One Day by David Nicholls; amazing

Seriously. One Day by David Nicholls got to me. one_day_big
I’ve cried, smiled, felt my heart burst, romantically despaired, love-hated London and questioned the point of my own 26-27 years (especially when I got to that point). It described everything with the bittersweet aptness and post-party despair of free-falling after University. That freedom tainted by that sobering realisation of how much you rely on, and need to face, the very things and people and insecurities you left behind. Far behind, in some cases. But you’re back, and life goes on at an abrupt, galloping, yearly pace, and the book catapults through the snapshot dilemmas of growing up.
The runaway stream of words about the finest, direst details caught in my throat, often. It’s a mirror; an affirmation for any confused 20-something reader that we’re not alone. You are certainly not. The two graduates couldn’t be more different, although they cross into different stages at mismatched points and it’s an uplifting tragedy; a contradiction in terms. I was angry at the author for doing this to them. Doing what? Pounding their souls with the gritty realities of life out of control. The unexpected twists and turns that no one can foresee despite the fact we are told stories about them all the time. 
And as the book develops, rapidly, their lives speed up, and the author speeds up, and there’s a moment in reading wide-eyed that I wondered if this was rushed. Whether the author deliberately sped up to convey a sense of life reeling out of control – or, just to make the point. That time, and books, run out.
While reading this rather life-defining book I started writing emails in the style of Emma, as if I had suddenly found (identified with) that voice. 
And there’s the classic writerly point made alongside the protagonist’s journey through book publishing that writing is good and worth pursuing and works out in the long run, even if just to make you a better and more compassionate person with the relationships that make you grow, regardless of material and literary success. Except, she is also self-deprecating and insecure and finds herself adrift with disappointingly superficial characters in The Arts – and you can’t help wonder if Dexter is like that, and you just want to shake Emma and show her that she is refreshing and sweet and honest and you need her to know her solid intelligent mind soars through these pages. And Dexter… oh, Dexter. You can understand, truly, that people who are lucky, successful and incredibly good looking are, well, in pain. 
Places and paths are revisited and retrod with such honest flaws, such sincerity, and such intelligence. We all feel these things. But especially after University and some definition that graduates are supposed to be successful and they find themselves falling just as much as anyone else, until we learn, somehow, messily, to do some things better and all of a sudden our age changes things and we want different things and how is life ever going to work out, for real? The answer provided is realistic; it works out but only in ways we don’t expect. And these ways can delight us, if we have the courage to change absolutely everything when we just can’t take it any more.
And, perhaps, live a little more.
I cried. Many times. (And if you know why, don’t spoil it for everyone else.)


07. September 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Books | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beer: A poem by George Arnold

(Beer & poetry, a wonderful combination, and a favourite poem that describes my moments of thought, too)


by George Arnold.

I like European styles, too.














    With my beer 

I sit, 

While golden moments flit: 


    They pass 

Unheeded by: 

And, as they fly, 


Being dry, 

    Sit, idly sipping here 

    My beer. 

O, finer far 

Than fame, or riches, are 

The graceful smoke-wreaths of this free cigar! 


    Should I 

    Weep, wail, or sigh? 

    What if luck has passed me by? 

What if my hopes are dead,—  

My pleasures fled? 

    Have I not still 

    My fill 

Of right good cheer,— 

Cigars and beer? 

    Go, whining youth, 


Go, weep and wail, 

Sigh and grow pale, 

    Weave melancholy rhymes 

    On the old times, 

Whose joys like shadowy ghosts appear,—

But leave me to my beer! 

    Gold is dross,— 

    Love is loss,—

So, if I gulp my sorrows down, 

Or see them drown 

In foamy draughts of old nut-brown, 

Then do I wear the crown, 

    Without the cross!

07. August 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Drink, Poetry | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Facebook statuses, I write.

‘I’m bored of writing,’ I write, into the accusatorily blinking Facebook status box. I drop the words into it’s post-box slot and release them into the abyss. I semi-pretentiously wonder what to write next, as if Facebook matters, as if it matters if I have quality thought out here.
No. Every day it more and more resembles a lost-and-found prison, painted in clinical blue, where some passers-by with hangovers typing in their memories and contacts from the party the night before. People sometimes lose themselves in here.
Even we, the cute ‘Facebook generation’, see the low-level fun of self-aggrandising, self-deprecating statuses is diminishing. There’s nothing to prove any more. Relationships move on, people forget, people don’t care, or if they do, it’s weird; we get it now. There is a time and a place for passive-aggressive messages. Was it ever Facebook statuses? Perhaps it was always post-its on the fridge.
Sponsored posts and company pages become the realm of the employable social media writers. The nostalgic innocence of idealistic University students indulging in vanity is swept away. I mean, grow up. We’re adults now.
The only people who give their statuses any (unpaid) thought any more are, like, professionally branded ‘writers’, or… people who don’t know much about Facebook, really.

14. July 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Creativity, Social Media | Tags: , | Leave a comment

B0ring Tweets vs Ricky Gervais; my appreciation, your treat.

Adapted conversation from when I introduced funny guy The Bunnybeater to… @b0ringTweets Versus @RickyGervais

Here’s Episode 6. It’s a particularly good one. Episode 7 was a bit of a let down after that, to be honest.

B: “I don’t understand.”

A: “You don’t understand?”

B: “I…I’m starting to be entertained by them, but I’m not sure why. But, not hugely entertained. Just a little.
“It’s odd. Perplexing. It’s like a joke I can almost grasp, but not quite.”

A: “Exactly! … When you actually laugh, that’s when you’re in trouble.”

B: “…You’ve actually laughed?”

A: “Right. So. If you read Boring Tweets you’ll see how its funny Gervais is trying to push his limits. Like a test of will. He caaaan’t keep up boringness. And Boring Tweets takes his time, it’s tense… Its like. That can’t possibly be manouevred to be more boring. But he trumps Gervais every time! The Olympics of being boring, as it were… And humour is basically playing with expectations, after all?
…Not that im really into it and thought about it much or anything.” *whistles*

*serious silence*

A: “It’s just so unfunny its funny, okay!”

B: “Oh you’re so very English.”

A: “How’s that very English?”

B: “The ‘so unfunny it’s funny’, the actively trying to find humour in being deliberately mundane. It’s a very specifically English trait.”

A: “Well… it is! I suppose Gervais captured that awkward social small talk unbearability in The Office. I love it because, well, it’s… kinda soothing. Reassuring. The mundane. Yet also so irritating. And that tension is the funny. You want it, but you don’t. You realise what a waste of time this is. You feel – really feel – the futility of life, spent in these boring (but not bored) moments watching the trusty monotonous photocopier machine repeat in The Office’s cuts or the pregnant pause for thought as Boring Tweets is warming up to say something utterly, resignedly, but addictively and hypnotically, pointless.
Isn’t this the very tragi-comedy of life itself?!”


A: “You know what else is pointless?
.. A blog post on this conversation! Yes! I love pointless blogging! It’s reassuring!”

*30 secs later*

Afterthought: Ya know, it’s not just the genuine believability of boring tweets, it’s the consistent cadence and right rhythm perfect for Twitter. I did linguistics of dramatic script at University for one semester and that paper would have had a field day on this.

07. July 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Comedy, Social Media | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Book Club, Shoreditch

I felt like I was in a hipster film set.

Not a set up film set, I mean, in a documentary about hipsters? … as in, it was so real, it felt fake?

Just, space, wooden floors, with good looking creative types wearing cardigans and thick-rimmed glasses using their iDevices or playing ping pong (which is cool). Colours were all pretentiously pastel and everything was too polished, and lean… even down to the variety of beers, with a beer menu of about 12 beers that were in large font across an A4 piece of paper on a clipboard, with a similar wine list, and cocktail menu with an intriguing ‘Shoreditch twat’.

Still, it was nice. Fun. Cute. Cool… for a summer’s day.
Maybe I should write a blog post about it, I thought to myself.

But the problem with hating on hipster venues is that they *aim* for pretentious, so it’s just a low blow to say it’s *too* trendy, either it sounds ironic (and falls into their trap) or… I sound bitter (which falls into their trap).

28. June 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Drink | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

I’m a pointless writer. (Poem)

I’m a thoughtful, flighty writer

A philosophical dream

Cynically idealistic, honestly fictional,

I’m so full of fancy bullshit, and inspired by the same.

I make apt observations of contradictory truths and beautiful paradoxes.










I’m fun and I’m game; (I’m nonsensical and competitive).

I’m stupid with intelligence enough

To know what’s wrong with everything I’m doing…

and I probably know what you think of it, too.

I’m egotistical and sensitive,

silly and sweet,

sincerely trivial.

I like trying new things

Like word salads

and world literature

and whiskies.

I dance with my words like similes (they are notoriously bad dancers).

I’m humbly pretentious,

self-consciously brave,

and here’s a pointless poem;

the best kind of rave.

21. June 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Poetry | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Gamification in Marketing

Gamification: Oxford English Dictionary description (shortlisted for word of the year in 2011):

“The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g. point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun.”


Here’s some notes I ripped learned from Jason Bice’s article Game On! in Hub Magazine, Oct 2012:


The use of game-design techniques to solve problems, motivate and engage people is not new. What is new is the technology that allows gaming elements to be applied to virtually any experience; and this technology is at the intersection of gaming and branding worlds.

Gamification somewhat of a novelty. Most ‘gamified’ applications or services employ systems of badges, achievements, levels etc, but lacks any degree of behavioural complexity. This complexity is key to creating the gamer’s state of intense engagement / ‘blissful productivity’ Jane McGonigal in her TED talk ‘Gaming can make a better world’.

But, why not stick to traditional, tried and tested methods of engagement? Advertising, direct marketing, social media? It begs the question of why companies should spend time and money on marketing that is too young to have a proven track record for ROI.

But in today’s attention economy, can you afford not to?

The high engagement level of gamers is a most coveted elements a brand could seek to capture. Everyone is gaming – since Angry Birds was released in 2009, collective time spent playing has come to over 200,000 years. Today, over half a billion people in the world spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games.

This success partly due to mobile/on-demand entertainment, partly due to gaming becoming more accepted as mainstream leisure. Many reasons games are receiving our attention and projected to receive more in the future. Passive media like television and film are starting to share equal time – or taking a back seat to – gaming as the public’s entertainment of choice. Companies therefore doing their best to convert this shift in attention into customer engagement and brand loyalty.


Problem? …The act of simply putting messages/ads/sponsorships interrupts and injects our leisure pursuits with reality, which is what we escape from when we play games. But if we gamify the ads – it’s fun, it’s absorbing, and, most importantly, it’s voluntary. Gamification provides an opt-in choice to receive such messages and be rewarded for doing so… so, it’s a win-win, if done well.


But it’s not being done well.


Gamification’s poster child = Foursquare. Introduced basic game mechanics and created simple yet absorbing experience for users. In return for points, rewards and climbing up leaderboards, consumers didn’t mind if the app took them to sponsored/partnered content (and still don’t). But this successful formula is deceptive – badges and points do not a game maketh. They don’t guarantee the audience will engage with your product.

Since Foursquare, flurry of badge-having, points-awarding, achievement-unlocking apps (GetGlue), blogs (DevHub) and websites (Huffington Post) but… “without the context of any goal or meaningful rewards.”

Badges, achievements, and points were awarded for doing things like clicking a link, “liking” a site on Facebook, or watching a specific TV program. The absorbing parts of a game—the element of discovery and play, mastery of challenge, and the immensely satisfying epic win—were replaced with empty or repetitive tasks that the user was either likely to do without additional encouragement or not motivated enough to do by the pseudo-reward offered. As a result, these subpar gamified experiences have begun to outnumber the truly superb ones, casting them all in a light that makes them look faddish and superfluous for business purposes.”

“Companies must realize that a gamified offering is a project in and of itself. Time and money must be invested in having people with experience execute it. That means getting game designers, user experience designers, professional coders, and web and mobile platform strategists on board. Game designers have a 40+-year head start on marketers for what makes a game fun and what doesn’t. Prototyping, iterating, playtesting, and balancing are not just nice to have. They are required for success.”

Jury is out on whether gamification will be a central trend or a faddish afterthought. But traditional forms of media are changing more rapidly than ever before. With that simple truth, advertising and marketing firms have an opportunity to reinvent what they offer and define the real-world benefits they provide for clients and customers.

He asks whether companies can explore this trend fully, to get what lies behind a successful game and campaign, and harness this power to create more productive workplaces, more efficient global and local communities, and happier and healthier people?

Here’s a TED talk by an actual expert out there:


14. June 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Games | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Signs in Shoreditch








07. June 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Artistry, Creativity | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Faltering Fullback, Finsbury Park

A delightful pub with a clever beer garden, full of quirky randomness. The decked garden is built upwards with different levels, nooks and crannies for one or for ten people, with tables close enough together to encourage talking to strangers on a summer’s night.


They have a quality selection of drinks, but they ran out of the Heineken and Amstel on tap – but Hoegaarden instead was better, with lemon *and* lime!


Plenty of cool kids staying up late on the Sunday I went (11th May), with live music consisting of an acoustic band crouched around a table in one of the three different sections of the pub.


28. May 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Drink | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Why I write. (My reply to Jeff Goins)

A reply to Jeff Goins, here:

I write…

Because I only know what I think when I write, and I only know what I feel after I’ve written, mused, and write more. I’m closer to what makes me, me. And what I want to say, to assert that.

To clarify, for peace of mind, to muse. So that when I express, my private thoughts have been given the right attention on paper, to both validate and let them free. I write to let go – I can only let go when I have written it down. That goes for to do lists, emotions and poetically annoying wisps that blind my sight when I have to focus.

For joy. When I write, with a greater control and freedom over what might happen to those words, I really feel joy. And if there is something I need to express – anger, sadness, desperation, happiness – it is all enhanced with joy when I write. Not necessarily directly about those things either – sometimes when I write something completely different, it seeps in and I recognise my intuition churning in mysterious ways.

Because… I just like it. And when I don’t like it, I don’t.

Because I’ve learnt to say no to writing.

I can only drive the supercar at a top speed when I know the brakes are working. To be a writer, I believe it is important to write, often, and deliberately and consciously not write. Both are important. You can’t be a writer without both. Or maybe I just can’t be me, without both.

Because I have a purpose, even if that purpose is simply art for art’s sake. Because morning pages and streams of consciousness refresh me like a shower that pours over the top of my thoughts and in the process, cleans them.

Because I flourish when I appreciate the words I use. And I flourish when I listen to a mastery of language. It is the highest beauty… that I appreciate. Maybe it’s different for others. But I know myself better when I absorb, and become inspired by, the best writing and performing of writing.

And I write…

To thank you, Jeff Goins. You’ve been an inspiration, although you haven’t known it.


Why do you write, create, or otherwise do what you do?

Please share with us, either in the comments, or on your blog and link to it below. <3

14. March 2014 by aleekwrites
Categories: Creativity, Writing | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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