Films to be buried with.


One of my favourite new podcasts is Films to be Buried With with Brett Goldstein.

 

Brett talks to comedians, breaks the news that they’ve sadly died and then they go on to discuss the films that meant something to them when they were still alive.  For each of the ten episodes so far I’ve been wanting to jump in and talk about their choices with them.  Brett is a brilliant host for this podcast, he’s a film enthusiast – his joy and love of films just exudes through the headphones and he doesn’t treat any of his guest’s choices with scorn or disdain.  It’s a joyous celebration of movie making and it’s made me want to answer the questions myself. So… (apologies for any spoilers and for mashing up some of the categories from across a number of episodes, I just wanted to talk about a lot of films)

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Obscure


Like our genial host, Michael Ian Black, I have never read ‘Jude the Obscure’ by Thomas Hardy.  I have, however, seen the 1996 film adaptation starring Christopher Eccleston, Kate Winslet and Rachel Griffiths.

I had rented it from Ritz video store in 1998 when I was 14, my Mum’s friends came in as I was watching it and thought she was letting me watch porn.  No, she was letting me watch classic literature and a ’90s film that Kate Winslet was in, but Mum was horrified at the thought of it for years afterwards.  I won’t talk of the film any further as I don’t want to spoil anything for first time Juders, like Michael.

I came across the podcast via an ad in ‘Unspooled’ and thought “That’ll be right up my alley,” and indeed, it is.

I have enjoyed Michael Ian Black’s work since ‘Ed’ was regularly screened on Channel 4 and was re-introduced to him when my university flatmate told me that I had to watch ‘Wet Hot American Summer’.  I agreed to watch it because Janeane Garofalo is a badass, and now it’s one of my favourite films.  Also, if you’ve not watched ‘Burning Love’ get on it.

 

So what’s the appeal of listening to someone reading a book aloud for the first time?  LITERALLY EVERYTHING.  Obviously MIB’s delivery is excellent, as an English person I appreciate the accent work and pronunciation of tricky words – I grew up near Bicester and Towcester and people really struggle with saying them out loud.  I enjoy his asides and commentary on the book.  I now want to try a cruise to New Jersey and can’t wait to hear what he thinks as the book progresses.

 

So if you find you have half an hour to spare, settle in and join Michael Ian Black, coming to you from the Jill Schwartz Memorial Library and revel in the Obscure.

This is me.


“Something has changed within me, something is not the same, I’m sick of playing by the rules of someone else’s game…”

Wicked.

 

If you’d said to me a few years ago that I would spend a hot, Summer evening sitting naked with two strangers in one of their living rooms, being recorded for a podcast talking about my body image, having been abused physically and emotionally and various other things for a podcast that anyone anywhere in the world could listen to, I probably would have said that that is bollocks.  But a couple of weeks ago I did just that, I headed to Jenny’s flat to record for The Naked Podcast, having put myself forward to do it.

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Just after recording my episode of ‘The Naked Podcast’ for the BBC with Jenny and Kat. And yes, all totally nude. Photo from The Naked Podcast.

For most of my life I’ve had a difficult relationship with my body image.  For a long time I thought I was fat and how could anyone like or love that, but in the last 6 months I’ve actually found a peace within myself and a comfortableness with myself that I could not have imagined before.  The beginning kernel of this change in attitude started in February when I sent out a request to some of the women I know from school.  I messaged them saying that I’ve been thinking of writing something about body image, this is how I thought of myself back then, what are your memories of me and how did you feel about yourself when you were a teenager?

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‘Cause baby now we got bad blood


Today I woke up at 5am crying.  I’ve had about 15 hours sleep at most in the last three days, I’m hot, clammy and now I feel like someone is hacking apart my insides.  Why is this? I got my bloody period again, that’s why.

 

When I started going out with the last boyfriend I went back on the pill, it’s a marvellous thing, not only would it help to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but it was one that I took everyday so it effectively stopped my periods and therefore stopped the period pain that went with it.   About a year and a half ago I stopped taking the pill because I had stopped having a boyfriend, after he stopped having sex with me, and so didn’t really need it in terms of preventing pregnancy.  I’d forgotten about the pain relief aspect.  I actually went cold turkey, apparently that’s not the best way to do it but I did, and for about three weeks I was moody, snappish, irritable and horrible to be around.  I suppose this was part of my hormones re-balancing, but it really sucked.

 

But let’s go back to the beginning.  In the summer of 1996, when I was twelve, I went on a morris dancing holiday around the south of Ireland with my Mum and her team.  On the Tuesday I woke up with terrible pain in my belly, went for my morning wee and was horrified to see blood when I wiped.  It was truly traumatic.  And the worst pain I could ever remember experiencing.  I was surprised that it was happening, although Mum had told me about it a few years before, something along the lines of “One day there will be some blood between your legs and it might hurt a bit, but don’t worry it’s normal.”  I didn’t tell her when it happened.  I was in pain and a bit ashamed and scared and so I stuffed toilet roll into my pants and said I didn’t feel well so they went on a sightseeing day and left me in bed.

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They said it on the air on the radio


The other night, cutting it a bit fine before the cut off deadline, I started to listening to a BBC Radio 4 Extra programme by Jessica Fostekew called Motherhood: Bump, Birth and Beyond.

Here’s the description from the BBC website:

“Made for 4 Extra. Jessica Fostekew charts the horrors and highs of the nine months of life with a bump, the moment of reckoning with birth, and the chaos, or not, that lies ahead.

We have clips from over 50 years of Woman’s Hour, programmes on pregnancy and childbirth from the 1960s and 1970s, and archive interviews about coping with parenthood – and we’ll be speaking to the comedians Jenny Eclair, Cariad Lloyd, Sara Barron, Richard Herring and Catie Wilkins, Caroline Mabey, Jen Brister, Hatty Ashdown, Kirsty Newton, Katie Mulgrew, Taylor Glenn, Robin Ince, Laura Lexx, Sindhu Vee, Diane Morgan, and Holly Walsh about their experiences with fertility, pregnancy and motherhood.”

 

I was listening, sitting in bed, in the dark, on my own, late at night and it made me quite emotional.

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Biting the bullet


I’m not really one to follow trends, I’m rubbish at knowing what’s cool, what’s not, I mostly stick with stuff I like and if it happens to be something that fits with the world’s view of cool then so be it.

Bullet journaling has really taken off – my former boss introduced us to the concept as a way of managing tasks about 18 months ago, but it didn’t really click for me.  For the uninitiated it’s a system of organizing your time, tasks, activities; it’s a to-do list, a diary, a sketchpad, notebook, pretty much everything you can think of and want it to be.  When Jess told us about it it was not really something I needed.  My job was running the cafe and so making plans of what I needed to do took a back seat to actually doing it, but now things are different.

I’ve now got two jobs, volunteering and am attempting to make stuff and have a small social life too.  I work from a small diary to keep track of which job I’m meant to be at when, but now that doesn’t seem to be enough.

At the start of this year, Genevieve at job no. 2 showed me the start of her bullet journal and this, coupled with the fact that I’d got a Paperchase voucher, meant that of course I needed to give it a go because I’m a sucker for new stationary.

An aside: 

Do you still get the urge to rush out to WHSmith’s every September to get new notebooks, ring binders, pens and geometry set?  I really do.  I’ve been out of the education system for 11 years, but every new academic year I feel that longing to get new stuff ready for the start of school or university, as though the old stuff just won’t cut it any more, I’ve chewed through all the pens and pencils, notebooks lie forlornly half filled with ideas and snippets.  I don’t even really need a geometry set anymore, it’s very rare that I can put to good use my set square or protractor.  I couldn’t even remember the name of the protractor, I’ve actually had to just look it up in order to write this, but I know I want, no need, a new one each Autumn.  I know I’ve been conditioned to feel this way, in the same manner that while watching ‘Bake Off’ I’ll find myself suddenly with a mixing bowl in my lap, creaming butter and sugar together without really having realised it….  September for me is changing leaves, conkers shiny shoes and needing to give myself a restraining order for a stationary store.

I started gathering the stationary bits from around my room – collecting the coloured pencils, pens, a mini ruler and bought myself a blank notebook with dots instead of lines and then my mind went blank.  What should I include? What should I write? What would be useful? Can I fit in time to fill it in?  Then I stalled for a week.

Desperate for inspiration I signed up for the official newsletter, I fell into the twin rabbit holes of Buzzfeed and Pinterest – gorgeous pictures of layouts with fancy fonts, doodles, weekly and monthly trackers… It all seemed a bit beyond me.

Some of the ideas from Pinterest

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So no-one told you life was gonna be this way


When you start school, you are placed in a class with other children born at roughly the same time as you, in the same area.  You may be in the same class as those children for the next 6 years, maybe even longer.  They become your friends and you may lose touch with some of them over the years, or you may still be talking about when Ryan and James jumped into the lake and got soaked 25 years later.

 

If you go to stay in halls at university, you get placed with people from all over the country and live with them for at least a year.  You become friends through your living situation, the experience of moving away from home for the first time and dealing with all the things that come with having to become an adult for the first time.

 

You start jobs, you have hobbies, you make friends in a number of different ways, but it sometimes seems harder to do when you are older and move to a new place. I’ve been in Sheffield for 4 years now and I have some lovely friends, but it’s always good to make more.

 

Last week, I went along to the second Girl Gang Sheffield ‘Speed Mate-ing’ event at Union Street.  I had planned to go to the first one but it was sold out, so I bought my ticket early for number two.  For those reading in the future and may not know, the UK was rocked by ‘The Beast from the East’ over the start of March this year and Sheffield did not escape the Siberian winds and the snow storms that covered the country, but that didn’t stop the ladies (and one gent) of the city and surrounding area from heading into town to make some new friends.

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A tram at night


I sat on the tram opposite an older woman. Her face was turned to the window and tears streamed silently down her face. I took out my headphones and asked her if she was ok, she just nodded. I smiled at her and put my headphones back in, listening to funny women being clever.

I was sitting directly opposite her but tried not to keep looking directly at her, but because I felt she didn’t want a witness to the still falling tears. She turned back to the window, clutching her carrier a little closer. I could see her wipe at the tears from the corner of my eye, in the reflection of the windows. I wanted to check again whether she needed help but I didn’t want to draw attention to her.

The tram rattled on, halting at each stop, unusual for this time of night. When the woman and I locked eyes briefly we smiled at each other. I looked away and focused on the voices being pumped into my ears.

My stop was announced, I gathered my things, stood and gave her a gentle squeeze on the shoulder and another smile as I headed towards the door. Another year fell and she smiled again wearily, putting her hand over mine. I left the tram, stepping to the pavement and the dark night. After a few seconds the tram rolled past me, the lights inside harsh and garish compared to the muted streetlight ahead of me. She was lit up, once again looking out of the window away from me. The tram sped on, carrying her further into the night and whatever awaited her at home.

Back to business…


I last posted in September with big plans for streamlining the blog, actually writing something for a change but then I got confused and distracted.  Writing just didn’t seem to be high on my list of priorities, but some things have happened and I’ve got a new love  and enthusiasm for it.

So firstly, I got two part time jobs, one in Meadowhall and the other at Sheffield University Student’s Union.  They couldn’t be more different, but I’m working with lovely people at both, I have a relatively steady, but meagre, income and I’m feeling happy again.  I’ve also been making some of the felt pictures, more on that in a later post, and trying to build myself a social life again after becoming a relative hermit from habit and poverty.  As part of my self care, building my social life and getting out doing fun things more…

…let me introduce you to The Sparkle Dress:

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The Sparkle Dress was something I saw online one day in September but couldn’t think of obtaining.  I got a job and The Sparkle dress became something I gazed at as I walked past Simply Be on my way to work.  The Sparkle Dress called to me because it had all the colours of my hair.  The Sparkle Dress was something I couldn’t afford because I had to pay for other, less frivolous things, like rent and food and travel to work and Netflix.

 

I bought it on sale, no refunds because it was a bit broken (something I could easily stitch up.  It made me so happy to get it and wear it to Christmas.  At Christmas I got a ticket for Greg Davies’ show ‘You Magnificent Beast’ as a present – thanks Liz and Richard.  I decided that the Sparkle Dress should not just be worn once, but should be worn out and where better to dress as a giant glitter ball from G.A.Y. than a show called ‘You Magnificent Beast’?

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Taking a new direction


It seems like so many things have changed recently, I broke up with my boyfriend and was made redundant from my job of over two years.

It’s a shame to leave my job but in a way it’s been really freeing because I’ve had the time to decide what I want to do with myself.   I have been looking for part time jobs, no luck yet, but I’ve decided to not worry too much because something always seems to turn up.   But there are sometimes lower points and I’ve found some great support from strangers – members of the Made of Human Podcast Facebook group and the Attic24 Moorland and Moor Facebook group.   It’s lovely to be able to see the brilliant creative things others are doing and have a place to have a little chat with people you don’t necessarily know.

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Something has changed within me, something is not the same.


About a year ago I was in a very bad place.  I hated my job; I felt like a complete failure because I hated my job.  I felt like I was imposing on my friends by staying with them.  I felt like I had no good options ahead of me. I was sinking into one of the worst bouts of depression that I have ever experienced.

A year later I have part time work, I’m off medication, the doctor doesn’t want to see me regularly any more.  I’ve made friends and I’ve settled into the city.  I feel calm and almost contented, which is something I’ve not felt for a very, very long time.  I don’t feel guilty about as many different things as I once did.  I speak to myself more kindly in my own head.  I can recognise my worth again.

There are little things that help me recognise my improving mental health.  When I am at the worst of my depression, I cannot laugh, I cannot sing, I cannot dance around the kitchen like a loon.

I am stupidly busy, but going out and working, even odd shifts and hours, feels much better than sitting with a Netflix binge (although that’s still a big draw now and then).  Spending time with people, talking about everything and nothing helps me as a person.  I don’t have to feel guilty about having a bit of a social life, despite being poor.

And now I feel like I’m on the verge of something new and different.  Something that could be quite special, but even if nothing really comes of it, it will still have been a positive boost.  Usually, this is when I would feel nervous and awkward, but instead there is this calm radiating inside me, a hitherto unknown confidence and sense that actually, everything is probably going to work out alright. I’m actually quite excited by the unknown for once!

I guess I’ll just have to wait and see…

#RefugeeLivesMatter


Words matter.  Carefully chosen words can be beautiful, caring, compassionate, descriptive, elegant and stirring.

Words matter.  Carefully chosen words can be deceptive, cutting, hurtful, vicious, selfish, offensive, bitter and damaging.

How we speak about people matters because people matter.  People live around the world in desperate circumstances, often not of their own making.  Referring to people fleeing from war, from persecution, from mutilation, from the constant threat of injury or death as migrants is doing them a disservice.  Referring to it as a migrant crisis sounds like the problem is ours and that people risking death to escape war are somehow putting us out.  Referring to people as swarms leads to connotations of plagues, pestilence, being over run by unwanted pests.

The way that our politicians and media are talking about desperate people trying to protect themselves and their families from wars that we have had a hand in physically disgusts me.  We have newspapers that promote nationalism and xenophobia.  The same newspapers will have marked the recent anniversary of VJ Day and stirred up the ideas of Britain saving the world during the war.

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People are dying. People, not ‘migrants’, not ‘swarms’. Humans. People. Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, sons and daughters.  All of these people have loved and been loved.  These people matter.

We need to care.  We need to show compassion.  We need to help where we can.  We need to give a shit about something other than X Factor, Kardashians and Celebrity Big Brother.

It would be easy to turn off the news and ignore what is currently happening in the world, what is always happening somewhere in the world, but I can’t do that.  I hope that you can’t ignore this humanitarian crisis either.

I know that this blog is read all over the world, so where ever you are, please read up on what you can do locally to help prevent children from drowning on European seas trying to escape a war they had no part in.  Please read up on what you can do to stop people dying of dehydration in the backs of lorries in tiny concealed spaces.  Please see what you can do to stop desperate people from being exploited by human traffickers preying on the vulnerable.

Check in twitter, check on facebook, donate clothes or toiletries or cans of food.  Hold your politicians accountable for the way that they speak about people, for denying access to fellow humans in need.  Get in touch with groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers.  Go and have conversations with people to improve their new language skills.  Make it personal to you, because it should be personal.  We should all understand that just because it isn’t happening here doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.  It could happen here and we would want help and support from other human beings.

In Sheffield we are a city of sanctuary for refugees and asylum seekers. There is a group collecting donations to take to Calais to the people who need them.  There are other groups around the UK doing similar things to help out however they can, please see if there is one near you and if there isn’t perhaps you could start one.

https://sheffield.cityofsanctuary.org/

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/09/02/europe/europe-migrants-welcome/

UPDATE FOR PEOPLE OF SHEFFIELD AND SURROUND AREA:

There is a facebook group you can join here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CalaisMigrantSolidarityActionFromSheffield/?fref=ts

“A quick word on donations:

The list of recommended donations to the camp in Calais change on a regular basis, so we’ll aim to update this list as much as possible. We request that all donations be in good condition and hardwearing – no holes or tears and where appropriate unused. Where possible please bring and buy new items.

Any donations that are not suitable to take down to Calais will be donated to refugee and asylum seeker charities in Sheffield.

Please drop off all donations at the Moor Theatre Delicatessen (The Moor, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 4PF), which is open every Thursday to Saturday, 11am – 4pm.

Please note we can only accept donations during these times. Can we please ask that you do not leave donations outside on the doorstep.

**A note on clothes: must be clean and wearable**

Toiletries – unopened
Washbags
Socks – hardwearing new pairs
Tools
Nails, screws and rawl plugs
Wind-up torches
Rolls of Bin bags
Tarpaulin
First aid kits – unopened and unused components
Salt, pepper, spices, condiments – unopened and in-date
Tea bags, sugar – unopened and in-date
Duct tape
Pens/notebooks
Playing cards
Plastic/wooden cooking utensils
Stackable/foldable items
Stackable / foldable plastic storage boxes
Hard-wearing shoes and boots.”

This is Craig:Morgan:Robson singing Ralkp McTell’s Peppers and Tomatoes.  Please have a listen, have a think about how you can get involved and go and do it.

Into the Woods: in search of bluebells


As a person who grew up in a reasonably small market town, I love being in a city.  There are so many more things to see and do, places to explore than there were back home.  But, I grew up with Summer holidays spent searching for bullhead fish and sticklebacks in the river, climbing the ruins of the viaduct before I knew what a viaduct was, playing on a broken down, abandoned digger in a field, sitting on fences watching the sun start to set, heading out on scavenger hunts for rose hips and different grasses.

So much as I love twisting, turning streets, brick and steel buildings, roads filled with buses, trams and terrible drivers, sometimes I just need some grass, trees, leaves and flowers.

I’ve now lived in Sheffield for a year and I’ve barely explored its magnificent green spaces.  I have made a concerted effort to get out and about a bit more.

A couple of months ago, I packed a bottle of water, a scotch egg, a penguin biscuit and some crisps, got on the 85 bus heading out of town from Hillsborough to go exploring.  I was headed for Wheata Woods, in search of bluebells.

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#Inspiringwomen


This year I have officially joined the WI.  Having dabbled in finding a suitable group for a few years, I am now apart of Steel Belles WI in Sheffield, a very new group full of great ladies.

2015 is the centenary of the formation of the WI and as we are entering the week of the centenary celebrations I’ve been thinking about the women who inspire me and why they do.  So here’s a top 4 women (in no particular order) that I think are awesome.  They are all people I’d like to be when I grow up please, or at least steal aspects from…

Tina Fey

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I bought ‘Bossy Pants’, Tina Fey’s autobiography and it’s hilarious.  I’ve read a huge number of funny books, but I’ve rarely laughed aloud to one as often as I did with this.  In my eyes, Tina Fey can rarely do any wrong – she wrote Mean Girls, she wrote 30 Rock, created ‘The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’, she turns up in all sorts of things and is a breath of fresh air; I even really like Baby Momma and Date Night, I know I’m somewhat in the minority with the last two.

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Build me up, don’t get me down, weather the storm, because life goes on.


“This band behind me’ll tell you that that trophy means more to me than owt else in the whole world. But they’d be wrong! Truth is, I THOUGHT it mattered. I thought that MUSIC mattered. But does it bollocks? Not compared to how people matter. Us winning this trophy won’t mean bugger-all to most people. But us refusing it – like what we’re going to do now – well, then it becomes news, doesn’t it? [flurry of press camera shutters] You see what I mean. That way, I’ll not just be talking to myself, will I? Because over the last ten years, this bloody government has systematically destroyed an entire industry. OUR industry. And not just our industry – our communities, our homes, our lives. All in the name of “progress”. And for a few lousy bob. I’ll tell you something else you might not know, as well. A fortnight ago, this band’s pit were closed – another thousand men lost their jobs. And that’s not all they lost. Most of them lost the will to win a while ago. A few of them even lost the will to fight. But when it comes to losing the will to live, to breathe, the point is – if this lot were seals or whales, you’d all be up in bloody arms. But they’re not, are they, no, no they’re not. They’re just ordinary common-or-garden honest, decent human beings. And not one of them with an ounce of bloody hope left. Oh aye, they can knock out a bloody good tune. But what the fuck does that matter?”  Click on the quote for Pete Postlethwaite in his full glory.

Well, it’s been quite a week hasn’t it?

I can’t say I was particularly confident of a major shift towards something that I would have seen as more positive than the last government, but, as I believe was the case for many of my friends, the last thing I was expecting was a Conservative majority.  I am saddened, I am disappointed, I am angry, I am frustrated, I am filled with dread with what is to come.

I have mixed feelings about my national identity.  I am both English and British.  I was born in a cottage in Buckinghamshire.  I have one Scottish grandfather who died 10 years before I was born and one Irish great grandfather who died 75 years before I was born.  We’ve traced branches of our family tree back over a thousand years and, as with many English people, our family has come from all over Europe – France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Italy, Spain, Norway, Germany, Turkey, Hungary – and that’s just the people we have records for.  When I was abroad I think I ended up saying either depending upon how I felt on the day.  I haven’t visited Europe recently so I’m not sure how we are currently being perceived over there.

I have real struggles with national pride and nationalism.  I can see why people want to have a sense of pride of where they come from.  People can be house proud, proud of their hamlet, village, town or city, their county, their region, their country, that’s fine if it brings them some happiness.  What I really hate is when that is then used as an excuse to say “I’m this, so I’m better than you!”  Just because you were born in this time and place doesn’t make you better than anyone who wasn’t.  Perhaps you are a better person than someone else, but that has nothing to do with an accident of birth, that’s to do with how you speak to people, your actions and your intentions.

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