Tuesday, 10 December 2013

An inverted abecedary snowball...

And the most inconsistent blogger award goes to...

I've got a new poem on the internet. My course this year is pretty much creative writing so I'm going to have to have a few things to show you by the end of it, whether I like it or not. Here's a little something for now, that I'm posting because I can't be bothered to finish off another bit of coursework (that's due in in two and a half hours. I'm just chillin'). Sorry it's so small, not sure how to remedy it quickly without ruining the whole graphology THANG. Hope you enjoy peeps x

Saturday, 6 April 2013

I'm lazy, I'm hazy / new music review / brushing yr teeth - mish mash stuff post

Early afternoon today, I woke up late and wrote out a list of my favourite albums of all time. HERE. This evening, lying on my bed in a vague haze I am listening to two of my top ten and am beginning to glimpse at the majesty of all - how little I know and have managed to grasp and am beginning to discover. Whilst my family are downstairs watching Doctor Who I am reading through the Sick Mouthy and Devon Record Club archives and bookmarking a lot of things that I don't have time to do without committing to them at the expense of other things (each of these uncommitted to - and so I do nothing).

My two favourite records this evening, brought to mind by my list and pushed into my ears by the discovery of Wild Swim.


It can't be time to break through yet, though; I refuse to move through the haze, sober up and pursue that which gives me a sense of fulfilment as well as the fa├žade of enjoyment. I really am rubbish at seizing the day.

What do we do when we are without the drive to delve into the archives of the canon, or shortlist? Either look forward or just ignore the issue. For once, I seem to have done the former and in earlier perusing the Glastonbury emerging sound competition (not capitalised, read: too lazy to fact check the comp.'s name) longlist I discovered a host of new things to be excited about. Of these, the one with which I really clicked was Wild Swim. Towards the end of your first listen, it dawns upon you that they're amazing.





The last thing you would do would be to accuse them of aping Wild Beasts, and yet it is hard to ignore an approach that blends the most baroque of Hayden Thorpe's vocals with a minimalist sound reminiscent of all the influences you would expect cited for Smother - the kind of music that gives you a hankering for late Radiohead or Atoms For Peace. As Echo develops, it reveals itself as almost onomatopoeic: a collage of influences that near-crescendos, never quite coming to flower. Ending in a cacophony that leaves you almost as puzzled as you are pleasured, the track is the more wild side of Wild Swim, a band whose music seems to be the result of mixing restraint with boundlessness. The record's b side, Bright Eyes, showcases the opposite end of the spectrum, a pool in which you can languish and perhaps pull a length or two out of that locker we probably have a key to somewhere. Currently available to pre-order, their latest is a more mature fusion of the two styles, and is even more brilliant than Echo. I may well purchase both releases, but I'm trying to save money and writing this feels like justification for only streaming them. I won't forget about them. This should be more than enough to tempt you into listening now. Do it. Can you sense my urgency? I must flip the record and refill my drink.






Forget it. I have finished my drink and so am signing off here. Here is a link to my Instagram account, where I've started a new trend of people taking unattractive pictures of themselves brushing their teeth. Byeeeeeeeee


J.

p.s. I only told you about one of the longlist. There were loads of good'uns - find it here. Other favourites were Moats (obviously, I've mentioned before that I like them and they're quite nice too), Isaiah Dreads (a 15 year old mc who has an incredible flow but semi-rubbish beats) and Mt. Wolf. Here's a song.<br />
<br />
<iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F59588459&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe>


Thursday, 4 April 2013

"Will you by any chance...?" / 'Yes I will'

Important Jamie news: on the strength of repeated - and I mean heavily - listens to Smother in the last few days, Wild Beasts have now overtaken Los Campesinos! as my favourite band. I would pay quite a lot of money that I do not have to see them again tomorrow. Please buy Smother (LP if you have the means to play records) and then sink into it. Allow it to surround you like a warm bath, sum you up like an epitaph, be blatant ad a bailiff and allow its lips to blister when you kiss. You shall become electrified and mutually bring a creature alive.

It's alive... it's alive... it's alive!

But yeah, buy it.

*Word games at the end of this blog post courtesy of Bed Of Nails, track two on the best album in the wooorld right now

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Consider the Liebster

Thank you, Gabriela, for your wonderful introduction. And, ladies and gentlemen, may I wish you all a very good afternoon, good evening and good night. Welcome to - cue awesome red carpet music - your yearly fix of slight entertainment from the blog that doesn't bother doing much stuff ever AT THE APRIL 2013 LIEBSTER AWARDS

Tonight's category: my ELEVEN FAVOURITE BLOGGERS. Aaaaaand the winners are...

 le projet d'amour // ladybird likes // hearts of sand // vivatramp // tabloid watch // the opinions of a dickhead // vixenelle // emma carlisle // intimate vignettes // vicky flynn // la vie en bleu

Honourable mentions: Amy, who is great but has written even fewer blog entries than I; Mani, who won't appreciate this award; Oh, Littlecloud - Diane - whose blog I can't find anymore; Los Campesinos!, my favourite band who as such enter this list with irregular posts and at the liberty of a massively biased judge. As an excuse to cut some off of the shortlist, I've stuck to a pretty strict (i.e.: universal other than LC!) Blogger only policy: for more awesome stuff to read, check out my reading shelf on the blogroll tab.Well done everyone!

Anyone confused? I don't blame you. My research, nothing if not vague and lacklustre, told me little about the Liebster awards but here are some handy bullet points:

- It's a really nice community thing that I am shocked to be a part of
- In receiving this award, Gabriela was super super nice about me but I didn't notice until today which made me feel guilty and rush this post
- The Liebster is a chain-style award in which each recipient, should they accept their award, must present their own set of eleven favourite blogs. I've semi-retired from my Twitter account so God knows how anybody is going to notice that they've been mentioned here. I apologise for ruining the game.
- Embarrassingly, the first four of my chosen bloggers must have been mentioned in about 80% of my posts, and Bee at Vivatramp almost everything I've ever written on this website. Ridiculous, even for someone who made me start this old thing.
- Award winners then must participate in a mandatory Q&A

Here, I answer those questions put to me by the effervescent Gabriela. Thanks for tagging me, G!

1. What story do you think had the biggest influence on you as a child?
    I don't have one go-to book, or tale, so the biggest influence would most likely have been a subliminal thing, setting a vague tone for me. So probably something in a Dennis the Menace strip. Other things include my 'skim reading' of the Bible, a task undertaken because my friend Peter thought he could read the entire  text quicker than me. Save the books of Genesis and Revelations, that I read as 'proof', I counted physically turning the pages of reading to guarantee my success (following his lead. I SPIED on the boy).  Revelations - and, indeed, Genesis - was absurd enough that the challenge was the beginning of my interpretation of religion as funny, not serious, something my love for my Grandma (her late husband, my grandfather, a vicar) meant that I didn't come to terms with/give any thought whatsoever to until secondary school.

2. Do you like IKEA?
    S'alright. I like Daim bars and before I became a vegetarian I once went just for their meatballs & jam.

3. Do you think that social network sites like Facebook have had a positive impact on human interaction?
    For me, there are two sides to this: whilst it's hard to deny how much more easy the internet has made it for us to keep in touch, or grab somebody's attention quickly at a minimal cost, this ease allows us to distance ourselves from our own comments, negating time to think ideas through and wearing down our patience. Moreover, this semblance of anonymity combined with the ability to google or facebook stalk someone before actually talking to someone makes us somehow less human, more cold...

4. What are your thoughts about personal adornment like jewellery etc.?
    As in body-art? I have no problem with it but would advise caution with anything permanent or prominent. The combination of a) being rubbish with needles, b) mum's opposition and c) knowledge of my poor decision-making and inability to keep one opinion means that I don't think I'll be able to get a tattoo for quite some time.

5. What is usually your biggest motivation for reading novels?
    Guilt.

6. What do you view as your best quality?
    All of the things I like about myself seem to serve me badly when it comes to anything serious, but I guess I'm quite a nice person in that I'm agreeable and get along well with people. Also I've got friends who are good at making cake.

7. Is there a language you have always wanted to learn for some reason?
    I just find it annoying that I have no motivation to do anything. If I had it MY (lazy) way, I'd be fluent in French (for literature), German (for cool things) and Russian (to be allowed to be interested in how different alphabets relate to each other). Maybe Latin or Ancient Greek too, or one of those African tongues that require different muscles with which to speak. Essentially I cannot see a single bad thing to do with learning another language.

8. What helps you organise your thoughts?
    Rambling out loud or writing things down to someone which forces me to vocalise and then realise what I actually think about something. I also use lots of post-it notes (my favourites besides normal and square are the little bookmark-pointer ones) and a moleskine journal. Plus a load of old textbooks and fake moleskines for extended thought/midnight ramblings/lecture notes. AND it would churlish to disregard my phone 'notes' and desktop sticky notes. The notebook I keep by my bed is good too.
   I hadn't realised I was so passionate about notes.

9. Do you distinguish between reading on an e-reader and reading a paper copy of a book?
    As a (joint honours) drama student I'd always choose a paper copy of a script - you can bend the pages of a Kindle (etc), nor throw it down to quickly play a scene. Also one of my top ambitions is a personal library and the smell of old books (i.e. damp) is the best. So, um, YEAH.

10. Which season of the year do you like the most?
      Winter's nice for encouraging people to stick together but it's hard to look past a nice long sunny afternoon for an ideal day.

11. Do you dread people on the bus suddenly speaking to you?
      I almost exclusively welcome it because I'm too lazy to ever get involved in a book. I like social interaction! Providing they're not a nutter or I'm deeply involved in something or rushing etc. SORRY I'M RUSHING NOW

Here are eleven questions for anyone tagged in this post to answer. Have fun, chocoholics.

1/ How do you listen to your music?
2/ Do you use local independent shops to buy your books, records, etc.? Why?
3/ Your three favourite second hand shops.
4/ Top four cheeses.
5/ What is your favourite city?
6/ Have you any first-, second- or third-hand words of wisdom to pass on to your readers & I?
7/ Do you tend to view religion as a successful idea-turned-institution, or an intensely personal experience? Are the two mutually exclusive (does the first not negate the other? (feel free to answer in a line or two IF YOU'RE BORING(/interesting)))
8/ Which punctuation mark do you like the best?
9/ Is there any way in which the internet smiley ':3' does NOT look like a botched circumcision?
10/ Is book burning necessarily unjustifiable?
11/ Is this valid?

J

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Wivenhoe one.


Hellooo and welcome to the first of a new load of blogs coming from pretty little Wivenhoe. I haven’t managed to get hold of a road map yet – I’m working on it* – but for this small introduction piece I don’t really need one. I only walked down ONE road. I’m lazy but you love it.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention. This is an evolution of a series I started bored before uni in which I attempted to walk every street in Letchworth. Haven't finished that one yet but we'll see how this one goes. FIND IT HERE

*Finding one. I’d love to be able to keep you updated on my walking through drawing what would be a pretty awesome medieval map but I don’t exactly have the necessary skill set to do so

All ready to go. Notice correct sock to day alignment
The starting point: my house. Watsham Place, Wivenhoe, UK. Observe the lovely road sign that can withstand being bumped by my friend Johno in his car. He's a terrible sober driver. 
The view as you step out of my house and the direction in which I will be walking this afternoon

To the left, to the left. More on this later.

To the right - and a window to Mark's room
Onward, then, and a lovely picture of next door to me: the fire station. Handy if we're ever ablaze. Crossing the road, and we see a pub and the road to uni in front of us. Funnily enough, we're pretty much the first house in the suburb that is Wivenhoe, so about equal distance between uni and town. I have never set foot in this pub. It is named The Flag and one of the first things I heard about my house once friends had popped round to say hello was a rumour that it is a racist pub. To the other side, we can see One Stop and some other shops: an empty one that used to sell flowers or mirrors or something, Hair Technique (where I get my barnet done), Henley's the award-winning chippie and Boots. We're going in this direction. Henley's never really impressed me beyond its signed pictures of celebrities on the wall (Jonathan Ross, Chris Tarrant, Frank Bruno TWICE, Jasper Carrot et al) but recently it's tasted a lot nicer and I've found myself won over by its large portions at a relatively cheap price. I've never realised just how conveniently located our house is.


Faster than calling 999

Racist pub -> expensive corner shop that I shouldn't use in the stead of regular weekly shops but I still do

FISH AND CHIPS HERE 


Turning left at Boots, we get to the only road I'll be walking along today. But first, an apparently dangerous bollard:

Hazardous
... and we arrive on a fine row of bungalows that seem, well, charming. The gardens are all well kept & I begin to suspect that a blog stretched out from a single road won't be quite as boring as first expected. The houses look like this:
Judging by the camper: excellent residents.

If you're new to this series, it's at this point that I begin to bitch about people's gardens and windows. Here are two houses that seem to be named after places in The Lord of the Rings and a house that feels the need to display both '15' and 'FIFTEEN' in case the postman is an idiot. Which is unlikely, because they live close to me and the guy who delivers my post is really very nice. I apologise for the unclear pictures: that's the zoom. This is my first photo-taking walk and I haven't quite built up the courage to get close to people when taking pics of their house yet.




And onward. One guy is very slowly building up a garden chess set. He's stuck on one of four rooks. Much more excitingly, I found a garden with disgusting furnishings: a tree-look bird table with a stone squirrel on it and a stone snake to scare away bloggers who go for walks with their phone cameras. Nutter.
The second might actually be a little bit funny if I'd had the gall to hang around long enough to grab a decent picture. To make do, I have enlarged it for your delectation. But now it just looks massively disproportionally important to this blog. I HAVE FEW STRAWS TO CLUTCH


Nothing else really interesting on this road. A massive tree root, two colourful garages and a dude working on his car. How dull. 



MASSIVE. I told you!
...and we return home. Let's go round the corner from my house, towards our garage. Walking past the two other houses on our little terrace, I can see that the third has bin bags outside, an open electricity box and what looks like white spray paint on the door, downstairs AND upstairs windows (only the ones facing the same way as the door). Although this is where a lot of the football team live, and they do have a rivalry with hockey, I don't think they've been attacked or anything. It's probably snow spray that they haven't bothered cleaning off, right?


House number 3) - vandalism or bad fake snow still there in February?

Fuck da feds, I'm going this way (I didn't go that way)
Left at the end then, and towards my back garden. As the turning (it sounds long. It's actually about fifteen paces) approaches, I realise that I've never actually gone beyond it and decide to continue straight, to see the house behind mine. It turns out there's three. And they're really nice. One day, if I've done alright in life, I hope to be living somewhere like I do now. I seem to have forgotten to take any pictures of two of the three, maybe because one house didn't have net curtains and I'd feel bad scouting for thieves. This one has a big telly, a small fountain in the back garden and a basketball hoop on the side. Another is almost farm-housey, maybe owning the fields that are next to mine. 

Left at the tree for mine. Straight ahead on the left is what we'll term the farmer's house and at the end is the nice big house

The back of my terrace
Totally a bit farmy, right?


'Cross Fare'? This is the inside of the farmhouse gate

Let's turn around. Might as well show you my garden whilst we're here for a nice round trip. Disclaimer: we're students. Don't judge us too much. The left of these three garages is ours, and we have a door to it in our garden. More than that sucker middle house can say! In this we keep my beer brewing kit that it's currently too cold to use and we let Dom, a really nice man who lives round the corner and works at uni security, keep his 'classic car' in the winter. I haven't got anything bad to say about the guy, I sometimes see him at 3am drunk coming out of a club and have a nice chat with him. His car, though, isn't so much classic as old. But I'm no connoisseur.


This is my room & my shadow. I live downstairs next to the kitchen/living room and have a French window (well, in this case, patio door, not French windows (boo)) which is useful if I'm hiding from people but need the toilet. I can sneak round/go in the garden. HYGIENE SUX

A dead pot plant that was here when we arrived. In it I have left my herbs that died from not being watered when I was home for Christmas

Graham, our metal tortoise, next to the smoker's patch and a broken one of my pasta bowls. The old coffee jar I put out so Rich had somewhere to put his butts is kind of full, as you can see, but that's no excuse for him not to pick them all up. This annoys me.

Our slowly growing traffic cone collection. The one on the left is kind of lime green but you can't really tell any more. Bad photo and it's rather weathered
That's me done for my first walk in Wivenhoe. I hope you like this sort of thing, because you're likely to be getting a lot of it in the coming months. Or not. Subsequent posts will be about the same length, but much more brief coverage of a much longer walk so should be more entertaining. Pop back soon please.

Before then, you might want to give my friend Forest's new blog a try. He's just starting up, so be nice to him. At the time of posting, he's not actually published anything but word is that the first is scheduled for posting in twenty minutes' time.

Have a nice week!

J

Sunday, 27 January 2013

'Gay' as a pejorative term


My housemate Harriet asked me for a quick chat about the word 'gay' and its negative connotations in case it would spark any interesting ideas that she could think about to help write her essay. Instead I dashed off this quick (not really, took far too long) and unedited (yeah, couldn't be bothered to spruce it up for you guys) thing. Although half-regurgitated from a quick google it's nice to get something like this out, written, and on the internet.


____


Discussing terminology as concretely offensive or not can be difficult because of the multitude of readings you can make. The word ‘gay’, though, was first adopted by the homosexual community as a positive description, with the immediate response of the general population beginning to use a historically positive word as a pejorative. Whilst I obviously don’t believe that everybody that uses the term has a hurtful implication in mind but considering the origins of its popular usage I find homophobic connotations pretty much inescapable. The same has happened, to a lesser extent, with special needs and the term ‘special’ as a means of questioning someone’s intellectual capacity. Another example on the same tangent is the charity Scope – which used to be called The Spastic Society but had to rebrand after ‘spastic’ became an abusive term.  More recently there’s been an inverted version, where a negative word has been subject to an attempt at using it positively: the word ‘nigger’ has been re-emerging in the public consciousness, with teens describing their friends as their nigz, niggahs, etc. It’s not reclaiming the word – it’s an insult to bring something with massive overtones of centuries of oppression into such a mundane context. When something is so loaded, it can’t be anything but an insult when rich white girls who listen to Odd Future decide that it’s a funny idea to use it. There’s a clear lack of respect and obvious attempt at getting a rise from someone. It’s the snatching, as opposed to forming, of an identity and the use of both ‘gay’ as an insult or ‘nigger’ as a banality by privileged (or the majority of the) people who are ignorant to context or just plain sadistic does little but to demean those it means something to. I find it hard to understand why people persist with terms if they can emote (however hard that can be) even more a moment with a homosexual teenager growing up as a ‘gay’ person alongside the connotation that this is synonymous with being second class or pathetic.

A way in which people commonly get confused with why ‘gay’ is offensive is to assume that the issue is one of political correctness. I’m not going to attempt to tackle that entire issue here (Stewart Lee dissects it brilliantly here and here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IYx4Bc6_eE / http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43uZwar92UY ) but the implication that it is really gets my goat. If we allow it to be an issue exclusively based on ‘pc’ or not ‘pc’ terminology we ignore the pretty important issue that is genuinely homophobic bullying in schools that’s practically ignored because of teachers dismissing it as banter or presuming that ‘gay’ is being used in a ‘harmless’ way. Race is, rightly, dealt with in an incredibly serious way. Homophobic bullying should be, too.

One reason I think the word ‘gay’ (I have got to stop bothering with these inverted commas, right?) is so commonly used in a negative way is that people have the illusion of it as, at worst, a mild insult. “It couldn’t hurt anyone”, “(s)he knows the score” and so on. Yes, it can be to some, but sexual orientation is invisible. Homosexuality is not something that someone can see (as opposed to, say, your race). This means it can’t be challenged – there is no way of conclusively demonstrating that you are heterosexual. The lack of any effective recourse is what makes homophobic insults so effective as a bullying tactic.

At school, in our formative years, the currency of kids' conversation is often mean - and that's part of the rough and tumble of their lives. Children relish in the use of unacceptable terminology and yet homophobic insults’ potency lies in the fact that they strike in a necessarily personal place, one that may or may not have been come to terms with. Donald Christie: "If there's an area of life that children themselves feel insecure about they're aware of their own vulnerability. The whole point of bullying is about identifying and accentuating weakness in others." What can be poked gently just to get a reaction can accidentally touch a tender area and, once that line is breached, can spill into genuine harassment. People like to bully.

Helen Cowie: "It's a form of peer group control, boys have to be masculine and macho and anyone who isn't must go along with it or face being bullied. It's a form of bullying that domineering people seek out vulnerable people and school age is a time of emergent sexuality which is itself a vulnerable time."

For me, one of my most annoying aspects about the culture is when it becomes ‘gay’ to point out that ‘gay’ isn’t bad. The idea that the word no longer refers to sexuality is a ridiculous attempt at justifying anti-gay sentiment. The standard response to even mild trepidation or vocalised concerns about someone saying “that’s so gay” is that you’ll be laughed at. And then told how gay you are. I would not expect an honest, apologetic response: any concerns seem to do little but to further identify you as a target. If a person is genuinely offended and considering raising concern then they put themselves at risk at increasingly vitriolic insults.

That’s my argument for why it’s offensive, anyway. But whilst, as a straight guy without a large number of gay friends, I might not be able to claim any real right to be offended, the reason why it really irks me is that I am embarrassed by it. It is so outdated and the fact that so many of my friends use it sullies how I think of them. The idea that people my age would still use it as an acceptable insult or pejorative just seems ridiculous, almost mind-boggling. I know that, for much of this little thing, I’ve spoken about ‘gay’ as an insult more than a casually negative term but I find it hard to separate them. The recurring negative uses of the word are symptomatic of a mind stuck in a childish schoolyard throwback, a state that I strive to remove myself from. And although many have been raised on it, negative uses of ‘gay’ sincerely make me question those that I like. Dismiss my attitude as baseless liberal guilt if you will, but don’t presume lack of offence in your generalised insults.

__


All of my quotes, some of the stuff I’ve rephrased but naughtily not credited, and half of my research comes from this article. Seriously, don’t hate me, so much is lifted from it, I know it’s shameful: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7289390.stm/   //   I also used this: http://stupidevilbastard.com/2009/08/campaign_to_stop_use_of_gay_as_perjoritive_probably_wont_work/ 

Further, completely unrelated reading but worthy of a month’s blogging (paywall, but...): http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Features/article1199062.ece?shareToken=e7c567a0d6b2462df3a7380a6be24204

Thursday, 10 January 2013

2013.


2013.

PRIMARILY, this year I aim to make an effort. Even writing this, I know I’m in a pretty resigned mindset and doubt I’ll achieve these. I think it’s okay, I don’t need to get everything done, but neither can I sit and wallow. I’m only writing this because I have an unstarted essay due and I’m the world’s worst procrastinator. Why should I wait till publishing these to do something? You can do things without resolving that you will in print beforehand to scare yourself for fear of being reproached. Seize the day! I don’t need Ms Lindsay to push me!


Explore
Since the start of this academic year, I’ve lived in term time in a small Essex town/large Essex village called Wivenhoe. It’s lovely – semi-famed for its artistic community, full of pubs, really close to uni and has a nice bookshop and antique shop. And yet the only places I’ve been inside are my house, the train station, One Stop, Co-Op, my hairdressers’ and the chip shop. This is a ridiculous state of affairs and I am determined this term to have a snoop around and maybe even become involved in the community – my favourite performance poet, Luke Wright, is doing a gig above a pub this month and I’ve already recruited a couple of friends to accompany me. To aid my exploration of my community I’ve decided to bring back an old favourite. Who remembers my walking blog? Well I miss it and it’s a feature that’ll be easy enough to schedule, good fun and probably good exercise. As a sucker for alliteration, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to write a blog about walking in Wivenhoe, with the lovely benefits of being able to stretch my legs and get some fresh air. I’ve started a new blog just for those updates that hasn’t really been set up yet but you can find HERE. Do us a favour and bookmark it now, yeah?
Keeping exploring local is nice but I’d also like to commit to splurging a load of cash I don’t have on seeing a couple of friends at their universities (and, in doing so, completely justify it to myself when booking). I must go and visit Plymouth to see Al (and hopefully Bee), maybe a trip to Manchester for a couple of pals up there. I've got to see Laura sometime soon too, given she’s not exactly hard to get to. PREPARE YOURSELVES LADIES. Inevitable time spent getting to places on the train (to Plymouth takes 5 hours from Letchworth or something stupid) leaves me plenty of opportunity to explore beyond the boundaries of reality, too, and get my nose stuck deep into a big old book. I love but find it hard to find the time/bother to get any serious reading done so I’m looking forward to this one.

wORK & CREATIVITY
As the shameless king of procrastination – my apathy and vague narcissism really do know no bounds – I have got to get stuck into my work this year. I did so to an extent at the start of the academic year and remembered how much I liked my course and why I’d chosen it in the first place. I’m confident that this will hold true this term and serve only as an incentive. I’m penniless so being able to get a job – maybe exploring Wivenhoe will help me find something – can’t be absent from my list of priorities (and the structure that comes with working will hopefully allow me to slip into working for myself too).I’d like to blog again, even if it is only about my walking, though shan’t be as naive this time and promise much more than I can give. I miss doing a photo (however bad it was) a day, so might see if I can take that up for a while, maybe for a probationary period. Perhaps a second of video a day, a la this dude? Somebody remind me about it though, because there’s no point saying you’ll do something and then putting it off. Look – my new attitude shining through! And one I nicked from Cathy. Thanks, C.
As you may well be aware, my essays are almost exclusively written in the period from 7pm-10am so to hurriedly apply at the deadline, by which time I’m more tired than the look behind David Cameron’s glazed eyes. Needless to say this rules out most planning and pretty much all editing. I MUST begin to do these things if anything I ever do is going to be good. Was it Ernest Hemingway who said that “the first draft of anything is shit”? Whoever it was knows a lot more than I do.
I never write anything for myself, barely even jot down ideas anymore. I must write. One paragraph every two days minimum, with exception of essay days. Setting myself tasks seems all well and good now, before I do it, and though it makes little sense I take this as but incentive to further remove my ambitions from the accomplishable. By the end of summer I must have written: one whole song and one play of any length(as well as the short one for coursework); by the end of the year one page-long poem and two short stories.

FRIENDS
This is something I’ve been quite good at when at home, but not at uni: spending time with people I feel good to be with. I don’t want to have to continue to waste my days hung over, drunk or bored out of my tiny mind with people I do like but don’t find consistently enjoyable. I guess I mean do more fun things than go to a club bored. It would be nice to share a day or evening hanging out with someone. Maybe even sober! Musts: meet Laura. Meet Bee. See Zoe more. Hang out with the fun people from uni, not just mates. When home try and meet up with people I haven’t seen since before uni despite promising we would see each other.

SOCIAL MEDIA MODERATION
I’ve noticed since my break-up just before the turn of the year that I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time tweeting. I don’t know whether this is just because it coincides with a deadline but I’ve really got to spare myself some real world time. Everything is going to seem more fun, right? Hopefully it will help with productivity in any case.

FOOD
Simple, this. Stop making massive 3-4 person portions and then eating it all because I can’t be bothered to make the tiny bit of effort to store it away; or learn how  to judge the size of my appetite more accurately. With regards to shopping, buy regularly, sensibly, healthily and with an undefined but implied budget. The effects of my new attitudes towards feeding myself will hopefully be twofold: eating less at more sensible times (I’m putting on a bit of weight, me. The walking blog thing should help) and stop myself digging into my overdraft to attack campus shop sandwiches (why do I always buy two again?). Convenience food is my downfall. I’m not going to commit to that much less pizza and garlic bread but it’d be good to cut down. By the end of the academic year I will have more than three stock recipes.
For the past two and a half years, I’ve been a vegetarian. I’m really happy and incredibly surprised (or would have been should you’d have told me at the start) that that is still the case. Mostly my concerns with meat are my personal health and the environmental impact of it, so I’ve to my shame never conformed to the anti-animal cruelty veggie stereotype. The other day, however, I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry in which I learned the process employed for the mass-production of milk. I won’t fill in the gruesome details here, but if you care to know just wiki veganism. I’m concerned, though, about how my diet would adapt to the elimination of milk and if I would be able to sustain myself well enough without spending a ridiculous amount of money on special vegan produce. So, as a compromise, by the end of year I will have spent two weeks to one month without having milk in my diet. Is soya milk nice? I hope so.


MY main aims are therefore sensible self-discipline, but not exercising too much self-restraint. Try and sort out a vague schedule but not being afraid to let go of the reins when able. I want to enjoy my life and not distorting the world for myself – but still be able to stimulate it. A nice clear head and scope to enjoy myself. It sounds ridiculous but I’ve written this in pink – by accident, mainly – but it’s made a lovely change and actually feels really nice. Cynicism can only do so much for you. I might carry on with such an easy-going colour. There we go. I’ve started already!

Here’s to a happy and active year for all.

J



Captions I haven't bothered finding pictures for: "I’ll leave money, exercise and learning to drive for now." // "Clutter will NOT be an excuse to fail to write. Living downstairs in a house of loud students, though, is perhaps acceptable"