When you want to give up but the world doesn’t want to give up on you

Third year at university is never going to be easy. You assume when you sign up for the course that it will get progressively harder. But, it’s only when you get there do you fully understand the scale of the task.

Writing an essay, camped out in the library until 2am surrounded by friends was an amazing experience. Which might sound crazy but hear me out.

I’m not going to lie, towards the end I believe they may have worried for my sanity. I was slightly concerned myself. Especially when, so close to the end, the technology decided to act up causing me to have to restructure something I thought was done.

But, what really made that night special, despite how hard it was, was the people. Eating cake together and playing noughts and crosses on the whiteboard. Commiserating and celebrating together. The right mixture of sympathy and laughter. It helped me to remember that, even when you’re ready to give up, the world might not be ready to give up on you.

Uni Flatmates Are Like An Honorary Family

Living with flatmates is like having an honorary family. You didn’t choose them, yet you have to spend the next year of your life living in very close quarters with them. It is a process that either strengthens friendships or makes you want to kill each other by the end. But one thing is for sure, whether you love your halls experience or not, it really is a crash course in living in the real world.

Like it or not, by the end of the year you will know things about other people in your flat that sometimes you wish you didn’t know. Like a horrible reality show, you find out everyones habits. The girl down the end of the corridor is a screamer when she is getting intimate with her boyfriend (surely that must be off putting?) and the boy upstairs has multiple showers a day in order to stifle his particular bodily craving. It’s all things you don’t want to know but you will end up knowing by the end of the year. So, now you’re prepared.

When living with flatmates for the first time learn to pick your battles. Truly, if you fight them on everything you disagreed on you would spend all your time on the attack. It’s much more relaxing to take a back seat until when it really counts which brings me onto the next point.

You think home is boring. Everyone is in bed by 11pm and the house is silent. Soon you are going to miss that. When you are living with 40 odd other people with paper thin walls to take away the sound no matter what the time day or night there will always be something going on. And, something going on usually equates to noise. I am a notoriously light sleeper, which meant when my flatmates dragged themselves back a little worse for wear in the early hours of the morning, they would normally wake me up. Why they expected me to let them in at 5am I shall never know. I am not in the forgiving mood at that time of the morning unless it’s an emergency.

You will find people have different attitudes to drinking and drugs. It’s important before you go to decide where you stand on those. How much do you like to drink and do you want to take drugs. Decide that before you get there and stick to what you feel comfortable with. People at uni, and those that you live with, will try to take you past the limit that you have set yourself, so you need to stay strong with what you feel comfortable with. In the end, chances are that they will respect you more for sticking with your limit- though it may not feel like that in freshers week.

But, at the end of the day. Living with flatmates is one big compromise. You will all have to put up with things that you don’t like. Whether that be the state of the washing up in the kitchen or the amount of fridge space you have. There will be a constant process of compromise. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is sometimes it’s better just to let it go. It’s not worth fighting over everything. Especially if it is something you can fix like taking the overflowing bin out. Guilt trip them later but don’t fight over it. Think of it as a diplomatic mission. You can’t just go in and say they’re shit you have to put it in a nice, calm, relaxed way and if that doesn’t work….well…..more force may be required.

Good luck guys with moving in. Just be yourself and you can come out the other side content with the fact that you were always yourself. Being you is awesome! Bring on Freshers week!

Schools To Side With The Bully

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/how-will-bullying-ever-be-beaten-if-schools-side-with-the-bullies-9709742.html
I recently read an article about bullying in school and it really angered me. The articles main message was that it was the bullied child, the victim’s, fault they were being bullied and not the problem of the bullies.

For years the message has always been that the child doing the bullying often has problems that they don’t know how to express. Therefore, they bully children they see as having want they want. Indeed, for years in first school I was bullied by another girl who appeared to have everything. She had the designer bag and wore jelly high heels to school but what she didn’t have was a Mother who was always there for her. So, naturally, she bullied me out of jealousy. My Mum was always in school helping out and generally being lovely. That was what she wanted but it was the one thing that money couldn’t buy her. Bullying became her outlet. But, the idea that it was my fault that she bullied me is ridiculous.

The article went on to talk about how schools were going to teach children how to ‘fit in’ with the other children. The reason, obviously, that they were being bullied was because they themselves had social issues and there was nothing wrong with the bullies. But what does that teach our children? Bullying is ok? Just act like everyone else? If they jump off a bridge follow them like lemmings?

Yes, you have to conform to school rules about things such as uniform and basic behaviour. But, you shouldn’t be telling a child how to act. If they are not causing a disruption in the class but they like heavy rock music while everyone else is into pop should the teachers wade in and change that? After all, they are being bullied about the band backpack they’re carrying and the fact theirs isn’t a One Direction bag. Obviously, they are not trying to fit in and deserve to be bullied….right? Wrong, so wrong.

Every child is different. It should be encouraged that children learn who they are and not just become one of the herd. Instead of teaching them to be the same, encourage them to think outside of the box. Allow them to grow into the person they are meant to be and not what society think they ought to be.

Teachers, instead of scapegoating the victim, should be finding out why the other child has become a bully. It is quite often a sign of a bigger problem the bully is facing that they are expressing in the wrong way. But, if they are not doing it for that reason but purely to be spiteful they should be punished. Regardless, it should be made clear to the child that is being bullied that it is not their fault. The victim’s only crime is being themselves and that should be encouraged and not punished.

It is awesome to be different but at school it can cost you. From teachers to your average school bully you will be targeted but I promise you. It will be worth it in the long run. They only bully you because they are jealous. You know who you are and they don’t. You scare them so they bully you to make you feel small when actually you are so much more powerful than they are.

So are the children being bullied really at fault? Should they be made to change so they ‘fit in’ with the ‘normal’ children? What are your thoughts?

The breakdown of trust

Having lived with my flatmates for 29 weeks (3 terms) mostly without incident, I thought we had avoided the thing that seemed to feature in most people’s university experiences- food theft. But, apparently though this has never happened before now is the perfect time to start and I am the perfect victim.
But why is this ok? We are all broke, being students, at this point in term. So, the question is why steal from other people?
Generally, if you can’t afford the money for food people are more willing to help you out if you admit it rather than just take from people. Just taking things is not ‘borrowing’, as some people term it, but ‘stealing’ because generally people aren’t planning on replacing the missing items. After all, that is the reason why they are stealing it in the first place.
Also, the excuse that I got confused with which one was which gets old when your food item is unique to any other in the fridge, freezer or your own cupboard. Fair enough, if you both have the same margarine and you use the wrong one, that isn’t food theft that is accidental. Taking something you have never owned in your entire life and then eating an entire sealed pot of it is theft clear and simple.
Food theft, or any kind of theft for that matter, is not acceptable ever. It’s making me question the people that I have lived with all year. If this is how much people respect me then it makes me question why I should respect them.
When you steal something you break down that trust that you had earned. After all, why should someone trust someone if they’re willing to steal from you and not show remorse?

Have you ever experienced food theft at uni? Let me know in the comments below. What did they steal and how did you react?

Thoughts On Binge Drinking

I never have, and I think I never will, understand the mentality involved in the binge drinking culture at university. Here are some of my observations (from the perspective of a person who doesn’t drink).

  1. I’m drinking to fit in. This one seems to crop up a lot. These are the people who don’t normally drink that much, if at all, but suddenly turn into alcoholics so they’re like everyone else and ‘fit in’. Some grow to like binge drinking, some continue to hate it, but keep doing it because they fit in with the others.
  2. I can’t remember last night…. This is possibly the most worrying/concerning. It also happens quite a lot. People generally spend the next morning trying to remember how they got home by tracing the entry stamps up their arms. Memory is sometimes restored after a few hours but sometimes remains a mystery forever. The moral of this story: If you don’t want to wake up the next morning next to your friend of the same gender and wonder if you did anything or not, don’t drink to the point where your memory fuses out.
  3. I groped/kissed the wrong person/sex. Believe it or not, this too has happened on more than one occasion. People get to such a stage that their inhibitions stop but also the part of their brain that recognises people and/or whether they are of a gender that you are attracted to or not. Moral of this story: unless you want to sit at the kitchen table the next morning opposite the person you groped last night thinking it was your crush but was actually just someone you knew from another floor and not all that well, don’t binge drink.
  4. I’ve never been so hung over. So, the most hungover person I have encountered so far was a bloke who decided to drink all the alcohol that was left out on the side in four university flat kitchens. We’re talking vodka, bailey’s, gin and whisky. Entire bottles were consumed and the result the next morning was impressive to say the least. They did resemble the living dead which was particularly fantastic when their parents came to pick them up to go on the four hour car journey back home. If you don’t drink…you don’t get the hangover.
  5. I’m so tired. Yes, partying every night will eventually take its toll purely on the physical side. You are not designed to work all day and party all night surviving on minimal sleep. If you’re gonna party, pace yourself. Don’t put two big nights in a row. Take nights off. If you do you can go out another night without the threat of liver failure to hamper your epic dance moves.
  6. Was I loud? Sorry, but I can’t control my volume when I’m drunk. Let’s get something straight. If you want to go and kill your liver, fine. But, be considerate when you drag your corpse back into your uni accommodation. Some people will be fine at being woken up at various ungodly hours as you howl at the moon through a window in the corridor. Other people, after several days/weeks/months of this behaviour, may threaten to end your life for you (after all, sometimes liver failure can take a while to catch up to a person). Just be considerate when you come in. After all, you’re an adult now. If you can’t control when you make noise, well, that doesn’t take a lot of constraint does it?
  7. I lost my flat key so I’m going to bang on the door until someone lets me in. I’m going to let you into a secret. People aren’t going to be willing to let you in. Why should they? They’ve been tucked up in bed in their nice dreams and then you come and drag them out of it because you were incapable of keeping your key on you. Either text someone who is awake, or won’t mind waking up for you just this once to let you in. Alternatively, if you live in flats with several doors, lodge your key somewhere further up where you can find it. But, if you bang on the door you the run the risk of antagonising the occupants inside to such an extent that they will not only not open the door but will roll over and go back to sleep. Nobody wants to sleep in the corridor.
  8. I met this guy/girl at the club and have no idea what their name is so I decided it was a good idea to bring them back to the flat. This is one of the main reasons I would suggest you lock your door if you plan on staying in when others venture out. If they are going to bring strange, potentially dangerous people back to the flat the last thing you want is to put yourself at risk. Again, if they want to, that’s their decision. Don’t get involved in so much as ringing security if it does look to be going disastrously wrong. All of the people back so far haven’t proved a problem, however, I (and I’m sure others will agree) that the thought of a person that no-one knows wandering the flat doesn’t sound like the best plan in existence.
  9. Did I leave the oven on? Yep. They will decide they’re hungry after drinking so much. Try to order takeaway if the munchies hit however. People won’t appreciate a fire alarm if you leave the oven on and cook the grease on the inside to such an extent that it causes a small fire.
  10. It’s the grown up thing to do. Yep, you looked so mature and dignified throwing up in your toilet for two hours last night. You also looked classy when you peed in the alley and when you picked a fight with a bouncer. If that’s growing up, obviously I’m doing it wrong as I don’t see that as overly mature.

Overall, I understand the concept of having a drink. That’s nice and sociable. Having a pint or two and a nice conversation down the pub or a dance at a nightclub is just as much fun when you can still remember it the next morning. Binge-drinking, however, is just stupid. You put yourself in situations that are potentially not only dangerous to you but to others around you. I guess my message is this: ‘Keep drinking, but stay at a level where you are aware of what’s going on around you’.

How to Survive: School

  1. Never listen to your peers. You know why? Well, if they all leaped off a cliff would you? No, oh, you would? You need to be your own person, don’t rely on others- though you’ll find that out pretty quickly after your first group presentation. But, in general, you need to be able to stand up for yourself and what you believe in. Pick your battles, there is no point causing people to get aggravated with you because you corrected them on who is the best boy band. Save ticking people off for when you have to. Which leads me to point number 2.
  2. Don’t be too different. To be different is essential both for your future career and to be able to form a better self-preservation strategy in school. But, what you don’t want to be is a target. Celebrate being an individual but don’t, for example, turn up wearing a band t-shirt or reading a book that people will automatically judge you on. To be different safely, read books no-one has heard of and avoid wearing specific reference clothing or bags etc. Save the latter for home and going round town. School can be brutal about what you like and dislike so it is better to keep your preferences wrapped up just to be on the safe side.
  3. Follow all major rules. Now, this might sound lame but by following the obvious things like shutting up when you’re told and following the school dress code means that you are more likely to be able to get away with other things. Getting out of class detention, being allowed to leave early and be free to roam at lunch time….dying your hair purple…. are all perks of following just a few of their pathetic rules. However,
  4. Some rules are there to be creatively challenged. My school told me to wear a button up shirt, which I did, but it was a tunic shirt. Still counts. They told me no leggings and so I brought some black treggings- they never even noticed. You can still follow the rules and express your own individuality.
  5. Don’t volunteer, unless it is to your advantage. At school sports day NEVER volunteer to fill in for a race unless you are naturally athletic. At my old school there were reserves on every team that were meant to replace anyone who was ill but, if they didn’t fill in, they only had to run a 100 meter sprint. I never heard when the called for a reserve….But, I did run the reserve race. Sometimes, to survive it’s best not to volunteer.

However, in some cases it is better to volunteer. Class presentations. Don’t leave yourself to last, if you can help it. Volunteer to go after someone who hasn’t done the work, that way yours looks instantly better. If you’re going to have to do something anyway, volunteering to go in the middle of the pack might be your best option. People always remember those that go first and those that go last but not those who are in the middle so much. This is when people’s brains switch off the most and so is the best time to present your presentation to the class. Want to make your presentation memorable? Add sound effects.

6. Don’t spend any more time there than you can help. For your sanity it is often best to escape whenever you can and, if the opportunity should arise for you to escape at an unusual time, take it. For example, I went to a Roman Catholic school (I’m not Catholic!!!) where they held mass at different points throughout the year. At Christmas, there were several conflicting instructions about whether the mass was compulsory or not. Our class teacher told us that she hadn’t been informed either way (she had purposefully avoided collected notices for that day) and told us as far as she was concerned it wasn’t compulsory. So, seeing my chance to escape, I did. Also, I escaped blame.

7. Do not give away any weaknesses. To your average bully your weakness equals their advantage over you, so don’t give them that advantage. Whether that is a fear of spiders or a fear of heights bullies will find a way to make you scream like a girl and ingrain that image on the school’s collective memory. If you’re afraid of spiders, like I am, then discreetly moving away from a spider or getting out of a room that contains a spider is the more preferable option to screaming. Guaranteed, the girls that are currently screaming at the spider will find spiders placed on their desks, in their bags and anywhere in close proximity of them. If you don’t make your fear immediately obvious, nor entertaining to watch, you dramatically lower the risks of being tormented because of your weaknesses.

8. Finally, find something that makes you want to carry on. Music is a great way to cut people out, or reading or, in my case, writing. If you have something to look forward to it can make the school day seem just that bit more bearable.

Spotted: Cyberbullying

Now, I don’t know whether you have one of these pages for your area but I have seen several of these ‘SPOTTED:[insert location here]’ pages dotted around Facebook. To start off with I was horrified. Some of the posts were quite crude but, as the page settled in, it started to make valid points. The comments were anonymous- as were the people to whom it concerned. It wasn’t personal; it was more about making a social comment about your area. Whether that is a serious point about local transport or local pubs or rather a more satirical comment about the person who had parked across two spaces in the Tesco carpark nothing was pointed toward a specific person. Nothing was specifically personal.

                Tonight, however, I found another page making its way to my Facebook wall. So and so has liked ‘SPOTTED: Man slags and women in [insert location here]’ as well as ‘SPOTTED: Sluts in [insert location here]’. These pages are very definitely personal. Suddenly, there are full names accredited to horrible accusations. But, the people who post on these pages are really cowards. They are happy to post the full name of the person that they are accusing yet, like the regular spotted page, their comment remains anonymous. It is the definition of bullying.

                Imagine, if you will, that you are one of the people who has been posted about. Someone has commented, with your full name, that you are a slut. People then begin to chime in with their two cents whether in support or defence of the statement. You may have no idea about the comment until you get into school/college/work but suddenly people are treating you differently. Comments like these can destroy people. In severe cases people take their own lives and it wasn’t until today that I really understood that.

                I have read that people do take their own lives after being cyberbullied but I always questioned why. Why did they take their own life? They were only being attacked online. Why didn’t they just delete their account or just ignore the bullies? Doesn’t taking your own life mean that they win? Well, yes. But, now I can see why people can feel that way. Comments, like the ones being made on the page, could destroy people. If people treat you differently because of the accusations and there is no way to get rid of the stigma then I can see why death might look like an option. I guess my point here is, think before you type. I would not wish this fate upon my worst enemy.

                Just think, comments like these can never be erased. They are constantly backed up on servers, phones and people’s memories. Then think, what if they were about you. Would you want comments about being a slut to be made about you? If the answer is no then don’t even think about typing it. Nobody deserves to be abused by anyone. And, if you’re not brave enough to say it to their face then don’t bother posting it. If you post on one of these sites, you are responsible for the consequences no matter how severe. Are you really willing to live with the consequences?

                To people out there who’ve had a post about them. Stay strong. You are not in the wrong. Regardless of whether the statement made is true or false people shouldn’t judge you without knowing all the facts about your situation. And, if they are not brave enough to say it to your face, then who really is the weak one? They aren’t worth your time. Stay strong, life will get better cause all they’re ever going to be is mean.

Happy Belated New Year!!!!

Hi and welcome to my blog- 2013 style! I suppose at this point that you would all hit me if I were to tell you to hum Gangnam Style at this point so I won’t (it’s in your head now isn’t it?). I welcome my current readers and any new people hanging on the fringes. Welcome, I’m slightly mad but you’ll get used to it! Promise!

                Anyway, roughly two weeks into the New Year and, I’ll be honest, I haven’t been up to much in terms of volunteering or performing yet. Performance wise, I played last Sunday which was awesome. I dabble in the art of bass playing every now and then so it was nice to dust my bass off (named Larry) and get playing. I can’t do any of the fancy riffs yet but I’m getting the basics slowly. One thing I can say, it is definitely better than my lead guitar abilities which I’m sure is a relief to all.

                Volunteering wise I start back at my local National Trust house this week, Wednesday to be exact. So, expect a blog after that! It’s the start of the big clean. Before Christmas was focussed on getting the house ready for the various Christmas events that took place at the house. Now that that has died down, it is time to get out the furniture polish and get everything shining for the new season.

 

What I’m reading? Angel by L.A. Weatherly

Now, I have to say after having this pushed rather unceremoniously as ‘a book I might enjoy’ on my kindle I finally borrowed it from my local library- I didn’t want to pay £5 to see whether I liked it or not! But, it was surprisingly good despite the rather unenthusiastic blurb. Reading the back I set myself up mentally for a rather clichéd book filled with pretty angels and angst. Well, there’s angst sure, but not so much on the typical fluffy angel image.

                In this book angels are actually the bad guys. They are evil and they are taking over the world by slowly infiltrating governments and law enforcements around the world- though the book centres itself firmly in the USA. This makes sense as, of all the countries in the world, America is probably one of the most open about their Christian beliefs and so are the most receptive to the idea of angels coming to earth.

                The technique in this book that intrigued me the most was the use of first and third person narrative. When you are present with the main character you are firmly in first person so that you are able to feel all the emotion and the thoughts of the main character- as she has quite a big transition to go through in the book. However, as soon as we go to other characters the narrative shifts back to third person allowing greater freedom of scope in a particular scene. What amazed me, however, was that it was so expertly done that you almost don’t notice the change in tense, it seems natural.

 

What am I listening to? Unorthodox Jukebox by Bruno Mars

                This album is a big change from his previous album (Doo-Wops & Hooligans). It is edgier, less polished and produced, in my opinion, than his previous work. However, it still retains Bruno Mars’ cheeky lyric style and catchy melodies. There are a good few hits coming to the charts after ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ which is Bruno Mars’ current single.

                My favourite tracks have to be ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ and ‘Show Me’. Both tracks are simple but effective. ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ was the track that alerted me to the album. It was so raw and catchy that I was intrigued by the rest of the album. I had only got his previous album a month before and so I was still quite new to his work. I especially love ‘Show Me’ for its reggae feel and tone. It’s a nice laid back song which transports you directly to a beach party- it makes you want to dance! Oh, I would also like to say ‘Show Me’ is the first time I’ve even briefly warmed to the vuvuzela* as a musical instrument but somehow it works.

                Overall, this album has a little bit of everything from indie to reggae it caters to all musical tastes. You don’t need to be a fan of the previous album to listen to this as it is different to that. Give it a listen and you might be surprised.

 

*If you want to see the funniest vuvuzela video I’ve seen then click the link. It’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ as you have never seen it before! Extremely humorous! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prrv6_CUyF0

Chandeliers and Performances

I’ll start with Saturday night. Saturday was the night of the big concert. The one where I was singing in three acts and also playing my guitar solo (well, attempting it anyway).

                It went really well. Personally, I forgot some lyrics in my duet and I went of tune in the solo but I also had a lot of fun. I was so nervous but getting on the stage just felt right. I didn’t feel nerves, I felt alive! Now it’s just the wait till the new year when the DVD and recording comes out. I really hope it looks good because I think that was my best performance ever! Proof, my voice is still in shock. Hope it gets better soon! It’s something I always worry about.

                Everyone else’s performances were incredible too. There was one girl who is a couple of years younger than me who did a singing solo… She took everyone’s breath away! She has got grade six in singing and passed it with distinction –the highest past you can get. I can’t wait until, when she is famous, I can say I performed in the same band as her! My one claim to fame! The same goes for the girl I performed a duet with. She has got such a voice and stagecraft that she stole the audiences hearts in our duet… people missed I was even in it but, to be fair, that was because I mucked up my part and you know what they say about not saying anything if you can’t say anything nice…

                Moving back to my normal habitat on Monday it was moving day at the National Trust house that I volunteer with. In order to put in new heating and change all the electricity everything in half the house had to be moved out! It’s not a small undertaking!

                The start of the day was spent packing and taking inventory of all the small paintings and items in the rooms. It’s was interesting to see the labels on the backs of some of the paintings (ones telling you where they were framed in the 1800s and when it was displayed in an exhibition in London in 1927). It’s not something you get to see every day, I felt honoured.

                Then it was on to dismantling the chandelier. It’s not simply a case of lowering it and putting in a box, oh no. It’s more like unhooking every single chain of crystal and very gently passing it to those of us waiting below. Then each piece was individually wrapped and labelled to help us when we reassemble it in a few months.  

                Overall, packing the house was fun, painstaking but ultimately worthwhile. I enjoyed myself wandering round the house with tables and other random items. It’s not every day you get to wrap a staircase either, but it all seems normal there. I love what I do.

                Now though, I feel so lonely. The National Trust house that I volunteer with is shut until January. But, more than that, in the entirety of my gap year I haven’t had someone of my own age to talk to, to understand what is going on in my life. I think I’ve never been so free before but I’ve also never been this lonely.

                My “friends” from last year want to meet up but I’m going to turn that down. None of them have talked to me seriously since they left almost three months ago. I know that’s probably because they were out settling in, having fun but to not have said a word and, in some cases, actually blanked me. I can’t be bothered to waste my time with them. That’s what I’ve got to remember every time I feel lonely. At least I’m not being stabbed in the back by those whom I thought to trust. Watch the video to get the gist of how I feel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t7ahXHvrLg . Especially the words of the chorus are powerful to me at the moment.

 

What am I reading?

Opal (A Lux Novel) by Jennifer L. Armentrout. This is THE book series that partially inspired me to start writing this blog! The main character, Katy, is a keen blogger and also a mutated human. It doesn’t sound great but you’ll understand what I mean if you’ve read the previous books- if not go read them now!

                This book is a lot more relationship focussed than the previous books. The first two thirds of this book are dedicated to love, lust and emotion. It looks at the relationship between Kat and Daemon after the first books and how their relationship is growing now that they’ve stopped denying their love for each other. Then there’s the relationship with all the Luxen now that Adam is dead and Dawson is back. Not everyone is exactly accepting of the current situation they’ve got themselves in. Not forgetting Blake, for reasons disclosed in the book I am declined to comment on my views about him- it would give so much away, now I bet that’s got you thinking!

                The ending, however, is fairly good. At the start of their last “mission” (read the book to find out!) it all seems easy. So easy that I found myself scoffing and wondering why I was reading this. Books aren’t meant to have parts where everything goes swimmingly, it doesn’t seem real otherwise. But, it didn’t disappoint. As to what happened, you’ll have to read the book to find out. But, I promise you that it leaves rather large seeds of doubt as to what is going to happen in the next book now that everything has changed. Roll on 2013.

Costumes and History

Sunday evening I got an email from the National Trust house that I volunteer at. The flooding that had hammered most of the country had finally reached us and became much more relevant and closer to home. Reaching there yesterday morning, I started to see the effects. The house, thank goodness, had survived though we had lost visitor reception! As a result, it was harder for volunteers to get in, the house staff had been on two hour flood watch shifts all night and so the overall mood of the house was very ‘keep calm and carry on’.

                When I finally made it in I found I had missed briefing and there was only one person in the volunteer’s room. Normally, at the time I get there people are milling about and chatting before going to their room. Today, there was none of that as, as of last night, there were only three room guides coming in. We were going to have to make it by a skeleton crew at most.

But, I was excited about Monday all the same; it was the first day I was to wear period costume whilst room-guiding.  It was an Edwardian maid costume and stupidly, I thought, that dresses of that time had three million underskirts and layers. Not mine! So, it was rather cold but worth it all the same.

I felt, when I was wearing it, that I was somehow more connected to the house than ever before. Who knew that putting on a costume could bring you so close to history? It just felt very special to me. My family has a long history of being in service to stately homes and I recently found out one my relatives even became a Lady’s Maid- a very well respected position. It felt almost like I was honouring that in some small way.

                Of course, being in an outfit like that you are open to the usual ‘witty’ comments. “I’ll have a cup of tea” and “One gin and tonic, hold the ice” get a little old after a couple of hours. I knew they meant well but I think one of the later visitors hit the nail on the head when she said that I must have heard that a lot!

                But despite the comments and freezing to death in my costume I felt good. I felt almost as if I had gone back in time- though I doubt I would’ve been allowed to sit around in the dining room hugging a heater a hundred years ago! Still, this week is going to be the closest I will ever get to understanding how my relatives felt being in service to ‘The Big House’.

 

What am I reading?

Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright based on the script by David Leslie Johnson

I swore that I would never read this book and then I saw it sitting there in the library and decided I had nothing to lose. So, after picking it up a week ago I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It takes a while to get into the story, the start is heavily descriptive and has little in terms of plot but it is building, very subtly, the base of the story. The story itself, once it gets into it, is very good.

There are parts where it drags but there are also moments of brilliance. The principle part of this brilliance, of course, is evident in the ending. The ending in the physical book is not that dramatic, more an annoying cliff-hanger. But, if you follow the link http://www.redridinghoodbook.com/ and read the bonus chapter there it really wasn’t the ending I was expecting.

                Also, although the book nominally follows the story of Red Riding Hood, the original, from what I know of the story they have not followed it to the letter. It is more grown up, dark and there is much more romance than I ever remember in the original- but that may be because I always assumed Little Red Riding Hood was around seven to ten years old! It interested me as well by giving the main character the depth of a name, Valerie, and also a family past that of just the grandmother. That and the relationships and back stories that link all the characters to a past that was devoid in the original tale.

I think really, although this book is meant to follow roughly the story of Red Riding Hood, and it does, it has more of a depth to it. It tries to make social points on equality, social issues and how much we should blindly follow those in positions of ‘authority’.

I would highly recommend the book, though I warn you that sometimes this book requires patience to get through. To me, it is worth it.

 

What am I listening to?

R.E.V.O by Walk Off The Earth

 Once again their musical talent simply astounds me. Most of you will probably have stumbled across their youtube video of ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ cover where the five of them play one guitar. I confess, having stumbled across them on youtube in this way that I have never looked back. Their covers sound like originals and their originals are just like heaven for your ears. If you don’t believe me, check out some of their videos:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97STcnWqFr4  Reckoning Song (One Day)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bt-FHaFVH8    Red Hands

Both of these songs, off their new EP, are amazing! Not to mention the amount of work they put in their videos (the unedited version of Red Hands is something to be marvelled). Once again their talent and creative genius have created an amazing EP. Buy it, you know you want to.