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March 9, 2012 / Nick

You’ve Been Framed!

Tangoed girls throwing up in the doorway of Lloyds TSB. People driving out to the 24 hour supermarket not realising it’s closed (excludes Scotland). You’ve Been Framed! What do these three seemingly unrelated things have in common? Yes, that’s right – They’re all guaranteed sources of amusement on Saturday nights in the UK.

You’ve Been Framed is one of those programmes that wins points for having a name that you can sing in time with the theme tune (See also: Blind Date, Channel 4 News and, perhaps most impressively, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?).

However, if you watch it on mute, the whole thing does sometimes just seem tragic and annoying (BTW, I can heartily recommend watching every TV programme on mute at least once: Hollyoaks looks like Crimewatch reconstructions cut-and-spliced into a CBBC sketch comedy). This isn’t because of people getting hurt on camera, but because it’s a document of human failure, which is sometimes very difficult for us to watch.

Speaking of human failure, it's brief YBF host Jonathan Wilkes

Some may believe that laughing at others misfortunes is cruel, but this ignores the fundamental facts. These clips were sent in for the exact purpose that we might laugh at them. But, most importantly, nobody died. Therein lies the programme’s unique warmth. It’s quite literally like watching a young child falling over and clapping and smiling so they don’t cry. Hearing laughter means that you made it – you’re fine. It takes a true survivor to find the silver lining in a cloud.

That said, while YBF is admittedly good clean fun, I can’t help but feel that the reward for video submissions is making a basic mockery of the people who have gone to the effort of recording their weddings, nativity plays, DIY endeavours, etc.
As the below chart shows, You’ve Been Framed has continued to value camcorder calamities at £250 for the last 22 years. But in real terms, a clip of a parent dropping their child’s birthday cake in front of shocked relatives should be worth more in 2012 than it was in 1990. At least 86% more, in fact.

Infographic showing You've Been Framed's continued resistance to inflationary pressures.With commodities and transport costs rising faster than inflation, we as a country should consider it a tragedy that people aren’t getting as much as they should for filming footage of failed attempts at traversing brooks and streams. And with so many clips coming from the US now, there’s a possibility that the outsourcing of video disasters could be holding the value artificially low.

Hang on, why the hell are we protesting about the bankers when this is going on? OCCUPY ITV!

Review: A truly life-affirming British institution.

You’ve Been Framed! official website
Very funny You’ve Been Framed parody account on Twitter.

January 14, 2012 / Nick

Subway (restaurant)

At some point in the last decade or so, ‘quirky’ eating outlets that make first-time diners feel as awkward as possible became hugely popular.

It started with the Nandos ‘do we look like your servants? Get off your arse and order your own food’ ethos, which, while now accepted by many, still confounds citizens of smaller UK settlements lucky enough to be blessed by the Nando’s national rollout (‘I hear they’re opening one of these “Nandosses” on the High Street, Pam. Eileen took her kids to one when she went up to Taunton last month – said they butchered the chickens IN FRONT OF HER VERY EYES! I know!’).

Gradually, we’ve reached a stage where cafes and restaurants are asking us baffling questions like “Shall I upgrade you to Phoenix Style mayo?” or “Would you like that in a brocco or a tapalé? A brocco is just 30p more” or “How would you like your cabbage – murdered or raped?”.

Is everything okay with your babalino, sir? Would you like more melgrano?

You feel so embarrassed as a first-timer having to say you don’t understand what your ‘barista’ or ‘passador’ is asking, and they must feel like complete jeb ends having to ask fellow English speakers such ridiculous questions hundreds of times a day. It’s especially embarrassing when you’re in the company of someone who makes a weekly pilgrimage to get their hit of  murdered cabbage and can’t understand why you find such a simple task of selecting how you want your food so difficult.

Subway, ostensibly just a shop selling sandwiches, is somewhere on this spectrum of food outlets that require you to pass a GNVQ (or level-3 diploma equivalent) to actually get lunch. When you’re a regular Subway goer, it feels normal. You forget what it was like to be a Subway virgin. Until, in a state of hunger, you find yourself stood behind a Subway novice…

Stuck in the queue behind a Subway first-timer

I’m nearly at the front of the queue. I’m so close to getting my lunch on. This geezer in front looks like he could be a first-timer though.

Customer: Hi mate, can I have a ham sandwich please?

Oh here we go!

Sandwich Artist: What bread?

Customer: Pardon?

Sandwich Artist: What bread would you like?

Customer: Err…in a roll please.

Sandwich Artist: [Pointing out the tray of perpetually fresh breads] Choose which type of ‘roll’, sir.

Customer: [looks at selection] What’s ‘Italian’?

Sandwich Artist: Just white.

Customer: Hmm…and what’s ‘Hearty Italian’?

Sandwich Artist: White with…erm…heartiness.

Customer: Okay. I’ll just have brown actually.

Sandwich Artist: Wheat?

Customer: Well, yeah. It’s bread.

Sandwich Artist: No, ‘Wheat’ is brown, ‘Italian’ is white. You want ‘Wheat’, yes?

Customer: Sure.

Sandwich Artist: Footlong or six-inch?

Customer: What do you mean?

Sandwich Artist: Do you want full size bread or half size?


Sandwich Artist: [demonstrates with hands on loaf]

Customer: Oh right. Half size will be fine.

Sandwich Artist: With ham?

Customer: Yes please. Can I have some tomato as well?

Sandwich Artist: Yes, I’ll get to that bit in a second.

Customer: Okay. Can I have the turkey as well actually?

Sandwich Artist: Yeah, that’s fine. It’s the same price as ham.


RIP the £1.99 Sub of the Day deal

Customer: Oh is it? Well can I have beef instead of turkey?

Sandwich Artist: Double meat costs 50p more.

Customer: Oh right. Well, I won’t have the beef then.

Sandwich Artist: Do you want ham and turkey instead?

Customer: You said it was 50p more.

Sandwich Artist: No, that’s ham and beef. Ham and turkey is the same price.

Customer: Oh I see. I’ll stick to just the ham if it’s all the same.

Sandwich Artist: Cheese and toasted?

Customer: Does it cost more?

Sandwich Artist: No

Customer: Yes please.

Sandwich Artist: [places ingredients on sandwich and places in the toaster. Removes following ‘ping’] Which salad for you?

Customer: Can I have any of it?

Sandwich Artist: Yes sir.

Customer: Okay. Can I have tomatoes?

Sandwich Artist: [places tomatoes on sandwich]

Customer:…and salad [pointing at lettuce]

Sandwich Artist: [places lettuce on sandwich]

Customer: Sorry, am I allowed to have more salad?

Sandwich Artist: Yes, you take your pick from the salad.

Customer: No, I mean can I have more salad please?

Sandwich Artist: [places more lettuce on sandwich]

Customer: Thanks. And can I have…cucumber…sweetcorn…peppers…

Sandwich Artist: [places cucumber, sweetcorn and peppers on sandwich]

Customers: Is that chillies?

Sandwich Artist: Jalapeños, yes.

Customer: Okay. None of those actually. Have you got any red peppers?

Sandwich Artist: No.

Customer: Right. That should be fine mate.

Sandwich Artist: Any sauce?


A completely unrelated Subway.

Customer: What have you got.

Sandwich Artist: Mayo? Barbecue? Honey Mustard? Sweet Onion?…

Customer: Have you got any sweet chilli?

Sandwich Artist: No sweet chilli, no.

Customer: Okay. Have you got any brown sauce?

Sandwich Artist: Yes.

Customer: Hmm, interesting…. Can I have…mmm…ketchup?

Sandwich Artist: Ketchup?

Customer: Yes please.

Sandwich Artist: [puts ketchup on sandwich and wraps up] Any cookie, crisps or drinks for you?

Customer: Can I have a coke please?


It's a footlong - but I wouldn't use it as a rule.

Sandwich Artist: [hands Customer a cup] Here you go.

Customer: Where’s the drink?

Sandwich Artist : Drinks machine is over there. You help yourself.

Customer: Oh right. Can I have a straw?

Sandwich Artist: Straws are over there too.

Customer: Okay. Do you have a lid for this cup mate?

Sandwich Artist: Lids are next to the straws.

Customer: Great.

Sandwich Artist: That’s £3.99 altogether.

Customer: Crikey! I can get a Sainsbury’s Meal Deal for that. Can I just leave it please, mate? Ta-ra now.

Review: Simple dining has never been so complicated.

July 15, 2011 / Nick

Aptamil Follow On milk advert

Let me stop you there…”If you choose to move on [from breastmilk]…?”
What the hell, Aptamil! You DISGUST me.

Review: Only a disturbed mother could love it.

June 17, 2011 / Nick

Toffee Dodgers

Here’s a serving suggestion: Chuck ’em in the bin.

Review: Great idea. Disappointingly bland taste.

June 1, 2011 / Nick


The abuse of the English language is something that can really drive people insane. Sloppy language use has always been around, but the evidence has truly unravelled in these times of rapid communication. While an errant apostrophe can seriously knock a confident writer of his or her feet, we mustn’t forget that we’re all human. All that said, do you want to know something that will genuinely blow your socks off? Something that has surely gone over your head? In fact, I reckon it has definitely gone over your head.
I have literally been playing with your brain in the last paragraph…

I literally couldn't give a shit.

You see, while my ‘misuse’ of ‘literally’ may have set off klaxons in the language processing area of your head, the exact same type of ‘misuse’ of other words probably crept past your alarm system unnoticed.

You might say that I can’t have literally been playing with your brain unless I performed some kind of invasive surgery (which is not my bag, let me tell you). But the first paragraph is riddled with the same kind of logic.
Has language abuse ever really driven someone insane? Has it truly unravelled in recent times? Can an apostrophe seriously knock a writer off their feet? Are you socks genuinely still on? Surely they are. They definitely are.

"I am GENUINELY speechless. But not *literally* speechless. That would be silly."

The thing about the word ‘literally’ is that it has been cruelly victimised as the trickster who sets successful people ‘on fire’,  makes talent show contestants ‘nail’ songs to imaginary surfaces and causes people who laugh too much to ‘die’. ‘Literally’ is sent to think about what it has done on the English language’s naughty step alongside txt-speak and filler words like ‘like’, like.
Meanwhile words like ‘seriously’, ‘really’ and even the seemingly angelic ‘definitely’ continue to enact chaos almost wherever they go despite having virtually the same natural meaning.

It’s not just my rambling opinion I’ve based this on. A linguist, Michael Israel, has written an entire academic paper (PDF) on the subject showing that ‘literally’ is in the process of the same change that similar words went through before it.

While the likes of ‘genuinely’ have escaped all the tellings-off, little old ‘literally’ is the only word that got caught. It is not allowed to be used for emphasis like its friends are free to do. It is only allowed to be used to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

Poor ‘literally’.
You’ve been stitched up good and proper by those other words.

Wouldn't want to meet this down a dark alley, would you?

Talk proper.

Hard as some people may find it, words not only can, but regularly do have more than one meaning. I don’t even know anymore if ‘wicked’ still means ‘bad’, or if ‘bad’ still means ‘good’, or if ‘good’ means…come to think of it, that’s a pretty reliable one, but you get my point.

People who believe that there is some time in which the English language was at its best and that we should try to keep language like it was then are being irrational. I thought like those people once too, but now I’ve seen the error of my ways. If we don’t allow change, then we just end up getting more and more irate at the instances where the language wants to go where it feels and we’re not letting it.
It seems ridiculous when you stop and think that English language users get so uppity about how to correctly use ‘literally’ but can’t quite be bothered to come to a decision on how to spell yoghurt/yogurt/yoghourt.

I think it’s time that we perhaps started to think about letting ‘literally’ go and be free with its emphasis-marking brethren. After all, aren’t there bigger fish to fry? Especially while there are people who use the word ‘barter’ where they mean ‘haggle’…

Review: I could literally murder anyone who picks on that poor word.

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