The Ramblings of the Excited 2nd Year


So, in light of my rather terrible installation troubles, i.e. no internet for the foreseeable future, posts will be even more limited than they are at the moment. Of course, I will do my best to abuse the uni WiFi, and will squeeze as many insightful and interesting thoughts out of my head as I feel I can. A new term of new books and new lecturers will surely provide me with ample material for posts. I started this blog as an outlet for this material, and so it will be nice to return to the original stuff, even though I’m sure you find my culinary updates just terribly exciting.

Now, I can’t sit still. That’s the main problem. Because I’m just so very excited. Sitting in the car tomorrow for the six-hour drive will just about push my patience to the limit I think, because I’m already itching to unpack everything, clean cupboards, and get really, really organised. I’ve even roped my little sister into staying with me for the first night; she’s really good at cleaning things and so I guessed she’d be a useful pair of hands for the evening. I will have to concern myself with trying to cram tonnes of clothes into my wardrobe, and negotiating homes for my ever-expanding shoe collection.

It’s the waiting that I hate the most about moving from place to place. I love the excitement of finding somewhere new to live, and I like having a clean slate; you can make it look as lovely as you’d want to, and I have a fantastic collection of fairy lights that somehow make any given room far more inviting than a simple ceiling light. I have shelves, and I couldn’t have asked for a better house. I even have a garden with a greenhouse; not that I’ve ever gardened, but I like to entertain a fantasy that I could.

I’ve also managed to create a collection of comfortable and yet attractive clothing this summer, thus dispelling the need for baggy track suit bottoms around the house. Instead, I’m going to head down the ‘jegging’ route, and whilst I hate the word, and used to despise the idea, I’ve come to realise that they are in fact quite comfortable, but look marginally more presentable than tracksuits. I also spent a vast amount of money on an original Rolling Stones tour sweater, but I’ve decided it was just completely, and utterly worth it.

Anyway, I have to try to sleep tonight, because tomorrow is going to be long and exhausting. So for now, I’ll leave you to stare at the screen in a nonplussed sort of way, trying to work out what I spent the last four hundred words talking about. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to come back, but I’ll do my best to make it soon!





My Impersonation of A Mosquito

There are few things as daunting as starting a new job, or a new work placement. It’s even more daunting starting a job in these modem days because work placements are like gold-dust, and if you are lucky enough to be interviewed for a job you’d actually like to take, well, that’s quite an achievement. And so it means that you will want to dig your fingernails into its epidermis, and cling on to it, like it’s a zip wire over a pool of starving sharks.

It’s better, and it’s worse, when its a job that you don’t intend on being in for the rest of your life. It’s better, because then you don’t worry so much about every career move. It’s worse because you are no closer to having the job of your dreams, and the experience you are gaining is irrelevant. All that is important in this situation is the capital generated. Because capital lets you do exciting things like master’s degrees, and trips around the world. And we all love round the world trips.

Finding even the smallest job these days is a massive triumph, because we’ve got more people than jobs, and less money than we have people. It’s all very financially complicated, but I am numerically illiterate. I have been known to spend a week’s rent on shoes, and I am (or at least can be) hideously financially irresponsible. Helpfully I have a guilt mechanism when I exceed a certain financial limit I set myself.

This made me laugh.(1)

Since yesterday morning, I’ve continued my greedy quest for what will be “GASP!”, my second job. Having two lives means I have two jobs. I have two bank accounts, and two sets of bedding, I have two gym memberships. I look like I’m running a B&B for twins.

Since my lastest new year’s revelation, I’ve decided that until I can get a job at the one hotel I’d like to work for, I’m going to email them weekly. I will also be phoning, and paying visits. Essentially so that they’ll realize that if they employ me, they’ll actually see less of me, thus creating a win-win situation. People these days, have to be resilient. Mosquitoes are still thriving, because they’re evil, soulless, persistent beings. Humanity needs a little more mosquito. Ask, ask, email, ask, telephone, ask, ask, telephone boss- to – be’s wife, ask, beg, ask, threaten, ask, ask… You get the point.

Aside from finding you incredibly irritating, any prospective employer will see that you are resilient, thick skinned, and persistent. If you actually went so far as to tell on the boss to his wife, then he will probably take out some sort of injunction against you. But then again, he might find bravery an admirable trait to. If anything, you’ll make an impression.

So, dear reader, the moral of the story is persistence. Perseverance. And the ability to act like a predator, stalking his prey. I’ve emailed this hotel about six times in as many weeks. The manager might be deleting my emails. But they’re going to keep cropping up like a serious skin disease, until the time he goes to a surgeon, and begs for the problem to be removed.





On Beautiful Shoes

I genuinely hope to own these one day, they’re Miu Miu (1)

I really enjoy luxurious things. I always have. It’s been something of an expensive pursuit, over the years, and by far the worst part of university is the inability to buy expensive body cream, and pretty clothes. I still do fairly well, all things considered, however being financially responsible is really not something I enjoy. In fact, I’d much rather go back to the days where I bought lots of things, and my Mum told me off for not having any money (because I’d spent it all on something ‘useless’. Occasionally our definitions of useless clashed considerably.) I never used to feel guilty about spending money, however now, I do, if I buy something I could have acquired for less money, or if it’s something I don’t really need.

I do occasionally get round this guilt by persuading myself that I really need a new dress. I go out quite a lot because I’m a student, and therefore I must have something to wear to this multitude of occasions. They also have to be fitting for lots of different things, from casual nights out, to themed space parties. My advice to a prospective student is to find as much dressing up stuff as you can, before you depart on your adventure. It’ll solve so many problems. I also suggest finding false eyelashes, tails, cat’s ears and wings, because I find that they are multi-use items of clothing.

It all depends of course, on where you go to university. If you live in a distinctly rural area, like myself, heels are very rarely worn on a night out, and I think I’ve worn trainers on most of the evenings out I’ve had. I choose this because at some point during the night, I tend to get tired, and take my shoes off. Which means I either walk with the risk of broken glass in my foot, or I change into trainers. I therefore prefer to skip this, and just wear trainers from the outset. If you’re at university in somewhere like London or Bristol however, heels are the norm. You should really adjust your wardrobe accordingly, and don’t take things that you won’t use, because at some point, you’ll have to move out of halls. The best thing to do is streamline the shoe collection, especially if like myself, you’re something of a collector. At home, I have a beautiful shoe collection. And I genuinely worry about them feeling neglected during my long absences.

But anyway, back to my starting sentence. Luxury is something I hope to afford one day in the future. And in the meantime, there are quite a few passable body creams out there. It just depends on how much money you’d like to preserve for things like food, and rent.







On Being Employable

Recently, I have been engaged in a number of ventures that have been in aid of making myself more employable. These ventures began on Thursday, with an employability course, in the form of seminars. The course was two days long and covered a number of ideas, including networking, and business strategy. The difficulties that current undergraduates currently face were not understated; in 2014, when I graduate, there will be five hundred thousand graduates. This number does not include part-time students and postgraduate students that will be academically far more qualified for the job.

The emphasis of the course then, was making yourself into somebody, and not relying particularly on companies that are already overstretched. It has never been more necessary to make your own luck, especially in terms of creating your own market, your own service, and acting on your own initiative. This prospect is terrifying, and is overwhelming to the average undergraduate; few of us have any real idea of what we’d like to be, and where we’d like to go in our career. However, I am one of the very lucky few who does know; I want to be in publishing, as both a writer and an editor, and I’d like to have skills at my disposal that are transferable, and useful to an employer.

This sudden realization of the practicalities of employability did, temporarily, knock me for six. However then I stood up (metaphorically) and decided that the only way forwards was really to create my own business. It is something that I’ve been considering doing for a long time, however I’d never put any serious thought into this before. But on Friday evening, I sat down and made a business plan, thought about marketing, communications, and fees. And then I launched myself as a sole trader, in freelance writing and editing, and offered my services.

This led to a feeling I’ve never had before; a feeling of being in control almost. I did become acutely aware on Saturday of the magnitude of the task. The freelance world is competitive and it is cut throat. Experience is vital; experience in the real world is particularly important. In the modern world, having a degree is only a tiny part of a candidate, because at the moment, there is little for an eighteen year old to do, but get a degree. And this goes back to the challenges of the job market, creating something of a rather vicious cycle. (1)

So, as of today, I have registered as a sole trader, I have a new business email account, and a new bank account. I have a website domain name, and what remains is to locate  clients, and market myself in places such as LinkedIn, on my blog, and within my university. I have emailed every newspaper in the London area, and I am hopeful for either work experience, or a chance to grow as a freelance writer, and practice what I know I can do. At the same time, I’m writing non-commissioned articles, and sending them out to newspapers, again in the hope that this will lead to something. Something, anything; it doesn’t really matter, as long as it provides experience and perhaps something to add to my CV.

The biggest set-up challenge I’m facing at the moment however, is website design. I am extremely competent in using basic software packages, however I don’t have nearly enough website building experience to create a professional looking one. I’ve enlisted my Dad, to help me. This is another epiphany; you need help, to succeed, and therefore you have to ask for it. The worst anyone can do is say no.

And there we are. It’s Sunday evening, I have a business. All that’s left is developing a client base and a website; but it feels amazing to know that this weekend, I might have begun something that will form the basis of my entire career. I feel like I am finally getting somewhere; it’s about being brave enough, I suppose, to dive in, and have a go. The worst thing that can happen is it fails; but then again, it might succeed.


(1) (all credit to Andy Singer)


The Journey of a Thousand Miles

Tomorrow morning is the morning of my great journey back to the south. I call it a great journey because every time I undertake it, it feels monumentally difficult. Even though I’ve changed my choice of luggage, everything still feels extremely heavy; I myself feel heavy, and too hot, or too cold. I always feel frustrated, as though the journey simply won’t ever end. And three hours in, when you’re thinking about how there’s another couple of hours to go, you start to lose the will to live. Trapped on these moving tubes of steel hell, all aspiration, ambition and want to achieve is eaten away at, especially whilst you are is being sweated on by your neighbour, unable to move, because said neighbour is dribbling their sleeping drool all down your nice clean jumper.

The next conundrum to be faced then, is the bathroom conundrum; when carrying a vast amount of luggage that contains things of some value, you have no wish to leave it on a crowded train. But inevitably, one needs to use the bathroom at some point during the lengthy journey and taking a laptop case, handbag, and backpack that is almost as big as you seems highly impractical. And so you ask a kindly looking neighbour to keep an eye, praying they turn out to be trustworthy, go as quickly as possible, and have a near heart attack when returning to your seat, convinced that someone will have satisfied their kleptomaniac impulse, and taken at least half of your belongings. Hopefully, your assumption is proven wrong, and you settle back to your laptop, or book, or iPod. The alternate approach of course is to take not a drop of liquid before boarding the train.

Prettiness is no substitute for being a punishment for the multiplying human race. (1)

There is of course a more obvious problem when using long distance public transport: that unfortunate experience of who will be your seat “buddy” for the length of your journey. If you are supremely lucky, you will have a double seat, near the bathroom, completely to yourself for the duration of your trip, allowing you to be comfortable, and to access the bathroom with ease. If you are me, you will end up sat next to a portly gentleman, with your suitcase squashed between your seat and the seat in front of you, your legs perched somewhere on top of it. The advantage, in fact the only advantage of this situation, is that there is absolutely no threat of theft; it would simply be far to difficult to steal such a bulky item. On the hand of the disadvantages however, it becomes impossible to get up out of the chair with any grace or decorum (not natural attributes of mine anyway), or to really move an inch on either side. You’re stuck. And will be stuck until such time you have to jump off your train, awkwardly, and attracting an awful lot of attention, as you clout anyone with an aisle seat, moving yourself and your bags towards the exit.

My journey of course is not special. Hundreds of thousands of British students brave that monster, public transport, every three months. You almost start to feel displaced, moving half of your belongings around the country on such a frequent basis. You become accustomed to moving clothes, pre ordering food so that it precludes your arrival, and you start bracing yourself for the inalienable truth that “holiday” simply means “an excuse to work every hour that is legally acceptable because you have little in the way of student loan”. Bizarrely for students, holiday and term time are inversely representative of relaxation. Students, or at least some students, have more free time while they’re in session. This was the case for me, however this term, I’ve promised my mother that I will improve my lifestyle, eat better, drink less, and partake in more exercise. On Sunday, I’m joining both the gym and the sailing club. All I have to do then really, is attend both. I’m not worried though; I’ve booked my time according to my outlook calendar.

Tomorrow, I’m planning to get ahead of some essay reading, according to my gargantuan collection of literary theory; four hours is an ample amount of time to tackle a plethora of such material. I may reread some Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, and so forth too. I’ve charged my iPod and BlackBerry, and prepared a light salad. Picked out warm layers, comfortable jeans, and practical underwear. I’m prepared. Prepared for a huge amount of boredom, but an inevitably warm homecoming from my fabulous flat-mates. And then of course, I shall unpack and realise that I’ve just been ejected from domesticity into the paradox of student life all over again, with no warning to my system whatsoever.

I’m sure I’ll have a few more thoughts on the journey some time soon…




Me? Oh, I’m Graceful and Sophisticated…

The day the BlackBerry smartphone was released was a revolutionary one; since then, the BlackBerry has crept further and further into our consciousness; it has replaced the necessity to remember birthdays, or even know what your plans for the day are. A reminder will bleep, and you will be told where to go, and what to do. It’s so clever that you don’t even have to have the ability to co-ordinate time; your smartphone will advise you of clashes. You have no need to remember small social trivialities, because with the click of several buttons, your brain capacity can be released to worry about other things.

For those of us who lack the ability to remember even their own birthday, this is a wonderful creation. However, there is a fundamental flaw; I am also one of these forgetful, occasionally unfortunate people, who forgets that the smartphone is tucked into the pocket of her jeans, so when she goes to the toilet, it lands with a splash at the bottom. Or she spills liquid on it. Or stands on it. You see, I’m fundamentally clumsy. The same sort of thing tends to happen at work; I’ll knock over a tower of tea cups, or knock a wine glass off the silver tray onto the floor. When it smashes, it looks slightly beautiful, however it’s a mess nonetheless. I throw cutlery around the still room, and spill soup over the side of the bowl. Presentation and finesse one could say, are not my forte.

Grace in physical movement is also a characteristic that eludes me; my mother is particularly graceful, and has an exceedingly light step. It would seem though that I inherited the somewhat less refined Shrek gene; I have been known to trip over my own walking boots, catch the toes on my sandals and trip forwards; wearing stiletto heels is akin to playing Russian roulette. The problem is, I’ve always wanted to be graceful, and not walk into walls. I’d like to be one of the effortlessly sophisticated that are so revered on television, however a more appropriate comparison would be to Betty Suarez. We have innumerable similarities.

Invaluable advice... (1)

Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe created a terrible precedent. They really ought to have been less sophisticated and graceful, because frankly, they just raised the bar for us too high. Haute Couture is unbearable to almost everyone, similarly to the emperor’s new clothes. In the same way, the expectation of slimness, hobbies, intelligent conversation, and excellent child rearing is completely preposterous. I have almost none of these hobbies, and I have accepted that I will never be especially graceful in movement, or particularly refined in terms of hobbies. I enjoy looking through stamp collections, and reading books; I don’t dance, or paint.

I think it is far easier being clumsy, anyway; no one expects very much, and a precedent of accidents only surprises people when you go a whole week with not one broken item. I suppose it’s better to raise expectations as you go, instead of starting too high. We just have to be grateful for smartphones, bubble wrap, and improved medicine, for when we inevitably dislocate a shoulder arm-butting a wall, or nearly forget to attend a little sister’s birthday party.




Good Morning, Christmas Eve!

This morning is one of the two mornings a year when school aged children are willing to arise from their beds; Christmas Eve is upon us. This magical day has religious significance, familial significance, and corporate importance, to almost everyone. This year for me however is going to be slightly different, because I am going to spend the morning with my family, decorating a beautiful gingerbread house, but this afternoon, I shall be going to work. This seems like an extraordinarily grown up way of conducting the day; as children, the afternoon would be used for playing with the garland, making stockings for teddy bears, and watching Christmas films.

(1) Christmastime in Harrods

Christmas tends to be one of those reflective periods of the year, especially since it falls very close to New Years Eve, a time where we make resolutions, and promptly break them at some point on the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd of January. I find the progress of the resolution strangely amusing in the way that one’s conviction for it decreases in direct proportion to the time passed immediately after it. New Year’s Eve resolutions are perhaps made to be broken, in the same way as tulip shaped wine glasses, and plastic children’s toys.

I find the Christmas period one unrivalled in attitudes by any other time of year. At no other time of the year is eating until you are considering vomiting an encouraged practice. The consumption of mince pies is, at no other time of year, a pleasant afternoon past time. During the course of weeks one to fifty-one of the year, drinking Bucks Fizz at breakfast is frowned upon. But not for Christmas. Considering the origins of the holiday, these practices present something of an attitudinal paradox.

To my untrained mind at least, Christmas seems to present something of a release from the restrictions and the tensions of the year that has just passed. Where people have been running through London’s complex tube system at six thirty every morning for fifty weeks, they relish the opportunity to exchange this for a very hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, and kippers, accompanied by Buck’s Fizz. These foods represent the luxury of time which very often evades us, for most of the year. Christmas is also a time where paying mortgages, and saving up a nest egg, tends to be something of an abandoned practice; instead, we lavish gifts on family and friends, buy fine foods, gallons of wine, and seek only really, to be merry. This celebration of the year is a kind of reward: a reward for doing so well, surviving the pressures of life, and therefore instead of resisting the pleasures of life in favour of a slightly more attractive waistline, we tuck in.

The Christmas period offers us also, the opportunity to become creatures of leisure, something we don’t tend to be able to do very often during the year. Being a student, I have plenty of time for reading books, however they are not my books of choice; they are lovely books, they are classical books, but they are a part of my “job”. Over Christmas however, I get to indulge in the classics I have chosen for myself, such as Dostoevsky’s Devils, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. I also get to draw during the festive period, squeezing it in between walks and work. For the very reason that I get to be at home whilst I do all this, it’s my favourite time of year.

I hope everyone has a fantastic day today, and have a happy holiday!




Staring into “The Picture of Dorian Gray”

As you may have become aware, as you have looked through my growing number of blog posts, I am just a little bit in love with Oscar Wilde. And the decadence, eloquence, and rather philosophical writings of his have been long fascinating my mind, however, today, I have nearly finished his only completed novel; The Picture of Dorian Gray. Moving on through the novel, you begin to observe the complete destruction of a man through the ultimate kind of all-consuming vanity. He is essentially being made the central element of the universe, and subsequently, if his beauty, that which inspired this masterpiece, was to begin to deteriorate, then the universe around him would begin to deteriorate also.

(1) Oscar Wilde: My Literary Hero

This vanity is portrayed from a completely singular view-point, which potentially adds to the overwhelming decadence of the novel; Dorian Gray is literally the whole world, to both himself and Basil Hallward, something that is an intoxicating responsibility and power simultaneously. This obsession with the self shows how delicate the psychological perception of the self is, and how truly brilliant Wilde is as a writer, with the ability to write in such a completely beautiful fashion.

My favourite element of the novel however is the subversive portrayal of influence of Lord Henry; he fundamentally feeds Dorian Gray these twisted, backwards perceptions of life that reinforce the concerns he has for the world in relation to himself. This is because he himself seems to be more affected by realism than Dorian Gray and Basil Hallward are, perhaps because he is more exposed to London high society as prescribed by the time; the complexities of the social politics described in the novel are familiar to most of us, especially considering the festive season we’re entering. The balance one has to strike between social factions, work demands, and family duty all serve to create potentially a very stressful holiday period.

The lack of innocence however that Lord Henry represents however is the beginning of Dorian Gray’s demise; it is this that leads to his want to experiment with every kind of vice available to him, including endless intoxication and debauchery. Fundamentally however, this abuse of the satanic finery of life does not show on the man physically; his initial wish, that his portrait would grow old as opposed to himself, is fulfilled. This desire haunts him, and eventually, he is forced to greet his own reflection, himself as he was painted by Basil Hallward. The sheer fact that he killed the painter of the portrait symbolises rather aptly his desperation, and the complete disregard he had for his soul, or indeed for willpower and self-control as an entity in itself.

This rather beautiful novel of Oscar Wilde’s is a testament to the extravagant excellence of the late Victorian period of decadence; Wilde himself reflected decadence and in many ways, perhaps could see some of himself in both Basil Hallward and Dorian Gray, both being complex characters of aesthetic value, with little regard for the depth behind the necessary aesthetic value of life, and of possessions. The linguistic quality of the text reflects the richness of the plot itself and indeed the decadence of the late Victorian period as a whole. Wilde himself was critical of the conservative nature of the Victorian period, and led a life that defied many of the social boundaries set at the time.

Oh, Oscar Wilde. Thank goodness you were so naughty.