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Madonna Wears a Burqa! Katy Perry Dresses Like a Geisha Girl! Pharrell Dons a Feather Headdress! So What?

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

katy-perry-geisha

If words could come to life, “appropriation” would arrive promptly on time, dressed in a grey suit, pushing a standard regulation pencil, telling everyone to stop doing that, it’s not appropriate.

It’s the ultimate party pooper, especially if it’s a costume party, and woe betide you come dressed in anything your lineage does not implicitly give you the cultural right to be seen in.

I couldn’t tell you exactly when the word left the domain of stuffy academia and infiltrated everyday speak, but I noticed it becoming increasingly commonplace around the time Katy Perry deigned to dress up as a Geisha on her tour. The Twitterati were up in arms: Katy Perry who she fink she is dissin’ on da japs lol #culturalappropriation.
Continue reading “Madonna Wears a Burqa! Katy Perry Dresses Like a Geisha Girl! Pharrell Dons a Feather Headdress! So What?”

The Racism Drinking Game

(This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post)

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Trying to reason with racists is like being stuck in a lift with drunks singing Bohemian Rhapsody. You’re going to end up banging your head against a wall.

Well, if you can’t beat them, join them. The drunks, that is, not the racists.

Thing is, we didn’t always talk to racists. We gave that NF looking pub a wide berth, rarely came into contact with Daily Mail readers (unless we were dating their rebel-against-the-parentals offspring). But now, thanks to social media allowing every two-bit bigot to crawl out from under a meme, they’re everywhere we click. And like the gluttons for headfuck we are, foolishly thinking logic and facts will have any sort of effect, we keep engaging with them.  Continue reading “The Racism Drinking Game”

Why Festivals Make the Best Crèches

(This post originally appeared in the Huffington Post)

2013-08-15-festivalpicnew.jpg‘Look, Daddy – that one’s on ketamine!’

Some guys encourage their kids to recognise sports cars. I showed mine how to spot the drug casualty. It seems to have hadthedesired effect on The Girl. While her peers are stumbling through the transition from Inbetweeners to Skinsby tripping the white fantastic, to her it’s the frankly banal equation: Father thinks drugs are kinda cool = so not cool.

I’d like to point out I didn’t thrust her from the cradle to the rave without giving it careful thought, but I can’t. I fathered her when I was stupidly young and took her to her first festival because that’s where I was going that weekend. I sat her on my knee in a field, she started bouncing, and that was that. I’ve been taking her along to festivals ever since, and she’s hands down the coolest, most sociable girl you’ll ever meet. Plus she has the most excellent iPod playlist any 16-year-old can boast of. I’m having that. Continue reading “Why Festivals Make the Best Crèches”

A Little Internet Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

internet

“Whenever I listen to her, underneath that softness, I get the feeling the emotional topography of her life is all jagged, do you know what I mean?”

This sentence, believe it or not, got me laid. I was online dating, the keyboard banter was smooth but by no means sure, when she mentioned she liked Shawn Colvin and that was my fairly instant response. From thereon, a date was inevitable. She’d just found someone who not only knew Shawn Colvin, I actually felt her.

Except up until that minute, I’d never heard of Shawn Colvin. A quick scan on the Internet had given me all I needed to show I was in the know, baby.

It makes a mockery of genuine passion. Worse, it makes us suspect everyone’s on the blag. Continue reading “A Little Internet Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing”

Does It Matter Where You Come From? When Someone Offers You a DNA Test, It Suddenly Does…

(This article was originally published in the Huffington Post)

Like millions of others, I saw The DNA Journey video by Momondo and pondered the question it poses: ‘Would you dare to question who you really are?’

Now, if you’re British and white and someone asks you where you’re from, you’ll reply, ‘Britain’, and move on. For the rest of us, shaded olive all the way to black, it’s a struggle.

The question offends those who were born here, galled by the insinuation that dark cannot equate a true Brit, while immigrants who’ve done their level best to integrate feel it throws them back to square one. Even those of us without a chip on our shoulder about being judged by our roots find it peculiar that complete strangers say hello by asking where our parents lived when they were little. Continue reading “Does It Matter Where You Come From? When Someone Offers You a DNA Test, It Suddenly Does…”

So This Is How It Feels To Be A Proper Indian

(This article was originally published in the Huffington Post)

indian cowboy

As if hailing from the Indian sub-continent wasn’t exotic enough.

My hate-affair with jazzing up one’s ancestry began when I came to the UK in the mid-80s. My family fronts the unexpected migrant tale of leaving behind a perfectly privileged life of tea estates and maids in Bangladesh to start anew for the sake of our education (my brother was finishing college and the universities there were as much a hotbed of extremism then as they are now). Much of my family were heavily involved in the war of independence just before I was born, so I was raised to love my country and was, as patriots are wont to do, proud to be a Boy of Bengal. Continue reading “So This Is How It Feels To Be A Proper Indian”

Why Do People Pretend to be Passionate About Things When They’re Not?

(This post was originally published in the Huffington Post)

2014-06-18-realfake.jpgThis is a story about being cool.

It starts, preposterously enough, with The Police. (For the record: I could’ve gone with the always cool The Pixies to spin this yarn, seeing as they were involved in a similar issue a few years later, but this article is about placing truth over appearing cool, and I can’t imagine a better way to exonerate myself from any pretence of cool than to begin with Sting.)

The band had reformed in 2007. Much hype, much hoopla, much gripe on my part for failing to bagsy a ticket that wasn’t way out (or rather, tout) of my budget, certainly not enough to warrant seeing a band I used to love as a kid but then forgot about because of, well, Sting.

But that’s when I first noticed it, the phenomenon of Facebook Fan Fakery, since updated as Forum Falsities, Twitter Tall Tales, Blogger Bollocks and all-round Social Media Mendacity. Continue reading “Why Do People Pretend to be Passionate About Things When They’re Not?”

My Girl Doesn’t Stash Cutlery in Her Pants

(This article was originally published in the Huffington Post)

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Heard the one about the Asian girl with the spoon in her pants?

I wish this was a joke, but it’s all too horribly true. Young girls walking the Green Mile to marriage are being advised to carry concealed cutlery to set off the alarm in the hope airport staff will save them from a forced union.

Whenever I read a story like this, I’m tempted to say to The Girl, ‘see how nice I am to you?’, semi-expecting to receive all sorts of medals. But that would be ridiculous. I wouldn’t appreciate someone telling me that even though he has the power to smash my face in and ram a brick up my arse, look, he didn’t, see how nice he is? No, deciding not to mess up another person’s life doesn’t make you nice – it makes you civilised. So you’re not a vicious, sadistic prick to your children? Well done. Have a samosa. Continue reading “My Girl Doesn’t Stash Cutlery in Her Pants”

What’s Stopping You From Becoming An Artist?

Client: Microsoft
As featured in: Huffington Post

The obvious answer may well be “I can’t draw”, a resignation that ended most people’s artistic aspirations at school age, literally leaving them with no drawing board to go back to. In the computer coming-of-age, however, with art apps becoming more sophisticated yet less intimidating, not having the aptitude or training no longer needs to be a drawback.

As long as you have the artistic leaning, you’ll find everything you need to spend your spare time practicing and perfecting the skills required to transform those doodles into masterpieces. For those who’ve tried their hand at being arty and failed before (think of all those unopened paint sets clogging up the drawers), you’ll be happy to hear you won’t have to invest in expensive packages in order to trial your inner artist’s abilities. Everything you need can be added to your PC at the tap of a pen. Continue reading “What’s Stopping You From Becoming An Artist?”