Category Archives: Personal

Call out for consumer stories

Hello, friendly people! I am planning a small series of blog posts exploring how certain bad corporate practices can become endemic within a given industry. To help me out, I might need some help from the hive mind.

If you experienced poor service in any of the following areas, then please let me know via email, it would be a great help to marshalling some ideas together. Let me know as well if you’re happy to me to follow up with more questions (also via email). I won’t be releasing any personal information on the posts themselves.

The areas I’ll be talking about:

  • Misselling of financial products by banks (although please only send stories for stuff other than PPI)
  • Rising costs of insurance under ‘automatic renewal’
  • Complaints resolution from telecommunications companies

Any stories, no matter how trivial or dull, detailed or short, shall leave me very grateful. You can email meat timballantine [at] googlemail [dot] com with CONSUMER in the subject line.

Cheers in advance, all you lovely, lovely people.



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Filed under Banks, Economy, Personal

Upcoming Comedy Shows

I’ve booked a couple of open mics over the last few days which I really like, and I really encourage people to come along to. If you’re happy and you know it, come and see me be funny.

  • Comedy Virgins, Stockwell. I’ll be doing a tight 5 on Monday 27th May. It’s a good night, always packed and run by one of my favourite MCs
  • I’ll be doing a set at Rudy’s Revenge in Holborn, which is one of the best open mics in London and one of the nicest rooms to sit in for 3 hours with good food and good drink. I’ll be there on Wednesday, June 12th. This really is one of my favourite nights I’ve done since I started stand-up a not very long time ago. In fact it’s second only to:
  • Free and Funny at the Camden Head. Everybody I know on the circuit loves this place. It’s always packed to the rafters and barry Fearns the MC is super awesome. I’m going to be trying to bring my A-game because the quality there is generally so high. Come along on the 4th July if you want to see me. Or any Thursday for a great night of comedy.

If you’re coming along to a night, let me know on Twitter, or Facebook or in the comments section below.

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Filed under Comedy, Personal

Time Zones

I”m currently eight hours behind my usual time zone. Although, as I sit here in my hotel room, too early to eat dinner, but yet still long past my bedtime, I count my lucky stars that I’m in a country with only one time zone. New York is 3 hours ahead of San Jose, which is kind of annoying for organising communication but not terrible. The real difficulty comes in with television.

I think one of the reasons why US television is so insipidly sanitised must have something to do with the multiple-time-zone problem. After all, the concept of a watershed is completely missing for a US national network broadcaster. Say I have a gritty new show, exploring adult themes and with enough fucks and bastards to satisfy even the most inbred of rural aristrocracy. Then I can’t put it on at 9pm Eastern Time, as that’s 6pm Pacific. I can’t wait until 9pm Pacific because then it airs midnight in the East. So I just have to put it out on cable, or remove my swears and adult themes.

I hear a network once tried to make a US version without of The Thick Of It. Only without swearing or any serious satireof politics.

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Filed under Personal, Travel


So I touched down in San Jose last night for a work trip. It’s my second trip to the US in the last month, and the thing that’s struck me most is the fact that America is at once so foreign and so familiar. I’ll post over the next few days with some of my views on the US (including on the adverts, they’re fascinating), but today I’d like to talk about the issues which surround a country this size.

I mentioned this is my second trip to the US recently, and the first trip was to Alabama in the deep south. Maybe these two locations are a good opportunity to consider the dual-natured American culture, as San Jose is in one of the most liberal areas in the country, and Alabama is Alabama. In one, I as a non-driver was trapped in my hotel, in the other I can use pavements (or sidewalks) and public transport. In one, all I could find to eat was various kinds of things which were fried, in the other I can eat almost any cuisine I like.

But of the two, it’s Alabama which felt less foreign. Maybe it’s the flora – lots of evergreen trees and British-y plants as opposed to palms and faux-mexican architecture – but I really feel like Alabama is closer to the UK than California. A rural, somewhat conservative UK, but close nonetheless.

It’s almost a cliche to say that the UK and US are a country separated by a common language, but the same is almost more true of these two states. There is almost nothing else they have in common with one another – culture, ethnic diversity, and food are all so different. Maybe if I saw the more of the poor in both areas I’d would see more in common (travellers rarely see anything but the products of the rich) as, in England at least, commonality of culture is usually found among the working-class.

More to come.

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Filed under Personal, Travel