Tag Archives: family

Merry Christmases and Round Robins

31 Dec

I suppose I should say it. Happy new year!

 

Ever since I was little, the days between Christmas and New Year have filled me with great impatience. Let’s face it, it’s a cheerless no-man’s land where we all complain about how rotund we’re feeling as our belt buckles snap and we gaze upon the futile twinkles of our presentless Christmas trees. There’s no more meat left for sandwiches and the return to reality that January heralds is creeping up behind you like a crap pantomime villain. It’s New Year’s Eve though… hooray! And we will all groan at the prospect of having to drink yet more alcohol, spend more money, and potentially have to shell out on an alternative outfit to accommodate for our new flabbier frames.

 

There is something about this time of year that makes us all go terribly existential. How many of us have already used some of our energy to consider what punishments (sorry, resolutions) we’re going to enforce upon our 2012 selves as soon as we switch Chitty Chitty Bang Bang off on New Year’s Day? Smokers, I know there will be a lot of you that have been seriously debating your relationship with your cigarettes. Unfit folk, I know you will have started to notice how knackered you feel after one flight of stairs with two medium sized bags of shopping. I am also considering opening a sweepstake on how many ‘Bring on 2012… It’s gonna be my year!!’ Facebook statuses will be flooding the old news feed. Come on, there’s enough year for everyone. Chill out, yeah?

 

If we’re not looking forward just yet, we’re certainly looking back. Reflection is a brilliant thing. Not only can it be a method to see if you’ve got something drawn on your face after passing out, it can also be in that figurative sense in which we can learn stuff and things. It can be an adventurous jaunt down memory lane in which we can revisit those highs, lows and ‘meh’ days. One traditional way in which these ponderings seem to find an outlet is through the ’round robin’.

Cute and cruel in equal measure.

 

It might sound like a bird that’s just put on a few pounds, but it’s quite often less comedic than that. Maybe they don’t plague everyone, but there seems to be an abundance of relatives and friends of my family that like to include a small essay in their Christmas cards detailing what they’ve done in the past year. Why they might assume others might want to read what they have to say is often a mystery (erm… yeah, blogging is different, right?) There have been letters which have made me want to whip out a red biro, correct the spelling mistakes with an ‘SP’ in the margin before posting it back to them. There are the ones that leave me reassessing my own subsistence through my lack of holidaying and employment successes. Yeah, Happy Christmas, fuckers.

 

My absolute favourite this year came courtesy of a distant cousin of my Mum’s whose existence I wasn’t fully aware of before. Not only was her round robin letter printed wrong- being double sided and losing it’s ending; it’s content was the verbal equivalent of tumbleweed. With a tone of one of those people who include too much unnecessary detail when recounting a tale, it was the persecution on a level of a maths class and holiday slideshow all in one. Within the eight or so paragraphs, she mentioned specifics of visiting around twelve different piers across the country. Each to their own and that, but… really?

 

So what have I done? I’ve left Manchester to get out working in a bar to find myself… working in a pub. I’ve worked four out of the last twelve months full time for free. I got asked out by mentalists on the train on two occasions. I went on dates with mentalists from the train on two occasions. I did a wee in my tent at Glastonbury. I helped drink a free Jager bar dry backstage at Hevy. I’ve started eating more cheese. I’ve giggled at the jokes of musicians I adore and admire like a massive girl. I dyed my hair pink. I dyed my hair orange. I’ve vowed to stop drinking at least three times. I’ve done a fair bit of fishing. I’ve made new friends. I’ve made new enemies. (I didn’t really make enemies… I don’t think.) I haven’t visited any piers.

 

It’s been a very fast year indeed and I hope it’s been a good one for all of you. For those of you going out tonight have a hideously good time. For those of you currently updating their Facebook with an ‘It’s gonna be my year!’ status, stop it. Now.

 

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The Future is Bleak: Career Guidance with Chris Grayling

28 Oct

True to this blog, three years on from becoming a graduate I am still struggling. At twenty five years old, I am very much part of the statistics that have been dominating the news for most of 2011. The youth employment rate is at it’s lowest for twenty years we are told. You can give us as many bar graphs and interactive graphics as you like, but none of this is particularly comforting as you settle down for another day of trawling the internet for the faintest glimmer of hope for your future. I just popped ‘faint glimmer of hope for the future’ into Google. Nada.

I have been ticking all the correct boxes in my attempt to make a career of writing, building a portfolio and taking on internships- but certain frustrations have begun to come to a head. It’s ever so easy to sit on the sofa in your pyjamas half-ranting about how unfair things are whilst being distracted by the latest laughable situation unfolding on The Jeremy Kyle Show, but I decided to be proactive. Instead of letting things stew, I thought I would take some action. I set to my laptop and I drafted a letter to the Conservative MP for employment, Chris Grayling. He is actually my local MP, someone that my community- including my parents- have put faith into since 2001. Let’s just say that after our interaction, I doubt my parents will be voting for him again.

Chris Grayling

He's not got as friendly a look as 'Dear Deirdre', but I hoped for some good advice nonetheless.

As I closed the email informing me of my latest job rejection, I decided that today was the day that I should share what was said.

I was pleased with my letter. I’d be happy to have sent it to Points of View, or the Queen. It sounded that accomplished- just give it a click and see.

 

Letter To Chris Grayling

I thought this was a perfectly fair and well-thought out point of argument. Work experience and internships are a necessity to so many careers as Grayling has pointed out himself on BBC Five Live recently;

One of the constant complaints from young people is the old adage: if you can’t get a job, you can’t get experience, but you can’t get a job unless you’ve got the experience.”

However, as more employers seem to realise this, the idea of an ‘internship’ is being totally abused. It feels like all too often they are simply used as a means to avoid paying young people for their hard work by exploiting their desperation to get a break in their choice of career.

Well, I had my fingers crossed. I sat expectantly looking at my emails, getting irritated by every offer for discount penis enlargement and chance to win an iPad that spammed my way. The day the response arrived I clicked on it as fast as my finger would let me.

There is no formal system in place unless the person concerned is on benefits.

‘Oh.’ I thought. ‘Mr Grayling seems to have forgotten how to write a letter to someone.’

Okay, so I didn’t expect a full ‘sender’s address in the top right, recipient in the bottom left’ jobby, but a ‘Dear Miss Sanderson’ would have been nice? Maybe even a ‘thankyou for your message, it’s good to hear from you’, but perhaps I’m getting confused with Jimmy Saville.

Oh and also, may I point out the thorough uselessness of this opening line given the fact I had already clearly stated that I’m apparently not allowed to be on benefits?

I have to say I share your misgivings about the way internships are used.

Well thank goodness for that. Maybe we don’t have to graffiti devil horns and a goatee onto every picture of him we see in the paper.

However it is easier said than done to stop – if an individual is willing to do the work, then banning it is difficult.

Did I ever say ‘ban’? I do appreciate that it would be difficult to ‘ban’ a widely used system that has been in place for decades, yes. It’s not The Human Centipede 2.

What we have done though is create a new work experience scheme were we are organising places in a wide variety of organisations for unemployed young people. They can stay on benefits for up to two months while doing work experience, and so far we have found it to be a pretty good way of getting people into work at the end of that period.

Well that’s brilliant. I researched this (because he didn’t bother letting me know what the scheme was called or tell me where I might find more information on it) and apparently it’s a scheme for those between the ages of 18 and 21, so there might be a bit of a problem for me there. There also seems to be that overlooking of the whole I’m-not-eligible-for-benefits thing, and that it isn’t necessarily the finding of internships that’s the problem.  According to the website:

“Work experience is getting the backing of some of Britain’s leading employers such as Homebase, Hilton Hotels, McDonalds, ISS Facilities Management, Chums, De Vere Hotels, Carillion, Coyle Personnel and Punch Taverns.”

So, I guess this still isn’t really answering any of my questions in regards to those seeking employment within the creative industries. Okay, so what else did Mr Grayling have to say?

My advice for someone in your position is always to take a job, whether or not it is in the area you are ultimately aiming for. As an example, if you worked for a major retailer, and succeeded in your career, it opens the opportunity to move into head office functions, including marketing and communications, and from there it is an easier step into what you are trying to do.

As we come to the crux of this solution, it would seem that Mr Grayling’s advice to me is as simple as ‘give up your ambitions and go work in a shop’.

The truth is that media jobs are ferociously in demand at the moment, and the opportunities to go directly from university into the media are very limited. So my advice is to work your way towards what you want to do in a more around and about way.

Best wishes

Chris Grayling

I think this is the first time he has actually acknowledged the relevant career area at least, but the overwhelming sense of not being listened to before being fobbed off is as much of a kick in the gut as every job rejection that appears in my inbox.

It is with these words of advice ringing in my ears… well, eyes, I shall do everything I can to ignore absolutely everything that was said. As countless more young people find themselves lost and drowning in the job market in the months to come the government will wonder why it is that the population becomes more disheartened and agitated. Just ask Chris Grayling. He’s clearly the guy you should turn to in any crisis.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t get sent to help out on the phones at the Samaritans on a misguided publicity appearance any time soon.

Red Hot: A Heatwave Through The Eyes of a Ginger

1 Aug

I wouldn't dare show that much shoulder.

‘Ooh that’s better, summer’s finally here. That’s glorious,’ is uttered from sweating faces with relaxed mouths and closed eyes.

‘Oh yes. ‘Int it lovely?’ will say another from the comfort of a sun-faded garden chair, hands clasped and ruddy elbows rested on its searing hot plastic arms.

For our weather-obsessed nation, the proclamation of a good run of weather is akin to Moses’ appearance at the brow of Mount Sinai waving a couple of slabs of stone around. It’ll hit the front pages of every tabloid, usually with some buxom, bikini-clad young fillies ‘making a splash’ or ‘making summer get a bit hotter’ on a beach somewhere.

Your peripheral vision will be invaded by hairy knees and crusty, beflip-flopped feet and my intolerance for sunglasses etiquette abuse soars off the scale. (Unless you are blind or committing the fancy dress cop-out of ‘being a Blues Brother’ then shades should not be worn indoors.) Generally, spirits are high and moods are fantastic.       That is… for most people. But there are other people. Forgotten people. The misunderstood and downtrodden, the ostracised and wretched.

The gingers.

 

For gingerkind, the utterance of ‘heatwave’ inspires fear as well as igniting a panic buying mission to Boots for soothing gels and sunscreen. ‘Have you not got anything higher than 90?’ is spat out at mousy shop assistants with a sense of urgency seen in disaster films. If you’re not one of this freckled and pasty people then you just won’t understand.

I’ve been living as a ginger for nearly 25 years now, and it never gets any easier. I’m currently in hiding, my true identity concealed beneath a shocking pink mop of hair that actually makes me feel more accepted by society than my natural form. As a kid, I actually hit the jackpot in terms of aesthetic setbacks for the reputation by being a ginger with glasses, braces and really good academic success. Had I had acne I would have been the poster girl for society’s notion of ‘Geek’ across the land. It caused me to be shy and almost painfully quiet, a kid that would have been adored in the speak-when-spoken-to Victorian parental era.

Summer holidays often meant a trip away with my family somewhere sunny, which only complicated my relationship with my gingerness. While all the other kids could run around in the sunshine in a fashion replicated by adverts for Soltan and Haven Holidays, kicking up sand and glowing with heat and happiness- there I was having to shelter from the vicious rays. I distinctly remember trying in vain to tan over the years, to the point where my skin would go so pink that my freckles looked a bit green. Have you ever seen such a sorrowful creature beyond the boundaries of a monster-filled fairytale? No. Before my teens caused me to squirm away from my mother’s sunblock-wielding grasp, every step beyond the safety of shade would see me grabbed and endure a facial slathering of weakly coconut scented grease to protect me from that great burning foe in the sky. 90% of early holiday snaps feature my brother and parents golden and smiling next to what looks like a sulking ghost.

The worst part of a ginger’s summer can actually come at the end, just as you return to normality after your glorious holiday feeling relaxed and refreshed. You can almost lay money on the following kind of conversation occurring:

Acquaintance: ‘Not seen you around for a couple of weeks, are you alright? Where have you been?’

Ginger: ‘Oh, I just got away to Lanzarote for a couple of weeks.’

Acquaintance, confused: ‘What- really?’ Surveys Ginger’s post-holiday glow. ‘Was the weather no good?’

So as you can see, summertime might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

At this gorgeous time of year, please spare a thought for us ginger people. When you complain about the longevity of tan, please just remember that we have a choice of red, pink or white. Such a limited palette can get awful depressing. When a ginger friend returns from holiday, remark on how well they look. Try and see beyond their peeling shoulders and angry looking complexion. What we all secretly hope for is that one day the Elizabethan trend for cadaverously pale skin will knock the day-glo look well and truly off its perch and when that day  happens, you may very well want a ginger friend by your side.

Gingers have feelings too.

Dirty Weekend.

2 Jul
Happy Campers

Camping in the perfect world: we would all wear bandanas and garish prints and not a single one of us would smell like sweating arse crack.

Inflatable beds. Shoe racks. Solar powered mobile phone chargers. It’s incredible how many of the home comforts we are so used to are able to be packed up and simulated in some shape or form whilst stuck in a tent in the arse end of nowhere. I remember when I was little thinking that Trevor Baylis’ wind-up radio was one of the incredible feats of invention imaginable… but now you can pick up a camping torch that winds up as well as peels your spuds and scratches your bum for next to nothing. Probably. That old phrase of ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ seems like it’s heading to become less and less relevant as no doubt we’ll wake up tomorrow to find that Halfords will be stocking a wash basin that appears through the power of wishing for £24.99.

 

But, no matter how hard Millets and their crones try, there is only one thing that will never be overcome on a camping trip. The muck.

 

For some people, it’s their worst nightmare come true. I’ve always thought it would make for quite an entertaining documentary to send a support group of OCD clean freaks on a weekend in the Great British wilderness. They would probably all have a nail brush on a piece of string draped around their neck like a sacred talisman to protect them from Mother Nature’s beastly harm. It doesn’t matter what you do, mud will get in places it was never meant to be. As someone with an astonishingly deep belly button, I believe I’m pretty well versed in such matters. I’m undecided as to whether a contagion of mud is worse than one of sand after a day at the beach- technically, both probably can pass off as beauty treatments of sorts- a tip for anyone camping with a grumbling It girl.

 

Muddy

'OH MA GOD-A it's so dirty!' 'It's okay girls, it's good for your skin. You'll emerge looking like Katie Price' 'OMIGOD realli?'

 

Others seem to take to the filthy foray with a startlingly zealous embrace. It is probably safe to say that we have all probably fantasised about just employing reckless abandon at a festival some time or another- to be one of those nonchalantly mental characters who will dive face first into a bog and enjoy the sensation like a Gloucestershire Old Spot high on…life. Sadly, my reluctance to spend the rest of the day looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Predator has always prevented me from living out that particular dream- but it’s definitely a more achievable and economic goal than ‘swimming with dolphins’.

 

Most of us lie somewhere in between these two extremes in our attitude to dealing with the dirt. As a child, I never went camping. Well, I did once put up a tent in my living room when I was four, wherein I cracked open a bottle of Superted vitamin tablets which may have accidentally resulted in a hospital trip for my little brother to have his stomach pumped. But that’s a completely different story, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t count as a first camping experience. My true first was sort of throwing myself in the deep end. It was in Tanzania on Safari. I tried to play it cool, throwing up all the outdoorsy lingo like a belching volcano of jargon. In truth, I struggled to unzip the tent let alone know how to pitch one. I kept my game face though, even when I was told that shotgun-armed Masai Warriors would be scouting our campsite in the Savannah in case lions decided to have a little mooch around. Okay, maybe my face looked something like a terrified sex doll upon hearing that.

 

It was in this setting that I would lose my long-drop virginity. I had heard things. Wild and spectacular things. It was like tales of the bogeyman and chinese whispers- so my mind conjured an image of a putrid post-apocalyptic world contained inside a Tardis-like tin shack. Well, it was probably a little worse than that. As you might imagine, Africa is a bit warm. Stepping into said tin shack was probably akin to putting a greenhouse in the centre of the earth and standing inside it wearing long johns and eating a hot pasty. Furthermore, there was not even a shred of light to speak of. I sort of had to flap the door open a few times to give my memory time to map how to avoid landing in a steaming pile of human waste. It was sort of like a more terrifying version of a game that might feature on ITV1’s ‘The Cube’. As I squatted over the two wobbly slabs of stone on the unsteady ground above the wretched cesspit, I realised that I was going to leave that tin shack as a stronger and more resilient individual. It was an epiphany that has lasted with me to this very day.

Sexy Toilet

Now this is how you take a dump in the great outdoors. I would traverse across the land for such an experience.

 

Over three years on and a few festivals later, I realise all this filth and long-drops ain’t so bad. It’s part of the experience. You haven’t been camping until you’ve had to baby-wipe every crevice and pick out toe jam with a plastic spoon. It’s something you’ve got to welcome and consider as a feature of your trip, from the bugs setting up home in your hair to the cow pat splattered up the backs of your calves. With Glastonbury already done this year, I have three more camping trips scheduled in this very summer and I can’t wait to wave goodbye to my shower gel. What can I say, I’m filthy.

I Don’t Believe The Children Are Our Future.

8 May

Well, they are, on paper I guess. Those little smiling faces beaming up at you are our future politicians, binmen, scientists, poets, policemen. I very nearly absent-mindedly entered the word ‘gigalo’ in that list but my horrified consciousness hastily retracted the letters that escaped from my fingertips. Don’t want to set an inappropriate tone like that on the internet. Defo wouldn’t tag it.  But despite all that, I’m going to make a statement that we, as loving and wonderful members of society, are not really supposed to say. I really don’t like kids.

Where has this outburst come from? Well, the need to broadcast my feelings has come from a Sunday morning. As an avid fan of Lionel Richie, I like them to be easy.

God I love Lionel.

Easy means getting to wake up as the end credits of your dream are rolling with a nice warm sense of contentment before foraging for a delicious breakfast treat. Instead, today’s Sunday featured an abrupt slap of reality as whatever world my imagination was projecting in my sleep got dissolved by outdoor shrieking… much in the way that ‘the darkness’ creeps over and destroys Fantasia in ‘The Neverending Story’. For those that don’t know, the darkness is an evil and intangiable force, rather than being that pseudo glam rock outfit with the fella that sings like he’s getting his nuts twisted by an invisible monkey sex-pest.

As I awoke with my face screwed up in indignation, I pictured my mum going ‘aww’ to the happy voices that were echoing around the still morning air. From what I could gather in my drowsiness that there was a small group of little ‘uns enjoying utilising the slope of our road on their bikes…and they were having a wonderful time. Shrieks of joy and excitement and discussing tactics of what to do ‘on your next go’- all at 9.30 on a Sunday morning. I do realise as I indulge in some catharsis here that I sound like a miserable wretch. Of course it’s lovely that kids are out having fun. They can just do it more quietly while I am still adjusting to having to get up at 7am five days a week for a new London work schedule. The bottom line is, I just don’t like children.

People often ask me why. Children are genetically designed so that us big people by human instinct will look at their big bright eyes and tufty hair and naturally want to take care of them. Luckily, the urge isn’t so strong that we don’t feel the need to take on every child we see or we’d all be getting into trouble with the law quite frequently. Not to mention looking like the Pied Piper of Hamelin or a mother duck all the time.  I’ve always wondered… what did the Pied Piper do to all those kids?

Looking back he seems like a bit of a proto-Fritzl and I'm getting a little worried that the story about his magic pipe is a bit harrowing to be telling children as we tuck them in at night.

My problem with kids is that they intimidate me. It may sound ridiculous I know, but it’s how I feel. I have absolutely no idea how to talk to them. If I got left in a room with a six year old in my care I wouldn’t know how to break the ice. Whenever I see an adult talking to a child I rather ridiculously feel annoyed on the child’s behalf for the patronising tone… perhaps failing to take into account that I’m projecting my 24-year-old perspective onto said kid. But still… to have a grown up coming up and spotting a cuddly toy in the child’s arms and saying in a soft voice, ‘ooh he’s lovely, is that your bear?’ Part of me wants the kid to pipe up and say ‘well I hardly f**king stole it did I? My Mum’s a teacher and my Dad’s a doctor and they can actually afford to buy me my own bear you f**ktard. Of course it’s my bear you stupid f**king b**ch. Why else would I be dressing him up and taking him to the teaparty?’

With this mentality in mind, I find myself awkwardly asking kids what they’ve been up to, expecting them to regale me with their day’s activities as one might do recalling the day they’ve had at work.

‘Ah, you know. Same old, same old. Not too bad. Yeah, erm… you know Jonny Patton? Yeah, me and him we just knocked about down the sand pit. He was telling me about this new speedboat he’s looking to get from Toys ‘R Us. He’s a bit worried about what his train might think but you know, I just told him he’s got to go out there and grab these chances. His mum’s always spoiling him so yeah, looking good for him.’

Turns out, it doesn’t happen like that.
Looking the way I do, I often find kids like to stare at me. Particularly on public transport. It’s nothing short of unnerving having a face popping up over the seat in front and having two large eyes fixed on you for twenty minutes or so.  The other day I was in the park having a lie-down on the grass and a half-snooze in the sunshine. I heard two little voices circle me before descending to rest with their mum about a metre away from me. ‘Look at the purple lady! Look at the purple lady! She’s got purple hair, Mummy!’ Mummy shushed them. Secretly I thought it was actually quite cute. But then as I woke and got up I got pointed at and heard a shriek of-well, I’m not sure if it was horror or delight- and one little boy said to the other ‘George! She’s awake!!!’

I wasn’t sure whether I should feel like a princess that had been rescued from an eternal slumber by a handsome prince or a fearful ogre roused from the safety of my unconsciousness. In hindsight it was definitely more of an ‘IT’S ALIVE!’ tone.

I don’t hate kids. They can be pretty cute. And don’t go thinking that I don’t have moments of feeling broody. I’m as bad as the next girl with that. It is usually coupled with a sense of panic however when I fret about whether the father of my future children will support a different football team and the subsequent fights that would ensue. I’m terribly stubborn. I’m assuming that I will like my own kids. My mum didn’t have me til she was thirty-nine. She wanted time to be selfish and have a career and that so I oft think I may follow the same path. But until the memories of when I used to go face painting and wretched while removing crusty snot from underneath little noses have gone, I can’t envisage any little Lucy’s running around. Lucky you.

Happy New Year…erm…again.

8 Apr

“Epic Fail: A mistake of such monumental proportions that it requires its own term in order to successfully point out the unfathomable shortcomings of an individual or group”

I’ve committed one such ‘fail’. Well, I’d rather assume I’ve done this rather than Urban Dictionary’s other definition of an ‘epic fail’ which is thus:

‘The highest form of fail known to man. Reaching this level means only one thing- You must die, or the world will fail itself due to such an extreme level of failage.’

I don’t want to be associated to the latter. Firstly, if this were true around sixty percent of my Facebook contacts would have perished with all the apparent mundane disasters of varying magnitude that litter my news feed. I’d get a bit lonely. Secondly, the concoction of the word ‘failage’ is too much for me to bear. It makes me want to tear all my skin off in a fit of super-cringing and start again. Presumably by heading down to my local epidermis monger. Anyway, this hasn’t got anything to do with what I was going to say. No, my failing lies in my new-year-resolution-ing.

It’s terrifying to think that we’re into April already- feels like only yesterday that I was sat tutting as I watched all the major cities of the world send billions of pounds wooshing up and exploding into multicoloured glitterings in the sky to welcome the new year. On the first of January I got my little notebook out and set down eleven resolutions that I was, of course, ‘definitely going to stick to’. Eleven resolutions for 2011. Just as well I hadn’t bothered at all in 1999 or I’d really have a challenge on my hands . Well, these eleven things have been totally ignored. So by means of a quarter-year-resolution, I am going to redraft them right here so I can remember why I wrote them in the first place and you lot can tell me off should you see me continue to be rubbish. I’d probably pay no heed to your scoldings but I’m sure the guilt would eventually crumple me into submission.

For some reason this image instantly made me think of the aftermath of the last curry I had. I'm sorry.

    1) Blog at least twice out of Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.

    Yeah, I don’t understand the choice of specific days either. Well, peculiar scheduling or no, I clearly aint been doing this have I? You know you’ve been mistreating your little blog when you need to create a new month folder with each post. This seems to be something that spills into real life too mind you- I seem to have about twenty of them A4 card wallet things to keep all my ‘paperwork’ in and I feel obliged to use them all. What paperwork will someone like me actually have? I’m not a real person! I have ‘the drawer’ that everyone has… you know… the one that you just shove any miscellaneous things into that don’t have an instantly obvious home. It then becomes like a Room 101 for trinkets, ‘important things’ and bank statements. Like an Aladdin’s cave of crap. For a mouse. (Scale-wise.) I will blog more.

2) Gym twice a week.

    September 2010. This was the date I discovered exercise, at the age of 23. Of course I had to dabble in it when I was at school… but this was mainly limited to goalkeeping at netball (because I was tall and could just flap above people’s heads) and rounders (because I could bat balls over the hills and far away. Be warned, gentlemen.) But I was never a fan of P.E. I’ve had a little think and I think I’ve pin-pointed the reason.

     

    In primary school, for some reason rather than being allowed to take shorts and t-shirt in to wear for gym classes, we were oft told to change into ‘vest and pants’. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, these underwear based frolics in the school hall. Spose it was practical and they thought kids wouldn’t care, but I was just a grown up trapped in a little person (a child, not midget) in my thought processes at times and I just always felt incredibly awkward and overwhelmed with indignation as we sat our arse cheeks down on the cold, dusty mustiness of the hall floor. Well, I’ve finally overcome this revulsion and taken up gym membership. Weirdest part? I actually thoroughly enjoy it when I get round to dragging myself there. My competitive streak makes me push myself to sweaty, gasping extremes while being able to laugh and/or enjoy the sight of masculinity at play in the free weights area. I then leave the place feeling like She-Ra.

    Dye her hair and she could almost be me the lucky cow. But by the power of Greyskull I'd have to sort He-Man's 'do out or it's never going to work out.

 

    3) Set time aside for book/other projects.

    Everyone knows that anyone who says they like to write ‘has a book’ that will get written. It’s as sure as eggs is eggs. It’s as sure as ‘socialising with friends’ appearing on the ‘Hobbies’ section of a CV. It’s as sure as it raining as soon as you leave the house without an umbrella, resulting in your looking like an accident victim on ‘Casualty’ when all the dye runs out of your hair and over your face and dress. The latter may only apply to me.

    Well, my book did actually get started. I’m far too lazy to even attempt a novel so it’s essentially a more structured use of my nonsense inspired by stuff and things that I like and know… and will probably never get to see the light of day. I’m reluctant to share my ‘other projects’ cos I still think they’re really good and you might go steal it. I’ve seen you in the dead of night in a little stripy jumper, black beret and eye mask going around filling your bag marked ‘SWAG’ with ideas. You little scamp. If anyone reading this has money to burn, please do pay for my rent, bills, sustenance and occasional trinkets so I don’t have to work and then I can really give this resolution a proper crack.

     

    4) Utilise notebook and write down memories.

    I envy people that can leave the house having checked their pockets for the three essentials of phone, wallet, keys. Being this aspiring writer of sorts, I can’t leave the house without the added extras of make-up bag, diary, pen, notebook, spare pen. The make-up bag has little to do with writing, ‘cept to make me look pretty while I do my scribbling face in public. I carry my notebook everywhere with the intention to jot down anything I see that inspires me, or if my brain does that thing where it fleetingly conjures up an idea then it’s gone again with the speed of a flasher in the park. I’ve got out of the habit of this and must get back into it. Writing, that is. No, I’ve never flashed. I would rock the mackintosh and trilby look though. The ‘writing down memories’ thing is something developed through fear, like all good things are.

    I’m sure iPhones and pizza and things were created in a similar fashion. Anyway, said memories are stuff like being at my grandparents’ houses and whatnot- they scooted off to meet St. Paul at the pearly gates some time ago, but I’m really scared to think that one day I might struggle to remember what they and their houses were like. So I’m going to be doing that more. Before I forget, Grandad Sanderson’s jumpers always smelt like ‘outside’ and pub. In a good way.

 

5) Cinema once a fortnight.

    I’m one of those pretentious twits that enjoys going to the cinema alone. I’m not sure why, I just do. Cornerhouse in Manchester makes me feel glad. From the squishy red velvet seats to the jazzy jingle that plays over the EuropaCinemas trailer, it’s a thorough treat of an experience.

     

     

    I’ve always been a bit of a film glutton. Despite doing English at University, I always found reading film as a text so much easier to get through. Again, this is quite possibly my heinous lazy streak kicking in, as my eyes got to sit down with their feet up rather than having to deal with the challenge of building the worlds manually with my ruddy imagination…gah. Oh, that takes me nicely on to number six…

 

6) Read more.

    Towards the end of last year one of those ‘pass it on’ type notes started floating around Facebook. It was a ‘How many of these 100 classic titles have you read?’ As I said, I did English at University and out of the list, I scored a paltry 12.5. Most of the 12 were made up of halves too. I’m awful. I’m sick of feeling flummoxed by anything mildly literature related when I’m shouting answers at quiz shows on telly. Unless it’s ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?’ in which case I’ll probably take solace in the fact that I have at least 25% chance of getting the right answer. Sometimes my cracks at pot luck are so good I can convince myself that I actually know stuff and things.

    Anyway, I recently bought The Complete Collection of Shakespeare’s Sonnets on Amazon by accident so I’m going to start there. I’m hoping it’ll make me look simultaneously cool and intellectual on the bus and prove to be a tool for scoring me a well-read and romantic boyfriend. Although I’ve recently had problems regarding meeting men on public transport but that’s for another time…

I've read this classic title. It weren't on the list. Not sure how much I should even trust this list.

 

7) Allow myself at least one day off a week.

    Yeah, this is one that’s worth doing. Although my job isn’t exactly vexing or demanding, I am in quite a few days a week in a mixture of daytimes and evenings. Then quite often I will have plenty of my writing related stuff to be getting on with as soon as I get home to my laptop who greets me at the door, jumping up to say hello and give my hand an affectionate lick. (As I’m not allowed a pet I’ve had to make do with my imagination.)

    As a result, I quite often feel like I don’t actually have all that much time off. If I do something like…God forbid… go out or watch nonsense on telly, I often have this unwanted feeling of guilt coming up to taunt my poor little sense of relaxation. I feel like I need to be doing something productive constantly as is my ridiculous drill sergeant of ambition. So Relaxation might be stretched out in the recliner with a beer in one hand and the remote control in the other- then Guilt comes up and puts his fag out in the nice cool can and grabs the remote to put something rubbish like the Ocean Finance Channel on. Relaxation needs his time. This resolution is gona get this sorted.

 

    8 ) Leave full time hours at the Union by the time I’m 25.

    BOSH. Now this one I have done…sort of. I’ve been working in a Student’s Union for three and a half years. I aint a student and it’s making me feel old. Last year’s new intake of eighteen-year-olds were born in 1992. I remember 1992. I was having that Letterland Party that featured a couple of blogs ago. Thing is, it’s been somewhere which is so easy to get stuck working, mainly because I get to be surrounded by live music and lovely people all the time. However, after 6 years of living on minus pounds, I need to get me a worthwhile metier somewhere that allows me to stop being the crusty old cynic that a life surrounded by students is forcing me to become. Well, I’ve jacked in my contract and I’m off to London for three months for an internship. Who knows what might happen after that- but it’s half resolved? At the age of 24 and a half too… that was clever of me.

 

    9) Get at least one new hobby.

    Hobby? What was I thinking? Nobody has hobbies anymore. It’s a word that sounds like he belongs in the 1940s, dressed all in brown with uncomfortably smart shoes and a bag of marbles in hand. Maybe I should take up marbles? Well, I don’t even know how to start resolving this one. Any suggestions? It might be good for that CV section.

This is the last legitimate need to think of hobbies. Ich sehe fern. I suppose I do that already. I still remember my GCSE Oral Exam ('lol') in which I told Frau Dexel about a boy called Pedro I met on holiday. He took me for ice cream and for a swim on the beach. I made him quite a dish in my mind. Sigh.

 

    10 ) Learn one new thing a week.

    I went through a phase of recording so many documentaries from the History and Discovery channels. I love them. There is nothing more exciting than that feeling of when you learn something new…well, apart from lots of things. The sound of the ice cream van. Seeing horses wander past your house and down the road. Porn. But apart from these things, learning new things is most exciting. I’m a bit of a geek really and keeping my brain updated with new facts keeps me happy. I was too socially deranged to really embrace the opportunities university offered me while I was there and now I live an existence of intellectual malnourishment and regret. Resolution ten will sort me out.

 

    11) STOP CHASING BOYS!!!

    It’s the big one and it’s written down in exactly the same capitals-and-exclamation-mark style as you see above. I keep threatening to write up my internet dating experiences so I won’t go into too much detail over the motivation of this one, but the long and the short of it is I’ve had atrocious innings when it’s come to gentlemen. They’re either rubbish from the off or they’re what I thought was really lovely only to find that they were in fact massive twerps in disguise. Either way, I’m giving up. I will hopefully trick the powers of the universe to just push the right person in my direction and I can stop stamping my feet in my tantrums of stress and heartache. That’s why there’s capitals. Wish me luck.

Tonight I’m cleaning out my closet. Pt1.

3 Mar

When I returned for a visit to Casa Sanderson  recently, I had a little rummage through my wardrobes. It’s amazing some of the stuff I’ve kept all these years. I had great fun rediscovering my old Yamaha keyboard, something I had a go at playing from the ages of about seven to twelve. I remember exactly when I decided I wanted to learn to play; a bloke came in to our school and did a few after-classes lessons. Isn’t it sad that something like that automatically sounds laden with paedo-based connotations these days?

Anyway, he was quite young, had wildly curly hair and wore glasses and I think he was a bit of a proto-hipster. He taught us how to play what he called ‘the music from the Guinness ad’. I remember being convinced he said ‘The Ginnysad’ and then assuming it to be some sort of play for grown ups or something. I later realised my mistake, but was bolstered by the fact that this chap has also been wrong cos it was in fact the music from the ‘Felix’ ad. Small victory, a few years too late. Regardless, I would then go on to have Saturday morning lessons with Mr Stanbury for some years, and to this day ‘Memory’ from Cats still manages to escape through my fingertips when sat at a set of keys. Quite a fitting song to be able to remember so well.

So it was along with my keyboard, my shoebox of sentimental trinkets from the relationship with the teenage love of my life, and a box of CDs that I spent time appreciating the value of memories. I’m not prepared to publish the contents of said shoebox, sorry. It would probably make me do a cry and you do a sick. However, I am quite happy to talk about the CDs. I was rooting through and as I picked up each and every one I was instantly taken back to a certain time, a certain place and a certain age. It was weird. If it was a film there would have been some sort of ‘schllooom!’ sound effect and a trippy journey down a computer generated time tunnel before reliving a scene from my past.

There’s three lots of these so here’s the first. I’d like to clearly reiterate that these were from a certain time and place and it doesn’t mean I still like them all now… the phrase ‘the folly of youth’ springs to mind in some instances…

So, starting left to right…and they aint chronological:

Robbie Williams, ‘Life Thru A Lens’ (1997)

I was never a Take That fan. I was a half-arsed East 17 fan, but mainly because I thought that if I didn’t like Take That, I was supposed to like them instead. However, I loved Robbie. I didn’t actually buy this when it first came out, I got it after falling in love with ‘I’ve Been Expecting You’, which was possibly one of the first albums I bought on CD. I remember vividly looking at it and reading through the tracks in the Music & Video section of my local Asda. To this day I have never seen Robbie live, but I feel that for my twelve year old self’s sake, I really should do at some point. I still have a Robbie doll (not a rude one) kindly given to me by my friend Fiona, that I especially doctored the arms on, doing tattoos  in biro.

Various Artists, ‘Shrek 2: Motion Picture Soundtrack’ (2004)

This has the potential to creep into that territory I was trying to avoid with that shoebox I mentioned…

The longest relationship I had was from the ages of 16 to 18. We were the sort of couple that made others jealous but at the same time people liked us being together cos it was all that good. Looking back as an adult, I’m even envious of my younger self and the carefree deal she had back then. Anyway, this was a present from said former love. I daresay it was just an ‘I want to buy you a present’ present, which makes me even more sick thinking about all the chaps of recent years. It is, of course, a pretty dire film. But there’s a song on there called ‘Accidentally In Love’ by Counting Crows that made us even more sappy. I’ll stop so you can empty your bucket. Oh, ‘Funkytown’ is on there too. I had a bit of a thing for that song for some time.

Foo Fighters, ‘There Is Nothing Left To Lose’ (1999)

See, this is one which you feel happy to report as existing in your old CD collection. Makes me sound a bit cooler than when I admit that “Scatman (Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop)” was the first single I ever bought. ‘Stacked Actors’, ‘Next Year’… and of course, ‘Learn To Fly’ are all on here. I remember this being an album that made me fall in love with music with a bit of balls and plenty of guitar.

Outkast, ‘Stankonia’ (2000)

This is another classic I can credit to Asda’s music section. I’m pretty sure it was a couple of years after it’s release I picked this up, and was dubious about doing so given that within that time I had got sick of ‘Miss Jackson’. Perhaps not quite as much as anyone actually called Miss Jackson, who will forever have people going ‘ooooh!’ after someone apologises to them. My friend Jade is a Miss Jackson…and a teacher. She’d be best to ask on the matter. ‘B.O.B’ from this album is a true keeper.

Arctic Monkeys, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ (2006)

I have a vivid Arctic Monkey memory. In the summer of 2005 (well…I’m pretty sure it was then…) I was sat in my parents house, downloading.  Shush!!! I had heard of these funny named characters after happening upon their myspace and got my mitts on a couple of their songs for my shoddy not-even-a-pretend-ipod mp3 player. I thought they were pretty swell. This was just as I was about to head off to Manchester for university, wholesome and naive. Zip through three years and multiple trips to places like 5th Ave and 42nd Street and I’m frigging sick of ’em. I oft think back to the time when I thought they were exciting. It helps.

Craig David, ‘Born To Do It’ (2000)

I remember watching Artful Dodger performing ‘Rewind’ on Top of the Pops and this handsome young chap with some pretty ‘fly’ moves bobbing about in a little beanie hat. I fell for Craig David. (I even owned Artful Dodger’s album I think… but that really is a little too rich to admit.) He was a bit of a modern day Barry White, or ‘Chef’ from South Park perhaps- all this talk of love making all the time. Yeah, ‘7 days’ is on here, and upon reflection there was probably something rather wrong about all the little’uns singing along to that. Now if I think about Craig I just wonder if Kes is alright.

New Found Glory, ‘Sticks And Stones’ (2002)

Would you believe that when I picked this album up on a whim that I knew very little about these New Found Glory characters? I went through a phase of buying a few CDs a week  in those good old days when I used to be at a bit of a loose end when it came to spending my pocket money. Anyway, this was a case of instant love. I listened to this CD on repeat on my ridiculously heavy portable hi-fi, but made the mistake to listen to it as I fell asleep once. It was then that I discovered the secret track pinned on the end, which starts with a creepy whisper of ‘ someone’s in your house’ before screaming. Needless to say, I near soiled myself as I leapt out to attack the ghosts I thought were milling around in my room. I will never forget that, but have long since forgiven NFG who will forever remain to be one of my favourite bands.

A, ‘Hi Fi Serious’ (2002)

You know what, ‘Nothing’ and ‘Starbucks’ are still really good little songs. And the best part is, when the latter was released, Starbucks were still relatively novel.I’m pretty sure it was around the time this came out that Epsom went and got one, the rubbish measly excuse for a Topshop being shut down in favour of this pocket-draining outlet stuffed full of caffeinated treats. Jason Perry put us all off getting jobs there though.

Coldplay, ‘Parachutes’ (2000)

I’m not one of those people with an almighty connection to this album. It is nice to think of a time where Chris Martin wasn’t despised by everyone. He is kind of the musical equivalent of Ashley Cole. I feel for the guy sometimes. I do remember choosing this album to do an illustration of for research for an art project, thinking it would be easy. It looked like I’d forgotten how to draw.

Sum 41, ‘Half Hour of Power’ (2000)

I went back and bought this after falling hook, line and sinker for ‘All Killer No Filler’ along with most other fourteen year old girls. The artwork looks as DIY as it sounds too. I’m going to confess now that I did use to have an almighty crush on Deryck ‘Bizzy D’ Whibley. Yes, the squishy faced one that looks like the runt of the litter. I cannot express the rage I felt upon hearing of his betrothal to that harpy Lavigne. I had an inexplicable hatred for that woman as soon as I heard ‘Complicated’, and I think it mainly stemmed through my dislike of her pinching my style. Much in a way Rihanna enrages me now. Although I secretly adore her.

Andreas Johnson, ‘Liebling’ (1999)

I daresay I think I must be the only person you will know that owns this CD. I did, of course buy it on the basis of a) loving ‘Glorious’ and b) thinking he was quite the dish. I have just checked, and he is actually on Spotify. Incredible. But further research tells me that he is now FORTY years old. Jeez. Still definitely would. I remember when I used to thumb through the album sleeve to look at his lovely face that it was that nice rough pulpy paper that smelt really nice like a new art sketchbook.



Another Level, ‘Another Level’ (1998)

I can feel you judging me from here. Remember, this was in the days prior to Dane Bowers becoming a national laughing stock. It was before he did that peculiar teaming up with Grumpy Spice and a vocal distorter. They had young ladies screaming at them and such as they offered to ‘lick them up and down til you say stop’. To be fair, upon reflection I’d probably said stop around the mid-shin level. It’s quite a strange offer when taken out of a steamy context.

Stereophonics, ‘Word Gets Around’ (1997)

I will defend this album for its brilliance til my last breath escapes me. The fact that Kelly Jones was one of the ultimate dreamboats through my youth is in fact, a simple side issue. This was one of the first albums where the story behind the wordsmithery involved really drew me in and at one point, I could have recited every single lyric. I used to listen to this on repeat as I did my art homework in the kitchen, swooning as I did so.

Daft Punk, ‘Discovery’ (2001)

‘Aerodynamic’. I remember (or at least I think it’s a proper memory) transferring this onto a mix tape to take in the car on what felt like the epic drive to either Devon or Cornwall with my family that year. It’s incredible how drives can seem to treble in the mind of a youth. On those sorts of journeys my Dad would often lose his rag, the air would turn blue, people would complain as to whether the windows should be up or down; but I was quite happy to inflict Daft Punk on everybody.

Various Artists, ‘Ministry of Sound Ibiza Annual’ (2001)

Given my music taste these days tends to involve plenty of guitar and sweat, it may come as a surprise that I used to listen to a lot of House and Garage back in the day. Yup. I remember Roger Sanchez’ ‘Another Chance’ being something of a favourite that summer…although I have to admit that looking down the track list there’s little else I can recall. Denial. It was my best friend from the upper eschelons of childhood, Emma, who got me into this nonsense. Her Dad had loads of CDs and tapes we used to listen to from the age of about ten to, apparently, fourteen. She is also responsible for my getting into Jamiroquai. She should be burnt for her witchcraft. We used to put them on in her living room and office and watch Sister Sister and the music channels cos the novelty of going to a house with Sky TV was almost too much to bear.

The Futureheads, ‘The Futureheads’ (2004)

Now here is a band I am quite happy to say I got into from the off. They featured prominently in my competitive quest for then-mildly-obscure indie band supremacy betwixt me and my on-off-sort-of-best-friend in secondary school. I’m sure everybody has one of those friends, don’t they? One you are apparently super close to but at the same time have a smouldering and inexplicable undercurrent of resentment towards? One minute we would be kipping around each other’s houses discussing the universe like crap but better versed versions of Hawking; the next we would be competing against each other in everything from grades, to fashion, to music taste… but in that way where we would never let each other know that’s how we felt. It’s funny to look back now and I totally don’t care. BUT I GOT THIS ALBUM FIRST DAMMIT!!! Ahem. Eh?

Finch, ‘What It Is To Burn’ (2002)

I need to write my brother a much-delayed thankyou card. Nearly ten years ago, he pinched this album from his little mate Simon, who I do believe had nicked it off his older brother. It was through this chain reaction of tea-leafing that I ended up getting my paws on what remains to be one of my most favourite albums. With one listen of ‘Letters To You’, I was hooked, but it would be the rehashed and much noisier version of the title track that would creep its way into my top ten songs of all time. This became one of the first CDs to get played on repeat in my first car, an apple green Toyota Yaris. Other favourites included ‘The Best of Wham!’ but that’s coming up later.

Yellowcard, ‘Ocean Avenue’ (2003)

If I’m not mistaken, I do believe the first I got to know of Yellowcard was when I discovered them to be supporting Feeder on their headlining tour sometime around this album’s release. I know. Weird. This is one that belongs in that glowing era of teenage fickle fancy and underage drinking with that aforementioned gent whose influence on my younger self induces queasiness across the land. This was bought on a trip to HMV in Sutton in his car that stank of a free air conditioner he got in a McDonald’s Drive-Thru where his mate used to work. We would then spend many a Saturday morning obsessively playing Mario Kart on the Gamecube wrapped up in a purple duvet listening to ‘Ocean Avenue’. So much so that whenever I hear the opening chug of the title track I can still picture Yoshi zooming around a dirt track corner, evading rolling barrels on the Donkey Kong level. Yellowcard and Mario Kart are forever inextricably linked- like a more shiny version of Harry and Lord Voldemort.



Dashboard Confessional, ‘A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar’ (2003)

Oh hello, emo Lucy. Okay. Just so you know, I do still love this album really. If you can overlook the whining it’s some good old-fashioned pop rock in there from one of the dishiest whingers the world has ever seen. ‘Hands Down’ became a song that meant the world to me at one point to the point where I couldn’t listen to it for a while ‘cos it made me want to do a cry. Jeez. That’s some pretty strong emo. I’m surprised this album isn’t only available on the black market. I saw these play at a dinky little gig in Shepherd’s Bush Empire which was amazing and stole my voice reducing him to a measly croak. However, for some reason it sticks in my mind as probably the last gig I can vividly remember the atmosphere from having the majority of the crowd sparking up cigarettes all around you. It’ll be one to tell the grandkids.

Gwen Stefani, ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby.’ (2004)

Gwen Stefani has been my longest standing girl crush. Yes it’s true that Katy Perry, Kat Von D and Jessie J have joined the ranks- but Gwen is queen of Lucy’s Lesbianism Land. I have always found her fascinating to look at. She’s not stereotypically beautiful, but there is something about the silver screen glamour mixed in with tomboy streak that made me adore her. Her style, her attitude…she’s just gorgeous. Whenever I see the ‘Hollaback Girl’ video I still can’t take my eyes off her. I think… I think I love her. I’m going to sign this off on a swoon.