Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Show-girl-cowboys, Illness and Uni

Got a lot to cover this post so let's get cracking, eh?

I went to see Father John Misty perform last Wednesday. I safely say it was simulatneously one of the sexiest and strangest performances I've ever seen. He stood on stage dressed like a chic cowboy (light loose-fit blue coton shirt tucked into jeans with a large-buckeled brown belt) and sung folky/country/blues, but he performed like a lack-lustre 1930's show-girl. It was... strange to say the least. But so sexy. Somehow. Just trust me on this.

I went with a couple of my friends for one of their parents birthday's. His dad bought us a drink, as did his dad's friend. (Side note: Hot Spiced Cider is delicious. It tastes of Autumn and is beautiful) His dad's friend was drooling over the fact that both me and my lady flavoured friend liked tequila AND had transport. It was funny.

The next day I had a horrific cold. I didn't feel that ill, but I was coughing all over the shop.

It hit me on Friday. I spent all day in bed, feeling very sorry for myself, and watched the entire Lord of The Rings trillogy. My thoughts on this were as follows:

1) Frodo is annoying. Sam should've had the ring (although that might just make him annoying too).
2) They should've ditched Pippin early on (although I loved him in Return of the King).
3) The parts with Aragorn and Legolas and Dawrf whose name I can't remember were my favourites.
4) Need I say more?

- Sorry if this post feels disjointed. I'm talking to my friend at the same time and keep getting distracted -


Now onto slightly more sombre matters. Uni. For the first time I've properly felt as if I've been missing out on stuff by not living on campus. Everyone is looking to get houses together and I just don't have that solid group of poeple I've been living with, so it's a bit more awkward for me. It's not like I don't have people I'm tight with, but they live with people so the chances are they have an idea of who they want to live with. I'm sure I'll figure it out, it's just hard. Especially seeing everyone's pictures of themselves in their flats and I'm stuck at home. The bus journeys have started to take their toll too. Just. End of term syndrome I think. I hope.

Sorry how rubbish this post was...


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Profundity at Music Gigs

Last night I went to see the incredible Frank Turner. If you don’t know who he is, then give a couple of his songs a listen straight away! It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to in my life, for several reasons.

Firstly, Frank himself. All his songs are very emotive – they’re more than just wishy-washy love songs. They are intended to be heard, to be consumed and to be sung along to. They are war cries and drinking songs. A lot of his music is politically motivated (I did my A level English Language coursework on his lyrics) and that, combined with his performance creates a very strong sense of collective identity. Nearing the end of his gig (or even during the encore) Frank made a small speech on this point. I didn’t record this and I didn’t write it down, but it has stuck with me. He was thanking us for being there to support him and he made the point about how beautiful a music gig is. He basically said “You come here and you leave everything else at the door. You put aside your differences, of class, of religious beliefs, of political beliefs and you come together as a collective. As one.  As a community of people who just want to listen to some music, to dance, to clap to sing and have a fucking good time. And I thank you for that” (note: this has been paraphrased slightly but this was the gist of it). That really struck a chord with me, how a couple of thousand strangers could all come together, united by one thing. And there wasn’t any hatred that night. There wasn’t any fear. It was just about sharing a beautiful experience with friends. Music gigs really are beautiful.
Secondly, the support. The first support band were ok, as far as supports go they were even pretty good. Not sure I’d pay to see them, but I wouldn’t switch stations on the radio and I might even check them out on line (Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun – although I didn’t remember that from the night, I just looked them up through Frank’s website). The second support act was INCREDIBLE however – although not for the reasons you might expect.

He played traditional, old American-Woody-Guthrie-style acoustic music – and anyone who’s heard Woody will know that’s not exactly pretty or dancey. What it is, though, is powerful. It’s strong and emotive and it tells a story. Tim Barry was probably one of the most sincerely humble support acts I’ve ever seen. He didn’t just say “thanks to Frank for having me” but he told us how much he admired and respected Frank, how much of an amazing performer he thought it was. He said how he was honoured to support him and was honoured to be playing for us and that we’re standing around listening to his stuff. And that in itself was deeply touching. He also said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard at a music gig (and I wrote this down on the back of my hand when he said it):

“I’m not afraid of dying; I’m afraid of not living”

I thought that was a beautiful sentiment. It summed up perfectly the message of the tour – it was called the “Last Minutes and Lost Evenings” tour which is taken from a line of Frank’s song “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous” which ends with:

“Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, about fire in our belly’s and about furtive little feelings, and the aching amplitudes that set our needles all a-flickering and help us to remember that the only things that’s left to do is live. After all of the loving and the loosing, for the heroes and the pioneers’ the only thing that’s left to do is get another round in at the bar!”

And isn’t that a perfect little sentiment.

Anyway, all of that got me thinking how ridiculous it is to spend your whole life worrying. It reminded me a lot of the view that is expressed by Margo Roth Spiegelman, a character in John Green’s novel “Paper Towns”. She see’s how vapid the world is, she see’s its faults, how “life has become the future”, and how wrong that is. Now I don’t 100% agree with her view – I think you’ve got to think about the future a little bit. But I do mostly agree with Tim Barry.
It’s ok to be afraid of dying, so long as you’re not afraid of living.


Links: http://frank-turner.com/  - Frank Turner
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c21SfaAwBw0  - I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous

Currently Reading: The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Art Of Writing Fiction by Andrew Cowan

Saturday, 17 November 2012

An Apology, A Memory and A Poem

Hey gang, it's been far too long and I have no excuses!!

Anyone who followed the link in my last post will know that I have miserably failed at NaNoWriMo this year. It's not that I didn't have enough time, or that I couldn't think about what to write (I actually had a semi decent plot arc for Toby and friends). Truth be told I was just lazy. I'd forgotten how time consuming it was to write NaNo, how mentally and emotionally draining it was, how much sacrifice had to go into it, and when it came down to it I prioritised my social life (and to a certain (more acceptable extent, Uni work) over NaNo. I don't necessarily think that's a crime, but I am somewhat disappointed that I couldn't see it through - for Toby's sake as much as my own self pride etc.

Anyway, this post wasn't going to be long or rambling, but rather a memory.

I just spent the last five or so minutes battling with a Parker Pen - trying to release it from its packaging, to be precise - and all the time I kept wondering: "Why do these pens need to be vacuum-packed in plastic! It makes this so difficult! Ow, my hand!!"

Then I remembered my childhood, when I used to receive "Barbie" dolls as presents. One of the most fun parts of receiving the Barbe doll wasn't the clothes you could dress her up in, or if you could cut her hair or whatever, but the act of opening the packaging. Barbie came in a box - almost like a shoe box. Firstly you had to remove Barbie and her background from the box. Barbie was attached to her background by wire ties, and I would laboriously unwind each tie, carefully straighting it out in order to remove it without damaging the background. Them, much like the Parker Pen, I had to  carefully remove the clothing and accessories from the vacuum-packed plastic containers. I would do this delicately, careful not to damage the precious items. I'd then lay out everything, and begin to play. Now, this might sound somewhat arduous for a 4, 5, 6, 7 year old girl, but I loved it. It just hit me, at 18, that the magic had vanished from opening a package. And that made me sad.

In other, less depressing news, I have taken to performing my poetry. I know. Considering that I only really started writing poetry in September, that's a bit of a risky move. But it seems to have gone ok so far. One of my poems (about rape) appears to go down really well when I perform it, but I think I'll post that another time, as I enjoy discussions around rape culture in our society. I say "enjoy", I really mean that I don't think it gets discussed enough - it tends to get hidden away when it should be fore fronted for all its issues.

This poem began as a song, but turned into a beat poem. It's called:

 The Girl In The Corner Looking Nervous

She’s sipping spirits from a shot glass,

Praying the scummy boys won’t touch her arse

But, with a skirt down to her knees,

She’s not showing much arse to squeeze.

And she’s only got subtle make-up on,

Wondering how you can be comfy in a lacy thong.

She hasn’t got up to dance;

She thinks you’ve got to wait to be asked.


The decadence of the scene perturbs her;

The hedonists and perverts

Clamour all around and make her nervous,

The boys and girls offering service.

She doesn’t like the push and shove at the bar

Would much rather be relaxing in some fancy spa.

She’s wearing perfume by Chanel

As if anyone here could tell!


She doesn’t approve of promiscuity,

Although that might change after a drink or three,

But she won’t cause she’s counting her units

And she doesn’t approve of the music.

She thinks all her peers are disgusting

With all their making out and thrusting,

So she just stares at the debauchery with her doe eyes

Sat alone in the corner for the whole night.


And her tan’s not fake it’s from St. Tropez.

And she’s knows just what they say:

“You’re far too prim to be in here love,

Why don’t you take off those white gloves?

Take some bobby pins out of your up do,

Show the other girls how you can move!

I’m not saying you’ve gotta get down and dirty,

But it’s wouldn’t hurt just to be a little flirty,

And you never know you  might quite like it

If only you had the balls to try it.”

Hopefully I'll start posting more frequently again!

TTFN! xx

Currently Reading: The Old Curiousity Shop by Charles Dickens
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Art of Writing Fiction by Andrew Cowan

Monday, 5 November 2012


So, for this month I'm taking part in National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a novel of 50,000 words in November. I won last year, and want to make a streak of it. I'm already miles behind and I'm publisghing my noevl on line in a series of blog posts as I go. Scary.

If you want to read my novel follow this link: www.tobyisajuggler.blogspot.com
If you fancy taking part in NaNo: www.nanowrimo.org
If you're already part of Nano, add me as a buddy! My name is CurlyWurly

TTFN! xx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Procrastination and Poetry

It's amazing the lengths I will go to procrastinate. This right here is a prime example of my procrastination. Right now I should be either writing an essay that's due in tomorrow, or reading a text (as in a piece of literature not a phoney-type-text) in preparation for Thursday, or (most importantly) considering the questions set out in yesterdays lecture for today's seminar (yikes). But, nevertheless, procrastinate I shall, and if I must procrastinate then what better place to do it than in front of you, the fine people of the internet. (By the by, if you are reading this, drop me a comment to say hi or what not. It'd be lovely to hear from you - particularly if you are one of the people who are visiting this little blog from the Netherlands or Turkey (as Google tells me you are)).

Anyway. Procrastination. Yes.

(As an aside, there is something slightly ironic about the fact that I had to put myself back to track to talk about procrastination, of all things...)

Yesterday I bought a book for my Creative Writing course called "The Art Of Writing Fiction" by Andrew Cowan. Whilst procrastinating from reading "The Pilgrims Progress", which continues to be exceedingly dull, I began to flick through it's pages. Exercise two caught my eye. It goes pretty much as follows:

Imagine you are sitting at your work space ready to write, what things do you to before actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys? Each activity is worth certain points.
Fiddling (straighting sheets of paper etc): 1 point each
Almost-work-related-distractions (tidying the folders on your computer): 2 points each
Stalling (tidying your room, making coffee etc): 3 points each
Dreaming (more than ten minutes out of a window, more than five with head on desk): 3 points each
Skiving (writing emails, making phone calls etc): 5 points each
Absconding (gardening, decorating etc): 10 points each

0-10: Completely abnormal, relax.
11-20: A necessary amount, but beware of relapse.
21-30: Perhaps these things should have been done earlier...
31+: Completely abnormal, worry.

Tallying up my points I found I was in the 21-30 category... so not too bad but room for improvement. However, it was an interesting exercise to perform, being self-analytical of things you normally wouldn't notice. It also made me consider how procrastination can sometimes be a very helpful thing, how it can let you get round to those jobs you've been putting off for months or allow you to open your mind to something creative that you wouldn't normally do- which could very well be the inspiration for a new venture.

Speaking of which (classy little segue, I know) I was at my Creative Writing Societies (CWS) first open mic night Monday last week. It was fascinating and totally inspirational. Now, I'm not much of a poet, but since then I've written two pieces, both of which I might perform tonight at their Extra Virgin open mic. Scary stuff. One of the pieces is about rape culture, and I want to discuss it in more depth, so I might post that another day, but this piece I'm happy to post now. As I said it was inspired by the showcase, and when walking home from that the fella said "I can imagine you up there reading poetry about pretty boys". This was the result:

My (Ex)Boyfriend’s Haircut
Pretty Boy;
Floppy Hair.
Across the room,
I stop, he stares.

Feel his eyes
Caress my skin.
Catch an eye;
A cheeky grin.

Skinny jeans
Sit low on hips
Eyebrows raised
He bites a lip

Feel the blush
Rise in my cheeks.
Try to pluck
The courage to speak.

He saunters over
Offers a drink,
A proper gent.

One drink turns
To two, then three.
Place my hand
Upon his knee.

Four months I leave it
Resting there.
Then Pretty Boy
Cuts his hair.

Average Boy;
Shaven head.
Think I’ll find
A Pretty Boy instead.

So there you have it. My first "creative writing" output on the internet. Although, as we discussed in my first Creative Writing Workshop, was even constitutes as "Creative Writing"?

By the by, as much as I would love to I can't really discuss the content of either of my Creative Writing classes on here. It's a "sacred space" and all that. Y'know. Gutting. But I am LOVING them with all my heart and soul, despite it being early days yet and all that.

TTFN! xx

Currently Reading: The Pilgrims Progress (Oxford World Edition) by John Bunyan
Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
The Art of Writing Fiction by Andrew Cowan

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

FRESHERS! Report (with LOTS OF CAPS - apparently)

Here goes!

Day 1: Sunday night Ice-Breaker Party. Being a home-student (and with none of the other home students I know going) I turned up all on my todd. At the same time as I walked in, so did three other girls, so I started talking to them. We soon found out we were all home students - so I made my first Uni friends! Really fun night, everyone just wandering up to each other saying hi and chatting and dancing. Although, apparently, a lot of people's idea of an ice-breaker is to dance up to someone then make out with their face. Which, y'know, is fair enough I suppose. So long as both parties are willing. Didn't really appreciate the random guy who lured me in by ballerina-twirling me trying to shove his face into mine... Although the two guys me and the local ladies were dancing with didn't seem to mind it too much when two random girls started rubbing themselves up and down them. If you're imagining the Baloo back-scratching scene from the Jungle Book mid Bare Necessities, you're not too far off. If Baloo was in a skin-tight LBD that is... ANYWAY. Yes. Good night.

Day 2: Monday morning at the sprightly hour of 10:45 I have to register to confirm my attendance etc. For most students this would involved rolling out of bed at 10 maybe? Showering and getting them selves together because its early-days and everybody wants to make a good impression, then stumbling down to the Congregation Hall to register. For the home student in involves getting up at half-eight to make the half nine train, then running from train station to bus stop and a half hour bus journey. Yeah. Not as fun, right?

So I registered fine, went and picked up my campus card, then met up a boy from my college as well as a girl I used to know. We hung out in one of our Uni's cafes (known as The Hive) for a while, then went into the Fresher's Fare. It was mental. Easily one of the most crowded room I've ever been in, a mass of bodies, a collection of currents that were constantly in battle, vying for dominance, and the brave souls who jumped from stream to bustling stream. I got separated from my friends pretty early on, and trapped in the mass had to let myself be taken around the room, picking up free food, drinks and vouchers (and a shed load of pens) as I went.

By the time I escaped, had sorted out my possessions and met up with my friends, it was pretty much time for my first introductory lecture. In the lecture theatre I sat next to a boy who, as it happened is on my course. Since then, I have seen him around a lot and we always say hi and have a chat. Yay for new friends! After the lecture I met up with one of the girls I had met the night before, then headed home. No night out for me this night, which I was a little upset about at the time, but do not regret at all now.

Day 3: Tuesday was a crazy busy day for me. Loads of introductory lectures that simultaneously terrified me and excited me. I love being back in a learning environment. Had lunch then went to the SOC Mart with some girls from my course and signed up for a couple of societies (notably Creative Writing) then went back to their halls with them and hung out for the afternoon.

In the evening I met up with the girl I had met at ice-breaker and together we went to the T-Shirt party. The premise of this was you got a t-shirt and had to write various bits of information on it (your name, where you come from and what you were studying). This was, as it turns out, a great idea. It made meeting people really easy. Top night.

Day 4: By this time I felt pretty exhausted from meeting so many new people, but luckily I didn't have a busy day. The only thing I had to do was to meet with my personal adviser (who was lovely) and have a look around the Sports Mart to see if I wanted to sign up to any societies. I signed up for Yoga and Pole Dancing. Whilst looking around I met up with some girls from my course, which was nice.

In the afternoon I met up with my best friend to help him buy a bracelet for his mum's birthday and to say goodbye as he was off to uni soon. We had hot chocolate and shared a brownie. Pretty emotional.

That evening was Zane Lowe. Me and my clubbing buddy from day 1 showed up fifteen minuets late, but the place was dead. As we were sitting with our drinks a couple third years clearly on the lookout for fresh meat came up to chat. They were really nice, but so obviously flirting. Me and one of the guys exchanged numbers after he bought me a drink. Which was probably a bad move - as he then used this to blackmail me into giving him a kiss on the cheek. At the bar he kept putting his hands on my waist and playing with my hair, and when we sat down he started stroking my leg. It was only after I kept talking about the guy who I'm seeing that he finally stropped off. It was upsetting, because he was funny to talk to (he reminded me of my ex who would flirt by winding the other person up, and I knew exactly how to counter it - take them seriously).

The first half of Zane Lowe's set was dire, but the second half was sick! Most of his crowd interaction was him shouting "Put your hands up, put your fucking hands up!" but it was pretty fun. A topless guy came up to me and asked me to help him dress himself. We got chatting and he gave me his number. He was a pretty nice guy. Overall, a really fun night.

Day 5: Thank god Thursday was an easy day for me! The only thing I had on was a party 6-8 followed by a night in the city. Spent the day chilling, then dressed up and headed into the city. This was the only time time when I've a had a serious issue with buses - it was sooo late! I would have been more annoyed but my bestie-boy-type-friend called me up from Glasgow! Yay! We had a lovely chat which was lovely.

The party was fun, hang out with the girls on my course again (I should probably decide if I should use their actual names or give them nicknames or code names on here... hmmm). We got chatting to these two guys, and the group divided into two. Myself and two of the girls were chatting to a boy from Teeside, just about basic studenty stuff (eg. homesickness, missing healthy food, that kinda thing) when we overheard the conversation from the other group. They were very seriously talking about how Wuthering Heights wasn't a Gothic novel. Um? Hello! It is one of THE Gothic novels?!? (Again a time when we need an interrobang on the keyboard). Anyway. We then got chatting about more serious Englishy-stuff then moved on to the local area. One guy joked that he's only been sent here to improve the gene pool, not "because I'd got three A's at A level or anything" *guffaw guffaw* That kinda thing really winds me up. We are ALL on the SAME COURSE more or less, so we ALL got GOOD GRADES. For all he knew, we could've all got better than him. If I'd wanted to, I could have said "yeah, the reason they wanted me to stick around was because I got three A*'s and an A" but I didn't because everyone on the course deserves to be there. ARGH!

Going into town was great, plus I got to see the guy I'm seeing for the first time since Anna Karenina and since he got back from Denmark. He kept joking about how he was going to shave his head into a Scandinavian Top Knot but Oh My GOD he ACTUALLY shaved his head into a top knot. It didn't look as bad as you might think, but still. I miss his old hair (a thing I keep telling him, although I should probably stop because it's his hair, at the end of the day). His bestie, who had also been to Denmark, was there, and I swear to god he is one of the loveliest guys I have ever met. So genuinely kind. Little bit of a crush on him, truth me told. Tall, dark hair, basket ball player...

We also met up with my one of my bestest lady-flavoured-friends and a guy who she had just split up with but was trying to stay friends with... which was a little strange and TENSE to say the least. Our favourite Ninja-Russian friend also came along. I love him more and more with each meeting.

The night ended with me going back with the fella and his mate - safest taxi ride ever!

Day 6: We pick up where we left off, with me waking up in a house that wasn't mine all alone - as the fella and his mum had both gone to work. Strange. I didn't have to go into uni, but I wanted to go to the first Creative Writing Soc Meet (as well as get my bus pass and pick up my first dossier (huge and green but also kinda exciting)). The CWS workshop was amazing! I loved it! Everyone was so lovely and friendly and ahhh. They are all ME! Yay! We went down to the union bar afterwards - so nice. I got chatting to the treasurer (who was a PhD student) as well as couple of Freshers.

I didn't go out Friday night and ended up crashed out by 9pm. When the little sister came home at 11, she was stunned when she was told to be quiet so as not to wake me: "What?!? She's HOME?!?"

Day 7: Saturday night was the last official Freshers thing. I went round one of the girls I'd met at Ice Breaker and her dad gave us shots before heading out to get the bus. When we arrived there weren't many people, but then The Regurgitator from BGT came on stage to perform. It was pretty impressive: he swallowed a load of fairy liquid and cigarette smoke then blew a bubble of smoke. And he swallowed a load of gas and blew a bubble of that too, before setting it alight in his palm. Mid way through the performance, topless Zane Lowe guy came up and we started chatting. Turns out he's a super nice guy, and we chatted about football and his girlfriend and my fella and stuff. It was a really nice conversation. I had to leave shortly after as I had work the next day, but all in all, a super fun evening!

So that was pretty much the end of Freshers. Overall I had a good time, but no crazy Freshers stories really. I would have loved to have been in halls, but I managed to get on fine without it. It perhaps made me a little more sober but after the previous week I don't think that was a bad thing. I met a load of lovely people who I will hopefully be friends with. Yay!

TTFN! xx

Currently Reading: The Pilgrims Progress (Oxford World Classics Edition) by John Bunyan
                                Shades of Grey (Hodder) by Jasper Fforde

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Reasons Why I am a Massive Girl

It's strange how things happen sometimes. Little coincidences that kind of feel like more than just coincidences, even though that is all they are.

On Thursday the guy who I have this "thing" with went to Copenhagen to visit his brother who has just moved out there for the next two years. The next day I get a text from my ex, giving me his new phone number. Now that in itself isn't all that strange - the text was just a mass text, not an attempt to re-kindle lost romance.

But then today happened. I get a text from a guy who I was seeing briefly (we went on walks together, the pub occasionally and I went over to his house to watch a movie once). Now that *is* strange. We didn't end on the best of terms (he had just got out of a really big relationship when we started seeing each other so didn't really want a relationship, but all the signs he was giving indicated that he was up for one. I wasn't ready for another relationship, but he didn't really understand that. I asked him if he was messing me around and he said yes.) but because we got on well, we kinda kept in contact. By in contact I mean once or twice a month one or the other of us would text and we would make small talk about what we were up to or how we were - by no means a close friendship. For the past couple months, I've been the one getting in contact, but today he text me. For all intents and purposes out of the blue. Our last exchange of texts had essentially been me saying that we couldn't go back to how things were four months ago, as I had started this thing with my friend. So it was a bit strange that he text me. Nice, but strange.

Now, I am fully aware that this is all a massive coincidence. And yes, Freshers is soon so the chance I will meet new people (new guys?) is on the cards, and the guy with the thing is away and we aren't an actual couple, but... really?

So. Just being a massively stereotypical girly girl. Sigh.

In other news, one of my best friends left for Uni today! We had a lovely meal at The Bell and girly chats. She will be sorely missed - and if by some chance she stumbles upon this little corner of the Internet: GOOD LUCK HONEY!!

TTFN! xx

Just Finished: Flappers and Philosophers (Kindle edition) by F. Scott. Fitzgerald. Rating: ****
Currently Reading:  The Pilgrims Progress (Kindle edition) by John Bunyan.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Anna Karenina (SPOILERS) and Bitches Be Crazy

Like it says in the title: WARNING! THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS! Just so's y'all aware.

Remember. SPOILERS. So feel free to exercise your free will and go right ahead and not read this, ok? Good. Just double checking we are on the same page over here.

So initial thoughts: I enjoyed this film. I really did. There weren't any points when I sat there thinking about what I wanted for tea or anything like that. It was engaging and intriguing. For some reason I'm not raving about this film, and I can't quite put my finger on why. It might have something to do with the fact I didn't read the book first, and the two male leads (played by Jude Law and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) both have the same first name, or maybe because at one point the (overall excellent) cinematography made me a little dizzy. But all of those things I can completely overlook for the following reasons.

Background info/basic plot-type-thing: So, Anna Karenina (as a film) is based on the Leo Tolstoy novel of the same name and stars many fabulous actors, including Kiera Knightly (who I will be eternally infatuated with), Jude Law (ditto), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (ditto) and Matthew MacFadyen (oh come on guys he was Darcy! Obviously I am going to be madly in love with him! The 2005 adaptation of P&P is still my favourite adaptation. Think about it. Him. Kiera. Rupert Friend. Carey Mulligan. Donald Sutherland. See what I mean...).

It follows the story of Anna (Knightly)- a rich Russian woman -who is married to a much older man, Alexei Karenina (Law) - a prominent politician - with whom she has a son. Her son is the centre of her world at the beginning of the film. Her brother Oblongsky (MacFadyen) has been having an affair, so Anna goes to visit her sister-in-law (Dolly - played by the amazing actress Kelly MacDonald) to try to convince her to take him back. Whilst she is there she goes to a party with Dolly and Dolly's sister Kitty. It is at this party that we are introduced to Kitty's two suitors - Levin (a wealthy land owner) and Count Vronsky (Taylor-Johnson). Levin is madly in love with Kitty and proposes to her - she turns him down in favour of Vronsky. However, at this party Vronsky meets Anna (technically for the second time - they also met at a train station when Vronsky gave money to the family of a worker who had just been run over by the train he was fixing) and it becomes very clear that they are attracted to one-another. Kitty is distraught and Anna, feeling guilty, returns quickly home. However, Vronsky follows her and they begin a passionate affair, with Anna eventually falling pregnant. There is a very complicated situation in which Alexei refuses to divorce Anna on the grounds it will ruin her, but eventually after the birth of the child he begins the divorce procedure. Anna is rejected from society and, highly aware of the whispers that follow her, becomes increasingly jealous of the attention she perceives Vronsky giving to other women, and is convinced he is having an affair (as Dolly tells her "men never change").

Meanwhile, both Levin and Kitty are miserable, however Levin has the added concern of a very ill brother who is also revolutionary anti-capitalist. Levin finally plucks up the courage to ask Kitty to marry him again (with a little help from Oblongsky) and they appear to have a happy future together.

Anna, on the other hand becomes increasingly more manic and convinced of Vronsky's falling out of love with her, and so throws herself under a train. The film ends with Alexei sitting in a field, happily watching his son and Anna's daughter play together.

So, as you can its a pretty complicated story, even with only the bare bones. The whole film was set in a theatre, which I adored, and with many of the scene changes the camera simply followed the main character as they walked from set to set, with extras pulling in new furniture or pulling down backdrops. This was such a clever idea - and even though it made me a little dizzy at points - it added such a sense of atmosphere and also entrapment, which became vital as the film reached it's conclusion.

The acting performances were incredible. There wasn't a single character who was weak. I particularly enjoyed MacFadyen's performance as he held some light comic relief for the film without detracting for its dark plot.

The thing I most enjoyed about the film, however, was it's presentation of women in the late 19th century. Women are completely trapped within society. It is acceptable for a man (in this case Oblongsky) to have a series of affairs and still be deemed a respectable gentleman. Anna, on the other hand, is condemned by most of society for her affair  (with the exception of Dolly, Princess Betsy and Princess Myagkaya). She has no escape, except madness and, ultimately death. This is a theme that is reflected through literature over centuries, from Shakespeare to Bronte. Madness is the final escape of a women who is perceived to me damned (multiple times throughout the film Anna and Alexei refer to her damnation).

This struck a particular chord with me as the guy I went to see the film with and I had been discussing how women go "crazy" in relationships. He argued that women go more crazy than men, and recounted from his personal experiences with girls he had been in relationships with. I argued that women and men go equally crazy, just if a man goes crazy it is perceived as sweet and "oh my gosh look how in love he is with you", whereas is if a women goes crazy then she is psycho, creepy, something to be avoided. It amazed me that this was still so prevalent in society today - a society that prides itself of equal rights and anti-discrimination. The complete sexism of the perception of the emotional states of men and women. It disgusted me that we still viewed the world in this way, and also made me reflect on the different escapes women have for their emotions now as opposed to a century or so ago. Luckily we have a lot more outlets. Women are allowed to be viewed feeling and experiencing the same emotions as men - through literature and art and self-expression. And the fact we are allowed that shouldn't be undervalued. But to be honest, it shouldn't have been something we were "allowed" by men. It should have been accepted as norm a long, long time ago. That is what is so hideous about society. It still holds patriarchal values. Films like this highlight how recently these values were held so much stronger than they are today, as well as the fragility with which they are held.

Recommended reading: www.justmargaret.tumblr.com she posts some excellent things on feminism and you should probably check her out.

Anyway, I am told that the book was better than the film, so I'll be reading that as soon as I can.
Rating: 4 stars

TTFN!! xx

Currently Reading: Flappers and Philosophers (Kindle edition) by F. Scott. Fitzgerald.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Decadence, Debauchery and Hedonism

Yesterday, whilst watching The One Show (because it's cool to be a middle-aged woman, ok?), I caught a brief article on Freshers Week, and as a upcoming Fresher (T-minus 5 days and counting) I found what they said rather interesting.

Youth in the British media are routinely portrayed in a highly negative light. We are uncouth hoodie-wearers who hang around on street corners drinking and swearing, our singular goal in life to disrupt the lives of those adults around us, and corrupt the minds of the innocent. Girls tend to get it even worse. Boys are expected to be a little bit mischievous, girls have to be the symbol of maturity. However, we are slutty, have no respect for our bodies, provocative - both in dress and manner. We lack the grace and elegance of the elder generations, who would never have, not in a million years, drunk as much as we do or gone out as much or kissed as many boys (or, heaven forbid girls) as we do.

(And don't even get me started on how every year, when we perform better in exams than the previous year, we aren't congratulated, our success (and the success of our teachers) isn't celebrated. Oh no! The exams must be getting easier, the markers must be getting lighter. We, the decadent youth, cannot be more intelligent than the elder generation, with their endless wisdom.)

However, this One Show news clip was comparing how we might find our Freshers week as opposed to how our parents experienced them. I am the first person in my family to have gone to university, although Dad does have a degree he studied from home when I was a baby, so nobody has ever spoken to me about their Freshers experience. The parents in the clip were saying how they thought that in their time at uni (in the mid 70's) they would have been much more hedonistic than we are. Pints were a mere 13pence rather than the £2.50 they are today, for example, so they argued they would have been getting much more drunk much more regularly than university students of this generation. Equally, university was free. They weren't going to leave with goodness only knows how many tens of thousands of pounds worth of debts, so if they didn't quite achieve the grade they wanted they didn't mind as much, so they wouldn't take studying as seriously as we would. Therefore they would go out more, party harder, not give a damn about missing the odd lecture due to a hangover.

It is very rare that I get to hear an intelligent article about how the youth of today, my much besmirched generation, aren't that much different from the previous ones, who were just as pleasure seeking, just as uncouth and corrupting as we are. I was a really nice change.

Speaking of youthful excursions, last weekend was one hell of a weekend. It started on Wednesday night, when I hosted a "Come Dine With Me" style party. Which, in itself, doesn't sound too cr-azy. However, the quantity of alcohol consumed was slightly alarming. 6 people came to the party. Three of whom drank wine. We got through 3 bottles. One of whom drank cider. Again 3 bottles. Two of whom drank beer (4 bottles) and gin. Woke up the next morning with a bit of a fuzzy head to say the least.

Thursday was my besties birthday - 19! Crazy! - so we went on a pub crawl around our local villages. We started off at 1 in the afternoon and I left at 9pm, we the rest of them carrying on till 12am. I feel sorry for my liver just remembering it!

Friday I had to work at 7am till 1pm (and didn't even get my break!) and then I was off into Norwich to buy a birthday present for another bestie, pick up some mates and take them to his for the weekend. Friday night was so much fun! We stayed up till 4am drinking and dancing and playfighting and having deep conversations with new-found-friends about physics vs English and rape and pants and stuff.

Saturday, once we had sobered up, we went for a swim in the river, the boys in their trunks, us girls in our bras and panties. Diving in was exhilarating, and the amount of times one of my friend got pushed in was hilarious - he soon learnt to stand away from the endge. The highlight was probably one of my new-found-friends finding a frog in his pocket, which another on of my friends then put in his mouth before letting it hop out safely with the words "I thought it was a prince" or maybe me getting slung over one of my mates shoulders and him jumping in or maybe even new-found-friend diving in to save a conker dropped by a small childin a passing canoe.We bought some nice food and cooked ourselves a delicious pasta dish, before settling down to watch Doctor Who (which I may have napped through a little and will probably write a review of becasue I don't think it was as awful as everyone else thinks it was) and some basket-ball film starting Will Ferrel (which I also napped though) and wait for midnight (and my mates birthday) to roll around. We then had mightnight Martinis and played the worst game of Top Trumps ever, before calling it a night.

Possibly one of the best weekends ever, well until I had to go to work Sunday morning!

TTFN! xx

Currently Reading: Flappers and Phillosphers (Kindle Edition) by F. Scott. Fitzgerald

Monday, 17 September 2012

In Which The Person Who Loves Reading Neglects To Read

This post comes in several parts, so lets get cracking!

  1. So, HSBC (A bank, presumably worldwide however I am not a fountain of knowledge when it comes to banks etc so don't hold me to this) was running a competition to receive a £10,00 student bursary if you made a 90 second video and uploaded before 27th of September. Which I, as both a student and somebody who wouldn't say no to the odd ten grand, was well up for. However. It appears that I neglected to read the small print of said offer. So, after collecting all my footage (a surprising amount for the 90 seconds) and beginning work on a script (which I may or may not continue to write as an essay/ode to literature), I re-read the T&C's. Turns out you have to have an HSBC bank account by the 27th, and the actual video deadline was the 13th. One smart chap sitting right here. All I can say is thank god I didn't start editing the video, or I would be very annoyed right now...
  2. Due to work and general life, I have ended up reading a worryingly small amount over the summer for somebody who is about to embark on a literature course.Which is mildly concerning and has left me kind of dreading next week (when my course starts ahhh so excited!) However, I have FINALLY got the start of a reading list coming through (took them long enough) and I'm very much looking forward to start reading again. I always forget how much I honestly love literature until I sit down with a book and begin to read and then look up at the clock and realise that a good hour or so has passed and I'm totally engrossed in this fictitious world that a person whom I know nothing about has created. The first two books I have been assigned are "The Old Curiosity Shop" by good ol' Charlie Dickens and "The Pilgrims Progress" by John Bunyan. I love a bit of Dickens, despite having never (I think) read one of his novels in its entirity. We looked at excerpts from A Christmas Carol and David Copperfield in high school, but I don't think we ever finsihed either of think. Either way, very muchly excited for reading and discussing literature again and yes. Might make a little tally of the books I have read/ am currently reading at the bottom of each blog post. That might be a thing that I will do. I'll see how it goes.
  3. Kind of continues on from 2, but, meh. Who cares. This is my blog. I have been more tghan a little worried about the cost of said reading list after hearing some horrific figures being bounded about (the worst of which was over £200 for half a years worth of books. £200!!) but joy of joys! Both of the two afformentioned books were free to download on the Kindle (Yay for Kindle! I will being writing a post about my stance in regards to Kindle ownership vs the publishing industry in the near(ish) future (maybe, I hope, although I make no promises)). Fingers crossed most of the books I will need (especially for Literature in History) will be free on the Kindle, as I suspect many of them will be old-er so therefore out of copyright. Althoug they aren't the recomended editions, but if that becomes an issue I'll cross that bridge when the time comes.
  4. Can't quite remember what else I was going to write that was reading related, and I'm sure as soon as I click publish I'll remember, but oh well.
TTFN! xx

Currently reading: Flappers and Philosophers (Kindle Edition) by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Why, hello there stranger!

Lord only knows how you got here, but somehow you've managed to stumble upon my little bloggy-thingy-ma-bob. You poor poor soul.

I guess this should really be some kind of introduction - although the "About me" section thing kinda sums it up - but just in case you didn't read it (or want more detail): Hi :) I'm a University student studying English Lit with Creative Writing, and I suspect it'll become pretty apparent that I love reading and writing (so don't expect many short posts). I've always wanted to be an author since I was a but a babe (Although, matter of fact, that's a little bit untrue. I found an old school worksheet that listed my dream jobs as either a) a singer in a band, b) a pop star (I differentiated between the two, apparently) or c) an owner of a shop. I had high hopes for my life.). I applied for accommodation at my university of choice, but because I supposedly live too near to my uni I was declined, despite the fact I live outside the 12mile unguaranteed radius, and will now have to take a train and a bus to get to uni everyday. As you can tell, I'm not bitter about this. Not bitter AT ALL. NOT IN THE SLIGHTEST. NOPE. VERY UNBITTER, UNRESTENTFUL PERSON SITTING OVER HERE. So it looks liked I'm going to be living at home for the time being, which sucks.

Now, don't get me wrong, I love my family. I get on great with my parents, most of the time, and my little sister ain't so little anymore (she's just started college - ahh scary) so it's not like she's a nuisance or anything. But having accommodation is part of the whole university experience, and experience I'm paying £9,000 a year for thank you very much, and it's not like I'm a kid anymore. Hell, I NEED some independence. So quite a few of these blog posts will be documenting the ups and downs of living at home whilst studying - they'll be labelled as "Sorry, No Vacancies" or SNV.

I also work a little part time job (although the amount of times they've called me in over the summer to do extra hours it's pretty much been a full time job) at a local supermarket-but-not-really-because-it's-not-that-big-but-is-still-a-chain-store-type-thing. It's not a bad little job, I get on great with people there and its easy enough work, but man has it made me determined to do well at uni! I CANNOT be doing that for the rest of my life, I think my brain would decompose.

I love music, fashion, going for long walks... blah blah blah, insert generic girly stuff in here that is true but also kinda dull just to list. I also took Politics at A level and had two of the best teachers in the world which made me totally fall in love with it. There appears to be a growing feminist movement among young women of my age (or there abouts), particularly in America with the presidential campaigns and the huge controversy surrounding Mitt Romney and other Republicans beliefs in reference to women's rights, rape and abortion - which I find completely fascinating. (So expect posts/rants about that).

I think that's about it for now... guess we'll just see how it goes...

Byeeee xx