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Showing posts from 2015

Not another blog post reflecting on the year

Oh, God. I know.

2015 is over and it's time for me to once again remind you that if you want to put up, "new year, new me!" statuses (though I have never ever seen one), you can, even if you give up after two months/weeks/days/hours, because at least you tried. I'd rather have the will power to stick at something for two weeks than be so determined I couldn't even do that, I didn't try.

But that's coming from someone who actually makes herself New Year's resolutions (ew!) and (even worse) sticks to some of them (gross!).

I only ever stick to about half my resolutions, but it's better than none - correct me if I'm wrong - and this year I stuck to 25/48.

Now allow me to egotistically reflect of what a bloody crackin' year 2015 has been, if you will.

I turned 18; learnt to drive; finished college; got into my first choice uni; was a part of Radio 4's book club; was on Question Time; started hosting my own live radio show at uni; started w…

Three months in

As the title might suggest, I'm almost three months into uni already. Quarter of a year. Somehow, that seems an appropriate time for a reflection - a little more than a list of 50 things I've learnt.

Whilst there are still some routines I'm trying to settle into, like keeping up an hour of shorthand a day, there are a lot I've developed, some I'm trying to improve, and some I've just accepted are never going to happen, like any form of "weekly shop". But somehow, the semi-development of these routines has thrown me away from the oh-everything-is-so-fresh-and-new-at-uni, desperate to absorb every moment, putting the "fresh" in Fresher attitude I had through September and October.

After spending the first solid month at uni, I eventually went home to put on a show and drink in Derby, on a Monday, until half two. This began three solid weeks where I traveled half of the days (I worked this out on a very unexpected bus journey from Crewe to Stok…

David Canter, Cameron, and Dimbleby: my politics on your politics

The American's have an approach to offender profiling called the top-down approach, and, in the direct words of David Canter from a talk I saw him do last year, it is "bullshit" - we weren't allowed to put that in our essay.

The top-down approach looks at evidence from a crime scene and decides if the killer is "organised" or "disorganised", and there are two sets of personality traits, one for each category. So, for example, if a criminal doesn't hide the murder weapon, they would be considered a disorganised offender, and would therefore be deemed to have the characteristics of one. These characteristics include: being bad at relationships; not having a good job; having few friends; having a low level of education, whereas someone who did hide the weapon would be married; employed; sociable etc. Offender profiling is designed to help police get an idea of the type of person they're looking for to aid their search, and it isn't needed…

The verdict on London: hectic yet cultural

Three days in London, plenty of free time, and the beautiful first weeks of a student loan. What more could anyone want? Well, the ability to make decisions, perhaps.
My first impression of the city was an almost unbelievable one; a train arriving on time seemed too unfeasible to be true, and the packed entrance to Euston station felt too packed and franchise filled to be practical. Despite the temping offer of "delicious" food, I knew in my heart the bill wouldn't be so sweet and I swallowed a mouthful of fume filled air to try and batter my hunger, casting my eyes above the busy square to hunt down the yellow print of a "way out" sign.
Before reaching the aesthetically appealing Generator hostel I stumbled upon a treasure of the past - a red telephone box, of which I fondly remember the days when their magic powers put the corner of a beach in Wales in touch with family in the Midlands. It would appear they've changed over the years though, as this paint…

50 things I've learnt in 4 weeks of university

If you've ever read any blog post or opinion piece about starting university, you'll probably have heard the following written and regurgitated a million times over; but as they say, the cliches are all true. So, in no particular order (well, actually, the very particular order in which I thought of them), here's what I've learnt at uni so far.
Some people you're only friends with because you see them five days a week. Anyone still worthy of a daily message or occasional call once you're getting a workload is one to keep a hold on to.You will benefit from being on the front row in classes. Sorry.Keep on top of the work or feel the wrath.If you're told to get a book, don't......Unless your lecturer is very insistent on the matter.Always carry your ID with you. I know you think you're going to the library, but I assure you, you're going to the pub.For god's sake don't leave your ID in another city.I know you'd rather spend that £2.80 on…

I don't care what you did on your Freshers' week

I've started uni a week or so before most people, it would seem, and this is a post partly aimed at people who have seen a million posts about Freshers and can't wait to start, or are alternatively dreading it, whether they're starting this year or haven't even applied for uni yet.
First things first, Freshers isn't just about partying so much you throw up on your shoes/bed/doorstep/friend, can't remember a single thing and think the brightest idea in the world is having a glass of water by your bed constantly. Similarly, Freshers week isn't about staying in and trying to live as close to how you did at home as possible. Freshers week is about what you want it to be about, whether that be meeting new people over quiet BOGOF burgers on a Monday or splits on a club floor or a Wednesday, or trying to decide if you're on the right course and organising a million meetings to make an informed choice, or making new lifestyle choices, or budgeting so you can sa…

A Corbyn story (ft. Billy Bragg)

I couldn't vote in the general election, I was too young. I held some vague opinions but I never researched things fully. I supported Greens in a sort of passive, do-gooder-y way but I didn't really know that much about politics. I asked a lot of questions but I never really understood what was actually happening or the differences between Labour and Tories. I could just about get my head around some of the technicalities, but, like almost every other seventeen year old, I didn't know enough and was therefore backed into a corner of not caring, as my institutionalised education until then had taught me more about recessive genes than how I had a say in how the country is run. That priority in education is something that needs to change.
Upon turning 18 I was thrilled that I could vote in bi-elections etc., but gutted that it'd be almost five years before I could have the say I really wanted to have (shoutout to my parents for putting me into this world a month too late…

Running in heels and other things I didn't expect at Edinburgh Fringe

T minus fifteen minutes. Plenty of time to get there. We figure out the set of artistically designed bins, dump our pints' plastic glasses and stroll to the venue.
T minus nine minutes, we reach the venue and try to figure out the signs. It's not too surprising for the constantly re-marked chalkboards to not show your event, so I wander to the green hut of information to ask where the show is. Turns out my friend's working there so I cover up our confusion with my usual how-typical-I-can't-understand-the-obvious attitude.
T minus eight minutes, my friend in the hut gives me a very professional, "no, sorry, you've got the wrong venue". I assume the venue will be nearby, boasting the same name as the one we're stood in, and even his offhand, "it's on the other side of town" doesn't phase me. He's my friend, he's an actor, he's done bigger things to pull my leg. It's only when his friends, who I don't know, earnestly…

A spoon, a fiver, and a picture of Bill Nighy

There’s a well loved and much used phrase that goes “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” sometimes with the addition of “the truth is you did know - you just never thought you’d lose it”. In a few weeks’ time I’ll be moving to university, and this is a phrase that’s been playing around my head; not in relation to myself, no, I’m well aware I’m leaving my friends, family, mostly reliable WiFi and 11" CRT TV with built in VHS player behind. It’s more about my parents.

The title of this post relates to the “well done on your results/getting into uni” presents they gave me. For some reason my mum was possessed to get a free Kellogg’s spoon engraved with “Mentioned” on it which explains that as best as possible, but the picture of Bill Nighy is a little less obvious. Well, it’s a snap of him, copied and pasted from Google via Paint, in Love Actually as a rockstar. I’m doing a music journalism and broadcasting course, so, so far, so good. However, my rents stuck this on a car…

Crowdfunding

There's little-to-no money for the majority of people in music. No one has ever thought, "I need a way to get rich quick - I know, I'll start a band". Unless you're right at the consistently-chart topping, sickeningly-rich end, you've probably got yourself a day job.

People go into music because they love it, and they love it enough to be worth the long hauls, the let's-record-this-quick-because-we-can-only-afford-three-days-in-the-studios, the empty gigs, the negative feedback, the bad eggs of the industry.
At the best of times, budgets can be hard to stick to. At the worst of times they can be bloody impossible, and artists can be forced - note my use of forced - to turn to their fans. I can't imagine any band would think, "we're short on cash, it's easiest for us to ask total strangers for their hard earned money, so that's what we'll do". Also, remember, whilst crowdfunding can be aimed at their fans, it's also how fr…

Kanye (plus Taylor Swift, Big Sixes and others)

This is essentially a continuation of the last post (on the personal/private divide), as I intended that one to make some brief points but the topic felt too deep to ignore. You don't have to read it to make sense of this post. I basically discussed how social media allows us to know the personalities behind the music we listen to.

Whatever your opinion of him, even if it's sheer, bone crushing apathy (as it was for me for a while), almost every corner of the Western world has heard of Kanye West. I can't find a figure for how many people watched his performance headlining Glastonbury on Saturday night, but hundreds of thousands, or possibly a million odd, wouldn't surprise me. I watched it because I knew someone would ask my opinion of it. And people are talking about it, which is the ultimate goal - but we'll get to that later.

Now we know more about our favourite musicians than snippets of live show ramblings, thanks in a CD insert, or the odd off-the-beaten-tra…

The personal/private line: part 1 of several

Due to a conversation that began as a discussion about Kanye and ended with my mother shouting "Biffy Clyro aren't real rock, they're soppy rock that tries to be harder than it is because they're Scottish", whilst praising Twin Atlantic yet not being able to tell the difference between them, I'm skipping the dialogue and getting straight into the post. This was intended to be my promised post on Kanye, but as this rant got out of hand that'll have to be postponed - before this one is shared on social media, the next one will be being written, never fear.
Thanks to the wonderful power that is social media, we're now at a point where we can know every detail of our favourite musicians' lives, not just through what the interviewers and professional journalists tell us, but from what the guerrilla (is that a fair term? You know what I mean anyway) journalists, free lancers, opinion bloggers, Joe Blogs, and, of course, reading, stalking, and interpret…

The word "awesome"

"Mum! You're needed to say funny things."
"Shall I tell you about what you need to think when you want to kill a fly?"
"No, I have topics. Let's talk about the word 'awesome'."
"Well that's easy, that's me."
"I saw a parrot on the allotment. It had a red head and wings."
"Dad, are you sure that wasn't me?"
"Its underside looked like a raptor."
"Right. Mum. How would you describe 'awesome'?"
"Me. There is no one more awesomer in the world than me."
"You know the really worrying thing? She believes it."
"Shouldn't everyone believe they're awesome?"
"Yeah, but not all of us can be."
"Is he taking my talking off me? It's not fair if he's taking my talking."

Several months ago I watched a TED talk about the word awesome, and (well, like many TED talks) it really stuck with me. I'll try and embed it below or at …

Two questions

"Mum! Come in here. I've got a load of blog posts and I want to start them all with quotes from us."
"Hang on. I got confused and tried to work with the computer with a foot treadle."
"There are two questions I get asked a lot. In relation to music, so not 'what colour is your hair really?'. What do you think they are?"
"Who's the most famous person you've met?"
"No, questions by actual music people, not you and your mates."
"Oh. Are you single?"
"Music people, not teenagers with guitars."
"Do you have an informed opinion on the Rolf Harris situation?"
"A careers person might ask it."
"Do you like sitting at a desk all day, or do you like being out and about?"
"Nope, not what we're looking for."
"Can we buy a good review from you?"
"No, that's in a different article."
"Are you done with the weights? And do you want to add th…

Beginnings, ends, and beginnings of ends

"Mum! I'm starting a new blog. What should the URL be?"
"Why are you starting a new blog? Will it be serious?"
"Not really, but it'll be less taking the piss out of you."
"Okay."
"And what should the URL be?"
"Well I quite liked 'This Be The Blog'."
"That was the blog title, not the URL."
"What was the URL?"
"'deceptivelyoptimistic.tumblr.com'."
"Oh."
"What should my new URL be?"
"I don't know. Can't you just keep the old blog?"
"I'll call it a derivative of Elizabeth."
"As in, you'll call it a derivative of Elizabeth, or you'll call it A Derivative Of Elizabeth?"
"I'll call it A Derivative Of Elizabeth."
"Why?"
"Because that's what people call me."
"They call you A Derivative Of Elizabeth?"
"Someone did once, but no."
"Then why are you callin…