The best way to go on an emotional rollercoaster

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I’m so happy! I’m so angry! How could they do that?! I’m so glad they chose that?! Wait? What?! Noooooooooooo. Yaaaaaay!


If you were wondering what just happened, it’s a representation of all the emotions you go through whilst watching the X Factor. They make a decision and you’re shouting at the TV screen because it’s so patently wrong, but you’re loving every minute of it.

Today I nearly watched an entire episode and I found it slightly ridiculous. The producers, judges and editors have carefully crafted every scene to provide as much emotional feeling as possible and get you mentally invested in the programme. You go through the heartbreak and the joy, the pain and the happiness.

If this were a simple talent show, everything would be a whole lot easier. If people were bad then they would be sent home. If people couldn’t sing then they would be sent home. But that doesn’t happen with the X Factor. Oh no it doesn’t.

They’ve introduced this method of selection this year which involves there only being 6 chairs for an excess of 6 artists. They whittle down the camp and some people will inevitably be knocked out. However, once the chairs are filled, the act filling the chair can still be removed if another act performs better.

6 chair challenge

Here are 6 chairs. Hopefully this helps explain the situation a bit better

Basically no-one is safe and they treat the whole thing like a giant pantomime.

“Who should I get rid of? I’m hearing 2. I’ve made a decision, I’m going to get rid of 2.”

Crowd: “Boooooooooooooooooooooo! Nooooooooooooooo!”

“I’m listening to the crowd. I’m hearing they didn’t like that decision (of course they didn’t you plonker because it was a terrible decision and you knew it). I’ll get rid of 3.”

Crowd: “(quieter) Boooooo”

For the most part I’m expecting someone in the audience to shout “he’s behind you!”, where ‘he’ is actually a talented artist.


Simon Cowell is 100% the X Factor pantomime dame…

I don’t know if its my age or the early onset grumpiness which means I am not loving the X Factor any more because it reeks of management manipulation to make the show interesting, whilst playing with the poor contestants feelings. I just feel angry that the judges keep changing their mind, but some of those poor souls are crushed because their fairytale dream is now over. It’s a bit harsh.

I’m not going to lie though, it’s entertaining television…

The best icebreaker

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***Sound the Blog Horn – guest post emerging! *** Guest blogger, Jack, is new to writing for Best Things but his debut is a stunner. Enjoy…

Earlier this week Jon ran a welcome lunch for new students. I’m not a student but I can get into these things because I’m 22 and I don’t iron my clothes. Last year I tried to attend a lecture on the basis of being friends with 4 of the students but apparently that doesn’t cut the mustard.

Anyway, I was at this lunch and Jon asked me if I knew any good ice breaker games. I shook my head blankly. I failed him, but now I will make it right.

You, after reading this post.

You, after reading this blog.

It isn’t an ice breaker game, like where you introduce yourself to a room of people, but it does dispel awkwardness. Actually, it’s not what Jon was looking for at all. Never mind.

It’s more like those questions you have to answer every three minutes at a party: “Where are you from?”, “What do you do?” or “How do you know party host?”. It keeps conversation flowing, only my technique is far more powerful.

With these basic questions you are relying on your stranger to say something you can relate to. Like if someone is from Crewe, then you reply “Oh yeah, I’ve been to the train station. I can’t understand anything the announcer says.” Ideally they will be from Sheffield, because then you can ask “Have you ever met Sean Bean?” and congratulations, you’ve just made friends. They are going to tell you all about this chip shop.

It’s run by Sean Bean’s nephew and it looks like it is open for minus 5 hours and 45 minutes over the weekend.


interesting opening times

What sort of opening times are these?


weekday bean

This was probably taken on a weekday

But even that gold nugget can’t break the ice when you’ve strolled into taboo territory.

Imagine you have just met a stranger and in your excitement you’ve over-shared. Maybe you told them that you kiss Mr Snuggles goodnight before bedtime. Perhaps you just realised your views on feminism are extremely controversial. Maybe you’ve gone too deep and they don’t want to share their spiritual beliefs without scuba gear.

Never fear.

You’re about to kick some social awkwardness right in the face. Your potential new friend is like a rabbit in the headlights, but you can save this conversation with a few simple sentences.

First acknowledge the awkwardness. “This is a bit taboo isn’t it?” Your companion will agree, relieved, hoping it will all be over soon. This is when you really blow their mind. Say “Well I want to start a revolution. Let’s break a taboo. Are you with me?” BOOM, YES THEY ARE! Feel free to continue your inappropriate conversation.

You are probably wondering if it actually works.

Well, I stumbled upon this last week and have used it almost every day since. It works amazingly. I think this is because everyone loves the romance of revolutionaries. Look at Che Guevara. Fairly racist man who shot dogs, but he stuck it to the man and he has a sexy accent so that’s alright. French Revolution? One of the bloodiest in history, but the man had it well and truly stuck to him, so it’s all good.


Che is thinking about what taboo to break next

Che is thinking about what taboo to break next

The best Where’s Wally question

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Where’s Wally? A classic game we all played as kids. It killed the time on many car journeys, making the hours pass as if they were never there, and it was always a useful way of distracting a child.

The keen ones went searching for Wally’s walking stick, his hat, evil Wally and all the other characters in his wonderful world. I, myself, would find him and then move on, my job was done.

But I recently saw a picture which turned Where’s Wally on its head. It made me think…

photo (4)

I’ve spent all these years trying to find Wally that I didn’t even consider why he was hiding. If a grown man has a propensity to lose all of his worldly possessions and consistently hide from his friends then I would argue that he has something of a problem.

Which is why this cartoon is so important. No-one ever asks “How’s Wally?”

As much as this is a lovely and light-hearted drawing playing on the classic child’s game, maybe take a moment to think about the Wally’s you encounter in your life. They could take the guise of someone looking lonely or even someone who is always smiling. It’s easy to hide when everyone thinks you’re OK.

Perhaps your friends hide behind their image, maybe they don’t like how they look so they dress in silly clothes and call themselves hipsters.

Hipsters need friends too guys. If they don’t have anyone then who’ll marvel at their poor taste in facial hair and bands no-one’s heard of?

The best carpuccino

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A coffee powered car...

A coffee powered car…

Sometimes something seems like it’s a best thing, but it’s actually not at all a best thing. This coffee-powered car fits exactly into that category.

It sounds sort of unusual and quirky – and sure you don’t see it very often. But then you realise it’s actually a terrible idea and the best thing about it is its nickname – the Car-puccino.

Because although it’s fun to power your car with coffee and drive it from Manchester to London, it’s just not quite good enough. Especially since they built it for a TV show (Bang Goes The Theory) – because that raises the bar. If you’ve got a TV budget you need to do better – like teach a team of monkeys to do the Swan Lake ballet routine.

The main reason this coffee car fails to impress is the numbers – they are pretty bad. Let me show you by using this pretty shoddy infographic I just made…


You've just been infographed.

You’ve just been infographed.

Add to that the fact that you have to stop every 40 miles to change the coffee filters and you’ve got yourself a pretty terrible car.

So well done, Bang Goes The Theory, you’ve made both coffee and cars worse. And what theory were you focussing on that week anyway? I’m a firm believer that if you take the usefulness away from science, you just end up boring me for no reason.

But all this leaves us with one very important question: what is the best Carpuccino?

Well for that we need to shift the hyphen one to the right – because the Carp-uccino is way better than the Car-puccino.


Look at it... magnificent!

Look at it… magnificent!


Ok, I’m not pretending that fish garnish on a cup of coffee is a good idea – I’m just saying it’s a better idea than that coffee-powered car.

And that makes it the best thing for today… well this and Steve’s bike lights.

Happy double-post Friday!


The best type of bike lights

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This is night time in a Norwegian summer

At night it’s dark. That’s not a surprising thing. We usually expect that (unless you live in Scandinavia in the summer and you’re blessed by the midnight sun). And cyclists will need to use bike lights.

In the past I’ve found bike lights infuriating. They’re often chunky, non-transferable because you have to have a special attachment of some kind and run out of battery when you least expect it.

But don’t worry! I’ve found the solution! Probably the keen cyclists amongst you will also know this solution, it’s not revolutionary. It’s small, easily attachable LED bike lights.

photo (3)

They’re stunning. Photo taken with all the skill of an eBay seller.

They don’t run out of battery quickly, an LED bulb uses very little energy, and they’re super bright. They’re also very portable and they often don’t need a special attachment. This is the key point because a whole load of LED lights still need you to use a screwdriver to put on a bracket. That’s sad.

It’s basically like someone read my list of moans and then created bike lights to combat it.

My versions make me happy. Every time I attach them to my bike with ease I get a sense of joy. Part of me wants to use my friend’s bikes so that I can show them how well my bike lights also work on theirs.

Like I say, this is nothing new, nor is it particularly spectacular, but it is important. It’s these small things in life which, when added up, can equate to joy.

If you do want some revolutionary bike lights and would like to be seen from the side by cars, then I would recommend purchasing some Revolights. They’re super cool and you’re super visible from all angles.


Oooooooo. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh.

If you don’t want to be with the trends and want faded, difficult to see lights, I would go for one of these:

Old bike lights

They’re super chunky and disappointing and not really on sale any more. They’re vintage. Hipsters will be salivating at the pure notion of this…

The best place to sit on a train


best place to sit

Let’s all be honest about this: trains can be terrible things.

I always end up sitting in British Third Class which happens when I’m not organised enough to book an advanced ticket with a seat number. The train is super busy and I end up sitting on the floor next to the luggage and the bikes.

I guess I’m not very good at trains.

Other train based problems include: people playing music on their phones, angry people, hen parties trying to have ‘fun’, expensive food, and, of course… delays.

And all this for the price of a small diamond, or half a PS4…

But all these problems can be negated by sitting in the best seat on a train.

When you get this glorious position, everything is right with the world. The sun shines, the birds sing beautiful songs to you… life is good. And where is this wonderful seat?

Well it’s right at the front, of course…


bad handwriting

I should really work on my computer handwriting… poor form.


For some glorious reason, on the Newcastle metro you are allowed to sit right at the front – just next to the driver who has his own little box. There are a few others who love to take the front seat of the train but most people avoid it because it isn’t near the doors… fools!

It’s the best seat in the whole train because it feels like you’re in control. You are pretty much the driver of the train… apart from the actual doing things part.


This is me driving over a bridge in my train

This is me driving over a bridge in my train


This is me deciding which tunnel we should go in

This is me deciding which tunnel we should go in


...and this is me picking up my blurry passengers... in my train.

…and this is me picking up my blurry passengers… in my train.


My wife often mocks me for taking blurry pictures while on various forms of transport… but actually it’s one of my favourite past times.

It’s photography with added risk.


P.S.  Did anyone else hear that quote from David Cameron where he said the Queen purred with delight about Scotland staying in the UK? Really weird thing to say, Cameron… unless the Queen is actually a cat in some sort of disguise, which sort of makes sense to me.


She looks very comforable with all that fur...

She looks very comfortable with all that fur…



The best fire extinguisher uses

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Most of you will be aware of the fire extinguisher. They’re a staple in many offices and even some homes. A great invention to put out fires but they are also very versatile.

Here are some examples of uses for you to consider the next time you see a fire extinguisher:

The elaborate fire extinguish

Put out fire

Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned but we somehow get there in the end…

The broomstick

Broom stick

I’m really not sure if this is real but I sincerely hope so. Harry Potter eat your heart out

The “dizzy-maker”

Chair spinning

“You spin me right round, baby right round”

Winning an argument

Friend fire extinguisher

You’ll never lose one again.

Use it to test your strength

Practical joke

She definitely needed to go for the wide base with her feet.


Party fire extinguisher

I wonder what they did when the fire extinguisher ran out. Probably didn’t party as hard.

The Bernice method for dealing with second hand smokeBernice 1Bernice 2

She got TOLD!

Finally, not a fire extinguisher but a fire extinguisher grenade…

Fire extinguisher grenade

Be honest, this is MEGA cool!

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