7 Reasons Why Rappers Shouldn’t Pimp Drinks Brands

pharrell-williams-qream

These days it seems every rapper feels an all-consuming need to associate themselves with an alcohol brand. From vodka, to tequila, rum and cognac there is literally no booze they won’t whore, I mean endorse.

So, in no particular order here are seven reasons they should reconsider that desperate marketing urge.

1) Claiming responsibility for creating it

 conjure

This is about as believable as a boy-band writing their own songs. Take for instance Ludacris, performer of such hit songs as Move B*tch. Ludacris co-owns Conjure cognac, which he allegedly crafted himself with a little help from Kim Birkedal Hartmann, the owner of cognac house Birkedal Hartmann.

I may be wrong, but I would be willing to prepare a quick proportional pie chart of how that joint project went down if asked.

 2) Getting Prissy With it.

Pitbullweb

US-Cuban rapper Pitbull, producer of such hits as International Love, is the official ambassador and, coincidentally, stakeholder in low calorie vodka brand Voli. Leaving aside the fact that the man doesn’t look like he’s going on a carb free diet anytime soon, he has apparently sued a company for naming one of its cocktails The Pitbull, which of course was named after him and not the deeply misunderstood canine breed.

On a separate note Pitbull even references the product in his song Rain Over Me, which originally had the title Buy my stuff, buy my stuff, please, please buy my stuff.

3) Lacking any concept of irony whatsoever

 pharrell-williams-qream

In 2010 drinks giant Diageo enlisted Pharrell Williams to front its feminine liqueur Qream. Leaving aside the fact that I can’t even look at this promo shot without laughing, does anyone else find it amusing that the co-writer and producer of Blurred Lines is fronting a feminine product? What’s next, Robin Thicke helming a brand called Fidelity?

One of the many reasons you may not have encountered this particular product in your local bar is that Williams sued Diageo for $5 Million for “putting no effort into producing or distributing Qream.”

Yes Pharrell, that’s why it tanked.

4) Absolutely lacking any concept of irony whatsoever

50-Cent-Effen-Vodka

If further proof were needed, 50 Cent, who, when he’s not penning such hits as Candy Shop and Just a Lil Bit, finds time to promote vodka brand Effen, was recently criticized for allegedly fat shaming P Diddies Ciroc vodka on Instagram.

I’m sure he feels terrible and will no doubt ponder how he may have caused offence as he promotes Effen’s new salted caramel flavour.

5) Taking yourself more seriously than any serious person has ever taken themselves in the history of taking yourself seriously.

timbaland-le-sutra

Rappers aren’t exactly known for their self-deprecating personalities, I mean just look at half the s**t that comes out of Kanye’s mouth on any given day, but in 2012 Timbaland set a whole new bar when he launched Le Sutra.

He said of the brand, “Everything I create is groundbreaking and Le Sutra is no different.” Followed closely by, “My infectious style has helped produce career-defining hits for artists worldwide, and now I’m guaranteeing another hit with Le Sutra.”

Go get em buddy.

6) Malibu Red

 Ne-Yo-Malibu-Red

 In 2012 Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Neyo was enlisted by global drinks giant Pernod Ricard as creative director of Malibu Red. Proving that Pitbull isn’t the sole stakeholder when it comes to brand nepotism he even penned a single, Burnin’ Up, to promote the spirit.

Described as possessing a refreshing and smooth coconut taste it was apparently developed with sensory experts, but then so was waterboarding.

7) Diddy

P-Diddy-Ciroc

Rightly deserving a category all of his own, P Diddy is the godfather of rapper/alcohol relations, and a man who is in no danger of running out of ways to get hold of your money anytime soon.

In 2007 he signed a partnership with Ciroc Vodka to promote them in exchange for a frugal 50% of the profits. He is included on this list because the others are entirely his fault.

And One Notable Exception

 snoop-dogg-cuca-fresca

Every rule must have an exception and in this case it would be the mighty Snoop Dogg. Never in any danger of taking himself too seriously, Snoop has already espoused the virtues of gin and juice and gin and chronic, and recently became ambassador of artisanal cachaça Cuca Fresca, a drink apparently best served on a day bed surrounded by models.

What a guy.

Dan Miles is the cult bestselling author of Filthy Still – A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails. “Hilarious. Like an Alcoholic Bridget Jones.” London Lifestyle Magazine

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12 Careers To Help you Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

12 Careers To Help you Survive a Zombie Apocalypse

Teacher

There are many factors to consider when choosing a potential career; pay, prospects the elusive work/life balance. However too few people consider whether their chosen profession would in fact help them survive a zombie apocalypse.

That said here are 12 potential vocations that could help you endure when the moaning dead finally do shamble into view.

1) Chef

 Chef

Traversing a sudden infestation of the undead may require a hearty portion of violence, and let’s face it most chef’s are only one f***ed up soufflé away from this at the best of times.

2) Primary School Teacher

Teacher

Moaning, grasping minions of Satan who never rest, not even for a moment? Yep got it covered.

3) Bartender

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The ability not to freeze when encountering the glassy eyed, shambling and irrationally violent horde means most bartenders will be fine, as they deal with this every Saturday night.

4) Taxi Driver

Taxi

Knowing the back roads and shortcuts of any modern metropolis could be the difference between life and death should the streets become choked with motile corpses. Besides, taxi drivers don’t like to use an ounce more fuel than necessary, so are perfect for hoarding this precious resource.

5) X Factor Judge

618w_x_factor_usa_judges

Being tone deaf and therefore unable to hear the agonised screams of those around you is pretty much a prerequisite for the modern X Factor judge, and one that could give them a real edge when the world ends.

6) Landscape Gardener

Gardener

Ready access to chainsaws, axes, strimmers or, perhaps even, a sturdy wood chipper with which to dispense quick death to the groaning multitude makes this a stand out choice for the smart survivor.

7) Professional Musician

Musician

Any survival situation means not knowing where your next meal will come from, making most musicians feel right at home.

8) Bicycle Courier

Group Of Women On Cycle Ride Through Park

Weaving in and out of panicked crowds whist ignoring their howls, screams and desperate pleas for mercy are all in a days work for this elite profession.

9) IT Consultant

IT Consultant

Being able to move around without anyone even noticing you’re there could easily prevent unnecessary conflict. As could the ability to survive for years without actual human contact.

10) Traffic Warden

Traffic warden

Being constantly surrounded by people who want to rip you limb from limb and eat your still beating heart could be horrifying for some people, but not the vigilant traffic warden, who is just used to it.

11) Estate Agent

Estate Agent

Possessing the uncanny ability to turn any situation to their immediate advantage no matter how much the odds are stacked against them, make Estate Agents nature’s born survivors. Plus the willingness to eat their own children if there’s a sale in it could help them blend in with the undead.

12) Kanye West

Kanye

A world in which only you exist? Kanye is already there.

 Dan Miles is the cult bestselling author of Filthy Still – A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails. Out now.

 

 

A Writers Guide to Being a Writer: Part 1 – In the beginning…

Writers live a solitary existence, much like a tiger, but at least tigers get to meet other tigers during mating season.

Unlike actors or musicians, who tend to congregate in clumps, writers are by necessity solitary. And this is fine when you’re writing your book, frankly two’s a crowd at that point, but afterwards as you attempt to navigate the dark and murky world of actually getting something published; be it on paper or online, the isolation can be quite terrifying, especially as you try to get people to read your work, which can feel at times like trying to move a house by shoulder barging it repeatedly. Over the years I’ve often thought how nice it would be to sit down and talk to another tiger, I mean writer, and find out how they did it.

Which is why I was greatly surprised when I found one sitting in the window of my local bookshop this week.

Embarrassingly I am no stranger to women in windows, I have visited both Amsterdam and Frankfurt as part of my ‘Drink the World‘ column, but this was a quiet bookshop on a suburban street, and all this particular woman was doing was tapping away happily on her Mac, a sign taped to the glass that read “Bestselling author will answer your questions for 15 minutes for a contribution to local dogs home.”

The author in question was Isabel Losada, and despite both being journalists, as writers go we couldn’t be more different. She writes candid, sassy prose about her travels in Tibet and elsewhere, whereas my work deals with rampant drinking, odd sex, and important social questions like how to effectively steal a llama using a Volkswagen camper. However, much about the experience of writing is universal; the fears and doubts, the ability to love something one moment and despise it the next, how you can struggle to write a single sentence one day, then write a chapter in an hour.

One of the things we all certainly share are the rejections, which can be both strange, myriad and brutal. For instance I was once rejected by an agent for not having enough gardening in my work. As my book is set in the world of late night bars and clubs and therefor takes place almost entirely at night, I felt that the lack of gardening was somewhat unsurprising. I confess to this day I wonder exactly what was happening in that man’s life, or indeed his garden, when he wrote that. She went one better and told me how she’d written to a member of the Monty Python team asking him to read her work. This unnamed Python who I shall call John for the purposes of this story, replied with a pleasant letter detailing exactly how long he had left on this earth, rounded up to the nearest hour, how much of that was allocated for sleeping, eating and making love, and of what left, how much was currently earmarked for reading, before politely declining the opportunity.

I asked about good and bad reviews, of which like all writers I’ve had both. She in turn asked if I had ever bought a book based solely on a review. She, it turns out, had sold 50,000 copies of one title without getting a single one.

Finally I asked what advice she would give to a new writer.

“Appreciate what you’re asking of your reader.” She told me. “You’re asking them to give up eight hours of their life. That’s a big ask. Respect that. And make sure you’re worth the sacrifice.”

I can say honestly that I have rarely left a window feeling less alone and more inspired. I wondered then how many other writers, active or aspiring, or indeed readers, might be interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a bestseller. Of what happens when the noble occupation of writing a novel, gives way to the grubby and ignoble s**t fight that is pitching and marketing one.

Rather than sit in a window I thought I’d blog it right here, and confess all the weird things you have to do whilst feeling all the time like you’re making it up as you go along.

Next week — Networking — the art of making yourself sound awesome whilst pretending to listen to someone else.

Dan Miles is the cult best-selling author of Filthy Still – A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, out now on Amazon.

Isabel Losada is the best-selling author of The Battersea Park Road to Paradise and For Tibet with Love.

How a Book Without a Single Teenage Vampire Became a Best-Seller by Word of Mouth

Filthy-Still-Final

A few weeks ago a book I’d written became a best-seller. As you can imagine I was pretty happy about this and proceeded to get roundly drunk and throw up in a pair of trousers. All I can say in my defence is that the trousers seemed like a good idea at the time, though did produce a moment of shock the following morning.

The reason I went on such an apocalyptic rampage was not that it had gone best-seller, but that it was the final culmination of five years of pain and struggle. A struggle caused by writing a book that did not feature a vampire, lawyer or maverick cop, but a bartender.

Bartenders it seemed were not viewed as a suitable subject for fiction, but something that exists on the fringes. They are the one who dispenses advice to the heartbroken hero, who breaks up the fight, or sleeps with the girl and then never calls her again, the streetwise fixers who the cop goes to for information with a discreetly slipped fifty, but not the star. Never the star. The hospitality lifestyle I also discovered was viewed negatively; too sleazy, too hedonistic, and according to one publisher, who I will hereby refer to as Tom A**clown, too ‘pointless.’

I worked in a bar for 15 years and it was never pointless. On any given night it felt like I was living in a novel, or in some twisted sitcom starring a cast of thousands, all fueled by tequila, hope, or broken dreams; a story in which anything could happen and probably would.

Unfortunately if the first casualty of war is innocence, then the first casualty of a global recession, brought on by smart guys in sharp suits with low morals, is risk. Unless you’re writing about strangely age-inappropriate vampire relationships, or maverick cops who just don’t play by societies rules, then you have your work cut out for you, and the diversity, which makes reading books great and writing them fun, begins to vanish like smoke on a night breeze.

After five years dealing with the Tom A**clown’s of the world, my editor finally took matters into her own hands, mostly to shut me the hell up, and pushed Filthy Still through as an e-book to try and prove once and for all that people might actually enjoy reading about something other than angsty teenagers with fangs, or policemen seeking revenge for the death of a loved one, or perhaps a near relative; about lives lived after hours in Jagermeister soaked shoes, of what it’s actually like to be at the pointy end of a good night out in a far off land. I was given a marketing budget that could just about buy a round of drinks, which coincidently I spent on a round of drinks, and was asked to go away and not come back until I had some proof.

By the end of week one it had sold 20 copies and I began to regret not featuring more of the emotionally underdeveloped un-dead and considered a drastic rewrite. By the end of week two it was a best-seller in the U.K. By week three Australia and even India had followed suit. This happened not through advertising and marketing and focus groups, but because people liked it, embraced it and did the thing that people do so well; talked about it.

The moral of this story is that there’s no such thing as a subject unworthy of fiction. People only know what they like when they see it, and unless we get our risk back we’ll only ever get to read about prepubescent bloodsuckers, and nonconformist cops on the edge.

When you bartend you see wonders. You see violence, stupidity and laughter. You see love, lust and everything in between. You witness people at their most erratic, most hostile, and yet most vulnerable. You see the best and the worst of people, often in the same night.

What could possibly be better source material than that? 

And don’t you ever let the Tom A**clowns of the world tell you different.

Filthy Still – A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails, is out now on Amazon.com and still doesn’t feature any vampires.

21 Things you Only Know if You’ve Worked in Restaurants

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1) Chefs receive a special class in cooking school on how to insert the word f**k into every other word in a sentence. All will pass this class.

2) The only requirement needed to succeed in the industry is the ability to receive abuse for eight hours straight without crying, or at least not publicly.

3) ‘No experience necessary’ on an advert means – ‘will consider a criminal record.’

4) You will feel no shame about eating leftovers off someone’s plate. This is because you haven’t had a f*****g break in ten mother f*****g hours.

5) A sommelier is a waiter who moves less, talks more, looks smug and never has to carry anything heavier than a bottle.

6) Putting the lunatics in charge of the asylum is a fair description of restaurant management.

7) A chef is someone who shouts at people. An executive chef is someone who shouts at other chefs. A TV chef is someone who never has to work in a restaurant again if they just keep smiling.

8) A Sous Chef meanwhile is someone not yet able to openly abuse you whilst waving a carving knife, but is gradually working up to it. Commis Chef is another term for ‘Moving Target’, whereas Chef de Partie means someone only responsible for not f*****k up one thing.

9) Handing in your notice when working in an office involves a well contrived resignation email. Handing in your notice when working in a restaurant involves shouting f**k a lot whilst throwing plates and avoiding cutlery. Or never turning up again. That also works.

10) The bit between a kitchen and the waiters is called ‘The Pass’. This is because there is a right side and a wrong side to it.

11) In the real world when things go wrong people start shouting. In kitchens when things go wrong everyone goes quiet.

12) An included uniform is often listed as a plus on an advert. And sure, if sweating away in a polyester blend made in a sweat shop in Guangzhou is a good thing then, why the hell not, it’s a plus.

13) It is in fact possible to live off biscotti and complimentary after-dinner chocolates.

14) Finishing time if you are a waiter is shrouded in mystery and suspense. Finishing time if you are a manager is the time at which you would start getting overtime in every other profession on this sweet, green Earth. Finishing time if you are a head chef meanwhile is a number carved in stone on a biblical mountain.

15) As a customer, asking the waiter if the food is good is self defeating. Waiters are hardly likely to say, “no, it’s overpriced crap produced by a megalomaniac with all the profits going toward putting the owner’s daughter through her Swiss finishing school whilst I smile like a hippie in the hope you’ll leave me enough spare change for the bus home because the cheap, f******g bastard is tighter than a mallard’s c**t.”

16) The better the view, the more expensive the meal. There are no exceptions to this rule.

17) Today’s specials are either the freshest ingredients from the market handpicked for your dining pleasure, or, sh*t we have to use up today before it kills someone or develops sentience.

18) “Corked” is a slang term for “This wine doesn’t taste like how I expected it to, and I no longer wish to pay for it.” Wastage meanwhile translates as “staff drinking fund.”

19) You’d think that leaving a tip means we’d actually get it. You really would, wouldn’t you?

20) There’s often a designated staff room. It’s called the broken chair stuffed in the store cupboard that smells of dead mouse. No really, it’s a delight.

21) Hell is a hot fiery place where lost souls toil in eternal damnation, whilst a hellish demon preys upon them for something they did very wrong in a past life… oh wait, that’s kitchens. Sorry, my bad.

Dan Miles’ best-selling debut novel Filthy Still – a tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails – is out now on Amazon.

Follow Dan Miles on Twitter:  @

Filthy Still – A tale of travel, sex and perfectly made cocktails

Filthy-Still-Final

A story for anyone who likes drinking, traveling and stealing llamas.

So pleased to announce that my debut novel Filthy Still has now been published on Amazon Digital Worldwide.  Filthy Still is a bittersweet tale of love loss and Jägermeister fuelled depravity set against the backdrop of beautiful Queenstown, New Zealand, perfect for anyone who’s ever stared down the business end of a shot, or woken up somewhere they shouldn’t.
To celebrate I have included Chapter One below, I hope you enjoy it. To read more click here.
Thanks again to everyone who has been reading, reviewing and talking about it, the reaction has  been simply amazing.
Dan Miles

Chapter 1

Aviation

50mls Gin

15mls Maraschino Liqueur

20mls Freshly squeezed lemon juice

 

Fill a shaker with fresh, whole ice.

Add all ingredients and shake well.

Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a

single maraschino cherry.

 

There have been moments when I’ve woken with a mouth like a leper’s armpit that I have regretted coming to this town. This town is filthy, or I am filthy in it; I have difficulty telling the difference any more.

There are also moments when I place a smile on a face where previously there was only a frown, when the light catches the citrus sheen on a perfectly made martini, when the simple clink of ice in a glass sends shivers down my spine that it all seems worthwhile.

My name is Alex Cotton and I make drinks.

I am also becoming increasingly convinced that this town is trying to kill me.

I’m not from here. No one is. At least, no one I’ve ever found. It is the world’s most beautiful refugee camp. Every year people come from all over the world to this idyllic little spot. They stay, they drink. They ski, they drink. They leave clutching memories they’ll never forget and some they’ll never regain. It is perfect in every way that matters and wrong in every way that counts.

It stands proud on a lake of perfect blue, beneath mountains that beggar the imagination, but just out of sight are vomit-strewn pavements with urine-soaked corners, cheap drinks and overpriced drugs, where junkies and millionaires share the same air and people come and go with such frequency that someone who means so much to you today will be nothing but a memory tomorrow.

It is as far away from anything as it is possible to be. That is exactly why I chose it.

Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand.

 

I arrived in early summer. Picture me as I climb off the bus, rucksack over one shoulder and a grin on my face. Too tall to fit into any mode of transport comfortably and a body that causes even the most non-maternal woman to try to feed it. It is fair to say that I will never be described as rugged or edgy.

It was on this very spot that Sergeant O’Hoolihan, Queenstown’s legendary and sole police officer for thirty years, met the bus and sent undesirables and the Irish packing. Some wish he still did, anything to staunch the endless, pumping arterial splurge of backpackers staining the pebbles like sump oil.

Many things other than a bus had brought me to this spot, but a singular and startling lack of ambition would seem to be the prevailing theme. I have never done anything vaguely constructive with my life. I’m not ashamed of this fact. Frankly it has taken more effort to achieve than doing something vaguely constructive with my life. I’ve picked watermelons in Western Australia, which taught me that I fucking hate watermelons. I once filed the records of every ship lost in British waters in the last one hundred and twenty years. Which taught me that filing blows. A career highlight to date was getting paid to make an elastic band ball so big you could bowl with it. This was admittedly not the task I was set, but was that which I achieved. On completing said opus I stole it and presented it to my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day as a token of my love.

To read my CV is, if nothing else, a laugh.

A succession of relationships had also got me this far. I would not go as far as to say I was running away as such, just putting a healthy distance between myself and every girl I had ever dated. Now maybe it’s because I am, let’s face it, kind of cute and harmless looking, but the strangest thing about my relationships are the odd things they seem to want to do to me. It’s no joke. Frankly, it’s getting a little worrying. If there is a woman out there with a kernel of deviancy squirreled away inside her soul then I will inevitably end up dating her. I would have tried internet dating but most sites lack the filter question “are you likely to want to dress me up in a nappy and spank me with a kayak paddle?”

If you require an example, allow me to introduce you to Samantha and her cupboard.

 

“It’s just a fantasy.”

“Right.” I eyed her suspiciously. “So, just to recap, you want me to hide in the wardrobe?”

“Naked.”

“…In the wardrobe.”

“Yep.”

“And then you want me to…”

“Jump out and attack me.”

I wrung the ski mask in my hands. “I’m sorry, why?”

“It’s a fantasy! I’m going to come home like I’ve been at the office all day and get undressed while you’re…”

“In the cupboard.”

“Yes.”

“In a ski mask.”

“Yes.”

I looked between the mask and the freestanding wardrobe with its wooden slat doors. “Seriously?”

Samantha, who usually looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, stood up sharply and confiscated it. “If you’re not willing to try then just forget it!”

“All right, hang on,” I said, reluctantly retrieving the mask. “I mean, if it’s what you really want.”

There are few moments in life more humbling, more conducive to self-examination than standing naked in a wardrobe wearing just a ski mask and socks. I peered out at the world through the slats of an antique armoire and wondered why this kept happening to me.

All these things and many more brought me to the streets of Queenstown.

 

And here I was.

I squinted up at the sky, drinking it all in, from the distant, pale orange wall of The Remarkables mountains to the vertical cut of cleared forest that stretched above the town, a cable car threading its length to a viewing platform that looked like a crown by day and a hovering UFO at night, all surrounded by crystal clear water. If you’re picturing it as a perfect day, you’d be right.

Everything was right in the world, except the five hundred bucks I had left in it and an almost unnatural fear of having to go home and face the music; banks, credit cards, family, insignificant stuff like that.

Standing next to Lake Wakatipu it’s possible to see why people flock here year in, year out. You rarely get to settle on a view so perfect, so grand, so almost constructed with the tourists in mind. To the left lay a rocky, grey strip of beach ending at the slender green arm and towering firs of the botanical gardens. To the right a sparsely filled marina and beyond that nothing but towering, tree-covered slopes, sliding gently down toward the wide, open breadth of the lake. After that lay nothing but mountains, the thinnest wisp of cloud obscuring their upmost peaks.

“Nice, innit?” Trigger said.

I don’t know why I stared. This was, after all, the man who’d described the Sydney Opera house as “shiny.”

Trigger was the kind of person who deserved the word “inveterate” to describe him; “inveterate traveller,” “inveterate alcoholic,” take your pick, just make sure it has nice, chunky inverted commas. He’s a white Rasta from Ickenham, West London, ugliest place in the world,* who earned his name, not as he thinks because he seems dangerous, but more because of the reaction time of his sexual prowess. Trig sees the world by bars and off licenses. Put it like this, you will never visit an art gallery whilst travelling with him. So far we had covered all of Australia, most of Indonesia and been robbed by a ladyboy in Thailand. Don’t ask, it wasn’t my fault.

“Nice?” I asked.

Trigger looked around, nodding, seemingly happy with his description. I’ve often felt he should work for a tourist board. His power to reduce a place to a succinct little titbit is legendary.

I leaned on the wide, smooth, sun-warmed blocks that made up the top of a wall too pretty to defend against flood but perfect for admiring the tranquil bay around which the town stretched like a horseshoe. Apart from a couple of buoys the lake’s only occupant was a solitary steamer moving leisurely toward us, the only ripple the white from its bow, the only mark on the blue, blue sky the belching mile-high plume curling up from it’s stack to stain it.

“Fuck carbon footprint.” Trig sniggered.

The TSS Earnslaw, the so called Lady of the Lake let out a mournful cry as it commenced its turn to dock. There was something stirring about the sound, the way it echoed off the hills so that it seemed to come from everywhere at once.

We adjourned for a drink and where normal people might go for a coffee we went to an Irish bar on the waterfront for something that could charitably be called Guinness. There’s a theory that the further you get from the brewery in Ireland the worse the Guinness tastes. Though nowadays I guess that would be the further you get from Nigeria. “Shit me.” I grimaced. It tasted like I was sucking a rivet.

“Nasty.” Trig nodded, sounding almost appreciative. I noticed he kept staring up at the cable car hill.

“OK, what are you up to?” I demanded.

“Why must I be up to anything?” he said. I waited patiently. “Seriously!” My patience was limitless. “All right, fine, I’m thinking about…”

“Setting fire to it?” I suggested.

“No.”

“Stealing it?”

“No.”

My eyes narrowed. “Fucking it?”

“Climbing it.”

This was new. I’d never known him want to climb anything that wasn’t scaffolding. And when he wasn’t drunk. Let alone walk anywhere, or at least anywhere that wasn’t from his house to The Albatross, ugliest pub on earth. “Looks like it would be fun.” he sulked.

“So what do you want to do today?” I asked, changing the subject.

Trigger looked at me as if I had asked the most stupid question in the world. Which I guess I had really.

 

Backpacker bars are always the same; noise, sticky floors, sweaty ceilings. I didn’t ask how Trigger found this one. He knew a town like a local within a day of being there, at least when it came to alcohol. Man couldn’t find a museum if it curated in his mouth but could sniff a two-dollar happy hour a mile away.

This one was an upstairs bar; a sea of movement, tables stacked with pizza and beer, a stone archway, a narrow dance floor, and in a slight twist to form a roof that opened every twenty minutes. Why I couldn’t say. I mean, maybe it’s just me, but I find one of the joys of bars are that they’re indoors.

Trigger doesn’t like to queue, not that anyone really does, but he rejects them on a whole different level. His rebellion takes the form of buying two or three drinks at once and hoarding them like an alcoholic squirrel. Armed with half a dozen handles of beer, two of which were mine, and three shots of something peachy, one of which was mine, we perched on the end of a leaner table. “Mmmm, sleazy,” he said, with genuine approval, adding, “even you could get action in a place like this.”

“Fuck you.”

“I mean, not easily.”

It’s difficult to explore with more drinks than hands, so most of my initial view of Queenstown by night was from behind a chubby guy with no shirt who smelt like a curious combination of chip fat and baby lotion. It seemed much like drinking anywhere really; guys talked to girls, girls talked to guys, guys bought drinks, occasionally girls bought drinks, harried bartenders slopped beers, poured shots, filled glasses, maybe floating a couple of mournful-looking ice cubes on top, more as an afterthought really. The lights were bright, the temperature hot. Except when the roof opened, then it seemed like it was raining, though it was just condensed perspiration sliding down in rivulets to pepper my head and land in my drink.

Beyond us was a pool table around which serious guys played next to piles of dollars, marking their territory more firmly than if they peed on it, an arcade game on which you shot harmless mammals with a pink shotgun and a balcony accessed through a plastic sheet. The last remaining terrain of the smoker.

I don’t smoke, but Trigger does, so I was faced with that classic choice: stand around like the lonely dude with no friends next to a guy who smelled like a deep fried baby, or suck down second hand fag smoke but at least get to have a conversation.

In this case the smokers had the better end of the deal. For once they hadn’t been exiled to filthy courtyards and the dark street corners of the world, but occupied a sparsely filled and pleasant balcony scattered with plants and lit by the orange wash from the street. Trigger occupied himself hand rolling an anorexically thin cigarette while I enjoyed the view. If I leant out and craned my head left I could just see the black mass of the lake. If I craned right I could see at least five places selling sheepskin. “Reminds me of Ickenham,” Trig sighed.

“Does it? How so? Exactly.”

“You know, people having a laugh, partying.”

“All things that aren’t exactly exclusive to Ickenham.” I could have left it there.

Ah, who was I kidding? “So, um, how else does this paradise of the South Seas remind you of Ickenham, Trig?” I asked, pleasantly.

“Just does.” he murmured.

“I mean, I can’t see anyone stealing a stereo.”

He muttered something that sounded suspiciously like “cock.”

Now when I say that Ickenham is the ugliest place on earth, that’s not entirely true. There are uglier places: Taunton, Bangkok, Mt Isa in Australia (Trigger description, “Epic shit hole!”). Ickenham beats them all by how content it is in its own ugliness. Most areas lean towards gentrification in an attempt to better themselves. Ickenham laughs at gentrification and builds another multi-storey car park, though who the fuck is parking there is beyond me.

I am not from Ickenham, thank the sweet baby Jesus. Trigger however was born and bred West London. It showed.

Later as we played pool, I wondered where my shirt had gone.

Later still, as I shot a squirrel with a large pink shotgun, I wondered where my dignity had gone.

 

*I have since learnt that Wolverhampton is in fact the ugliest place on earth.

About the Author

Dan Miles is an award winning bartender, turned journalist and travel blogger for the Huffington Post who went to New Zealand for a two week holiday and came back five years later. Despite being British he represented New Zealand in the 2008 Cocktail World Cup, has appeared on radio and television and won the prestigious Evening Standard’s London’s Best Bar award.

Plagiarists beware, I will find you!

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Being a freelance writer has it’s ups and downs; I work from my own bed, but have to put up with my accountant laughing at me once a year when I show him my books. As bloggers go though I am one of the luckiest ones, my stuff goes out on the Huffington Post every week (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dan-miles/.) So imagine my surprise when during an aimless tour of social media I discovered my work on another travel website being passed off as their own.

My first reaction was to kick the coffee table but this was self defeating as now not only have I been plagiarized but have a lop-sided coffee table and a limp. I felt a more mature solution was required so took the opportunity to email the offenders to share a few thoughts.

Hello (Name of thieving s**t weasel’s website)

I am the author of this particular piece (insert link to my piece on thieving s**t weasel’s website) which has been copied directly from my blog on the Huffington Post and produced here without permission, and I also notice, without crediting me whatsoever.

I’m sure that this could not be intentional but would you mind awfully taking it down now that you are aware that you’re in breach of a little thing called copyright? As a freelance writer I work very hard on my published pieces and in particular those that go out on a wonderful forum like HuffPost, and while I am indeed flattered that you enjoyed it enough to use it, I am unfortunately not flattered enough to allow you to pass it off as your own material.

I am of course willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you were not aware that you had not written this piece. It does happen. My father was unaware that he’d crashed our Honda Civic into a post office until the Police showed up and mentioned it to him, but then he had been on a three day rampage.

I will check in again later to ensure that this has been done, at which point I will return to my zen like world of happiness (I am generally a very content person), if not I will have to report this as copyright infringement to your web hosting service, Twitter, Google and all the other mighty forces of righteousness that do in fact run the world, at least if you believe in conspiracy theories like my friend Aidan does. Personally I don’t believe that they are actually running the world per se, though admit they might do a better job than some governments are actually managing right now.  Don’t get me wrong I will feel bad about this, no one likes a tattle-tale; at school Shuggy Morris reported me for playing hooky, which I totally didn’t do no matter what that lying b*****d says, but it will help prevent outrage costing me a good nights sleep, something I can’t afford as my girlfriend has a cold right now and is snoring like a bellows, making getting any sleep already a little dicey.

They do say plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not convinced that this is the case. I find payment to be the sincerest form of flattery, as well as karmically much better for you. If you would like to explore this option then I can provide you with a series of numbers that you can use upon upon which a major banking cartel will transfer said payment to me, after keeping it for a brief period of time in order to rinse me out of a little bit of interest, and before putting their profits towards the lawyers that stop them paying taxes.

Apart from the above issue I thought your site was very nice.

All the best.

Dan Miles

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