Fry, pan, batter, flour, pancake, flip, flipping, toss, tossing, tosser, crepe, egg, milk….

There, now that I’ve got all the words associated with Pancake Day out of the way, we can pretend I made all the appropriate puns and get right down to brass tacks! Hey, here’s a fun fact – I used to think it was ‘brass tax’, and it was like ‘let’s get down to discussing brass tax’, like ‘let’s get down to business’. After a quick bit of Googling, a theory on the ever-reliable Wikipedia is that it comes from the brass tacks in the counter of a hardware store or draper’s shop used to measure cloth in precise units. There we are, only 100 words in and we’ve already learned something together. For once this article isn’t inane crap, but instead contains some cool trivia that may one day help you seal the deal with some lucky lady or fella at a party.

ALEX’S PICK-UP ADVICE: Use the ‘brass tacks fact’ to ‘woo’ them early on in the evening, and then later on when you go to kiss them you say ‘now, let’s get down to brass tacks, shall we?’ and move in for the kill. That’s some straight up James Bond sh** right there. ‘What’s that Daniel Craig? Sure, I’d love to come and help with the script for SPECTRE!’

Sorry – let’s get back to reality, and back to some sort of main road at least… before I go off on another tangent. Oh hey did you know ‘tangent’ comes from the Latin verb ‘tangere’ and…. NO! Stay on track Farnham!

This month, I wanted to talk about giving things up for lent, and I thought that since this is feature is called Soapbox, I should at least be a little bit opinionated… We’re now in the full swing of Lent, and whether you’re Christian or not, the idea of Lent has become something of a social norm, a bit like Christmas and getting married, and I guess I’d really like to echo my sentiments from last month, that it’s pretty inspiring to watch people actively try and better themselves by giving up something that’s bad for them. Yes, even the people who say ‘ooooh I’m giving up wine but I don’t think I’ll survive’, as if it’s funny to pretend to be an alcoholic. Whether it’s smoking, nail-biting, junk food, swearing – fair play to you if you’re consciously trying to better yourself. Now, here comes the opinionated bit. I’m going to suggest a few things that maybe we should try and do as a society, or even as humanity as a whole, that might make us more likeable and less depressing to read about in the news.
So, here we are, in a typical self-aggrandising fashion, let’s call it:
‘Alex’s Top 5 Things for Society to Give Up’

• Pushing black people off a train and chanting ‘we’re racist and that’s the way we like it’.
Seriously Chelsea fans? It’s not even subtle! Not that I would in any way approve if it was, but Jesus, if you’re going to be hateful, at least put some effort into it! Talk about lazy…

• Shooting cartoonists.
Or anyone, for that matter. Don’t shoot anyone. It’s mean and stupid. Guns don’t kill people… Oh actually wait, yes they do.

• Beheading people.
I’m not religious, but I do think it’s important that people are respected in their faith… However, regardless of what you believe in, if you think the best thing to do is chop of some innocent heads and pop videos of it on YouTube, just stop it please. You’re making the rest of us look bad.

• Farting in an elevator.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

• Being a paedophile in the 80s.
It seems that Operation Yewtree has been pretty successful in cracking down on the ‘turn the other way’ mentality that was, for some reason, just fine back in the day. My advice in general would actually just be to give up being a paedophile, full stop. Or even better, just don’t be a paedophile in the first place. It’s not very nice.
So… there you go – a few things that I think we should all try our best to give up together, so that we can maybe have a less blood-thirsty 2015. It’s just my opinion, remember. I’ll be completely honest – most of the things I write are to try and get a laugh, so I wouldn’t worry about taking it too seriously. Joking aside, however, I do genuinely think that a lot of problems would be solved if people were just nice to each other. I know it sounds simple and fairly ill-informed, but I don’t think it needs to be analysed any further than that. My late Grandpa taught me to never take myself too seriously, because nobody else does. That’s advice I live my life by, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Ah, just quickly before I go… regarding Number 4 on that list – I should inform you that it’s ok to fart in an elevator if nobody else is in there with you. Otherwise I’d suggest either holding it in or taking the stairs instead.