Feminism Isn’t About Appendages…It’s About Acceptance

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We go through different stages in life. At some point, we decide that drinking out of a toilet bowl and urinating into an empty Ribena carton isn’t acceptable. We begin to adapt to social norms, but the interplay between two genders is still an interesting one; when we’re ten-years-old, we live in fear of the opposite sex; we dread being accused of fancying someone, we avoid them like the plague and, in America, ‘cooties’ is always around the corner.

But what about the change that happens with adolescence? Or, rather, the perception that occurs? For when puberty strikes and we become stumbling vessels of hyper hormones, all of a sudden members of the opposite sex no longer become someone of the opposite gender, they become targets.

And that’s not me talking from personal experience. That’s me talking from experiencing typically ‘male’ viewpoints. All of a sudden, the notion of becoming friends with girls is ridiculous, a frivolous pastime where the end result is like tipping a bus conductor; it’ll get you nowhere, fast. Unless you plan to sleep with them, then you’re making an idiot out of yourself. Forget making meaningful conversation, sharing common interests and enjoying one another’s platonic presence; if you’re not secretly working on some sexual subterfuge, then you might as well move to Brighton and scour Will Young’s LinkedIn page.

I spent eighteen months working within a cramped, typically male office environment, wherein it contained its own pool table and work finished at 12pm on a Friday for four hours of beer and pork. Not a problem as such, but women were viewed with disdain and carnality; on Christmas, they were given ironing boards as a present while the guys were given aftershave, every Monday morning was a conversation on who’d they slept with and the best sex they’d had period (and they’d later be referred to as “slags”), and their complaints about the pool table itself were laughed off, with the men proposing they could install “foxy boxing.” To add to that, strippers were regularly hired for birthdays and interviewees were judged on their looks.

One time, a co-worker eavesdropped in awe at my Facebook thread, in which I’d engaged in several conversations with different women. Disappointingly, the first thought that crossed his mind was that I was a serial ‘player’, rather than just someone who had female friends. They began surreptitiously hunting for tips. “How many are you shagging?” they asked. “None,” I replied. “And I don’t intend to.” “There’s something wrong with you,” came the crestfallen riposte. And, being naïve, I believed him. When you’re young and you enter a workplace like that for the first time, you start to unwillingly mould yourself to their alpha males.

Surrounded by guys who kept their craniums in their crotches, I began to think maybe the typical male representative should be ripped, randy and risqué, with a disposable attitude to women. I began to study their methods, and all of a sudden, my conversations with women changed – I was no longer genuinely conversing, I was no longer discussing similar interests and just passing the time innocently; I was instead urgent and full-on, with every response being sexually suggestive badinage that geared the conversation to only one place.

Of course, the guys in question admired me for it. But soon enough I finally realised that this wasn’t what I wanted. I’d begun adapting to what I thought society wanted in a man – someone that is cocksure, confident and concupiscent. But if that’s what a guy is meant to be, then I didn’t want it. I’d lost so many interesting conversations with girls, all because I was after something I didn’t even want. I was like a 12-year-old boy buying his first Rizla, only to discover he’d rather have spent it on some Haribo.

It opened my eyes to how some men think – social media can be a sexual fortress, where you can begin a conversation with a random girl and try your hardest to get their numbers. You can dare to send a dick pic in the hope it will “speed things up.” But is this what we want the female generation to think? That every time a guy pops up and says “hi”, that it’s merely a matter of time before they unleash a barrage of clunky catcalls and the dreaded wink emoticon. Nowadays, I do sometimes speak to girls on Facebook or Twitter, and even though my goal is just to talk and nothing more, I have a pang of guilt that I know half of these people will think I just want sex.

Some people view feminism with a degree of mistrust – if you’re not a girl, it doesn’t apply. But feminism isn’t about what’s in your pants, it’s about what’s in your head. It’s about acceptance – I’ve spoken to girls who are genuinely inspiring and innovative, and conjure up ambitions in me that a lot of men wouldn’t. I’ve met girls that are driven and energetic, with opinions and interests that coagulate with my own. To simply tut at them, ask them for sex and then buy them an iron is ridiculous. One day, we will be able to completely whitewash the phallic-shaped elephant in the room, where a male and female can walk across the room, shake hands and talk, without either party thinking about sex. Unless they want to. In that case, go ahead.

One day, a guy will be able to list Emma Watson in their heroes without people saying it’s because she’s “fit.” Do we ask the same if a girl lists Barack Obama in it? Perhaps we do flippantly, but we never mean it. To judge feminism, and girls too, by their gender assignment is insane. It’s an open book, a fascinating world where we can do away with sexual oppression and start anew.

One day, we will be able to ask this question – “what if a guy can talk to a girl, be friends with them and the thought of sex never cross their mind?”. And one day it won’t be greeted by chauvinistic snickering.

 

Why ‘Homer’s Phobia’ is Still As Relevant and Challenging in 2016

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From around Season Six, The Simpsons was taking a few more risks, moving away from the grounded, family-based scenarios and beginning a fruitful jaunt as one of comedy’s finest saboteurs. They began skewering the media (Homer Badman) and politics (Sideshow Bob Roberts), among other things, but one of their most progressive and ground-breaking episodes was Homer’s Phobia, in which Homer’s hitherto hidden homophobia comes out the closet in a big, big way.

In latter day episodes of The Simpsons, it proved harder and harder to root for our protagonist, especially because most of his ‘jerkass’ antics were reckless and irresponsible. At this point, however, Homer was still very much a loveable manchild, but within this episode the audience are really pitted against him. There are a lot of parallels on this episode to Modern Family, in which Jay Pritchett, the dyed-in the-wool man’s man, struggles to accept his homosexual son Mitch. “I can’t help it, I was born this way,” is Jay’s defence. But it’s as flawed as it is endearing; we don’t wish our patriarchs to be Neanderthal and myopic in their thoughts, but, at the same time, it’s interesting to see their ingrained discomfort.

For Homer, he’s sort of a blueprint for working-class masculinity; he bowls, he watches football and he works a modest job. Homosexuality would be an area that simply wouldn’t have entered his mental Venn diagram, and even if it does, it doesn’t matter because Homer is straight (a scene which is pointed out wonderfully about Hawaiian shirts, when Marge incredulously asks “so if you wore one, it wouldn’t be gay?”).

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When antique collector John (John Waters, in one of the finest one-episode appearances to date) enters the Simpsons world, at first they’re drawn in to his energetic bombast, especially Homer. “You yourself are worth a bundle,” John comments when Homer asks if the house has “camp value”, something Homer previously made clear he didn’t understand. When Homer finally twigs that John is gay, his whole world comes crashing down – all of a sudden, his house is under threat (“now we can’t say only straight people have been in this house”), his son is in danger of being ‘turned’ and he even hilariously questions his own gender preference (“oh yeah, when was the last time you had a baby?”).

Homer represents, sadly, a surprisingly large modicum of males that view homosexuality as some sort of infection that might create an unwelcome sense of turbulence. But why? Why do males view this as some sort of grand affront? Are they scared that they would have to face up to their own failings as what society deems a ‘traditional man’? Are they fearful that they’ll enter into some sort of asexual pact, where they have to kiss goodbye to ever finding straight love because they’ve shook hands with a homosexual? The uneasiness probed is as frivolous as it is archaic, but in 2016 it still happens. And when ‘Homer’s Phobia’ aired, it was even more prevalent.

The episode is interesting because it not only focuses on Homer, but also on the rest of the family’s relationship. Bart begins to mirror John, if only because he’s mimicking a cool adult, as most 10-year-olds would. To Homer, though, they are trigger signs that Bart is being ‘converted’ (Homer’s thoughts, not mine). It’s nice to see Marge assert herself and quite rightly ridicule Homer’s forthrightness (“oh, jeez, you don’t even know what you’re worried about anymore,” she grouses to him at one point). The writers create an ever-growing wedge between Homer and his family, but it’s testament to the writing that not once do I actually resent Homer; we still know, deep down, that he’s a good guy.

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It’s an interesting journey that Homer goes through. The writers carefully ensure his lines are spouted soundbites that most latent homophobes would thoughtlessly blurt out, especially when John self-identifies as a “queer”, to which Homer, aghast, cries “that’s OUR word for making fun of YOU. We need it!!” Later, he gets pretty catty, when he refuses John’s offer of a hat and says “hang on to it, toyboy, you might need it when it starts raining naked ladies!” I can’t remember a line quite so vicious spouted from Homer, or as cerebral. Later in the series, he’d say the heartless retort “looks like you’re missing a wife” to Flanders, but here he is unjustifiably nasty.

However, it’s almost refreshing to see Homer moderate with rare perception, particularly when he’s driving with Bart. His exchanges with his brain are usually hilarious, but here he’s deep in thought, analysing everything from telling his son he loves him to leaving his arm on his shoulder for too long. It’s a typical thought from someone like Homer, who’d think any male contact would warrant a burgeoning male-on-male romance.

The writers get the last laugh on Homer, though, exposing his superannuated views for what they really are, especially when he takes advice from childless drunks Moe and Barney, enlisting them to take Bart deer hunting. “Seems kinda gay,” Bart later summarises in the car, still oblivious to Homer’s concerns. This is one of the best scenes, as Homer, Barney and Moe look awkwardly at one another, and Homer finally stumbles to say “that’s a very immature attitude to have, young man.”

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Throughout, John is a great sport, and one of the best lines is when Homer says he’s a “queer. That’s what you like to be called, right?” “Well, that or John,” he counters.

Before this episode, of course, we had Karl. After this episode, we had the likes of Julio and some lusty fisherman that has turned “queer from the sea”. Homosexuality became an easy joke as the quality of the writing started to wane, but here it is was used to spotlight the short-sightedness of the average man, and that’s still something that happens today. Maybe John needs to save a few more lives. KEEP REACHING FOR THAT RAINBOW!

Fresher 15 – The Songs to Hear this Month

January is usually a depressing month; Christmas has left you bereft of money and replete of flab, the nights are dark and long, and your New Year resolution to not murder anyone isn’t going very well (at least you sanded off your ‘prints).

However, fear not, for if everything else in January is pretty miserable, music is not. With a slew of bands, both old and new, announcing forthcoming albums and EPs, this month has seen a flurry of new, exciting tracks. We’ve had sterling work from the late David Bowie, and here’s a further 15 songs to listen to.

  • SUEDE: No Tomorrow

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Once the torch-bearers for the skinny, unappreciated waifs of suburbia, Suede are now firmly settled into their ‘elder statesmen of indie’ role, and their forthcoming album Night Thoughts has already garnered rave reviews. In this taster, Brett Anderson wails to “fight the sorrow” over a sprightly guitar riff, which mask the depressing air that lingers throughout.

  • RAT BOY: MOVE

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Looking like a slightly more dishevelled Craig Nicholls and being apparently named after a Bart Simpson retort hasn’t stopped Rat Boy – he’s gaining every plaudit going at the moment, and the Beastie Boys-inflected ‘MOVE’ won’t do anything to dissuade his charm.

  • THE 1975: The Sound

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After the greyscale-tinged, kitchen-sink dirge of their debut, The 1975 have embraced technicolour for their sophomore album, due out in February. ‘The Sound’ is the third track to be premiered from the album, in which Matt Healy’s hushed vocal is glided along on an almost Balearic-esque piano lick.

  • QUILT: Roller

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Their debut album Plaza is set for release later this year, and on the evidence of ‘Roller’, it’s going to be one of the finest debuts to emerge in recent years. Strewn with warped, Alvvays-style guitar grooves, as Anna Fox Rochinski’s honeyed voice sings and vents in endearing fashion.

  • HINDS: Warts

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Hinds’ album Leave Me Alone is the first opus to enter the ‘Best of 2016’ canon, with its woozy, Pavement-style guitar riffs and lovelorn ditties, reminiscent of Mac DeMarco. It’s hard to pick a standout track, but ‘Warts’ and its neat guitar motif and slightly askew vocals are a real treat.

  • MYSTERY JETS: 1985

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Mystery Jets, rightly or wrongly, have almost become the WH Smith of indie – you know they’re there, but perhaps you’d only really notice them if they disappeared. Well, that’s sort of happened…their new album Curve of the Earth is their first in four years, and in that time their eclectic, restless approach to rock has been missed. ‘1985’ is a grandiose, stately affair with pianos and a lilting steel pedal.

  • YUCK: Hearts in Motion

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Remember Yuck? In 2011/12, they were the saviours of grunge, sipping champagne with Surfer Blood and trading fist-bumps with Avi Buffalo. They’re back with their third album, and despite the main riff sounding like ‘Today’ by The Smashing Pumpkins, its face-melting fuzz and delightfully disgruntled verses are still enough to make J Mascis bow his Jazzmaster.

  • CAGE THE ELEPHANT: Mess Around

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Releasing an album before Christmas must be like asking for candy two weeks after Halloween – you’re either going to be ignored or reported. Kentucky-fried rockers Cage the Elephant made this mistake, but don’t let their fourth album pass you by; ‘Mess Around’ is a sugar rush of Black Keys-indebted blues rock.

  • HARRIET: Inheritance

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The American four-piece may sound like a 15-year-old pop sensation, but in actual fact they’re an awesome rock band. ‘Inheritance’, with its pounding production and soaring synths, sounds like a more restrained Phoenix, while the falsetto vocal brings to mind long-lost indie darlings Delays.

  • SLUTFACE: Kill ‘Em With Kindness

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The best thing to come out of Norway since the Vikings, this bratty punk-pop nugget rolls along at breakneck speed, and brings to mind the Britpop MKII revival, from singer Haley Shea’s appreciation of The Long Blondes to the Black Kids-style call & response.

  • BEACH BABY: Sleeperhead

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Sounding like a mix of Splashh and The Vaccines, the latest track from London four-piece Beach Baby is built around an intricate, chorus-addled guitar riff and a fidgety bassline. They’re touring throughout the early part of 2016, so one would recommend you check them out before they outgrow such venues.

  • WEEZER: King of the World

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Back with their fourth self-titled record (this time being dubbed ‘The White Album’), ‘King of the World’ is a slick, radio-friendly anthem that recalls the band’s mid-to-late noughties era, as opposed to the back-to-basics approach of their last album. It’s a positive indicator, although tracks on the new record are called ‘LA Girlz’ and ‘(Girl We Got A) Good Thing’. Let’s not worry yet…

  • RA RA RIOT: Absolutely

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Indier than thou New York band Ra Ra Riot return in February with new album Need Your Light, and ‘Absolutely’ is a good start. Produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, you can hear his band’s baroque pop prowess running through this fiddle-flecked indie stomper.

  • JOY AGAIN: How You Feel

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According to the Philly-based band, ‘How You Feel’ was written in a dorm room during a period of relationship breakdown. However, you really wouldn’t know it; ‘How You Feel’ is a twinkling slice of lo-fi pop, with dream-like verses and a warbling, reverb-drenched chorus.

  • THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS: Bad Habits

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Last but not least, The Last Shadow Puppets first emerged in 2008, creating ‘60s-tinged psychedelica amid cinematic, vintage strings. Now they’re back and ‘Bad Habits’, with Miles Kane’s shout and the shriek of violins, is a positive sign of nostalgia and progression.

How ‘Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy’ Struck a Blow for Feminism

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Lisa Simpson has been a divisive character in The Simpsons canon. While Bart and Homer enjoy the unilateral thrills and dysfunctional highs, it is left to Lisa to adopt the mellower, cerebral episodes that are slow-burning but superb. As the show regressed into ‘zombie’ mode, Lisa’s persona changed – she was no longer an alienated, aloof but pleasant intellectual; instead, she became a rent-a-mouthpiece for anything and everything, rollicking and ranting with the bitterness of a 40-year-old politician.

That change is probably summed up in one of the poorest episodes, ‘Bart to the Future’. In the show’s first flash-forward episode (and one of the best ever), ‘Lisa’s Wedding’, Lisa was a bright university student, who would no doubt achieve great, but small-scale things. In ‘Bart to the Future’, she is President. That’s a perfect example of how The Simpsons went from being drenched in everyday realism to unachievable bombast.

Of course, Lisa would have her fair share of outcries, but they were within the modicums of a precocious eight-year-old. The best example is one of the series’ most overlooked episodes, ‘Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy’. Like many Lisa episodes, it makes us think more than it makes us laugh, but peel away its layers and you have an episode dripping in social commentary and feminist injustice.

The damaging thing is that some of the points Lisa raises in this episode are just as prudent in 2016 – women are still being vilified for how they look. Glance over any magazine or redtop newspaper and you’ll find an article belittling someone for neglecting make-up, or be chastised for gaining a pinch of flab to their midriff. Elsewhere, men can go about their merry way and not once be crucified or championed for their looks. Do men really still crave the naked form of Page Three, or the airbrushed ambivalence of a scantily clad pop cliché? Sadly, yes.

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It’s all neatly summed up by, strangely, Homer, when he commentates he’s a “white male, aged 18 – 49, so everyone listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are.” It’s gloriously on-the-nose but it works well – Lisa feels her viewpoints on the talking Malibu Stacy (which spouts hideously sexist soundbites, followed by a typically airheaded giggle) aren’t being registered because of her age (though her gender is also a part), and the writers neatly spotlight Homer as their mouthpiece for how the male opinion is still the first one heard.

Even the more throwaway scenes of the episode highlight the role of women. When Lisa visits the Malibu Stacy workplace, the female tour guide is accosted into the meeting room by being called ‘Jiggles’, referencing her ample rear. “Don’t pretend you don’t like it,” the smarmy salesman says, as she laughs and then, commendably, closes the door with her rump. Even though nothing is highlighted, that scene still plays out a million times in murky offices across the country – I spent 18 months working in a typically chauvinistic office, and the females in the office were nothing more than vessels for sexual gossip and innuendo, and not the charming kind; every Monday there’d be discussions on who they’d slept with, how they looked, what they wore. You wouldn’t hear low sailors talk like it.

The best scene comes when Lisa demonstrates to Bart one of Malibu’s spoutings, whom he replies by saying “right on, say it, sister!” Lisa’s speech is one of the most-quoted, and it’s gloriously on-point: “Millions of girls will grow up thinking that this is the right way to act….that they can never be more than vacuous ninnies whose only goal is to look pretty, land a rich husband, and spend all day on the phone with their equally vacuous friends talking about how damn terrific it is to look pretty and HAVE A RICH HUSBAND!!!!” It’s great because it’s a sad truth that in life some girls will feel stunted and trapped in their progressions, only able to walk in a male’s shadow. Even Bart’s response (“…just what I was going to say”) is the kind of retort a man would usher when called out on such a subject.

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There’s also a neat spotlight on Marge, too, who’s matriarchal, Stepford Wife-style role can cause friction with Lisa’s views (see ‘Separate Vocations’ and a little bit of ‘The Summer of 4 ft 2’). Marge tries to dismiss Lisa’s worries, and adds a chipper “now let’s forget our troubles with a big bowl of strawberry ice cream!” Without a word, Lisa simply pulls the cord of her talking Malibu Stacy and she utters the same phrase, cue a crestfallen look from Marge. It’s an effective but heart-breaking scene – many times we’ve seen the differences between Marge and Lisa, but here it’s subtle and devastating – Marge chose the life of a homemaker, despite her academic capabilities and casual brushes with feminism (‘The Way We Was’), and has seemingly conformed to a life that represents a dated, toxic raison d’etre.

In a way, Lisa’s initial optimism at receiving the doll mirrors the first flush of adulthood; we greet it with giddy anticipation, like all our opinions, views and dreams will be valid and appreciated, when instead we find nothing but disappointment and ignorance. Lisa’s deflated response, “I’ve waited my whole life to hear you speak. Don’t you have anything relevant to say?” is a clever question, aimed not just at the doll, but at the ways females can be represented and shunned in all walks of life.

To cap it off, there’s also a neat conflict running through the episode – if the object in question is built for pleasure, should morals and ethics take a back seat? If Malibu Stacy is just a plush frivolity, do we take it at face value or do we go at it? The answer is, regrettably, to let it go. With a new hat.

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For 2016, I wonder what the Lisa Lionheart doll would look like. I think it would have the wit of Zooey Deschanel, the wisdom of Emma Watson and the down-to-earth good looks of Alexis Bledel. But that’s just me.

And, finally, I just need to say this episode contains one of my favourite ‘forgotten’ jokes, when Kent Brockman’s daughter insists he do a report on Lisa Lionheart. He thinks and says: “well, you were right about the Berlin Wall.” So subtle, yet so funny. It also contains possibly my favourite Krusty moment (alongside his Falklands faux pas). Brilliant.

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Afobe Systems – Who Can Wolves Buy to Replace Benik?

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Even though Wolves’ upper echelons vehemently denied the sale of Benik Afobe, there was an air of inevitability hanging over his head. As Wolves toiled in the murky depths of the Championship, Afobe didn’t seem the same player – he still had a prolific strike rate, but his overall performances lacked hunger and heart; like Steve Guttenberg in Police Academy IV, he had a faraway look in his eyes.

It was no surprise, then, to see Wolves’ top marksman depart for the heady heights of Bournemouth, for a strong fee of £10 million. While some fans may scoff and scorn at the fact Bournemouth are being deemed a “bigger club”, the maudlin fact is that, in monetary terms, Bournemouth are bigger – they’re backed by rich investors, have Premiership finance behind them and, in Eddie Howe, have a charismatic manager players want to sign for.

Now Benik has departed, Wolves cannot afford not to buy a striker in this window – their only options are the long-mothballed Bjorn Sigurdarson, the impact sub Adam Le Fondre and the young tyke Bright Enobakhare. Here’s a few possibles Wolves could consider.

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  • Zach Clough (Bolton): Wolves fans may sometimes feel aggrieved at this season’s descent into mid-table malaise, but spare a thought for the fans of Bolton – their 1-1 draw with Eastleigh was considered a strong result. They’re also in financial decline, so the sales of their strongest assets look certain in January. One is Clough, a mazy striker with pace and prowess in his game. He’s young, talented and has great potential, though Wolves will need to chip in quick as he’s been strongly linked with Bristol City.lafferty
  • Kyle Lafferty (Norwich): For Northern Ireland, Lafferty is a Bale-esque talisman. For Norwich, he cleans Cameron Jerome’s shin pads. While his capture wouldn’t cause a flurry of excitement, Lafferty hasn’t had much chance to shine for Norwich, and would surely be a handful for most Championship sides if he was given a starting berth. With Norwich keen to sell, he’d be an astute addition.bradshaw
  • Tom Bradshaw (Walsall): Walsall boss Sean O’Driscoll hopes to keep Walsall’s top two finish a reality, but it might all hang on whether they can keep their striker Bradshaw. He’s been prolific for the past two seasons, and being local to the area would mean a move to Wolves would pay logistically in his favour. He’s been linked with Celtic, too, but a move to an established second-tier club would suit Bradshaw.dack
  • Bradley Dack (Gillingham): While not a striker, Dack is an established number 10 who has already scored 11 goals from midfield this season. Dave Edwards, while reliable, sorely needs competition in that attacking midfield role, and young Dack’s long-range lashings and compatibility would bring tenacity and power to Wolves’ attack.armstrong
  • Adam Armstrong (Coventry): The miniature Geordie has been scoring for fun at the Ricoh, netting an impressive 16 goals to help Coventry into the play-offs. His loan deal runs out on the 16 January, so Wolves could potentially get in quick for a loan deal or a permanent offer. While he is unproven at Championship level, he’s already played a handful of Premiership matches, putting in some impressive performances.gayle
  • Dwight Gayle (Crystal Palace): Gayle has been on the radar for most Championship clubs since the summer, and while back then he retained a desire to stay with the Eagles, his sporadic appearances this season may have changed his mind. Alan Pardew would no doubt want a hefty fee for the striker, but his pedigree and prolific scoring would suit Wolves.conor
  • Conor Washington (Peterborough): Another striker heavily linked with a move, the former Newport frontman has been in scintillating form for Graham Westley this season, and the club have reportedly already turned down bids from a second-tier side (likely to be Reading). A move for him would make sense, as would a bid for his team-mate Marcus Maddison.Yann Kermorgant Bournemouth
  • Yann Kermorgant (Bournemouth): Wolves fans may feel aggrieved if Kenny Jackett made a move for a Bournemouth player, but Kermorgant is a proven player at Championship level, and while he is getting on in years, he’d still prove a useful addition. Cherries’ fellow frontman Tokelo Rantie could also be available.sagbo
  • Yannick Sagbo. LOL!

 

 

Cattashtrophe!

A new sitcom is coming to Netfux this summer, and it’s guaranteed to make you laugh. In this new, fly-on-the-wall style show, we follow the lives of playground lothario Ash (Jay Wiley) and self-styled drifter Derrie (Idris Elba).

There have been a lot of comedies about formidable duos. Absolutely Fabulous. Bottom. Midsomer Murders. But these characters were thrown together because of their traits – they were either stuck-up and snobby, poor and desperate or murdered. We took this idea and gave it a fascinating twist – what if the twosome involved were completely different? There’s never been a show about an odd couple. There hasn’t. I’d have heard about it by now.

We took this clever, inventive twist and gave it an exotic location – Cardiff. Our vision was perfect – Gavin & Stacey meets Saw. That premise didn’t quite coagulate, but we’re really happy with the show. Entitled Cattashtrophe, it follows the lives of two oddballs thrown together in a ballpit. An odd ballpit.

Ash Wiley is a retired footballer. But get this…he’s only 18. He sustained a bad ankle injury when he dared do ‘leg day’ at the gym, and he was instructed by his coaches to give up the game he’d lived and breathed. Still thin, but with no money, he gets kicked out his girlfriend’s house when she finds out he’s been hiding his clean football boots all over the lounge. With nowhere to go (his parents are missing, presumed indifferent), he finds an ad in the local paper and arrives at a modest Cardiff pad.

Enter Derrie. A 33-year-old orphan from the ‘big city’ (Wolverhampton), he’s inspired to start a new life after getting caught up in a bank robbery, where he unwittingly aided the robber through his knowledge of side streets and was rewarded with £25,000 in laundered money. He makes a break for Cardiff and aims to establish himself as an acclaimed landscape gardener.

Derrie ploughs through the culture. Ash ploughs through the women. In episode one, Ash secures work at a local muffin shop and is caught making yeast with the Head Baker, while Derrie tries to charm his way into the Cardiff Yacht & Wine Club. Derrie brings home books. Ash brings home girls. Also in episode one, Ash falls in love with a bigger woman. Will he be the bigger man? Or will her weight crush his spirit and, consequently, his pelvis?

In episode two, the boys are hard-up for cash (oh, I forgot to mention, Derrie hasn’t told Ash about his windfall. Cheeky!) so they begin sharing their flat with a seemingly loveable tramp, called Scampi (Vinnie Jones). However, Scampi’s out-of-control lifestyle and prolific drug use end up making their humble home a hobo hell. How will they cope?

In episode three, Derrie begins writing his novel, while Ash gets a new job working at a casino, and is caught with his Snake Eyes out with a girl too young to gamble. Is he gambling away his future? Or is his life all in the cards?

Cattashtrophe will make you laugh, cry, squirm and plead. It’s gross, funny, clever and bald, all in one fell swoop.

What Would Rory Do?

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Congregations howled, every copy of Hee Haw Honeys was shipped from Amazon and pizza companies went out of stock as Netflix announced the return of the mighty Gilmore Girls. The idyllic show, which ran for seven seasons and starred Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel as mother-daughter duo Lorelai and Rory, is set to return to our (computer) screens this year.

One of the particular highlights of the well-loved show was Rory and Lorelai’s untenable bond, which consisted of watching gauche television, gorging on junk food and quaffing copious amounts of coffee. But alongside this was Rory’s raison d’etre. With talent and intelligence that ran right down to the end of her bellbottoms, Rory was intellectual, esteemed and affectionate.

But seeing as we enjoyed Gilmore Girls in a much simpler time, what would Rory be into these days? We cast a quick glance over what we expect the 2016 Rory Gilmore to be enjoying.

  • She’d be in ‘Team Swift’ 
  • Rory has always had an affinity for female role models, and not just in the shape of her mater. From wanting to write an essay on Hilary Clinton to her admiration of tortured poet Sylvia Plath, Rory has always looked to the leading lights of the fairer sex for inspiration. While Taylor Swift might not quite scale the same heights, her individualism, style and knockout hits would surely go down well in the Rory camp. We can imagine her viewing Kanye with gentle cynicism, particularly after his onstage ambush, and we’re sure the bucolic country of Red would nestle comfortably in between Rory’s copies of The Cure and Cake.

 

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  • She’d own a Kindle
  • If anyone needed a Kindle, it was Rory. While she may not find the idea of abandoning the moth-eaten feel and well-worn smell of a pre-owned tome appealing, we can see her enjoying the compatibility of a Kindle. It might just be the kind of present her overbearing, but loving, grandmother Emily would buy, and Rory would eventually get used to it, finding plenty of space in her house and handbag to boot. Maybe this will be a leading plotline for the new series?

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  • She’d have her LinkedIn profile nailed
  • Rory spent inordinate amounts of time crafting her essays and proposals to Harvard and, latterly, Yale, so we can easily envision her working hard to create the perfect LinkedIn profile. Whether or not Paris has sent her endorsements is another matter, however, but we’d like to think Rory’s profile would be awash with her volunteering exploits, her writing talents and the odd link to Buzzfeed.

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  • She’d be all over the vinyl revival
  • While her best friend Lane was the font of all knowledge for rock music, we can see Rory equally being thrown into the inviting throwback of vinyl records. With vinyl sales more valuable than streaming, and sales up by 14 per cent for 2015, it’d be no stretch of the imagination to see the Gilmores embracing the turntable. Think of all those Bangles LPs they can track down at used record stores. Maybe a future plot can be an adult Lane having to hide her vinyl collection when Mrs Kim makes an appearance.

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  • She’d have Just Eat on tap
  • Just Eat may not be a thing in America, but in England it has appealed to the lazy trenchermen in all of us. Instead of ushering your frame off the sofa on a dull Friday night, the Just Eat app can easily bring food to your front door without you having to adjust your fly. With this in mind, Rory’s atypical Friday nights in with Emily (after their Friday night dinners) would be made quicker and easier by allowing them to use their iPhones to order a superfluous amount of spicy, fatty, glorious junk food. How Luke would take this remains to be seen.

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  • Emma Watson would be her spirit animal
  • If 2016 Rory digs Taylor Swift, she’d be completely enamoured with Emma Watson. Not just a proven actress (we can see Rory getting a kick out of The Perks Of Being a Wallflower), her HeforShe campaign and coherent cogitations of female equality would strike a chord with Rory’s persona.

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  • John Green and Dave Eggers would be on her shelf
  • Dave Eggers rose to prominence in the noughties with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which mixed meta-humour with genuine pathos, and his acclaimed magazine McSweeney’s. His well-written work would no doubt sit well with Rory’s refined tastes, as well as the coming-of-age tragedies of American wordsmith John Green. We could see Rory and Lorelai swapping tissues over The Fault in Our Stars, or admiring Cara’s brows on Paper Towns.