations man David Cameron is also terrible at PR – at this time when he’s needed it the most.

So how do we save the European project using PR? We need to be grand and proud, like the Americans. We need a project that shows the best ambitions of humanity.

It always comes back to this with me, but I think it’s more logical than spending trillions on killing brown people, or hundreds of millions on a garish new headquarters, or an obscene amount trotting over to Strasbourg for its monthly farcical circus:

We need a manned European mission to Mars. European scientists working with European space pioneers, working together to penetrate Martian soil with a European flag.

And we needed it yesterday. On that day, there would be no ambiguity. I would wave that European flag, and I would be a proud European.

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The Internet Dragnet and You (Part 1)


In newsrooms around the world, every single day, battles are pitched over content. Lowest common denominator sub-editors rage against verbose scribes, and vice versa, as complexity and nuance give way to ease of comprehension and space or time constraints.

Assessments are made about the level of understanding of viewers and readers. Fat is trimmed. Simultaneously, the encroachment of sport and entertainment ‘news’ onto ‘actual’ news seems to increase every day.

Turn on Sky News in the UK, and often a significant proportion of time following the main bulletin will be devoted to sport. And not just sport – cage-fighting, table tennis and so-called e-Sports rarely get a look-in – but, specifically, football. Time that should be reserved for news, and the crucial role it plays in fostering an understanding of the world and reality itself among its viewers, is lost to the UK’s favourite sport. It is faux news (not to be confused with Fox News), functioning as advertising for the organisation’s premium sports channels.

But turn on the dedicated Sky Sports News channel, and you won’t see reports, in-depth or otherwise, from Afghanistan or Ukraine. Similarly, to watch BBC News today is to witness the world through a sport- and entertainment-centric prism, where government lines are taken as gospel, bullshit is not called out and very little makes sense.

There are those who will dispute this. “But football is news to some people,” one fan of the sport told me. “News is an update of the goings on, no? People are emotionally involved in football whether you like it or not – it provokes a reaction in others. Isn’t news meant to be for the people? Otherwise no-one would watch it.”

And this is the problem. As a society, I don’t think we’re properly educated on what the news is and can be and what its value is to us.

That same football fan acknowledged that he tended to find out about the football results from other sources, rendering the infiltration of ‘actual’ news pointless – to him at least, but I’m sure to many others as well. There is dedicated football programming on numerous channels, terrestrial and otherwise, such as ‘Match Of The Day’. Results can be gleaned from Twitter, BBC Sport online, or the FourFourTwo magazine. Just as with most hobbyist activities, there are countless avenues for the footballing fan to explore news and analysis of their sport to their heart’s content, just as there are for viewers of ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’ or the latest competitive ‘Halo’ tournament. And yet we tolerate the erosion of ‘actual’ news time for a peek into the self-contained, meaningless goldfish bowl of the UK’s chosen sport. In the case of BBC South Today’s local news bulletin, sometimes more than half of the programme can be football-focussed, to the detriment of ‘actual’ news.

The freedom of the press and its dissemination of news is one of the hardest fought freedoms of the western world, and yet it is utterly taken for granted at best, and at worst is reviled and being actively attacked from all sides, including by news editors themselves.


“The standards I set have been rubbished in favour of pandering to what the people – the people, forsooth! – want”

– John Reith, the BBC’s first Director General, an admirer of Hitler who despised jazz


It’s not just viewer demand (perceived or otherwise) that is shaping an increasingly toothless media. Print and TV are suffering dwindling reader- and viewer-ships and increasingly fragmented audiences.

Every day, trade magazines reflect on the state of newspapers and magazines, and endlessly rehash ‘print is dead’ features, or advice on how to bring content to ubiquitous mobile devices.

The ongoing transition still isn’t fully understood by most people, even those who have given their whole lives to the newspaper industry. Today it was announced that The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers, which started in 1986, will cease to be printed in March – and exist only online.


“I think it will be the first of many papers which stop their print editions and have another existence online.”

– Stephen Glover, Independent co-founder


What are newspapers? They are tools for disseminating information. The printing press revolutionised the world when it took isolated ideas and isolated communities and enabled the spread of knowledge. Human voices were no longer bound by their maximum volume – shouted across the street or in the pub – or by the tired hands of writers. They could be commited to paper and mass produced and sent further afield.

What is the internet? It’s a far more sophisticated tool for disseminating information. With it, human voices are no longer bound by print-runs and circulation areas. They can be commited to 1s and 0s and sent further afield – globally.


“Sooner rather than later they will all go. No one can say in what order it will happen, but it will happen to the most venerable titles, even to the top-selling Sun and Mail.”

– Brian Cathcart, professor of journalism at Kingston University London


It seems to me that in the Post-9/11 Clusterfuck, post-Hutton, post-Snowden media landscape that the majority of the so-called mainstream media has singularly failed to provide an accurate summary of world events, and that news consumers’ understanding is suffering as a result. There are days when it is possible to turn on the television and not even realise there’s a war on, let alone several, and that US President Barack Obama bombed seven countries in his first six years in office – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria – despite running on a platform of opposition to the Iraq war before 2009.

The BBC has had it particularly bad, in terms of a news organisation being attacked. Perhaps one of the strongest blows came in 2003, following the Corporation’s chastening by the then-Labour government after former Radio 4 ‘Today’ show reporter Andrew Gilligan daringly stated that the government’s case for war in Iraq had been”sexed up” (and he and the then-Director General, Greg Dyke, were subsequently forced to resign).

Mr Gilligan’s source, Dr David Kelly, was found dead, having apparently overdosed on a cocktail of drugs and having slit one of his wrists. According to Mr Gilligan, Dr Kelly had stated he had concerns about the 45-minute claim, which related to the speed with which Saddam Hussein could deploy weapons of mass destruction, and attributed its inclusion into the ‘dodgy dossier’ to then-Prime Minister Tony Blair’s director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell.


“This report casts a chill over all journalism, not just the BBC’s. It seeks to hold reporters, with all the difficulties they face, to a standard that it does not appear to demand of, for instance, government dossiers.”

– Andrew Gilligan, after the publication of the Hutton Report, which sought to investigate the cause of Dr Kelly’s death, but which had an apparently far wider remit and was branded a ‘whitewash’ in many sections of the media – for finding so heavily in favour of the government


And things haven’t improved since then. The BBC is facing the very real prospect of losing its licence fee. Much has been made of the statistic that current Tory chancellor, George Osborne, has presided over the biggest privatisation of UK public assets of any chancellor in history.

In the same week that 40,000 junior doctors have gone on strike to protest proposed changes to their contracts, it has also been revealed that Conservative health secretary Jeremy Hunt MP, who is in charge of the health service, co-wrote a book on privatising the NHS. Regarded by many as one of the UK’s greatest public institutions, which was created after the Second World War, many fear its days are numbered, and that any moves to make changes to the service are part of a malign objective to undermine the NHS until it is sold off.

Secretary of state for culture, media and sport, John Whittingdale MP, who in time might come to be regarded as a fellow pro-privatisation footsoldier alongside Mr Hunt, despite, as far as I know, not having co-authored a book on privatising the BBC, said last year: “In the short term, there appears to be no realistic alternative to the licence fee, but that model is becoming harder and harder to justify and sustain.”

The statement was made in light of changing technology and audience habits, which it seems are existential threats to the future of both state-funded media institutions and commercial newspapers alike.

In one such newsroom, I lost count of the number of times I heard the stunning phrase, “Our readers wouldn’t understand that.”


“[The audience] is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It’s covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections.”

– William Gibson – Idoru


‘Our readers’ – a homogenous entity, who simply wouldn’t understand, and whose understanding is lesser than any given journalist’s.

Journalists love to simplify things for the lowest common denominator, and put things in terms the average dimwit can understand. As a result, measurements in a story are given in size relative to football pitches. For example, the new circular Apple campus in Cupertino, we are told, can fit three football pitches inside its central courtyard. As noted previously, IBM Hursley’s army guy said GCHQ had servers spanning five football pitches. Likewise, new buildings are measured in relation to double decker buses or well-known landmarks. The Burj Khalifa is more than two-and-a-half Eiffel Towers in height.

But what they don’t tell you – certainly not during the lengthy interludes when we are forced to observe overpaid men kicking balls into nets, and then, after the match, offering their glistening insights into why they didn’t kick the ball into their opponents’ goal enough times, or how happy they were to have kicked the ball into the opponents’ goal more times, thus securing a win – is how many swimming pools’ worth of blood has been spilled during the War On Terror.

If we take the estimate (that many would say is conservative) that two million people have died in the myriad War On Terror conflicts, and multiply that number by the amount of blood in the ‘average’ human (5.5 litres in a 70kg person), and divide that by the number of litres’ capacity of an Olympic swimming pool (2,500,000 litres), then we arrive at the following figure:

Four-and-a-half Olympic swimming pools filled with blood.

I don’t think our readers will understand that.

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