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Showing posts from February, 2016

Owen Jones: how to go beyond "preaching to the converted"

Best known as the author of Chavs and The Establishment And How They Get Away With It, as well as a columnist for The Guardian, it's a lesser known fact that Owen Jones has odds of 250/1 on Ladbrokes to be next leader of the Labour Party, but that's how he was introduced to a large group of journalism students at a careers talk on the first of his two days on Staffordshire University's Residency programme.

Over the course of his stay and talks, I heard Jones discuss a number of issues, from his position of the EU referendum to his "Stockport pub test", as well as tell the same jokes several times over. In a series of blog posts, I'll be discussing some of the topics he raised in these talks.

A lecturer of mine takes pride in playing devil's advocate to encourage people to talk, and after a seminar with Jones he grilled me as to why I was so adamant that a political shift could be made to the left. After a strong berating of my stance for a few minutes, I …

Railways, Children

Before I begin this article, I want to make it explicit that this is in no way a political one, but I will say this: my views on what should be done with the railways are simple. Nationalise them. The east coast had nationalised rail for a while and it was fantastically successful, then it was privatised and things returned to how they are in the rest of the country: nicht gut. It also seems we can nationalise our rails to other countries, but not ours. But for now, allow me to address the real issues on our railways (bar the poor service and ridiculous prices).

Convenience prices.
This applies to service stations regards petrol, but after you've traveled too for far too long on an overcrowded, overheated, human sardine tin, you want a cuppa that'll cost less than two quid. You're not gonna get one.

Poorly signed platforms.
It took me four months in my university city before I learned where platform 3 was. I've seen a lot of train stations and I'm yet to find one t…

Parks and Recreation: Women and Fair Representation

For those of you who aren't aware, Parks & Recreation is an American sit-com with terrific representation. Be warned - I'll try and avoid them, but this post will contain spoilers, albeit very general ones.

Think The Thick Of It's quirky characters and bizarre events whilst remaining in the confines of realism. Then add the political, American slant of The West Wing's office community. In fact, this is possibly the best show I've seen since West Wing, and when I considered what an English version of Parks & Rec, would be like, The Thick Of It came to mind - which is as much of a reflection on England as it is of Parks & Rec, I suppose.

The show focuses on, unsurprisingly, an American local government department for Parks & Recreation, with the main character, Leslie Knope, being the show's crowning glory. I've heard many people praise this show for its female role models with special commendation to her, and I support this fully, but there&#…

Flaaaars fa a paaaand

Several nights ago I found myself wandering through Sheffield's city centre, a city I now know better than the locals I was with, with a Staffordshire University hat on, a few pints down and occasionally blurting out "come on you Rams", for, well, no particular reason. Bar obscene hometown pride.

Unlike the Sheffield Wednesday events of October 2014 in a Derby pub, I didn't throw any chairs, but the more places I see, the more I feel an aggressive pride in calling Derby my hometown.

Between December 4th and 6th, 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army headed from Ashbourne to Derby and subsequently left, choosing to abandon invading England. Although, for their own sake, I wish Scotland had opted for independence at the referendum, I love the country dearly and the only reason I have chosen to recount this tale is because Derby has so little monumental history.

Granted, we pride ourselves in being the hometown of John Hurt, Lucy Spraggan went to our university, and …

Practical advice

After the first few weeks of university, I put up a blog post of 50 things I learnt in my first 4 weeks. A little further in, I've learnt a little more, and it seemed best to compile a list of actual, practical, things I've learnt. Aside from my course.
Things are cheaper if you book them in advance, particularly trains.On that note, invest in a railcard. Always carry it.On the other hand, spontaneous adventures might be more expensive, but they're so worth it.On that note, have an emergency fund.Buy a portable charger, and always keep it fully charged (in case of spontaneous adventures).Carry a hard copy of important phone numbers. When your phone dies at 1:21am on a Thursday and you don't know how you're getting home, you'll be glad.Always have enough cash on you for a taxi home.There's no harm in memorising train and bus times, local taxi's numbers, where you can get cheap shots... you know the sort of thing. Local knowledge is key, whatever city you&…

New Year's Resolutions: tips on sticking to them

I've mentioned in blog posts before that I stick to around half my New Year's Resolutions each year, which is actually all I aim to stick to so I'm bang on target, so I wanted to share some tricks I've found for sticking to them for more than three days.

We're now in the second month on 2016 and I think a lot of people are pretending they were using January as a practice month. Have you been for a run every morning? Have you stopped eating chocolate and processed food? Have you quit your job? Have you got your eye on a new house? Have you saved up enough money to take you and your spouse and 2.4 (or whatever it is) children away for a nice, rural holiday, perhaps even glamping - that's the new camping, right? - for a week in summer so the kids can appreciate that nature is true beauty like you read in National Geographic, the subscription you bought on a cheap offer even though you doubt you'll read more than two pages of the second copy?

Nah, probably not.…