Wednesday, 31 August 2011

just an illegible mass of words really


I'm in my bed, watching Pretty Little Liars with a cup of tea and a packet of Hobnobs.

I was working in London today at Hodder and Stoughton and I'm going to be doing a bit of work for them from now on. I'm pretty chuffed about it. I love books, you see. Life is kind of crazy at the moment though, what with working in the bookshop, working for Hodder (at home and in the office), reviewing for We Love This Book magazine, finishing my A Levels, and driving to and from Brighton so as my boyfriend doesn't forget what I look like. I'm also trying my hardest to fit in time to blog and read books that I actually want to read. Oh and see friends. And obviously keep up with Big Brother, X Factor, Pretty Little Liars and Neighbours. Which is a full time job in itself. I'm super tired but simultaneously exhilarated. Go figure.

I blogged about priorities a little while ago. Somehow I seem to have managed to add more to the list whilst failing to adhere to the original. Funny that. Funny that exercise has taken a back seat.

I might WALK TO WORK tomorrow. (Work is a 10 minute walk/2 minute drive from my bed). That'd be something. I'm also going to go to church on Sunday for the first time in like A BILLION YEARS. That's right. Pat on the back for Claire Maxwell (slash slap round the face for it being such a novelty).

OMG, I BOUGHT A CAMERA GUYS. So this blog will hopefully soon be laden will GOOD pictures of my life rather than SHITTY blackberry ones.

Unnecessary capitals.

I'm so tired and I'm not thinking before typing. This is what happens. Forgive me. When I get a minute (friday maybe), I'll write you something decent. A poem or summin'. That's not happening. I tried to write poetry in my emo days (you know what I'm sayin'), and those were dark, dark days.

Bye now.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Monday, 29 August 2011

Weekend

pictures stolen from Gareth


I won't lie to you, that is pastry on my top lip in the first picture. I am super sexy.

My time in Brighton has been splendid. I've done exactly what I intended to do, i.e. sleep, eat and read. We've watched an entire series of Dexter (thank you Jamie for lending us the boxset). I think I'd like to be a police officer purely for all the donuts and coffee (apparently) consumed. On Friday I had coffee with my journalism hero and Twitter-come-real-life friend Cathy (aka @substuff). It was grand.

On Saturday we travelled all the way to Bournemouth on the train. I slept - see above picture. We went to visit Gareth's granny and she fed us apple pie and ice cream. Then we watched the football and I thought Bournemouth were a bit crap. No offence, but I miss Josh McQuoid, I thought he was quite fit. As ever, the fans were hilarious slash annoying. We arrived back in Brighton at 8.30pm and went out for drinks with some of Gareth's work pals. Then we went out with Tom, Christian, Olly and Isobel (I can't be bothered to explain each of their back stories, they are human, that is all you need to know). We lasted about half an hour before coming home and falling asleep.

As an aside, Isobel is a graphic designer (and lovely) and may be designing me a new blog! I'm super excited.

Sunday was a mixture of sleeping, reading, watching Dexter and eating a top notch roast with the same above list of people. In the evening we went to a pub.

Getting a little bored of details.

Today, bank holiday Monday, I feel ill. Send flowers.

I don't want to leave Brighton. I love it so much. Could somebody please find me a job here. And a MANSION. Thanks.

ps. I bought a jumper with squirrels on.

pps. apologies if this post is poorly written. I am seriously nauseous right now.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Caitlin Moran is CHANGING MY LIFE

Gareth's webcam is like a mirror, blame him.

This book could either be the best or the worst thing that has ever happened to me.

It's Caitlin Moran's How To Be A Woman, and it has led me to finally say; I AM A FEMINIST. Partly because I just want to be her friend but mostly because I've realised what the word 'feminist' actually means and that I am, in fact, just that. Having said that I still dislike the word 'feminist'. I think it makes us all sound like hairy backed lesbians. But there we go, you win some you lose some. At least we are no longer whipped. (Unless we want to be).

Caitlin Moran has forced me to question my choice of underwear, my hair removal ritual and what is appropriate to call my 'parts'. According to the previous sentence I have apparently settled on 'parts'. Her decision of c*** did sound a little brash on my innocent ears. But that was in the early stages of the book and c*** now feels perfectly acceptable (go figure). For her, not for me. My mother would disown me were I to utter such a profanity.

I admit I, as a 19 year old searching for the meaning of life, take everything Caitlin Moran, my hero, says as perfect truth. Perhaps in years to come I will learn to challenge her also, but for now, she is the cleverest woman alive and I'd shave my own eyebrows off should she tell me it would make me look more like Sienna Miller.

Not only is it a wonderfully frank insight into the life of a growing up, and finally adult, Caitlin Moran, but it is hilariously witty, thoughtful and insightful. I would recommend it to anyone who is not my mother. Or any member of my family for that matter. They would not cope.

Read it, please. Not just women. Men should read it too, and realise how fucking awesome us females actually are.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

6 DAYS OFF


HELLO! I MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE CONSUMED TOO MUCH CAFFEINE TODAY. (Get used to the caps, or leave now).

I finished work at 5.30 last night with a whole 6 days off ahead of me. I'm happy. I do have a lot (A LOT) of reading to do but that's okay, I like reading.

Today I visited my wee cousins and their mummy (my aunty) Louisa which was JUST DARLING. Archie (3) was commanding me to play with him the whole time and so I left feeling pretty darn good about myself. If a little person likes you, and tells you of their like, you know you're great. Because little people don't fake it. I like that about little people.

Mia (10 months) has THE CUTEST face.

It's all I can do not to eat her.

Then, after a long Google-maps-for-Blackberry induced journey, I have arrived in Brighton. And plan to read, sleep, drink coffee, watch Dexter and do not much else.

WOO.

Monday, 22 August 2011

My response to the Guardian's 'couple bloggers' article.


I am angry at the Guardian. See this post.

Both Rockstar Diaries and Louder Than Silence sit proudly in my tab-bar. I also write a blog (I would hope the fact that you are reading this is evidence enough), not a couple blog, sure - Gareth has his own separate space on the internet - but a lifestyle blog nonetheless. I feel I have a little background knowledge on the subject.

Jenny Stevens, of the Guardian, says: "Their online lives are primary-coloured blurs of Hipstamatic-captured perfection – baby Eleanor never seems to cry, their dog Kingsley wouldn't be out of place at Crufts, and doe-eyed, immaculately dressed Naomi and Josh are unceasingly happy." They are false in their perfection, she appears to implyShe goes on to attack Naomi (the voice behind the blog) for eluding to an idyllic life. 

Should you find yourself perusing the Rockstar Diaries blog, you'd have a tough time ignoring the aesthetics. The photography, the outfits, the baby. Oh the baby. I will not attempt to deny this. But what Jenny Stevens successfully bypasses is the honesty, whether that be negatively or positively portrayed. Sometimes entire posts are based on a hardship. But, I don't believe, whether she writes about the tough stuff or not makes any difference to the appeal or the point of the blog, of any blog. I believe what makes a great blog is exactly what makes a great movie or a great book; escapism. I like to get home from work, make myself a cup of tea, and read the latest posts from the bloggers that I love. Not much brings me greater joy. It's good for the writer to be honest, I agree, however I've read many a whiny post in my time, and I'm far from a fan.  

There's honesty, and then there's self-indulgence. I believe both Rockstar Diaries and Louder Than Silence to have found a balance between documentation of happy times (which surely could only be positive in their essence) and honest reality. There should, in my opinion, be a higher percentage of the former. Or you are verging on self-indulgence and that is advantageous for neither the reader nor the writer.  

My final point is simply this: these bloggers are not impersonating anyone, they are photographing their own families and their own lives. If they enjoy drinking coffee in pleasing surroundings and dressing impeccably then more fool those who do not follow their lead. For me, having a blog has forced me into wanting to do and experience more. I enjoy documenting an enjoyable weekend and I look forward to looking back on those posts in years to come and thinking 'indeed, that was fun, we should do that again'. If I don't do anything interesting, I write about something else, and the same goes for all other lifestyle bloggers. It's in the name, lifestyle blog. If you're not living it, you're not blogging about it. 

Who are you, Jenny Stevens, to critise normal people for doing nice things and enjoying their families? I taste a little bitterness, and it's not my coffee. I take sugar.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Sunday morning.

photos by Gareth

Happy Sunday.

I'm in the middle of a good post, I promise, but my Sunday brain has taken over and I can't, for the life of me, remember what words mean. So a good post will have to be on hold until tomorrow, or at least until my brain returns to it's full capacity.

Sunday mornings are all about coffee and reading in bed. And then watching Dexter until we should really get dressed and do something with our lives.

Gareth is here, and my family have gone away. HOUSE PARTY. No, just quiet nights in with the new series of Big Brother (cannot tell you how excited I am), thanks.

We're going to go out and buy food now. Our priorities are well and truly in order. See you on the other side.

ps. Please excuse my morning-face.

Friday, 19 August 2011

A Level results day and why it makes me mad.


It's that time of year again. Our streets are filled with drunk, celebrating youths and the television is laden with images of smiling, attractive 18 year old girls, waggling a piece of paper marked 'A' in their manicured hands. It was A Level results day yesterday, and I am so over it.

As I've previously mentioned I have had something of an unconventional eduction, leaving school a week into year 12 due to illness, developing OCD and finally attempting my A Levels via distance learning (bloody hard work). In June 2010 I sat my English Literature and Philosophy AS exams. I came out with a B and a D. The following school year I got even more lazy, didn't do any work until Christmas 2010 and by that point decided attempting both English and Philosophy would be a little too much for someone so intrinsically lazy as myself. So I did the English. And I didn't do it well. I will guesstimate that I spent a total of 20 hours on the exam work over the entire year. If that.

So yesterday I woke to a Twitter overrun with nervous teenagers. And my own indifference would have astounded you.

A day like that does nothing but irritate me. The incessant boasting of schools regarding their place in the league table, the almost tangible sense of anxiety permeating the entire country, and most of all the question: 'so how did you do?'. I did good, considering how much I don't care. But then I'm pretty lucky that I'm bright. I'm not being a dick; note my outright aversion to faux-humbleness. I don't care because I didn't do my A Levels at school. I didn't have that same pressure. That same illusion that GCSEs, A Levels, University is the only route to a nice life. It's not, often uni is merely an escape from the impending doom of 'the real world', certainly not the only way to get there.

By January I will hopefully have two A Levels. I plan to then work my butt off, for money and voluntarily, build up my list of contacts, and make sure everyone I meet knows they would be stupid not to take me seriously. And in the end, someone will. I reckon. I know I may come across as arrogant or naive and many people (kindly but) dismissively will tell me 'we'll see'. But I know I can make it the way I want to make it. I'll show you.

My advice to anyone feeling dismayed after yesterday - decide what it is you want to do, research it like crazy, meet people in that business and hound them for advice and help, be a little arrogant, and work really bloody hard. You'll be fine. There are so many other options that are not given nearly enough credit.

Everyone has got something going for them, you just need to find it and utilise it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

PMS will be the death of me

photo by Gareth

Once a month I could kill a kitten. It's not my fault. I'm female and an unfortunate one at that.

It begins with a dull irritance*. It then develops into anger, mostly to be directed at the person nearest me but could also be set off simply by being too hot/too cold/hungry/tired/all of the above/none of the above. Then the blues set in and everything, EVERYTHING, deserves tears. My face is so big. And finally it's over and the real pain sets in, the physical pain, the pain that makes you yearn for the blues. THE PERIOD PAIN. Every month I lie on my bed (if I'm lucky and I'm not out when MAXIMUM PAIN hits) crying and shouting and asking God why, if he's really all that bloody powerful, my womb wants to kill me and also why the shit was I not created a man?! The usual. Then, perhaps due to a mixture of the sudden absense of intense pain and being 80% painkillers 20% tea, sleep hits. And boy is it good.

Stage 1 and 2 were alive and kicking this weekend. Gareth bore the brunt. (My OCD gets worse, especially, during stages 1, 2 and 3, and I am far from fun to be around). Stage 3 was today. It was grumpy.

In other news, it was gay pride in Brighton this weekend and it was a shame neither Gareth nor I had a penny to our name to enjoy it with. We will do next year though. And we will mingle with the gays.

That's pretty much all I have to say today. I'm a bore.

I'm so excited about stage 4.

How are you?


*I just found out that irritance isn't actually a real word. This is brand new information.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Hand That First Held Mine - by Maggie O'Farrell


When you reach the final page of a book and anything less than complete silence and stillness feels nothing short of disrespectful, you know you loved it and that it will stay with you forever. This morning I finished reading The Hand That First Held Mine and such an occasion ensued. It was such a sweet ending, such a wonderful tribute to the character of Lexie. I cried. Partly because I was sad for the characters, and partly because I was sad for myself and for the journey that would soon end.

Maggie O'Farrell writes in a delicate but deliberate manner. Her characters are unique and (on the most part) lovely (for want of a better word). She writes of two different time periods, slipping between the two effortlessly. She describes a random stranger in a familiar setting to link the characters of the two time periods. It has the potential to be confusing and difficult to follow; it is not, it is simple and makes the story somehow more meaningful and mysterious.

Lexie is the lead in the 1950's section of the novel. She is feisty and independent but undeniably caring and sweet. She will capture your heart from the moment you meet her. Elina and Ted, a young couple, just having given birth to a baby, are our characters of the present day. There is something not right about them, something that we, the reader, don't quite understand. Your heart breaks for them, they seem so unhappy. So lost.

As the story progresses secrets become steadily clearer, to both the characters and to the reader. You will not be able to put the book down for want of more information. Your mind will come up with scenarios, with answers to the mysteries, but I doubt you'll be right. I certainly wasn't. It's not a suspense thriller by any means but I believe it to be just as mysterious. The fact that it is so character based means that the reader is more inclined to wish the best for their beloved characters and so yearns for the truth uncovered.

The wonderful vintage feel of the 1950's plot against the present day is an excellent contrast. Both are appealing in their own way.

This was the first Maggie O'Farrell book I have read and I am already choosing my second. O'Farrells prose slips and flows from the page in an entirely satisfying way. She is truly a genius.

I highly recommend The Hand That First Held Mine.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Weekly polaroids



Last week in polaroids.

Cinema with Roz, birthday dinner with Becca, my new hair, Gareth and Tom being friendly.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Weekend.


I don't think a weekend you work should technically be deemed a weekend. There is something intrinsically wrong about it. That's what I did though; Saturday was one of my two Saturdays a month that I have to work. I also worked Friday which I don't normally do. My customer voice is hoarse.

I drove down to Brighton straight after work on the Saturday, and straight into THAT M25 traffic. It was a bitch. But I utilised the time effectively and did my makeup whilst at a standstill (I won't lie to you, I did almost crash into the back of someone whilst concentrating a little too hard on my foundation application). I arrived in time for a change of attire before we headed off to a T-Dead and Valentines gig. Both bands have Gareth's friends in them. Both are ace. Gareth got stupid drunk. To begin with he was just funny, he did some rapping and him, Olly, Jemma and I took part in hilarious skittle related shenanigans. But then we all went back to the flat and  it was downhill from there. He fell asleep in this position...


Then everyone left and I hesitantly joined him in bed (I have a MASSIVE phobia of sick and I was scared of any unwanted vomiting that might go on that night). He crouched in the middle of the bed with his head in his hands, fully clothed, and fell asleep like that. I perched on the edge and was only awoken in the morning by the sound of his groaning. 

It was a good weekend. I drove back from Brighton this morning at 6am like a crazy person. Ready for work at 9. I'm tired. And I miss Gareth. But apart from that I'm good. How are you? I've got a few bits of news and my new 'weekly polaroids' post to come tomorrow. 

See you then.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The dry spell.


We've all been there. Those few months where the NTRP (need to read pile) beside your bed grows furiously, and even worse, your HRBP (half read books pile) looms ever more perilously, threatening to attack in an fit of scorn - you didn't finish me you disrespectful thickit. The reading dry spell. Every book-lovers worst nightmare.

I've been in the thick of it for a good two months now and it's taking it's toll. I have started but not finished a total of 4 books so far; a disturbing and dismal state of affairs. These books include: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver, The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo and Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay (that last one was because I got banana on it though). Maybe it is a simple case of lack of time, or perhaps the books have merely failed to grip me in the way that I believe a book should. It is not that I believe them to be bad books, certainly not, it is me and my problem. A hefty dose of the 'it's not you, it's me' syndrome, except in my case the recipitent of my distast is helpless and inaudible. The poor dear. I fully intend to go back to each of these books and finish them. Probably from the beginning again in an attempt to forget the relationship breakdown we have previously had. Hold me to that.

I have good news though. A wonderful novel has healed me of my dry spell, and for that I will be forever grateful. The book is by Maggie O'Farrell and is called The Hand That First Held Mine. You may have read it. I am only a few chapters in but already I am entranced. The characters, the turn of phrase, the wonderfully vintage setting, it has encapsulated my imagination in a way no book has done for a long time.

Expect a book review at some point next week. And get reading.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Haircut!

The last time I had my haircut was October 2010. Feel free to scorn. The result of my aversion to trims is as close to dreadlocks as you can come without actually being dreadlocks.

My hair was a massive bush. But at least it was a long massive bush. 

Finally I gave in, though, there comes a point where hair that falls out in clumps isn't sexy anymore. 

Before.

After.

The hair fairies are singing again.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Beginners, love.

A film about people in love.

A man is married to a woman. After her passing he confesses that he is gay and gets a boyfriend. He is in love, and then he dies. He loved his wife, as he must have done after a lifetime and a child together. Perhaps that is a love not physical or sexual but equally love. He did not leave his wife to be with a man, after all. Upon her death, however, he found true and unaltered happiness with a man. Perhaps he was just complying with a vow.

Then his son, who has no real example of what love means, only questions, questions no one ever answers only ponders, finds a girl. A girl without ties, just freedom. They fall in love.

They run away from love. He runs away from love because that's what you do when you don't know how to be. The happiness disbands. As does all the hurt that comes with being in love - a necessary part of being in love. As it would when you bid it goodbye.

Of course. They find each other again, because that's all you really can do. In the end. You can just be in love and hurt and cry and laugh and have sex. All the shit and all the good. That's all there is.

And that's completely beautiful.

There's a Jack Russell too. He has subtitles.