FAT PROSE

Your friendly local Gonzo journalist, answering the questions no-one’s asking

Archive for the tag “london”

Missing you already

“Do Craigslist’s ‘Missed Connection’ ads really work?”

Craigslist seems a lot like the much cooler but less wholesome older brother of Gumtree, a fraternal relationship beneath the stern parents of eBay and Amazon who keep chiding them not to talk to strangers. Originally localized to America, Craigslist now covers 27 separate areas of the UK and acts as a locale for the glib sales of vacuum cleaners and virginities side by side, all posted anonymously so as not to compromise any sort of professional identity.

Most conceivable goods and services can be found offered up somewhere on Craigslist, however there is one section which stands alone as by far the most strange, addictive and hauntingly beautiful. Reading it has become something of a slight personal obsession; as opposed to staid product descriptions it’s more akin to a fractured soap opera, people almost selling scraps of their souls rather than chintzy tat or an opportunity to listen to a terrible band.

This is namely the Missed Connections zone of Craigslist, an esoteric form of personal ad for anyone who has fallen in love with someone they’ve glimpsed on the bus or passed in the street or any such scenario where they’ve lacked the time, opportunity or backbone to approach, make conversation and ask for a contact number. The average Missed Connection comes with the specific time and place of the encounter, description of this beloved person, and the suggestion of some form of tryst. Here is an example posted just today to illustrate the concept:

Now let us consider the conditions that have to be met and the planets that have to align for such an enterprise to be successful. First, the love interest in question has to be aware of and regularly check these Missed Connection listings, already quite a niche and unknown Internet tidbit to find yourself browsing. Then they need to recognize themselves from the description, some of which are phenomenally vague – “you have blonde hair”, “you’re medium height”, “you were wearing shoes”, etc. The person also has to be single, and in addition not freaked out that someone treated the brief eye contact shared on the number 8 bus as an unbreakable bond of affection and lust so strong they were forced to track them down online, indeed that needs to be a quality they’d look for in a partner. Only if somehow against infinitesimal odds this chain of coincidences runs unbroken are we at the stage where two people are aware of one other, the same as two people first meeting at a bar for instance – they still need to find eachother mutually interesting and attractive and only then might a relationship bloom.

It seems an absurdly unlikely wherewithal to start dating someone you were probably only admiring to prevent yourself having to look at piss-streaked public transport floors or the big, sad, bloodshot eyes of buskers. This whole concept of coolly-connecting-instantly-with-a-stranger-in-a-public-place-and-falling-in-love is galvanized by Hollywood with uplifting arty films like ‘Before Sunrise’ where an innocuous conversation between a guy and a girl on a train begins some hopelessly poignant romance.

I’m sure Missed Connections’ existence does help people cope with their monotonous daily routines by imagining maybe they’re in a romcom, and falling for a randomer who shares their commute seems the sort of thing that’d set the film’s kooky, quixotic, life-affirming adventures off. Maybe they’re not just twice-divorced Darryl Thomas from I.T, maybe actually they’re Hugh Grant or Paul Rudd and actually everything’s going to be OK. When of course everyone else on the tube or bus aren’t necessarily deuteragonists awaiting recognition in the sitcom script that is your life, they’re trying to get to work and ignore the guy that keeps staring at them.

Advertisements on the tube hardly discourage this either, with plugs for Match.com over-exciting the imagination of travelling singletons.

The ingrained notion that buses and trains are really just loud, moving single clubs seems to have clouded just how improbable Craigslist’s Missed Connections really are, so much so that various other sites have originated to provide the same service – MissedConnections.com, ISawYou.com and LoveinLondon.net are all designed to help Londoners track down the one that almost accidentally brushed against them once in a smelly tube carriage.

London newspaper ‘Metro’, distributed free every weekday to be listlessly read on the way to work and trodden into station floors as a tabloid pulp come evening, even has a section titled ‘Rush Hour Crush’ where people can mail in to have their commuting romances published and hopefully read and reciprocated.

Missed Connections, then, are clearly quite a popular concept and some people obviously take them very seriously. I even found one woman whose search for a suited man she’d shared a smile with was so desperate she’d posted on every Missed Connection site available:

But do these Missed Connections ever work? I asked the woman above, who’d been pretty comprehensive in tracking down her man, and she reported back to say that in her case no, “I don’t think that the person who messaged me back was the one I meant in my text.” Are these even designed to work, or do they just act as an outlet for the shy and beta to appease themselves by saying “well, at least I tried!” Whilst there is the odd reported case of a relationship spawning, either by Metro submission or Craigslist post, it’s such a rare and incredulous event that it usually makes the news, and if a dating method creates a couple so infrequently that whenever it does it makes headlines can it really be classed as functional?

To determine the success rate, if any, of Missed Connections, I decided to run a series of tests. I could find no evidence of any other documented studies of this sort so as far as I’m aware these are unique in that respect.

Firstly, for a better insight into the minds of the people who post such ads I decided to reply to some pretending to be the elusive missed romance described. Statistically, in America it least, the vast majority of Missed Connection posts are men searching for women (m4w) at 59%, followed by m4m at 27%, w4m at 13% and w4w filling the final 1%, so to increase my chances of getting a response I created a coquettish female alter-ego by the name of Abbey Davies and replied to some Missed Connections.

It was hard to find any common denominator in the responses I received. On one hand an Indian gentleman called Naz offered to rape me after replying to his ad, stating “get yourself dressed up and meet me tomorrow to let me have my way with you…  Central line… tomorrow afternoon, Liverpool Street”, whereas the discourse generated from replying to Trevor’s ad was cringingly charming:

I wanted to gauge the personality of those who wrote such adverts to help when it came to writing my own Missed Connections ad, but with no one character type defining the average poster I reasoned I’d just have to improvise. My plan was to have a meander around London and surreptitiously photograph one male and one female, then splash them across every possible online platform associated with tracking down Missed Connections to see if I had any success whatsoever in finding them. Here are the pair in question; most likely I will never really know who you are but I’m afraid you have been exposed to an extensive unwilling media assault, so sorry about that.

The respective Craigslist ads I posted looked like this:

In addition to hunting them online I also submitted their descriptions to the Metro’s ‘Rush Hour Crush’. I did this over the course of a weekend, and as neither appeared in Monday’s copy I assumed they’d been discarded as not interesting or soppy enough to be featured. So imagine my surprise when Tuesday’s copy had both my ads, and not just that, but I’d won a toothbrush!

I allowed these various posts to germinate for a while but my search for the blonde girl, taking the form of a ten-a-penny m4w listing, seemed to blend into obscurity and produced not a single response. However my w4m pursuit of the Muttley man happily produced a more lucrative return – I wordlessly received this picture from one Michael B:

and one unnamed conversationalist went along with some exquisitely odd sexual arrangements:

Most promising of all was the message from ‘fun85’, who wrote:

I tried desperately to follow this lead up but after his inaugural mail I was never to hear from him again, and the anonymity Craigslist offers means I couldn’t even track him down via his e-mail address. I fear I scared him off like a nerdy deer.

I realize of course he could be bullshitting; the only fact I have to work with is that his distinctive T-shirt is allegedly from M&S, and my thorough research into this claim has come up inconclusive – the only thing I have learned is that it actually reads “The Mutt’s Nuts” rather than “The Mutt’s Mutt” as I originally thought. However I want to believe that the sender really was the paunched Hanna-Barbera fan I saw on the train, and he stopped replying simply as he found the situation too weird, particularly when I sent him a picture of the inside page of Tuesday’s Metro where Abbey’d offered to be his human pitstop.

It seems apparent then that for Missed Connections to work the person written about has to be flattered or excited or have some semblance of positivity about the experience, or instead of a relationship there’s going to be at best confusion and at worst a court order. Muttley-shirt, were it really him, seemed to devolve from happy surprise to the gnawing realization that this was all a bit strange, so I wanted to see if this was the usual reaction; if so, this million-to-one matchmaking method is surely doomed from the get-go.

To find the specific people referenced in Missed Connections and inform them that someone had written about them online proved an interesting but not impossible task, as some posts refer not to strangers bumped into on random commutes but actually at the love interest’s place of work. These ones sort of puzzle me – if you know where they work, then you can go and ask them out; that’s not a missed connection, that’s a known connection, a fear-of-potentially-unreciprocated-affections connection.

So I collated some of the London Missed Connections posted within the last month that specify where the target was employed, printed them out and aimed to physically hand them to the love objects described. I intended to find their reaction and contact the original posters to let them know how it went, and I maintain this was a nice thing to do – the anxiety in finding out exam results is always worse than the actual knowledge of them, and likewise it’d be better to put these Craiglisters out of their misery rather than them checking their emails every half hour and getting crushed by disappointment every time there’s no response. I was going to force these people into facing up to their possible romances whether they liked it or not, as some glum, administrative cupid in a hoodie.

The day started poorly. I intended to begin with this ad, posted by a woman who’d been served by a guy at a red food stall on Golborne Road whom she wanted to get to know. Seeing as the odds of him searching for himself on MissedConnections.com were extremely minimal I thought I could be the middle man here, but having walked the entire length of the road in question the only food stall I could find was blue and even that was unmanned.

Likewise I couldn’t be sure I was in the same Lloyd’s Pharmacy branch as described in this m4m ad, so I just shelved it next to some tampons for someone to find.

My third attempt though I was feeling more confident about. The ad, which has since been removed, read simply:

To the lovely male barista at AMT Balham – w4m – 25
You will never read this anyway, so I can be crude.
I would do you like a truck.
What’s up with the ring on your finger though?

I headed to Balham station and the AMT was easy to find.

I love that as a photo, so much chaos hanging in potential, I think I might submit it to a gallery of some sort.

I ordered a coffee and as the female worker pottered about making it I asked if she usually had a male co-worker with her. She reported she did, a man called Tom who wasn’t in that day. I explained the situation and she promised she’d pass the Missed Connection on to him, seemingly very enthused.

I was on quite a high from this positive interaction as I worked my way to Dulwich Village, my last port of call for the day. This ad has also been removed since I told its creator it’d been personally delivered, but it originally read:

i want to kiss you once! You are so cute – m4w
you work at Gail’s Bakery – I know I am too old for you but you would be amazed of how good a kisser I am

This one I was slightly more reserved in handing over due to its paedophilic overtones, but regardless I marched into the exorbitant artisan bakery clutching the sheet confidently.

There was only one conceivable worker the post could have been aimed at, a young brunette with a ponytail whom I made a beeline for. I handed the note over with some flustered explanations and her face was a picture of perplexed nausea. Upon my asking if I could snap a photo of her holding it to send to this mystery older guy her response was unequivocal, pushing the paper back into my hands and firmly stating “no, no one here wants this, not me, not anybody. Please just take it and leave.”

So it was a mixed bag of emotions I faced when informing people they were someone’s Missed Connection. When I returned home I messaged the original posters to tell them I’d printed out their respective ads and handed them to the people they’d referenced, and our Balham AMT mothertrucker replied with surprising good cheer.

I’ve played around a lot with Missed Connections over the last couple weeks, both responding to them and creating them, and it’s hard to come to any definitive conclusion as to whether or not they work. The girl at Gail’s Bakery reacted to her personal ad as if I were trying to thrust a dead dog into her arms, and there are clearly a lot of pretty unpleasant people who seem to have misread the topic as Missed Copulations.

However if there really did exist an Abbey Davies with a craving for man-children in tight ‘Wacky Races’ tops, then on a surface level that Missed Connection worked, and he’d simply been spooked off by my incessant demands that he send a facial photo to certify it was really him. Even if he hadn’t replied, Abbey’s Inbox was plenty full of suitors claiming although they weren’t the male in question they’d love to get to know her more, and as proven by portrait artist Trev some of them are clearly decent people willing to go to quite admirable lengths for girls they don’t even know.

When I began work for this article I was all ready to trash Missed Connections as useless, but weirdly the success rate seems to be slightly higher than you might expect. I think it tends to strike a chord with both wan romantics and incredible perverts, the two extreme ends of the dating spectrum separated by the normal people who ask each other out in real life, and considering males and females in both camps religiously check Craigslist and also post every time they make eye contact or brush someone’s arm on a busy tube, finding likeminded soulmates via the site makes statistical sense.

I don’t think there’s any fear of this replacing conventional asking out, be that through text or spoken word or uneasy tacit assumption after a night of drunk sex, but it’s not quite the hopeless love lottery I once thought. From the feelers I put out there, even if you transpire to not be the original person described it still creates a discourse between two people presumably single, London-based and sufficiently desperate for a relationship to be looking on Craigslist for one, and I’m sure there exist regular couples that work with even less in common than that.

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Bloody critics

“What do vampires think of the Twilight franchise?”

As a child I once went to a Halloween party dressed as a vampire, and took some pride in my choice of costume. I had a cape and a set of fangs and was liberally spattered with fake blood which I tracked all over the host’s beige carpet; I kept pretending to bite people and a couple times actually did. This, however, was a good few years before an American author by the name of Stephenie Meyer awoke from a dream with a concept for a novel that would birth the Twilight series – 4 books which combined have sold over 100 million copies worldwide. Nowadays any boy who wants to go as a vampire to his friend’s Halloween party probably has all the box sets of ‘Glee’ and wears meggings to his school’s non-uniform day.

I cannot think of any feared mythological figure whose identity has been so battered by popular culture than that of the vampire. In my youth vampires were construed of as all genuinely nasty exocannibalistic maniacs, the paradigm of which was the star of Bram Stoker’s novel ‘Dracula’. The vampiric protagonist, Count Dracula, was based on Vlad the Impaler, an indisputably unpleasant man. His favoured activities, as documented in visceral Tsarist pamphlets, included:

roast[ing] children, whom he fed to their mothers. And (he) cut off the breasts of women, and forced their husbands to eat them. After that, he had them all impaled.

Compare this to the behaviour of the Twilight generation’s archetypal vampire, Edward Cullen, prone to staring wistfully out of slightly misted windows with eyes deep wells of infatuation and woe, and you have a sense of how tepid and effete this new Hollywoodized vampire model is. The vampires I grew up with didn’t want to find true love, they didn’t want to be “understood”, they wanted to bust your jugular vein open and mess, you, up.

This new strain of vampire that’s more likely to be broody than bloody has arisen because Twilight, at its core, is really just a tale of troubled and forbidden love for teenage girls to pine over; the fact that one half of this fanciful relationship is vampiric is really just happenstance to prevent the story being too banal. Seeing as it wouldn’t work out between seventeen-year-old Bella Swan and the slavering, murdering blood-fetishists that vampires used to be, we now have sensitive, caring introverts with exquisite cheekbones who sparkle in the sun. This identity has leaked into other examples of, to quote a legitimate genre, “vampiric chick-lit”, such as ‘The Vampire Diaries’ and ‘The Southern Vampire Mysteries’ on which the TV series ‘True Blood’ is based.

This crippling of the traditional vampire concept, just to maximize revenue through the conduit of fanatic teenage girls, doesn’t sit right with me. Vampires should be the embodiment of pure evil; real people have actually been publicly executed due to vampiric suspicions, particularly during a period of hysteria in Eastern Europe known as “The 18th-Century Vampire Controversy”. As little as 10 years ago, Malawi governor Eric Chiwaya was stoned by a mob of citizens accusing the government of colluding with vampires. Vampires should be feared, not coveted.

But who am I, a mortal norm, to judge how vampires should be portrayed? How do actual vampires feel about this shift in public opinion? Are they bitter and embarrassed at how Twilight has represented them, or pleased to have this new image that makes them the desire of girls the world over? Naturally, I would have to ask them.

You may question my ability to interview supernatural beings, but there do exist many popular groups of people who call themselves vampires and occasionally amass to discuss all things vampirical. One such example is the “London Vampire Meetup Group”, which assembles on the first Thursday of every month. Clearly to find some answers to this query I would have to attend one such meeting, under the guise of a new member.

So on a fiercely hot Thursday evening I pulled on my blackest, densest clothes – I didn’t know the dress code but I couldn’t imagine I’d blend in wearing tie-dyed shorts – and set off to Camden to find this bar. I’d been able to find very little information about this group online, so had only the vaguest idea of what I might be walking into. I kept neurotically imagining the opening scene to the movie ‘Blade’, where a witless human stumbles into a club of vampires and is soaked in blood that pours from the sprinkler system, undead revellers around him whipped into a savage frenzy, fangs bared.

The place looked reasonably normal from the outside, at least:

Inside it was quite a baroque environment, a little darker than the average pub but aside from that the aesthetics revealed little about the nature of its patrons. My prediction about the dress code was accurate, with everyone in black apart from one guy boasting a bright red mohawk, wearing a blood-red sweater vest with “LUTHER IS OUR GOD NOW?” written in permanent marker on the back.

I ordered a beer and looked around. A few people had prosthetic fangs, there was a lot of esoteric gothic clothing and a couple crossdressers stood about. Annoyingly everyone seemed to know each other, which I suppose was inevitable from their monthly meet-ups, but it did mean as the newcomer I felt about as alienated as is humanly possible. I propped up the bar and tried to get drunk enough to socialize with these members of the occult.

After a couple pints I managed to strike up conversation with a DJ called Mark, who had an interest in vampires but was mainly here to accompany his extremely vampiric girlfriend. I awkwardly broached the topic of Twilight, to which he made a disgusted face and shook his head, dismissing the franchise as “shit”. However I gathered from our subsequent conversation about Stanley Kubrick that he was something of a film buff, and disliked Twilight more due to its watery, prosaic plot and jaded directing rather than its reflection of the vampire world. For a more trustworthy consensus, I’d have to ask one of the group’s regulars.

A further two pints later I found myself speaking with a woman named Carla, whose devotion to the vampire clan was clear both from her funereal garb as well as her explanation of how she’d spent the last six months of her life.
“I’ve been trying to enter a coven, y’know, a community of witches,” she told me cheerily. “I’m studying Wicca at the moment to hopefully be ordained into its second tier. I just hope I can please my High Priest!” I smiled blankly at her and continued pounding back lager.

Eventually I managed to steer discourse towards Twilight and was faced with the same repulsed mien Mark had exhibited. She included True Blood and The Vampire Diaries in her all-encompassing condemnation of how pitiful modern-day vampires were. It was clear she was a fan of vampires’ dark, barbaric side, as she spoke excitedly of how the media should really portray them as bloated corpses with their skin rotting off, the polar opposite of the beautiful, chiseled Cullen family served up by Twilight.

It seemed pretty evident that this group, united by a fandom of classical, menacing vampire folklore, would obviously be averse to anything which trashed the traditional idea of Dracula in such a way. This group had been around since long before Twilight’s conception, meeting monthly under their organizer who goes by the name of ‘Thunder’. I managed to snap a shot of him early on in the evening whilst pretending to take an innocuous photo of my Budweiser.

After speaking with Carla he appeared alongside me at the bar. “Are you the one they call Thunder?” I asked him, sneaking onto the list of Top 10 strangest introductory sentences of my life thus far.

Thunder was a very pleasant and strikingly normal man who explained about the group to me whilst nursing a Guinness. He apologized for the small turnout, even though at around 50 vampires present it was busier than I expected it to be, and also apologized for forgetting his fangs. “It’s very remiss of me,” he said, with genuine shame.

It was an interesting and enjoyable chat, but I was here to speak about Twilight. I managed to work it into conversation and Thunder palpably winced. “When Twilight first came out,” he explained, “we were swamped with 16 year old girls who all wanted to join. Not only is this an 18+ group, but their idea of a vampire is a bit different to ours – that was fairly annoying. I don’t think you’ll find any Twilight fans here.”

I thought that statement would comprehensively settle this question – I wanted to find out whether vampires liked Twilight, and the leader of a vampire association unequivocally said that no, they do not. However, he then went on to say “as a group we’re not really vampires as such, we’re just huge fans of vampiric culture and literature. We don’t engage in any blood drinking, that’s for ‘sanguine vampires’.”

It was indeed niggling me that the group, for all their black clothing, arcane appearance and insane beliefs did seem very happy and gregarious, not really how I imagined vampires to be. And if they didn’t actually drink blood, could they even be considered vampires at all?

I returned home from The Elixir Bar a little drunk and did some research into the sanguine vampires, or ‘sanguinarians’, that Thunder mentioned. These are real people who actively drink blood, believing it’s necessary to maintain their physical and mental health. They don’t just binge on rare steaks and black pudding, they actually have personal blood donors who donate whatever blood they can spare for sanguinarians to glug back in order to stay fit and healthy. The forum Black Swan Haven (black swans being vampiric lingo for a non-vampire that sympathises with vampires) is an online community where sanguinarians can find donors in their area and prospective donors can offer up their blood for anyone who would like a sip.

Having scoured the forums and with my wits still cloudy with Budweiser I rattled off an e-mail to a vamp who stated he was looking for a donor, asking if we could meet up and hesitantly offering a slurp from my veins should that be a requisite to us meeting. He declined the blood I proposed, saying he was after a long-term donor rather than just a one-off sample, however he did agree to meet me. So a few days later I headed to Kent, to meet up with someone I’d met on the Internet, on a blood-drinking message board.

His name was Bryce, a tall, quite nasally vampire who met me from Kent station one evening; it had to be evening of course, as Bryce is strictly nocturnal. We headed to a pub, more specifically the sort of venerable old tavern occupied solely by elderly men, where the only female was the barmaid and even she laboured beneath the following sign:

Bryce began to tell me about his life as a vampire. He’d been drinking blood for the past 4 years, beginning with animal blood which allegedly tastes disgusting and moving onto humans’. His usual dietary requirements were 250ml of blood a month, so sort of like a period in reverse, but if possible he’d like to drink a lot more. Thankfully when I met him he’d fed 2 weeks ago so his cravings were minimal, if not I imagine I’d have been a lot more on edge throughout our meeting, terrified I’d get a papercut and he’d misconstrue that as me serving up a liquid lunch.

His claims became more and more outrageous as the evening continued. He told me he also associates with a vampire called Amy, some psi-vamp pranic energy leech who can make you pass out with just a stare, and a charismatic guy named Oliver who seems determined to fulfill all the Dracula stereotypes, even down to his having a crippling allergy to garlic. Bryce declared he could smell people’s blood from a distance away and from that determine whether they had any illnesses; I proffered my wrists and he gave me the all-clear, the first medical checkup I’ve had in years. On occasion him, Amy and Oliver will go to a Brighton club that caters to vampires to try to scope out the freshest morsel on the dancefloor, getting drunk on tumblers of whiskey mixed with human blood.

If I’m honest it was quite a lot to take in, particularly as apparently him being a vampire meant his alcohol tolerance was exceptionally high and admittedly it was quite difficult keeping up with his drinking rate. I was knocking back a seemingly endless amount of ale, aware that I had to get a train home at some stage as I wasn’t overly keen on being stranded in a county where the only person I knew considered me a canapé. You can see my eyes are tinged with slight drunken concern in the photo I took of the two of us:

Thankfully I was still lucid enough to remember my purpose for being there, and eventually succeeded in bringing Twilight into the conversation. Bryce if possible was even more hostile to the franchise than the London vampires. “Oh I cannot stand it!” he decried, “it’s absolutely detestable.” When I argued that surely the series had made him incredibly popular with the girls he riposted that Twilight’s representation of vampires is unrealistic. ‘Real’ vampires don’t glitter in the sun, they blister and develop hives, and vampirism does not necessarily make you an automatic touchstone for brooding chivalry.

Bryce even reported that since Twilight several people had asked him to ‘convert’ them, much like Bella requested from Edward, as having been romanticized by the media a vampiric life is now viewed as extremely attractive. But not only is that impossible, it’s an incredibly deluded and stupid wish – if you’re a teenage girl and you can’t find a boyfriend, there’s a whole host of possible explanations more likely than the root of the problem being that you’re not a vampire. You could be emotionally stunted, or a deeply unpleasant person, or just plain hideous.

The vampirism Bryce exhibits is almost certainly just an acute form of anemia, with the odd blood supplement boosting his iron levels and providing an autonomic endorphin release that makes him feel alive again, combined with a dash of light sensitivity and a huge side serving of psychosomatic confusion and general madness. True vampiric life then, as seen from my trips to Camden and Kent, consists largely of either dressing up or being ill, none of the intense lust and bewitching enigma Twilight insists upon. The vampires I’ve met seem to be largely quite introverted, there’s the odd outgoing one like Oliver or Thunder but overall I suspect they want to be left alone and try to have a fairly normal life, not put on a podium and forced to live up to the infamy of the incredibly sensitive hypersexualized vampires everyone knows from Stephenie Meyer.

This pushing of vampires into the public limelight can actually be a danger to them. They are at heart just a bunch of goths and anemics, not undead monsters or revenant killers or corporeal evil, and yet there are some people so delusional they actually see it as their mission in life to hunt and kill these ‘vampires’. I always thought the profession of vampire hunter was just a fictitious one to base a film or TV show around; from Buffy to Blade, vampire hunters are always hugely watchable and celebrated protagonists because they’re ridding the world of sin with puns and gratuitous violence, and also because they’re either a hot blonde or really cool black guy. So imagine my surprise at finding out vampire hunters actually exist, and you could enroll their services of vampire disposal from their base in North London.

The “only vampire elimination specialist in London” states on their site they “have first hand knowledge of dealing with these blood sucking vermin.” Their services include vampire disposal, vampire deterrents, and post attack counselling.

The world is completely fucking mad, and you can never leave.

I was eager to get in touch with John Michaelson, the site owner and original London vampire hunter, curious as to his opinion of Twilight. It’s surely a sign that business isn’t great that the only contact information available on the company’s website is a link to John’s MySpace, so to try to converse with him I had to make an account. I didn’t feel he’d be likely to reply to a cheery, bright-eyed figure in a Hawaiian shirt so instead I created a profile for my emo alter-ego Matthias Grumhorn.

MySpace is now so redundant it’s no longer even possible to send messages to anyone, and hence sadly I was never able to touch base with John. If I had to make a prediction, as a man who makes a living slaying vampires and actually writes the words “vampire hunter” on his income tax form, I very much doubt Twilight would be one of his favourite films. It seems that whether we be human or vampire, blood-guzzler or superstitious naysayer, whatever our differences we are united by our one common belief that Twilight, be it in novel or film format, simply isn’t very good.

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