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CONTENTS Letter From The Editor

NARCISSISTIC SOCIETY A Loved Up Production Finding Fandom Haven’t Been There, But Got The T-shirt Dating RAYA Snaking Around

ABUNDANCE Irreplaceable The Several Night Stand Nakedness Tonight My Body, Which Was Never My Own Body I Saved All Your Cod Pics I Can’t Live Up To This Opening Liners

THE DISAPPEARING ACT A Guide To Ghosting Lost And Found Ghost Stories Trudy And The Romance Love Bombing

A letter to you, from the editor

The course of true love never did run smooth! Whether this relates to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet which told the tragic end of two lovers lives blighted by rash decisions, or today, where our own rash decisions find us pre-maturely ending relationships, lurching from one person to the next in the quest to find ‘the one’. For Adam and Eve temptation lay in an apple. Today, temptation is no longer part of our five a day, but is still intrinsic to our daily diet, behold the new apple, the Apple iPhone, our never ending source of temptation. The real issue is down to too much choice. There is no space for average any more, and the English proverb, ‘the first impression is the lasting impression’ is still to this day scarily accurate. The first impression really is the last impression. We are so quick to write people off before we have even met them. We have become search engines, we are so very high-tech and pride ourselves on our apparent psychic ability to establish a personality behind a photo. We are too quick to judge whether he or she ‘looks annoying.’ Just a generation ago your relationship span went as far as the next village, or county if you had a car. Competition from Pierre who lives in Paris was not on the cards and not a great concern. Online dating used to be pigeon holed and marketed for the over 30 singletons. It was targeted at those whose love life hadn’t gone exactly to plan and therefore had to resort to being proactive, forget fate! The search for ‘the one’ had to be found by you, things don’t just happen. You’re not Bridget Jones and sadly Mr Darcy isn’t going to turn up on your doorstep for your birthday to save your disastrous meal, no matter how much your life and hers has worryingly run in parallel. It’s on you … and the dating website you pay £12.99 a month to use. Was love ever really that luxurious? Could you put a price on romance? Well yes, you could and they did. Until the birth of Tinder in 2012 an app that opened love up to everyone, for free. Aren’t we lucky. But although the right to romance online is no longer paid for, it hasn’t exactly made the course for true love run smoother. With 50 million Tinder users, as of October 2017, it’s a wonder any of us get picked to go on a date. We are indeed little fishes in one big pond, lake, no I think it’s safe to call it an ocean. And yes, there are plenty of fish in that sea, rising to the surface at the quick right swipe of a finger. The word ‘relationship’ has almost become taboo. I’m repeatedly hearing people say (I have to say I am guilty of it too), ‘I’m not in a relationship, we are in a thing.’ A thing, how do I explain that phrase? The thing is, it’s basically a relationship, just no one wants to put that label on it, ban yourself from all those treats that may be around the corner. When we feel that corner is approaching we seem to vanish, out of nowhere, turn the corner, and never look back. No good-bye to the thing, just a refocus onto the next road you’re going to walk down. Oh, the art of the non-responder, the ghoster, haunting our every move. All those unanswered questions. Why didn’t they respond? Why are people so socially inept? Why are they so rude? But in reality, we are all participants in this new style of modern love. We have all at one stage or another been a ghost, disappearing, without trace, we have all been guilty of walking around the corner.





A LOVED UP PRODUCTION Words by Harriet James-Weed

A little while ago I applied for the chance to appear on the ITVBe reality show ‘Dinner Date’, an easy evening watch at 5pm which matches singletons through their love of food. A strong selling point for me as I have a great love of food, and men. Of course this application was entirely a joke, alongside my application for Channel 4’s ‘First Dates’ ( unsuccessful) and ITV’s ‘Love Island’ ( also unsuccessful). It wasn’t that I thought my chance to find love would only work if there were five film crew members surrounding me, recording my awkward conversational skills and adding ten pounds to my weight for the viewers at home. No, for some reason I never really believed that route was going to be for me, but recently to my complete shock ITVBe seemed to want to prove me wrong. This came in the form of an email that recently swooped into my Inbox and took me totally off guard. ‘Dinner Date’ invited me to be on their show. Well, they wanted a phone conversation with me regarding ‘what sort of lovely person I am looking for’, but in my mind that says done deal. They want me. My third and final application was successful, I’m going to find love and I’m going to do it on television, and not only will the man I match with fall in love with me, the whole nation won’t be able to help themselves by falling madly and deeply as well! Think of all the Instagram DM’s I’m going to receive complimenting my appearance on such a famed show! I can’t help but think back to all those copious amounts of direct messages I’ve sent out to attractive TV show contestants. I will never forget the dream that featured on ‘Family Cooking Showdown’ last year at 8pm prime TV, there he appeared, this God, cooking! And with his family! Does it get any more husband material than that?

So naturally I sent him an ever hopeful DM, ‘hey saw you on family cooking show down and I thought you were really rather attractive, if ever you find yourself in London, would you want to grab a drink?’ Note use of ‘grab’, very elusive, not too forward but with a hint of confidence. I thought it was a good message but predictably received no response. It was a little odd I suppose that I managed to find his Instagram from his very brief TV feature on a middle aged cooking show, but I know as soon as I receive my first DM, I will respond. Maybe that’s how I’ll find my love of my life , through the social media after mass. But of course mentally I’m getting too carried away. I haven’t even replied to the email and anyway I need to loose at least twenty pounds before I can even allow the camera to put on ten. Maybe my instinct was right, maybe TV dating isn’t for me after all. Of course you can’t really find love on TV, and anyone that has done was obviously lying for the media hype. I thought ITV’s hit summer show ‘Love Island’ of all programs would confirm my opinion, but yet again, to my surprise I’ve been proven wrong. Not only do the majority of couples stay together for at least three months after the show, but two years on, quite a few are STILL going strong, two with babies and one engaged! ‘Love Island’ obviously is an island of love, I eat my words. But why are we so obsessed with watching people find love? Has love become a constructed reality produced for us, the spectators, slumped on the couch? It could be said relationships have become an impossible entity, a search in 4OD’s entertainment section. Love is now a privilege. Relationships are something you achieve, it’s a ‘goal’. It’s a beneficial media move, and if marketed correctly both you and your partner could find yourself financially better off. Your relationship could land you a new job as a social media influencer, #relationship goals. Indeed love has become a commodity, a big budget series with ITV or a sponsored post featuring an influencer couple in a bath on holiday in Bali. We are buying into love again and again without even considering its authenticity. After all, who is taking that intimate photo of those two in the bath, they seem to have their hands noticeably full with glasses of champagne? At its worst, a relationship could be seen as a social media business transaction, there are two major benefits; a load of new followers from your beau’s friendship group and good content of you looking loved up - bring on the 7659 likes. Couples have begun to merge into one. It’s become trendy to cast away your own individual identity and become a double barrelled mix of two, the ultimate Instagramable unit. This is an act of ‘super’ love that is apparently larger and stronger than any other measure. Hence the media meltdown when super-couple ‘Brangelina’ went their separate ways in 2016 . Love after all for some Z-list celebs is a savvy media move. It can be a talking point , a rumour spread to the right magazine, attention brought back onto those who have faded from the limelight. It’s scarily easy to be sucked into the chinese whispers and become a back seat lover, feeling as if you should be guiding celebrities down the right road and advising them when it’s time to turn around. But in reality, although we think we know everything about these relationships, we actually have no control over the lovers’ path, no matter how many screen shots of their loved up pics you send to your friends dying that they are STILL TOGETHER? This unnatural feeling of ownership has been bred within us due to unlimited access social media has encouraged, allowing us into the most private aspect of celebrity lives. So on reflection, I feel I was right to doubt I’ll ever find love whilst being watched by an audience. I don’t think ‘Dinner Date’ would take me to the man on ‘Family Cooking Showdown’ and although no ‘super relationships’ have been formed from the rather budget television show, I couldn’t think of anything worse than the onslaught of media attention if that ever happened. Having said that the extra thousand from quick Insta uploads and free holidays from sponsored life style brands would be rather nice…


Fan art by Naina Sharma



Tumblr in 2013 was 1969’s equivalent of the downtown New York City performance art scene. Nobody knows how they end up on Tumblr, but you do, and before you know it three hours have passed, and between hundreds of memes and gifs and “things you just can’t ever unsee” you find yourself engrossed in a thread of re-blogs of detailed illustrations, videos, fictions, role plays and forum debates produced by a particularly niche subfandom of the British boyband One Direction called “Larry Shippers”. These fan authored works focus specifically on the imagined, or yet to-be- proven (depending how you look at it) relationship between band members Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson – which the fans have named as the portmanteau Larry Stylinson. This phenomenon of boy-on-boy fictioning, authored predominantly by female fans, is known widely in fandom as slash fiction, and pairings between characters or celebrities in Real Person Fiction (RPF) are usually marked with a slash between names such as Harry/Louis and more recently, an exclamation mark between pairing and genre such as “Larry!domestic”. Slash stories posit a same sex relationship, usually one imposed by the author and based on perceived homoerotic subtext, and this is not a new phenomenon. Slash became popular through Star Trek fandom in the 70s and 80s but arguably existed long before this. Besides slash there is also femme slash (girl-on-girl) and het (heterosexual narratives), although these are not as popular. Lured into the fandom through beautiful graphic illustrations of the boys in all manner of romantic and (a)sexual positions, I became more curious about the critical and subversive potentials of these fanworks when I found myself engrossed one day in a “curtain fic” or “domestic fic”, where a pregnant Harry and the love of his life Louis go shopping for curtains. I started to think about what these fans were actually doing in the re-writing, re-imagining and potentially de-facing of the world’s most successfully marketed boyband. I was fascinated by the extent to which many of these fictions were touching on extremely taboo subjects from non-consensual sex and incest, to BDSM, animal-human hybrids and “knotting” (where character like Louis and Harry “breed” each other with dog dicks); there seemed to be a freedom in the realm of fantasy and fiction, and under the guise of an avatar; but it was the less transgressive, domestic “fluffy” narratives of Larry Stylinson that really moved me through a feeling of simultaneous intrigue and alienation. At first glancing at these fics and artworks by fanartists like Karukara and authors like SunshineMaryLou the fanworks seem to present “normative gay narratives” of family time and consumer capitalism; but after lingering for some time in the fandom and with these artworks and texts, it became more clear to me that these illustrations and fictions were less concerned with presenting “gay life” or “straight life” or things as they really are – and more concerned with proving that the boys are in love #larryisreal in whatever way it takes – including male pregnancy. While these fictions and artworks seemed to be opportunities for perverse fantasy (written under pseudo name) or therapeutic in the sense of exploring an array of personal issues (for instance hurt/comfort often focuses on narratives of care, illness or grievances); it was the complete abandonment of One Direction and complete devotion to the production of their own minor narratives and image-worlds – Larry Stylinson – that fascinated me most.

I began to assess the legacies of my own creative and critical practice and its relationship to fandom, with this realisation that I was a fan, and always had been a fan. Not of One Direction (but definitely Larry Stylinson at this point) but a fan of art, and particularly performance art. While I hadn’t acknowledged my artwork as particularly fan inspired up until this point, I was suddenly able to reconsider my entire practice as one in which I was a fan.

For the past few years fandom has become a main focus and site of inspiration for my own work in the fields of art and performance. As a fan of fans I’ve developed a sustained project ‘Fan Riot’, which explores the slipping distinctions between artists, critics and fans and includes a fan club series with contributing fans and artists working with fan-like tendencies, publications exploring the relationship between art writing, art criticism and fanfiction, and a series of newly commissioned artworks and performances including Larry!Monument (2016) – a monument to the Larry Stylinson fandom and Larry Stylinson Performance AU – a performance fiction performed by real-life Harry and Louis impersonators commissioned by Jerwood Visual Arts, 2016. Both these works received critical attention in both art criticism and fan criticism, including dedicated articles in international press including the Telegraph, The New Statesman, The Paris Review and Vice: The Creator’s Project as well as criticism within the fan community including an blog post by big name fans, a full interview with Fanslapining podcast and over one hundred thousand re-blogs and running commentary of documentation of the performance cross tumblr, twitter and instagram. I’ve also created a Live!Art Fanzine with other fans of performance art and written fanfictions about Yoko Ono, John Cage and Merce Cunningham and Fully Automated Luxury Communism! Ultimately, working on and as a fan has become a way of recognizing the importance of being part of something: an engaged community whose watching, making, and (re)writing practices can only really be sustained if they are impassioned, attached, visionary and weirdly intense.

Owen G. Parry, Larry Stylinson Performance AU, Jerwood Visual Arts: Common Property, 2016. Photo: Hydar Dewachi

Comments on Fan Art taken from Deviant

H AV E N ’ T


G OT T H E T - S H I R T

Words by Alex, Louis, Jake and Jesse Images by Harriet James-Weed

Dear Vic, I have been fantasising about you for years now and would love to meet you. I look at different pictures of you everyday and stare at them for hours on end. I think that I am in love with you which is sad because I will probably never meet you. Lots of love, Alex xxx

My Amy, You are one of the sexiest singers out there. You’re voice clears my head and I can think clearly. When you sang, it’s so powerful and you became the centre of attention. You are one of a kind and nobody will be able to do what you did. When you died , I was in tears. It shows how much you were in peoples lives and how much everyone loved you and still love you. The music you made is still played today. At parties, on the radio and when you are just travelling somewhere. You are the perfect artist, but its so sad that you were only around for a little bit. Louis

Scarlett, You’re beautiful and so is your ability to transcend through blockbusters to more creative endeavours. You’re not afraid to follow what you want and you do this with out alienating your regular mainstream audience. You’re not just a pretty face Miss Johansson! Love Jake

Dear Naomi, I’d love to hang out with you, Kate Moss and Alexander McQueen (when he was alive). I’m sure we’d have a lot of fun and of course I think you are amazing. Hope you’d like to hang out with me too. xxx Jesse

DATING RAYA Words by Honor Bleeker

The Oxford dictionary defines narcissism as ‘excessive interest in or admiration of oneself and physical appearance’. We get the word from Ancient Greek mythology. Narcissus the son of the river god Cephissus and nymph Liriope is a beautiful man. He rejected all who loved him, feeling he was worthy of more. As punishment the goddess Nemesis lures him to a pool where he sees a reflection of himself and falls deeply in love with it; unable to look away he ends up dying of starvation and thirst. Modern social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat all encourage this self obsessed behaviour. We’re all guilty of uploading a selfie here and there - making sure that everyone else sees the best side of us. All the while feeding your ego with likes and comments from friends, acquaintances and strangers. We live in a society where you can make a living by simply being attractive and having a large following of people. In a Forbes article from 2017 they speculate that people with 100,000 followers could earn up to £5,000 a post making each one of your followers worth 5p. We are rewarded for over sharing online

The idea of going to a bar and casually bumping

Your Raya profile is a twenty second slideshow

into your future husband/wife ‘naturally’ seems

of your chosen pictures set to a song of your

like a modern day fairy tale. Dating apps have

choosing, a direct link to your Instagram page,

revolutionised the way we meet our potential

where you’re from and your current location.

partners. I downloaded Tinder with the best

Due to the fact Raya assumes you are a world

intentions but rarely actually do anything once I’ve

travelling, private jet owning creative you don’t

matched with someone. I get more enjoyment from

get to choose to see others profiles who are close

matching than I do from actually conversing with

to you. You see eligible singles from all over the

them after. While still getting the buzz from likes

globe, most of whom seem to be in either Los

on my various public posts the feeling that others

Angeles or New York.

find you attractive and it’s not just your mum liking your latest Instagram. Having heard that there was going to be a About 2.5/3 years ago my housemate at the

succession of beautiful/successful/worldly people

time told me about this dating app called Raya.

paraded on my screen I had set my expectations

It describes itself as “an exclusive dating and

high. I was not disappointed. Matching with

networking platform for people in creative

anyone on there was an immediate confidence

industries’. It’s members are a carefully selected

boost. However, there is rarely any real

group of successful and beautiful people.

conversation once matched, that’s down to a few

Photographers, musicians, artists, models, social

reasons; neither person messaging the other, me

influencers, etc. This is not an app that everyone

simply not replying to their initial messages or

can join, when you first download it you have to

getting bored half way through a conversation,

‘apply’ for your place with your Instagram and

(I really hate small chat). It is as if we deem the

the powers that be review the online version of

instant gratification of matching with someone as

yourself and decide your fate. Vouge described it

more rewarding that looking for a more intimate

as the ‘Soho House of Dating Apps’.


Under my friend’s watchful eye I registered my interest to be a part of this elite group. Although

Raya has a very strict privacy policy, which means

I’m about 99,000 followers short of 100k and

no cheeky screen shots to send to a friend, I once

wouldn’t describe myself as particularly involved

tried to screen shot a well known musician who

in a specific creative industry. I do (hopefully

had used his OWN song for his slideshow. That

without sounding too vain) consider myself

type of egotism made me laugh. I was given an

attractive. I’m probably not a 10/10 but I’d go

immediate warning by Raya. I have used Raya on

with a solid 8.5 and I was hoping that would

an off for a few years and thus far have been on

count for something. After a couple of days, I

four dates. So with the full intention of honouring

was accepted and after paying my initial monthly

Raya’s privacy policy, I want to briefly summaries

subscription fee my foray into dating the crème de

each one, the pros, cons and how narcissistic they

la crème began.

each were out of 10 - no names.


SET MENU S TA R T E R Creative profession - works in the music industry For our first date we met at a pub somewhere central at about 11pm, then on to Trader Vic’s after. He’d just finished dinner and I’d been for drinks with a friend.


Interesting / Kind

Both of us were pretty drunk when we arrived

We’ve been on more than one date and occasionally still talk. Narcissism 4/10

MAIN COURSE Creative profession - photographer He was over from New York and happened to be staying nearby, we met up on a whim within minutes of matching. PROS CONS

Smart could speak multiple languages

Really greasy hair / Probably too old for me…

We met up once more a few weeks later and I had to get my housemate to call me with a fake emergency… I stopped replying to his messages. Narcissism 6/10


DESSERT Creative profession - model Agreed to meet him while he was over from LA. We met at a bar on Kingsland Road and then moved onto Brown’s - which if you don’t know is a ‘’pound in a pint glass’’ strip club. PROS CONS

His friend stayed with us the whole night (he had better chat)

He only asked me one question about myself / His friend stayed with us the whole night

I never spoke to him again but I follow him on Instagram - (he’s still hot) Narcissism 10/10

CHEESE BOARD Creative profession - actor He was over visiting from LA and we messaged quite alot before we actually met. Took me to Buddha Bar in Knightsbridge.


The dude was in a fucking JAMES BOND MOVIE / Easy to talk to / Good looking Actively encouraged me to wear heels even though he knew I was a few inches taller than him / Bad kisser We texted for a bit afterwards but didn’t bother meeting up again. Narcissism 7/10

I have to be honest and say none of these first dates were a complete disaster, but I can’t say any swept me off my feet. This really doesn’t bother me as I’m safe in the knowledge that I have the option to go back on the app and find someone else. It also probably means that neither person truly invests in the other as something better might be right round the corner. I have spent roughly £250 just to use this app and I’m not even mad about it. I might not have met the great love of my life yet but the confidence boost I get from using it, is 100% worth it. So does writing the above make me the 10/10 egomaniac. Probably - but I’d still rather say I met my future partner(s) on Raya than Tinder.




Words and Images by Harriet James-Weed

Amir Kahn, thirty-one-year-old British boxer, squats in a dingy dank tunnel that could at a glance resemble a newly discovered underground vessel leading from the infamous H.H Holmes Murder Castle. Rest assured this is not that, and Amir is in the safe hands of ITV producers filming for the last aired series of ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’ He is embarking on the first bush tucker trial of the series with co-star Georgia Toffolo, who, as the camera occasionally cuts too, is calmly lying down in what seems to be a coffin of critters. Panning back to the tunnel we witness Amir out stretching his forearm up to the small hole indented in the mud wall. His distress is palpable. ‘I can’t do it man, I just can’t do it’ he calls out to presenters Ant and Dec, who like us, watch on from safety above land. ‘It’s in there, just get your hand in, and you can move on.’ The duo encourages in unison. Placing faith in the reassurance from above, Amir bravely takes the plunge without second thought and puts his shaking hand into the abyss, desperately fumbling around for the plastic gold star to take back to his camp of ‘starving’ celebrities. But in his panic, we watch horrified as Amir confidently grabs the torso of the snake mistaking it for that fruitful star, wrenching the serpent out from its contained cell and freeing it into the enclosed space that five foot seven Amir is far from comfortably occupying. A disturbed scream, Amir once fearless Olympic silver medallist transforms into a petrified child before our eyes, crawling panic stricken down the tunnel, yelling for retreat and safety ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!’ ‘Opheidiophobia’, the fear of snakes is a relatively common and widely accepted phobia, unlike many ostracised fears such as ‘Auroraphobia’ the fear of the Northern lights and ‘Thaasophobia’ the fear of sitting which are seen as frankly quite ridiculous. But why is the fear of snakes so readily accepted and justified in our society? Perhaps the reason stems back to history where fables, mythology and biblical texts portray snakes as dangerous antagonists. From the beginning of time serpents have been portrayed as treacherous and deceptive. Adam and Eve gave in to the temptation of a snake. They found themselves disobeying God having eaten from the Tree of Knowledge and are subsequently cast out from the divine sanctuary, the Garden of Eden. The serpent has been cast as the villain of the Animal Kingdom, withholding its personification as the Devil through generations of storytelling. 4000BC it was portrayed as a ‘Demon of Chaos’, and named Apophis, its character embodied all of the evil and darkness in Egypt.

But it’s important to note that the snake has not found it’s self unwillingly type cast into this embolism of evil. The snake is by nature a ruthless predator, using a technique of paralysing and subduing its prey in order to kill and not just as a method of defence. This paralysing technique is portrayed in the Greek myth we know all too and well, Medusa, the woman with a head of snakes. Once deemed as ‘the jealous aspiration of many suitors’ cursed Medusa ended up with the ability, through the power of her snake charmed hair, to paralyse her prey by turning men to stone with one gaze. Since childhood we are subconsciously taught to view snakes as threatening, a slithering symbol of dishonesty. Through Disney’s portrayal of the snake in the animation of Rudyard Kipling The Jungle book, we have been warned of their hypnotic paralysing charms. His phrase ‘You can Trust in Me’, is known to mean, don’t trust me under any circumstances. ‘I’m not like those so called fair-weather friends of yours, you can trust in me’ sings Kaa calmly to Mowgli as he contorts his body around the sleep lulled man-cub, all the while preparing to engulf the defenceless child and kill him in one swift motion. Today, the term ‘snake’ or ‘snake in the grass’ is a phrase referring to slyness, untrustworthiness, and potential ruthlessness. It also refers to hypnotic charm and temptation. A slithering snake like a slithering human being can move swiftly and fatally between many victims. A snake works alone it does not possess loyalty, it has no partner and sense of guilt is slim to none. Relationships are made by the snake and ended by them too. A silent and skilled predator, the snake is feared by many in the animal kingdom. It hides in dark caverns and avoids the light, it can smother and poison, engulf victims quickly, sneakily and skilfully. ‘The King of the Underworld’, has an incredible natural ability to shed its skin and transform into another fresh body casting off past actions and history just as the human snake does. They are able to turn away from their previous relationships, wiping their slate clean all the while presenting themselves to the new naive partner as a person who holds nothing but honest intentions.

The fear of snakes is an accepted phobia. The idea of being lured into a false sense of security is truly terrifying. Although encouraged by presenting duo Ant and Dec that once touched by the snake ‘you can move on’, it’s extremely difficult to bring that to action. Often one is found clutching at the old shredded snake skin that unknowingly to them experienced a rebirth before their eyes, moving on to the next prey with no warranted explanation. The discarded prey is left in a state of hypnosis, experiencing an inner repetition of the words once sang so sweetly ‘Close your eyes and trust in me’.

Snake By D.H.Lawerence A snake came to my water-trough On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat, To drink there. In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob tree I came down the steps with my pitcher And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.

He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, Silently.

Someone was before me at my water-trough, And I, like a second-corner, waiting.

He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do, And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment, And stooped and drank a little more, Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.

The voice of my education said to me He must be killed, For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.

And voices in me said, If you were a man You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.

But must I confess how I liked him, How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless, Into the burning bowels of this earth?

Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured? I felt so honoured.

And yet those voices: If you were not afraid, you would kill him!

And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more That he should seek my hospitality From out the dark door of the secret earth.

He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken,

And as he put his head into that dreadful hole, And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther, A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole, Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after, Overcame me now his back was turned. I looked round, I put down my pitcher, I picked up a clumsy log And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter. I think it did not hit him, But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste, Writhed like lightning, and was gone Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.

And immediately I regretted it. I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act! I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.

And I thought of the albatross, And I wished he would come back, my snake.

For he seemed to me again like a king, Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld, Now due to be crowned again.

And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords Of life. And I have something to expiate: A pettiness.




Poem by Alexia Cambon

It might have been my ego But I thought I couldn’t be replaced I thought at least you’d mourn me, Mourn the things that were displaced I thought you’d let our bed cool down before you invited someone else into our sheets Someone to take up permanent residence in our mutual idyllic retreat I thought you’d think twice before taking her to our pubs To those places where we giggled and played The places that were to us beloved I thought you’d take a moment before slotting her so perfectly in Before inviting our friends to witness your lovefool-induced grin Yes, OK, I thought I was irreplaceable; I thought what we had was ours But really it was yours, not mine, and now Now Now there is a vacancy, and that’s where she comes in Because really that life was not my life, it was simply a life in waiting A life that required a pretty, happy woman Someone who would not question And thus the thought of being irreplaceable was totally without reason Because yes, I thought I was irreplaceable, is that such a despicable thing? I thought 8 years together was maybe worth honouring But all it took you was 12 weeks to find an enthusiastic participant In this quest of yours to find the long-term, stable replacement I thought I was irreplaceable but really I’ve discovered For you “irreplaceable” means someone who is untroubled Someone who is perfectly happy to live completely on your terms In that sense, you’re right, I could never be your girl ...But still, I thought I was irreplaceable I thought the little things that made us us Were too unique to be recast But there you are, in our life with her Without a thought for me Without attachment to our memory Moving on to the next At your own behest And so I ask why, why keep me captive for 8 years? When all you required was some woman to soothe your fears Because you see, in my eyes I was irreplaceable I was unique I was your snowflake I was your star I thought I was irreplaceable I thought I was your soulmate But really, I was just a lady-in-waiting Waiting Waiting to be replaced.


An SNS: Just like a one night stand but done repeatedly over a prolonged duration until one of you finds someone else and calls the whole thing off!

You are now two months in and neither of you have bought up what exactly you are. It’s going to happen sooner or later, she’s been looking at you differently. You definitely are not in a relationship, imagine committing to one person! It’s not going to happen, not any time soon. You’d have to be a year down the line until you could even dream about making such a life altering irreversible move as to be taken. No, you are free, unshackled, you can do whatever the hell you like. You like the girl, there you’ve admitted it now. Your hoping she’s going to stick around, but hey it’s the 21st century, she can do whatever the hell she likes, you don’t care! That boy that works with her did like her Instagram picture the other day though, maybe that’s why she couldn’t meet you this evening. Maybe this whole chill night with the flatmates is all a hoax. You’re a joke! She’s making a mockery out of you! She’s probably with him right now. You need to stake your claim, let her know she is yours and she can’t be fucking about with other men, not while she’s with you, it’s been two months for Christ’s sake. And it’s not like you’ve been on a few dates, you’ve been seeing her nearly every day recently. Christ she’s cost you enough money, all those meals on you. You’re a joke, an absolute joke, you should have taken her up on her insistence to go dutch. That would teach her. She’s taken you for a ride that’s what she’s done. This has got to stop. You’ve got to stop seeing her. She’s playing you, she’s clearly a player. One of those girls. She’s just put a Instagram story up, she’s got to be joking. She knows you’re going to click on it and watch it. Click bait, no thank you darling, you know the game, you play it yourself! Who does she think she’s fooling? Who the hell does she think she is, who the hell does she think you are? No one messes you about. Look at you, you could have plenty of women falling at your feet if you wanted. Fuck it, you do want it. You’re not going to stand for this. You’re not going to get treated like this, you’re going to go out and you’re going to show her exactly what the hell she’s missing. You’ll show her. Wait till she sees your Instagram story, then who’s going to be laughing. Right that’s it, You’re getting the boys together. You didn’t even like her anyway, why are you pranging out about it. Oh just watch it. Watch the bloody story, you’ve ended it now anyway. She’s not worth your time, you don’t care! Watch the stupid story. It’ll show her, show her that you don’t care, she’ll see your name pop up. If you cared you wouldn’t want to watch it so quickly anyway, it would look too keen. But you don’t care so you better go on and watch it sharpish. It was just her with her flat mates at home dancing in the kitchen. You knew it was going to be that really. God she’s a good girl isn’t she. As if she’d be talking to anyone else! As if! She’s got you. She clearly wants to be with you. That’s why she’s been looking at you differently. She needs to chill out, you don’t want her falling in love with you. It’s only been two months! Christ! You’re in deep. You need to keep your options open fella, you don’t want a clingy girl! And you don’t want a girlfriend , Christ. What have you done! You are definitely not in a relationship. Definitely not. No chance, too soon.

- The inner monologue of an SNS victim

Felix and Hebe’s Several Night Stand

Felix and Hebe have been seeing each other for quite a while. And by seeing, they do not mean dating, just seeing each other every week for about eight months. Every week Felix drives over to Hebe’s family house. Every Thursday at 7:08pm when he knows Hebe’s parents have gone for date night. Hebe is 23 but still lives at home. Hebe cannot afford London rent, as unlike Felix, Hebe is still looking for a job. Felix doesn’t mind driving out of London to Hebe’s. Hebe’s father luckily works at the local Majestic wine shop, and as Felix will not be driving home tonight he knows this is an opportunity he should not miss. Felix likes to indulge in Hebe’s house. Hebe and Felix have nothing new to talk about. They don’t talk during the week and have no mutual friends to discuss. Hebe and Felix met online. Hebe lets the dogs out and has a smoke. Hebe, isn’t a smoker. Only on Thursdays. They chat about articles on the Daily Mail, which Felix has no interest in. They chat about disastrous client meetings, which Hebe has no interest in. Felix has a drink.

Felix and Hebe then retreat to her bedroom where they pretend to watch a film. Every Thursday they try for 13 minuets then get distracted. Felix has a short attention span. Hebe does too. Felix has to get up early in the morning for work so sets five alarms in case he misses one. He misses them all. Hebe doesn’t. Felix and Hebe part every Friday with a kiss. A kiss to last the week, until next Thursday when the whole ordeal will be repeated. Felix doesn’t want a relationship. Hebe doesn’t want a relationship.

They are just friends.

NAKEDNESS TONIGHT A ONE WOMAN SHOW Words and Images by Harriet James-Weed

This photo series is controlled entirely by the models. All nudes are curated and directed by those featured. The models dictate our gaze, holding ownership of their nude bodies through


their chosen postures.

The boundaries of privacy and ownership of personal data has been a high-profile conversation since the Internet’s birth. In 2004, Paris Hilton’s unauthorised sex tape was released on the internet with a succession of celebrity

In 2016, a thirty-six-year-old married father of two, Ryan

‘home videos’ quickly following. The most famous celebrity

Collins, was arrested at his unassuming four-bedroom

video was created in 2007 with Kim Kardashian and her

home in Pennsylvania. Collins was charged and given an

then boyfriend Ray-J, which was allegedly released by

18-month jail sentence for what has subsequently been

her ‘Momager’ Kris. The Kardashian’s sex tape proved to

dubbed as, ‘The Flappening’; the leaking of 500 private

be a shrewd and successful media move but it highlighted

photographs from various celebrities, many of them

important questions with regard to the appropriateness of

nudes taken from their personal phones. The majority of

pornographic material and the dangers associated with

people that he chose to target, being high profile women.

the usage and exploitation of sexuality. The Kardashian sex tape has over 150 million views which demonstrated the

The question raised over ownership of the nude body was

popularity and immediacy of a social media sharing society.

brought back into public consciousness by this violating case, where the stolen celebrity nudes first appeared

The meaning of the word ‘consent’ has been recently

on an anonymous image sharing website, called, 4

brought to the public’s attention by the media. The

chan. ‘The Flappeneing’, as expressed by one targeted

revelation of Harvey Weinstein’s reign of terror, has put the



spot light on those that have ‘confused’ and belittled the

violating that you can’t even put it into words’.

meaning of yes and no in regard to sexual relationships.





The importance of consent has been brought back into

But is this Instagram’s way of regulating our online sexuality

mainstream thought, through recent social media driven

or are these measures put there to protect us from online

campaigns #MeToo and the red carpet , ‘Times Up’,

trolls like Ryan Collins? The first sexualised body I saw was

celebrity protest. Social media has acted as a connector

at the age of eleven and it wasn’t in person, it was online,

and a vertical for free speech without censorship, it has

which says a lot about how broadcasting sexuality has

enabled information to be shared in quick succession

become an intrinsic part of the Millennial and Generation

opening up many doors but subsequently leaving

Z age group. My first ever encounter of this naked body

dangerous ones open too.

was on a website called Chatroulette, which looking back was really the video version of tinder before applications

The idea of consent online is still a grey area. The

existed. The reason I had this introduction to sexuality

published sex tapes in the early 2000’s were released to

was, admittedly I probably should not have been on there

the public without consent, and a decade later in 2016

in the first place, but also as there was no awareness or

with ‘The Flappening’ we are still witness to the same

filtering systems online, and Chatroulette notably was no

robbing and degrading of the body online. Last year

exemption to this. If you owned a webcam you were good

saw the rise of revenge porn , the distribution of sexually

to go and free to ‘chat’ with young eleven-year-old girls

explicit images or videos of individuals without their

who knew no better and whose parents had no idea such

consent, done specifically with the intention of degrading

a thing existed.

or damaging the victim’s reputation. Revenge porn, an act now associated with domestic and sexual abuse, is a

Snapchat for a while became synonymous t with the

crime, punishable by law. 2017 saw one of the first high-

sharing of nude selfies. This was enabled by the sending

profile cases of revenge porn when Rob Kardashian and

of images which were programmed to disappear within 10

Blac Chynas’ engagement came to a dramatic conclusion

seconds. Snapchat allowed people to send private images

online. This resulted in the suspension of Rob Kardashian’s

without the worry of permanent storage. However, this

Instagram page after he took to social media, distributing

inevitably changed with the creation of screenshotting.

intimate images of Chyna, including verbally abusive slut

Private images were now able to be distributed via the

shaming captions about the demise of their relationship.

social media app.

One well known television reality

personality, Spencer Matthews, now brother in-law to the The important question is how we control our own sexuality

future Queen of England, famously fell victim to sexually

online and how can public distribution of that sexuality

explicit screenshotting. Recently, instead of controlling

be prevented if the participant is unwilling for it to be

sexuality through filtering content, Snapchat created a

shared. We all have the fundamental, democratic, right

feature that would warn those sending an image if it had

to publish images and portray ourselves as we desire.

been screenshotted by the reciprocate.

Sexuality is a personal affair that should not be measured or regulated by others. However, with Instagram owning

Social media has in some instances, blurred the boundaries

every image we post, is the way we portray our bodies

of privacy. It has allowed access into the most private

and sexuality really under our control? Once we have

moments of people’s lives. Whether that be watching

published ourselves on our own personal Instagram

their live streams on Instagram or following their snapchat

page, are we then giving free consent to others to use,

story. Social media has opened up once restricted areas

publish and contort our images for their own personal

and granted us an ‘access all’, pass. As a society we are

gain? To some extent, yes, Instagram do own the rights

more connected than ever before, knowing strangers

to our images, and they also own the rights to control our

through the internet that we have personally never

photographs and sensor our sexuality in a way that they

met. With that comes responsibility, how we choose to

see as ‘appropriate’. Women are not able to post images

demonstrate our own bodies on line and how we welcome

of their bare chest on Instagram as it is ‘inappropriate’.

the representation of others.

Men’s bare chests however are ok, it is the fat tissue around female nipples which makes them breasts, which is problematic for Instagram’s archaic filtering system.


THAT WAS NEVER MY OWN BODY Words and Images by Lara Konrad

When I feel beautiful and want to feel beautiful, I take pictures of myself, many pictures, because I need the most beautiful picture that isn’t about the picture, but about my body, my body being beautiful no, my body being perfect, my perfect body smooth, the anatomy of my body, I need it to be smooth, no excesses, because there’s nothing better than feeling skinny and eternal, and I don’t why or since when I feel this way, if it’s because of me, my innate actuality of needing to feel but to be beautiful, or if it’s because of them, always them, how they gaze at me, especially when I’m ready to be desired, because I don’t always feel ready to be desired, except mornings, when for a while nothing new has lived inside of me I take these pictures, and parts of me are naked, each shot exaggerates my body a little further, how I look good in this one, because my bones, they stick out, my skin, stretched and firm, I’m 30 in a 22 year old body, my mind, it feels old, and I don’t know what I’ll do when this body goes to shit, and no one will want me unless I’ll give everything I own, which hopefully by then will be plenty, because no one wants a tired, broke body, because that’s a useless body, because at all times, our bodies are meant to sell bodies, when we’re young, it’s about beauty, when we’re old, it’s about money, beauty is money, and money will always be beautiful

so when there’s a picture that makes me look beautiful, I’m satisfied, and maybe that also implies some type of happiness, because people will love me, in some kind of way, because people, they love beautiful things, and sometimes I ask myself why, because I’ve hated things that are beautiful just because they’re beautiful because beautiful things immediately make everything else less beautiful, and in this type of world, the less beautiful is the less visible, and the less visible is always the least meaningful how we bred a world searching for beauty and don’t care where we’re going and when I think about beauty, it’s female and it has a body and sometimes I feel damned, because I’ll never escape the ideal of beauty I was born into because the search is endless and unforgiving the female body that was always just a body, so what type of body will I be after this body is no longer the body I learned to live and depend on I feel anxious, and sometimes it gets worse I feel purpose is leaving me, slowly, and it’s that what might frighten me most gradually turning into nothing and it’s inevitable so when these men, strangers, begin to write me I trust their desire, but I don’t understand because my body, it changes all the time internally towards its exteriority and I grow tired of not knowing what I am

because these men, they say they love my mind, but it’s my body they think of loving my body, fuckable and lonesome and what’s more possible and more lovely than a woman waiting to live


Images and Words by Harriet James-Weed

In 2015 Calvin Klein released a campaign starring American pop sensation Justin Bieber. Taking on Klein’s authentically minimalist but sexually charged aesthetic, heart-throb Bieber stares down the camera lens with a furrowed brow which coupled with the star’s puppy dog eyes, comes across as concerned, but sexy. Standing in his white Calvins Bieber tenses his muscles and shows off his ripped torso, his hands clasped in prayer as if he’s rubbing them together nonchalantly while walking, by accident, into the photographer’s studio set up. But none of this positioning is accidental and the way that Bieber is standing is far from nonchalant. His furrowed brow is probably not of sexy concern, but of deep concentration as he tenses his abs, positioning his body in an un-natural twist to make his slender frame look broader, stronger and manlier. The release of Bieber’s campaign quickly saw a

Anne of Cleves duped the King of England, Henry VIII,

backlash of negative responses as an un-doctored

into marrying her through a portrait by Hans Holbein

image surfaced the internet showing a similar picture of

which quite frankly, looked nothing like her. This lead to

Bieber looking far smaller both in frame and penis than

King Henry kicking all his toys out of his pram shouting

the CK stamped image portrayed. Such concern over

‘I like her not’, which must have been an embarrassingly

this false advertising of Biebers ‘real body’ was met by

awkward affair for all involved. But Anne must be

a bombardment on social media channels as well as

commended, to able to convince the King of England

threats of legal action of charges of Photoshopping that

into wanting to marry you, even if it isn’t exactly you,

lead to Bieber’s PR team officially confirming the size of

is the most impressive account of catfishing recorded to

his ‘digitally enhanced’ bulge.


False advertising is a crime punishable by law, but

Sadly deception, up until Justin Bieber, has throughout

a little artistic licence has come hand in hand with

history been linked with women. We don’t hear many

photography since it’s invention. It’s a known fact that

of tales where men have presented themselves as being

nearly all the images we see in glossy magazines have

far more handsome then they really are and women

at some point gone through a Photoshop editing process

shouting out ‘I like him not’ when presented with the

and this has inevitably taken to the mainstream. There’s

disappointment of the reality. Perhaps this is because

now no need to pay £238 a year for Photoshop when

vanity has always been deemed a female trait, in the

there’s free apps that have been created to give you

past, women were expected to sit and look beautiful

that flawless look on the go. Technology has altered our

, while men were just there to … well control really.

vision of ‘natural’ beauty on social media to such an

Control, provide and copulate. It’s no surprise then

extent that we no longer know what is ‘real’, you only

that the only recorded mass catfishing done in history

need to open Instagram and go onto your discovery

by men was not through their beauty but through a far

page to see this crisis unfold. Currently trending are

more important and sensitive topic, the size of their

Insta-famous bloggers posting pictures of their doctored


images alongside a picture of a rather unflattering one calling out the ‘real’ and the ‘fake’ , formulaically

Standing proud in the Tower of London you can still

captioned below , something like, ‘don’t believe

see Henry VIIIs incredible Tudor armour not to mention

everything you see’.

the incredibly large size of his codpiece, the largest recorded in England. So worshiped was this codpiece,

So should we believe Bieber and take his ‘edited’ self

women would go to the Tower of London with a pin and

for reality, and should we really care if everyone is

prick the metal casted member in the belief they would

doing it anyway. Even before photography, humans

be granted increased fertility

have been masterful disguisers. As far back as 1539

I think the armour is now cornered off by glass, so

get away with as much as you did in the 14th century,

ladies, there is no point popping into W.H.Smiths and

in the 21st century, flashing is highly offensive and

buying yourself some pins on the way. But who truly

like photo shopping , although slightly more serious,

believes that Henry VIII had the biggest penis in the

is a criminal offense. The decorative codpiece stayed

whole of England, not I , and I doubt you think so

around, unsurprisingly, throughout King Henry’s

either. So who was King Henry fooling? The thing is,

tyrannical reign but as Nelly Furtardo warns us about

whether you believed it or not, just the thought of such

459 years later,’ all good things, must come to an end’.

a mighty member did make Tudor women swoon. A

With the appointment of a head strong female heir to

large codpiece illustrated the King’s ability to procreate

take the throne; Queen Elizabeth, and the only male

producing valuable heirs. In Tudor times you died at

to look up to for masculine fashions being a rather

around thirty-five so you didn’t have as much time to

camp King Francis of France, the intimidating masculine

play with as we do now. Being fruitful was indeed quite

codpiece quickly fell out of fashion and hasn’t really

a sexy trait, you couldn’t be mucking about for years not

resurfaced since. Until the 60’s when Hollywood bought

making your family and then dying before you got the

them back into the limelight through Milena Canoneros’


Bafta award winning costume design in Stanley Kubrick’s rendition of ‘A Clock Work Orange’.

Were these codpieces really necessary or were they just there as a peacocking devise to get the girls? Well it’s a

Dressed in saintly white with heavy plastic cod pieces

yes to both. The Codpiece was brought into existence by

reminiscent of chastity belts, protagonist Alex and his

practical necessity. Originally the stockings that covered

gang of sexually violent ‘droogs’ tour the London streets

both legs of the man did not have a crotch piece to join

seeking out innocent people to assault. The costume

them together, and as fashions changed, tunics for men

design of the ‘codpiece’ worn partly for protection but

became shorter till the embarrassment of jumping up

also to emphasise the ‘droogs’ genitals plays on the

onto a horse while simultaneously exposing your crotch

quintessential armour and protector of manliness - the

got too much to bear. So behold the invention of the

codpiece, the obvious flaunting of the male anatomy.

codpiece, a little patch of material that fastened onto

It’s no surprise to learn that Alex is a misogynist, a cruel

the two stockings and protected your modesty. But like

masculine authority, who like Henry VIII has no problem

all things, the protection of modesty got a little out of

slaying a female to prove power and divine masculinity.

hand, and instead of just being a functional devise, the

The codpiece worn by Alex represents male autonomy

codpiece became an opportunity for one-up-manship.

and ruling, as it did in previous centuries. Alex’s

Who had the biggest codpiece was a game few were

insistence to prove his hyper masculinity at any cost

confident enough to avoid, and as Leonardo Da Vinci

suggests an insecurity, which completely highlights the

was recorded to have said a century before, ‘A man

whole reason men wore a codpiece in the first place.

who is ashamed to show the penis is wrong. Instead of being anxious to hide it, man ought to display it with

So is masculinity a big masquerade? After all, the most


masculine of all fashions, the codpiece, was merely an embroidered exaggeration! Codpieces were never fully

Things have moved on a little further since Da Vinci’s

full, it was all an act of 14th century false advertising.

unwavering praise of the male genitalia, and although

There was so much space down there that codpieces

of course sexuality is nothing to be ashamed of or to

were documented to have been used as a sort of

hide, male readers thinking about following Da Vinci’s

‘manpurse’ for money, hence the expression the ‘crown

advice and displaying their manhood with ‘honour’ in


public, I feel it’s my duty to discourage you. You can’t

Notable celeb cod pics


Gordie Shore


Love Island

Today’s modern portrayal of the codpiece can be seen

that sexual advance, the mirror selfie. If you open a

as soon as you walk into any town centre. Today men

dating app, it may not be the first or second, but the

saunter in the street in what appears, from a distance, to

third picture you come across is more than likely to be

be ballet leggings but on closer inspection are practically

of a man displaying his athletic figure in the mirror of

sprayed on jeans. Notably skinny jeans on males were

a gym during a workout , or prior when the abs look

first popularised back in the early 2000s by scene bands

taught but in the privacy of their own bathroom if they

such as My Chemical Romance. But the jeans then worn

are shy. Competing in this electronic battle field to win

to show off a once fashionable wafer like male physic

the attention of a lady is a hard battle to fight. You

has been appropriated for today’s masculine gym

cannot put on a piece of armour like Henry VIIIs with the

goer, the perfect excuse to show off the quads after ‘

biggest codpiece in Britain to get that attention, instead

#legday’. There’s no need to riffle through the women’s

it’s now becoming more important to assert your public

jean section to squeeze your masculine torso into, today

manhood through selfies which allow your body to be

you’ll have more luck finding those slender fits in the

displayed in all its glory to win your trophy.

men’s. Although the codpiece has throughout history been In 2015 the ITV hit show Love Island first broke onto our

put in display to make women go weak at the knees,

screens. Every day for over a month we watched as

it’s rather odd that men still haven’t caught on to the

six heterosexual males fought for a group of women’s

fact that WE ALL KNOW the codpiece is a catfish, and

attention in skin tight white ripped denim. The impact of

we have done every generation since the codpiece

the Love Island uniform has engulfed mainstream male

quite literally sprung itself onto us. It’s known fact that

fashion making the skin tight trend a new male silhouette.

David Beckham stuffed his CK underwear with a sock,

This trend of skinny jeans show a modern, refined

and maybe we should be a little bit more lenient with

version of the codpiece. No longer does the codpiece

Justin who can’t be held responsible for technological

aggressively pronounce itself outside of the bodies

advancement which changed his bulge size in such a

realm but instead lies seemingly constricted behind the

believable way. But the way to a woman’s heart is no

skin tight fabric that cannot fail to highlight the bulge

simple task, and cannot be achieved simply by penis


size alone. The classic nude exchange ‘I’ll send you a pic if you send me one’ has never worked, and will never work! The promise of seeing the male codpiece

But in today’s connected world it’s just as important

in all it’s splendour is not going to make any girl hurry

to have an online persona as it is in real life, the

to strip down in order to see what’s lurking under those

demonstration of modern masculinity through the cod

skin tight jeans. Let’s be honest, under those tights, she’s

piece does not stop at jeans. It goes beyond, under in

practically seen it already.

the display of a dick pic and above in the prelude to





Life is hard now. Everyone’s got pictures to look at, and coffees to drink, and people to argue with, and there’s definitely not any time left to cultivate a personality for yourself. So you lie, just a bit. You bulk up your social media persona with flecks of intrigue, the little throwaway buffers that you think nothing of, they’ll never come up, the white lies of the everyday. But now there’s a mouse in your trap and you don’t have the cheese to feed it- it’s fine, friend. I’ve got all the cheese you need; and it’s real, not just internet cheese. It’s tips. Here, have some tips.

H A S H TA G N O F I LT E R Making digital adjustments to your profile photographs can be a dangerous game; too much transformation can be hard to replicate when it’s time for date number one.

In most cases, subtle changes with make-up can be your best friend! That snapchat eye expansion filter can work wonders in giving you the perfect puppy dog pout- by simply expanding the boundaries of your eyeballs using a chalk or a white pigmented foundation, what whence was snapchat fodder now become very facial reality!

107 134

H O T E X H A U S T E D T R A M P, I L OV E YO U S O Everyone loves a rock’n’roll hero, and you’ve been living it up as one on Zuckerberg’s with your constant classic rock youtube clip distributions, garnering a lot of attention from that gang of older-thanyou-but- fun-and- still-within-range- definitely Ambulance drivers you met at Leeds 2 years ago that you think you could score with.

But in truth, the life of a taxations analyst doesn’t quite do your online music taste justice, nor does it your image. This one is easy: every great touring guitar jockey is painfully tired.

To give you that true ‘band guy’ edge, stay awake for at least 72 hours straight before meeting with aforementioned siren of the siren- by the time you reach the date, you will be in the state of whimsical, meandering delirium that your dad, Rod Fucking Stewart himself, knows all too well.

107 134

T H AT ’ S J U S T T H E A N I M A L H O R M O N E S TA L K I N G Three weeks ago, those vouchers for 2 hours of free paintball seemed like a great excuse to not have to pay for a date- and think how fun, and different, and athletic you would seem. But your wooee didn’t at first take to your proposal, so you’ve spent those 3 weeks spurning their competitive nature by bigging up your mad paintball skills- your mad and totally completely baseless paintball skills.

In truth you couldn’t hit a Mark if a Mark had killed your pets and spat in your shoes, and you’ve always had the shakes and you know it, you deluded liar.

Well- the US government has been using an experimental concentrated serum injection in its soldiers for years, combining only the most aggressive hormones of only the most dangerous predators in the worldthe panther, the raven, the wind snake, and the human, all funnelled into a juice of pure liquid fistfight.

Three quick shots of this and you’ll be sure to both annihilate any competition and give your new partner the shag of the year, right there at the indoor paintball centre, in front of everyone in the reception- all before the match has even started.

I’ll send you an order link on insta later tonight, yeh?

107 134

T H E H O O L I G A N S A N D T H E V E RY S O R E T H U M B It’s fine that you don’t know anything about the beautiful game. No one really does- they’re all just pretending too, right? Because that’s what’s keeping us from ending it all, right? You can keep telling yourself that all you want buster, it doesn’t help the fact that tomorrow THEY’ll be taking you to the STADIUM to watch THAT team beat THAT other team.

On twitter it’s easy to feign talking the talk- you have the cool, clear, and knowledgeable waters of the internet to bathe in. You’re going to have to work hard to keep up that facade when it’s time to hit the stands- no room for error here boss.

Keep that phone charged, keep that 4G active, and keep those keywords and phrases locked a loaded. “Almost had’em!” won’t cut the mustard. Get personal; drop some names from the program, make some sweeping statements. “Looks like Bumbalé’s really popped the hat since last season. Really lost his shine on those top corners, or something.”

There. Now you’ve got it. You could be the bloody manager.

A B OY N A M E D S U E , O R J E S S I C A , W H AT E V E R I J U S T S A I D “Diana is a such a peculiar name for a young man!”, says she, with intrigue. “What quirky tales you must have to tell of your eccentric, enigmatic life, what with a name like that. I’d love to date you so badly.”

But you’re real name is Ian, or Tom, or Stuart, or Chartered Accountant, and you’re a deluded lying liar. Falsifying a name, nickname or otherwise, for your carefully curated internet persona can be a fantastic in- but only if you can commit to it. The hardest thing is being able to naturally respond to said name in a public situation as if it were your own.

All it takes is practice, friend. Record a good hour to two hours of a buddy, stranger, or yourself with an accent, randomly and suddenly calling out your chosen new title. Then, sit alone, in the darkness of yourself, and play back the tape. Each time the name is called, practice forcibly and aggressively responding, “YES, I AM THEE!” Again, and again, and again, for as long as it takes for that name to set in.

Bonus Points are available if you record a counter tape of you own real, birthcertified name being yelled louder, to which you must remain still, unflinching, unresponsive; frozen in the silence of the un-summoned man.

O H , H I M A R K ( C H A P T E R I V, V E R S E 2 - 6 ) The inhabitants of are well known to be some of the most exciting and sensual human partners alive, and you want to fish up a kipper of the lord for yourself- but you know nothing of the teachings of the Bibles? That’s no problem at all.

God has said almost everything that can be said at one point or another, about anything really. As the Lord says, “too many bags and he might just buck, buck, buckaroo!”. Impress your date with an endless stream of quotes from the big man himself- who are they to deny the teachings of our great saviour.

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Foreword by Harriet James-Weed Words by Emily Wilkes

The first impression is the lasting impression. We all know it’s hard sometimes to find that opening line, especially when you don’t have much to riff off from their four very similar photos on Tinder. It’s a competitive field out there, you can’t be expecting the one to hang around after a rather tepid ‘Hi, hows you?’ You don’t even care how they are! You don’t even know them yet! Yet. But you want to. What an awful first impression that would be. And you’ve got so far, only to mess it up now. After all, they picked you. They specifically showed interest in you, swiped right for you! It was no mistake, they actioned it, you were the chosen one. Well amongst probably ten others that Tinder session, but who cares about them right? Wrong. You’ve got to stand out. No point withering away behind a conversation ender. You’ve got to stand out from the crowd, open confident, open strong. Show them you care. Really take that time to study their name. No , you’re not just a copy and paste ‘What you up to?’ No. You’re personal. You don’t just flick onto the next. You don’t just stop and talk to anyone. You’ve taken the time to care, and that’s the trick to it.

Your eyes have been giving me a heart-a-Jack

Hungry for a Patty between these buns

Wham - bam - thank you Sam

I’ll get knickerless for Nicolas

You should spell your name Dom-ME-nic as I see a bit of me in your life

You’re FFFFITTTTTTT *Kit *You’re Kit

Bet you’re one hell of Olover

Trying to Jenny-rate a good pun to seduce you

Harriet up and marry me

You’re so pretty, I’m sudDANIly speechless

You’re absoLucy stunning

I’ve seen the goods Anna wanna know more

I fancy Abi-t of you

You look like one in Emilion





A guy on Tinder once sent me 80 messages without me ever even replying. I ghosted him. Well that’s not strictly true. I did reply. I said “lol” after message 20, and my friend sent “I appreciate you” after message 30. Before you start shaking your head and wondering why I would act like such a cold heartless digital lover. (Other than the fact there was a terrorist joke pretty early on that was hard to decipher as black humour or just an early sign of psychotic tendencies). I don’t log onto Tinder. I’d download it on a night bus home after another depressing lonely night out in London. I’d have it, fear it and then delete it again, to not sign back in for ages. Then sporadically turn my discover back on when I was feeling sad, drunk and alone at 4am. To delete it again the next morning when I’d sobered up.

Generally, I’ve acted as a weird bystander to the dating

walk into the room full of people (who I’ve probably met

revolution that has been taking place around me. I have

before) without being alone. I don’t know what I think is

multiple friends that not only hook up. But have met

going to happen if I walked into parties alone. I genuinely

people they are still in love with three years on! It’s not

cannot tell you because I haven’t tried. This is the reason

something that I could ever really do, if I’m honest. I’m

I categorically will never go on, nor ever have been on

shy enough when you meet me IRL in a bar. Let alone me,

a Tinder date. This fear has resulted in me becoming a

walking up to a complete stranger sat at a badly lit booth

cereal ghoster. Some trivia to illustrate the extent of my

in a central London Whetherspoons. A sole man awaiting

social awkwardness - my dad took two friends on my mum

me, nursing an independent brew, a second hand shoe

and dad’s first date. Must get it from him to be honest.

and a fake “creative” career I have to pretend to care about.

When Tinder first came out it freaked me out so much. The mere action of swiping right broke me out in a hot sweat,

As you have probably gathered I’m not what you would

red faced, an itchy rash crawling up my neck. The alarm

call a ‘social butterfly’ - I’m twenty four years old and

bells went off in my head: THIS PERSON KNOWS YOUR

still wait outside parties for my friend to arrive so I can


It was somehow too direct. After years of being that

no-one ever teaches you. Just isn’t my thing. I reply with

girl that just kind of meanly stared at boys they fancied

one word answer “yes” “no” or I will be so attentive

across rooms in a vodka induced haze. Hoping they

and intense you will literally know everything about me.

were brave enough to start speaking to the girl in the

What I ate that day. The person that gave me a weird

corner staring at them as she wanted to kill their mum.

look on the bus. All of it. I go from disgust to love in

Although this technique I have to be honest has never

three seconds. And if I like you, ten minutes in I’m telling

been that affective. The sheer openness to showing

you about how my parents divorce really affected me at

sexual attraction that you gave out in swipe right so

the age two, and all about my irrational phobia of the

quickly really freaked the nineteen year old me out. So

British seaside towns. I digress.

much so, I could never really get into it. All of this has made me question whether people even Well five years on, I’ve learnt this much. Tinder is not

‘break up’ anymore. Things just trail off. You find

like I had once perceived. It’s not at all open or honest.

yourself hearing friends saying things like “we kinda just

Tinder is about four things emojis, sex, bad jokes, and

fizzled out” people are either ‘hooking up’ or ‘fizzling

the inevitable end - ghosting. Ghosting is the awful thing

out’ no one is ever in an actual relationship. I’m starting

that someone does when after days/weeks/months of

to think we all just have several pots (aka people) on

texting flirty anecdotes back and forth, remembering

the go at all times everyone’s on a back burner and

all the right details, and asking just enough to seem

no one takes first place, meaning no one ever feels like

interested but also aloof and then all of a sudden the

they need to show someone the respect of a simple

other party goes cold. You loose all communication. The

“I don’t think we should hang out anymore” text. We

minutes since your last text back turns into hours, hours

are afraid of burning bridges, being too clear, for fear

into days, days into months, months into I’m going to

of not being able to rebuild it later. I don’t think my

say years, and your there waiting. Facebook stalking

generation of daters are even really ghosting. We’re

their second cousins, sisters wedding in 2009.

breadcrumbers. The no communication and then out of nowhere we throw out a small gesture of hope. The no

Internet dating apps have made us rude that’s the truth.

news for three months crew, and then a 12am DM…

But sometimes ghosting is the only appropriate reaction

a “haha” to a meme you uploaded on your story. Just

to the level you were spooked. My friend once stopped

enough to make you want more, so little it makes you

speaking to a guy because he had four trays of twenty

mad with rage. Your heart lights up, in the same way

four pack Tesco own brand chicken eggs in his kitchen.

your room did when your iPhone screen reflects off your

She rang me up and simply said “Siobhan his eggs

white viscose Ikea bed sheets (wow life is so depressing).

weren’t free range”. Sometimes you get a helicopter

I hate to sound like everyone else but all the likes, and

penis video at one am, sorry I’m not even going to

all the swipes is making us a generation of people afraid

explain that one. Said sender of video does, not to put

to commit for the fear of missing someone better. So we

it bluntly, deserve a reply.

leave sweet little trails, and crumbs of hope for people we might like, just in case all else fails, and we have to

No wonder dating apps never suited me. The countless miscommunication, off game playing and bazaar rules

settle for second best.



Lost Item. No.1

Before we got together I knew who this boy was. We had mutual friends and I remember his profile picture clearly from the first day I stalked him online. He was wearing this sharp buttoned black military jacket and hat on the stage at a festival. He was one of those classic ‘Secret Garden Party’ boys, full of confidence to dress however the hell he liked. I never thought it would happen, but we did start going out and one party we went to together as a couple he wore the jacket. I never told him what it meant to me, that jacket. But since he left it’s the only thing I can think about because it pretty much sums him up, confidence to the point of arrogance. Arsehole.

During my foundation year of art school, I met this girl. She was really quite amazing. She was doing her BA and was a few years older than me. I was absolutely captivated by her and the way she dressed. It was so theatrical, and completely out there compared to anything I had seen in my small town outside of Manchester. She used to wear these vintage jodhpurs and a black turtle-neck to uni. She’d never been riding in her life she said, she was from the city and hadn’t been close to a horse. I live on a farm and wanted to bring her to see my horses, but we ended before she made it here. I don’t think she had much interest in horses it turns out and I doubt she ever will, I guess she was just in it for the look. She was quite shallow really, I don’t know why I was surprised.

Lost Item. No.2

Lost Item. No.3

There’s something endearing about uselessness isn’t there? A little while ago, only for a brief period I was seeing this girl who was completely and utterly useless, I’m talking scatty beyond belief. She used to lock us out of the house almost every time we went for dinner. Shutting the door literally as I was reminding her to check she had the keys. In the pouring rain we used to stand under her front door porch, willingly watching as she rummaged around for them in her ridiculously big bag. She would pull out keys for god knows what, work, her family home, even at one point her boiler key. More than once I would have to go through the neighbour’s garden and try prop open the window and squeeze through. I don’t know whether really its symbolic of something looking back at it, that cheesy expression having the keys to someone’s heart? Well I never got them, I was always trying to squeeze my way in, but I guess the door to that was locked.

My ex-girlfriend used to wear these hideous sliders. She used to defend them saying that they were convenient just to slip on when she went out for a cig. Don’t get me wrong I’m not grouping all sliders as offensive, my mate has some and looks alright in them. But these were just beyond redemption. They were these weird plastic things that reminded me of the jelly shoes my parents used to force me to wear when rock pooling in Cornwall. Anyway, we ended soon after I pulled her up on them. I’m pretty sure she left them at mine as a last act of defiance. She hasn’t asked for them back, but I’m waiting on that text because I know how much she loved them.

Lost Item. No.4

Lost Item. No.5

This necklace belonged to the first girl I ever dated. She had been with loads of other girls before me, but my God, I always heralded her as this amazing woman that changed me. That’s before she fucked me over and I realised that seeing girls was not simpler than seeing boys, which I had previously sworn to myself it would be. We only slept together a few times, but on the night she walked out on me she must have taken off her necklace before coming to bed and somehow it made its way to my sock draw. A few weeks after never hearing from her again I found it amongst the socks. Obviously at first it made me feel shit but I realised its actually quite nice so I’ve taken to wearing it, I hardly think of her anymore.

I used to date this model. And I think I put up with so much shit because he was so beautiful. But he did have one defect problem, his receding hair line. I remember him trying to cover it up by styling with this hair droplet potion. He used to project his feelings of insecurity onto me and make out that my hair was shit by slyly asking me if I was going to do anything different with it. He demolished my self-confidence and when we broke up he forgot his expensive bottle of hair serum. I was going to pass it on to a mutual friend of ours to give it back to him but I think he was too embarrassed and told me not to worry. That or he’s bald now, either way the secrets out.

Lost Item. No.6

Lost Item. No.7

I used to walk home through the woods from school. Everyday I’d rush out of the classroom to get the hell out of there. I had a friend who used to live down the road, so naturally most days we’d walk home together. I always knew I was gay, I never had that moment when I thought I fancied girls. I knew I liked boys and I knew it because of this friend. He was my first real childhood love. We used to walk home chatting about everything. He was different from most boys at school, he actually had feelings and wasn’t afraid to cry. The first day I kissed a boy made all of my feelings make sense. I kissed him, my childhood love, walking back one day. It was freezing cold and I took off my gloves because I wanted to feel his face, feel his skin against my hands. I felt like I was finally free. We never spoke about that kiss afterwards. And we stopped walking home together. He has a girlfriend now.

GHOST You wondered why?

STORIES Here’s why.

A collection of letters from ghoster to ghostee explaining the real reason behind their silence.




RECT ME DAWN - Traci Brimhall from Our Lady of the Ruins; ‘Become a Lion’



Interview by Becky Burgum and Harriet James-Weed Words by Harriet James-Weed

Ready for the standard questions on music and inspirations behind their new EP Junkyard Jazz, I go straight to what I know you all really want to hear, are these boys single? Who are these songs about?

As I slide onto one of the wooden picnic

And are they really as truly romantic as their name

benches outside the Lexington pub in Kings


Cross, I find myself casting eyes downwards towards a splat of sick that neatly coats a

How did you guys come up with the name Trudy and

pavement slab where by foot was about to

the Romance?

land. First impressions, I think to myself, imagine a handshake and the stench of sickie feet as

Olly: We were called Trudy before on its own and

I cross my legs leisurely on the couch while

then there was a band from the 80’s called ‘The

conversing with the boys- a lucky miss.

Trudy’ and they got their lawyers involved. They’re in their 50’s, and two of them were lawyers themselves,

It’s a pretty miserable day, one of London’s

they decided to come after us with all their money.

finest and I’m not really sure why we are

There’s also a song called ‘Trudy sings the blues ‘, I

waiting outside, no matter how hard we try we

used to have a band called that and then just Trudy,

aren’t going to make these rain droplets landing and then Trudy and the Romance is a bit more of a on our foreheads turn into the feeling of warm

50s sort of name I guess, also a bit 80’s, ‘Huey Lewis

rays of sun.

and The News ‘and all that.

Whilst in mid-daydream of summer’s heat, a suspicious white van pulls up outside and a barrel of boys pile out of the vehicle and start unloading round boxes, a drum kit- they’ve arrived. Still awkwardly hanging about at the sickie bench, we decide it’s probably best to head in. The next port of call being, as I had previously envisioned, was to lounge about nonchalantly on the old couches inside and wait for our men. Trudy and the Romance I decided wouldn’t have minded my sickie feet if the bench dilemma was un-avoidable, in fact I quickly grasped that they were the type of boys that would probably appreciate such a tragic first impression. The Liverpool foursome wearily slump onto the couch after a long seven-hour trip down from the north for the gig tonight. Left to right : Lewis, Alex, Brad, Olly

Are all your songs based on real-life experiences

so she gave me it back.

or are they made-up characters?

Olly: So, you gave her your favourite David Bowie shirt and then fell out with her and took it

Olly: They are all based on real-life, but I guess


what kind of rhymes makes it into the story.

Lewis: Yeh, I’m horrible.

They’re kind of characters really in the end, but

Alex: I went to go and meet my Ex at the train

they turn into that.

station with some flowers because she’d been away for a month. I didn’t tell her that I was

What is the most romantic thing you’ve ever done

going to meet her and she just saw me at the train

for someone?

station. And I bought her some chocolate. Olly: Wait, wait … did she know?

Olly: Oh God this makes me feel bad, I can’t think

Alex: She didn’t know.

of anything.

Olly: Were you on good terms when you did it?

Brad: I got on a train to Germany to meet my

Alex: Yeh.

girlfriend, I thought that was romantic, more

Otherwise it would be a bit creepy

romantic then flying.

Alex: Well it was when we were together. It wasn’t

Olly: Do you know why he did that? He’s scared

‘please take me back, got you some Kinder.’

of flying. Brad: Yes, I’m scared of flying, so I went on the

As I imagine Alex standing lonesome at the station

train and I justified it by saying it was a more

waiting to surprise that very lucky girl, I can’t

romantic way to travel. It took about 11 hours.

help letting my mind wander to the thought of

Lewis: Mine was probably a Christmas present

that Kinder chocolate, a great gateway into any

or something. Pretty standard like a t-shirt that I

woman’s heart. Imagining the delicious chocolate,

was asked to buy that I ordered online, and then

I can’t help but cast my eyes across the delicious

wrapped up and gave it.

four boys sat in front of me and find my thoughts

Olly: Didn’t you give someone your favourite

drifting to what meal they might cook for me if I

Bowie shirt?

was to be the girl getting off the train.

Lewis: No, I’ve got it back now…I fell out with her,

If Trudy and the Romance was to be a three-course meal, what would be the starter, main and desert? Olly: Probably Garlic mushrooms starter. Brad: Why? Olly: Well what else? I don’t know. I just like a breaded mushroom. Brad: Maybe Soup? Maybe like a nice soup? Alex: I don’t know about soup… Lewis: I think we are a bit of a sandwich for your main course. Brad: Bit of a sandwich? Olly: But this is a three-course meal? Alex: A sandwich is a bit underwhelming. Lewis: Put some crisps in it. Alex: A chip platter. Brad: Desert would have to be like a nice …ice cream. Lewis: Ice cream? Brad: With loads of sauce. Olly: I think no main, but garlic mushrooms and ice cream. Have it all at the same time. Brad: Garlic mushrooms for the starter, veggie stew for the main, Strawberries and ice cream for desert. Brad and I later found an affinity with cheese and onion crisps. Sitting outside the Lexington before the gig, our conversation quickly turned back to the theme of sandwiches, which are never far from my mind. Hyping him up and getting his adrenaline going before taking to the stage we spoke about the perfect compression to get that optimum crisp sandwich. White Kingsmeal bread, a kilo of butter, cheese and onion Walkers and a palm lean to really marry all those flavours together. Becky to our absolute horror was convinced Watsits were the way forward, obviously despite her northern routes, she has no idea how to make a crisp sandwich like Brad and I. If you guys as a band were to have a dating bio, what would it be? Olly: I don’t know what we have got to offer. Brad: Hopeless romantic. Lewis: Old fashioned. Alex: Take me for an old fashioned and the Berry and Rye . The Berry and Rye? Olly: It’s like a 40s-esc little jazz bar in Liverpool, and you’ve got to knock on this back door and they let you in. Alex: It’s completely black, so you can’t see anything, which is perfect.






Would cal yourself true romantics?

Brad: I don’t believe in that really. Maybe that makes me not much of a romantic.

Olly: I think we are.

Lewis: I just think they’ll make do.

Lewis: We are a little bit romantic, yes.

Brad: Exactly.

Brad: Yes I think so.

Alex: It’s not about actually finding the one.

Olly: What was it you said to me yesterday that

Olly: It’s about fireworks isn’t it.

broke my little heart?

Alex: Yeh.

Alex: Oh no!

Brad: I think we’re all romantics aren’t we.

Olly: Oh God it was so funny. What did you say?

Lewis: Don’t give up soon.

I don’t want to stitch you up.

Alex: Oh, I’ll never give up.

Alex: Well you will have to remember.

How old are you?

Olly: Al said to me that he was scared he’d never

Alex: Twenty-one.

find the one.

Olly: We are way older than you aren’t we, we’ve

Alex: It’s just about a song I wrote.

run out of time already. We’re twenty-three.

Olly: But it’s the actual one. It wasn’t just anyone, this is the actual one.

That last remark got me rather worried, because

Alex: I don’t necessarily have the one.

I am in fact a few months off twenty-three and if

Lewis: It’s just the one you end up with, not the

Olly, who is very dashing, plays the guitar AND


sings (a triple threat) feels he has run out of time,

Alex: Yeh.

then I ran out of time years ago when I hit my

Brad: I don’t know if that’s a thing.

prime at sixteen wearing a body-con dress and

Olly: I don’t think that’s a true romantic thing to



In the attempt to increase my aura of coolness,

Lewis: Yeh I’ve done that. It was at a party when I was

I suggested we play a game of ‘Never Have I

like 16 and this girl I had nearly fallen out with. Oh God

Ever’, something I would have tried to break the

I don’t want to say it… I played Paolo Nutini on guitar. It

ice with at sixteen-year-old gatherings, and in this was that favourite song. instance, and to my great surprise, it did in fact

Did it work?


Lewis: Yeh, it was a bit of a hit not going to lie. She cried first but then it was alright after that. That’s why I learned how to play guitar…

Never have I ever been ghosted or ghosted

Alex: ... Just so I can show them some songs.


Olly: You do it to everyone that comes around though. Someone comes fix your boiler and you start playing.

Olly: I’ve done that twice. Alex: My ex the one that I met at the station did that to me. Lewis: I’ve done it a few times. Olly: I’m sure there’s always a reason though. Brad: I think it’s something everyone does. Olly: It would be hard to really ghost wouldn’t it nowadays, as someone could just find you on Facebook. Never have I ever drunken messaged an Ex? Brad: I have done that. Olly: Yeh. Lewis: I have but not going to go into it. Olly: I remember sending messages when I was 16 when I first got my little heart broken, I’m well embarrassed. I just hope they are not somewhere. I don’t think you could screen shot back then which is good. Never have I ever serenaded a girl to woo her? Alex: We know someone who’s done that. Lewis: Yeh I’ve done that. It was at a party when I was like 16 and this girl I had nearly fallen out with. Oh God I don’t want to say it… I played Paolo Nutini on guitar. It was that favourite song. Did it work?

Never have I ever had a tinder horror story? Lewis: It’s a bit long, but she invited someone else out as well. There was this scary kind of scouse lad that had been sectioned recently or something. Olly: Oh shit… Lewis: This girl bought along some old felon or something and I was like what is going on here and he was like mad and kept going on about this performance art he did. I just entertained it and just sat there but then he started staring me out because I was chatting with the girl, he kept shouting Dutch swear words, it was just a bit strange. Did you see her again? Lewis: Yeh I saw her again.

As the boys took to the stage later that night, perhaps encouraged by the girls next to us flinging themselves at the band, something inside us changed. We witnessed extreme flexibility as they bent backwards letting their long hair mop the beer littered stage. It was like we were thrust back in time to the 60s by the screams of delight as Olly French kissed the mic serenading the crowd creating an atmosphere of Beatle mania. I never thought of myself as a ‘fan girl’, or even someone who would really take part in the obsession that co-insides with boys in bands. I have to admit, I fear that Trudy mania may have got to me. To our absolute horror, whilst standing in the queue for the t-shirts which Becky and I had vowed to purchase quickly, we felt a tap on our shoulders.

It was Olly. Caught red handed and mortified, we watched as he ducked under the table and into the booth. As he offered us the t-shirts that we had just requested, he asked, “what we are you doing?”, in unison like two guilty teenagers we yelped, “just buying a t-shirt!” Any other normal, slightly cool person would not bat an eyelid, excusing such an impulse purchase as support for the band, to give back for the interview, to say thanks perhaps. Instead of shrugging it off, we both turned beetroot red, didn’t comment on how great the show was and scurried away clutching our t-shirts. First Impressions they say, are the lasting impressions. I also think last ones are quite important too, and I can’t help thinking to myself as I look back at that night, a sickie foot is far better than an awkward stalker fan girl.



Words by Becky Burgum

When I first found out what ‘love bombing’ was (basically gaslighting) my whole last relationship started to make sense. Although I rarely think about it a year on, there was a period of time where I was desperately racking my brain almost making myself ill to figure out what went wrong, why things changed and what could I have done differently. We became official on our seventh date, drunk in a bar – the same night we said we loved each, although I didn’t mean it until a few weeks later. It began in December, started to turn sour in March and was over by April. In the final month, I felt a shell of my former self really. I was drained from constantly trying to make things work, helping him, trying to change myself, treading on eggshells, trying to overcome the constant subtle criticism that broke down my self-worth and former identity. It may sound dramatic but that is how I felt, so far from who I am now, he would definitely say I am too sensitive. In the beginning, he was more into it than me, but he convinced me this was what I wanted. I was very much doubting the whole thing at many points as I’m not stupid and can see some red flags, but I chose to ignore them. He would tell me he loved me and how beautiful I was about 20 times an hour at points, but I just thought he was passionate. He would add, “You don’t love me as much as I love you” and tell me he didn’t think I was over my ex, an uncomfortable and tiresome comment to have to constantly repute, so I would push myself to show him more love, and forced myself to fall for him quicker.

WHAT IS ‘LOVE BOMBING’? When the devaluation stage begins, it can be According to Dale Archer, a psychiatrist and author,

traumatising for the victim. They will try desperately to

love bombing is where you are showered with affection,

do anything to bring back the wonderful person they

gifts, and promises for the future, making you believe

thought they once had, maybe blaming themselves and

you may have discovered love at first sight. It’s flattering

trying to change, but that person never actually existed.

comments, tokens of affection, love notes on the mirror,

It was a mask all along.

the dresser, the kitchen table, the windshield of the car, the laptop case, and you’re beginning to get the

All the gifts and affection were “transactional,” says

picture. It’s surprise appearances that are designed to

psychologist Perpetua Neo, because narcissistic abusers

manipulate you into spending more time with the love

are always thinking about what they can get out of a

bomber and less time with others or on your own. Things

situation. Every move and every choice is calculated and

progress really quickly, and you start to wonder whether

serves to give them something. In return, you end up

this is what you’ve been missing all along.

feeling used and a shell of your former self.

It’s a form of conditioning, Archer writes in a blog post

“They love bomb and then they devalue you, so you’re

titled ‘The Manipulative Partner’s Most Devious Tactic’

always on high alert, and you never want to do anything

for Psychology Today. It’s a tactic manipulative people

wrong,” adds Neo. “Because of that your standards are

use, and is in fact a form of abuse. If you are dating

lowering, your boundaries are getting pinched upon,

someone with dark triad personality traits — narcissism,

and you lose your sense of self.”

Machiavellianism, or psychopathy — then it is probably a way they were grooming you.

From the start, they take an inventory of the qualities you possess that would enable them to exploit you; your


vulnerabilities, sensitivities, the things about yourself that you are self-conscious about, but also your resilience

“Once they have convinced you of how good the two

and empathy – your capacity to sympathise with their

of you are together, a narcissist will try to shape your

justifications for bad behaviour. They are testing your

role in the relationship into a member of the “supporting

boundaries and seeing how much you can take, how far

cast” or the “adoring fan,” says councillor Suzanna

they can push yout to your limit. They may even tell you

Degges-White Ph.D. “Narcissists typically fail at

you’re a pushover.

maintaining equal and mutually healthy relationships.”

They may start to criticise you for things you have

an abrupt shift in the type of attention, from affectionate

opened up about in the past, things they know that will

and loving to controlling and angry, with the pursuing

cut deep, but that they can claim aren’t a big deal and

partner making unreasonable demands, that’s a red

once again try to convince you you’re being overly


sensitive and irrational. You need to change your natural, unavoidable emotional reaction, as opposed to


them changing how they are speaking to you. It is likely they will also project their own insecurities onto you.

‘Love bombing’ does not only happen to weak people, explains therapist Neo, a specialist of dark


triad personality types. “People think often if you are attracted to a narcissist, you tend to be someone quite

It’s difficult to pinpoint love bombing in the short term,

weak and very passive in your life... but they tend to be

because all new relationships are exciting. There is

very high achieving women,” Neo told Business Insider.

promise, and potential, and getting to know someone

“A very common trait I see in my clients is they’re over-

you like gives you butterflies. The emotional highs and

empathetic... but you stop empathising with yourself,

feelings of giddiness are normal, and not necessarily

because you explain everything away for other people.”

cause for alarm. What isn’t normal, however, is how quickly you to fall into a serious relationship. Before you


know it, they might have declared you “the one,” be making plans to marry you, or have even already moved

Follow your gut feelings, most have a sixth sense for

in with you.

when something is off, don’t ignore suspicious behaviour. If you bring it up and they take it on board then it is

‘Healthy relationships build slowly, and are based on

likely they aren’t ‘love bombing’ you, but if they either

a series of actions, not a flood of words,’ says Archer.

get angry or resolve to take a step back but don’t, it

It’s normal to feel a rush of excitement at every glance,

could be signs.

touch, or meeting at the start of any new romantic relationship, but when someone’s trying to move it along

If there are constant criticisms that lead you to try and

too fast, it can be a more than a little disconcerting

change things about yourself that aren’t harmful traits,

and is a red flag. “If extravagant displays of affection

then it just means they don’t actually love all of you.

continue indefinitely, if actions match words, and there

They make like parts, but a relationship is never going to

is no devaluation phase, then it’s probably not “love

work if either they want you to be someone else, or you

bombing”, says Archer. “On the other hand, if there’s

are forcing yourself to be someone you’re not for them.

A personal gut churning moment I remember vividly, is when I told him about some struggles with anxiety / depression that I had had in the past, in what I thought a delicate moment. It was a big deal for me to open up about and I expected it to only make our connection deeper. He leapt up jolting me from his knee and said the exact words, ‘What the fuck, that’s so weird Becky. What if I break up with you and you try to kill yourself or something?” An obvious red flag, but one which I ignored. I felt extremely embarrassed and stupid to have brought it up. Every time he said I was beautiful, he was waiting to hear what compliment I would give back, often asking the question, ‘What do you love about me?’ if my compliments weren’t massaging his ego enough. Every time he left an ‘I love you’ note under my pillow he would hold it against me to say I’m never romantic.

On the way to meet his parents for the first time he asked if I was going to put any makeup on 10 mins before we were due to arrive at the station, I was half asleep and exhausted after a busy week at work and the last thing I felt like doing was being dragged across the country. After supposedly seeing how that could be offensive and unhelpful, promising to not do it again, on the train home he looked me up and down and asked me if I was going to do anything different with my hair – what about if I did it like my best mate Aimee? This was a clear projection of his own receding hairline insecurities and later that night he told me there was no ‘get up and go’ in me (possibly because he had pummelled it all out of me), no drive – this coming from a model who was part time House of Fraiser sales associate, part time coke and gambling addict. I could tell something had changed when he started to take hours to respond to texts, never asked me how my day was and advise that I stop driving myself insane waiting for a text. He just “wasn’t a big texter” and I should “chill out” and focus on myself, instead of him. This could be a reasonable request if this had been his attitude the whole way through, but I just knew in my bones that something wasn’t right. One weekend that he barely contacted me, and when he did he sounded less than enthused, I began to have panic attacks, and was sobbing uncontrollably. When I couldn’t get hold of him on three forms avenues of communication (this is the first time I did truly feel like a crazy woman from a film, and I began to see how easily it can be done) I started to think insane things like he had met someone on the train, or was bringing them down on the train back to London to sleep with them, and In a moment of pure desperation I booked an Airbnb for a holiday we were planning on going in a month’s time. Laughable now, but certainly not then. Obviously, there is a scale that love bombing works on, and much more serious cases of abuse than mine, many ‘loved bombers’ can be repeated offenders and even physical abusers, but the effects still made me feel the way I did. It is nice to write this to remind myself that I wasn’t crazy (and I would now not trust any man who said his ex was) and to go through the memories that have made me a much stronger and less naïve woman than I once was. Psychiatrist Archer urges people to remember the advice, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.


Images and Words by Harriet James-Weed


Before embarking on creating your own love bomb from home, please make sure you are fully equipped with eye protection goggles, wearing appropriate overalls and any skin on show is covered up, plastic gloves are advisable. Chemicals are highly corrosive and flammable, use with caution.


First add 250 cl of Future Promise Oil into a conical flask.


After allowing the Future Promise Oil to settle add a pinch of Love At First Sight.


Mix thoroughly and heat a tablespoon of Subtle Criticism. Then add to the mixture.


With resulting mixture add some Conditioning Ointment and boil 0 to 100 degrees.


Then add a spritz of Emotional Highs.


Simmer down mixture and extract the sense of self with a sieve and discard.


PH test strip which indicates red when acid is present. Take care when handling mixture.


The mixture may bubble over, control can get lost very quickly. But once exploded, you’ve made yourself a love bomb.

‘Because a bit of Fourplay should never be underrated!’

With special thanks to Fourplay’s contributers and features;

Owen Parry Honor Bleeker Alexia Cambon Lara Konrad Mitch Forsyth Emily Wilkes Sioban Wood Trudy And The Romance Becky Burgum

Historical references and collage images pulled from Rijks Museum online archive.

Fourplay Magazine  

A relationship is now between four, your your phone them and theirs. Fourplay, The Issue with modern love examines the modern day road to...

Fourplay Magazine  

A relationship is now between four, your your phone them and theirs. Fourplay, The Issue with modern love examines the modern day road to...