Ant Cule Reviews... Being Alive

An Extremely Subjective View of Being A Human

Ant Cule Reviews… Clearing Out Your Email Inbox

It’s no exaggeration to say I’m not a particularly organised person. Recently, though, I’ve been making a push to become more efficient. Or at least less messy. I don’t know quite what prompted this switch. Societal pressure? Podcasts with people bragging about workflows? Exasperation at my messy desk? All of these are questions. I don’t have the answers.

One of the first steps I took was to look at my email inbox. Not a pretty sight.

I thought I stayed on top of them. At least, I knew what to search if I ever wanted to pull up an old email. What’s a few unread emails anyway? But that bold 167 unread emails started to nag at me. And then I noticed how many emails I had in my inbox in total. Around the 2,000 mark. Not so bad maybe. But then I realised that the ‘in total’ Gmail gives you is just for the particular ‘tab’ your on. As it happens, they’ve also helpfully divided my emails into three other ‘tabs’: social; promotions; updates. I only recently discovered that each of those has around the same amount of emails. More in the case of ‘updates’. That had around 4,000. The amount of emails I had to tame increased fivefold, without me doing anything. Which was great.

I'll just keep chipping away until I reach the hallowed 'Inbox Zero'. (This snazzy picture is originally found here

I’ll just keep chipping away until I reach the hallowed ‘Inbox Zero’. (This snazzy picture is originally found here

My technique so far has been to start from the oldest and work backwards. I set up my email address in 2010. I have mostly deleted anything from pre-2015 unless it looks ultra important. It’s amazing how few emails look ultra important.

And then I discovered the ‘labels’ feature that gmail has. So I’ve been merrily labelling up my emails with all manner of things. Receipts, Writing, Personal, Personal/Family, Work. Now all I need to do is remember the fifteen and counting labels I use.

I’m now down to around 4,000 emails total. But I am on Inbox 54. Obviously that’s still a swollen bloated mass of an inbox, but you know, credit where it’s due.

And what of the act of doing all this? Of clearing out, organising, deleting, labelling? It’s liberating. I’m removing clutter. With every email deleted it’s a small amount of my past that I no longer have to carry around with me. And those bits that I keep, are bits of my past that I want to carry around with me. It has given me tremendous perspective on what is important to me. Emails from friends and family are important. Emails from hotel chains I stayed in once, six years ago, not so much.

Overall I highly recommend clearing out your email inbox. It is at once liberating and practical, and gives you real perspective on what is actually important to you. The next step is to unsubscribe to all those damned mailing lists I’m somehow on.

Ant Cule Reviews… Driving for Eight Hours Non-Stop* Twice in A Weekend (Sixteen Hours Total)

* With several stops for breaks

Without wishing to overstate it, driving for eight hours non-stop is an abysmally miserable experience for all involved. I speak from experience, for on Friday and then Sunday I made the journey from London to Bigbury-on-sea, and then back.

Don’t get me wrong. There were things to cherish about the journey. The company; my girlfriend on the way down, then my girlfriend _and_ my sister on the way back. The view (sometimes); we drove past Stone Henge. The entertainment; Desert Island Discs.

Ugh. Me. (NB. Not me, actually from

Ugh. Me. (NB. Not me, actually from

But oh! The numb buttocks! A lament for my unfeeling rump! Hold a vigil, light a candle, pour a libation to my poor old bum. Humans are evolved to walk a lot. It’s an open secret that you have to sit down whilst driving. Thus, driving for a long time is not what we are meant to do. We get uncomfortable. I think the Flintstones had the right idea.

Furthermore, driving is bad for the planet. Or rather the burning of fossil fuels is, and that’s what driving does. Unless you’re driving an electric car, which even so probably burns fossil fuels to generate the electricity. And pretty soon, if it doesn’t do that, it will probably generate a heap of nuclear waste SO THAT’S GOOD. Basically there’s no two ways about it, driving in a car = environmental doom.

There are people driving cars who are not safe or pleasant to drive on the same road as. These are the people who undertake you and whip in front of you, when you yourself are about to overtake a lorry. There are people who give you a wanker sign in front of their two young kids when you’ve reversed to get out of their way on a country lane. I want to like people, I do. But sometimes they make it difficult.

Then there’s the traffic. Cruising down the motorway is one thing, knowing you’re ploughing through those miles. You can enjoy staying alert and lively, and you can revel in obeying the speed limit. But once you hit traffic, and you start crawling through the miles, there are few things more tedious. Don’t even get me started on stopping on a motorway. It’s unnatural.

Finally, there’s just the interminable length of the journey. After six hours of driving there’s still another two to go. Half an hour remaining on the journey feels like a snip. It feels even longer than slogging through this post, if you can conceive of such a thing.


The most magical weekend here for mom and dad's 60th birthday party.

A photo posted by Ant Cule (@antok87) on

…It was worth it to have the celebration of a lifetime down in Devon for my parents’ joint sixtieth birthday party. It was a special weekend. Not even the loads of driving that bookended it could take that away.

**Overall** I do not recommend driving for eight hours non-stop. Why not go for a jog instead?

Ant Cule Reviews… Houmous

Or Hummus. Houmous. Or Hummus? Why not both? They both amount to the same thing. Chickpeas smashed into a glorious paste, flavoured with manna from heaven. And tahini.

Glorious and tasty paste. Eat with crisps (not pictured)

I am a vegetarian. Houmous (hummus?) is often associated with vegetarians, being as it is one of the only things they can physically consume. But even before I became a vegetarian I ate a hecka load of houmous. Hummus. The thing is, I love crisps, but on their own they’re so dry and crunchy. They don’t have nearly enough wet paste smothering them, is the problem. And that’s where hummus steps in. Hamas?

Houmous on its own, is a delicious wet paste, but it doesn’t have nearly enough crunch to it. Do you see where I’m going with this? How do you spell hummus?

Crisps and hoomoose combined are what I call ‘God’s Own Confection’. Just the perfect balance of slime and crunch. Like eating a delicious insect, I suppose, with a crunchy exoskeleton and gloopy innards. I’ve only ever eaten one insect on purpose – a deep fried locust. The wing-casing was stuck in my teeth for the whole evening.

I eat so much humous (woah! Autocorrect just gave me yet another spelling!) that I ought to be a brand ambassador. If only I could spell the damned substance. I can’t say that since becoming vegetarian I’ve noticed a major spike in my own hjummush intake, but that’s probably because it is literally my snack of choice. I was born in Surrey, by the way.

Things I love about hommos:

  • how no-one knows how to spell it!
  • The plastic wrapping that you have to unwrap from around the lip of the pot.
  • The many ways you can spell it; It’s so versatile!
  • How great it tastes with crisps!
  • The many different variants you can get.
  • How scared I am to make it myself.

Overall I highly recommend houmous – the delicious paste you can eat!

Ant Cule Reviews… Spring Cleaning

When does Spring spring? Is it the weather? Is it purely the month? Is it when you see the first goslings drifting down the river? When you’re honked at by a goose-mother? When does Spring spring?

For me, there’s one definitive measure for if Spring has sprung. And that is “Am I wearing sunglasses and a jacket at the same time?” If the answer is yes, then you’re bound to be in the season known globally in English as Spring. Wearing sunglasses and a light jacket makes you immediately look like a badass, I’ll tell you that for free. You can imagine yourself as the Terminator, or as the kind of person who walks down the street talking loudly into a bluetooth earpiece. That’s the feeling Spring should invoke in you.

And traditionally with the ushering in of Spring, comes the ushering out of old clutter.  I’ve never consciously indulged in a “Spring Clean” before. I’ve only recently started consciously indulging in cleaning of any sort. Haha, no, just joking, hahaha, I’m a filthy pig.

What is it to Spring Clean? It is to look at your living area afresh. Check your shelves for books you’ll never read again, films you’ll never watch again, bananas you’ll never eat again. It is to look at your clothes and be honest about those t-shirts you’ve now been wearing for more than ten years. It is to move beyond giving the surfaces a good wipe down, and investing in some elbow grease. It is to take everything out of a cupboard and put it back in in a different order so it looks more appealing. It is to change over from your Winter to your Summer duvet.

Spring Cleaning is to let go of your attachments things. It is to become a Buddhist for the day. It is to take an itinerary of your life-things, and adjust it accordingly. It is to finally get rid of that vacuum cleaner that has long since been usurped by Henry. It is to marvel at the length of Henry’s wire, as it stretches down a full flight of stairs. It is to lambast your previous vacuum cleaner for its poor suction and its comparatively short wire. It is to throw out your old kettle.

Anyone want some free stuff?

Anyone want some free stuff?

To Spring Clean is to clear a new space in your life, where you didn’t think space could be found. Space that you can fill with better, newer stuff.

Now, does anyone want a free vacuum cleaner, kettle, or one of a selection of books and films?

Overall I highly recommend Spring Cleaning to give your life a good once over, and to help you stop being so bloody attached to things. Also, it’s nice to live in a clean flat.

Ant Cule Reviews… Getting Caught Photographing The Aftermath of the London Marathon

Okay, I’ll level with you. This one is a little niche even for a website about reviewing specific elements of my life. And yet here I am writing it, and here you are reading it.

Allow me to set the scene. I had been to the shop. Tuesday. Slung over my shoulder, a canvas bag full of gubbins for dinner. My mind ambled this way and that, and walking along the Woolwich Road ultimately led me to thinking about how I’d watched the London Marathon runners doing their running on the Sunday. It seemed so alien, that this road, now swarming with traffic, was home to thousands of betrainered feet, pootling along the ginormous running course. Traffic of a different kind, I suppose.

One particularly striking aspect of the marathon runners was the gleeful abandon with which they cast aside their (presumably free) bottles of Lucozade and packets of energy gunk. Sure, at the time I didn’t begrudge them pelting the pavement with basically full bottles of orangey-sweet goodness, but, you know, over 30,000 runners came through. That shit adds up. And so it struck me that despite a superhuman effort on behalf of the organisers, there still remained evidence of the drink-chucking frenzy that had taken place.

It came to my mind to photograph such a piece of detritus, with the half-formed idea of reviewing what it’s like watching the London Marathon (it gives you motion sickness, the sound of thousands of feet clomping along is very satisfying). I whipped out my phone, and snapped an empty packet of energy-goo nestling by a car wheel. At just that time, someone came walking briskly around the corner carrying some sort of cardboard box. I gawked, open mouthed at him, as if he had just busted me, trousers around my ankles, popping a squat at the side of the road.

And here it is, the photograph that caused all the trouble

And here it is, the photograph that caused all the trouble

Needless to say, he didn’t care. If anything, he looked shocked that I looked shocked. I, meanwhile, waddled off ahead of him, cursing my stupidity. Doubtless he would think I was off to send an email to the council; Subject: Marathon Detritus. I wanted to grab him and say “I’m not a nark, man!” Instead, I cast a furtive glance back at him, and kind of snorted coolly, as if it was all one big misunderstanding.

Overall, getting caught photographing the aftermath of the London Marathon is not recommended, for doing so will surely damage your street-cred.

Ant Cule Reviews… Receiving A Postcard

The world is full of surprises. But mostly, they’re big and/or nasty surprises. There are very few small and good surprises.

Finding 50p in your pocket. Walking through a nice-smelling section of air. Seeing someone reading a book that you’ve also read and enjoyed. Seeing a pigeon in an unusual place.

Spotted doing a bit of after work shopping in "Coo-stle" Mall #businesspigeon #norwich

A photo posted by Ant Cule (@antok87) on

And one of those pleasures, the small pleasures, the pleasures that make you feel a little spark that the world might be alright in the end, is trotting down to get the post and seeing a cheery little piece of card beaming up at you from the matt. You turn the card over, and there’s writing – actual writing! in pen and ink! – in a hand you distantly recognise. No matter whether the message is short, there is something so personal about knowing someone has taken the time to pick out a postcard, uncap a pen, and write you a message.

We live in a world of digital ink, and emails and whatnot. But I can’t see, no matter how much we try to humanise ‘tech’, how it can connect with us in the same way as seeing someone’s handwriting. There’s physical effort in handwriting. There’s connection between human and pen and pen and paper. There’s mistakes that you can’t get rid of (unless you have one of those pen erasers).

Receiving a postcard automatically makes you think “I wish I sent more postcards”. And that’s a great thought to have. You should send more postcards! So should I! On my desk I have a book called ‘Chekhov; A Life in Letters’. No-one in this day and age is going to be known as ‘A Man of Emails’. Man I wish I lived in the 19th century. Just the 19th century with wifi and all the modern conveniences that we enjoy (eg. coffee, Netflix, etc.)

All in all I highly recommend receiving a postcard for getting a warm feeling and one of life’s little surprises. Why not surprise someone whose address you happen to know today? Send them a letter, or a handmade postcard, or just a regular postcard!

Ant Cule Reviews… Being Poorly

I looked something like this. (photo from

The few days before: Notice I’m looking kind of pale and splotchy. Internalise it as just my usual complexion gone a little haywire. Rosalind notices paleness. Claim it’s just my complexion. I’m a pale sort of guy. In the sun I go from pale to sunburnt. Nothing in between. I know nothing of healthy glows. Feel more tired than usual, but otherwise okay.

Sunday: Play football, as is tradition. It’s a hot day. Wear suncream, take drink. Play. Really badly. Feel the heat even more than usual. Tire out even more quickly than usual. Work harder to make up for mistakes. Drink lots of water afterwards. Game ends (last goal wins thanks to my mistake). Stupid body, not doing what I want it to. Walk back to tube station. Feel strange. Thirsty. Hot. Light-headed. Buy water, snack, and head home for lunch. On the tube just stare into space. Get home. Feel odd. Have lunch. Eat half. Feel strange. Drink water. Nothing will tame this thirst. After lunch, feel a bit better. Like myself. Feel guilty that girlfriend has been cleaning the bathroom whilst I’ve been playing football. That doesn’t help anyone. Have a cool shower. Feel a bit better. We go shopping. Stroll around the supermarket. Lean on the trolley. Definitely not feeling right. My stomach is roiling, my head is aching. Just concentrate on shopping. Drive home with the window down. Not a long drive, luckily. Once car is parked I sit there feeling ill. Put my head between my legs. It’ll pass. Try and carry shopping in. Get to turning, and have to throw up. As is apparently perfectly normal, I feel better after throwing up my lunch. Rosalind says it smells of cucumber. Sorry about that.
Lie on sofa. Drink liquids. Get into bed, and snooze. Wake up only to throw up twice more. Sleep.
Rosalind clears up sick. Feel bad.

Monday: Still feeling rotten. Sleep most of the day. Otherwise, lie on the sofa. Watch ‘Frank’ (feat. Michael Fassbender). It’s good, and weird. Wanted it to be funnier. I mean, it was funny. It was also sad. I feel funny. I am sad. At least I’m not throwing up any more. Watch a lot of Community in bed. Snooze. At least I can have toast for dinner.

Tuesday: Feel dozy. Snooze. Get up. Haven’t even got the energy to walk around the house. Watch The Babadook. Which is really good. Why am I watching sad/disturbing films in the midst of my illness? Misery loves company and all that. You know, it could be worse. I could be battling The Babadook. Otherwise, it’s mainly a diet of snoozing, and toast. I haven’t had a coffee for two days. I wonder if part of the illness is my caffeine dependency kicking back. It feels like there’s a fuzzy veil between me and the world. Manage to get enough appetite to eat something that’s not toast. Lasagne, in fact.

Wednesday: Manage to get out and about for a little bit. 2 hours of tutoring. Feel completely spent afterwards. Do manage to enjoy it during the actual teaching though. Appetite returning somewhat. Still kind of grey-looking and feeling.

Thursday: Have a meeting in the morning at Liverpool Street. It goes well. Enjoy it. Have a cup of tea instead of a coffee. No coffee for four days(!). Discover that coffee binds to iron and prevents your body from properly absorbing the iron. Wonder if the amount of coffee I drink (a not-excessive, yet definitely dependency-forming 2 cups a day before this) combined with going vegetarian has lead to me not getting enough iron. It would explain the lethargy. The greyness. My family is prone to that. Need to eat more irony food (and I don’t mean, like, cool, forgotten 70s throwbacks). Finally register at the doctors. No time like the present, hey?

Friday: Feeling more like my old self. Still tired, still fuzzy. Bit better, though. Manage to go to the theatre in the evening, and see Calculating Kindness at the Camden People’s Theatre. It’s really well performed, with a great set, and great lighting. Just wanted the ideas to mesh even more. Something about it felt a little unsatisfying. But still, it was good. The theatre got really hot. Possibly because we were sat just below the lights. It really was distractingly hot. Felt completely spent after that.

Weekend: Mostly relax. Do some shopping, get a herb garden for our balcony. Plant the chilli-seeds I’ve been meaning to plant since last year. Spend time with Rosalind. Start to feel restored again. We play a lot of Xbox (The Lego Movie game – we’re a great team). Feeling restored. Still, need to get a blood test. Will probably pass out when they take my blood.

Overall, I really don’t recommend getting ill and it taking a week out of your life, with the feeling awful and having no energy to do anything. Instead, try eating healthily, drinking less coffee, and listening to your body.

UPDATE: Do nearly pass out when they take my blood.

Ant Cule Reviews… Getting A New Pet

Say “Hello there lil’ fella” to the latest addition to the household.

Be warned, though; he’s cute though perhaps not ‘traditionally’ cute – depending on what your deeply-etched, engrained-by-society expectations of beauty are.

Okay. Without any further ado… Here he is…

Wait wait wait wait wait. I just need to emphasise, okay… He’s not furry or fluffy and he doesn’t have big eyes. In fact, he’s slimy and scaly and has very small eyes. And his breed are quite notorious for their bad tempers. They can be quite aggressive, actually. So, you know. Go easy on him.

Okay. I’ll take a picture now.

Wait, that wasn’t a good one.

I’ll take another.

Okay… Mmmmyeah, it’s okay. I’m just not sure I’m ever going to capture his best side, you know? I’m not sure he has a best side, even. It’s quite sweet, the way he always looks angry. Like he wants to bite you. Like he wants to headbutt you. Like he wants to put you in hospital. Sweet.

Okay. Okay. Here we go:

Isn’t he sweeeeeeeeet?

What a cutie. Like I said, not conventionally cute. We can’t let him out of his cage, ever, unfortunately.

But I really feel like, you know, if he gets into a loving house, how bad can he be?

Ow, he bit me! Ouch! What a prick.

Overall, I don’t recommend getting a new pet, unless you opt for a dog, because dogs are the greatest. Don’t get this guy. I suggest the best way to deal with this breed is to show them that kindness is a better long term solution than meanness, and that thought, debate, listening, and trying to understand each other is better than open hostility.

NB. Clearly, this fresh piece of satire is an April Fool’s prank! The pet we actually got, is this guy:

Ant Cule Reviews… Drinking Water

Water. Water of life. Jesus gives us the water of life.

That’s what the hymn told me, way back in prep school. But I feel like I didn’t quite appreciate the key message of this hymn. Water OF LIFE. (jesusgivesusthe) WATER OF LIFE. WATER = LIFE.

Water is life.

That’s what they were trying to tell me. It wasn’t about who gives us the water. It was about how important water is. It’s crucial to survival. Every so often I’ll have a period of time that reminds me just how much water is necessary even to just sit around. So think about when you’re rushing from place to place. Your body is clever, so if you’re focussing on something else it won’t bother you with how thirsty you are until you get a raging headache and feel like you’re going to keel over.

And man oh man, drinking water is so good. It’s like the clear liquid we all need to survive. It’s like the most refreshing feeling imaginable. Okay, imagine a dry patch of sand (this is your mouth) and now imagine pouring some water on it (drinking some water) THAT’S HOW GOOD IT IS TO DRINK WATER! Or imagine a clear liquid that anyone can drink and it alleviates their thirst – THAT IS WATER!!! Imagine a universal drink with life-giving properties THAT’S WATER!!!!!! And by universal I mean, literally, universal for all life forms that we know of so far – WATER!!!!! The great liquid!!!! The wonderful stuff!!!! Imagine a drink you can bathe in- WATER!!!! A drink you can dab onto your wrists when you’re too hot- WATER!!!! A drink you can boil pasta or vegetables in- WATER!!!!!


Overall I highly recommend drinking water every day, for refreshment from the versatile clear drinking liquid. Water.

(this post has been brought to you by Water – “Mmm, that’s a good clear liquid.”)

Ant Cule Reviews… Being Sad After A Football Match

It’s only a game.

It’s not real life.

Why are you so sad?

But it’s more than a game. And it is real life.

Emotions burn high around football matches. Like a match, like a flame, they burn bright and hot, but ultimately burn themselves out. The joy is sweet and rolls around inside you, sometimes for mere hours, sometimes for days, but it always rolls itself out, as soon as the next game kicks off. The sadness swells in you, closing your mouth, forcing you to relive the worst moments in your head, forcing you to kick out at innocent beer cans that lay in the street, but as soon as the next game kicks off it’s gone. There’s always next week. Except next week’s an international break.

People love to invest odd things with meaning. Trees, jumpers, pants, gods, books. Games. We love to pretend these things have any bearing on our mood. What is it? Feeling part of something? We are nothing as a species without motivation. Does football give those of us who follow it just that? Motivation? A reason? Something to invest the swirling richness of our emotions into? Feeling connected to tens of thousands of others with disappointment as an Agüero header slams against the post is intoxicating. Your voice is one of thousands, and is all of thousands. It’s addictive, the up of winning a corner in the first minute. The down of conceding a staggeringly predictable goal. It provides some emotional instability into what is an otherwise emotionally stable life.

Life is a series of ups and downs writ large across a number of years. Football is that distilled into 90 minutes. Each match is like an accelerated life. Some are boring and uneventful. Some are rollercoaster rides from beginning to end. Some are sad. Some are happy. Each is unique, and specific to the circumstances in which it takes place. And many have the ability to touch many thousands of others.

Also it’s bloody fun isn’t it.

Overall, I recommend getting sad when your football team loses. Just not for too long. After all, there’s always next week. Or next season.


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