Angsty Hipster in Hangzhou # 2:- Travel

Ideally I should have updated this when I was there. Unideally, internet access was confusing and a pain in the arse to work so think of this as a retrospective travel blog.

Long distance travel doesn’t bother me. I’m not an idiot. I’m perfectly aware that China is on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD to jolly old Sunderland, so I’m not naïve enough to think that it would be a short Megabus hop and then I’d be fighting pandas and wrestling dragons etc.

I was more than prepared to travel to the airport myself. I mean, I booked my flights, visa, insurance, place on the trip, pre-departure meeting in Manchester and various other things throughout my twenty years as a citizen of planet Earth myself, so an hour on the Tyne and Wear Metro on a straight route is more than alright for me to manage. Except it would be, if my mother wasn’t Lisa Shepherd who being the sentimental fiend that she is insisted on driving me to the airport herself. I’m not complaining about the fact that she gave me a lift (as lets face it an hour not spent on a public transit system is an hour well spent) but the fact that as soon as she‘ll have seen me go into departures she‘d end up having this emotional fit of “MYBABY‘SALLGROWNUPWAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH“ what she‘s pretty prone to doing, and if there‘s anything I don‘t want on my conscience, a hysterical woman is up there.

Hysterical women aside, when I arrived at Newcastle Airport, for some reason I couldn’t get my ticket for my connecting flight to Hangzhou there and then so had to pick it up at a transfer desk at Amsterdam Schiphol once I’d arrived. I only had an hour and a half transfer time between flights which combined with the fact that my Newcastle flight was delayed by 40 minutes meant that things were looking tighter than Mother Theresa’s chuff so after a short hour and five minute hop to Europe, I rushed to the nearest KLM desk I could find to be told that they’d overbooked the flight to Hangzhou and that there’s a chance I might not even have a seat but I wanted to I could volunteer to wait for the next flight (24 hours later…). Needless to say I fucking declined to volunteer for the next flight and when they checked my ticket details I did have a seat reserved, my case had been loaded onto this flight, and I didn’t have to “volunteer” to do anything (one of the main (but cynical) reasons I give for doing this trip is that it’s time abroad without having to pay a vast amount of dollars help anyone worse off than yourself).

Seat 31G of this KLM Boeing 737-200 to Hangzhou was a mixture of a blessing and a curse. Due to it being the front of a row of seats and next to an emergency exit, I had more than ample legroom, easy access to the toilets (which I took advantage of frequently due to flight nerves), and was served refreshments quicker than others. However, being the front row, I didn’t have an entertainment screen in front of me next to my traytable, and it took me nearly an hour into the flight to realise that it was in my arm rest and had to pull it out before me from which some quality viewing took place. I was more than surprised with the film selection and being the “like oh my gawd, totally cool, alternative hipster” type that I am decided that Easy Rider, Drive, and Curb Your Enthusiasm would be my viewing types. Easy Rider- a classic, Curb- laugh out loud funny, Drive- a film I would have thoroughly enjoyed if I hadn’t decided to watch it 30 mins after the flight food. As you can imagine the Caucasian contingent of this flight was relatively limited and I was positioned alone amongst a large group of Chinese people, that all seemed to know each other very well and get copious amounts of energy from flight food. My oriental neighbours could only be compared to kids on E-numbers after meal times and didn’t hesitate in scurrying about all over the cabin and gathering and chattering loudly and persistently to each other right in front of where I was sat. So Ryan Gosling, you were great… I think.

That was going there, coming back was just as interesting. As a student at a British university, I engaged in a long standing tradition of British students on trips abroad and that is the tradition of getting spectacularly fucked on local firewater on the last night before departure. 9am on the morning of the 17th I rolled into the lobby with my case for the 45 minute drive to the airport. 45 minutes seems ok, but no-one had prepared my shochu addled stomach for just how bumpy the roads were going to be. I didn’t even make it into the airport before I was wretching a heady mixture of bile and possibly lighter fluid on the tiles outside of Hangzhou airport. Once I stopped spewing there, I made my way into the airport and before I could locate the check-in desk, the whitey waves had hit me again and I casually strolled to the gents, convulsing into my hands as I tried to walk as if I were some professional business man. I couldn’t find the cubicles in time so dove into the nearest urinal I could find. An empty one with two urinating Chinese business men either side. I didn’t look up, or care how I must have looked or was representing the fucking country. I just wanted this stream to stop billowing out of my mouth, and in a garbled attempt at mandarin apologised to the two confused chaps either side of me. I then realised I was covered in sick, and an 11 hour flight covered in vomit is just cruel for whoever would be sat next to me so I got changed into a shirt I would say was quite smart. I slipped the fake Ray Bans I’d bought on as well and made my way to the check in desk. I’m not sure this was because I was dressed quite smartly but for some reason I was given a free upgrade from economy class to economy comfort (which in the state I was in, I wasn’t going to protest) so relished in the presence of slightly more leg room and seats that went just that little bit further back.

Upon descent into Amsterdam airport, it dawned on me that I had 15 hours until my connecting flight to Newcastle and then realised that I felt like I was going to drop down dead. As far as I was aware I had no money at all having spent it all on fanny packs and visors so had to resign myself to 15 hours of starvation and sleeplessness however I thought there’d be no harm in seeing if I could get transferred to an earlier flight to Newcastle or Durham Tees Valley. I couldn’t so resignedly decided that there was no harm to check that I had no money in my bank account. HOW FUCKING GLAD I WAS THAT I DID THIS when I discovered that Student Finance had been saucy minxes and came up with the goods. With that behind me, I grabbed some pizza and checked myself into one of the coolest hotels I’ve ever stayed in ( and showered myself and indulged in some South Park (the queefing episode, now you ask me). Up bright and early for my flight back to Newcastle and touched down in Newcastle at half 10. I was reminded by just how much I hate elements of the United Kingdom when I got on the metro back to Sunderland by the sight of a Geordie Metro worker talking down to a Chinese guy as if he was an idiot for bringing a massive case on to the Metro and not taking into account the fact that I had a case equally as hefty and I wasn’t being spoken to by him like I was some sort of Special Needs Student… cunt.

So this is my first in a series of retrospective blogs in regards to my recent jaunt to Asia, hope they grab your fancy and I know what blog you’re all looking forward to reading so that’s going to be the next one for you to read. Coming soon… FOOD.

Angsty Hipster in Hangzhou #1- Pre-departure Musings.

I’m going to China on Saturday. It’s not like I like to go on about it or anything but I’m going to China on Saturday. Actually, I don’t like to go on about it because I can’t just say ‘I’m going to China on Saturday’ and not go into it, like I’d be able to if I was going to Zante or Malia on Saturday for a lads holiday, although those that know me would wonder what the fuck I’m doing going on a lads holiday(it’s an exchange trip to China, incase you were wondering). 

Now this is where Tumblr is going to come in of key importance over the next three weeks. There’s this thing in China, ironically nicknamed ‘The Great FIREWALL of China’ in that sites that are deemed to encourage anti-social and anti-governmental behaviour are blocked and one of those sites is Facebook. Again, anyone who knows me will know that I have a dangerous and chronic addiction to social networking and have to shoot up a status nearly 5 times a day just to get that high (I’m not ashamed to admit it, AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU BE). Twitter’s blocked as well, so how am I going to pester the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation at all times of the day with my nerdy questions!? Tumblr, on the other hand, is not blocked which makes me wonder how accidental the hipsters on this blog are

This could prove to be a really good move for this blog, which generally consists of rants, raves, recipes and a failed attempt to upload a video, as instead of focusing my energies on a banal status about my toilet habits, I’ll be updating you about adventures on the other side of the world (although on the pre-trip briefing they told us that the main thing to pack was anti-diarrhoea tablets so toilet blogs may still feature). Think of it as a travel blog for the wreckhead generation in which I tell it as it is in that uninhibited way I do best.

Oh and btw… did I mention I’m going to China?

I think this is deserving of the Shepherd treatment…


When people solely talk about food and weight loss I feel an unfathomable amount of pent up rage rise to the surface. 

(Source: tempestofpassion)

Things I hate #8:- People that take no pride in the way they dress

First of all, I never thought I’d be writing a fashion blog. Secondly, I’m no fucking Gok Wan. Thirdly, this isn’t an attack on anyone in particular. Fourthly, HI THERE.

So I’m walking to a lecture (this could be any time, or any day, or any university campus throughout the country) and I’m stood behind what can only be described as Rocky’s female twin on benefits. Dyed blonde hair in an uninspiring pony tail, grey university hoodie, grey Jack Wills joggers, and UGGs (what I’m assuming were real). We were both late this morning, me being late just shoved my Docs, my old faithful Siouxsie tee (Jamie Cutter- this ones for you), my trademark black drainpipes, and a denim jacket on. The whole process of this took me no more than two minutes to put on my body, and I also imagine that was also the same amount of time it took for this girl to get ready (possibly a nano-second more due to the presence of BUTTONS and LACES). The difference between the two of us was that my outfit said something about my personality and who I was and didn’t require any effort of thought.

I mean my outfit had been accumulated through the years, and I’ve begged, borrowed, and (not literally) stole to reach the look I feel comfortable in. I’m not saying it’s a good look and that the Paris catwalks’ll will be showing the Shepherd Spring Collection, but if one person looked at me and thought “Yeah, that suits him, yeah, cool, AWESOME” I’d be quite happy. My look is in no-way individual- I’m not the only angsty Siouxsie and the Banshees fan in the world. I got my Docs after watching This is England 86. My denim jacket is partly a homage to one of my favourite author Kerouac, in that he looked damn fine in a tight, light denim Jacket, and also partly to the film Buffalo 66 in which Vincent Gallo broods around some snowy deadbeat town (and I’m not gonna lie, whenever I’m walking in the shit end of town and it’s snowy and there isn’t many people around, I brood, and I slip into what you might call melancholy… OH MY GOD CALL THE HIPSTER POLICE). But ultimately, the thing that I’m not ashamed to admit is that the black skinny jeans I wear have been a staple since my 14 year old, NME reading, Indie bumming youth. I wore skinny jeans because I wanted to be just like the Klaxons, The Horrors (first album period… yeah, I know. WHAT WAS I THINKING?), and the Kaiser Chiefs. Do I regret this? NOT AT ALL. At the time, these were the bands I listened to and this was the image I wanted to buy into (as handily provided by Topman). Fortunately, I discovered that black drainpipes suited me and showed off the Shepherd fortune that is GOOD LEGS (thighs not so). AND IT WAS EASLILY GOTTEN SECOND HAND.

This girl, on the other hand, had obviously paid a fair bit of money to look like shite. UGG boats from new- veering past the hundred mark, Jack Wills- OVERPRICED BANTER GEAR, University Hoodies- surprisingly not that cheap considering the target demographic. What I want to know is what her mother would have said if she knew she’d left the house dressed like that, as I’m almost certain mamaa wouldn’t let dear Pandora out looking like that. 

This is not a class issue and me getting on my Northern high-horse again, as the chav demographic has it’s own mantra of dressing that epitomises lousy looking almost as equally as this, but a mere economic one. Surely if you’re going to dress lazily, you should pay an appropriate price. These clothes were designed for monging so essentially this is like buying a brand new Armani suit to go to work in the Post Office (totally unnecessary and almost verging on the vestiges of inappropriate).

There’s certain sub-cultures and styles that I would not touch with a barge pole, but I’m not going to go up to the goth and tell him that he looks like he escaped from some low-budget, Slovenian, vampire flick because that look works for him. I would tell the guy wearing clothes that  looked like his mother had bought that he needed to re-evaluate the signs he was giving off. FASHION REPORT OVER YA BASTARDS.

Inappropriate and Strangely Funny Celebrity Drug Addictions

The internet is awash with the news of Whitney Houston’s death. Bitch sure could sing and a talent like that deserved that “Million Dolla’ Bill”, but maybe not the coating of white powder that lined the note. Known affectionately to her mates as Whitney “CRAZYGURN” Houston, she spiralled into depravity shortly after she married (incidentally just this second a spotify advert came on for FRANK… irony?) Bobby Brown and entered the domestic bliss of mutual abuse and high-profile celebrity bust-ups, paparazzi invasions and tabloid smears. Yes, it is sort of acceptable that Whitney Houston deserved some form of escape, and yes, it is tragic that the escape she may have chosen is hard narcotics but when you see the woman herself: this glamour-puss diva, bejewelled to the nines in a floor length dress telling us about her belief that children are the future in the most gorgeously decorative way you can’t help but think HAHAHAHAHAHAHA SHE’S GOT A DRUG PROBLEM… just me?

I’m not laughing at the fact that she had a problem, I’m laughing at the fact that the only real addicts I’m likely to come across are people with names like “Mad Dazza” who my grandad’s probably come across in the pub, and not a beloved sweetheart like her. Her response to press allegations of crack addiction hilariously undermines the real issue of drug dependence- “First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s getthat straight. Okay? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is wack.”. Crack is wack indeed Whitney, but coke is a JOKE, ay Whitney? You old diva you!

It seems that whenever a celebrity acquires the knowledge that their press team will do anything up to (and including) licking their colon clean, the Prima Donna in them goes wild. Especially, in the young… enter in the front basket of a Stephen Spielberg driven bicycle, Drew Barrymore.

Smoker at 9, raging alchy at 11, stoner at 12, and doing the hokey cokey at 13… KEITH RICHARDS WATCH OUTBRUV. I mean that’s an insane age to be sessioning! I remember thinking I was a little bit naughty on my first night out at 15 when I had a few pints of Fosters in the one pub in Sunderland an aborted foetus could have been served at. I didn’t even start smoking till I’d left school and started college where I smosed (smoke/posed… clever huh?) with the sole regal king size I’d stolen from my grandad. I didn’t even know how to inhale (good thing I didn’t as regal are VILE). Drew Barrymore was probably the kid at school that intimidatingly knew it all, had older boyfriends with cars named MC Turbo, that bragged in the period before teacher arrived to start the lesson about how her jaw went into lock down when she gave her fella a blowie in the car-park of Lidl, and slagged herself up in town and lezzed off with her girl mates Courtney and Destiny for a cheeky VK … but like, totally in LA and like, instead of cheeky VK’s it was like, totally awesome Colombia’s finest (or posh as my less American and sophisticated mates call it).

Again, the whole absurdity of this situation is soberly grounded in the fact that at age 14 Drew had an attempted suicide attempt and as the 80s moved into the 90s she she gradually began to reconcile her past to shift into the darling she is now. I personally like Drew Barrymore, there’s something cool about her. Like in Donny Darko she’s class as the jaded English teacher, and she plays one of the few tolerable characters in that “quirky” and “offbeat” rom-com “He’s Just Not That Into You” and I like how she salvaged her edgy chemical-fuelled reputation and transformed it into something you could proudly call credible without the need to get your tits out on Letterman.

Similarly, Davina’s heroin addiction is largely forgotten about, but we haven’t forgotten about her overtly fertile womb. The reigning despot of reality TV probably switched that addiction to pregnancy during the mid-noughties as every show she was on in that period she was boasting some swollen womb. but yeah… it’s mad that she was a smack rat.

My personal favourite celebrity drug addict didn’t choose life, he chose driving around Hampstead Heath at ungodly hours, cruising for anonymous sex, and then falling asleep at the wheel and crashing into things due to smoking enough weed to make even veterans like Snoop require a trip to the 24 hour Co-Op round the corner to stock up on Pringles, Haribo, and oversized Galaxy bars. Oh George Michael… WHAT ARE YOU LIKE?

In an interview with the Guardian, Gorgeous George claimed that he’d cut down from smoking 25 spliffs a day to 7-8 spliffs a day. I suppose that is a cut down for you, George, but I think the majority of people out there would go green at the thought of 7-8 joints a day. But what I found most interesting about George’s stoner reputation is that he’s one of the biggest and most flamboyant homos in show-business and smokes enough weed to be classed under the generally masculine stoner moniker. I’m not saying that gay people can’t be stoners, but if you look at the culture surrounding weed smoking- the music (Reggae, Hip Hop, Psychedelic rock) is generally heterosexually male written (with the exceptions of Jefferson Airplane, Sister Nancy, Lauryn Hill et al), the major icons (Howard Marks, Bob Marley, Hunter S Thompson) are/were heterosexual males, and the bleary eyed scruffy look aren’t what you’d really associate with George Michael. Likewise, can you really imagine Cypress Hill getting blazed one night listening to the best of Wham?

Drug addiction has ruined many lives and it is not something to be condoned, however David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy (perhaps his most critically acclaimed period of songwriting) was inspired by his attempt to cut his crippling coke addiction and Stephen King used to take vast amounts of cocaine to power him through his writing. Obviously, these positive aspects came at a cost and we shouldn’t laugh at them, but please tell me the image of Princess Diana in her fur and pearls at a dirty East London basement rave, gurning her glamorous tits off on a date with her bezzie mate, Mandy, isn’t enough to elicit a few titters.

Silly causcasian boy likes to blend in with the locals.

Silly causcasian boy likes to blend in with the locals.

A Review of a Year- Coming Up and Coming Down in 2011

2011 was, personally for me, one of the years that in future years my grandchildren (more than likely dogs) will be cringing at and saying “Yes, we’ve heard this all before, you boring old cunt”… and I stand by this belief!

I didn’t mash it up with Beyonce at Glastonbury, I had a full time job staring at a computer screen full of letters from people with too much fucking time on their hands. I didn’t leave the country and meet so many “amazing dudes” on an epic gap year finding my inner soul by some tranquil waterfall in some exotic land populated by birds of every colour of the rainbow, I just took acid in some social club on the outskirts of Leeds. I didn’t join the revolution that was going on in the streets of London, Liverpool, and Manchester, I was drinking Frosty Jacks alone and listening to Radio 2 at ridiculous hours of the night. So join me while I recounts some of the come-ups and come-downs of 2011 and travel through a year of massive contrasts and intense sessions.

Come Ups:-


Have you ever been to Bristol? WELL YA FUCKING SHOULD. For some reason the West Country seems to have something in the air that I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s all the cider vapour in the air from Farmer Giles’ giant Scrumpy factory or maybe it’s all the druid magic but it’s impossible to not be happy there when you’re with your NuMbA 1 Q-Tz BUZZIN 2k11 OI OI (and especially not after a bomb of MD and a wee bit of mephedrone).

   2. The night I gave a slice of pizza to a tramp

I don’t really believe in charity (I don’t really think poor people are real if I’m being honest) but this one night I without thinking gave this tramp a slice of my pizza and some mayo without even thinking anything of it… I bet you never heard me mention this completely selfless and kind act did you?!


Have you ever liked a band so much you put your life on the line for them… TWICE. Saw the BEST BAND ON THE PLANET twice in London and again at Leeds fest and each time I had a heart murmur and should have been beaten up for my hysterics (Imagine a girl at a Beatle’s concert back in the sixties… but instead an overweight 19 year old guy who’s incredibly drunk and falling onto rugged manly boys and telling them they don’t like Pulp and should fuck off).

      4. “Did you hear… OGIO’S IS ON SPECIAL OFFER AGAIN”

I met some of my greatest chums this year and I feel slightly depressed at the fact that I didn’t know them before… BUT I’M SO GLAD THEY BROUGHT OGIOS INTO MY LIFE. Ogios is a range of Italian wines that are normally about a tenner or over but one day I held a dinner party (I’m such a fag) and my guests brought Ogios pinot grigio to the table. From that point on I’ve been addicted. Never have I tasted such an easily palatable white and whenever it’s on special offer I go into some sort of frenzy… even my mother likes it so it must be good!

       5. Indian Summer making up for my shit, working summer.

Does anyone else like the phrase ‘Indian Summer’? I think it sounds really nice… AND SO WAS THIS. My Leeds street, just around the corner from the park, radiated the sun ever so nicely this September and I’ll never forget that day we wouldn’t let that guy with the whipped cream dispenser leave our group in the park.

(incidentally, these are not in any particular order so if you weren’t part of number one or whatever, don’t get jealous)

Come Downs:-


Have you ever worked in an office? If you haven’t… don’t. Awful conversation and MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS are all the rage here guys.

   2. The Birthday I’ll never forget… because I can’t remember it.

I distinctly remember saying on my birthday “nobody give me any ket”. 4pm, I’m rolling round my kitchen singing Common People like it’s a nursery rhyme gurning and k-holing. I had no idea I was doing this. I had no idea I even went out for my birthday. I kept finding out details of my birthday months after it had even happened. I still think I’m hungover from it.

     3. The death of Amy (BOTH)

Amy Winehouse’s death is the one everyone talked about this year, and yes I was as gutted as the rest of the nation… but I bet you didn’t know my childhood pet retriever was called Amy, DID YA!? I’d never ever lost anyone human before and she was my first loss I s’pose and yeah… I know… “she’s just a dog”… NOR SHE’S NOT… SHE’S BETTER THAN MOST OF YOU, SO THERE… YA BASTARDS.

      4. Getting dry humped by your drunken Chinese flatmate in-front of the whole of your halls while you’re super stoned.

I think the title speaks for itself.

       5.   When them people broke into my house but instead of stealing things just had sex and I didn’t have a phone or internet and was completely alone and was super stoned (again) so didn’t know what to do.

Again, the title speaks for itself.

SO YEAH, here’s a wee review of my 2011… obviously loads happened but I had to go through 365 days to get the cream of the crop so what do you expect me to do. Next reviews out in 2013… SEE YA THERE… if I’m still alive.

Christmas Day, 3pm GMT… The Shepherd’s Speech

It’s nearly time. The speech is being recorded as we speak. Prepare for the broadcast that will change your life.

And anyway, I’m the only queen you should be listening to.

Christmas Day, 3pm GMT… The Shepherd’s Speech

Christmas Day, 3pm GMT… The Shepherd’s Speech

Christmas Day, 3pm GMT, The Shepherd’s Speech