Saturday, 27 February 2010

Hiatus-ish (again)

I have two essays and three articles due before this time next week.

So I'm putting the blog down and stepping away slowly.

Thursday, 25 February 2010


I'm not generally a worrier, but two scary dates are starting to loom. The first is 17th May, when I have to hand in my dissertation. Thanks to the weighting system, it's worth the equivalent of my entire first year of university (joyously, QM is one of the few places where the first year actually COUNTS). So, no pressure there, then.

The second, and even scarier date is 20th July, where I shall don a ridiculous hat and pay a ridiculous amount of money to get myself photographed clutching a rolled up piece of paper (to clarify, I'm graduating, not going to Glastonbury).

I have no idea what I'll be doing post-May. I'm desperately trying to find a job, but as I'm up against nearly 1,000 other people, my optimism is gradually diminishing. In a sea of Oxbridge graduates, I have no idea if a degree from a lesser-known college of the University of London makes me stand out for good or bad reasons.

Apparently, the graduates from 2009 who've already got their rolled up bit of paper and a year's work experience under their belt are also aiming for the decent jobs, so while there may be more jobs available than last year, there's also even more people to fight for them. And I have no idea how to make myself look better than everyone else.

It's at times like this that being best mates with the Queen or my dad owning a newspaper would probably come in useful.

What worries me is:

1) I have no idea if I'll be able to get a job.

2) I think I know what I want to do, but may turn out to be horribly wrong.

3) What I want to do is related to, but not actually, the thing I really want to do. But there's no way I'll ever make a career out of the latter, as - to be blunt - I'm simply not good enough. So I'm having to settle for something I know I can do, and hopefully enjoy.

Then of course there's issues to weigh up. I want to travel, but also would quite like to get out of rented accomodation one day. What do I put my money towards? Do I concentrate on having fun or establishing a career?

It's a big, wide world out there, and unlike most graduates I don't have the option to run away back home for a few weeks when it all gets too much. So I'm on my own. Which, to be honest, terrifies me. At the moment I've got the support network of uni, but that'll all be gone in a few short months.

I think it's time to break open that bottle of banana beer. And hide under my duvet until the real world buggers off. I may be here some time.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Abroad thoughts, from home

I need a holiday. Not for any particular reasons of rest or relaxation, but I've forgotten what the sun actually looks like. Even my pasty Celtic skin needs occasional UV rays, and I suspect I may be about to develop rickets. Britain is still lingering through the coldest winter in 30 years, and while the snow may not have been particlarly apocalyptic here in central London, it's been grey and cold and wet and miserable for a depressingly long time. Usually by now we've got a few signs of life such as snowdrops or a few confused trees bursting forth in blossom, but everything outside my window (not that you get much in the way of nature in Hackney) is resolutely dead. I'm hoping that when the spring finally gets here, it'll be akin to Aslan's return to Narnia: I'll wake up one morning to a glorious and magical transformation. A girl can dream.

There was no trace of the fog now. The sky became bluer and bluer, and now there were white clouds hurrying across it from time to time. In the wide glades there were primroses. A light breeze sprang up which scattered drops of moisture from the swaying branches and carried cool, delicious scents against the faces of the travellers. The trees began to come fully alive. The larches and birches were covered with green, the laburnums with gold. Soon the beech trees had put forth their delicate, transparent leaves. As the travellers walked under them the light also became green. A bee buzzed across their path.

"This is no thaw," said the dwarf, suddenly stopping. "This is Spring."

C.S. Lewis - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

In other news, I'm still applying for jobs. Graduate schemes are looking increasingly impossible to elbow my way into, so I've started looking at more general admin work. Providing I remember to wear my glasses (which it pains me to wear as reading glasses seem to be associated with people at least twice my age), I have no problems with sitting in front of a computer all day. I'm a student, it's what I do best.

I saw a wonderful friend of mine today from the Netherlands, who brought me over a 600g packet of hagelslag. And bought me a vegetarian fry-up and coffee in Wetherspoons. This is why I love him. Hagelslag is a rather marvellous invention: chocolate sprinkles that you pour over hot buttered toast and eat for breakfast. The Dutch are truly amazing. It was also great to see him and have a catch-up. Last time I saw him was in June for my birthday, and I'm eternally grateful he was randomly placed in room 424 while we were both hostelling in Melbourne.

The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that my profile picture has changed. Today I hit 1,000 site views (it may be a negligable amount to most, but I'm quite proud of it) and decided nothing says "celebration" quite like sparkly silver deely boppers.


If I ever find someone insane enough to want to marry me, I insist on having this:

I cannot comprehend being unhappy with any man who appreciates the sheer awesomeness of a stegosaurus engagement ring.

Available from Lost at Sea.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Last week I...

* tried to put mascara on, missed, and managed to get my eyebrow instead.
* punched myself in the face while brushing my teeth.
* spilled the same pint over myself twice.
* burned two fingers and my arm in three seperate cooking accidents.

I've changed my mind, and am just going to spend the entirity of reading week in bed. At least if anything tries to attack me, I'll be warm and comfy and less likely to care.

In fact, I may just stay here for ever. It's less scary than the real world.

If anyone needs me, I'll be hiding under the duvet.

Nine things I will do this week

It's reading week. A significant number of my friends are buggering off to LA for something to do with some sci-fi show I've never heard of (what kind of title is Doctor Who anyway? I bet it's rubbish). I have no money. Therefore, I am at somewhat of a loose end and am even considering being productive. Stranger things have happened.

So - the all-important nine things to do in my last ever reading week.

1) Stop being scared of phrases such as "last ever reading week".

2) Read more than 50 pages of a Victorian Sensation novel without falling asleep.

3) Write an essay on said novel for Victorian Sensation Fiction.

4) Write a review of Goodbye to Berlin for Crisis of Culture.

5) Comprehend that I have a 10,000 word dissertation due in less than three months and get a bloody move on with it.

6) Drink Banana Bread Beer.

7) Write a short story. Where things may happen and characters may do things.

8) Apply for some more jobs, in the hope that someone, somewhere may see me as Quite Obviously A Very Good Person To Hire. Yes, I'm talking to you. (Please?)

9) Go to The worst condition is to pass under a sword which is not one's own at the Tate Modern. No idea what it'll be like, but it's a required part of my course. Though it has Darth Vader in, so it can't be all that bad.

Or, more realistically, I'll spend the week watching endless repeats of Come Dine with Me and Top Gear. It is, after all, one of the last chances I'll get to waste time with impunity...

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Any excuse

Nosing at my blog stats, I have noticed a significant number of people stumbling (no pun intended) across this place due to Googling 'Richard Armitage'.

Firstly, you have good taste.

Secondly, in order to maintain neutrality in this blog (and not wanting to look like a complete obsessive when it comes to a certain Spooks actor), here is a picture of the very lovely Aidan Turner:

Thursday, 18 February 2010

'Tower' Hamlet

Off to the theatre tonight, for the first time this decade! I'm very glad about this, as I've been suffering withdrawal symptoms.

In fact, I was getting so antsy about how long it's been since I visited the theatre, I sat down and worked out I went 23 times in 2009. This starts to explain the ever-increasing negative balance of my bank account, though thanks to the wonder of the Arts Council, I've not spent nearly as much as I should have. Multiple shows, and £5 stall tickets for the RSC. Wonderful stuff. And all I have to do is be under-26. For now, that is incredibly simple. Loving it!

Besides, I think a theatre addiction is probably cheaper and more rewarding than a crack habit.

I blame Shakespeare, personally. I hate reading plays, and love Shakespeare, so am on a mission to see every one of his plays performed on stage. So far I've reached 20, with eight more planned this year - Measure for Measure at the Almeida, King Lear and Antony & Cleopatra at the RSC, and, somewhat wonderfully, Macbeth, Henry VIII, Henry IV part one, Henry IV part two and The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe. Words cannot express just how much I'm in love with the Globe for putting on Henry VIII. Is this how most people feel about football?

Anyway, Tower Hamlet is a (slightly odd sounding) re-interpretation of Hamlet, which I absolutely adore. And as it's quite literally at the bottom of my road, I thought I should show my support.

Though, as it's supposedly a "public arts education initiative for Tower Hamlets", I do have to wonder why it's being performed in a theatre on the border of Hackney and Islington.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Nostalgia Trip #2: Maid Marian and her Merry Men

In honour of the fact that's it's Pancake Day, yes it's Pancake Day, it's P-p-p-p-p-p-p-p-pancake Day:

Maid Marian and her Merry Men was slightly before my time, but thanks to the fact the BBC actually used to repeat shows, I had the chance to catch it in the early 00s.

It turned the traditional Robin Hood myth on its head and brought us the supposedy 'true' version of events. In this, Robin of Kensington was a wimpy fashion designer who only joined the band due to being bullied into it by Marian, and his one great contribution was suggesting they all wear green to "co-ordinate with the trees."

Marian was a bossy, gobby feminist type (I'm starting to see why I warmed to this show as a twelve-year-old), very much in charge and certain that one day, history will tell her story accurately. Brilliantly, she scoffs at the idea of her and Robin ever being in a relationship, and thankfully doesn't fall prey to the oh-so-dull trope of the damsel in distress. (I'll stop there, lest I end up going into a several thousand word analysis about the use of the subversive to grant women agency in children's narratives. Though there's a potential thesis topic if I'm ever mad enough to do an MA).

The other, slightly ineffectual Merry Men were Little Ron (he was little), Rabies (he was even more stupid than the others) and Barrington (somewhat inexplicably for something set in the 12th century, a Rasta). The comedy mostly stemmed from the fact they were all a bit rubbish, and most of their attempts to thwart the Sheriff of Nottingham et al. only succeeded through a series of lucky accidents.

The aforementioned Sheriff was played by a wonderfully hammy post-Baldrick Tony Robinson, who also penned the show. King John was the traditional snarling baddie, while Guy of Gisbourne was a spoiled, brattish 20-something who acted like a 4-year-old.

I think, after careful consideration, I prefer Richard Armitage, ta.

It gently took the piss out of most things - memorably Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves but also Comic Relief (where they staged a telethon called 'Colin's Release' to rescue a chicken called Colin) and The Crystal Maze.

And an emminently singable theme tune as well. What more could you want?

I realise I'm starting to sound slightly obsessed with the Robin Hood mythos. I'm not, but as it's the only slightly interesting thing to ever come from the East Midlands, I have an innate fondness for it. And refuse to let Yorkshire try and steal it off us.

Nottingham's got a statue and everything:

Groping Robin Hood's manly thigh. To clarify, I'm the one on the left.

Ok ok, the East Midlands also brought the world The Elephant Man and Adrian Mole.

(For my non-British friends, an explanation of today's odd obsession with pancakes. All major Christian festivals in the UK now boil down to eating lots of food. I approve).

Dear Santa...

I've been a very good girl all year (what do you mean, "it's only February"?) I know how busy you get around Christmas time, so I've nobly decided to let you hand over my present ten months early. Purely to alleviate the hectic workload, you understand.

I would very much like one of these:

Please please please please please. I'll eat all my greens and everything.

Love Erykah

(Triceracopter found here).

Gissa job?

After the slightly mad week of job applications, I have received my first rejection letter. (Well, email). They were very nice about it, it's more the issue that they received 800 applications that worries me.

When I manage to grow a moustache, it's time to start worrying.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Five reasons why you should buy 'The Siege'

Firstly, it's good.

Secondly, it's only a fiver.

Thirdly, Mr. Simon Guerrier is a very nice man who subsidises my drinking habits. By supporting his work, you fund the many glasses of wine he has provided over the years.

Fourthly, it's narrated by Richard Armitage. Who has a particularly lovely voice.

Fifthly, and perhaps most importantly, it involves Brackenburys. And people drinking far too much wine and falling over.* Ok, that's six reasons, but this is why I do English Lit and not maths.

Buy here.

(I shall now add 'advertising' to the transferrable skills on my CV).

In related news, I think the Robin Hood Tax would get far more support from the upper echelons if it involved Richard Armitage prancing about in guyliner. I was slightly disappointed to discover it didn't.

* The characters in this audio book are fictitious and any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.**

** Except the rather lovely cameo from his wife.***

*** Unless she is actually fictional, and hiding it well.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Saturday, 13 February 2010

'Campaign for Decency' - keep the hunting ban

"Polls reveal that over 75% of the public do not support a repeal of the hunting act. We believe this is an accurate reflection of a society that does not want to see a return to their cruel and barbaric past.

Now we need to show MPs that real people are behind these numbers. We need to prove that this issue is NOT: the will of one political party, a class war, town vs. country, or an erosion of human rights. It is simply about whether we as human beings agree or disagree with inflicting prolonged and unnecessary pain and suffering on animals for fun."
If you're against the proposed repeal of the hunting ban, please sign this politically neutral register and get your voice heard.


I'm supposed to be saving money. I'm not supposed to buy any books this year that aren't uni-related. But I found this on Amazon for £3.73, and couldn't stop myself:

It's fine, I'll balance it out by not eating one day next week.

And dangerous, eh? I like the sound of that.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Nostalgia trip #1: The Animals of Farthing Wood

That isn't just a great theme tune. It's a great piece of music in its own right.

The Animals of Farthing Wood is possibly my favourite television programme. Ever. It started in January 1993, when I was four years old, and ran for three seasons. Season three was a big pile of poo (I believe they may well have been my actual words back in 1995), but the first two are sheer brilliance.

Based on a series of books by Colin Dann, the basic plot was that Farthing Wood was being destroyed by humans in order to build a housing estate. With nowhere to live, the animals travelled to the nature reserve White Deer Park, bound together by the Oath of mutual protection. Season one was about their journey, and seasons two and three dealt with life in the park.

It was so brilliant because they didn't treat young children like idiots - which was the major issue with season three. The series dealt with death, sometimes in quite horrific ways. The baby fieldmice, for example, were killed by a butcher bird and impaled on thorns:

I'm still amazed they got away with showing that at about half past three on a weekday afternoon. Perhaps the fact it's a cartoon and about animals negates the violence somewhat, but it's still an image that has stuck with me for seventeen years. I can't, for example, imagine a show where Mr & Mrs Jones come home and find their newborn baby has been stuck on a meathook being classified as 'Universal - suitable for all' by the BBFC.

In addition to that, the newt family got burned to death in a fire, the pheasants got shot by a farmer, Baby Rabbit got shot by a hunter, Fox and Vixen were both nearly killed by a fox hunt, and Mr and Mrs Hedgehog were run over trying to cross the motorway. And that's just in the first thirteen episodes.

But this was why it was so popular. It wasn't condescending to children - instead it showed the realities of life and death for a group of wild animals. While it had an environmental concern, it was never overly preachy or moralistic. And it made me vehemently opposed to fox hunting at the age of four, which isn't necessarily a popular decision when growing up in Leicestershire. (As an aside, pointing out that I went to school in Quorn for four years usually shuts hunt supporters up when they try and tell me that as a 'city person' I know nothing about country life. Stuff like fox hunting is precisely what made me decide being a city person is the way forward).

And Bold. Oh, poor Bold. Nothing on television has ever broken my heart quite so much as Bold's death. Even when I rewatched it recently - I still have my grainy, off-air VHS copies - it still made me cry my eyes out. In brief (though it's somewhat convoluted), Fox was the leader of the animals on their journey from Farthing Wood. Bold was his oldest son, and always resented living in his father's shadow. Despite everyone's advice, he decided to make it out on his own in the 'real world' rather than being constantly under the protection of the nature reserve. Unsurprisingly, this didn't go particularly well, and he was lamed after being shot by a farmer. He then shacked up with Whisper, who got pregnant and insisted they go back to White Deer Park, saying that the only reason she was with him was so her cubs would be related to Fox. They then travelled to White Deer Park, Bold reconciled with his father, and promptly dropped dead.

This was a show supposedly aimed at the same audience as Chucklevision.

My one objection to the entire show (apart from season three, but in my own personal canon, that never existed) was the fact they inexplicably killed Badger off halfway through season two. In the books, I think he lasted right up until the end.

For reasons unknown, it's only available on DVD in German and French. Hopefully, an English language version will turn up soon. With lots of shiny extras. And commentaries. It'd make the nation's 20-something year-olds very happy. I have honestly never met anybody who didn't like it. There's not many shows you can say that about.

The sound of my childhood

Forget flashy DVD menus. In my head, all Doctor Who starts and ends with the following:

I'm still quite nostalgic for the days of video. Always rewinding stuff I wanted to watch as my brother never bothered to when he'd finished with videos. Twiddling with the tracking control when the picture went all wibbly. Accidentally sitting on the remote and recording over something. The minute of black screen with the tape name in the top left corner before anything started playing. Special features being shoved at the end of the tape (if there at all) and 15 minutes of rewinding/fastforwarding to try and find the right place if you wanted to watch it.

DVD is far more shiny, new and exciting, but VHS had an odd clunky charm.

Thursday, 11 February 2010


I just paid £12.99 for a 56-page book of poetry.

My head hurts, and my wallet hurts.

For comparison, Sarah Waters's 500-page tome The Little Stranger has an RRP of £16.99, and I got it on Amazon for £8.49. To me, this makes no sense.

Word-for-word, poetry seems a more profitable business to pursue. I shall bear this in mind.

I would question why the university bookshop doesn't provide any discounts, but after being there for nearly four years I've learned that things at QM rarely make sense.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dream dinner party

The following is inspired by one of those 'top five' things on Facebook - dream guests at a dinner party, dead or alive. Though I added an extra couple of people to make it an even split of men/women. Because it's my blog, and I can. (I've also watched enough Come Dine with Me to know how these things should be done properly).

1) Stephen Fry
Because it's Stephen bloody Fry. He'd be witty, erudite, charming, and when he wasn't looking I'd drop his iPhone in the soup.

2) Mary Wollstonecraft
She had affairs, she liked sex, she had kids outside of wedlock. Pretty subversive for the 18th century - and A Vindication of the Rights of Woman is a groundbreaking book. (She also had a friend called Fanny Blood, which - immature as I am - makes me laugh).

3) Richard Armitage
Because every dinner party needs something pretty to look at. Though if he wasn't able to make it I'd happily accept an Aidan Turner-shaped replacement.

4) Jesus on a dinosaur
He'd be brilliant if we ran out of wine. And if you're going to have Jesus at your dinner party, he may as well bring a dinosaur. ("Holy Jesus on a Dinosaur!" also makes a brilliant expletive).

5) Shakespeare
The greatest writer who ever lived. I'd also ask him to bring along a few spare copies of Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won.

6) Marilyn Monroe
I find her fascinating. Somehow she's become stereotyped as the epitome of the 'dumb blonde', but she read Ulysses. That's impressive. I haven't read Ulysses and I'm an English Lit student who focuses on the modern and contemporary. Respect to her, and it'd be fascinating to find out what she was really like (and I could get the goss on Arthur Miller)

7) Dorothy Parker
She makes me laugh. A lot. "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

In other news...

...I managed to shut the fridge door on my head yesterday.

No, I have no idea how that's possible either. But it turns out it is.

Harold Pinter

Below is an article I wrote for Cub, my uni magazine. Published December 2009.

(Please note that I do know how to spell 'Harold')

Page One.

Page Two.

Page Three.

Page Four.

Birds Eye View festival preview

From London Student:

Click me.