British humour: boozy journeys for all

London, December and Graduation. What a joyous time. All conditions united for a fantastic few days. The city was decorated from top to bottom with the bright and cheerful lights of the festive season. Each graduant had made their way from their part of the world back to the capital of England for the ceremony.

It must have been around 8pm on the day after we graduated. We’d hopped off the extremely packed streets of Piccadilly Circus and onto a bus. We were setting off for a big night, equipped with beer and wine stashed in our plastic Tesco bags. The trip to the southwest of the city is quite long after all. Having settled down in the few remaining empty seats at the top of the bus and taken off our winter jackets so as not to sweat, we cracked open our cans of Stella and savored the ice cold lager.

Fifty minutes later, we – my coursemates and I – had made it past the 22 stops that separated us from our destination and were about to get off the bus to go to Jaks, one of our favorite bars.

We stumbled down the steep staircase, descending from the top deck, with the last beer in our hand.

Stella?‘ a woman asked, smiling.

Yes!‘ I answered, brandishing the can as my eyes adjusted to her face and spotted her husband next to her.

Where are you going to now?‘ she inquired.

We’re getting off at the next stop to go to Jaks. How about yourselves?

Ah Jaks, nice place! We’re just looking for one more pub before heading home.

Oh, how many times have you said that tonight?‘ I asked with a smile.

You mean: how many times have we gone home tonight?‘ her husband grinned, making us all burst out of laughter.

After wishing them a merry Christmas, we jumped off the bus and continued the final part of our journey by foot. That dose of absurd and self-deprecating humour, which had ensued from the convivial spirit of a brief friendly encounter, had reminded us that we were indeed back in the United Kingdom.

Insanity: Antonio Cassano

WE’RE ALL SEEKING LAUGHTER. Goodness knows how many couch potatoes there are out there, getting their fix from endless hours of comedy series on TV. And then there’s me who, after having discovered the jaw-dropping story I am about to tell you, rummaged through the internet looking for more giggles on the subject of the Italian football player Antonio Cassano. So, first a few funny anecdotes and, at the end, the apotheosis of the hilarity! Boom.

(Note: This may at first appear to be an article only about football, but it really isn’t. Trust me.)

  1. A rocky road: from Rome to Madrid

Antonio Cassano will turn 34-years-old this July and is slowly approaching the end of a somewhat disappointing career. It all started when AS Roma bought the then 19-year-old for a record breaking transfer fee of 60 billion Lire (about €30 million) from Bari. Having glittered in Rome but fallen out with the coaching staff due to him constantly slapping players and insulting referees, Cassano moved to Real Madrid, a dream destination for any footballer. Clearly seen as a wonder kid with bags of talent, his career seemed set for glory.

Yet, Cassano hardly ever graced a football pitch in Spain, playing only seven times during the 2006-07 season…

  1. Passion and self-deprecation

You would think that Antonio Cassano’s addiction to sex, for which he gained a notorious reputation over the years, would be a key factor in this. It is true that the Italian was clearly more interested in women than in football, claiming that he ‘would rather meet a beautiful woman than score a goal.’ He also takes pride in allegedly having bedded more than 800 women by the age of 25, and believes that his status of Real Madrid player enabled him to achieve this impressive feat, stating that ‘noone would have looked at [him] otherwise, not even [his] mother!

  1. You know you’re a foodie when…

However, Cassano revealed in an interview with AS Marca that he hardly played at Real Madrid, not only because he was addicted to sex, but to food aswell: ‘I was 10 kilograms overweight!‘ How so Mister Cassano? Well, ‘the perfect night for me consists of sex followed by food‘ and ‘I would spend €500 to have food sent to my hotel room.’

Food, glorious food.

It is quite unbelievable to hear that a Real Madrid player would jeopordize his career in such a way; he is probably the first Los Blancos player ever to be in such poor physical shape. The Merengue fans even surnamed him ‘El Gordito,’ which means ‘the little fatty.’ Also note that in his autobiography Dicco tutto (I’ll tell you everything), published in 2008, the gluttonous striker outrageously revealed that his post-football ambition was ‘to get veryvery fat…’

  1. The apotheosis of the hilarity

Obviously, his career in Spain did not go well and before long, he made his way back to Italy, where he played for title challenging clubs AC Milan and Inter Milan.

In January 2015, his club Parma (yes, he changes teams as often as he changes women) went bankrupt, a development that left him clubless. Juventus (the only Italian giant he had not yet played for) contacted him, offering him a contract. Surprisingly however, Cassano declined their advances and signed for Sampdoria.

Why on Earth would anyone in their right mind decide not to play for Juventus? To this question, which a journalist asked in an interview, the Italian answered:

‘I have refused Juventus four times. It’s a beautiful [very rude name for female genetalia] but it doesn’t get me horny.’

Talk about a punchline! I just hope he never said that to any of those 800 women…

SO, THERE YOU HAVE IT – Antonio Cassano: grotesque, violent and vulgar. What a man!

Narcissistic horror: Jacques Derrida

THE ABOVE TITLE is the result of my attempt to translate from French into English the late philosopher Jacques Derrida’s affliction, whereby he could not bear, and therefore forbade, the publication of pictures of his face.

I have Googled my rendition of Derrida’s words in English, but have not found any mention of it. However, I think that this literal translation of l‘horreur narcissique is accurate enough. I do welcome other suggestions, though…


One reason, which is perfectly rational and illustrates the philosopher’s depth of thought, for this forbiddance of the publication of his image is that the presence of the photo of an author on a book cover perpetuates the automatic association of the author with the work.

It does not allow the work’s message to stand independently from the person who wrote it.

A follow-up point that Derrida makes is that the picture of the author, present on the book cover (typically of him or her writing something and looking hard at work) seems very unnatural and consequently comical and ridiculous. So be it.


But Jacques Derrida’s plea for his face not to appear anywhere runs deeper than his disdain for typical book covers. He was plagued with what he called l’horreur narcissique. This term encompasses many emotions, ranging from anxiety concerning the immobile duplication of one’s face (which echoes death) and fright (being afraid of one’s appearance) to disgust (feeling repulsed by one’s image)‘I can’t stand the image of my own face’ Derrida declared in an interview.


There is a paradoxical, almost oxymoronic feel about the words Derrida uses. Upon hearing the term narcissism, the tale of Narcissus and Echo is obviously the first to come to mind. Narcissus’ infatuation with his looks leads to his death, as he is unable to tear himself away from his reflection, which he finds so irresistible. Beauty is a key feature of this story.

Derrida’s juxtaposition of the two words narcissism and horror maintains many of Narcissus’ traits, but excludes the element of beauty. With narcissistic horror, there is an equal amount of concern with the self, but this concern is coupled with an urge to look away from one’s reflection and suppress the existence of anything, such as photos or videos, that could produce anything similar.


Now let’s think about how Derrida’s grievance (albeit simplified to the scale of our daily lives) affects us, from time to time.

For example, when you turn your smartphone camera on to take a picture of a monument, but it opens in ‘selfie mode’ and you find yourself staring at your scrunched up face on the phone’s screen. This is the element of fright.

Or, when you catch a glimpse of the reflection of your exhausted face in a car window – when coming home from a big night out, for example – and see the unhealthy fatigue cloaking it. This is the feeling of disgust with one’s image.

L’HORREUR NARCISSIQUE – yes, it sounds much better in French – does not, thank goodness, affect most humans as strongly as it did Derrida, but we are not exempt from it giving us a jab once in a while.