Sunday, 11 November 2012

Poor Charlie

I hope you all know who this guy is.

In case you don't know, he's Charlie McDonnell, he's 22, and he's from Bath, although he now lives in London. He's also one of the UK's most famous video bloggers with over 1,600,000 subscribers on YouTube and billions of video hits. I've been following his channel for nearly two years, as well as listening to his music: he's been in the bands Sons of Admirals and Chameleon Circuit. I'm half in love with him for a few reasons: firstly, because he's just as obsessed with Doctor Who as I am; secondly, because he's hilarious and adorable; and thirdly, because he is just so creative and talented when it comes to videos. 

It makes me sad that the confidence he's gained since joining YouTube has dwindled, especially as I think the videos he's been making this year have been his best yet. There is just no need for his anxiety - he is an exceptionally talented entertainer and he certainly does make me happy. I giggle in almost every single one of his videos. He is intelligent, articulate and engaging. What more could anyone wish for?

Charlie thinks his problem is that he worries what everyone thinks of him. He says that it's other people's perception of him that boosts his confidence, and when he feels unappreciated or unsupported he loses self-esteem. But I think it goes deeper than that; I think that really he's terrified of what he is himself, and his own lack of self-esteem forces him into some paranoid state where he is terrified of what other people think of him. If he can only find a way like himself as much as such an artistic, bright, friendly guy deserves, he won't feel judged because he'll have his own way to be comfortable. I think this is his problem because it's mine, too, and it eats me every day - but I'm learning to recognise it and deal with it without it disrupting my relationships with people who are my friends. I just hope Charlie can learn to do the same. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Laughing at Republicans

Obama won. Thank goodness – for a minute there I thought that a racist, sexist homophobe might actually become the most powerful leader on Earth. It’s nice to know that people have some sense. Just though I’d post a few of the gaffs the Republicans have made – and some responses – so we can all have a good English chuckle at right-wing Americans.

Here's something pretty massive that had folks all riled up recently. It made me despair at humanity. Luckily for the planet (and women who are victims of sexual abuse), Todd Akin lost the race in Missouri to unseat Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill. Clearly female voters have ways to shut that whole thing down.

One of Romney's idiotic moments had him cracking racist jokes on national television. Here's a pretty good response to the comments.

And last but most certainly not least, he's been telling people that climate change is a joke. There's one way to look at it - and then there's another.

And here's just something obscenely funny to cheer you up if you've had a bad day. Hope you're all well :)

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Some handy life tips, Sun Tzu-style.

Hello children. It’s been too long.

That looks really creepy written down so I probably won’t greet you like that ever again, but, honestly, it has been too long. It’s NOVEMBER. I love November. Such a good month. And I wish I could put my lack of contact with you fine people down to copious amounts of work and university applications, but that would be lying. I’ve been partying and drinking and generally wasting my youth like the hoodlum that I am. Ah well.

Anyway. Let’s keep this short so that I can return to that History essay somewhere that I’m supposed to have been writing. Here’s the inspiring quote for the day:

If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you will not be defeated in a hundred battles.

Or something like that. I translated it from the original Chinese myself, of course. Essentially what this ancient sentence from The Art of War is saying is, “When you have a problem, be strategic. Use your strengths and the problem’s weaknesses; figure out where you may have an advantage; don’t rely on brute strength, use the brain that you possess”. I’d like to make several popular culture references to illustrate my point.

Firstly, the opening scene in Gladiator when Russell Crowe totally takes out the German horde and it’s pretty epic. The Romans carefully plan their attack: they choose their position well, they begin with flaming arrows to disorientate and damage their enemy, they charge from an unexpected angle and take the Germans completely by surprise – not to mention an epic motivational speech from the man himself. Basically they know that they can be organised and their enemy is not, and they use this to their advantage. In that scene, Maximus wins an almighty victory.

Another example that occurred to me is the moment when Harry battles the Hungarian Horntail in The Goblet of Fire. Mad-Eye says to Harry, “Play to your strengths”, so Harry flies. Harry also knows that the Horntail will chase him if provoked, so he lures her away from her eggs. Finally, Harry has the advantage of speed and slightness over the dragon’s bulky weight, which means that if he dives for the Golden Egg it’ll take her a minute to work out where he’s gone. He pieces together this knowledge and BAM he’s tied in first place for the Triwizard Cup.

Finally, I’d like to point out the concluding scenes from one of my favourite childhood movies, The Princess Diaries. Mia’s monsters are internal: she lacks self-confidence, mistrusts her friends, and is incapable of choosing the most sensible and pragmatic approach to situations. However, throughout the film, she begins to recognise these weaknesses as well as learning to find her strengths: she is bright, kind-hearted and determined. By knowing her own faults and assets she is able to overcome her fears, address the problems she faces, and eventually becomes Queen of Genovia. And she gets the hot prince.

So really what I’m trying to say is, when you have a problem, don’t stress out or behave like a crazy person. Step back, chill out, use your brain and deal with it carefully and rationally. If more people did this there’d probably be fewer wars. And fewer divorces.

Speak to y’all soon – I hope. I may get dragged back under the dung heap that is Year 13, but I’ll try to keep writing anyways.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Why is a creative writing course like a seesaw?

Tomorrow, at seven o’clock in the morning, I shall be setting off for Luton airport from where I shall fly to Inverness and then take a taxi to a remote farmhouse near Loch Ness. The purpose of this lengthy journey will be to immerse myself in a truly creative environment and spend time with people who, like me, wish to improve their creative writing skills. For a week, I will be tutored by three published writers (Meaghan Delahunt, Linda Cracknell and Kirsty Gunn), and attempt to produce some work worthy of the title ‘fiction’.

I’m quite nervous about this little escapade I shall be embarking on. This will be the first time I’ve been away from home for longer than one night with literally no one I know, and what’s more, this is a proper grown-up course: I’m pretty sure I’ll be the youngest person there by quite a way. I’m really throwing myself outside of my comfort zone – but of course everyone will be perfectly friendly, and even if I have a terrible time it’s only for five days, so really there’s nothing to be worried about.

My dad has a nice metaphor for doing things one doesn’t initially feel comfortable with. He says to see it as a seesaw, and you are walking from one end to the other with no one at the other side. As you walk from the low end upwards, you’re probably fine until you get to the middle, where you’ll probably freak out from the tipping and want to turn around and go back. However, if you stay and manage to keep your balance, once the seesaw has tipped all the way it’s not so scary anymore, and in fact running down the other side might actually be fun. The trick is to just push yourself that little bit further over the scary bit and after that you’re laughing.

I’ve found that a useful metaphor from time to time when faced with something I don’t really want to see through. Right now, I’d rather spend the next week at home chilling out rather than in the Scottish highlands with a bunch of strangers – but I’ll throw myself into it and it’ll be one more inner challenge that I’ve conquered.

For details of the course I'm going on go to

Thursday, 12 July 2012

“Achievement brings its own anticlimax” ~ Maya Angelou

I’m not going to pick apart the quote like I intended to do, but I thought I’d post it anyway because it’s sort of how I’ve been feeling for the last few days, in terms of the massive school show that I waited for six years to be my turn to do and now it’s done. Maya Angelou has comforted me. It’s true – after any big event that you build up in your mind, an anticlimax is inevitable. But I think the word to focus on is ‘achievement’; look at what you did and celebrate that, and look forward to more achievements to come, rather than regretting the passing of those that have already been enjoyed. I have a fantastic summer ahead of me (I’m going to Scotland and Singapore), and I refuse to sit and mope and wish I still had other things to look forward to. What I do have is more than enough, and I’ll enjoy the memories of things that are in the past. It would be a shame to waste the summer living in the past.

Saturday, 7 July 2012


I thought I would write about university open days today as that’s basically all I’ve been doing recently, but that’s boring and seeing as I tortured you with my own writing a few days ago I thought I’d make up for it with someone else’s excellent poetry.

If you know me, then you probably know that I’m a Classics student and am just as obsessed with ancient literature as I am with modern. This poem itself was only written in 1911 by the Greek poet Constantine Cavafy who lived between 1863 and 1933 and spent much of his working life in Alexandria. However, it was inspired by Homer’s epic poem, the Odyssey (if you haven’t read it I really recommend it – it’s fabulously exciting and the Penguin translation isn’t tricky to get through), and the theme of return and voyaging that reoccurs throughout. I love this poem because of the morals it represents: living to enjoy life, living to learn and discover, and defeating one’s inner monsters to become a better person. This is my favourite translation from the original Greek, and it is by one of my most beloved childhood authors, Caroline Lawrence, the genius who taught me that Classics is brilliant through her seventeen hilarious and gripping novels called The Roman Mysteries.

When you set sail for Ithaca
Pray that the journey will be long
Full of adventure, full of discovery.
Don’t be afraid of Scylla and Charybdis.
The sirens and the harpies
And even the Cyclops hold no danger for you.
You won’t find such creatures on your journey
If your thoughts are high and you have a noble motive.
You won’t find such creatures
Unless you erect altars to them in your heart.
Pray that the voyage will be a long one
With many a summer’s evening when,
With such pleasure, such joy,
You enter harbours you have never seen before.
May you visit Phoenician markets and Egyptian ports
To buy pearls, coral, amber, ebony and gems of wisdom.
As you sip heady wines from the west
And inhale sensual perfumes from the east
Always keep Ithaca in mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
Better if the journey lasts for years
So that you are old by the time you drop anchor there,
Wealthy with all that you have learned on the way.
Ithaca will not make you rich.
She gave you your marvellous journey.
She has nothing more to give you.
Without her you would not have set out.
So if you find her poor, it’s not because she fooled you.
You will be so rich with experience
That you will finally understand
What Ithaca really means.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Beetle in the Rain

I’m not going to search for an excuse for my silence, but to be fair I have had exams. Although they did end over a month ago now.

I haven’t thought of anything to say but I wanted to break the awkward silence, so I’m going to post a dreadfully depressing short story that I wrote a while ago, for your perusal. I don’t know whether or not I like it but it’s short and (not particularly) sweet, so it is well-suited for a quick, unplanned blog post. When writing it I attempted to emulate the style of Ernest Hemingway (I also may have stolen the idea and the title from him too, although this is based on a real experience) – I’d just finished reading For Whom the Bell Tolls, which by the way is EPIC. However, I did find the ending a bit of a letdown. Anyone else read it? Anyone else find it a pretty rubbish way to round off a fantastically told story? Let me know. Anyways, without further ado:

The Beetle in the Rain

The three girls sat in the pavilion, bedraggled hair framing tired faces, crooked cigarettes dying slowly between tired, crooked fingers. The rain fell from the grey sky upon the grey patio and the grey path, and upon the waterlogged lawn. The trees dripped. Their leaves were as heavy and as limp as numb limbs. The rain beat a steady drum upon the stone and soil, and upon the roof of the pavilion. The girls huddled beneath denim jackets. Their cigarettes burned, dry and smoky. The smoke danced through the pavilion and out into the rain where it sank into the grey sky. Ash fell upon the stone.

A beetle dragged its dying form from the rain into the pavilion. Its wings hung useless from its abdomen. Its legs trembled under the weight of its waterlogged, swollen body, and from the effort of searching for dry ground. The rain fell upon the patio and the grass outside, the steady finger-tapping, narrow fingers tapping on the roof, on the grass. The beetle dragged itself in and out of puddles, and the three girls watched.

Eventually the beetle curled up on the floor, twitching. The girls watched the beetle, and looked out at the rain, and watched the beetle again. They watched as it died slowly, soaked by the rain. One of them stood up and took a long drag of her cigarette. Slowly she lifted her foot and looked away as it fell once, twice, three times upon the dying creature. It crunched and she winced. As she lifted her foot again and saw what she had made, she felt a lump in her throat. She threw down her cigarette beside the beetle and stamped it out.

Gosh, that is gloomy. Not really fitting for a blog on reasons to be cheerful. I promise next time I’ll devise a happier theme. Until then, adios amigos.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Feel free to shoot me.

Yes I know. I'm SORRY okay. But the thing is, since New Year's I have been a really, really happy person.

Apart from the work and the inevitable fighting with my folks and someone I used to know bitching and UCAS creeping up on me, I've basically been smiling non-stop since the beginning of 2K12 (am I still allowed to say that . . . ?). BUT. I don't want this to become one of those annoying teeny life blogs that just talks about A-levels and exes and parents and says "Oh Lord I'm so tired 6th form is hard I need coffee all the time".

SO. I hereby renew my marriage vow to you, O Holy Reader, that I shall give you a post TWICE A WEEK. I did so well in December. January was crap. I'm sorry, but every relationship has its ups and downs and I'm hoping we can just put that one behind us.

I'll even agree to go to couples counselling, if you want.

Just please, stay with me. I need you.

You are the mother of my children.

Oh dear Lord. That's how tired I must be. I'll probably regret posting that in the morning, like those drunken texts you make which seem witty at the time but are really just embarrassing . . .

Okay I need to go to bed. And so goodnight unto you all. Lusms.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year

Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly had an eventful New Year’s. Here’s the bit when I awkwardly throw in the bit that says, “Today I’m happy because I have a boyfriend”. Okay cool. Now that’s out of the way, we’ll be moving on.

Anyways, it’s 2012. How weird is that? I don’t really have much to say about it, to be honest. Just thought I’d wish you all a year better than the last one. Remember to keep smiling, look for the happy things, and go to the gym. Naah, screw the last one. Who really cares.

And since that was a very short post, here’s a Bloody Mary recipe, nicked from the BBC Food website, because I bet most of you need it.

1. 2 ice cubes
2. Vodka, double shot
3. ½ lemon juice
4. 6 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
5. 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
6. 150ml tomato juice
7. Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place the ice in a tall glass and add the vodka
2. Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and tomato juice. Stir well.
3. Season to taste and serve straight away.

I have to say, that sounds absolutely disgusting. My mate Wikipedia reckons that other ingredients include Piri Piri sauce, beef consommé, horseradish, celery, olive and cayenne pepper. Thank goodness I do not have to resort to that right now. If you yourself do, I offer my deepest sympathy. Don't get so drunk in the future. There's your lesson for the start of 2012.