Category Archives: Life

People and periods.

It’s genuinely quite frightening the affect that boredom and malaise have on your soul and it wasn’t until I quit my job that I realised the profound effect it had on me. It had sapped my confidence to zero, I found it difficult to enjoy anything or get excited about doing anything, and that was before I ever factored in my predisposition to depression and anxiety.

So, having trudged my way back to some semblance of mental health through an extended period of joblessness, it was quite astounding the effect even a minimal amount of confidence (somebody wanted to hire me, yay!) had on my general wellbeing. Excitement!Ideas!Plans! were all afoot and it was a peculiar yet familiar feeling. One I’d not embraced in years and only emphasised JUST HOW MISERABLE I’D BEEN.

Basically, I’d grown bored with missing out on things because I didn’t feel confident enough to invite friends to events, particularly anything feminist or political. My go-to friend for these sorts of things has moved to Hong Kong, and whilst I love my friends dearly I would feel a profound sense of guilt if I dragged them along to everything I fancied attending and because they’re lovely they’d be too polite to say no. So this new found lust for life has had me extending myself to just saying ‘Fuck it’ and heading off of my own to things I might not have gone to otherwise – and it’s lead to a whole new bunch of incredible experiences that I’m excited to be a part of. As a natural cynic, positivity doesn’t usual sit well in amongst my personality but the past few months have been full of it and it’s nice to be able to admit that.

It all kicked off with attending a couple of days at WOW – I’ve been before to a couple of selected talks but I’d never been for a full weekend of events. It was exhausting in so many ways but incredibly inspiring too. It also got me up off my considerable arse and in the right frame of mind to lend my time in some small way to the advancement of women. I’ll go into more detail on this another time as I’ve met a bunch of women who really do deserve more than a few scant lines, but suffice to say the project I’m contributing to is fantastic and in turn it’s making me a better person.

And so, bolstered by my new found confidence, amazing festivals, volunteering work and so on, I appear to be lending my hands, time and money to whoever will have me. Something that recently caught my eye and made me subsequently rage was an article on sanitary protection for homeless women.

#TheHomelessPeriod initiative have recently been getting some great press coverage – and rightly so. The fact is that homeless women have limited or no access to sanitary products, which means they’re often forced to go without. Where homeless shelters receive some funding towards items like condoms and razors, there is no provision for sanitary protection. More often than not they rely on donations, or siphon funds from elsewhere in the budget to pay for a completely necessary everyday item.

The more I’ve thought about this, the more it enraged me so I decided to set up a small crowdfund. The project were encouraging people to donate towels and tampons to local shelters, and I thought I could bump up my own donation by asking friends to chip in too. Having originally aimed to collect £100, I’ve ended up with over £250, with more donations coming in slowly and surely.

Once more, my usual cynicism was crushed by people being nice.

So I’ve been hitting the shops to spend the fund, enjoying the looks on cashier’s faces when I attempt to buy £90 worth of tampons, and getting stuck in researching projects who might benefit most from this sort of donation. Over the last two weeks, these have all come to fruition and I’ll be scribbling a little more about what I’ve raised and where it’s going, in an attempt to say thank you to my kind contributors, and let them know exactly who their money will be helping.

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Oui oui, good good.

I made an executive decision at the beginning of the year (no, not a resolution) that I’d be more adventurous this year. That is, go on more adventures. In fact I probably already have a healthy appetite for not just using my weekends for being a pisshead, but I decided that unless I book time to do things, I’ll always find excuses. So book away I did.

A midweek day out in Paris with the girls was a perfect antidote to February misery.

A respectable bunch.

A respectable bunch.

One man and his birds.

One man and his birds.

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It’s nice that some people are in love.

We spent 100 fucking euro on hot chocolate.

We spent 100 fucking euro on hot chocolate.

This was graffiti'd on a wall leading down into somewhere you really wouldn't want to dance.

This was graffiti’d on a wall leading down into somewhere you really wouldn’t want to dance.

Paris. Innit.

Paris. Innit.

Hometime treats.

Hometime treats.

Despite being ridiculously exhausted by the time we trundled in to St. Pancras, it was a beautiful day all round. Full of excessive amounts of naughtiness, delicious things and one of those aggressive bouts of the giggles in inappropriate places, which left me streaming in tears. Adventures are fun, but they’re at their best with fun company.

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Learning, Wine, Erotica, Wine, Laughter, Wine.

So, after all that apprehension, it turns out that my Masters is going to be excellent, and meeting people wasn’t nearly as terrifying as I had envisaged it was going to be. Being massively cynical, I went with the nagging feeling I was going to find the whole study school experience to be a bit of a drag. Constant small talk, incessant references to how “fabulous” the online forums are for distance learners and how “useful” the course will be in furthering my career.

Instead, I met some genuinely lovely people, found the course content inspiring and drank a bucketload of wine.

The problem I’m currently having is reconciling all this positivity with my otherwise grumpy brain.

Staying in halls again was weird to begin with. Despite not actually moving into them, like I did in my undergrad degree, it was still awkward not knowing whether to go and introduce yourself to other people. As it turned out, pretty much everyone felt that way.

"Sea" view from my grubby window.

And judging by some of the truly excellent conversations I had over breakfast and wine (although not breakfast and wine together, I do have standards) I think I ended up making up for those awkward couple of hours I spent in my room alone the first afternoon.

The most positive thing was meeting so many people in the same position I am in – those with plenty of professional experience who are limited by their lack of qualifications. That sounds ridiculous seeing as we are all degree-level educated, but that pretty much says it all. Contrary to my usual lazy demeanour, I found myself busy each evening, either with the timetabled social gatherings, or planning a boozefest of our own. The one evening I had thought about squirreling myself in bed, I ended up traipsing through the dark Penglais campus with my partner in bitching, in fits of giggles, trying to find the bar where some karaoke was going down. We were told to look out for the kit kat buildings, which look like this:

I told my companion not to touch the buildings, in case it gave the alien beings inside sort of life force.

After having spent the last 30 minutes lost, stumbling across what sounded like the weirdest dance class ever, we managed the find the bar without being abducted by aliens. A couple of hours later, after soaking in gin/cider and being worried about impetigo, we managed to find our way home. Less convinced that aliens would kill us but more concerned Aber’s many hills would do us in. Either the hills or “us” from the future – but that’s an entirely different conversation.

Essentially, I ended up spending 5 days having brilliantly silly conversations with some excellent people. One of my particular favourites involved this dude:

Dual-language hilarity

A brief comment that the halls we were staying in (Pantycelyn) should be pronounced “Panty-selling” ended up to be a pretty complex story about Allan, the so-called green man, and his monopoly on the underwear industry in West Wales. What we really wanted to find out was precisely why all his portraits were identical images of him making a run for it. I imagine we will never know the full story.

Me and a fellow awesome comedy nerd also managed to scramble together an excellent plan for a romantic comedy on our last night, based on my ridiculous love life and embarrassing driving lessons. It’s going to be the best British comedy in bloody ages, so you probably ought to watch out for it soon. When I get round to writing it. Editing it. Finding someone to make it. Cast it. And all that. But it’s going to be ace, I promise. In fact, we pretty much spent 4 hours exchanging our various comedy ideas. I definitely hadn’t planned on doing that, but it made me ache with laughter, which is my favourite ache of all. 

In a slightly less high-brow moment, this also made me snort with laughter every time I went for a wee:

Flaptastic

I know. It’s childish. But I probably wouldn’t trust you if that didn’t even raise a tiny little smirk. Heh. Flaps.

So, all in all, it was pretty excellent. Even if the department approves of the gratuitous use of the dreaded comic sans. 

On an otherwise massively useful free bag. Hmpf.

I think I’ll get over it.

Please someone point me back at this post and my happy-go-lucky-I’m-so-surprised-about-the-experience demeanour a couple of months down the line when I’m avoiding writing my assignments, or moaning about the cost. Or indeed, too busy writing my excellent screenplay and pre-emptively ditching my Library career.

It definitely feels weird to be positive about something that would usually rile up my cynicism glands (located near the pessimism ducts) something chronic. But I’m taking all the happy for what it’s worth – after all, I’m back to work today.

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The one where everything dies and we are all fucked.

For some reason, I’ve always had a perverse interest in post-apocalyptic/disaster fiction.

I guess it originated from happily lapping up big bombastic blockbuster movies, where humanity is shaken by some cataclysmic event and everything goes to shit. Whether it be our own disrespect for nature, a stinking meteor, a dying sun or just our pesky planet kicking up a fuss, there are plenty of ways for writers and directors to fuck shit up. I love disaster films because for most part they provide pure entertainment, even if the science behind them is, at best, questionable and the story is riddled with stupendously unbelievable subplots. Humans lose their shit when bad stuff kicks off and it’s just brilliant to watch.

The joy I find in disaster movies evolved into scouting out more serious depictions of disaster scenarios. Books or films which are probably a little more credible – preferring to focus on the human stories rather than blasting you with barely plausible rescue scenarios. Essentially I have a fascination with the human condition and how huge events, plausible or otherwise, test our resolve, bonds and will to survive.

After this was doing the rounds on Twitter a few weeks ago, I started reading up more on the Protect and Survive booklets published during the late 70s, in the event of a nuclear attack on Britain. I pestered my mum for her feelings on them – what with her being my age in the mid-80s. Being the kind, caring and nurturing mother she is, she very “kindly” recommended I watch Threads if I “fancied a really bloody good scare.”

So I borrowed it off my mum and scared myself into a stupor.

I’d read about Threads before and was aware of its critical acclaim, and the countless reviews from adults who’d been made to watch this as teenagers in school, who subsequently lost sleep with worry in the early 90s. My mum, a History teacher, still shows it in school today.

I figured my constitution was a little hardier than most teenagers, so I shouldn’t have a problem watching it, even with my pre-disposition for apocalyptic dreams. I was so very wrong.

It’s FUCKING TERRIFYING.

Yes, it’s dated. Yes, some of the effects are a bit amateur to my generation’s CGI-spoilt eyes. But none of that detracts from the utter horror, misery and hopelessness that the films drags out over it’s running time. If anything, it adds to it. You can feel the effort that went into the production, the suffering of the people, with no interference from computer trickery. From the eerie preparations of Local Governments as shit kicks off in Iran; the stoic British assertions everything would blow over; to the bombing itself; the aftermath and the state of humanity in the future, the film never stops shaking you with the reality of what nuclear weapons have done, and can do.

Told in a documentary style, it’s about as far removed from a disaster flick as possible and is all the better for it. There are no reprieves for any of the characters, no happy endings. The events leading up to the bomb are all very plausible and realistic, even 27 years on. In fact, the only laughable thing is the advice the public were given by the government in the event of an attack – the majority of which were purely exercises in keeping people calm and proactive about a situation in which they would surely perish. “That’s right guys! Whitewashing your windows will TOTES reflect the radiation from 210 megatonnes of nuclear bombage. LULZ.” Real-life recordings of the broadcasts are heard in the film, which only add to the shivers.

The beauty of the film is that it is based on the notion that for a couple of decades, this fear of nuclear war was real, it was palpable. As world governments lurched from one political crisis to another, so did the possibility of war breaking out. I grew up in the 90s, post-Berlin wall and the break-up of the USSR, without Cold War paranoia, but Threads had me imagining just how I would have dealt with this information while growing up, which was probably the scariest part of the whole experience. Particularly with my overactive imagination.

So Threads sent my housemate and I into an evening of BEING FREAKED OUT and sent us to bed with apocalyptic nightmares of deformed babies and cities burning.

Infinitely preferable to The One Show show right!? Hello? Is this thing on?

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I did a good thing!

That’s right. You heard it. I got off my arse and did something.

When I say I got off my arse, I mean I actually put my usual daily sitting about to good use. In that I finally got round to writing up and sending off an application for my Masters course.

Despite my previous assertions that doing a Masters wasn’t as good as getting experience, I’ve spent 3 years working in Libraries, where experience is great, but having a professional qualification will earn you the money. So I devoured a huge slice of humble pie and promptly spent the last 2 years procrastinating about applying.

I needn’t have worried, as last Friday, Aberystwyth University have very kindly offered me a place on their distance-learning MScEc course 🙂

*fistpump*

I’m going to be a student again. *drinks 10 gallons of snakebite and dies*

My silhouette would be considerably fatter and MUCH closer to the ground.

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Film 2011

I try not to make resolutions every new year, because I’m a fickle so and so who can never see a plan through to its conclusion. Making a resolution is setting myself up for failure. However, this year I seem to have informally fallen into a new habit which I very much approve of.

Cinema.

After discovering our mutual love of film, my friend Donna and I decided we should try to abuse our Orange Wednesday privileges to the max and attempt to see a film every week, if we could manage it. And we haven’t done too badly. By my calculations I’ve seen 32 films at the cinema this year, although not all of them with Donna, and with my Lovefilm subscription and bargain deals on FilmFlex I’m probably averaging a film a day, both new and old favourites.

It turns out, rather awesomely, that Donna and I have pretty much the exact same taste in film, so it’s all worked out rather nicely. No pressure on dragging someone to the cinema with you knowing full well they probably won’t enjoy your choice. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement.

Seeing as 2011 is drawing to a close, and it’s the time for end-of year lists, Donna and I are in the middle of writing up our top ten favourites from this year. Strictly speaking, our choices should have a UK release date of 1st January 2011 onwards and we don’t HAVE to have seen them at the cinema. As long as they came out this year, they count.

The only problem is, I’m SHIT at making decisions.

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