Kiran’s World of Pooverts


Ok so I’ve kind of nicked the title from Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe but with good reason, you see I seem to have spawned a child with the same sharp cynicism of Charlie, someone on whom advertising doesn’t work, someone who sees adverts for the big smelly pile of poo they really are; that someone is my son, Kiran and he is just six years old.

When Kiran’s television watching habits changed from the delightfully advert free Cbeebies to commercialtastic Cartoon Network I must say I was worried. I thought we would be entering the world of ‘I want that’ and ‘you should buy this’ but I was pleasantly surprised. Watching Kiran watch adverts is pretty special, he’s like a mixture of angry old man and Abraham Lincoln. He can only speak the truth and he will expose adverts for their lies and he does it beautifully.

Here are my three favourites:

Cillit Bang: The oh so familiar, yet equally obscure, LEGO haired grinning adbot takes to the screen clutching his purple bottle and exclaims: “I’m Barry Scott…” as he does so Kiran’s face contorts with injustice and he shouts at the telly… “NO YOU’RE NOT!” I don’t know how he knows this, maybe he can just spot a liar with the accuracy of a Jeremy Kyle lie detector but ‘Mr Scott’ watch out, Kiran has your number.

Vanish Gold: You wouldn’t think that children would have much interest in stain removal, they seem to be the ones making the mess, not cleaning it. And perhaps if they were to have any reaction you’d think it might be closer to thinking they witnessed sorcery. The advert in question shows Vanish Gold being applied to a host of stains and then put in water as a big gold clock counts down to the thirty seconds in which the advertiser claims they will have gone. And they probably have, I’m not going to dispute it’s efficacy but, er, Kiran does. See, when the clock hits thirty seconds the bits of cloth are still in the water and as it takes some time to take them out of the water Kiran cries fraud. “It’s longer than 30 seconds!” “They haven’t even gone!” “They said it takes 30 seconds but it’s longer and so I don’t even think it works, do you mummy?”. I couldn’t possibly comment.

Some irritating PPI ad: This is the simplest but possibly the best. You know how there is a glut of these generic adverts with generic men telling you the same thing about insurance that you probably didn’t buy. They’re annoying right? Kiran thinks so too. So a man comes onto the screen and announces  “Don’t you know you might be entitled to PPI compensation? Not interested?” and Kiran shouts  “No! I’m a kid!” He doesn’t understand why mummy starts giggling…

It’s not all angry cynicism though, there is the occasional advert that pierces even the most sceptical heart. We were out one day and Kiran starts to sing  “Rice rice baby…Mmmm tasty!” he sings it repeatedly, I ask him to stop. “Why?” he asks  “Because it’s annoying” I reply. “Nope. It’s funny.” Kiran states this like it’s absolute fact, “Dude, it’s a bear singing. What’s not funny about a bear singing?” I have no response, he’s stumped me and Muller Rice you should be proud, you got through to the harshest of critics…

Nicola Sheehan is author of Tiger Tiger

Tattoos you might just regret…

I wrote this as a bit of obscure copy the other week but it kind of amused me so I thought I’d share it here too…

Five Tattoos That You Might Live To Regret.

Tattoos are no longer purely the domain of hairy bikers and heavy rockers. Tattoo culture has boomed over the last ten years and it seems to be harder pressed to find people who don’t have ink than those who do. However there are some tattoo trends that might be better off resigned to the past or at the very least that should be approached with caution…

1. Names. Let us not forget Johnny Depp and his ‘Winona Forever’ tattoo that he had changed to ‘Wino Forever’ once his relationship with the actress broke down. Or indeed Katie Price and her crossed out ‘Pete’ tattoo. I understand wanting to etch a symbol of your love on the skin but I really think as far as name tattoos go you should stick to your kid’s names or the names of sadly departed people that way you should avoid your skin looking like the front of a high school exercise book.

2. Band names. Yes, yes you might be a Belieber now but can you hand on heart say that you’ll want a devotion to Justin scrawled on your skin forever? Same rules apply to band tatts as to the names of your beloved, you just might what to think twice. Or three times. Let’s say think four times… just to be on the safe side.

3. Chinese/Arabic symbols. Now if you write perfect Chinese or Arabic then maybe you can ignore this one but I think generally it’s a fad that should be avoided. I’d say the general rule is that if you have a tattoo in Chinese or Arabic then it probably doesn’t say what you think it does. And I speak from an informed place: I have friends with Chinese tattoos reading ‘Holiday’ instead of ‘My Journey’, a ‘Free Spirit’ tattoo that reads ‘Floaty Ghost’ and I myself have an Arabic ‘Taurus’ tattoo that, of course, just reads ‘Bull’. Just don’t do it. Please.

4. Faces. Now this isn’t an absolute, there are some AMAZING portrait tattooists around the trouble is there are a lot more bad ones. Tread carefully or forever scare small children.

5. Cheap jokes. A camel on your toe or a burning bush on your bikini line might seem funny when you’re on holiday with your mates but it’s not. Not at all. Seriously, please don’t.

Nicola Sheehan is author of Tiger Tiger

My Valentine…

I would not wish
Any companion in the world but you,
Nor can imagination form a shape
Besides yourself to like of.

A note for my Valentine, my rock, my love. I never dared to dream that we would be together, that I would get to be in love with my best friend. It took a while and some obstacles but we made it. I love you, Simon; You’re so cool. You’re so cool. You’re SO cool.

Anti-Valentine’s. An extract from Tiger Tiger by Nicola Sheehan

Sunday 18th January 10am
I’ve had such a busy few days; Ana and I decided to spend a bit more time together than we have done over the last couple of weeks. We talked about Postroom Pete (a lot), we talked about the party (always nice to bask in past glories), we discussed my plans for an anti-valentines party (a concept that Ana quite sweetly supported even though she’s all loved up) and we discussed my New Year’s resolutions. Ana agrees that the novel writing should definitely be my priority and also shared Jemima’s opinion that undertaking extra writing might help get the creative juices flowing. So she’s letting me do extra features for the magazine on a freelance type basis. We’ve decided, given both my New Year’s resolutions that I should do my first piece on anti-Valentinism and I’ve been super busy researching it.
It turns out that the whole Valentine’s thing is, as I suspected, a big fat con. You see ‘Saint Valentine’ had nothing to do with romantic love (although there were so many of them one of them must have had a bit of an eye for the ladies) and it was only when Geoffrey Chaucer talked about sending love on Valentine’s Day that the horny courtiers thoughts perhaps they should follow. It’s really nonsensical, Chaucer talked about the time that birds mated, how many birds mate in February? It’s too cold for hanky panky, which is why Valentine’s Day leaves me cold. And it’s not just me who thinks it’s a load of old claptrap. In Norfolk apparently a character called Jack Valentine knocks on your back door and leaves sweets and presents for the children…. for the children? On Valentine’s Day? Talk about stranger danger! Understandably Jack Valentine strikes fear into the hearts of many of the Norfolk kids who probably never get over the trauma and end up screaming and fighting on one of those morning chat shows “My Fiancé won’t buy me a Valentine’s card because of his fear of Jack”. It’s all very unnecessary. There are actually groups of people who are anti valentines’ activists, they’re mainly in south east Asia but I’ve found one in North London, they’re called “lovers go dead” and their spokesperson is a guy called Spike. They seem a bit ominous but I’m trying to pin down a meeting next week.

Read all of Tiger Tiger by downloading the book for your kindle or kindle app here:

The Need For A New Vocabulary.


I have borderline personality disorder. This isn’t new news. I’ve talked about it and blogged about it, I’ve researched and explained it, and yet I found myself last night having to tell myself more than once that I do have borderline personality disorder.

See, here’s the rub: I’ve been going through a ‘good’ patch, been rejoicing in the fact that I was ‘well’, I began to emerge from my hermitage and when asked where I’ve been hiding/what I’ve been doing I’ve been responding gleefully ‘I’ve been getting better’. In many ways those statements are true, at least in part; my anxiety is getting much more under control and I’m learning to recognise and manage my symptoms much more effectively then I ever have done before. The thing is though, the thing I realised last night is that I do still have symptoms, I’m not ‘well’ and even more so I probably never will be.

Many mental health conditions are chronic, they don’t ever really go away, and appear in your lives in peaks and troughs. I had been applying a relapse and remission model to my own illness looking at my mental ill health/wellness in very black and white terms, seeing myself as sick or well but I think that is quite a blinkered view. My BPD is always with me, it just depends on how well managed it is. Sometimes it makes me sad. Sometimes it makes me hopeless. Sometimes it gives me manic energy. Sometimes it makes my words all jumbly or disorders my thoughts. But never am I cured, never am I well.

At the moment my head feels like my thoughts have been shaken about by a whirling dervish, all of my emotions, good and bad, are a big muddle in my head, like a type of white noise. I can’t unravel them, I can’t sort them into the good, the bad and the ugly. This is a different kind of ill from the anxious and depressed ill of a few months ago but it is, undoubtedly ill.

And there’s that word again: ill. Ill, sick, unwell; they all seem horribly lacking in describing the state of having a mental health issue. We need our own words, a new vocabulary, ways to explain to people what it is like to live each day with a mental health issue. A way to explain what it is like to have to be constantly mindful, to have to have a kind of permanent inner dialogue attempting to shout down the brain weevils. The words to explain the absolute constant terror the feeling ‘well’ might not last, that the overwhelming darkness that you felt previously might take over again any day.

I wish I had the vocabulary. I wish I could articulate what it is like. I wish I could see my own disease outside of terms of illness and wellness. But for now I guess all I can do is talk and hope that the words I do have, no matter how inadequate they may seem, can go some way towards forging some understanding. It’s time to talk, it’s time to change.