Thursday, 30 December 2010

I'm still here!!

It's been a while. Things have been insane recently. Work, uni, trying to see everyone who's home for the Christmas break, spend time with my family, my boyfriend, my wonderful friends and Christmas itself on top!!Christmas was quite nice, spent the day with my family, went out for a lovely meal (saves my mum from having to do all the cooking), unwrapped my presents (Ab Fab boxset, oh yeah!), watched Doctor Who, napped from food fatigue. Did the cooking on Boxing Day with my mum, fell asleep as I was completely worn out from all the stuff I've been rushing around doing. My friend threw a Christmas party at her house on the Bank Holiday Monday, which was a giggle.
Then Tuesday (another Bank Holiday!) I went round to the boyfriend for our own Christmas, he was away over the weekend seeing his mum and family. We had a lovely roast dinner and unwrapped our gifts to each other, snuggled up and watched movies. Because I was off from uni yesterday we got to spend another day together, before I came home to sleep as it was back to work for me today.
Still, it's New Year's Eve tomorrow and another long weekend. How is everyone spending the last evening of 2010??

Something to look forward to in 2011 is the introduction of World Book Night in March, 2 days after World Book Day. 1 million books are being given away and they're looking for givers, go to and find out how to get involved, I've already signed up!

Happy New Year everyone!! See you in 2011 :)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Some bits and bobs floating around my brain

Firstly, sorry for the sporadic nature of my posting recently, between uni, work and attempting to have a social life, blogging has fallen by the wayside.

I'm sick, and at home, not at uni attending lectures like I should be. I have some delightful chest infection thing, that's making me really grouchy. So I'm in bed, at half 11 in the morning, wondering whether I can go to work tomorrow, because I don't want to take too much time off, and I was off yesterday because I felt like death, and not even warmed up.
I went to the theatre last night, and if the tickets weren't already booked and paid for, I'd have given it a miss and gone to bed early. I saw Wicked, it was really good, but I'd definitely enjoyed it more if I'd been able to breathe properly and didn't feel so green (and not in Wicked Witch of the West way). My friend thought he'd spotted Swedish pop star Robyn in the crowd, but it wasn't her, just someone who looked a bit like her. Though that's a secret as he'd already told some people it was her, so now I have to play along with it! I did see indie popstar Lightspeed Champion in the pub though, recognised him from Never Mind the Buzzcocks a while ago.
Friday is payday, finally! So I'm Christmas shopping this weekend, though if I'm still sick, it'll all have to be online, hopefully everything will get delivered by next week!!
For Christmas itself I'm spending the day with my family, we're going out for lunch at a restaurant, we did the same thing last year, so my mum doesn't have to spend all day slaving away. Boxing Day will probably be spent watching films and eating random things from the fridge. Also chocolate.
My friend Emma is throwing a party on the 27th, Secret Santa, drinks, laughs, should be good. Usually is when we all get together. Then I get to spend the 28th and 29th with my lovely Boy. His dad's bringing him down (he's going home for the holiday weekend), so I'll get to meet his dad, and have another Christmas, opening presents and being cosy. Watching festive films and eating yummy things.
I'm seeing my grandparents next week, so really it's like 3 Christmasses this year. I think I'll survive it all, but it'll probably wipe me out.
There's a few things planned for the new year too. On top of which I have essays to write and work to turn up for. This being a grown up lark is starting to wear me out. Can't I just be irresponsible again.

So what are you lovely people doing for the holidays this year??

Monday, 6 December 2010

Screen Queens - Girl Heroes?

From the movies I used to watch, where the heroine's always skinny and perfect,with the fat best friend, the dream guy, the ridiculous odds, the happy ending etc I learnt one lesson. And no, it wasn't in order to achieve you have to starve yourself, there's a lot to be desired there in terms of positive body image and realistic role models in our weight obsessed society; it was this - you can get what you want when you work out what it really is that you want.
Even somewhat trashy films like Bring It On or Center Stage have girls who work this out. Stick It and 10 Things I Hate About You have somewhat feistier heroines, but they do what they have to without compromising themselves, and that's even better. You shouldn't have to change who you are to find the guy of your dreams or win something or achieve in your field. You can do all of that and still be you. This applies to my life, and it probably applies to yours too.
Be who you are, and not let anyone tell you otherwise. So whether you're the perfect movie princess, the fat (or just slightly less perfect) best friend, the handsome prince who's also looking for Mr Right (although there's another concept I don't agree with, but that's another post) or just someone trying to find their path in life, remember to stay true to yourself and what's in your heart and you'll get there. It won't always be easy but if you trust yourself and those around you, you'll be fine. Better than fine. You'll be whoever, and whatever you want to be. Promise.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Busy bee!!

I finally started my new job, the CRB came through at long last. It's not the most exciting job in the world, and not something I want to spend my life doing, but it's a job, another note on the CV, some money in my pocket. I started on Thursday, so far so good. Here's to my first full week at work. I can tell I'm going to be knackered.

This weekend I got to see comedian and musician Bill Bailey live. I love him, witty and funny. If you're in London, beg, borrow or steal a ticket to see him. Hilarious and brilliant. (It's sold out).

Unfortunately my stupid phone crashed and deleted a bunch of stuff, including some photos I hadn't uploaded to my laptop yet, so I'm a bit fed up (if you're following me on Twitter, you might have seen this.) The software seems to be refusing to work, so I can't fix it. Very frustrating. Anyone know how to get a Blackberry to do as it's told??

I also have two essays due in this week, so far I've barely started writing one of them. Excellent studentship. I actually forgot that one of them was due in. I got my dates muddled up, so annoying. So now I'm under the pressure of getting it all done while tired and busy. Fun.

My friend is in a play this week, so Thursday night I'll be there, luckily the essays are due in before then (I say luckily) so I'll still be able to go. It should be really good, I'm sending her lots of luck!

Once again, a brief post. As soon as I have a little time and am not so rushed I promise a decent post or two. and to get around to people's blogs. I miss reading your posts, but I just don't get enough time to read any more. Have a good week.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Blogging Admin!

Hi, it's been a while I know. But I'm still here, floating around in cyberspace while trying to get my life organised.

First thing's first. My CRB finally, finally came through, and so I start my new job on Thursday. Yay!! Obviously admin is not something I really want to do, but it's a job, and I'm broke and it'll look good on the old CV. Plus they're flexible about uni and hours, so it's where I'll be spending my week days (minus uni Wednesdays).

Speaking of uni, I couldn't get there last week as there was a tube strike which pretty much crippled the whole of London and made me really grumpy. I missed 2 classes and a meeting, all in all, bad day. But it seems to be going ok, I'm getting really into being back in academia, reading furiously, writing essays (I should be doing that, not blogging), discussing ideas and training myself to stay awake on the underground so I don't miss my stop!

Things with The Boy seem to be going well too. We've had a few minor disagreements, but nothing major, I don't like the video games he plays, they're really noisy and violent, and it's hard to concentrate on reading or anything when they're on. I'm not allowed to do the washing up, but he's quite happy for me to do all the cooking, which is a point of contention. I like cooking, I don't like the assumption that I'll happily be on my own making his dinner while he plays video games. That bugs me. But I know we'll work it out, I want this whole relationship to work out (my track record isn't great), so I'll have to adjust, so will he. Compromise is key.

I'm still uncertain about the fate of ABADBW (aka my other blog), apart from the occasional book, I'm focusing on uni reading, which I won't blog about because it's too boring and I have essays to write, so there's less and less being written for it (having said that, there should be a couple of reviews etc up there at the moment worth a look.) Part of me wants to merge Note to Self with it, and just have more book related content here, but I just don't know right now. Any ideas/suggestions/comments welcome on this.

Ok, well that was fairly boring. I suppose I'm an Administrator at home as well as at work now!!

Monday, 1 November 2010

The trouble with Dickens

I'd suggest any hardcore Dickens fan skip this post.

I'm a lifelong book geek, bookshops and libraries are my idea of Heaven. Reading is both a pleasure and a source of joy to me. I have a Bachelors degree in English Literature and am currently studying for a Masters in the same. I wouldn't do this if I didn't enjoy it.
But I do have a problem with the next book I have to read for class. It's Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I don't like Dickens, never have, probably never will. I can just about tolerate Great Expectations (because I feel for Miss Havisham) and A Christmas Carol (it might be the Muppet version that makes this one ok), but beyond that, thanks but no thanks.
Part of the problem is that many of his books are the same. Poor little orphan, terrible trials, benevolent benefactor, happy endings. Even Great Expectations follows this pattern. I know it isn't exactly the same in each book, but the basic plot is.
I'm not negating his works importance at the time in raising awareness of poverty, workhouses and the contribution his writing may have made to changes brought about to alleviate the suffering, but, like many of the other C19th members of the literary canon (Brontes, Austen, Hardy, Eliot) I just cannot get along with him.
So this week's reading assignment is going to be oh-so-much fun.
My friend has lent me the recent BBC adaptation, but that may take longer to watch than the book takes to read, so no joy there. Off I go to read a book that is described in the title. Bleak.

Are there any books/authors you can't stand?

Friday, 29 October 2010

Busy Bee!

I have had an incredibly hectic week and am completely exhausted.

On Monday I met the boy's parents for the first time. Nerve wracking, oh yes! I made an apple crumble and he made a lamb casserole (which was good, except I very rarely eat red meat). They're lovely, and I am apparently approved of!
Tuesday I went to the Lyric Hammersmith to see Blasted by Sarah Kane. It was incredible, graphic, violent, shocking and moving. I will attempt to write a proper review when I'm not too tired.
Wednesday was uni, and I handed in my first piece of work. So I'm a little worried about what might emerge. Then I went to the Science Museum Lates which was all about bioterrorism. Unfortunately I think I was a little too tired to fully appreciate it all.
Thursday I spent curled up on the couch with the boy, watching films and eating yummy food. The only benefit of still not having my CRB come through and started work is that I can spend a day doing virtually nothing and not feel guilty, there wasn't anywhere I was supposed to be.
Today I am tired. I've done chores all afternoon, I'm still trying to get my life sorted out. It's taking a while. I'm hoping for some sort of resolution about my CRB next week. It's really bugging me that it's taking so long, but I am trying my darndest to focus on the positive bits of my life.
I also volunteered myself to be the student rep for my MA course, which means I'll be invited to department meetings and things, which should be interesting, even if it's yet another thing in my over-crowded life. I seem to thrive on the pressure though.
This weekend I will be meeting up with a friend for lunch in Camden, one of my favourite weird bits of London. So that should be fun. And then I'm making dinner for the boy and hanging out with him. Sunday I'll probably require a full 24 hours of sleep or something so I can get up and make it through another week!!

Friday, 22 October 2010

It Gets Better (another installment!)

So I've raved about the It Gets Better Project a couple of times now, but, and I think this is rather awesome, that was before US President, Barack Obama, recorded a video for it. It would be amazing if all politicians felt the same, that no one should be bullied for being different and feel that the only thing they can do is take their own lives.
Unfortunately that isn't the case, being gay is still illegal all over the planet. And the situation isn't helped by people like the Pope saying it's wrong.
Wednesday was LGBTQ Spirit Day, when members of that community and their supporters were encouraged to wear purple in memory of those lost young people who couldn't see a way out. I wore a lot of purple, it's one of my favourite colours and there's a fair bit of it in my wardrobe. A purple top and scarf, and my bag just happens to be purple too!

Random political ramblings

This week the Coalition Government unveiled it's Strategic Spending Review, aka 'the cuts', it will be making to services, the public sector, welfare, jobs, the NHS, BBC and other organisations. Including the arts and higher education, which are the ones I'm most concerned about, from a personal standpoint. I'm an MA student, I attend a university where about 90% of the courses are arts and humanities based. If the funding to these are drastically affected, chances are Roehampton will have to close, or dramatically change itself. Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Paul O'Prey has popped up on the news recently, protesting about this, he's an articulate man, and he got his points across well. People cannot afford to pay £7,000 in fees either, it will price people out of university all together. I was lucky, I started the year before the last increase in fees, to £3,000. But I still have absurd student loan debts waiting for me to be able to pay them back. Where does the Government expect anyone to find the money? My parents helped me out, again, I was very lucky, and they are helping me out with my MA fees. But a lot of families cannot afford to do this, especially if they have other university bound children. If my sister wanted or was able to go to uni, then I would have to find alternative funding for my MA, something which is incredibly hard to do. Education is important, and should be protected, so as many people as want to and are capable of doing so, can access it. I feel let down by the Lib Dems, who promised, when they formed the coalition with the Conservatives, that they would look out for students, and oppose fee rises.

I want to work in the arts. If museums, galleries, theatres, libraries etc are left unable to make ends meet due to the budget cuts being proposed, chances are that's not going to happen. I lost my last job due to pre-emptive cuts when I worked for the local council. I know exactly what it's like to be cast adrift with no idea what you're going to do. I have applied for dozens of jobs this year alone, my new one is also in the public sector. Will it still exist once the cuts start to take affect? Who knows.
Culture is the UK's biggest export. We aren't the industrial nation we once were, but the artists, actors, writers, musicians, performers etc, that bring people to the UK, that take their work around the world, keep us afloat. Walk around any museum or gallery in London (majority of which are free, please let that stay), and you will see people from all over the world, viewing world class exhibitions, and wonders both ancient and modern. I love walking through the V&A or the National Gallery and just drinking in the history and beauty housed there. The arts needs more investment, not less.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osbourne, has a personal fortune of about £4million, according to one report I read in the papers, how does a man who has more money than he'll need, know what is enough for other people to survive on. He may not care about the people at the bottom, because he's never seen it, but others do. I do.
So now we will see, will the country suffer too badly? I honestly don't know, the report was published yesterday, I haven't read it in detail yet, I don't really know that I want to. And yet, I must. To be a citizen and to be engaged in the debates about these things, one must engage with them. So off I go, to be enraged.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Blogging at Uni!


I'm in the university cybercafe, blogging a greeting to all of you!

To be perfectly honest I don't have a lot to say, and my blog post notes are at home. So this is a bit scrappy, and pointless.
Hopefully soon I'll be posting a few bits of writing, I've got a few posts percolating away that will be ready to share with you, I just need more hours in the day! I've been up early, late to bed, trying to stretch the day so I can cram everything in, and it's tiring. So for now, please bear with me.

Here's a little something I wrote the other day while drinking a cup of my favourite peppermint tea in a cafe after a delicious lunch I didn't pay for!! People watching is one of my favourite things to do, and trying to guess people's stories is quite a lot of fun. Let me know what you think.

Amid the shattered remains of lunch
The bit you claimed too tough,
The piece I said wasn't right
A declaration hangs in the air
Words that can't be reclaimed
Once said, can't be taken back.
You fold the napkin neatly
Signal the waiter for the bill
I drain the glass, vermilion red
And try not to think about what was said.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Where have you been?

Firstly an apology for the sporadic posting recently. I just need to be less exhausted and more able to post, but if you do want to know what I'm up to, try Twitter, I post more frequently there right now.

Things are going ok in some respects and in others, not so much. Uni is fantastic, I'm really getting back into the swing of things, my first assignment's due in a couple of weeks, and I'm a little nervous, but it should be ok.

I've been seeing the boyfriend for about a month now, and it's nice. He's lovely, a perfect gentleman, and he makes me laugh. We have grown up conversations and debates, which is always good in my book. We've been spending a lot of time together, still getting to know each other, and cooking for each other which is rather fun. We curl up on the sofa and watch Dexter or a movie, and it's just, well, lovely really. Although I'm still struggling with all the compliments he pays me, I don't really know how to take one as they're so rare, but I'm trying not to go bright red every time he says something nice.

The work situation is still driving me a bit nuts. My CRB form is stuck at stage 4 of 5 and without it I can't start work, this nonsense has been ongoing for months now, but there's nothing I can do about it, so I'm stuck in a holding pattern, waiting for things to progress so I can start my job, and fill the empty hours.

Anyway, that's life right now. Some good, some bad. How's everyone else doing out there?

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Brain exercises for the disenchanted

It's really nice to be back at university, to be learning new things, talking about books again and feeling really excited about stuff. My brain gets a great workout, I really have to think, and it feels fantastic after doing nothing whatsoever for so long.
So far I've been back for 2 weeks, 4 classes down, several dozen to go!
I've read a couple of novels, some really complex literary theory, spent seminars struggling to work out exactly what it is I want to say about things, without sounding like I have no idea what's going on.
I'm slightly dreading having to start academic writing again, I'm sure my essay skills are completely rusty. However, part of me is looking forward to really getting into the material and exploring it, though the dissertation fills me with dread, but I'm not required to think about that for a while yet, so I'm trying to put it out of my mind and just focus on the weekly reading, and planning the essays that are coming up.
Looking forward to next week's class!!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Pause for Poetry

Today is National Poetry Day, and while I blogged about this over at ABADBW, I haven't mentioned it here. I love poetry, not just writing it, but also reading it. Some of my favourite poets include current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Wendy Cope, T.S Eliot, Spike Milligan, Simon Armitage, William Shakespeare, Seamus Heaney, W.B Yeats, Pablo Neruda and Andrew Marvell, and that doesn't include my individual favourite poems which are sometimes by completely different poets.
These year's theme is Home. Over on Twitter, Poetry Day UK are asking people to tweet lines from poems about home. I chose "I must arise and go now, and go to Innisfree/And a small cabin build there" which is by Yeats.
So, what's your favourite poem/poet and what poem makes you think of home?

Monday, 4 October 2010

I'm getting on my soapbox

A lot of my friends are gay, including some of my best friends. I have been to Pride in London twice now, it's always fun, but it's important. It's important to celebrate our differences, to celebrate the struggles and triumphs that the gay community have had. I love my friends, they are so important to me. I get called a 'fag hag', mostly by Aleks, but my friend Holly coined the term 'fagulous' and I much prefer it.
I mentioned Kate Bornstein's contribution to the It Gets Better project on Youtube. I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you know anyone struggling with their sexuality. It was launched because of a spate to teen suicides in the US.
The world needs more beautiful, brilliant, talented, funny, smart and kind people in it, not less. If you take yourself out the world, the world suffers, we need more love, less hate. More acceptance and understanding, less ignorance and bigotry.
I don't want to hear stories of more lights going out, it's heart-breaking. You matter. Whoever you are.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Stay Alive

Kate Bornstein is my hero. She's incredible. Her book Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws helped me through an incredibly bad time, it's funny, wise and genuinely helpful. She's recorded a video for Dan Savage's youtube project, It Gets Better. If you know anyone who's struggling with their lives, struggling to hang on, I highly suggest they check out the project and Kate's book.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Rainy day

Today it finally feels like the season's changing. It's cold, and raining and I have no desire to wear my flip flops, which I wear all summer whatever the weather. I want to pull on a huge warm jumper, curl up and read. There's a huge stack of books by my bed, all calling out to be read. There's also the books I have to read for uni, and I'm avoiding them. Maybe it's time to (wo) man up and get on with it. I might discover a new favourite book in that box. Or not. But I'll never know til I open the cover and read the first sentence.

What's your favourite book opening sentence?

Monday, 20 September 2010

All at once...

I start back at uni next Wednesday, I told my boss about it today, she was totally cool about. I should be (cross fingers and toes) starting my new job on Monday. Oh, and I met a lovely guy, and now it's all starting to overwhelm me.
Why does life throw curveballs like this? I was trying to figure out what my work/uni/social life balance was going to be, and now I've met a lovely person I want to spend time with, just as everything else kicks off. My summer was slow, nothing happened.
I have my birthday, my best friend puts in an appearance and we start to mend some fences, I have uni and work, and now this person. (I need to think of a code name). I'm wondering whether I can keep all these balls in the air. I want to. I don't want to drop anything, I want to do my Masters, my job, see my friends, spend time with my boy, and not feel overwhelmed and stressed and in need of retreat.
I know how I behave when I get stressed, I hide out and freak out and then I push everything and everyone away. Then I fall into a depressive spiral. I do not want that to happen. I need to be prepared to fight my corner. To stand up for what I want.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Making a Bet

I spent much of the past weekend (from Thurs-Sun) in one pub or another. I've decided to give my liver a rest. I spent the first 6 months of the year sober, completely, and now I'm going to spend the final 3 the same way.
However to add to it, I've made a bet with my friend who wants to quit smoking again. Now I know I can go a lot longer without drinking (as I don't drink that often, except this past weekend) but he smokes like a chimney.
There is a forfeit, the person who folds first has to wear a pair of pink flashing fluffy bunny ears on a Tuesday night in our home town when everyone's home for Christmas. Where we live, Tuesday is student night, and the local pubs are swamped. Walking around with those on your head is going to be highly embarrassing and really funny. But not if it happens to me. Which it won't. Stay tuned....

Sunday, 12 September 2010

The Birthday Post

Technically my birthday isn't until 6am 13th September. But I may not get around to posting tomorrow.

This weekend has been interesting to say the least. Last night was rather drama packed, but most of it wasn't anything to do with me and didn't spoil my night.
A while back I wrote a post about losing my best friend. About how painful and horrid it was. Last night she turned up and we started to mend some fences. We spent an hour sat in her car talking things through, the last year has been pretty grim for her too, and we both realised we needed to be more open and communicative, which is hard because we're alike in the way we behave when things get difficult. We internalise it, don't deal with it, and let it affect everything else.
Her facebook status this morning read "is glad to have her friends back". I feel exactly the same.

Today I ventured into the heart of my sprawling, chaotic city, and went along to watch the parade at the Thames Festival. A friend suggested it last night, and a bunch of us braved the underground and it's many weekend disruptions to go along. It wasn't overly thrilling. I fell in a hedge and scratched my back up. Which is rather painful.
Then we wandered into Soho in search of a decently priced bar, we never found one. Which brings us to now. It's just turned 11pm, in a few short hours, I will be 24. I'm hoping it's a better year all round for me. Heaven knows I need it.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Writer's Diary

I'm thinking of giving short story writing ago. I tried it once before and quite enjoyed it, I found it quite disciplined, unlike longer forms it can be quite restricted. I like the idea of having rules, a word limit, almost like writing academic essays again!
I've been reading Stories, an anthology edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio recently, and it's inspired me to have another go at the format. I remember writing about short stories, and how they're usually about the Other, that slightly sinister, creepy, unknown. So there are a few ideas percolating in my head (just like a coffee pot) and I'm starting to make notes, to jot down the ideas and see where I can take them. So I guess I'll see what happens. I might put up a sample here when I think it's ready to share.

Thursday, 9 September 2010


Two posts in one day, how exciting.

Firstly apologies for my absence, I've not been home much, and when I have been I've been exhausted. I've spent the last couple of days doing a training course for my new job, I don't want to go into details, but I've found it very interesting. Unfortunately it's a bit of a trek to get there and requires quite an early start so I get home too tired to do much. I'll try and get round to all the blogs I follow and catch up soon. However being as it's my birthday on Monday I'm not actually going to be here much over the weekend so it might be a while before I get back to blogging.
Secondly, kind of an add on to the first point, if you do find my ramblings interesting, please join me on Twitter, I know one or two of you already have, I'm rather fascinated by the whole concept at the moment, and find it much easier to just type my 140 characters than squeeze in time to write on here when I'm running hither and thither. If you would like me to follow you on Twitter, please leave me a comment with your tag and also blog address if I don't already read it.
On Twitter I am @ramblingmads as rambling on is what I do best! (I know I blogged about this last time, but please bear with me). There's a link to the right of the post. Hopefully some of you will take me up and join the randomness.

P.S My spell checker has a problem with Monday, apparently it's not a word, so what is the day of the week between Sunday and Tuesday called then spellcheck??


"I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another til I drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I have nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion."
                                                         ~Jack Kerouac 'On The Road'~

Monday, 6 September 2010

In which I buy a new phone and come to terms with technology.

For the longest time I've had a rapidly aging Motorola Pebble phone. Today it's had it. I'd finally had enough of a phone that kept switching itself off. So I went and got myself signed up to a contract (I've always been a pay as you go customer) and got a shiny new Blackberry. I didn't really want an iPhone, all those apps would just annoy me. So I got something with a proper qwerty keyboard and that chirps at me for attention! It's a bit like a pet I guess.
I downloaded facebook so I can keep upto date with the random stuff my friends come out with, and I joined twitter!!! If you would like to read the things that occur to me while stuck in traffic on the bus, or the odd ideas I have in supermarkets (yes it will be that random) please do. is where you'll find me and the strange things that pop into my head!

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Randomness, stuff and nonsense

My books have started arriving for the great MA adventure, embarking soon. The lists are a bit insane, and I foresee it all taking over my life, so I'll be blogging even less than I do already, and spending much less time meandering around the internet, reading blogs, and looking at shoes.
I'm hoping the job sitch will be sorted next week, I have training for that, and I'm crossing my fingers (and toes) that the CRB form is being processed as I type. I need to get this all sorted, it's really weighing me down. Although I'm starting to really feel better, depression wise, as things clear up and get sorted out, I can feel myself coming back to life, I even wrote a poem (albeit a rubbishy one) on my phone the other day.
I'm doing a wee bit more socialising at the mo, trying to catch everyone before I get super busy and they jet off to unis all over the country. I'll miss my friends, but it is an excuse to hare across country to visit them.
 I'm also trying to plan a trip to Paris with my cousin/substitute big sister, as our birthdays are 2 weeks apart and we've never really done anything together for it, so hopefully once work/uni is sorted I can book a Eurostar ticket and find a cheapish but not awful hotel for a few days. She's never been, and I love Paris. So it'll be really fun, even if all we do is touristy stuff, I can practice my French (which is disastrous at the moment) and see the sights, including Oscar Wilde's tomb (got to say Bonjour to one of my lit heroes) and Shakespeare & Co bookshop (which sounds like my idea of Heaven).
But first there's the matter of waiting for my books to be delivered, and organising a birthday celebration. In just under 2 weeks I shall be 24. Which feels ridiculous. I am almost a quarter of a century old and have no idea what I'm doing or what I want from life. But there we go. It seems that almost all of my friends are in the same boat. Only a few have it figured out. Most of us are just trying to keep our heads above water.
So far I've arranged to go to this nice pub near my house for a few birthday drinks on the Saturday, and then go out for a roast Sunday dinner at another lovely old fashioned pub a bit further from mine but still reachable. I've invited my lovely, bonkers, charming and hilarious friends. Presents aren't essential, but good company definitely is.
How did you celebrate your last birthday? And is there anything I should definitely see/do in Paris (bearing in mind I've been there before and have most of the obvious tourist stuff)?

Monday, 30 August 2010

Watching movies with my sister

I think it's fair to say my sister and I have a complicated relationship. She's 4 years younger and has a selection of learning and behavioural problems which make her difficult to relate to and very hard to grow up with.
Occasionally she surprises me, I don't think she's stupid, far from it, sometimes she's much smarter than people give her credit for, and she certainly knows how to twist things to her advantage.
We communicate via old Buffy re-runs. It sounds bizarre, but since she struggles to converse with people and used to have to be prompted to speak on the phone (still not her best communication platform), it's the best we can do at times.
She has the world's shortest fuse, and a tendency to go completely nuts for no real reason at all, and because, unlike me, she struggles to find the right words, tends to lash out physically first. She also does karate, so when she punches, it really hurts.
On Saturday she came home from a week camping in the rain with the Guides (she's a Young Leader), feeling pretty miserable. While she was away my dad was supposed to decorate her room, it hasn't really got very far, so she's been sleeping downstairs on the couch.
Last night, I offered to untangle her hair, and plait it, so it didn't continue to look like a sparrow was living in there. I put on the animated-but-not-really-suitable-for-kids film, 9. I'd bought it on a whim (something I must stop doing) and got to work on the knots, turning it into a smooth, shiny plait. She has gorgeous hair.
Then we watched the rest of the film sat on my bed. Something we never do. We only talked about the film, that's how it works. We communicate about what's happening on the screen in front of us, because she struggles with small-talk, has a limited short term memory so asking her about things is pointless, and doesn't really have a lot to offer. I lent her a book. She was reading it last night.
Today she went out, she's back now and in a grouchy mood, it's weird; the moments where we get along are so few and far between, I should be used to that, but I already miss the girl who sat on my bed in her pjs and dressing gown last night, telling me how much she liked the film and thanking me for brushing her hair.

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Storyteller

My Grandad likes to tell stories, stories of people I'll never meet, he shows me photos of them, riding motorbikes, smiling into the camera, shy children and men in uniform. My great-grandmother had a camera, back before everyone carried one, back when they were rare, and she took those little black and white snaps, images of long ago, far away from the town where I was raised. My beloved Nanny, can't remember who the people are, she smiles but doesn't tell me stories. I tell her stories, stories of "remember when?" because there are holes in her memory, part of her has gone away and it took all the stories with it.
One day they'll both be gone, and who will tell me stories then?

Saturday, 21 August 2010

What have I got myself into now...

The reading lists for my Masters arrived in my inbox yesterday, and oh boy, are they epic!! I haven't even heard of half of these books, and my lit geek status might be revoked!! I'm not looking forward to hunting these books down, I'm guessing the more obscure ones are going to be a pain even in the age of Amazon. So here I go, off to BookMooch to add them to my wishlist in the vain hope someone out there has a copy they want to send. Otherwise this is probably going to be expensive.
Worse, there's books on some of these lists that I read for my BA, and I got rid of my copies, mostly because they weren't books I could see myself reading again, and now I need them! Oh dear.
I'm excited to have my timetable and these lists, even though they're already causing me problems, it means something is finally happening, something that I've been stressing about for ages.
I have a start date, a schedule, a booklist, now all I need is to start classes and get reading!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

A little poem that makes me laugh


I think about dying.
About disease, starvation,
violence, terrorism, war,
the end of the world.

It helps
Keep my mind off things.

Roger McGough

Trashy films

I can be really particular about what I read. Anything with glowing vampires, schoolboy wizards with scars on their foreheads, or mysteries hidden in old artworks no thanks (Stephanie Meyer, J.K Rowling and Dan Brown I'm looking at you, what were your editors thinking? Oh wait, they weren't!) But that's a rant for another day.
Someone pointed out to me the other day, as I quoted Mean Girls, that I don't treat films in the same way. They're right. I originally wanted to do Film Studies with English Lit at uni, I dropped film after attending one class and one screening. I had been put off anyway by the incredibly pretentious film students I'd met at an open day at another uni when I'd been deciding where to go. I have film student friends, for the most part they manage to keep their pretensions to themselves, and some will admit to loving cheesy, trashy or just plain bad films.
Which is where I come in. I love a good (or should that be bad?) trashy, cheesy film. I watched Bride Wars today, it's a terrible film really, but it didn't require any intellectual thought or energy to watch. That's not to say I don't enjoy other types of film, one of my favourite's is Bringing Up Baby, a screwball comedy starring Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant.
I also love Japan's Studio Ghibli, some of those are not really aimed at children, and Paris Je'taime which is in French and requires concentration as do all subtitled films. But trashy films are fun, I will watch pretty much anything with a ballet in it, and some of them (*cough* Center Stage *cough*) are incredibly awful as films go, but the dancing can be incredible. I just wish I could move like that.
I grew up watching some pretty dire stuff, the late 90s/early 00's were not great years for film making, especially not for teenagers. But we didn't care then, and I don't think I want to care now. Just as I know that some incredibly bright people read the most ghastly trash, because they don't have to engage with the text and it lets their minds relax (or so they tell themselves, I admit I've read the odd trashy book too), so I will continue to watch terrible films when I just want to be entertained not educated, and when I just don't care about my brain being engaged, and so should you!!
So what trashy, cheesy films is everyone else out there watching??

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Pimpin' my friends*

I'm just going to take a moment to promote a couple of my friends.

Firstly my supremely talented photographer/graphic illustrator extraordinaire friend Tigz. I've known her since primary school, she's a sweetheart and makes incredible art. Her new book, Bitten, based on Snow White is out now and from what I've seen it's awesome. I haven't got a copy yet but I will, to add to her previous work Wonderland. Find links to all her work and other web hangouts here.

Secondly is a new friend, Robin. He's another talented one. Writer, photographer, stylist, and lovely human being. He's written a book (Catching Raindrops) about his life, coming from Austria to London, and his experiences. I've read some of the rough draft, and it's good. It should be available soon (check here for details).

*Not like that! Get your mind out of the gutter!!

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Following on from my last post really.

I think I just need some time to myself, which is hard to get when you're surrounded by people all the time. Don't get me wrong, I love my family, my wonderful friends, but sometimes I feel loneliest and saddest when I'm surrounded. Especially because I don't talk to them about what I'm going through, how I feel. I used to tell my mum, we're close and she's the person I go to for advice. But she has taken to suggesting I see a doctor, even though I know I don't want medication, my mum suggests asking about therapy of some sort, but I have this irrational fear of talking to strangers (irrational because I can stand on a stage, taking part in a speaking competition, which my team won, or take part in a play, or speak up in a lecture hall, but I can't talk about personal things with someone I don't know, and isn't that what blogging is)
Anyway. I don't want medicine, I won't be taking illegal substances (because I disagree with using dangerous, unknown garbage to get out of your head) or drinking myself into a stupor (I'm too much of a control freak to get that drunk) but I will be turning to my paper friends, my books, for support.
Back when I started this blog, I wrote about Kate Bornstein, an author who's one of my literary heroes, she's also an amazing person. She wrote a book called Hello Cruel World: A 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and other Outlaws, which, although I have never contemplated suicide (for a control freak that's the ultimate loss of control) is full of ways to rescue yourself from despair and darkness. I will be re-reading this. I will also dip into my Tamora Pierce collection, a feisty heroine battling the odds will help. As will reading something funny, so either Terry Pratchett or the very silly Pirates! series by Gideon Defoe will be on my bedtime reading this week. If I need to get out of my head, I crawl inside another world, possibly that of Neil Gaiman's Sandman or even Lewis' Narnia, a perennial childhood favourite is Aslan's world.
This is a very long-winded way of saying I'll be ok. I may be feeling sad and small, and completely devoid of any creative spark, but I know my story doesn't end like this, there's too much coming up, there's too much still undone. It's just going to take a while, and maybe a few more mornings spent sat in my pyjamas, but I'll get there. I've done it before, I can do it again. I just need to keep reminding myself of that. It's a cycle, and it's painful, but it'll revolve away soon.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Darkness before dawn

I have suffered from depression since my teens. I have spent a lot of energy pretending everything's fine, that the periods of utter despair, crying for hours on end, and sleeplessness are nothing to worry about. I don't use this as an excuse, mostly because very few people have any idea what's going on. Outwardly I seem fine, I have passed exams, graduated uni, held down jobs all the while feeling like I'm shattered into pieces on the inside.
I don't know what feeling happy really is, there's just this incessant darkness. Sometimes it lessens and I function better then. I used to describe it as 'falling down the rabbithole', because I don't know how else to describe the feeling of approaching sadness, bleakness.
I am not medicated. I don't want drugs to control my emotions, I fear being turned into a blank slate, unable to truly feel anything, and without a shred of creativity left. An automaton.
There are days when getting out of bed is all but impossible, when I break down, when I feel completely numbed.
There are other days, when it is possible to go to work, to go to class, to spend time among people without feeling like I'm suffocating.
From 17 to 21 was possibly the worst time. I skipped a lot of school, didn't too very well in my A Levels, sometimes I'm still amazed I got into uni at all, let alone completed my degree. But I did. Because some part of me really wanted to, to fight back, to be strong, to push the darkness away.
It comes in waves, like right now. I can feel it closing in, feel close to curling up and shutting the world out. Stress encourages it. I'm stressed about my job, I still have no start date, no idea what's going on, no money. I don't know what's going on with my Masters course, there's a paranoid part of me that imagines I didn't actually get in, that I'm the one that's got it all wrong, and the reason nothing (booklists, term dates) has appeared is because I'm not actually expected there in September. The darkness feeds on this stress and worry, it makes it stronger.
I don't ask for sympathy, I know everyone struggles, I know there are people fighting far harder battles than mine. I want to keep fighting though, I don't want to let the darkness wash over me again. It crushes everything in it's path.
If my posting is a little (more) sporadic, it's because I'm trying to deal with these issues, if I can sort out the things making me worry, I'm hoping I can fend off the rest for now. One day I know I'm going to have to decide how I want this to be. I can't live my whole life feeling like this. It holds me back, it's draining, and I'm sick of being tired all the time.
Please bear with me.

Sunday, 8 August 2010


Feeling very uninspired right now. Will hopefully think of something blog-worthy or just random to share soon. Hope everyone has had a good weekend and is feeling refreshed and ready for the new week.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

This is an open letter to my feet

Dear Left and Right,

For the past 23 years you have patiently carried me around, since we started with upright as a baby (I skipped crawling altogether, obnoxious and precocious before I could spell them!), and I have never been particularly grateful. It's your job, so you do it.
I have applied lotion to keep the skin soft, painted my toenails a cheery colour, because toenails are grim. I don't particularly like feet, but I don't hate you guys, even if it seems like that sometimes.
I'm sorry about the shoes that rub, slicing into the soft flesh, causing horrific blisters, and massive amounts of pain, I'm sorry about the flipflops, I know they're not built for walking and they leave you all dirty and with calluses where the strap has rubbed. I'm sorry I like walking miles in whichever impractical shoe I've shoved you in. Hey, at least I'm not constantly in high heels, they're even more painful, remember.
I'm sorry I march up hills and through parks, without stopping for a rest, forgetting that the reason I can't feel my toes is probably a lack of blood supply.
So thank you, battered, bruised and blistered though you are, for carrying me hither and thither, up hill and down dale (even though it's more like down one street and up another). Let's not fall out, you're going to be doing this job forever.

Love Madeleine.

P.S I promise to buy more blister plasters, heel guards and better shoes, really soon, ok.

Calcium supplements vs. Diet Coke

Today I decided I should probably take a calcium supplement. I'm mildly lactose intolerant (milk makes me hurl, but I continue to eat cheese and chocolate because I'm contrary like that), so I can't really handle dairy and I worry about the state of my bones. I also have a mild love of Diet Coke, even though I know it's evil. My mother (a nurse, henceforth the fountain of all medical knowledge) tells me that the aspartame dissolves your bones, and I've seen footage of a tooth dissolving in a glass of coke, so I try not to drink too much of the stuff.
Now I'm wondering how powerful the calcium supplement is (it also contains vitamin D, useful as I don't really belong in the sunshine being the pale freak that I am), and whether it can undo the neglect I have already wrecked on my skeleton and fight the evil chemicals in my cold glass of DC. If so, yay! No osteoporosis for me, if not, that pile of crumbly bones and skin is me.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

One of these days, we'll have it all worked out...

On my noticeboard there's a postcard and it says "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty". It's something I'd like to live up to, that kindness can come in any form and that beauty can be found anywhere is something that speaks to me.
I've been trying to write more, not less, that's what writers do, right. I consider myself a writer, words are what I know best, I can't draw or paint, I'm not musical, but I can give you words, quotes or lines of poetry. One of my favourite lines comes from Carol Ann Duffy's 'Little Red-Cap', "words, words were truly alive on the tongue, in the head/warm, beating, frantic, winged; music and blood."* It sums up how I feel about words, the reason I read so obsessively, perhaps, is to collect the words up, keeping them safe for when I need them, to comfort, to advise, to amuse and entertain.
So maybe that's my gift, my senseless act of beauty, to find words and find uses for them, a random act of kindness, when others need those words.
It just might take me a little while to find the words I need, for me.

*From her collection The World's Wife

Friday, 30 July 2010

Work Sucks, I Know...

So about a month ago, I thought, naively it appears, that the Universe had decided to go easy on me, I was wrong. Big time wrong.
I got offered a job, it's not particularly exciting, nor is it something I want to do with my life, but it was a job, I would finally be earning money again, instead of feeling like a useless banana.
I still haven't started working there. It's not my fault. I filled in a CRB form (Criminal Records Bureau) a week after they offered me the job, these take a while to process, and HR wants me to have one before I start work. Boy, are they taking their sweet time.
Sunday marks the first of August, a whole new month and still no start date.
I go back to uni in September, I want to be focusing on that, but this whole work debacle is driving me nuts. I'm still sitting on my backside doing nowt, while I wait for other people to get on with their jobs. I am not the most patient of people, and I'm getting grief from the miserable job centre drones (apparently the nice ones are all away, and yes, there are nice ones) about it all. It is not my fault. Do they care? No. As far as they're concerned I should be working some kind of magic or something to fix this. Well, I can't.
Now I'm stuck, I turned down interviews because I thought this was all going to happen. I'm not being offered any other positions to apply for because as far as the job centre is concerned I have found work, I'm still signing on (which I can't stand), I'm wasting my brain, and slowly losing the will to even bother with this job, if they're this disorganised now, what's going to happen once I actually, finally, start working there, I haven't told them about my Masters, because I was hoping to have started before then, and it not be much of an issue, but at this rate it'll be September and I still won't be working, and it will be an issue. Argh!!!!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Defining Ourselves (1)

What's wrong with being a feminist?

 For a lot of my generation this seems to have become a dirty word. I was raised by a mother who believes in equality, in there being no difference between men and women's abilities to do a job. Yes we are physically different, and yes we possess different brains (women's develop faster and tend to be larger apparently) but calling myself a feminist doesn't mean I hate men and want to trample all over them. Far from it.
 I like men. A large percentage of my friends are male, I enjoy being in their company, I like spending time with them. I've heard plenty of blonde jokes, plenty of sexist jokes, I've probably laughed at a few.
For me, being a feminist means standing up for the rights of women everywhere. I am very lucky, I was born in the West, in a household where women outnumber men (my poor dad) and was raised with the values I hold today. Others are not so lucky, in many countries women are oppressed, denied equality, and treated as though they have no worth. I believe in supporting them, in trying to help them educate themselves, to help them climb out of poverty and desperation, to better their lives and those of their children.
Feminism began because women wanted to better themselves, they wanted to be able to vote, to work, to support themselves, not just wait for men to look after them, to go from being someone's daughter to someone's wife and mother. To be able to define themselves.
I honestly believe in equality of the sexes, not just for those of us in the West where women and men are afforded the same rights. It upsets me that some women my age believe that calling themselves a feminist means they hate men, and want them oppressed. It's sad that they are that ignorant, feminism is a huge movement, yes some of the women involved may be more hardcore and dislike men, but not all of them. My mother is one, she grew up during the 60s and 70s, she was part of that movement. She's worked as a nurse her whole adult life, been a wife and mother as well. None of that means she doesn't believe in equality. My dad says that all he wishes for my sister and I, is that we are happy and healthy and pursue our dreams and ambitions. Feminism and the women's movement means we have the freedom to do so. Shouldn't all women and men) be afforded the same freedom?

Comedian Bill Bailey
T-shirt from The Fawcett Society
Found here

I'll get off my soapbox now. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Saturday's child

The original:

Monday's child is full of grace,
Tuesday's child is fair of face,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
While the child that's born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe, good and gay.

Alternate version:

Monday's child is not too bad,
Tuesday's child will drive you mad,
Wednesday's child could be a star,
Thursday's child will go too far,
Friday's child will not stay true,
Saturday's child just hasn't a clue,
While the child that's born on the Sabbath Day won't give a damn what people say!

I found the alternate version in an old newspaper clipping, and the original is an old English folk rhyme. I'm not sure what I prefer, working hard for a living or not having a clue! What day are you?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

A meditation on being in my early 20s

Life is about more than just making money, it's about creating works of art, even if you're the only one who sees it as art. It's about the rush of new discoveries, the glory of falling in love with places, people, words, moments, of falling and then finding your feet again. Of growing up, breaking the rules, shaping yourself into whoever it is you want to be.
Yes, money is nice, and having it makes life easier, but it's not the most important thing out there. I want to explore more, explore my city, myself, my world, and money would make it easier to do so, I just don't want to get to the end of my life and think "I wish I'd done more, lived more". I want to write, and laugh more, and feel able to be whoever it is I'm becoming. To grow and not feel that all there is to life is working a well-paid job that I don't enjoy just for the sake of it.
A friend of mine is currently travelling the world, which is awesome, and one day I hope to do the same. To find myself in a new place, with a new perspective.
Other friends have had babies, and while they might be fine with that, it makes me feel sad, we're so young, there's so much to do, to see, and they're lives are altered forever, while I'm off trying all these things, they're effectively tied down for the next 18 years or so. I know it's a choice, and it's theirs, but I'd never be able to do that, not now, there's too much going on.
This all ties in with the quote I posted the other day I suppose, that life is all we have, and we should make the most of it, regardless of how painful it can be, because to not do is to regret, and I'm tired of regret. It's time for making memories, for laughing so hard it's painful, for falling head over heels (literally and figuratively) and for just being in the moment.

Life is not about finding yourself. It is about creating yourself.
                                ~ George Bernard Shaw ~

Monday, 19 July 2010

Philosophical Musing on Love and Soulmates

Plato believed in soulmates. He said that originally we had four arms, four legs, two heads. Zeus grew jealous and split the humans into two halves. We spend all our lives searching for our other half. As odd as that might sound, it's also rather lovely. Searching for the part of ourselves that is absent. I don't know if I believe in soulmates, but I do like the idea of there being that one person who you're meant to be with, and that once you've found them it all clicks into place. Sometimes I think that maybe it's not necessarily a lover, it might just be a friend who you connect completely with, someone who's personality gels with yours and who feels the same way. I think you can love people even if you never sleep with them (or just platonically). But the idea of that one person seems to be something I think about more and more as I get older, and watch friends get hitched. I don't want to get married or anything, but I think it would be nice to find that other half, that person who fits just right.

A little change will do you good!

I've changed the background/layout a bit, and I'd like your feedback. I'm not sure whether I'll leave it like this or maybe change it again, but any advice, suggestions, or comments are welcome. Thanks!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

You are here to risk your heart

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will break you with it's yearnings. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on Earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit beneath an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.

                                           ~Louise Erdrich. The Painted Drum~

Monday, 12 July 2010

Toward a Patronage Society - Amanda Palmer

I watched a really interesting video today, in which the amazing Amanda Palmer talks about how she wants to find a new way to distribute her music, without a record label, and with the internet. She used to be a living statue, and she uses this as a way to explain how she sees the possibility of changing the way musicians, and by extension, other artists (writers, painters etc) could distribute their work and still make the money they need to live on. She says they have to be unashamed to ask their fans for money, like a living statue putting out their hat, and I agree. If you care about someone's art, be it music, poetry, a novel, a painting, etc, then you should be willing to help them continue to create by investing in them, by buying a copy of their song, or book, or whatever. This is a bold new century and there are so many incredible people creating things that may never be picked up by a major record label, or a big publishing house, or gallery, who can share their work with the world through the internet, and feel able to ask that people pay for it, just as they would in the offline world, just as they always have, but without a middle man, artist to fan, fan to artist, and have an interaction that is in a way more personal, even if it is online.
If this all sounds a little muddled, it is, watch the video, hopefully it'll become clearer.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

If you have a quiet moment, here's one way to fill it

Last night/this morning I re-read an amazing book, Terry Pratchett's Nation. Now I'm a big TP fan, I think he's an incredible writer, and this is easily the most astonishing book he's ever written. Even if you've never read a word he's written before, I recommend you read this. It's full of big ideas, about life, death, the past, the future, the world and our place in it. When I first read it, I fell in love. It's not like anything the wonderful Sir Terry has written before. At times heart-breakingly poignant, and at others tender and warm, then funny, it's a book for any reader, and person who's ever asked questions about anything really. It leaves you asking questions, with tears in your eyes and a smile on your face. Just, quite simply, wonderful.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Blogs to read!

There are a lot of voices out there in the blogsphere, a lot of awesome people to discover and follow. Two of the blogs that inspired me to start writing more than just a book blog are So About What I Said and Melanie's Randomness, both written by amazing people, Melissa and Melanie, who have so much to share and write in such an accessible way, that's really easy to relate to.
A couple of other awesome blogs are Yes and Yes, which always has something interesting going on, Madness and Beauty - so many pretty pictures, Hyperbole and a Half, which is laugh out loud hilarious, as is No Ordinary Rollercoaster (plus sometimes there are cute puppy pictures).
I may not be a teenager anymore, but The Teenagerie, a new project by the author of The Seventeen Magazine Project, certainly provides food for thought.
And something new I found out about through a friend of mine, is the post-apocalypse Big One Archive, which I recommend any writers with ideas about the end of the world (oh the possibilities) check out as they're taking submissions now, and hopefully I'll be able to contribute soon!
These are just a few of the blogs I read, look at the blogroll down on the right for some more.
What blogs do you recommend I check out?

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

in which I talk about the things that make me angry

I'm quite a laid back person generally it takes a lot to make me cross. I consider myself an understanding person, willing to listen to others and try to see things through their eyes. There are, however, a few things I cannot see from the other side.
I spent part of last weekend hanging out with my friends at London's Pride event. It was great fun, people were dancing in the streets, dressed up in costumes and having a brilliant time. I'm lucky to live in a country where being who you are is protected by law, we have freedom of speech and opinion, there are no repercussions (not legal ones anyway) for being gay or black or just different.
At the event there are always a few protesters, I didn't see them this year, as I wasn't on the parade route, but I know they were there. Standing in a pen, surrounded by police, eaten up by ignorance and hatred. It's sad, pathetic, that anyone feels that letting people be themselves is wrong.
I have friends from all walks of life, different races, religions, genders, sexuality, abilities, I have a sister with learning disabilities, friends who are disabled, physically and otherwise. I take people as they come. I don't prejudge, if I don't like someone, it's based on my experience of them, not on what I've heard about them. Although sometimes I might think that someone doesn't sound like a nice person, I wait to meet them before making my mind up.
I wish more people would do the same. Regardless of their beliefs, however deeply held, get to know someone, you might learn something, about them, about yourself.
I was brought up in the church my whole life, I went to church schools, as far as I'm concerned, what I took from my immersion in faith, was that love is the most important thing there is. My favourite passage in the Bible, is where Jesus gives his followers a new commandment, to love one another, with no exceptions. To me, that's at the heart of the beliefs I was raised with. I may disagree with the church on other issues, but on this one I'm solid. Love is vital, loving humanity in all its guises, however it comes is vital. Hate is easier to give into, love takes work. I'm willing to put the work in, I wish others felt the same.
So there you have it, the things that really rile me are the obvious forms of hatred, ignorance, racism, sexism, homophobia, intolerance, and an unwillingness to even attempt to learn about other people and accept them as fellow human beings. People are just people.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Because the universe does not make sense

So this week I was offered a job, yay! Then I'm offered two interviews for other jobs, whereas before I was struggling to get anywhere, now everyone wants me! It's ridiculous.

Yesterday I hung out with an old friend, I've known him since I was 7, we went to primary and then secondary school together, and we live round the corner from each other. We went upto the country park and just hung out, talking nonsense for a good while and listening to random music, and just chilling out in the sunshine, life should have more days like that.

This weekend is Pride in London, a bunch of my friends will be there, and so will I, it's important to support people you care about and stand up for them. As far as I'm concerned, you should respect people for who they are, and not judge them based on your own ignorance and prejudice. Gay, straight, black, white, orange with purple spots, people are just people and no one has the right to do them down. So I'll be there, amongst the rainbow flags and the people dancing away, standing up for my friends right to live their lives as themselves. (If it's too hot, I'll be in the National Gallery looking at the gorgeous paintings, it's next door to Trafalgar Square where they hold the party).

What's everyone else doing this weekend?

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

What's the smile for...

I got a provisional job offer today, they have to check my references and that I'm not a criminal (ah, the CRB check, what joy!) and then I start next week. I find out what hours I get (annoyingly it's only part time) and then a spot of training and I'm good to go. I had the interview yesterday, some people move fast.
It's not really a job I want, it's not in the arts, there's not going to be a stepping stone to working in a theatre. But it's a job, a real, paid, position, and it's mine. At last.
It's been an uphill struggle. I've been brought really low by all this. I'm going to keep applying for things that appeal to me more, that I think are more relevant. But for now, I'm working (fingers crossed for glowing references) and I can finally buy things without stressing about how much everything costs (ok, it's a recession, and I'm not a millionaire, but it'll be my money, and I'm no longer a burden on the taxpayer).
So yay!! Today's a good day.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Summer in the city...

...and it's more than just hot, it's really sticky!! Despite a damp start, summer has definitely arrived in my corner of the UK, and it's shaping up to be a long, hot one. Which is bad news, as I may have mentioned before, for my pale skin. My mum likes to make fun of my collection of recessive genes (blue eyes, blonde hair, lefthandedness) that mark me out as different from the rest of my family, even my blue-eyed dad is darker skinned than me. He says it's from a life spent working outdoors (which is not true). My mum has mediterreanean blood, and copes better with this oppressive heat and stupid amounts of sunshine. It's Britain, famously cold and damp!! I don't particularly like rain, but a break in the weather would be good. Please and thank you, Universe. Glastonbury is taking place this weekend, and it looks like it'll be nice weather, my friend is volunteering there with Oxfam, so I hope it stays nice for her sake, but that's all the way in Somerset, so a splash of rain here would have little effect there. My dad's stocked up for a barbecue this weekend, and presumably he intends to watch the boring ol' World Cup. It's also Wimbledon fortnight, but tennis holds no interest for me. I guess I'll be spending the weekend reading and watching Glasto highlights, and maybe a film or two. What are your plans for the weekend? Anyone doing something fun and a little bit different?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Daddy Cool

I've never been a Daddy's Girl (that's my sister's role) but I do love my dad. We jokingly refer to him as Papa Bear, he can be gruff and grumpy, but he's got a good heart. Around the house his role is Mr Fix-it, he's a trained engineer and electrician and is probably sick of whiny voices asking him to fix everything that gets broken. Today he's sitting watching the World Cup, England isn't playing, but he is a man! Later he'll finish reading the paper, maybe start one of the books I gave him this morning (he likes thrillers) or watch a film. I'm too big to sit on his lap and watch TV like I did as a kid, and I may tease him a lot (he's the family joker, so this particular habit is all his fault!) but there's no one quite like my dear old dad. Happy Father's Day!

My dad, looking very suave

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Lessons I Have Learnt (1)

  • Never go in the ball pool. They may look like great fun. But they're not. I used to work as a weekend receptionist at a kids play centre. I know how rarely those balls are cleaned. I've seen the stuff that somehow ends up in there. I have absolutely no desire to ever encounter a ball pit again.
  • Never cut your own hair. My sister did this once. Admittedly it wasn't all her hair. She chopped a hairbraid out of it (one of those ones where they wrap coloured thread round the hair). She was left with a weird bit of hair that stuck up in the air. We called her 'spike' til it grew out. It took ages.
  • Always take a chance. This I learned the hard way. I'm Little Miss Cautious. I never take risks, it could be boring, I usually say it's the safer option. But from watching other people take a chance and succeed or fail, make something happen, I wish I was braver. Of course there are some things you should never risk (your health, life or other people's), I just need to learn to take the chance more often.
  • No is not a bad word. I used to be one of those people who wanted to please everyone. Maybe it's because I get quite shy around strangers, or that I find it hard to make new friends, but I'd always say yes to whatever boring task I was being asked to do. Too eager to please. I've found it doesn't really get you anywhere. Saying no won't get you into trouble, standing up for yourself is a good thing.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

"Why does everyone keep mentioning apples?"*

For the last couple of months I've been heading out on the last Wednesday evening to the Science Museum, here in London, for their awesome, fun, series of events called Lates. Each one has a different theme (I've been to Genius, The Science of Beauty, Extraordinary Earth), and it's free! Aimed at bringing adult visitors into the museum for a child-free evening full of learning and being a bit silly! There are bars on each floor serving wine and beer (and soft drinks), the great shop is open, as is the restaurant. Perfect if you miss playing with the science-based toys in the Launchpad.
At each event, there have been actors dressed as famous figures from scientific history. Last time I got my photo taken with Isaac Newton! There's also silent disco, a pub quiz, live music, dance performances, a comedy show, and various themed activities. At the Science of Beauty, there were also freebies, I made off with some day cream, a make-up bag, bronzer, lipgloss and more (the event was sponsored by L'Oreal, so these were not cheapy products).
I'm planning to go to the next one (entitled The Science of You), in a couple of weeks, with some friends, and have more fun, watching the bubble show, pretending to learn while actually being a bit silly, and reverting to being a child, just for one night!

*Sir Isaac asked us that!

I Don't Want to be a Princess

Over at Diamonds and Toads (a really interesting fairy tale blog, check it out!) there's an article called Princessitude, in which the author looks at the reasons why wanting to be a princess is not necessarily a good thing and what the real fairy tales have to say about it. We live in a Disney-fied world, where all the unpleasant things in life are often tidied out of the way. The original fairy tales, as collected by the Brothers Grimm (so apt) end badly. In Snow White, the Wicked Queen is made to dance in shoes of red hot iron at the wedding. Prince Charming definitely isn't. He offers to buy the dead SW from the dwarves, so at the worst he's a necrophiliac. Sleeping Beauty isn't as lovely either.
I never wanted to be a princess. Yes I watched the films as a kid, I still have a few. But as a lit geek, I did read them all as well. All the gory bits. The conclusion I drew was that being a princess was boring, you have to sit around waiting to be rescued. I'd rather have magic powers. The only witch that ever scared me was the Baba Yaga, she's a Russian witch, and she's creepy stuff.
There are very few stories I can think of where the heroine rescues herself, or the prince. I know there are some rewritten versions with a feminist slant, and the heroine is strong and nobody's princess.
One author I've loved for years, is Tamora Pierce. When I was about 11, I read her Song of the Lioness quartet, which features a wonderful heroine, Alanna, who disguises herself as a boy in order to become a knight. Now that's my kind of girl! All of Pierce's books feature strong girls and women, doing the rescuing, fighting alongside the men, and some of them are princesses. I have pretty much everything she's written and I haven't grown out of her yet. And that's the thing. Brave, feisty heroines. They're important.
I was a huge Buffy fan as a kid (still am). She was another girl who slayed the monsters herself, and didn't need to be rescued all the time.
It's important to realise that yes, fairy tales are important to storytelling history, they show where we came from, but we shouldn't use them as life models. Stand on your own two feet, be your own hero/ine and fight your own battles.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Job Hunting is no fun whatsoever...

My dream job would be something that involved sitting around reading and not a lot else! Alas, this has so far proved elusive. I've been applying for jobs like a maniac recently, being unemployed is boring and if I don't get out of the house soon, I'm going to go crazy!! I'm a victim of the recession, there were budget cuts where I used to work and I was one of the unlucky ones for whom there's no work anymore.
I'll admit I was lazy, when I graduated I had work, so I didn't rush to find anything, I figured when I needed it, there would be a job for me. Unlike those in finance and the government I had no idea there was this monstrous recession coming, I grew up in the booming Nineties, also I'm rubbish with money. I have no head for maths, I'm an English grad, bring me words, that's something I can handle. So that brings us to now.
The job market has collapsed, I know I'm not the only one left without a job or a plan. I've had student part-time slightly rubbish jobs since I was 18, so I have some experience, I'm ridiculously over qualified for some of the things I've been applying for, but still no luck.
I've been a waitress (very briefly), a receptionist, a shop assistant (voluntary), and looked after other people's kids (I never want to do that again, ever.) and apparently this means I'm completely useless. I've had one interview. One. And I didn't get the job. That's my life. I never get a break. It's driving me nuts. The longer I go without work, the harder it'll be to find it, when, if ever, the job market picks up again and people start hiring. It's exasperating. It really is.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Losing my Best Friend

D and I have been friends since we were 11 and best friends since we were 17. I'm 23, and it feels like we've known each other for a lot longer. Once we even bought each other the exact same thing for Christmas. When I lived on campus and had no Internet we wrote each other actual letters and sent silly things through the post, I still have everything she ever sent me. We used to go on ridiculous drives in her car, which usually involved us getting lost or stuck on the ring road, going round and round. We shopped, we lunched, we Starbucks'd, we ate our body weight in Nandos, we watched movies, we got drunk, we ate an absurd amount of ice cream, we wandered round town centres, we went to the cinema, we went to the theatre and almost froze to death (we were not adequately dressed for December). Endless private jokes, that sound like nonsense to everyone else. There are thousands of memories rattling around in my brain. Then, last year it all changed.
D met her boyfriend and started her new job, it changed her, took her over. She came to see me after I had my wisdom teeth out and was whacked out on painkillers. All she talked about was her trip to Dubai, with the boyfriend (I've never met him) and showed me literally dozens of photos on her phone. I barely remember it because of the interesting selection of meds I was on (everything was fuzzy).
My birthday rolled around, we hadn't spoken as much as we used to, but I figured that was normal, we were busy people. I threw a party, my parents were out of the country and my sister is highly bribable. A bunch of friends came, she was too busy seeing the boyfriend.
I have to point out, I wasn't jealous, and I don't resent her happiness, not one bit. But it was my birthday. One day of the whole frigging year.
She turned up about an hour after it started, he sat outside in the car, would have been nice if he'd come in and said hello. She couldn't stay, they were just passing through, to give me a card from both of them (bearing in mind, I have never met him and he didn't come in) and a box of chocolates that hadn't even been wrapped. (We are both big present givers, in the past the gifts have always been perfect).
Then she was gone.
I sent her a text to invite her to Sunday lunch a week later, she was busy with her boyfriend.
November: I was on a teaching course (learning how to teach English as a foreign language), she was also doing training for her job. I wrote her a quick facebook wall post, just to check in.
The response was unexpected to say the least. She private messaged me to tell me to never mention what she does for a living on her wall, anybody could read it. I sent back a message pointing out that all she had to do was change her privacy settings (her job isn't illegal or dodgy, the opposite really).
That was pretty much the last time we communicated.
Til this week. I was at another close friend's birthday party and I mentioned her. This friend asked me why I had referred to her as my best friend. It's an automatic response. D is someone I love and care about, an extension of my family, the person I trust the most.
So I thought, I'd reach out, see if our relationship was salvageable. I couldn't find her on facebook. I assumed she'd left it or something. No. Through her sister (who I am still in contact with) I discover she's still on facebook, we still have a bunch of friends in common. However she's disconnected from me.
I sent a friend request. I'm not crossing my fingers. I have no idea what has brought this about. It's breaking my heart. I'm pondering emailing her and asking what's going on.
I know she doesn't read this. Very few people do. Maybe the virtually psychic link we've had all these years is still working and she'll somehow know I miss her. That it's horrid. That I'm sorry if I didn't try hard enough to keep our friendship going. That I'd just like to know how she is.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


I'm still trying to sort my life out, and so I've been a little absent on the blogging front. I have a list of stuff I want to write about, but just no drive to actually put fingers to keyboard. Bear with me, and soon there'll be something that's possibly worth reading.

My dad is back home, and on a whole new bunch of medication, he might still need an operation, and at worst, a pace-maker, it depends on how well these meds work. Thank you to those who sent their best, it was massively appreciated. 

I'm still posting book reviews over on ABADBW I don't need to feel inspired to write them, it's not particularly creative. But if you're looking for something to read, go there!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

My dad is in the hospital. He wasn't feeling well yesterday, his heart was beating arrhythmically, and he went to the doctor, who sent him to be admitted at the hospital where I was born. He's having surgery tomorrow to get his heart back into rhythm. I'm a little worried, but I know he's in the right place and is getting treatment. My mum's gone to visit him this evening and take some things he asked for. It's weird, my dad is a big strong man, when he gets sick he usually keeps working unless he's really ill, this is the worst he's ever been. His heart has been troubling him for a while, but he was on medication which seemed to help, then the doctors took him off it, and now he's in the cardiac ward. Hopefully he'll be home tomorrow evening. It's very quiet at home without him.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Pressing Pause

I've been trying to work out how best to address this, and all I could come up with, that wasn't too morbid and sad, is to say I've got what Holly Golightly called the mean reds, but unlike the film (or the book) I don't think it can be fixed by eating a croissant in the perfect LBD outside a world famous jewellery shop. I'm going to take myself off to the doctor's this week and see how best to sort things out. I can't believe this is happening to me again. Sorry for the lack of posts but I'm not feeling very inspired or anything right now.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

If You Go Down To The Woods...

Summer has arrived in my corner of the British Isles, and it's boiling. It'll probably only last a week (hopefully). I am not a fan of this weather, I'm descended from Celts, so I have ridiculously pale skin, blonde hair and blue eyes, and I burn lobster red in no time at all, and it's horrific. My mum has olive meditterean skin courtesy of my Nan's French ancestry, but I'm stuck with the Scottish part and it's grim in the summer. The slightest flash of skin and it's pink and painful.

Anyway, sunburn hazards aside, it's been a fun weekend. Yesterday I went with a group of friends up into the country park in the town where I live (we're technically a London suburb, but it borders on countryside). After marching through the woods (why is a male 5 minutes more like 15?) we made our way to a sunny patch of grass and gathered around to gossip, laugh, drink lemonade, beer and cider and be silly. Then when it cooled and the sun disappeared, the boys made fire! We had a little bonfire in the woods, don't worry we put it out carefully. It was fun. I got lost in the woods and had to be found (I have no sense of direction at all!) but it was just jolly. We should be doing something similar in a week or so if the weather holds.
Today I've just lazed around, reading the papers, listening to lovely summery music and trying to keep cool. Hope you've all had good weekends and your batteries are recharged!

Friday, 21 May 2010

Some things which are nice!

I love getting things in the post, it's one of the reasons I like BookMooch so much, free books delivered to my door, yes please! I like the sound of exciting things falling through the letter box. I don't really like it when it's something depressing, like a bill though. So the nice present I got yesterday was definitely more fun. One of the blogs I follow is Today I Saw, and Jill, whose project it is, was asking if anyone wanted to be a recipient of one of her quirky postcards. So I sent her an email and she sent me this postcard. The project ends on June 4th, so check it out.

Also, Clarissa, who gave me the blog award, is writing a book, you can read it here, I've just started, and I like it so far!

Thursday, 20 May 2010

The following post will make little or no sense, probably

Suitable I think, for the new austerity we're facing

So I didn't get the job. Cheers Universe. Oh well, onwards and upwards I guess.

After I lay in bed for several hours, processing my latest failure, reading a Marian Keyes novel (it's like a hug and/or chocolate but with no calories), I got my arse in gear. I went up the road, bought a paper, orange juice and a cinnamon bagel (once smeared liberally with Nutella, definitely the most perfect thing ever!).
Then I decided to sort out some of the junk gathering dust in my room. I ferreted out some old bags moldering away in the depths of my wardrobe and discovered I still really like a couple of them. I used to buy a new bag of one type or another every few months, partly because I get bored really quickly, and partly because I'm no exactly known for being practical. Once I've replaced it, the previous bag is swiftly abandoned, until I dig it out and either give it to my sister, chuck it away or donate it to charity. While some of the stuff I unearthed today is definitely headed for the charity shops, a couple look like, with a bit of a clean and some tlc, they might be something I could actually re-use. So tomorrow I'm sticking them in the washing machine on a handwash cycle to see if that cleans them up a little (because I am far too lazy to wash them by hand, and the machine does it more efficiently).
Also tomorrow I'm taking some books, bags and other assorted things I don't want anymore down to the charity shop and I'm going to treat myself to a rummage of their bookshelves and see if I can't rustle up a few cheerful paperbacks for pennies!
This weekend the weather's supposed to be rather nice, so hopefully I'll go and meet up with some friends and hang out in the sunshine, and maybe there'll be a barbecue at home (depends on my dad's mood).
I'm trying my best not to slip back into the funk I was in at the beginning of the year when I first realised I was unemployed and with no immidiate prospects. I don't ever want to slip back in the depression that threatened to steal my late teens/very early 20s. I need to stay positive. Things will look up, I just hope sooner rather than later.

Photo source