Big Apple Brixton

As winter well and truly owns the November skies, it’s nice to see venues keeping up appearances. Formally Brixton Beach, this South London rooftop is bringing the Big Apple to the big smoke for an appropriate seasonal makeover.

Located above Pope’s Road, this interpretation of the concrete jungle we all know and love has done a great job in capturing the big lights, bold signage and stateside vibes.

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Though you can leave your passport at home for this American adventure, you might confuse yourself for being in an airport when it comes to security checks. Lets face it, most of us are quite accustomed to feeling like a modern day Mary Poppins when heading anywhere midweek. But unless my hard drive, an old metro copy and my empty tuppaware are criminal, there was really no need to get bicep deep in my tote. Unless she felt compelled to attempt a dig to the Statue of Liberty. Because that’s what that level of privacy invasion felt like.

Keeping up with the weather is difficult for any establishment. But being a pop-up, outdoor (but covered) venue open for the duration of the colder months, you’d think they’d take that into consideration when deciding how many heaters it’d need to keep the premises warm. Yes, I know that’s virtually impossible with a canopy roof mid November, but I can tell you know, three aren’t quite suffice for several hundred people to gather around. Unless you’re down with that level of privacy invasion. It’s certainly a way to make friends…

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In an attempt to keep warm we wandered around, exploring all Brixton’s answer to New York has to offer. Quirky rooms dressed as a vintage Barber shop, a Chapel, a Record Store and Peep Show are available to hire complete with tables, chairs and fun decor. Though we didn’t have one ourselves, we were told that if booked, your drinks are ready on arrival. Plus, each is combination lock operated and only your party is given the code. Meaning that you can come and go as you please without the fear of an American gangster breaking in.

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Now for something that’s usually my favourite topic: FOOD. On a Thursday evening, only three out of the four vendors were open – meaning Pizza was out of the question. With a sterling choice of Mac to the Future, Plucky’s or Burger Bear – it was chicken that I felt my tastebuds would thank me for most. Turns out, my stomach was not quite the fan. When ordering my food, the guy who appeared to be in charge of the stand was beyond rude. Myself, along with the girls I was with, were completely taken aback by his attitude and manner. We had to ask if it were okay to order… We ordered… He silence led us to ask whether we had made our orders… And then ten or so minutes later, our burgers and nuggets were ready on a heated bar – awaiting their arrival of chips. The chief brought the basket over from the frying pan and began serving them equally onto our portions – HELPING HIMSELF TO SOME TOO!!!!! I mean without sounding too much like Joey Tribbiani… But I’m not sure we ever gave the okay for sharing our grub. It’s not common practise. And that’s because it’s just plain rude!!!! Shocked, we sat down and began to tuck in… To a very short-lived meal. We had uncooked chicken nuggets and the salt in the chips made it feel as though we were sipping seawater on the side. Not ideal.

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Either this vendor needs a stern talking to or another street food pop-up should take its place. Because when faced with the question of did it #CrackMyBitchFace, that’s an easy no. I mean shivering whilst mentally begging the chip-stealing chef to leave my burger with a couple of mates isn’t really something that encourages a positive look upon my face. And in hindsight, perhaps my resting bitch face was the reason as to why he took it upon himself to be a chip scrooge. When such effort has gone into smashing the mulled wine recipe and making the place look good – it was definitely a bit of a shame.

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“I thought you hated me when I first met you…”

Typically annoying CBF remark no. 17, first received when I was 12 years old.

*Insert deep inhale and exaggerated sigh here*

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Oh that old chestnut. The honest answer to this is: If you chew your food loudly, are the type of person that claps your hands when your plane lands/your film has finished in the cinema or you wear kitten heels – then your observations are probably true. You get on my tits.

However if none of the above applies to you then chances are you’re quite mistaken. And you’re just on the unfortunate receiving end of my face when it’s taking a rest. No biggie.

It’s often thrown at me when I’ve been in the company of the said person for a number of weeks or months. When they finally feel comfortable enough to confront me about the ice-cold glare that takes over my appearance when I’m daydreaming. They’ve wanted to address the situation for a while, but due to my look 78.4% of the day, they weren’t too sure of the repercussions.

“So what’s with that look you give?”

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Fellow victims completely get it. We have this understanding. So when we’re about to cross paths with someone that looks as though they’re about to go Naomi Campbell on us, we know there’s more to the story. That it’s nothing more than a mere case of innocent evils. In fact, if we both weren’t so busy thinking about what our next meal is going to be, we’d probably sense the forthcoming encounter and high-five our co-sufferers. Because it’s a tough world out there, regardless of resting bitch face. And girls should be nice to one another.

We can’t help the laziness in our cheekbones. The gaze that strickens our eyes. The perfectly horizontal position of our mouth. Our natural bitch faces shouldn’t be judged. It’s just the construct of our appearance when we’re neutrally engaged. So if you find yourself in a situation, where you’re not sure if someone you’ve recently become acquainted with actually likes you or not, just stop. Analyse the predicament and ask yourself these three things:

  1. Are you sure you didn’t cut them up on the tube?
  2. Are you positively certain you didn’t push in front of them in Pret?
  3. Have you done the mandatory Facebook stalk to ensure that there’s no best mate’s step-sister’s cousin’s ex hate going on?

If you answered yes to all of the above then please, save yourself from becoming the 181st person to state “you thought they hated you when you first met”. Because trust me when I say, the most you’ll get out of that person is an eye roll. And it’s highly likely that for the pure reason of hammering those nine words at them alone, they will think back to that very first moment you entered each other’s lives and find a reason. Because it’s THAT annoying.

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Many thanks to Dana Scully for helping illustrate the mysterious looks of resting bitch face. You deserve a blog post dedicated to you, you alien-fighting babe.

Chronicle 4: Queen Elizabeth II

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When it comes to faces we see on a daily basis, this lady kind of trumps them all – apart from our own reflections of course.

If she’s not in your back-pocket making up the ‘head’ side of your loose change, you’re licking the reverse of her head to send post. We’re ever so familiar with Her Majesty, but we’re not ones to take such an iconic face for granted.

The only time I’m called royal is when I’m being a pain in the arse. Meaning I don’t have any first hand experience with Britain’s most prestigious family. However, when you’re reppin’ the country, handling corgi bills and have to put up with the recent moronic decisions politicians and your public have made – you’ve got to feel the pressure somewhat. Not to mention hearing your grandson has made the news – only fearing it’s for the wrong reasons. Sure Harry’s stint in Vegas was a couple of years ago now. But poor old Lizzie – she remembers it like it was yesterday.

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Let’s not forget, she’s a great-grandmother. You try accepting you’re the glue to the three generations of family beneath you. Of course it’s going to make you feel your years. And quite frankly, with all the forced smiles she’s had to pass on to the world over her reign – her face, more than anyone, deserves some down time. I can’t imagine how sore those cheeks of hers must be.

We salute your neutral expression Ma’am. And we’re well aware that whilst appearing royally peeved off, you’re probably just throwing back to the polo game in the summer of ’92. What a hoot one had. Or just wondering whether Jeffrey is going to put on a spread of quail’s eggs for breakfast tomorrow morning. It’s all relative.

On the contrary she’s got a lot to be smug about. She owns a palace, is the only person in the UK allowed to drive without a license and travel without a passport. Plus, she has a pet Jaguar she keeps at London Zoo. Casual. So when you next see our queenie looking as though little George and Charlotte have just scribbled all over her draft for this year’s Christmas speech, let’s just give her face the benefit of the doubt it so rightfully deserves.

 

REFORMER PILATES: EPOCH FITNESS

Always one for trying out a new exercise class, Reformer Pilates at Epoch Fitness caught my attention. Probably because, in all honesty, I’d never heard of it before. For someone that’s never participated in any form of Pilates or Yoga, but a keen gym-goer, I was excited about getting stuck in. (The typical thoughts of a girl prior to forcing her body into unnatural shapes.)

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Call it doing your homework, curiosity or just plain sensible – I had a cheeky Google pre-class. ABSOLUTE ERROR. The machines looked like torture beds and Google Images kindly displayed a selection of photos that I can only describe as a contortionist’s library. Cheers Googs.

The classes are held in the Fitzrovia Centre – a little random – but you’ll know when you find the correct room, as you’ll be confronted with 8 torture beds. The instructor was friendly and explained the class to a few of us beginners, including a quick demo of the Reformer machine. Towels and bottled water were provided, which was definitely appreciated and a nice touch.

The lesson is made up of squats, lunges, press-ups and core toning – with the springs underneath the reformer machine creating the resistance. As the class is quite small, the instructor is able to observe, help and correct you when you aren’t quite nailing it. And don’t worry, they’re used to sweaty backs.

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Things not to expect:

-An easy hour

-Getting it right first time

-Flattering positions

Things to expect:

-Burning thighs

-Thinking “20 more? You’ve got to be kidding me”.

– Walking like a penguin the next day

Turns out, the only similarities that the reformer machines hold to my initial description of torture beds is that you spend the lesson lying down. They aren’t half as bad as they look. Quite the contrary, you might say, as you’ll leave having been introduced to muscles that you’ve never met before.

Did it #crackmybitchface? Well, I’m pretty sure during the class my face didn’t look that approachable. When one’s left leg is indicating South East and one’s right is pointing to South West, whilst your feet are hooked into resistance straps; I ask does anyone look cheery? (Those that are in to kinky bedroom antics need not answer that.) But after feeling the burn 24-48 hours afterward, I was certainly smiling on the inside: NO PAIN NO GAIN, right?

Chronicle 3: Kristen Stewart

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For girls of twelve or thirteen, it’s the norm to begin experimenting with facial expressions and mirrors. However when you’ve just starred alongside Jodie Foster in a hit blockbuster, things are a bit different. Kristen Stewart spent those tender ages peeved at the world’s press. How are you meant to teenage the crap out of life when your most awkward years are being documented by the media?

Sure, her big break into the world of A-list was a few years off. But her success in prior roles meant that she was never too far from privacy invasion. And I can’t imagine anyone growing up with a camera in the face is going to be best pleased. So can you really blame Kristen Stewart for falling into CBF’s pissed off gaze?

Her bitter stare into paparazzi’s evil lens just stuck. Like a maths geek and algebra – it’s the things you learn in your pubescent years that are with you through life. Thus, the struggle to smile when your face is in autopilot has become an iconic trait of Kristen Stewart – contrary to what she may be thinking or feeling on the inside.

In a bitter twist of irony, the lass struck global stardom playing Bella – the love interest of a Vampire. Until she ended up becoming one herself. I don’t know many Vampires. But none of them scream cheery. And with Miss Stewart’s demonstration of Chronic Bitch Face, you can almost hear the casting directors shout JACKPOT. It must be part of the job description. And that’s totally cool. I mean they’ve got a lot on their blood-hungry plates. Anyone that has seen the saga will know that for Bella, it was life-changing. So let’s just cut her some slack shall we?

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Who are we to assume she’s pissed off? Because the first rule of Chronic Bitch Face? Don’t jump to conclusions. For all we know she might just be thinking how she actually quite partial to the taste of blood. She may be thrilled about her new casper complexion. Heck, she may even have been LOLLING on the inside at the very moment her and Edward first realised they kinda liked each other as their alter-ego mortal selves too.

R Patz was her boyf. He saw beyond the way the press portrayed her moody demeanour. Yet with a jaw more chiselled than a renaissance sculpture, even he couldn’t shift her facial enigma. But that’s Chronic Bitch Face for you. Sadly, there is no cure.

On the other side of things, let’s not pretend that her face was screaming bitch for no reason. Perhaps he was rubbish in the sack. Perhaps he spoke about blood too much. Or perhaps she was just sick of avoiding garlic. After all, who would put up with that kind of flavour deprivation?

Regardless, since their split she’s still nailing the bitch look. And I applaud her for it. There is no such thing as the smile police. Her face should be able to express whichever mood it likes. Despite whether it holds any truth. Because if we can accept Kristen’s neutrally engaged appearance, then who knows. There’s hope for vampires everywhere.

 

I’M A SELECTIVE SMILER…

Smiling isn’t on any national curriculum. But apparently, it’s something some folk naturally do. (I know right, who knew?)

Alongside your birth certificate, you’re not given a smile guidebook. When you start school, you don’t have to sit an exam that analyses your ability to express a constantly upbeat expression. And when growing up, your parents didn’t take you to the doctor to explain their concerns for the disappearance of your smirk. You know why? Because there are no rules.

So let me ask you this: Why do complete and utter strangers deem it necessary to request a smile from my face when it’s in rest mode? Just because it made a decision early on in life for said expression to portray a sullen bitch, it’s not an invitation for people to demand positivity.

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In a society where gender equality imbalance is being fought globally, it should surprise me (but sadly doesn’t) that 97.4% of these comments are put to me by men. Remarks for me to cheer up or smile more are just tiresome. Why are they interfering with me when I’m in autopilot? Why does it matter if I’m smiling or not? Why do they think they deserve to see me sport a big fat grin?

Eleven times out of ten, the reason behind my moody demeanour is Chronic Bitch Face. But to all those that aren’t usually a victim to CBF’s glare, there’s going to be a reason behind their glum appearance. And I can guarantee you now, that reason is going to be none of your business. You jeering ‘Gis us a smile love’ is going to be the last thing they need. A bad day, fresh from an argument, a grievance or hearing disappointing news – there are so many factors that contribute to your expression. And when it’s not Chronic Bitch Face, smiling is going to be the last thing on their mind. So how about you butt the eff out alright?

I’m bored of people telling me that “it might never happen” if I don’t cheer up. I mean, what do you say to that? How are you meant to respond when such words are uttered in your direction? Over the years I’ve experimented with replies: Fake smirks. Rolled eyes. Verbal excuses. But now I come to think of it – do they even warrant acknowledgement for their rudeness? No. It’s my face and I’ve come to terms with the fact I look like a bitch when I gaze. You should too.

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Yes. I’d go as far as saying it’s a form of harassment. And Tatyana Fazlalizadeh thought the same, when four years ago she started the art series Stop Telling Women To Smile. She didn’t stop there. Because the issue of street harassment towards women lies much deeper than this. Posters of her work above can be seen around the world, with strong, simple and clear messages. It’s unwanted attention. Uninvited comments. An invasion of personal space. We’re going about our own business. If I needed a daily reminder to smile, I’d just set a reminder on my phone. (If there isn’t already an app for it, Apple, you heard it hear first.)

And riddle me this: Why do men not pick up on the miserable faces of other men? Guys get moody. Their faces show it. So surely they should be on the receiving end to one of your “be positive” jibes, no? Whether they’re fellow CBF sufferers (yes, they do exist – Kanye West) or are just peeved that they lost at a game of Fifa, their pissed off look can go by unnoticed and they’re off the hook. They can get away without having their concentration broken by someone they’ve never met before. But your facial expression shouldn’t fall into a double standard trap. Not in this day and age.

That’s the thing with CBF. You could be thinking about a new puppy you’re on your way to pick up, or that funny thing Lucy did at the weekend or even that meme that was just shared in your group Whatsapp. But on the outside, your face just says vengeance.

In my books, that’s totally fine. There are no laws that depict how your face should appear when in a daydream bubble. And it really grinds my gears (making that look of vengeance intentional) when nosey bystanders burst it.