Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Hell Amongst the Clouds.

I needed a holiday. As I sat frowning, wallowing in self-pity and sinking in the bomb-site scattering of revision notes around me; it’s all I could think about. Sick of being teased by the music channel videos with their idyllic beach parties and the Thomas Cook ‘azure blue sky meets crystal clear waters’ adverts, the girls and I snapped and booked ourselves a snippet of joy to hang on to. Majorca? 1 week? Own villa? By the beach? Yes please.

So through the monotonous, dark and turbulent exam season I persevered (or rather poor mum did with my hormonal outbursts and panic attacks), all the while fixated on the girls get-away guiding light at the end of the tunnel. Surprisingly, before we knew it, we were on our way.
Giddy and giggling with excitement, we waded through the security searches (anyone else actually start to question whether they’re a criminal here?!), drenched ourselves in fancy perfumes at Duty Free and in true student style, got to boarding late. Our punishment? We had to take any random dispersed seats we could find. Oh well, we were going on holiday! Besides, we’d all been separately trained to endure bouts of isolated boredom over the previous months and at least this time there’d be no test at the end. Nothing could diminish our optimism, or so I thought.

Description: http://www.talktostrangersblog.com/wp-content/gallery/strangers/airplane-window.jpgSeatbelts on. Plane takes off. Hell commences.

I was trapped, next to a child. Now don’t get me wrong, I adore children-the smiling, fascinated, wide eyed little munchkins- but not this child. This one was something else. As we soared above the clouds, the icy realisation trickled in; I’d be wedged in this window seat next to this fidgeting little whinger, who made it his unrelenting aim to invade my personal space, for quite some time. As the minutes crawled by, the torture intensified.

First came the question siege, progressing from the harmless ‘How old are you?’ ‘Where do you live?’ to the more testing ‘What’s your favourite Nintendo game?’ ‘How long does it take you to read a book?’ It was exhausting and each answer seemed to fuel more of the perpetual probing. No amount of the quick ‘smile and turn to the window’ seemed to deter him either. With his detached mother seemingly engrossed in her Hello! mag, he was hungry for attention; my attention.

Next commenced his operation ‘dissolve all barriers’. After feeble attempts to hold my ground with a subtle armrest battle (which failed miserably when he took to poking my arm with his sticky little digits) he decided to solidify his authority.  Before I knew it, he’d lifted up the armrest entirely and begun seating his action figures upright on the seat, my side of the seat. As Spiderman’s foot dug into my thigh, I wanted to pick him up, bite his plastic head off and hurl him out of the window. But of course I did all I pathetically could; squirmed and smiled. The boy, who declared himself as Damien -of course triggering the Omen theme tune to commence in my head- shot me a daring look with his dark and menacing eyes.  I felt strangely intimidated; I daren’t defy this little air demon.

As he began placing his crayons on my table one by one, I grabbed for my IPod. Perhaps I could escape through some soft soul music, close my eyes and sink into a slumber? No such luck. My headphones were broken so instead of hearing the soft effortless tone of Sam Cooke, I received a sharp electrical fizzling which spat viciously at my eardrums. Wonderful.

Then came the smell. With the slight turbulence wobbling my gut as it was, along with the kicking little madam behind me delivering some charming little jolts to my lower back; I was feeling rather queasy. The air-demon must have sensed this. Soon, after a loud, aggressive rustling, a thick and pungent stench wafted into my window seat cell. Aside the distinctively meaty roast beef crisps, there was definitely some other smell meandering up my nostrils and causing me to heave. I opened my eyes to find the source and there I found my answer; the air demon had removed his shoes.

He turned deviously to me again, fixating on my discomfort. A satanic relish flickered across his eyes. As I watched the corners of his mouth (smothered in a crispy saliva residue) curl cunningly and felt my cheeks throb hotly, the realisation hit me; I was sitting next to the devil incarnate.

Eventually, after more of his probing and rude demands for treats off the food cart -to which his submissive mother meekly obeyed-the flight of eternal damnation ended. Never have I got off a plane so rapidly. But as I stepped out into that heat, all my fluster and distress melted away. As the gentle sunlight settled on my skin, I peered around at the quiet sizzling scene and caught the eyes of my waiting friends. We’d made it and that’s all that mattered. And as for the air demon? Well, as they say ‘You’ve got to go through hell before you get to heaven’. And oh boy did we get to heaven.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Shaking the world

A month ago today, on the 22nd February 2012,  a heroine fell
An intrepid martyr to truth, a fearless inspiration and a truly remarkable human being- war correspondent Marie Colvin’s death was more than a tragedy.

I’m always told it’s important for teenagers to have role-models. Be it Becks, BeyoncĂ© or Rowling; we are all consistently advised to swallow some inspiration. It’s a valid point. But what happens when you lose yours to the barbaric shelling of al-Assad’s vicious, uncontrolled Syrian forces?  I’m sitting here struggling to do Colvin justice with words, because in all honesty, the courage of my role-model was beyond words.
Living a career immersed in the stirring atrocities of the warzone, submerged in the suffering of the oppressed and sunken deep into the world’s most perilous pits- Colvin embodied the extremities of human courage. 

Colvin lived life, not on the edge, but at the intensely dangerous, flaming core. And this is where she thrived. She once spent a period on the Sunday Times foreign desk managing other reporters and editing; the boredom nearly killed her. Colvin was born for the front line. Being strafed by Russian war planes, hunted by Tamil tigers In Sri-Lanka, escaping blood-lusting crowds in Cairo; this was Colvin.  The reporter of turbulent truths, the asker of searing questions, the passionate risk taker who opened our eyes and shook the international community into taking notice; this was Colvin.

I really struggled with her death. Yes I was an avid follower, have keen interest in her field of work and had the privilege of sitting at her foreign desk seat during work experience last year; but there was something more potent that troubled me. Every day we’ll turn on our tellies, watch the news, frown at the suffering and feel that uniform pang of sympathy. But then what? It’s just one quick flick of the button to extinguish that flicker of emotional distress with some light-hearted reality TV. We’re laughing within minutes. But Marie’s work is the reality- the cold, sickening and inconvenient truth of our war-torn world- and she was in the thick of it. As we pop the kettle on and sit there comfortably, she was being the  “someone [who] has to go out and see what is happening”.

But you know all this. Yes she was a role model for journalists, an inspiration for women-taking the almost exclusively male world of war reporting in her stylish , feminine stride; but you’ve read all this before. So here’s the truth; Marie Colvin isn’t really dead. The ripples of her unfaltering courage will resonate on and the echo of her impassioned plight will forever linger across the warzones and settle in the throbbing hearts of others out there now, doing what she did. She’s so far yet so near.

Marie Colvin has taught me a profound lesson; the importance of impact. Through a life and death spent in the pursuit of truth, she has shown me how far and deep you can go into something you care about and the importance of leaving your mark in this world. Marie died doing something that she loved, something that made her feel most alive and something that transformed the notion of journalism from being just a job to a mission. This is why Colvin’s death- on her tragic mission- was almost a noble, horrid inevitability. 

Though you don’t have to go to a warzone to find something worth fighting for, Marie still teaches us about what’s really important; finding that something, getting hands on and shaking the world.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Furiarse Reflexes...

First off, I'd just like to apologise for the lack of posting... Have picked up a few magazine jobs (as well as other jobs!) so although I'm getting gradually closer to my beautiful motorbike, time has been scarce. But hey, just settling down with a hot water bottle,cup of creamy coffee and cosy duvet; ready to bore you to death with a ramble. So sit back and indulge in my mundane moaning...

So, it's been snowing in London.
 Exciting? Thick? Sledding? I hear you chirp; Not quite.
 More like one evening of the pretty pitter patter and now just the icy, sludgy consequences to trudge in.
No time off work, just extra effort getting to work. Wonderful. 

However, while pegging it to through icy streets to work (brilliant fun that; run as fast as possible for minimal foot-to-ground contact and intensified thrill with more probable danger of falling. Hell yeah-keep your sky diving- I already live life on the edge)  I was met with an puzzling discovery. It was a rather painful one too.

So there I was; headphones in pumping the 'feel good' through my system, skating across the ice in heeled boots. I felt like a superhero
Distracted by my (evident) awesomeness, suddenly my footing wavered. My insides gasped, feet lost confidence and I felt that sudden gush of butterflies flutter through my tummy. Down, down down I tumbled. Oh, and this was no admirably smooth superhero fall.

THWUMP, went the uncomfortable acquaintance between my arse and concrete pavement. Now, here's my query:
Why is it that here, bum bashed and grounded,  that I felt such bitter,unfocused rage? Within seconds, my eyebrows furrowed dramatically and I was engulfed with a curious anguish, with of course no one to actually focus it at. Where does this reflex fury come from?! Is this just me?! Am I the only one who feels this sharp pinch of anger when I fall on my bum?!  And do you know what? I genuinely feel pissed off with the pavement, so I sit there scowling at it.

Soon of course, the embarrassment floods in.
 I'm on my bum,slithering about, looking aggressively at the floor.
Of course people are giggling. Red-faced and filled with displaced emotions, I begin my numerous stumbling attempts to regain balance and swap back from bum-to-feet contact. On achieving this, I am filled with relief and thus I make a vow: 
 'never,NEVER,shall I fall down again.never shall I hit that rock concrete bottom again, never shall I put myself through the trauma. Walking will be carried out with the utmost caution from now on, for as long as I shall live'

70m later...


Thursday, 1 December 2011

My Christmas Wish…

There’s only one thing I want this Christmas. As the wintery cheer floods back into the city with its sweet and syrupy embrace, I’ve got just one thing on my mind.

Those bright and bedazzling lights? Bulbs everywhere; sprinkling the streets, peppering tree branches and igniting the city. But it’s not the lights I want most.

What about the air? That fresh, crisp and magical gush that surges through the streets. Seeing the Londoners tucked up in their knitted scarves, scurrying through the shopping rush. All those freezing faces hustling and bustling, drenched in hats, gloves, jumpers galore. The air wants to play. It playfully pinches at their fingertips and nibbles at their noses, sniggering, swirling and whistling excitedly as they squirm about red faced.  But it’s not the air I want most.

What about the sumptuous food? From the crispy, golden potatoes to that succulent, tender roast turkey; it’s a banquet of bountiful proportions. Then there’s those crumbling mince pies, the baked and toasted treats and of course the melt-in-your-mouth chocolates. Oh how they melt; softening, soothing and gently slow dancing with your palette before that final warm, buttery kiss. But it’s not the food I want most.

Then how about the pressies?
Bright and shimmering wrappers, rustling and mysterious. The festive giggling of children, the pure wonder rippling across their eyes as they await Mr. Claus. But it’s not the presents or smiles I want most.

This year the jingling bells, sparkling eyes, shimmering presents, magical air, flashing lights and tantalising treats are not what my heart is set on. This year, I have a far greater request. What I crave and long for more than any of this and what I truly, truly want is for Christmas…

It’s just ridiculous. A quarter of our year is spent in the Christmas season! Before we’ve even hit Halloween, in flood the anachronistic, monotonous adverts and to accompany them, the shops start selling mince pies, with sell by dates before December I’d like to point out. Oh and don’t get me started on the music. In creep those three disgustingly overplayed songs. Yes Mariah, I do know all you want for Christmas, just as I do every single ruddy year. And George? Do us all a favour, learn from your mistakes and stop giving your heart away every blimming Christmas! I’m sick of hearing you wallow in self pity year in, year out. Man up. Oh and Pogues, don’t think I’ve forgotten about you. Yes we have a chuckle the first time we hear your abusive slurring each year, but then you just milk it until my ‘ears are ringing out for you to stop

Not to sound like a grumpy old fart (though since turning 17 this month my back definitely isn’t as flexible as it used to be) but I think retailers are killing the Christmas spirit. Yes, I understand they make about 70% of their revenue in the run up to Christmas but it’s time we defined the ‘run up’. As summer fades, retailers panic and begin desperately scrabbling for some money source to tap into. Then BAM, it hits them; jingle bells.

This madness must end! So, naturally, I have a proposal. From 2012, I say we bottle up the festive magic and only uncork it from December 1st.However as we are now in the December delirium, the bottle is not only open, but the festive spirit has completely spilt out all over the city for us to splash about in. So, lets splash away. 

Wishing you all peace and warmth this Christmas X

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A 'Growing' Trend...

Lean in and listen close; I’m going to let you in on a secret about the teenage body.

Yes, us lot are linked to embarrassing bodies, pubescent awkwardness and cringeful changes la-de-da-di-dah, but I have a sneaky body secret that the scientists have overlooked.
You see, we teenagers have developed a growth.

That’s right, recoil away in disgust- but it’s the truth. We have all grown an inescapable, hard, protruding lump that has become a permanent extension of our bodies.
We constantly feel it on us, constantly fret about checking up on it, yet funnily enough; we rather adore our lumpy growth.
To make it crystal- the growth is unavoidable. However, unlike our unpredictable, ugly old visitor Mr. acne, our bulging lump is rather fashionable. It’s with us everywhere we go, a clump of comfort, almost adding a sprinkle of sanity to our lives. It’s become a teenage trademark.
Everywhere you look you’ll see us with our lumps. Curved lumps, Galaxy lumps, Berry lumps. The swelling may vary is size and shape and it may change with time but it’s always there; an inseparable part of us.
Adults may look on in disbelief, confused by our obsession with this cyst- but that is what we love the most. The growth is ours; teenage turf.

Oh and the power of the lump doesn’t stop there. The protrusion also protects us against the worst of fashion blunders. Forget Tie-Dye and Crocs, I’m talking about the dreaded teenage phobia of looking UNOCCUPIED.
Eurgh. There is nothing more hideous than simply ‘being there’ to us. What’s that I hear you say? Just smell the roses? Ponder on life? Watch the world go by? Well, listen carefully. Do you hear that? That’s the collective churning of adolescent stomachs across the country. NO.
We must constantly prove we are busy and constantly prove we have interest somewhere else. That’s where the lump comes in. Providing us with a deterrent from the truth we aren’t really doing much, feeding our social status and curing our boredom; our cyst is sacred.

So there you go, the secret truth that the teenage lump is not just prominent but in fact intrinsically attached to us. Speak of the devil, mines ringing now…

Saturday, 8 October 2011

A prisoner in my own room

She was after me. As I lay in my room last night, the realisation trickled icily down my spine.
She wanted to destroy me, torture me, devour me limb from limb. I kept dead still. I could feel her eyes on me, that searing stare; there was no escape. No matter how hard I try to hide; she’s always watching. No matter how much I ignore her; she’s always waiting. No matter what I do, Ursula my room spider is always there.

It’s no joke, this isn’t your usual clichĂ© ‘spiders are creepy’ situation- I despise Ursula. She’s got me trapped; a hopeless victim in her web of fear, spinning me into a crumbling, psychotic mess.
I’m a prisoner in my own room.

Worse yet, Ursula times her visits meticulously, inflicting her torment at only the most inconvenient of times. Last night, she decided, it was time for a visit.
It was ; I was essayed out and needed sleep. My eyes were aching and my bed was calling. As I sank into the gentle grooves of my mattress and shimmied down into the soothing embrace of sleep- there she was. The epitome of all that is wrong with the world condensed into one devilishly small, dark mass; Ursula.

With a wriggle of her ovular chest and jerk of her prickly legs, she crept closer; stopping directly above me on the ceiling. Hopes of sleep had now dissipated and I sat, frozen, staring upwards into the depths of hell itself.
 My nightmare had begun.

 “Spiders stop and freeze because they are just as scared as you are” What a dirty lie. Ursula stops so she can look into my soul.
Arched and menacing, she pierced through me with those eight, dark spherical abysses, teasing out all of my fear and feeding her ego. As my body jittered in her psychological throttle, I’m telling you, I saw her smile.

Knowing I needed sleep and a stare off with a spider was a little ridiculous, I decided there was only one escape route; through darkness. With one mighty, brave effort I clenched my eyes shut, broke away from her eye web and plunged into darkness. At first it eased me.  Then, she crawled back into my mind. I thought of her suspended by my face, swinging into my mouth and laying her spider eggs under my tongue. Or perhaps Ursula was plotting? Recruiting all the other spiders in the room to launch an attack. It was too much- thoughts of a dense spider army covering my ceiling and swarming towards me, forced me to open my eyes. What I saw was ten times worse. On the ceiling above me there was nothing; Ursula had moved.

I was sure I could hear her malicious chortling echoing around the room; her game had just begun. I grabbed for my pillow and duvet.  Her superior sniggering encased my bedroom as I cowardly slipped downstairs to the sofa.  Ursula had won, again.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

The language of Football

I was sitting at the dinner table last night and I found myself amidst the presence of another language. Now this wasn't a kind of exotic, vibrant and intriguing language  that aroused interest and awe but rather a dull, drone that did nothing but baffle me. The language of football.
Wow. Never, in my 16 years of living, have I experienced such a draining 20 minutes filled with my brothers and father going on about players, transfers, leagues and a number of other dull words. I mean I've heard my guy mates talk about it in small doses, but this...this was something else.
As the foreign fumble of words darted back and forth across the table, I felt lost- stranded in a sister-less household.
And the worst bit? The jabber was so intense and peculiar I couldn’t find an entrance in to the conversation. So I sat there and enjoyed flattening my mash potato with a spoon.How  can a conversation go on for so blimming long on what is essentially a bunch of overpaid sissies trying to kick a ball into a net? I mean don't mistake me for one of these footy-despising females because I actually quite like playing it and watching it can sometimes be enjoyable( only, of course, if there are men on the pitch who aesthetically please and there's another girl in the room to discuss this with)

Yesterday, however, I learnt an invaluable lesson. That’s right- listening to the unfamiliar, incessant drone between the males across the dinner table taught me that  I can actually appear clued up on the whole football scene. You see, I noticed that lots of the same phrases popped up in the noise that vacated their mouths. So, by repeating these(and forcing a face of genuine interest), I have myself a brilliant way to engage with the male species.
Ladies, if you're interested in this discovery, here's a few phrases to get you started:
 ‘‘That ref was a JOKE'' ''it was end to end''  ''He's only in it for the money ''There was NO WAY that was a penalty'' ''what was he doing upfront?'' “He’s bloody clueless” ''Should have taken him off second half'' ''We need to rest him before next match'' ''what a touch'' “he hasn’t got a football brain’’ ‘’He’s a  liability- picks up too many yellows” “The defence was a complete shambles-all over the place” '' ''What was the REF THINKING?''

So, there it is- my attempt at scraping the surface of the footy lingo. Now it’s time to conquer cars.
Talking of cars...Gor, how’s about that new Porsche Cayenne diesel? 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel under the hood but pepped up with a new turbocharger, revised injectors and improved internal friction for slightly more power at 249bhp –she’s one beautiful beast.
See, a little listening here and there and I’m practically a man.