Monday, 3 June 2019

Throwaway literature 2019

The International Cheese-Fries Review presents a quick roundup of the best of the worst new literature of 2019... so far.
(The 2018 edition seems to have got lost in the wash, bear with us as we attempt to wash out the pink tinge.)

I opened the front door, for the second time in the five minutes since I had arrived to the house on Station Road, which wasn’t even mine, to find one of the Ilkeston Mobsters outside. I didn’t know him personally, but you could always tell from the shirts and the trainers which crowd you were dealing with. Check shirts and red converse meant Ilkeston. The West Hallam Boys wore stripes and old-school Adidas. All black usually meant you were dealing with the Stanley Massive.
I hoped that I would be able to elicit an explanation before he pushed his way into the house wordlessly.  
“Here for the music video”, came the sparing reply, and then: “It’s Dave.” 
I hadn’t been told about any of this. 

The House on Station Road, a badly conceived and worse-written crime novel about approximately twenty separate modern-day Derbyshire gangs who each behave as if they were trapped in a different decade.


Well hello there. I bet you never thought you’d read a book that addresses you directly, Dr Doron Swade. But here I am. Not only am I speaking to you, just you, through these printed words, I also know everything there is to know about you. I know where you live, who your parents were, where you trained as a doctor and the name of the fellow junior doctor who was your first, great true love. A love the like of which you think you will never find again. Because yes, Doron, I know your thoughts too. And your dreams. And your deepest secrets. The ones you won’t even admit to yourself.  

I see you, Dr. Swade, a manifesto addressed entirely to a fictional GP on the off-chance that someone with the same name and life story actually exists in the real world.


The Bermuda Triangle was discovered in 1983 by none other than the renowned top hat merchant and TV psychic Edmund J. K. Shonal, who, during a transatlantic flight on his chi-powered wooden fold-up aeroplane, noted somewhat strange geometrical borders within the ocean waters which had hitherto never been observed by pilots. It is thought that it was due to his low flying altitude that Shonal was able to observe the three actual visible borders of what we now know as the Bermuda Triangle (named after the lucky Bermuda shorts that Shonal was wearing at the time). Noticing that these perfectly straight lines in the water were something of an oddity, self-proclaimed amateur scientist Shonal later returned to the area and began throwing various objects and small rodents into the sea within the borders of the triangle. Strangely enough, they were never to be seen again.  

The Bermuda Triangle, an intricately detailed yet wholly incorrect account of everything there isn't to know about the infamous location.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Throwaway Literature 2017

It's been a fair while, but it is high time that we return to the International Cheese-Fries' very own digest of literature of little or no value - Throwaway Literature. Here, then, are the best/worst submissions to the editors' inboxes so far.


"Scattered thoughts wade through a heavy cloud of coughs, half-finished sentences and well-meaning jabs at someone's confidence. The confusion is strong with this one, they seem to say, watching from opposite, on the bench. She gets up, as if to leave, because this is frankly too much. Instead, the mouth opens. "Why are you all looking at me?" comes the hoarse inquiry, a shaky utterance, barely audible.
A pause.
"Why are you all looking at me? Answer me" she repeats, this time looking one of them directly in the eye. The target, a wiry-looking man in his thirties, is hesitant. "Is this not where the play is? We were told to come in here for the show".
Of course.
She's known there was something she has been forgetting. Days have melted into each other of late, and now the day is upon her, the audience is here, and she hadn't even noticed.
And what an audience! Fifteen people, is it really worth doing the performance now? Does she even remember all the moves and all the lines? What is it called again? It's all swimming around somewhere in uncertainty, until she turns around and spots the costume on the chair next to the one she's been sitting on. The simple white blouse and the tracksuit bottoms. It's all coming back. She sighs, and starts to undress."

Swimming Days, the long and rambling story of a highly intelligent and busy performer with a knack for drifting in and out of reality (includes a colouring-in section towards the end of the book, before the finale).


"When you go out and realise, two minutes down the road from your house, that you have not only forgotten your keys in your flat and thus locked yourself out, but have also left the hair straighteners plugged in, switched on and resting on your most flammable pair of colourful polyester trousers, the back pocket of which contains your smartphone and your bank card, as well as instructions regarding the donation of your organs after your death - this of all times is when you should honour the mantra that we live by and  c a l m  d o w n." 
"You know the moment. The moment when someone has come up to you in a bar, insulted you, your partner, everything you stand for, and, by extension, your mum, and now this lad is standing opposite you, squaring up, sleeves rolled up and getting ready to punch you right in your pretty face whilst wearing a shit-eating grin on his own horrible arse-face, and then he opens his big hate-filled mouth and tells you to CALM DOWN? Well, conversely to what you might think, that is exactly what you should do in that situation."

The Little Book of Calm Down, recently reviewed by amazon user hotcakes15 as being "literally the worst self-help book I have ever read whilst on the bog".


"I wish I could fold up my life and stick it in a tiny little envelope and put that in a tiny little drawer in a miniature bureau made for a dollhouse out of wood and glue. Don't tell the dolls where my tiny folded up life is kept. They will only take it out and look at it and it will make me feel embarrassed about what I've been doing these past forty years. I wasn't even alive for some of them.
I think."

Wat is origami?, [according to the author] a collection of "confusions, contusions, and anthropomorphic auto-bamboozles, with a twist of the old nihilism". Nominated for "Worst in show" at the 2017 Small Literary Show Prize.


until next time

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


based on "Knecht Ruprecht", a classic German Christmas poem (
- meaning I stole the basic structure and meter (but possibly not very well...).

From up near Toxteth is whence I came
I tell you, it’s freezing there just the same!
All the street lights are flickering
To the sound of residents bickering
And over by the Princes Park roundabout
I heard somebody scream and shout
And as I cycled past shady Princes Park
A little, old-fashioned voice cried: Hark!
Chucky dear, it said, you daft old bird
Get yer arse in gear and spread the word

The pubs are starting to sell hot booze
So there really is no time to lose
Everyone in Liverpool
Is now allowed to lose their cool
And tomorrow I’m going down as well
And boy will I drink, I’ll drink like hell!

I said: Hi mate, whoever you are,
That sounds like a plan, at least so far.
I just need to pop into my flat
And see where all my cash is at.
“Will you have enough for mulled wine – lots?”
I said, I’ll even have enough for shots.
Because this jolly Christmas time
Is an excuse to drink hot wine
“Will you have enough for doughnuts too?”
I said: Lad, calm down, of course I do.
You can’t exactly enjoy this place
Without stuffing something sweet into your face.

The stranger said: That’s boss yano.
Go ‘ed then bird, on the lash you go.

From up near Toxteth is whence I came
I tell you, it’s freezing there just the same!
Now off to warm up with boozy drink
Don’t give a toss what any of youse think.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Fries in the rain

Fries in the rain
So much pain
Chips got all soggy
Fries in the rain

Rain-soggy, not gravy
Chips gone all wavy
Really not pretty
Fries in the rain

Gone cold as well
Think you can tell
Go tell the chippy
Fries in the rain

Wrote a crap poem
Thought that might show 'em
Drove 'em insane
Fries in the rain.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Thoughts on things - On being a journalist, in the world

Hello kids. Sin here.

You may all know me as the cosmopolitan, jet-setting, affair-having, sexual adventurer-warrior that I play in everyday life, but behind the facade lies a human being that actually cares about her work. ...well, a little at least.

I saw a pair of shoes online today. The six inch heels were made of some sort of petrol coloured metal and the rest of the shoe was floaty-white and feathery (with actual feathers stuck to it). Needless to say I ordered three pairs, one for me, one as a backup and one just in case.

I might run out of money for this month.

Anyway, I think these shoes are a great metaphor for how I work, and how I think.

like this, except completely different

I'm also planning my next excursion (not: holiday!) in order to find the most exotic and interesting sound samples that the band I represent (the Mekno SEt) can use on their next album which is due in 2020.
I've been trying to collect sound samples around where I live in the good old U of K, but so far the bins I've been recording have not turned up much apart from a slight crackling from the odd freshly disposed-of crisp packet or two. I like to nod enthusiastically and act as if I totally get it whenever I meet up with the band, but to be completely honest I'm not sure what they meant when they said they were looking for a "behind-the-bins sort of sound". I'm going out again this afternoon to buy guacamole and might see if the clothes recycling bin behind Tesco's turns up anything more useful than what I have so far.

The last time I spoke to my cousin to try and clarify the matter, all she said was "Sin, I've got sublimation coming out of my ears, I can't really talk right now" and hung up the phone. And they tell me I'm the weird one. Although on second thought, it was 4 a.m. so she may have been anywhere between actually asleep/high/drunk/sleep-deprived/severely annoyed that I woke her up/still mad at me for that time I was convinced she was wearing a wig made from my hair.

The point is, I'm a very busy woman and I'm worried that I'm wasting my time on recording stuff they won't be able to use, not even as the background noise you give to Milk which then gets mixed so low that it might as well not be there at all (but he still insists it adds to the timbre of the song, whatever that means).

I have my own issues thank you very much.

But yeah, they're gonna do music and apparently that is all that even matters.

(hesitant kiss)

Thursday, 15 September 2016

The International CheeseFries Review review of a fries review

Howdy folks,

Here at the International CheeseFries Review, we take two things seriously:
reviews (well, not really) and fries (though our one and only post about fries is several years old...)

Anyway! Imagine my outrage, then, as, having just tucked into a large portion of (sadly too pale) mashed potatoes, ICFR affiliate Jewelly alerted me to the fact that Independent Liverpool just reposted their list of "SOME OF THE BEST FRIES IN LIVERPOOL". My outrage here not stemming from the fact that a list of fries was published, nor from the involvement of Independent Liverpool (an organisation I am rather fond of), but rather from the content of said list. A review much in need of review.

Item 1: How not to choose a title picture

Really, I do not see the point in posting a piece all about fries when the banner at the top of the page barely shows any fries at all. The fries in this picture (all five visible ones) are hidden beneath shredded meat of some sort, a fried egg, and served as a side dish with what is clearly a burger.
claims Independent Liverpool, having clearly not recognised that in their main picture for this article, the fries are actually still the side dish.

But inaccuracy is not the biggest crime here. Leading us swiftly onto

Item 2: How to hide almost all of the other fries beneath other foodstuffs and their associated tastes

With one notable exception (which we will address later), all of the listed fries are slathered in toppings which would surely detract from the pure taste of the innocent fry. As I'm sure we all agree, the only garnish a crisp fry should have to endure is the sweet embrace of melty cheese - call me a purist, but these principles are what the ICFR is founded on.
In most cases on this list, it's not just a topping to spice up proceedings or a condiment of sorts, it is, as in the case of the banner photo, some manner of shredded, pulled, sliced or otherwise maltreated meat. Which brings us to

Item 3: Keep your meat out of my face

Seriously. What is it with meat on fries? Getting onto my soapbox for just a minute here, I have to mention that while, as a non-meat eating person, eating out is usually not an issue, even in the most vegetarian-unwelcoming dining establishments, there was usually always one safe, reliable, and fairly cheap option to fall back on - you guessed it - fries.
So why the obsession with the meat spilling over and out of its designated place on the mains plate and onto the precious sides, the last refuge of the dining vegetarian? Again, involving meat surely makes this dish more of a main than a side, and what have we done to deserve that? Sure, we might have more mains options now, but that's no reason to take away one of our guilty-pleasure staples... Meaning that, keeping true to form, there is only one real contender in the entirety of Independent Liverpool's list, namely

Item 4: Lobster Pot

So this is it. The only real item on the list are chips from the Lobster Pot. I will mention that I have personally sampled these before, and while I have no especially negative memory (I was not actively reviewing fries at the time; the incident occurred during my public toilet reviewing phase), I also do not seem to recall either a revolutionary texture or a legendary dirtiness that would warrant the inclusion of the chips on a list of the best fries in Liverpool, where all other items appear moot. I am willing to make allowances for faulty memory and will promise to try these particular chips again in the near future, but all in all I have to say that the list I was faced with, having expected pure delights and new ideas for where to dine on a classic dish, was

a complete and utter shambles (= 3/5 stars).

Sunday, 24 April 2016

All Tomorrow's Party

I recently had the intriguing experience of attending the All Tomorrow's Parties festival at Pontins in Prestatyn, Wales, curated by one of the only people I am sort-of-okay-with calling myself a fan of (and even that, I do carefully and on the sole basis that he hasn't let me down yet) - the comedian (and man) Stewart Lee.

I entered into this experience with highly mixed feelings, having on the one hand booked so far in advance that a frenzied anticipation was surely the only appropriate emotion to bring to the table, and on the other hand having been too busy being involved in both the staging of a play and a break up the previous week to even be able to think about the basics of planning for the weekend away in pretty North Wales.

Let me preface this by saying that I was very unfamiliar with the holiday experience that is a Pontins (or a Butlins, or any other holiday internment camp for that matter), but I did arrive with expectations of a somewhat dystopian fun-disabling compound - expectations which were far exceeded to say the least. However, exactly this proved to be a large part of both the charm and exhilarating surrealism of the experience.

One of approximately 4 programmes

I now present my notes on the festival (while almost completely refusing to comment on any of the actual acts because have you ever read any of my reviews?), or, more precisely, the first day of the festival.

1) On checking in for the festival.

"A polite queue with a view. Enhanced by moments of drizzle. Estimated number of programmes printed and handed out by ATP administration team: 4.
Rating of the check-in queue: 6.5/9.2"

"A vaguely muffled announcement: no chalet keys until 4pm. Mixed emotions. No word of 'welcome'? However, team proves friendly on actual contact. Success."

2) On first impressions of the compound.

"A feeling as if I haven't missed Banksy's recent Dismaland installation after all. Definite possibility also that the weekend will turn out to be another instance of Derren Brown trying to convince innocent members of the public that the zombie apocalypse is happening."

"The tea in the 'pub' is fragrant in the most mediocre sense of the word. But warm.
Rating of the tea:5.3/9.98"

"The toilet in the 'pub' proves exciting as it has a special exhibitionist toilet option for the kind of visitor that is more inclined to share (or inclined to share more) than your average holiday maker. It is also cleverly accented by the use of scalding hot water in the warm taps. Bold but interesting choice."

"The 'pub's' depressing atmosphere rapidly decreases by approx. 67% when filled with what must be most of ATP's audience (although little freedom of choice is involved here, as no one is able to check into their luxurious chalets yet)."

The only photo I took at ATP

3) Top 3 Top 3s (courtesy of Tom "Top3" Carroll)

Top 3 films!
Tom - Mystic River (2003), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Sandra - The Fall (2006), Her (2013), Adam's Apples (2005)
Davey - Once Upon a Time in America (1984), Unforgiven (1992), Downfall (2004)
Michael - Star Wars (1977), Evil Dead II (1987), Brazil (1985)
Honourable mention - Alien (1979), because John Hurt

***Bonus quote from Tom Carroll, Prestatyn native:***
"Am I in Hitler's bunker, or Prestatyn?"

Top 3 "Songs not written by someone from Britain/North America"
(Subrule A: 1 per country)
Tom - Mexican Wave by Kerbdog, Vision Valley by the Vines, Distant Son by Crowded House
Sandra - Le Plat Pays by Jacques Brel, Das Modell by Kraftwerk, No Condition Is Permanent by Marijata
Michael - Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Manhattan Skyline by A-ha

Top 3 books

Tom - Mystic River (Dennis Lehane), From Hell (Alan Moore), American Psycho (Bret Easton Ellis)
Sandra - House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski), Keep the Aspidistra Flying (George Orwell), The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
Davey - And the Ass Saw the Angel (Nick Cave), The Death of Bunny Munro (Nick Cave), Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows (J.K. Rowling)
Michael - A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole), Watchmen (Alan Moore), Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes)

4) Band name ideas!
"Kylie for three quid"
"Curating Concept"
"The Part Where You Said Cunt"
"Crows in the Chalet"
"Pale As the Dawn"
"Counterfeit Man"
"You Would Have a Lovely Time in Prison"
"The Taste Procreates in My Mouth"

By the way, it would have been a lovely festival, had it not been entirely cancelled.