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The Kebab on… Soundcity 2015

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Soundcity. Sound, a city. Sound, in a city. Liverpool Soundcity. Soundlad. What is Sound? Well, Liverpool has come up with several definitions over the years, from the noisy kids in the beatnik bands of the 60s, to The Wombats and their musical stylings. Liverpool has, in a ritual as old as time, had a music festival called Soundcity. This is the sort of festival where kids with their guitars turned up too loud and impossible haircuts seem to culminate, like the post-teen revival of our dreams.

Last year, when Soundcity went religious, and we all prayed at the alter of bands-you’ve-just-about-heard-of-or-pretend-you-have

This year, unlike others, the Oligarchs of Soundcity, the powers that be, decided to move Soundcity away from the city to the docks. Making it less Soundcity and more Sounddocks. In fact, whilst being there you actually could forget you where even close to a city, or, in some cases, what a city was, the Bramley-Moore Docks were SO un-city like you in fact forgot the mere concept of a city. You get the point, that the festival was not in the city. In fact, the festival was more festival than ever, with plastic cup beer, volunteers being used as slave labour, barely any checks on the entrance, vast expanses of water all around the venue and heavy police presence outside.

If sound city was a kebab, it would look like this, fairly evenly spread but with a lot of red onions

We arrived late on the Saturday to the festival, so are not particularly best placed to give readers a well rounded and thorough review. What this intrepid Kebab Journo can offer is a set of speculative comments about the festival;

1. The beer was scarily efficient. several tubes lined up and pumped cold fosters into up to ten plastic cups at a time, whilst young volunteers took cash away from you, the result being that you would need a weewee whilst in the centre of a large crowd. The Flaming Lips were almost ruined by my bladder.

2. It works out in the docks. It is a lovely location and it feels like a secret getaway, still with the ability to look back and see the city.

3. There were an array of fairly famous bands there. They are the level of bands that you may of heard of, but couldn’t possibly have listened to them all. Some, desperate for identity, cling onto small things like funny head dresses or dances, that they ‘always do’.

4. I was there with two people that were both called harry.

5. The festival was surrounded by water. This added to the aquiline nature of the event, if it wasn’t there already.

6. Kevin Coyne from The Flaming Lips is quite old, but he still finds time to get into a massive zorb ball. Everyone loves to say how old he is.

So go next year.

Kebab out.

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The Kebab Tastes… Maray

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Whilst walking down Bold street, perusing the gentrified delicacies of the day and I find myself tripping upon what is no exception to the rule. A quaint abode, at least that is the thoroughly strong impression it gives to me, presents itself to myself (excuse the clunk of turn of phrase, I have had a brief sabbatical from reviewing, and am still on the way to being ‘in the swing of it’).

Notice above, the particular font, of which the owners and purveyors of this establishment spent ages comparing and painstakingly deciding on (…egg-shell or off-white, I hear you yell…) for the delight of the casual passer-by to entice them in to taste Maray’s rich luxuries. The italicization on cocktails lets us know they are special, the ‘x’s to break up words allow us to imagine the possibilities of multiplication by falafel, and what that may look like.

It specialises in middle eastern/Israeli food, screaming ‘understated’ louder than the juxtaposing boom of concert square standing opposite and screaming ‘let’s ‘ave ya’. It strives to appeal to those not wanting to be seen craving that most divine of delicacies, the kebab, yet will provide them with one in a covert fashion. Much like an expense escort service for the refined gentleman, who is still fully in the knowledge he will be getting a seductively happy ending.

Maray claims ‘small plates’ are its delicacy, and on entry we feel we have been slightly duped, that is to say tricked, when the waitress asks the heart-wrecking, stomach-churning, wagamama-inducing question “…Have you been to Maray before…” in that way that implies that this place has an odd quirk to it compared to elsewhere, which you better adapt too. But alas, it is merely her kind way of saying this is a middle eastern tapas bar, but they don’t use the words tapas, because of the marketing feat that it would be too easy to associate with the Mediterranean cuisine and mess with people’s minds.

One is seduced on entry by the typically bare walls and industrial lighting, as if Maray’s establishers had been rushed at the end of the outfitting of the restaurant. This suits myself perfectly, as currently I will not been seen dead in a coffee shop or roastery that does not have exposed brick – I feel soon it may be necessary to extend the same rule to all places of habiting.

“A good tell of innovative cafe and restaurant owners”

The food, it’s worth mentioning, was an absolute delight. I would thoroughly recommend it, especially their lunchtime menu, which was wraps, a drink and a side. The sides were where the real enthusiasm for cooking lay, exquisite root vegetables over-burdened with hummus and variations on hummus. And all that only at the price of about £8.50. The tapas were more expensive, but this place does deviate from the normal grub on Bold street, and they are keen to immerce your taste-buds in something Israeli and subtly new, whilst keeping the décor generically hipster, like some sort of post-modern appropriate of fusion cuisine.

Good grub.

Why Student’s Unions should not stop fighting for things that will affect student’s lives.

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Student Unionism is dead. Long live Student Unionism. Claimed the famously ironic student, once dwelling in the depths of the SU’s bars and courtyards, now residing in trendy cafés and houses in town. The internet, inspiring activists to go to their armchairs, and the false promises and disappointment of early 21st century government have worked to quell any feelings of unionising effort in the movement; apathy is the word spreading through the emptying lecture halls of Universities across the countries. Gone are the days of big protests, fresh new radical ideas and platforms for everyone to be equally heard on in Student Unions.

We are meat to be minced without a flicker of the eye

Yet they are cleverer than ever before; the 21st Student Union has transformed into a calculatedly careful, finely tuned beast of critical friendship to its appropriate university. It provides a wide range of employable skills, educates one for the real world and continuously scrutinises the university for academic quality and enhancement of its various courses. These are all reasons I got involved in the Liverpool Guild of Students, not for large scale protests, not to benefit my personal belief system, rather for my belief in providing the best possible experience for students at Liverpool University.

But sometimes, it is necessary to look beyond the immediate benefit to something wider and universal.

In 2015 there will be a general election. It will be fought over the NHS and our public services apparently https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF1JiUx437M. The student voice was used at the last demo, to protest against tuition fees being hiked up, and everyone ignored it. 10,000 students turned out and nothing came of it. People came away feeling useless and demoralised, forgetting that students did stand united. We cannot let the student voice go unheard, we must engage students in the 2015 General Election and we have an obligation to be political as a Student Union. The 19th November 2014 is a chance to show how we still care about tuition fees, and it is not just a lost cause to be discarded as an issue. I believe in free education. I believe in a more progressive tax that funds Universities to make education free for all and widens participation for people from all social groups. I also believe Universities should radically re-think the content and way they teach, so it is informed by a representative population of students, not white old upper-middle class men. I know this is idealist and not based in pragmatism, and I accept that. I also believe we should not give up on things we believe in.

If we show there is still a dissatisfaction with the way the young are treated, political parties might listen. if we show  that the future generation that will run this country are becoming disenfranchised and disconnected with politics, government will turn their heads until we are older and right for the picking. But, if we aim to change the attitudinal slant of Neo-Thatcherite NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) youth numbed with the Huxleyian internet-instant-satisfaction we may just strike a chord.

As long as we don’t act too radical that is. Then, and only then, we might just be listened to.

Spence on Ginger Nuts.

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Reflections on the Suggestion ‘Ginger Nuts are the Most Difficult Biscuits to Dunk in Tea, Due to the Complexity of Gauging Sogginess and Potential Crumble to Goddamn Crunchiness.’ 

The smell in the box-room study is a harsh mixture, an acerbic aroma of faux-fruit cleanliness punctuated by hints of damp air from the open window. Though it has done well to extinguish the malodour of stale curry and deodorant, this bouquet could not be said to be anything other than clinical and moody, and more akin to a Dignitas ward than a home.

It is time to service the fountain pen, a once reluctant ally who has not seen action befitting his craft in nearly four years; a casualty of the transfer to the varsity and the influx of cheap, easy migrant biro labour. His body in bits, nib stewing in the overpowering concoction of detergent and his own inky filth, he sits, balefully watching the cheerful Staedler zipping impudently across the page, cursing his misfortune at having been replaced, whilst equally sulking at the prospect of being pressed back into service. No pleasing some pens.

His mood does not improve with the arrival of tea; it makes for poor ink and he has no time for it. The sense of contempt that emanates from him as the mug is set down upon the desk is a learned behaviour, and one can’t really wonder from whom he learnt it given his lack of recent contact with the outside world, but it irks nonetheless. The brew, however, goes some way towards alleviating the chemical miasma, rendering obsolete any opinions or objections he may have in this instance. Besides, he’s a pen. He’s a pen that’s not even in one piece, what does he know? He’s always criticising me and my choice of drink, not to mention my approach to tackling essays. That’s why I put him away in the first place. Nothing’s ever good enough for him, oh no. He wishes that the Buchan boy’s parents had bought him instead, and then he’d have been at Eton and on to Oxbridge to study something with employment at the end of it, no doubt. Pointy-faced git.

The tea, controversially, has not arrived to act as an air-freshener, and this has nothing really to do with a temporarily disabled fountain pen, so for now, we shall leave him to his own limited devices. Fuck you Nibby, you miserable bastard, fuck you sideways.

Fountain of Pen

I digress. A few weeks ago, an old school friend proffered a suggestion that, to his mind, ‘Ginger Nuts are the most difficult biscuits to dunk in tea, due to the complexity of gauging sogginess and potential crumble to goddamn crunchiness.’ Having opened this up for discussion, and with both tea and Ginger Nuts secreted around the kitchen, I decided, amateur scientist that I am, to investigate the claims of Mr. Luc Farrant Esq and go some way towards claiming a first Nobel Prize (probably not for literature).Immediately, however, a problem is encountered: does this field possess adequate research to enable a discussion at all? Certainly, it is one in which countless practicals have been undertaken, but, owing to some oversight of g-astronomic proportions, no data has ever been recorded, or at least, none survives that is known of. One must thence, I’m afraid, warn that what follows hereafter is not a discourse, rather a tricky and complex account of such a ground-breaking experiment, complete with soporific terminology and a style that borders on the jejune or like whatever.

So, let us wander back in time a little to May 2nd in the year of our Lord 2014. Accompanying the tea was an assortment of biscuits assembled to pit themselves against the aforementioned Ginger Nut; a Milk Chocolate Digestive, a Dark Chocolate Digestive, a Jaffa Cake, a Custard Cream*, A Penguin, a Hobnob*, a Jammy Dodger* and a Chocolate Finger* (due to unfortunate budgetary restrictions and an inability to find a pound shop, all those marked * were replaced with Dark Chocolate Digestives; it is considered unlikely, in my highly respected semi-professional opinion, that this will markedly skew the outcome of the study). The process undertaken is simple enough to follow; a series of dunks of differing time lengths for each biscuit (timings at the discretion of the dunker) to enable assessment of levels of sogginess and crumble in comparison to levels of goddamn crunchiness, or something like that.

Being the foremost subject of this examination, The Ginger Nut was selected first. The hand quivered in anticipation of the magnitude the findings could bring, and a good third of the biscuit was submerged vigorously for the agonising period of around 2.73 seconds, give or take .42 seconds. Thereafter, the molars were met by a satisfyingly secure crunch, but with all the added saturation that comes from a period of immersion in a steaming beverage. At the second attempt, again, succulent and sapid, but tempered this time by significantly less resistance to the lower jaw’s upward arc. The third, fatal plunge, and all hope of survival was lost. Five seconds, maybe four, and the ginger nut was no more, the very fabric of the biccy disintegrating and sinking, helplessly, into the murky brown depths of the mug.

So far, so pointless.

Next up was the chocolate digestive; a plucky young thing much favoured by the Great British public, owing to its stoic role in the dossing off of work nationwide during extended tea breaks. In it goes, off goes the phone, away slips the hand, plonk goes the biscuit. You get nothing, chocolate digestive. You lose. Good day sir.

Try reading out this post in an Alan Bennett voice

Its cousin the Dark Chocolate Digestive fared better, but this can probably be attributed to the lengthy telephone conversation allowing the tea to go cold; that and the fact that the liquid was now four fifths biscuit. Undeterred, the original cuppa was discarded, and a fresh one put in its place, and after three dunks of its great aunt, the ‘Jammy-Dodger-Custard-Cream-Hobnob-Finger’, the assumption could safely be made that the steady progression of disappointingly crumbly ‘crunch’ to soggily sombre ‘munch’ meant that any one of the aforementioned biscuits, following the same basic pattern of degeneration, could not be considered the equal of the Ginger Nut in terms of difficulty gauging ‘sogginess… to goddamn crunchiness.’ Scienced.

What remained then at this juncture were the penguin and a Jaffa Cake; perhaps the two most controversial participants in the assessment. Try as one might, it was just damned impossible to get the penguin into the tea, until someone had the clever idea of knocking it out first. Frankly, it wasn’t worth the hassle; there was no crunch, there was no crumble, and from what was observed, there was little evidence of absorption. On closer, oral inspection, the thing came across as chewy. Tough and chewy and salty and feathery and coming round and deeply disgruntled, and not what we had hoped for. The Jaffa Cake, meanwhile, was busy trying to detach itself from the formalities of the procedure, on the basis that if it took part in the experiment it would legally contradict the findings of the ruling tribunal in the case of United Biscuits (LON/91/0160), whereby Jaffa Cakes at large amongst the population were classed as cakes for purposes of determining VAT. He cajoled, he wailed, he threatened and he wallowed.

He was dunked anyway, and was indeed a cake. Who’da thunk it.

Hello Kitty Cake Photo Cake

Having now had time to analyse the data and ponder what it suggests, one can safely say that an unexpected similarity in crumble rates between Jammy Dodgers, Custard Creams, Hobnobs, Chocolate Fingers and Digestives hints at a real lack of diversity in the biscuit market at present, which is bad news for the consumer, but fantastic news for a Mr. J. Laing Esq, who stands to make a staggering amount of money from inheriting the wealth of someone else who inherited the wealth of someone else who inherited the wealth of the the man who invented the biscuit in 1892, which he thoroughly deserves for all the jolly hard work he does promoting confectionary. Moreover, the predictability of the pace of biscuit saturation also leans towards the claim of Mr. Farrant that, indeed, Ginger Nuts are the most difficult biscuits to dunk; optimum dunkage for the aforementioned biscuits was calculated at an average of around 4.2 seconds, whilst the Ginger Nut returned no satisfactory timescale; it is either crunchy, or crumbled.

Science therefore leads us to the conclusion that Ginger Nuts are the most difficult biscuit to dunk. What, however, can be said for the moral argument? Certainly, Church of England clergy tend to shift their time equally between the Custard Cream and the Nice biscuit, whilst the Roman Catholic Church seems more inclined towards Fortnum and Mason’s own brand (Pope Francis, for all his man of the people Jesuit tendencies, is partial to Dark Mezzani Florentines, and frankly, I applaud him for his taste). Whether there is any moral reason as to why these Christian churches seem to find it so difficult to adopt the ginger nut as their tea sponge of choice is unclear; Is there a passage in the Bible that forbids the acceptance of ginger in Christianity, which might go some way towards explaining the demonization of red headed individuals in Western culture? Certainly, reasons for choosing the Nice variety over others are as plentiful throughout testaments Old and New as they are clear:

 ‘Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.’

                                                                                                                                                                –Ephesians 4:32

What is often overlooked, however, is the passage in Mark (5:9) which described the exorcism of the Gerasene Demoniac. Though the passage is often presented thus:

‘And He (Jesus) asked him, “What is thy name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion: for we are many.”’

It is thought that an alternative translation from the now discredited book of Keith (4:2) recounts the event in a rather different manner:

You know what I am saying?

‘And He (Jesus) asked them, (the biscuits), “What is thy name?” And they answered, saying, “Our name is Ginger Nut: for we are crunchy.”’

One can therefore suggest that Christianity also opposes the consumption of Ginger Nuts on grounds of heresy, and on the basis that their difficulty to dunk may well occur because liquid will always reject a Ginger Nut on contact because it is guilty of witchcraft, which causes it to float. A fair pan-religious study cannot at this time be conducted, however, as other religious bodies make it so difficult to conduct a study at all. Whilst Christianity has at least gone to the effort of trying the Ginger Nut, before subsequently putting it on trial, Islam won’t countenance the consumption of Jaffa Cakes on the grounds that proceeds from their sales go to the Israeli government; a snub Israel responded to by bulldozing a Palestinian town. Atheists, meanwhile, are of no use to any study on the subject, as to deny God is to deny that God created chocolate chips, without which Mr. Laing’s forebears could not have possibly envisaged creating disks of dough and sweeteners, mass marketed to the general public as accompaniments to cups of dried brown leaves in Royal Worcester porcelain receptacles filled to the brim with boiling water, for the purposes of relaxation or entertainment whilst socialising.

oooooh

What then can we say of our study? Surely that science proves that practically speaking Ginger Nuts are indeed the most difficult of biscuits to dunk, and that the findings presented effectively support the arguments of the Roman Catholic Church that morally it is truly very hard to bring one’s self to dunk such a creation in the first place.

I sit now, pondering this momentous conclusion, at a loss for words. Nibby glowers.

From the Desk of Benedict Spence.

The Kebab Muses…Pizza

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Under strangest of circumstances did I frequent this establishment. ‘Twas the hour before pre-drinks and this Kebab reporter had not eaten a thing. A quick nip out to grab a light bit was all I wanted. Now. Once one enters the darkened realm of Pizza World, one can be easily swayed away from culinary modesty and high caloric sobriety. That is to say, it is very easy for one to be led into temptation.

x-tra phaaat

So. I decided to go the full hog, the brilliant 5th mile, and get a 12 inch pizza. I am not a large man, particularly, so this was a lot to me. The pizza boasted tomato and cheese, as well as oregano. Not that fancy but still containing a degree of class. And this is is when I started thinking, where is the mid-range pizza?

I’m talking a bit classier than your average Pizza World, certainly a couple of steps up from the recently assessed ‘grade zero hygiene’ establishments. But at the same time, pizza hut and the grand Dominoes are too much, at fifteen odd quid a pizza. Expensive and heavily processed, I’ve heard stories of people nabbing some Dominoes boxes from the back of a lorry, only to find they contain miles upon miles of processed cheese for the stuffed crust.

So this is a call out to any savvy business studies students who have a bit of spare time on their hands post-university (oh they will) and wish to make a bit of easy capital. Fill that gap in the market and produce a nicely moderately priced pizza for us to enjoy.

Why you shouldn’t trust Jim Carrey

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He’s everywhere.jim carrey

Even publishing this article is a danger to myself and others around. All one should know is beware. No one is safe, especially very unfortunate orphans.

 

Carrey started my suspicions in The Number 23, a truly shocking film with sequences of him yelling numbers out and doing some basic to advanced arithmetic as the film progresses. Much like his character at the start of the film, I was dismissive of the Carrey conspiracy, but after some research (I say some, this has been life consuming), I became hooked.

He wowed every one with his impressive wackiness in The Mask, Ace Ventura and one of the batman films that was still camp, but not Adam West era camp. But this was just a riddling mask of animalistic excellence (if you’ll excuse the pun).

One of the most dangerous men living

See, your intrepid reporter began to slowly realise that Carrey was in control of all the roles. He just keep playing it the same way. In face, 23 was the only film that seemed to have control of him, because, as any good investment banker will know, numbers are power. See below the shocking evidence:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktbhw0v186Q Observe the Demonic head movement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phWOcrG7sCQ The Mask

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VarlV8dP6ak The Grinch

Suspiciously identical right? There was only one answer. But I had to find it.

In 2006, a film version of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events was released in cinemas. Two years later the markets collapsed. Only a year after that Michael Jackson died. in 2005, Lemony Snicket was seen laughing in a trendy cafe somewhere on the East coast of America at a joke concerning the contents of a particular actor’s briefcase. No more details or links exist between these events other than one constant thread. Jim Carrey.

Carrey without shoes on, showing some of his true body

 

 

 

The Kebab on… The Sydney Jones Cafe

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It’s that time of the calendar when every student takes up the mantle of revision. On our minds sits a storm of horrific stress; we cannot help but unload the stats to passers-by in the library;

“Yeah, I got like THREE exams, all in the space of the week – so – it’s pretty shit”

“I got like a deadline of 7000 words and a THREE hour long exam – so – it’s pretty shit”

“I got like FIVE deadlines and a dead rat festering in my living room – so – it’s pretty shit”

“I’ve finished. I’m bored – so – it’s pretty shit”

But what better way to polish all these turdy feelings than with a nice big cafe?

this is the cafe from the outside, as approaching

The university library-people seem to have decided that bright plastic orange is going to be their colour, giving the space the veneer of a futuristic canteen that might just set off into space any second. There are also pencils on the wall to remind you that ‘work will set you free’.

But it’s nice. It has coffee, and a little hatch, which is just great. This means the cafe staff have to deal with people from both sides, making for a monumental logistical shit-storm of coffee. This coffee shop becomes the main hub, the first port of call for the average reviser. Those who strive to make a difference in their caffeine intake habits stroll to Nero, the cheap bastards go to EROS cafe in vine court and the true avant garde hipsters go to Chinese hot pot.

It’s Starbucks. Which we are not meant to be cool with as students. Rage against the chain. They probably kill dolphins in the process of coffee bean synthesis just because that level of suffering makes for an added bitterness in the coffee you just wouldn’t get otherwise. But they have reduced the price for students, and it is bloody lovely, The Kebab is in the most basic of moral dilemmas at the moment – comfort in knowing you’re wrong or discomfort and knowing you’re right. That sounds like the basis of capitalism versus socialism. (Yikes! – you wouldn’t get this sort of cutting-edge political analysis on The Tab would you?)

Therefore, after much deliberation, and awkward frustration as ONE PERSON is taking up A WHOLE SOFA, and you and the girls just, you know, wanna chat about how hard your essays are, I conclude the library a beautiful jewel of procrastination in the crown of the library, but lacks kebabs – 6/10.