Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Review: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey

"I hate that Dam," Smith said. "That dam flooded the most beautiful canyon in the world." 
"We know," Hayduke said, "We feel the same way you do. But let's think of easier things first. I'd like to knock down some of them power lines they're stringing across the desert. And those new tin bridges up by Hite. And the goddamned road-building they're doing all over canyon country. We could put in a good year just taking the fucking goddamned bulldozers apart."
"Hear, hear," the doctor said. "And don't forget the billboards. And the strip mines. And the pipelines. And the new railroad from Black Mesa to Page. And the coal-burning power plants. And the copper smelters. And the uranium mines. And the nuclear power plants. And the computer centers. And the land and cattle companies. And the wildlife poisoners. And the people who throw beer cans along the highways."
"I throw beer cans along the fucking highways," Hayduke said. "Why the fuck shouldn't I throw fucking beer cans along the fucking highways?"

It starts with a chance meeting of four very different people, with one thing in common - all are angry at the way in which the landscape of the American Southwest is being destroyed to make way for new developments. Together they form the Monkey Wrench Gang, conspiring to destroy machinery, blow up bridges and dams, and ultimately stop the natural landscape from being taken over by Big Business. These are not your stereotypical environmental activists and their protests are rarely peaceful.

 This book is exciting, darkly funny and often very sad. The writing style is quite unusual and can be difficult to get into at first, as Abbey uses long complicated sentences, lots of word play and poetic description. Personally I really loved the writing but I know it isn't to everybody's taste. In between their adventures, plans and escapes you get to know the story behind each character; what the protest means to them on a personal level, their histories, goals and dreams. This way you sympathise strongly with each member of the gang, and I found myself unable to stop reading, especially in the last final chapters, as I was so desperate to find out what would happen to them all.

I give this book 4/5, and would recommend it to anyone with a love of the American Southwest and a bit of an anarchist streak!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Review: Witch Child, Celia Rees

I am Mary. 
I am a witch. Or so some would call me. 'Spawn of the Devil', 'Witch Child', they hiss in the street, although I know neither father or mother. I know only my grandmother, Eliza Nuttall; Mother Nuttall to her neighbours. She brought me up from a baby. If she knew who my parents are, she has not told me. 
'Daughter of the Erl King and the Elfin Queen, that's who you are.'
We live in a small cottage on the very edge of the forest, Grandmother, me and her cat and my rabbit. 
Lived. Live there no more.

So begins Mary's journal of her journey from England to America in 1659, which she weaves into a quilt to be discovered many years later. This was a time of fear and superstition, where girls and women who behaved unusually were tried as witches and very often executed. The events of this story are based closely on real historic events, and many of the characters are based on real people. It is very easy to believe that Mary's story really is a discovered 17th Century journal, and her story is likely to have been shared by many women and girls who lived at that time.

After seeing her grandmother hanged as a witch, Mary is whisked away by a mysterious stranger and sent with a group of Puritans to start a new life across the sea in Massachusetts. She will be safe there, or so she hopes. But superstition travels to the New World, and it is not long before there is talk of a witch hiding amongst them. Will Mary really be safe here?

This is a multi-layered story, with a central theme of how fear and superstition can take over a community. As well as the superstition surrounding witchcraft, there is the settlers' fear of the Native Americans, who they believe to be working with the Devil. As an outcast, Mary finds herself wandering alone in the forest, where she develops a friendship with a Native American boy; but even when his knowledge of medicinal plants helps to save the life of one of the settlers, the Native Americans are still regarded as savages and treated with fear and suspicion. 

Witch Child is a captivating read, and although it is a YA novel, there is definitely plenty here to keep readers of all ages interested in Mary's story, and Celia Rees does not shy away from writing about the disturbing and horrific reality of how people suffered at the time.

The ending is abrupt, and although it left me desperate to find out what happened to Mary, it added to the strong element of realism that makes this book such a memorable read - it makes sense that a journal would end so suddenly and that we would be left wondering what happened to its author. The good news is that Celia Rees wrote a sequel, Sorceress, so I am very eager to get my hands on that and do a part 2 review!

In total I give Witch Child 4/5 stars (if only because it left me impatient to read the sequel!) I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historic fiction, stories in journal-form, realism or YA novels. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

My new new plan

It seems like I keep making new plans, then new new plans, then new new new plans. It's because life is complicated, and getting a job - any job, even one on the lowest rung - is becoming more and more like a competition these days. You'd think we were entering a contest to win a flatscreen TV, not just a job that we still have to do the actual hard part of working at, even after we've won the contest.
Anyway so, considering I am failing at even getting an interview to work as a cashier in a supermarket, I have decided I need to take this in even babier steps than I'd even thought possible before. So now my plan is this:
  1. Volunteer at a charity shop, where they will employ me even though I have no marketable skills whatsoever, because I'll be working for free and also helping to raise money for medical research etc. 
  2. Gain skills I can put on my CV. Also have a nice time and meet new people and donate my time to a worthy cause, instead of sitting at home despairing because I'm so useless. 
  3. Use these skills to get a proper paid job of some sort. Even if it's just working in Morrisons or something. 
  4. When I am earning money, learn to drive. Become even more employable than ever before. 
  5. Finally manage to find myself a proper grown up job, maybe, if I'm really lucky. 
  6. Orrrr... say 'fuck this' and go travelling like my brother who is in New Zealand at the moment and having a great time. 
Also throughout this time I will continue writing, making my jewellery, learning new things and generally remaining very positive about my situation, because really I've got it very easy and I'm very lucky to have so many options in life. 

Friday, 25 May 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful (Part 2)

1. Sunshine - Here in England we don't get a whole lot of really nice weather. Our idea of a nice day is one where you only have to wear a cardigan instead of a thick winter coat, or when there are loads of grey clouds but it miraculously manages not to rain. So when we get one of these rare summer days, everyone goes to the beach to dabble their feet in the icy water of the English Channel; the BBQ aisle of every supermarket looks as if it's been looted; teenage boys strut around town with their shirts off, thinking they look 'well 'ard'; and suddenly everyone remembers that Pimms is a thing you can buy! There is something extremely, well, British, about British summer, and it is very funny to behold.

2. Getting interesting mail - Normally my post consists of letters from Specsavers telling me it's been four years since my last eye appointment and will I please for the love of God book another one. Or catalogues for things I'm too poor to buy at the moment. So, it's always nice to receive something a little bit out of the ordinary, whether it's something I've ordered online and am very excited about, or a completely random, unexpected gift or postcard. Recently I have been getting little packs of beads and things in the mail, and it's like I've sent a lot of little presents to myself.

Yes, those are majestic unicorn charms...what of it?
3. Getting into bed after a long day - Or a short day, or any kind of day really. I love my bed, and there is nothing better than snuggling up under the duvet and knowing that I have a whole eight hours ahead of me, with which to do nothing at all except for drift off to sleep. Absolute bliss.

4. Song Covers - Some people don't like covers, because they are music purists and they think the only true form of a song can come from the original artist. Or something. Personally, I think covers are great. They can portray a song in a whole new light, or give it a completely different feel to the original. And it's not to say that I don't really love the original song, just that I love hearing other artists' takes on it, too. 

5. The ice cream van - If your inner child doesn't jump up and down and shout 'ICE CREAM ICE CREAM CAN I HAVE AN ICE CREAM?' when you hear that familiar jingly tune...then I don't believe you. Mr Whippy ice cream with a flake and sherbet sprinkles? Knobbly-Bobbly? Blue bubblegum ice lollies? Yes please!! A proper ice cream van ice cream on a hot day is one of life's greatest pleasures.

My Summer Playlist (Part 2!)

Here's the second half of my summer playlist. To be honest, my actual summer playlist is about ten times as long, but I don't want to bore anyone so I just picked the essential ones!

Sam Cooke - Summertime
Well we need at least one version of this song, because it would have been stupid to miss it off the list - it has summer in the title and everything! I particularly like this version because it is so happy, and Sam's voice sounds like melting caramel. It's summertime, and the living is easy.

Fleet Foxes - Mykonos
I wanted to put something by Fleet Foxes in here. A lot of their songs have a woodsy feel to them, making you want to go for a walk in a forest, but that's more of an autumn thing (don't ask why, it just is!) whereas Mykonos puts me in the mood for a summer journey.

The Rolling Stones - Get Off of my Cloud
I have a memory of me and my friend going for a drive in the summer a couple of years ago, and we had the windows down and this song blasting out, and everything was right with the world. Although it's not really about summer at all, the general message is about wanting to be happy and enjoy yourself without other people (or bad weather) ruining it for you.

The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer in the City
It's fairly self-explanatory, really! Also, The Lovin' Spoonful - what a great band name. It always surprises me listening to this, how recent it sounds. You could easily mistake it for a song by a current indie band.

Isley Brothers - Summer Breeze
This is a very funky song. It's okay, I'm allowed to use that word because it's from the '70s. As with the previous song, I don't think I need to bother going into any detail about why I put this on the list. It's about chilling in the sun and feeling fine because the summer breeze is blowing through the jasmine in your mind. What more do you need?

The Eagles - Take it Easy
The soundtrack to a summer road trip. This is one of the songs we listened to a lot on our American road trip, so it always reminds me of long, open roads stretching over the horizon under the endless sky.

Calexico - Crawlspace
Mournful slide guitar. This is an instrumental track without any lyrics, but it is so atmospheric and makes me think of the desert. (Also I made the video in the link!)

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Wild Horses
Well everyone has heard this song, but I chose to put this version instead of the original, firstly because I've already got one Rolling Stones song on this list, and secondly because I think it's a really nice, chilled out version of the song.

The Velvet Underground - Who Loves the Sun
So this is actually quite a sad song, mourning for a broken heart and all that ... but it still has a very summery sound to it, so it still deserves a place on the summer playlist.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

How to fail a telephone interview in four easy steps:

1. Be completely unprepared because they chose to call you up, tell you the position you applied for has already been filled, and then launch straight into an interview without even explaining what on earth is going on. Am I being interviewed? For what? You said you'd already filled the position ... oh, where do I see myself in five years' time? Umm ... (I don't even know what I'll be doing in five minutes time. Probably hitting my head against a wall for making such a cock-up of this interview!)

2. Don't do any prior research about what the job actually involves (because you weren't even expecting a response to your application, since you already got turned down for two retail jobs over the past week) and then when asked, rattle off some crap about motivation and determination to succeed, oh and it involves finding new clients or something, right?

3. ???


So suffice it to say, I will not be launching into a career in sales and marketing any time soon. But I have taken this awfully embarrassing, cringeworthy, kill-me-now interview as a learning experience. I have written up a big page of all the questions interviewers seem to love asking, like 'What is your biggest weakness?' and written out some notes to help me answer them coherently, and I have decided that from now on every time I send off an application I will print out a page of notes specific to that job.

So next time I get ambushed by a 'HAHA, GOTCHA!' style phone interview, I will hopefully manage to sound like an articulate and educated individual, instead of a confused and frightened animal that has wandered into a recruitment office.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

My Summer Playlist (Part One)

To celebrate two whole days of sunshine (wow!!!) I have decided to compile a playlist of summery songs. For me, summer is about kicking back and relaxing with a cold drink and generally being lazy and contented...not much different to the rest of the year then, really! But it's also about exploring, adventuring, road tripping and generally making the most of the weather.  So I've compiled a list of songs which I think are perfect for the summer. This is only part one, because it would just be a ridiculously long post otherwise...part of the wonder of technology is that now you can make a playlist of a million songs without worrying if it'll fit onto the CD or tape - just chuck it on the iPod. Bish bash bosh.

Ash - Walking Barefoot 
"We've been walking barefoot all summer" - this upbeat song always gets me in the mood for walking along the beach, it captures that summery mood perfectly (and the disappointment when summer ends, too!)

Beach House - Zebra
Beach house are classified as 'dream pop' and I think that phrase sums up this song perfectly. A dreamlike, nostalgic tune that rises and falls like a carousel ride.

Counting Crows - Miami
The soundtrack to a summer romance. As the summer draws to an end, so does the relationship. "Make a circle in the sand, make a halo with your hand, I'll make a place for you to land." Counting Crows reference angels in a lot of their songs, and this one is no exception.

Eisley - Brightly Wound
This song is so sickly-sweet it's almost ridiculous, but it fits the summer mood. As always, their voices harmonise beautifully, and it's a very pretty song.

Feeder - Seven Days in the Sun
Terrible lyrics aside (hey, it is Feeder) this song is all about going on holiday in the summer and having fun with the people we love, which is something we can all relate to (even if we don't all have a cross-dressing friend named Paula). When this song comes on I can't help singing along.

The Get Up Kids - All That I Know
"All the fish in the ocean, outside my window, under the moon. All the lights in the harbour keep me from sleeping, keep me from dreaming." I think the basic message of this song is, " wait, listen dude...what if we're all like, part of everything? Hey, quit hogging the bong!"

The Head and the Heart - Down in the Valley
"I am on my way, I am on my way, I am on my way back to where I started" I love everything about this song, from the violin and the piano, to the ever changing pace, to the way it makes me want to go off on an adventure down in a valley somewhere (preferably in America, but I guess Wales is fine too...)

Phantom Planet - California 
This is a laid back song for a road trip to California, or just driving to Hayling Island beach and pretending you're going to California...either way, it is definitely summery!

The Thrills - Don't Steal Our Sun
I could have included anything by The Thrills really, since all their songs are pretty sunshiny, but since this one literally has SUN in the title, it would have been silly to choose anything else. I love the stompy beat of this song, and it's contagiously happy!

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What's on the bathroom floor this week?

This week it's a very small but very varied pile.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and his Boy, C.S Lewis: My dad is reading his way through the Chronicles of Narnia. I haven't ever read this one, even though it's my book. I'm not a huge fan of Narnia, to be honest. When I was little the books were fun and magical but reading them again as an adult I noticed that they are actually quite badly written, they are filled with harmful ideology and they are also kind of sexist. Not cool! Still, apparently The Horse and his Boy is a good story, and according to the blurb, there is a talking horse, and a book about a talking horse can't be that bad!

The Book of General Ignorance: Oh, it's you again. I actually took this book out of the bathroom last week and put it back on my shelf, but surprise surprise, John came round and decided to put it back in the bathroom. Best place for it, in my opinion...!

The Last Holiday - A Memoir, Gil Scott-Heron: I haven't read this one either, it belongs to my dad. But, it has a really good cover:

It also sounds like a really good and interesting read, so I'll probably get to reading it once I'm done tackling Revolution in the Head, which I'm finding quite tough because it goes so in depth and talks about musical theory and things like that. But it is still very interesting even if it does make me feel ever so slightly stupid!

Journal Revolution, Linda Woods & Karen Dinino: This is a guide all about scrapbooking with a difference. It has some really fun design projects like using found objects and different ways of printing etc. Since I've been on my crafty kick I decided to give it a read, and it's got some really good ideas (though I'll probably stick to the jewellery project for the time being!)

More bracelets

I'm really proud of the latest two bracelets I've made. Mainly because I've been able to photograph them really well thanks to a rare day of British sunshine!

They are both on sale in my Folksy shop, but if it wasn't so determined to sell something I would be wearing them right now! I can definitely see my bracelets improving as I practise, and I really love the look of these two.

I have also been making some more charms out of shrink plastic, and I now have a full set of weather charms (clouds, rainbow, raindrop and lightning bolt) waiting to be added onto a bracelet!

In other news, everything went well at the bank, and as soon as I get my new debit card in the post I'll be off to the 3 store to get a shiny new phone!

The job search continues...and continues...

It's sunny and warm today, for the first time in ages! I should be outside but I'm actually still sitting in my dressing gown. My plan for today is to go to the bank and get my account upgraded from 'baby's first debit card' to a normal grown-up's account, so that I can set up a contract and get my new phone.

Then I'll probably come back home and apply for more jobs, or make some jewellery. I know which one is more tempting right now ... I have applied for three or four graduate jobs this morning, and also put one on the 'maybe' pile because it says you need a year's experience unless you are truly exceptional. Disregarding the fact that they are sort of missing the point of 'entry level', I'm not sure they would think I'm exceptional. I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty much the dictionary definition of 'average'.

I've also been applying to a lot of retail jobs, but I feel like they don't take my applications seriously because they assume I'm just going to leave as soon as a better opportunity comes along. But honestly, my plan if I get one of those jobs is to stick at it for a long time, at least long enough to learn to drive and buy a car. And really, the chance of a better opportunity coming along seems about the same as the chance of a unicorn galloping through my front door and farting out a pile of gold coins at this rate.

Ho hum!

Monday, 21 May 2012

The craftiness continues

I have set up a Folksy shop to sell some of my creations! (Shameless plug)

Folksy is basically the UK version of Etsy. I've taken lots of photos which aren't entirely up to scratch, but they'll have to do and hopefully with practise they'll get a bit better. John really likes my bracelets and he thought it was a great idea for me to sell them. He set me a challenge - if I can sell just one or two within the next month, he'll buy me loads of tools and materials so I can keep making them without worrying about the cost. Challenge accepted!

Here are some of the bracelets I have made in the past couple of days (except for one, which John liked so much he took it home with him - I guess that's a compliment!)

These are the odds-and-ends ones I made from plastic beads. I'm selling these in colour-co-ordinated sets of three:

And these are the ones I made with glass beads and woven hemp - I'm really proud of these ones! The one John took was also made from hemp, it was black and had tiny turquoise beads running along it, and closed with a big green glass bead. My favourite is the blue one at the bottom:

I also had a fun time playing with shrink plastic (or as I like to call them, shrinky dinks). I have loads of ideas for designs, and here are the ones I made this afternoon. They each have a hole punched at the top so I can attach them to a jump ring and then add them to bracelets/necklaces. I wish I had photographed them next to a coin or something for size reference, but they are really tiny and I'm amazed they kept their detail:

My favourite is the rainbow, the colours are so vivid and it looks surprisingly professional! I had the idea of making a bigger version of the cloud, with extra holes at the bottom, and attaching some little clear droplet-shaped beads I have, to look like rain falling down. But there is only so much I can do in one day, and I'm still waiting for the equipment I ordered online to arrive.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

I get crafty.

I've started a new hobby today! I was sorting out my cupboard and I found a box of odds and ends, beads, sequins etc. I decided to put them to good use and make some bracelets. So, off I went to Hobbycraft to buy some elastic and hemp cord, and I ended up buying a load of glass beads as well because it turns out they have a pick-and-mix for beads. Finally, a pick-and-mix that doesn't rot your teeth or make you fat!

So first of all I decided I would use up all the random plastic beads I'd found at home. These were mostly from those children's bead kits you get every Christmas if you're a they were all quite cheap and cheerful and brightly coloured. I sorted them into similar colours and then made 'hotchpotch' bracelets, and even though they are so basic and took me such a short time, I think they are rather good!

Next I tried my hand at macramé, which is the 'art' of tying knots in a bit of string. I made two hemp bracelets following this tutorial, only instead of just having plain hemp all along, I strung a bead onto one of the central strands of hemp every few knots, and wove around it. I finished it with a large glass bead to fasten. My second attempt looked a lot better than the first, and hopefully I'll get them looking perfect with a bit of practise!

I also ordered some more fancy beads online, which will be getting delivered on Monday, I hope! As well as a random selection of plastic beads (ooh, exciting!) there are some rainbow stripy beads, silver sea creature charms and silver unicorn charms. I am planning on making some truly ridiculous ~~*RAINBOW UNICORN*~~ bracelets, as well as some nautical-style ones.

I have endless ideas for cute necklaces and rings as well. I might open up an Etsy shop if I think people would be interested in them. I won't exactly make a fortune but it will be nice to fund my new jewellery habit and maybe get a little pocket money out of it.

I also sent in four job applications today, so my time has been well spent, in my opinion!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Online Typwriter

Here's a great little tool for writers. It saves automatically every few minutes, you can customise how your writing looks, and the most important thing of all . . . you can set it to make typewriter sounds! It even goes 'ping' when you reach the end of a line!
I'd love to use this for stream-of-consciousness writing, or just so I can pretend I'm writing in the 'olden days' on a swanky typewriter instead of boring old Microsoft Word.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

What's on the Bathroom Floor this Week?

It's no secret in my family that we all like to read in the bath. And, maybe, occasionally on the toilet. Is it so wrong? Is there really any shame in multitasking in such a way??? No. Of course not. That's why the books we've been reading over the past week are conveniently stacked on the bathroom floor.

The Book of General Ignorance - this is my book but I've never managed to read all the way through it. It claims to be 'A Quite Interesting Book' but I don't find it quite interesting, or even a tiny bit interesting. It's just annoyingly pedantic. I hate people who feel the need to smugly correct you when you've got a tiny insignificant detail wrong, even when it's completely irrelevant to the topic at hand. And here's an entire book of smug corrections to things that will rarely be an issue in life. Oh, silly me, I thought a peanut was a nut, but it turned out to be a fruit, and now we're all going to die a horrible death because of this grave error!

Anyway it's in the bathroom because my boyfriend John really loves it, and even when I hide it on my shelf because I'm sick of the sight of it, it mysteriously returns to the bathroom floor whenever he comes round.

Revolution in the Head, Ian Macdonald - I haven't actually read this book, so I can't make any comment really. But obviously it's about the Beatles records and the sixties. Maybe I'll start reading it this week and report back.

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt, John Cooper Clarke - This is the complete written work of  the punk poet John Cooper Clarke (with intriguing titles such as You Never See a Nipple in the Daily Express). The poems are all available to read on his website here, so I'd recommend checking them out, or listening to his recorded readings of them, since that is how they are meant to be performed. My favourites are Health Fanatic and Twat!

Northern Lights, Philip Pullman - This is on the bathroom floor because I had to do an exam on it a few weeks ago, comparing its representation of women with that of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Northern Lights won by a long shot).  I'm not generally a huge fantasy fan, but I did enjoy Northern Lights. It is called The Golden Compass in America, just like The Philosopher's Stone is called The Sorcerers Stone. Now, the reason The Philosopher's Stone had its name changed is because they thought American children would struggle with the concept of a philosopher. I guess philosophers don't sound as EXTREME as sorcerers. But why change the name of Northern Lights?

Well I asked Uncle Google, and it turns out that the original title was 'The Golden Compass Says...' and when Pullman sent it to American publishers it still had this title. When he changed the name it was too late for the American publishers to do anything about it, since they had already prepared the covers. So there it is.

How to be a Woman, Caitlin Moran - This is a laugh-out-loud read, part memoir and part 'baby's first steps into feminism', great for opening people's eyes to what feminism is really about: not the terrible stereotype of shrieking women with hairy armpits burning bras and trying to take away men's rights, but the reality of people of either sex from all walks of life who simply feel that women are just as human and deserving of rights as men are! Though I didn't agree with all of the author's points, I think this is an interesting and entertaining read, Caitlin Moran is hilarious and very likeable, and I hope this book will change people's minds about what feminism actually means!

Tune in next week for more 'What's on the Bathroom Floor?' How exciting!!


I was supposed to be going out with my friend today but she hasn't called me so far so I guess it's not going to happen after all. So instead I've spent the morning getting all nostalgic over my 2010 holiday in America. My parents and I each wrote a travel journal, so I have been re-reading those and wishing I could relive that whole trip from start to finish. I have put up a link to the blog I kept during that holiday, in case anyone fancies reading about my adventures (though my parents' journals were much better in my opinion). Right now I'm up to the part where we were just leaving Death Valley, remembering how unbearably hot it was, and how amazing the desert landscape was, stretching endlessly off into the distance. And then just now I paused reading and looked outside, at the grey day and the clouds hanging over England... it's hard to believe I'm even on the same planet!

Reasons to be Cheerful: Part One

  1. This song...obviously! And somebody did a great job of matching pictures to all the lyrics for that YouTube video.
  2. The sound of rain. Especially when I'm drifting to sleep. The heavy plop of each drop hitting the ground, and the soft splatter of raindrops on glass. Sometimes I open up the window by my bed so that I can hear the outside sound more clearly, and this lets the smell of fresh damp earth into my room. Today I learned that the name for this smell is 'petrichor'.
  3. Perfect nail polish. Usually I forget my nails are still wet, and I reach into my pocket, clench my fists, or run my hands through my hair. Disaster! But occasionally I manage not to do anything absent-minded, and I end up with perfectly smooth, shiny nail polish which I cannot stop admiring. My sense of accomplishment when this happens is similar to how Michaelangelo probably felt when he'd finished painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  4. Dogs. I love dogs. They are so silly and funny - ridogulous, even. Legend has it that dogs were made when a wolf was really excited about something. One day I'd like a dog of my own, but in the mean time I just appreciate dogs whenever I see them. Sometimes I can't help giggling out loud when I see a dog being especially cute.
  5. A nice cup of tea. I have a tiny teapot with a matching cup and saucer. The teapot makes just enough for two teacupfuls, and has an assortment of cartoon animals, toadstools, clouds and rainbows on it. I think everybody has their favourite cup or mug that makes them feel just a bit happier than all the other drinking vessels. If you don't, perhaps you should get one!
A cute tea set makes the tea even better!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


It's funny, my mum got home today and one of the first things she said to me was, "Florence, have you thought about starting up a blog?" Great minds think alike! I've been thinking of a lot of different subjects to write about, so this blog will probably be a hotchpotch of different ideas.

I have just received an email from Superdrug about the bog-standard part-time job I applied for, saying "Sorry but we think you are too stupid to operate a till so we are going to employ somebody straight out of school instead!" Well, they didn't actually say that, but I could tell. I'm just going to try and look on the bright side. I have a lot of free time now, to do whatever I want with (provided it doesn't cost any money! Doh!).

I can write a novel, or take up knitting, or hula-hooping, or watch Jeremy Kyle all day in my pyjamas, or cultivate my inner zen master... anything, really.

One of the things I thought about doing for this blog was a weekly list of 'reasons to be cheerful', like the Ian Dury song, but with things that make me feel cheerful each week. So maybe that will be the next post!

The job hunt begins (or, continues, since I've already been doing it for a week)

I have been applying for jobs all morning. Shh...I know it's only 9:45, but it's really hard. They say that looking for work is a full time job, but it's the worst job in the world. I'd rather be on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor of a public toilet using my own hair as a mop. At least I'd be getting paid for it, and I'd actually be doing something.
I've been out of university for just over a week, and already I feel very overwhelmed with the huge amount of jobs that...don't exist. I recently applied for what sounded like a fantastic internship, an editing/publishing/creative writing role, 12 month placement, salaried, in Hampshire - which is where I live! And I got a response back saying they liked my CV and wanted to talk with me about my application. I thought 'this is great! There must be a catch!' and unsurprisingly, there was. It turns out Hampshire is a huge county, and this internship happened to be at the opposite end to the one I live in. It would have cost me at least £30 to travel there each day, and taken about two hours each way with two different trains, a bus, and a walk. So I had to turn it down. If only I had learnt to drive back in college when everyone else was doing it. "Heh," I thought smugly, "they're just doing it to be cool and trendy. I don't need to drive!" But it turns out they had it right all along, because half these jobs specify a driving licence as one of their requirements, and the other half are in such obscure places that I have no hope of getting there without a car.
But it's fine! Really! I'm thinking positive!
I'm going to attempt to get a retail job for the next year or so, hopefully without seeming overqualified (since I know they're not stupid, they obviously look at graduates and think 'pfft, jog on' because they know we're only going to stick with them until something better comes along), and when I have a steady little wage coming in I'll learn to drive and get a crap car with which to drive to proper jobs with.
Anyway, today isn't all bad. I'm going to meet up with my friend Gary in a while. It's his birthday so we're going out for lunch and a catch up, since last time I saw him I hadn't even thought about my dissertation, and now it's been handed in and is probably being marked right this minute along with my exam papers and various other assignments. I like to use my dissertation as a unit of measurement. About two weeks before they were due in, my friend Claire sent me a text which said: 'I just realised...there is a packet of mini sausages in the fridge that has a longer deadline than our dissertations.'