A Song of Juice and Spoilers

For reasons beyond my control, I will miss the first three episodes of the new series of Game of Thrones. This means that I will have to stay off the internet until such time that I can get to my Sky Plus machine and catch up. Or does it?  Logically there is no way to prevent spoilers being posted on news websites and blogs, but there might be a way that I can still go on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram without fear of having my binge-watch ruined by my Friends and Followers.

And that way, ladies and gentlemen, is Juice Plus.

Now, whether necking a load of pills and quite frankly disgusting-looking milkshakes every day is any better for you than actually, you know, eating is not for me to say. Nor is it my place to suggest that the Juice Plus  business model bears a shocking resemblance to a pyramid scheme.  I will say is that chances are you follow at least one Juice Plus disciple on social media. Even if you think you don’t, you do. They are very easy to spot.  They  are the ones who post an inspirational quote every morning without fail to demonstrate just how happy and motivated they are. They are the ones always looking for new people to join their team and live their dreams. They want to inspire healthy living around the world while posing with fluorescent pills that your neighbourhood Dealer would consider pretty dodgy.  They have not yet made the connection between their rapid weight loss and the fact that they are exercising more and eating less, instead attributing their new figure to the power of positive thinking and the hundreds of fruits and vegetables that can be found in each Juice Plus capsule. I could go on.

It isn’t clear if they are putting it on to try and attract business or if Juice Plus pills are the twenty-first century equivalent of Kool-Aid. What is clear is the fact that you will probably find one or two people on your social media who swear by Juice Plus and all their products while cluttering up your newsfeed with Gym selfies and invitations to surrender your will to the Healthy Living collective. A bit annoying, yes, but you can ignore them. Right?

Wrong.  Or at the very least you will be if I log on to Facebook and see something I shouldn’t. Like whether Jon Snow is alive or dead, for example. Or indeed anything that could potentially be a spoiler. If anyone so much as mentions Game of Thrones, I will fill their wall with adverts for Juice Plus capsules. I will bombard them with inspirational quotes and posters and tell them daily just how true it is to Wake Up with Determination and to Go to Bed with Satisfaction. I will personally see to it that every Juice Plus rep in a hundred miles will know that the offending party wants to join their team and start a revolution.

Make no mistake. I have read every book in A Song of Ice and Fire. I have watched as Game of Thrones has slowly moved away from the plotlines in the novels and into uncharted territory.  Now I find myself not knowing what is going to happen next, and I will be damned if some blabbermouth on my newsfeed needs to give us an update every time Drogon shows up.  I will do it. No joke.

So here it is: unless you want your life to become a neverending stream of cheesy affirmations, clean living and expensive placebos, then you will keep your mouth shut and your reactions off the internet for at least four weeks. Consider yourselves warned.

Valar Morghulis, bitches.

Oh, by the way, I’m off to New York next week. And I will be posting new Blogs live from the USA. Will I get my replica Blunderbuss through Customs?  Will my travelling companions be convinced to take the stairs when visiting the Empire State Building? Is it a good idea to take your iPad out in Hell’s Kitchen? Tune in next week to find out!

 

 

 

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Running for Fun and Profit

I like running. It is a brilliant way to keep fit, relax, and the only way someone in their mid-twenties can keep pretending to be the Flash without things getting weird. Lots of people share my enthusiasm (if not my ability to do a six and a half minute mile, just sayin’), which is why events like Parkrun are so popular. As the name suggests, Parkrun organises annual 5k timed runs in parks around the world for runners of all ability. Parkruns take place every Saturday morning and signing up to join your local event is completely free. 

At least that’s the idea. Stoke Gifford Parish Council obviously disagree, as they have become the first chapter of local government in the world to charge Parkrun a fee to use their park.  After all, they argue, it would be unfair to ask local residents who do not take part to pay for the maitenance of pathways used by the organisation.

Well as we all know, your average runner weighs over one hundred and ninety kilograms and drag jack hammers behind them as they go, so of course the maitenance costs must be through the roof. Despite this, however,Parkrun UK has warned that if a charge is imposed the event will not be allowed to continue in Little Stoke Park. Which is a shame. Not just for the four thousand and eighty-three runners that are registered to take part in the Little Stoke Park Runs, but also for Stoke Grifford Parish Council. Never has such a blatant get-rich-quick scheme suffered such a colossal setback before it even had a chance to blossom into a sly little tax dodge.

As it happens I’ve been trying to raise money through running. After my attempts to gain sponsors for Survivors of Bombay Mix Withdrawal bore no fruit-and got me banned for life from participating in the Great North Run-I set up a speed camera outside my flat in hopes of getting some of that sweet, sweet speeding ticket money. But as it turns out that only works for Cars and is also kind of illegal, so that was out. I then tried to adopt the Stoke Grifford Parish council method of charging people to use the pavement outside my house, and then I got punched. Laughed at and punched.

So I’m back to square one. On the plus side, no-one has asked me to pay for the privilage of going for a run yet, so there’s that.

Ducking the Tax Man

A huge leak of confidential documents has revealed how the wealthy and powerful use tax havens to get around the law.  The records show how Panama-based law firm  Mossack Fonseca helped their clients-including twelve heads of state, sixty relatives and associates of people in positions of power such as our very own David Cameron, and officials from FIFA-launder money, create shell companies and more in an effort to avoid the tax man. The leak has prompted financial governing bodies the world over to launch investigations into the potentially fraudulent activities of some of the most powerful men and women alive. The Prime Minister of Iceland has already resigned because of the leak, and more are expected to fall on their swords in the coming days.

You can see why this is so serious. After all, this is proof that a very small minority of people are being subsidized by the majority. The documents show the extent of fraud committed by dictators and democratically elected officials alike.

BUT.

This is not the issue.

The main issue highlighted by the Panama Papers is that the rich have no imagination when it comes to Tax Evasion. Anyone can set up a fake ownership records or not declare links to their spouse’s income. I myself have an offshore bank account. Well, a Piggy Bank I lobbed into the lake in the park when no-one was looking. Still counts.

No, if you want to avoid paying taxes, you need to think outside the box. You need to think big. You need to think like Srrooge McDuck.

Scrooge McDuck is arguably the richest Mallard in Duckberg, if not the world. While some business ventures may be at best quesionable-race cars, lasers, aeroplanes-his personal net worth has never suffered. This can be attributed to many factors, but the fact that he uses his money to fill his swimming pool may have something to do with it. By declaring it on tax forms as “the contents of my pool”, McDuck manages to hold on to his earnings because no financial body in it’s right mind would take what they think is water as payment. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity and shows originality that is firmly lacking in the Panama Papers.

Look, I’m not saying that dodging your Taxes is right or wrong. What I am saying is that if you do want to do it, there are better ways than funnelling it through loads of dummy accounts and creating an obvious paper trail. Or creating an ISA. True, you might not have your own personal money pit in a disused water tower you can dive into, but I’m betting that you could fill a good sized paddling pool. So act now, and one day you could literally be swimming in money.

 

Wanting to go Back.

I think that it is only fair to warn you that this blog will either be triggering or boring. It really depends on how you feel about me talking about my Eating Disorder. If you are in the position where you are currently dealing with your own issues, it would be unfair to subject you to yet another account of someone having a rough time. So you should probably stop reading.  You should also stop reading if you think that you have heard me complain and angst enough for one lifetime. I do not blame you because I can be an angsty prick at the best of times, and it cannot be fun having to put up with my all-too-frequent episodes.

Yesterday I tried on a pair of trousers and they didn’t fit. This upset me. It upset me a lot. It upset me because a year ago I could have managed to fit them quite comfortably. I wouldn’t have had to breathe in in a futile attempt to get the buttons to fasten around my waist. I wouldn’t have felt my legs straining the fabric. I wouldn’t have looked in the mirror in the changing room and seen proof that I was indeed fat and stupid.

I wouldn’t have come to the sickening realization that there was nothing I could do about it.

I have an Eating Disorder. A year ago, I was hospitalised because my weight had dropped to the point where I was in pretty much constant danger of cardiac arrest. My days became a constant barrage of meals and snacks punctuated with therapy sessions and reminders to sit down. When they released me four months later, I promised my family that I would never go back and set about proving to everyone just how much better I was.  I ate pick-and-mix, Dominos Pizza,  Peanut Butter straight from the jar. Whenever people bought food into work I piled straight in, often going back for seconds or even fourths.

I kept putting on weight, but that didn’t matter. Every kilogram was a step away from being sectioned again. Yes,  I was often eating until I felt and often was  physically sick. No, I did not like having my picture taken or looking in mirrors. Yes, the voice in the back of my head, the one that keeps calling me a hypocrite, a waste of space, a selfish dullard with nothing to offer anyone except annoyance was back and getting stronger all the time. But that didn’t matter. People told me I looked healthy.

After a while, though, I came to the conclusion that this was just a polite way of telling me I looked fat. That losing weight was the only thing I was ever any good at, and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t even do that anymore. And then the trousers happened, after  a week where I failed to pass a work-related course, after being reminded that I barely scraped a 2.2 at University, after realising that in many important ways I am actually a massive hypocrite. Actual proof of my many failings.

Which of course I can’t do anything to change. I can’t lose weight because that would set off alarm bells with my Doctor and Occupational Health and my Parents and before I know it I will have lost my freedom again. But I want to. I want to so badly. I could cry. This was not the deal. I was supposed to be better. Why am I still so ugly?