What I Learned In 2014

As many of you know, I write a piece at the start of every year – be it a project for the following year, a look back at the previous year, a Bucket List or some other inane bullshit that usually appears in my head in the pub on Christmas Eve.

And as I get older, and some would say wiser (some would also argue abhorrently in the opposite direction…), these posts take more of a retrospective glance back at the previous twelve months. And my God, 2014 has been a belter. So what better way to look back at the last year than by showing just how much of a better person I’ve become?!

Yeah, right.

So instead, here’s what I’ve learnt over the last 365 days. And it’s been a hell of a lot.

You can achieve as much as you wish in as little time on offer.

A philosophical start, yes, but one meant with sincerity. This year, I’ve been running around like a blue-arsed fly – three jobs, six days a week working hard (and I mean hard…) – plus finding time to slot in a full-time degree and a vague social life. And it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve shaved a good twenty years off my life expectancy, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

There is no limit to how much champagne my body can cope with.

Seriously. I don’t know where it all goes.

Forever a classy bastard. #ChampagneSaturday is back.

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Making written notes is old-school – but ALWAYS beats typing.

I get slaughtered at work for still using a pen and paper, but I love it. How else can you quickly reference back to previous meetings?!

My evening was much more fun than yours. Spreadsheet Central.

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I’m a fish convert. Maybe.

Let’s be honest, who liked fish as a kid? Not me. But this year, I became so much more sophisticated in restaurants as I order some wanky fish dish. And then grimace through the taste of the sea.

Relaunching companies is the best.

It really is. Especially one people have heard of before. Thanks for the last few months, Team audioBoom. You lot are the bloody best. Let’s smash 2015.

The best team.

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Frank Underwood is a genius.

Since starting House of Cards for a second time, I find myself slipping more and more into a Frank Underwood mentality. It’s dangerous. It’s manipulative. It’s awful. But it’s so much fun!

A three-piece is a must.

This year, I bought my first tailored three-piece suit. I adore it, and I don’t know how I lived without it before. However, when the lining rips the day before a party, sweet Jesus I lose it.

Nobody remembers Joseph Kony.

Remember that dude that we all tracked down on Facebook because the video told us to? Yeah, that.


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Hold yourself in high regard.

Believe in yourself, and what you can achieve. It’s worthwhile – trust me. Yes, you’ll be called a pompous twat on plenty of occasions (it’s scary how often that’s happened this year) but if you don’t believe in yourself, who will?

I’m buying shit for a house and I don’t even notice it.

“Oh, those wine glasses are lovely – let’s buy them!”

No. No no no. Let’s not. Not until I move out, anyway. Who knows, that might be a milestone for 2015?

Building an art wall is expensive.

I don’t know why, but I had the urge. So did it. Sure, the art wasn’t overly expensive and lots of bits I’ve been saving for years, but in another life, I plan on being a picture framer. Cos they offer you a daylight mugging and all you can do is nod and agree and hand over your cash. And your wallet. And your dignity. Damn picture framers.

Normality restored. Picture wall nearly finished and looking bloody marvellous.

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Facebook is a complete pain in the arse.

There is no end to my dislike of my Facebook feed. Case in point.

Nigella is a goddess. And there’s nothing you can say to stop it.

Don’t argue that, either. Or you’ll face the same fate as my friends did when they saw the two-hour tirade unfold in front of them in the pub in the summer. Even Danish Nigella is amazing.

THEY HAVE DANISH NIGELLA. This is my favourite place ever.

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Building a company deck isn’t as fun as it should be.

It’s still a bloody PowerPoint presentation – just with more logos.

Hosting your second Olympics is just as fun as hosting your first.

Remember my London 2012+1 party last year? This year, we threw a +2 party – in the Olympic Park. And it was AMAZING. Desperately trying to hide a bottle of vodka from security people at 2pm was a breeze… Ahem.


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Being a Grammar Nazi is a hell of a lot of fun.

It really is. There’s no excuse for typos, bad grammar and useless punctuation in the age of computers and word processors. My Instagram feed has become a constant stream of shite spelling – and it’s been brilliant. Being asked if you’re okay snapping pictures of nectarines is so worth it.

Better luck next time. #grammarnazi

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Growing up is fun.

I’m nearly a fully-fledged grown-up. Yes, I pay tax. Yes, I have a good job that I love dearly. Yes, I look after myself well. But this year, I feel as though I’ve come on leaps and bounds. I can’t wait to graduate next year and walk out with a couple of letters tacked on to the end of my name. Uni’s been hard – and not for the right reasons – but 2015 is going to be a big year for me. And I can’t bloody wait.

Take Back Your Private Life

Long time, no speak. A very long time, if we’re being pedantic. It’s been a bit of a manic few months.

Thankfully, you have no idea what’s been going on, due to my stringent and cynical look on my own social media feeds. It’s been tighter than a duck’s arse online, and that’s how it’ll stay.

But it seems to me that I might be the only one so careful over what’s popped on my page. This year, Facebook’s been a bit mental.

Oh, Facebook. There aren’t many words to describe you any more, are there?

Facebook’s gone the way of hundreds of social networks before it – the long slippery slope towards egos and love-ins. Yet this time, it’s different – as it’s not down to Facebook one bit.

Oh no. It’s down solely to its users – you and me. For Facebook is no longer a network to socialise and chat – it’s now a network filled with holiday snaps, cute babies and check-ins at London hotels. It’s a network of snarky remarks, open backlash and total disregard. It’s a network of inane groups, unnoticeable pages and fake names. It’s a network for any individual who has pictures to show off, a life to stick online and a middle name to keep in your profile.

(And for those of you still with a middle name in your Facebook name, it’s not 2007. And you’re not 14.)

It’s become a place to stroke your ego and display your affection for your own life. It’s no longer somewhere to put up a post about something that may interest you, or share an image that you found really powerful. It’s become a linear network filled with users caught up in their own lives.

It’s the biggest social network in the world, and rightly so – it’s a behemoth of the internet. Everywhere you turn, there’s another Like button, or a Share option, or the chance to sign in. Facebook has become a part of our lives that is no longer avoidable – it’s EVERYWHERE.

Except that’s not the problem – the problem is what we do with those options. Facebook is the platform with which many lead much of our lives. Perhaps it is the sense of community amongst like-minded individuals, or the ability to reminisce about the good old days, and enjoy what we all have in common.

But sometimes, it’s not as simple as that, and not as beautiful as that. 99% of the time, my News Feed is jam packed with pictures of a lacklustre beige roast dinner that your ‘gawjus flatmate’ made for you, or the rather shitty view from your hotel in Southend-on-Sea, or the quite-clearly-Photoshopped selfie you just uploaded that’s taken 400 years off your face. Facebook isn’t what it used to be – a real social network, in which everyone could be themselves.

It’s a place to show what you want to be – a place to upload the good stuff, and delete the bad bits. That in itself isn’t a problem, until you break it down to the real reason we’re doing it.

Well, why are we doing it? Human instinct – it’s about greater acceptance. Changing how we are perceived to become what others feel we should be. And why on earth should we do that?

Unfortunately, the power that these social networks now have over us is extraordinary, and we condone to everything they offer to us. New terms and conditions? I most certainly agree. New privacy settings? Okay, fine by me. New anonymous friend requests? You bet.

We tick each and every one of these boxes to allow ourselves some satisfaction – and it’s about time we stopped. What are we becoming when we allow a series of 0s and 1s to dictate our lives?

It’s about moving with the times, and I agree with that, but why do we need to crave Likes? There’s only one person that cares about that dreadful picture of your dog in the garden, or your passive-aggressive post about your ex-girlfriend, or even this damn blog post. And that’s the person behind your very keyboard.

We need to take back what we previously considered a private life and reinvigorate it. Allow that binary code in every now and then, but your life is your life, not the one to share with a bunch of strangers you’ve not seen in decades.

Take back what’s yours and revel in it. Enjoy your social network silence. Enjoy sharing the stuff you know others will appreciate, and not that that you know only you will. It’s about time we all appreciated those things in life we know won’t get Likes, or retweets, or +1s.

After all, we got on alright before it all, didn’t we?

2013 in 10 Easy Steps

First of all, let me wish you a very Happy New Year. It’s not very often I don’t blog on the first day of the year, but this year, I thought I’d leave me ‘New Year Blog’ to get its own respite, and leave me to work on a slightly smaller project.

Over the last few years, my New Year Blog has taken the guise of a year-long food project, a favourite album countdown, and last year’s 100-point Bucket List. But this year, New Year’s Day was spent with my head in a bunch of code and colour charts, redesigning the now-slick and beautiful GMOAI you see before you. How much better is this?!


But alas, that wasn’t quite it. I spent the last couple of days thinking back over 2013, mulling over opportunities, chances and brilliant moments. It wasn’t all plain sailing, and God knows it wasn’t an Olympic year, but 2013 wasn’t so bad after all.

I learned an awful lot over the past 365 days, too. An AWFUL lot.

Nigella’s still amazing.

I have a very deep love for Nigella. She’s the absolute best. She’s not had the easiest of years (you can say that again…) but my word, I love that woman. More than ever before. If only the world had more Nigellas.

The first Pimm’s O’Clock of the year is always the best.

When it’s Pimm’s O’Clock, you know it’s time for the British summer to begin (and very quickly end again). But every PO’C afterwards inevitably ends with disappointment. And ANY pitcher with chopped cucumber in it should be quickly thrown down the nearest drain.

It may have been good because we won the League...

It may have been good because we won the League…

Working hard = big rewards.

I work long weeks. I worked Christmas Day and I’ve not had a proper day off since September. But I love doing what I do, and I’ve managed to find an awful lot of job satisfaction very early on in life. And that’s a top feeling.

HMRC don’t make it easy.

Enjoying my job so much, I took the plunge in the autumn to become self-employed (I know!). I gained clients, I worked hard and I made sure everything was in order. But my God, our Majesty’s Tax Office uses the world’s most archaic system. Many expletives have been uttered in the direction of my tax return this year.

Friends always pick up where they left off.

Cheesy, yes, but we all know the feeling. No contact for months, but you sure as hell make up for lost time whenever you see each other. A tankful of petrol is no cost to watching your best mate nearly drown in dodgy apple vodka shots in your favourite pub.

Pet names are evil.

Case in point.

I can use chopsticks.

I learned to use chopsticks. Albeit, you may end up with splinters in your face when I get narked, but I can use them…

It’s possible to host your own Olympics.

Trust me on this, I know. My London2012+1 party during the summer celebrated everything I loved about last year, and my friends indulged me for one beautifully-wet afternoon in July. I wore a top hat, my Games maker uniform and I waved the Olympic Flag. Best. Day. Ever.

Drunken decisions can be some of the best you ever make.

Okay, they’re very rare. But would I have even dreamt of going to Candlestick Park for the final ever San Francisco 49ers game at home? Would I have ended up deciding to leave my job to push myself even further into what I want to do? Would I have emailed David Jason’s PR company to tell them the photo on the front of his autobiography was terrifying? Not a chance in hell.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with who you are.

I wear ties and jackets at any occasion. I went to a Beyonce concert and cheered louder than most. I’m attentive to the point where i remember conversations we had in July. I’m proud as punch of who I am, and there’s not a single bloody thing you can do about it. So ner.

2013 was bloody good. But this year’s going to be even better.

Beyoncé’s Marketing Masterclass

So, last night, Beyoncé decided to drop her new self-titled album without any warning whatsoever. Just clicked a button, and boom. The internet went into complete meltdown – it crashed the iTunes Store, Twitter went a little bit mental, and Facebook saw a ridiculous amount of discussion around her fifth studio album.

Every major news outlet has covered it today. It’s made headline news across the web. It’s the biggest musical release of the year – and not a single penny was spent on marketing. Not one.

But this isn’t about the album – as good as it is (and it really is bloody good), it’s about how she now has such a strong brand that just the mere mention of her name sells. A touch of Beyoncé is worth its weight in gold.

There’s a reason record labels pour money into marketing their major stars, especially before holiday season. Millions upon millions of dollars are spent to try and promote their chosen artist and make their record the sound of tomorrow. Except Bey’s just come along and laid a golden egg.

By making the call to just go guerrilla, and launch the album as and when she wanted, there was no need for a marketing budget. Her name sells itself. Her fans will buy it no matter what. Her brand is so strong, and so huge, it needs nothing more than a couple of people to Tweet about it, and it instantly goes viral.

And that’s where the music industry is now heading: let the music do the talking, not the entire circus that comes with it. Beyonce is way ahead of the game – has been for years – but this is a stellar move from her.

The biggest star in music just sticks her entire new album on iTunes, and off we go.

However, it’s not like we shouldn’t have guessed. The DVD of her documentary, from earlier in the year, goes on sale next week, whilst new tour dates for her world tour were announced yesterday. It’s not like the hints weren’t there.

No matter what you think of the album, this is a big day for the music industry. Things will change from hereon in. I don’t honestly believe you’ll see major marketing budgets much more. The fact that Lorde, the teen from New Zealand, tipped to be a big star next year, used exactly the same move as Bey today, and plonked her new single on iTunes with no fanfare, says an awful lot about how this is already shaking up the industry.

It’s exciting. The album’s fantastic, the guerrilla marketing aspect is genius, and Bey reigns supreme again. She’s a very clever girl.



So, the cat’s out the bag. Well, it wasn’t exactly difficult to spot. That rather grotesque scraggly thing growing across my face isn’t a sloth taped to my cheeks, but is in fact all in aid of Movember. Or, as we’re calling it, Movembeard.

Between Brad, Callum and myself, we decided it was about time we had a crack at growing some facial furniture. Fourteen days in, and an unbelievable number of scratch sessions, and they’re all beginning to take shape.

I’ve been told I look older. Told it suits my jaw line. I’ve also been told I look like, and I quote, a ‘shit Clint Eastwood’, which is a personal favourite. Still, it’s bloody itchy, bloody annoying, but all for a bloody brilliant cause.

I won’t spend paragraph after paragraph explaining what Movember is all about – you’re bound to have heard – but needless to say it’s something us men should be very weary of. And the younger the awareness of prostate cancer begins, the better.

Our team name is #LansonTourGoesHairy (what, you think a guy who works in social isn’t going to add a hashtag to the team name?!) and we’re on a mission to bring back the pre-pubescent, slightly public hair-like sideburns of the Victorian age. Bring back the really nasty-as-hell wispy top lip. Bring back the full blown beard.

Well, certainly until the end of the month anyway. We even have a set of rules too…

The first to shave is fined £50, which is donated to the team. Any trimming is strictly prohibited, and results in fining. The worst beard at the end must be kept for a further month. Regular updates are needed to make sure all rules are being followed.

It’s a fantastic cause and a fantastic opportunity for us men to experiment with some rather odd looking taches and beards.

There’ll be a post at the end of the month with the final results, plus reasons behind what we did. In the meantime, please God make it all worthwhile, and pop some money in our team fund. A penny or a pound, it all makes a big difference and could be what helps change lives.

Now, I’m off to go and exfoliate, rub some oil into this monstrosity appearing on my chin and go and make sure I win this.

Perennial Ramblings: Part #10

We’ve all been there. Whether walking down the street, sat in a coffee shop or the pub, or simply just sat with friends. When your work colleague, your best friend, your new boss turns round to their partner and says something along the lines of ‘Are you okay honey?‘…

And usually, at that point, I taste my lunch for the second time. Because there’s nothing I hate less than pet names.

Now I know they’re used as an endearing term – to distinguish between all the other Pauls and all the other Janes in the world. I know that it’s much easier to say ‘Pass the salt babe‘ than it is to say ‘Pass the salt Jamie‘, but I don’t want to hear it, just like I don’t want to know about what happens behind closed doors.

There’s affectionate terms – and they’re not so bad: calling your loved one ‘love’, ‘sweetheart’, ‘darling’… It could be worse. But calling your girlfriend ‘bunny’, as one guy I know calls his girlfriend, makes my stomach turn.

Why on God’s earth would you want to be called ‘bunny’? ‘Oh, I love you so much, because you have big ears and a button nose and your shit looks like raisins’. No ta.

No, I have a name for a reason. I answer to most things, and the vast majority can’t be broadcast on telly until after the watershed, and even then you’ll get complaints. Because I just don’t care for pet names, and I don’t really understand where they come from.

Nicknames are fine, as are the aforementioned affectionate bits, but pet names just feel bizarre, especially in public. Call each other what you want at home, but I don’t particularly want to know that you call Dave ‘Snufflemunchkin’ because that’s what he wrote in your first Valentine’s card two years ago. I don’t want to be eating my tea in the pub and hear you call Carol ‘Wheezy’ because her 40-a-day habit really takes it out of her in the bedroom. And calling Fred ‘Donkeydong’ is another story.

Keep it behind closed doors. Keep it fun, by all means, but don’t make my beer curdle at the sound of your tummy-churning lovesick relationship.

And if your name actually is Bunny, I’m sorry I got the wrong end of the stick.

Breaking Bad: The End Is Nigh

Tonight sees the culmination of one of television’s greatest creations, Breaking Bad. Whether you’ve seen it or not, you’ll have heard so much about it – from pub discussions with friends, to hashtags about the show on Twitter, to even chat on daytime TV. It’s gripped millions, and it ends this evening.

Now I won’t ruin it for you – I’m not going to write ‘Look out – spoiler!’, because there’s nothing worse than avoiding it for days, weeks, even months, to have it wrecked by some dick behind a keyboard.

Instead, I want us to consider this: here in the UK, we’ve been watching Breaking Bad on Netflix… Nobody else touched it. How?!

All of a sudden, thousands of us flocked to the internet-streaming service to watch the show… It’s the first show I’ve seen that’s actually forced us to do so. No TV, no Sky+, but to Netflix. And it’s worked.

I decided to wait to watch it – I knew I wanted to, but I wasn’t going to pay for it… It’ll be on the telly soon, surely? Alas, it never came true, and I gave in. Paying my six quid, I wanted to make sure I could watch the finale on the day it was broadcast – I wanted to share it with everyone. So I jammed 61 episodes into 15 days and I was completely and utterly gripped.

The writing is superb. The filming and shot choice is exemplary. The acting is some of the best you’ll ever see. It’s no wonder many see it as the greatest show of all time. Each episode leaves you craving more – and the final episode will do nothing else. And so it should – if you go out on top, you leave a lasting legacy beyond the show you’ve created.

But to me, it’s not just television the show will leave a legacy on – it’ll leave an impression on how we consume it, too. “Netflix? Why would we pay for that?!” But we did. And let’s be honest, it was all for Breaking Bad.

What it’s proved is that the internet is a crucial element to the future of television. Even the BBC have learnt from it: premiering ALL of their BBC Three comedies on the iPlayer. Breaking Bad has had a massive impact on what we watch, when we watch, and how we watch it.

Whatever happens tonight, Walter White goes down as one of the best TV characters in history. Will Heisenberg have a lasting effect on the world we, in a real-life setting, know?

You’re God damn right.