Archive | November, 2011

What the recession has meant for me

28 Nov

A lot of blog posts, news, and human interest stories prominently feature the recession and how it has affected lives, I thought that for this post I would get a bit more personal and explain what effect the recession has had on me. Give a face, as it were, to the current economic crisis. I’m going to be brutally honest, which is hard but will also be a form of therapy I guess so here goes.

I was at university when the banking crisis began, and even then when it didn’t affect me directly I noticed the effects of it on people around me, my mum and her partner started fighting more and talking less, my mum’s and her partners working hours increased and the house stayed cold over winter, as heating was a luxury we could no longer afford.

As the years have gone on and I left university, the effects have gotten worse.

The fact that I can’t find a job, even with a degree and a lot of media work experience behind me isn’t even one of the worst consequences for me of the recession, the main one is that I have nowhere to live. Currently I live out of a suitcase between my nan’s, my mum’s and occasionally my dads. Because I haven’t got enough money to pay rent and because none of my parents can afford to have me live with them full-time. Let me tell you…when you live out of a suitcase…even the simplest things become harder. I never know where I’m going to be from one week to the next and so it becomes hard to make plans, it puts pressure on me mentally and I never really relax. And it’s never nice to be a burden passing from one family member to the next. Some of the good parts are that my handbag always contains the essentials, toothbrush, underwear, body spray and makeup, and I’m always ready to go at a moments notice. I’ve learnt to travel light these past months and that’s something good that’s come from this. (Theres always a bright side!)

The other being that I find myself frustrated almost all the time, frustrated that I can’t afford a car when friends and other people can because they are lucky enough to have parents that can help them out, or have found full-time jobs. Frustration that I can’t afford a phone that works, which will help me do the job that I want to do. Frustration that I have to help pay for food and buy essentials for my mum and brother, when I can barely afford to keep myself. Frustrated that I come back from work to find no food in the cupboard and have to dash out to nearest garage to buy something for everyone, because otherwise…they won’t eat.

Fear and depression become big parts of everyday life, fear that you won’t make it through…that things seem to be getting worse…that they’ll never get better and depression, that everyday is filled with the monotony of just survivng…not living.

Of course the people around me have suffered even more and its hard to watch. My mum is having to sell the house she loves and downsize because she can’t afford to live there anymore, even with her and her partner working full-time. The recession has also allowed employers to take advantage, like my mums, who have damaged her spine by refusing to provide proper working equipment and acted unscrupulously in treatment towards all employees refusing them lunch breaks and not paying for extra hours worked. This of course has had the knock on effect of her becoming addicted to Codeine (a type of strong pain medication) because of her back and other problems, which are probably better left unsaid. However she must continue to endure terrible treatment by employers because there is no other choice.

These are the consequences of the recession for me, its hard to believe that a bunch of men overseas who have nothing to do with me, not caring about moral hazard in banking created this course of events in my life. But not just my life, there are thousands of other people out there just like me and my family, who are struggling to survive each day.

This wasn’t really meant to be a depressing post, its more about just being honest, not putting a brave face on things and admitting “yes things are bad.” It’s also about illuminating how if this is how things are for me, then there are people out there who are even worse off. People who need help but are not getting it, people who need hope, but are not getting it. 

I guess my point was that a lot of my posts have been about my struggle to find employment during a recession, and seeing that a lot of articles and news stories out there all focus on the employment consequences of the recession, I wanted to bring things back to earth a bit, and remind people that unemployment is just one way that people are suffering. 

I often wonder whether the US government and financial institutions had any notion of just how terrible the outcome would be of their careless lack of regard for regulation of the finance sector and mortgage lending. I’m dissapointed that even though this is a disaster of their making, they refuse to apologise or take any selfless action to rectify the mistakes they made.

It’s a sad truth that as usual, it is the working and lower middle classes which can’t afford the consequences, who always end up paying the price for the gambles and carelessness of the wealthy.

For us as a society to develop further, this is one of the first things that needs to be changed.

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Breaking Dawn? Please! I was trying not to yawn!

25 Nov

Ok so the title was a bit of an exaggeration, all in all I didn’t actually find the movie that bad, but for all those fans out there raving about it and getting in line to see it for what…the fourth time? I have to ask, are you actually nuts!?

I’m probably not the right person to review this movie, but I think I can actually give some objectivity that fans who are preoccupied with Taylor Lautner’s fabulous pecks (and I have to admit girls they are pretty fabulous) just won’t be able to do.

It was my flatmate Rachel who first introduced me to the Twilight series, when I began to question her state of mental health after going to see the first movie in the saga for the third time. Deciding if you can’t beat them then join them I gave up my protesting and joined all my flatmates to go watch it. I remember leaving the cinema distinctly unimpressed, really not believing the film to live up to the hype and the awards it generated.

I can’t say that my opinion has changed much since, I don’t have anything against the whole Twilight saga, I actually enjoyed the books a fair amount, Breaking Dawn was my favourite of the entire series but I feel the film was a bit lacking, just like its predecessors.

We all know the plotline, Bella and Edward are getting married much to our films poor underdog love interest Jacob’s distress, except wedded life isn’t as blissful as our two hero’s thought it would be, with Bella ending up pregnant with a rapidly developing foetus sucking her life away, after an unusually chaste (barring two matrimonial occasions) honeymoon.

Twilight and Robert Pattinson fans will be hunting me with air rifles for this, but I found the film slow-moving, not displaying any of the tension, angst or emotion that I was expecting, and Robert Pattinson, who I think isn’t a bad actor (except for when he’s playing Edward Cullen) made me cringe a lot with his decelerations of love and ‘ohhhh Bella I don’t want to hurt you’ ect and I’m a bit of warm fuzzy romantic at heart! And I’m sorry but Bella’s death scene? Come on Robert! For someone who has just lost the love of his life, you would hope that he would do a bit more than the ‘oh dear she’s dead’ performance that was given.

However I might be acting slightly unfairly towards the film, the CGI for the wolves was pretty good and as always they filmed in stunning locations with good character make up (Bella did really look as if she was slowly dying, well done make up artists!)

I don’t think I’ll ever make a diehard fan of this franchise, it’s not because I don’t enjoy playing around with the idea of forbidden love and having two handsome guys fighting over me, in fact I think the series allows girls everywhere to live out that little fantasy vicariously through Bella’s character. But the whole thing feels rather hollow really, I always judge how good a film is or how good anything is by whether it stays with you long after you’ve watched it, heard it, read it ect. And for me personally, I found it rather forgettable.

I’m glad to have seen it once, but I won’t be queuing at the cinemas to see it again.

And they all lived happily ever after?

24 Nov

Myself Megs and Heath looking smart!

Its been a pretty busy week for me! I’ve been racing up and down the country with my head on fire (ginger pun intended) making my way to parties and visiting family and of course graduation! For what seems like a very long time I have actually got a social life to speak of once again!

Graduation was great! Starting with an impromptu but much-needed caffeine boost in Starbucks with Megan’s parents and boyfriend, the two of us were already in pieces watching other graduates going to earlier ceremonies walking around town, in what myself and a lot of my fellow graduates have fondly labelled ‘Hogwarts get up.’

I have to say the whole graduation costume is not the easiest outfit you’ll ever attempt to put on (and this comes from someone with experience fighting to get dresses on in box like changing rooms) so thank god there was a whole bunch of people on hand to dress me. It’s probably my most surreal experience to date, lining up and having someone dress me. It was a bit like reverting back to childhood, and funny enough just like when I was a child I spent a lot of the day desperately fighting the losing battle of trying to stay tidy looking.

Wallah! Degree

Ceremony wise I found it all kind of over whelming really, a large portion of my mind was focused on not tripping over when it was my turn to take to the floor, but as I took my degree and shook hands it really kind of hit me that I’ve made a transition, I’m not a student any longer, it’s really finished, my time at university is over. Its closure really, since finishing my exams I’ve sort of been in Limbo thinking of myself as a student and still having a sort of student mentality to the way I approach things, including my life. So now its kind of hit me that I actually have to start having a whole grown up life. In a way that’s what we were all doing at uni, growing up. It’s safe to say that for me most of my development as a person was done at university. I suppose I didn’t just get a degree in the bargain!

Everyone’s parents including my own looked proud, and I felt a kind of warm fuzzy feeling towards the rest of my journo’s who made it through (those of you that have done a news day will know just how much of an achievement that is!)

I couldn’t help thinking on the journey home…what happens to us all now? Looking on the Facebook news feed I see my friends getting on and having lives, meeting partners, getting jobs, moving out ect and I do find myself hoping for a happy ending for us all!

Happy ending to a great day 🙂

To all my classmates, its been a lot of fun! I hope we can all stay in touch (and if me and Tim have anything to do with it we will as a reunion is in the mix for next summer to take back Cov!) and I hope that after a wonderful and hilariously mental three years of hard work I can say about every single one of us ‘they all lived happily ever after’ I really think we deserve it 🙂

"Did somebody say Hogwarts?"

Is it just me….or is practically everyone else on the road an idiot?

16 Nov

Can't wait till I can rip up my L plate!

I have always wanted to drive. Living in the middle of nowhere where public transport is at its worse but ironically most expensive, will instil in you the longing for a car of your own, from the minute your parents start complaining about being your personal taxi service.  Its independence and it doesn’t hurt your job prospects either when it comes to having a driving license on your CV.

Twenty four hours of driving lessons has taught me one ultimate truth… that hey….driving isn’t easy. It requires awareness, multi-tasking skills, confidence and a sixth sense awareness for other drivers and their unpredictable and seemingly insane behaviour on the roads. (This is the part I am struggling with, my psychic skills are just not up to scratch)

I’m not test standard yet don’t get me wrong….but I’ve found that sometimes in lessons, that as the learner in the driving seat, observing the highway code to the letter, I am the safest person out there. In lessons I’ve driven past people on the phone in their cars failing to indicate, I’ve had people over taking on dangerous bends, I’ve seen one driver run a red light and almost smash into another car, and I’ve had an altercation with a taxi driver who not only ignored right of way, but refused to give way when he was in a position to and I wasn’t, almost resulting in a head on collision.

And these are only the drivers around me, as a learner  of course I’ve had people right up the back of the car with impatience beeping and flashing me, sending my confidence to pieces and panicking me into falling apart at the wheel. Have they never been learners!?

As my driving instructor points out every time we have a lesson “there are some right idiots on the road, you’ve just got to drive for everyone else as well”

I’m starting to see that she is right! I’ve still got a way to go in perfecting my driving to the point where I am ready to take my test but I can see that a lot of people on the road are idiots who are eventually going to kill someone.

So as a poor learner driver struggling to get my head round gear changes and three-point turns, I ask every driver out there for patience, we are slow, we are unsure of ourselves and we do make mistakes. But no drivers perfect! Everyone has to learn at some point, driving safely teaches us to drive safely. As a driver you never stop learning and if you have, then you may need to go back to school.

Help me please…I’m smartphone challenged

13 Nov

Please help me....I'm technology challenged!

Ok so lately due to my need of being able to access the internet and emails from obscure locations, I have become ever so slightly obsessed with the idea of purchasing a smartphone of my very own! Wherever I am everyone seems to have one, from the twelve-year-old school kids that I endured one hellish bus ride in to town with one day, to the old guy muttering to himself in Costa (yes even he had the new Iphone!)

I’ve needed one for a while now but have been putting it off due to the fact that realistically speaking I really can’t afford a smartphone. However after seeing my friend Tommy use his Iphone to solve a bit of a travel mishap, involving the two of us turning up to the wrong place for an event and  using the Iphones clever apps to help us find the right place and how to get there, I realised that I may just have to bite the bullet and get one, and to hell with how poor I’ll be.

I was still hesitating until last week I missed a job interview because my current phone wasn’t working properly, and wasn’t receiving texts or voicemails, and due to the fact that I had been away over the Saturday and hadn’t been able to check emails I had missed the opportunity. Annoyed wasn’t the word!

So that was the last straw, I’ve decided to take the plunge and get one, my contract runs out in February so that gives me till then to decide which one to get I thought I had it all figured out…I was going for the Blackberry. Its got good email and document capabilities fast browsing, good as a business phone, and it still had a keyboard! But I could see the drawbacks, no apps, and the whole blackberry network went down for days at one point.

Then a few people started instilling in me the virtues of the Iphone…good apps, excellent internet access, reliable, and with great versatility for the everyday life needs. However no keypad, doesn’t support any browsing with flash and expensive to repair if it went completely wrong.

Back to the drawing board!

With a day off on my hands I decided to seek expert advice on the subject and made the trip to a few of the local phone shops, to see what the tech people suggested. It was a lengthy conversation, I told them what I needed from my future phone and how I was totally stuck on making a decision between the Blackberry and the Iphone.

I finished even more confused than when I started, with the tech guys adding a further three phones into the mix extolling their capabilities and telling me to consider them as well. What started as a choice between two smartphones has now become a choice between five! I’ve done a lot of research on the subject (that’s how sad I am) and I’m still completely stumped on what choice to make! If I’m going to spend hundreds on a phone contract that I will be tied into for the forseeable future, I want it to be the right one!

I’ve read glowing reports about both Blackberry and Iphone and I’ve read the horror stories as well, so now I’m turning the floor over to you guys and hoping that you can help me make the decision. Blackberry, Iphone, Samsung or other smartphone? Which one should I go for? Help!

Tribute to a great

8 Nov

Well I was flicking around on Itunes the other day looking for some new music to put on the Ipod, as I have been listening to the same songs for the past months, when you know all the words to the songs without even having to think about it, you know its time to expand your horizons.

Resisting the temptation to go straight for the Christmas songs (I love them…if the weather is cold and its slightly dark, I’m pretty much part way there to believing its late December) I decided to try something new. (Or to most of you…old)

Amy Winehouse popped up on the recommended list, of course I know her more popular songs and like them well enough, Back to Black, Rehab ect I can’t say I’m a diehard fan and that her death (as terribly tragic as it was) actually meant anything to me other than watching fans get weepy on the news.

I was flicking through her songs and then came across one that completely revised my opinion of her music as being ‘nice but nothing to listen to over and over again.’

Its called: Love is a losing game

It’s so wonderful, I have to post the YouTube music video.  

When you listen to it, it really makes your heart-break, you can tell that she means everything she is singing. And this song really showcases her smokey, velvet voice. I have to say that her death is a real loss to the music industry, she was a very individual and creative artist which I never fully appreciated. To quote so many fans and people before me, it is a tragic waste of talent.

I guess I’ve kind of jumped on the Amy Winehouse bandwagon a bit late, when everyone else was making their tributes I was…god knows…bopping along to festive Christmas tunes no doubt…but this blog post is a bit of a tribute to a great, and me sharing my personal favourite of all her music.

I thought I wanted a career… turns out….yeah I do

3 Nov

“I thought I wanted a career….turns out I just wanted a pay cheque” who said those words?  I’m really not sure, were they as embittered by the job market as I have been? I’ve seen them in the past on comedy T-shirts and funny mugs ect laughed away but the true meaning always escaped me…until now.

I saw the phrase yesterday again on a friends Skype and smiled to myself, but now after today I understand what it means in relation to me.

Today me and a friend attended a career fair in Northampton. Nothing special, certainly not the largest I’ve ever been to or the first, but it is the first time I’ve attended and not been in education with the security of more university ahead, attending graduate fairs not just as a means of getting information to consider for the future, but treating it as an actual networking event to gain the contacts I’ll need to find me a job. Going to the careers fair for the sole purpose of coming away having made significant achievements, in terms of my career progression.

I watched other students in their second and third years and felt a wave of nostalgia, remembering when me and my friends were all bright eyed in that way, knowing that the job market would be hard and being told about it constantly, but not  fully comprehending just how bleak it is out there at the moment.

It was a great success in terms of me making contacts and even receiving an interview offer, but today did something even more important for me….got me excited about my career future again. For a while now I’ve been thinking about every job, graduate scheme and intern-ship I come across in terms of the financial benefit it will give me, and when I have been rejected I don’t feel the loss of someone who is losing the opportunity to do something I love, but rather the loss of potential financial gain. When I apply for a job I don’t feel excited or have butterflies about the job itself and where it has the potential to take me, only the desperate gnawing acknowledgement that it will free me from working in retail, and will allow me to move out on my own.

Being surrounded by other students who were genuinely excited and passionate about what they were studying and wanting to do as a career made me remember how much I use to love writing and communication, but in the desperate and competitive hunt for a job I’ve lost sight of the fact that I use to be excited about my career in terms that weren’t limited to finance and security. Money is important, we all know it makes the world go round…and since 2008 up and down like a sodding yo yo but the reason I went to university was so that I could learn more about what I loved, and ultimately prepare myself for the future.

Turns out the phrase ‘I thought I wanted a career…turns out I just wanted a pay cheque’ just doesn’t apply to me, because I don’t just want the money…I want the joy of doing something I care about, money alone just isn’t enough to motivate me, I work for it now and searching for jobs in terms of money has just made me miserable and made my career future seem a bleak prospect.

Don’t get me wrong…I want a good salary (a girls wardrobe has got to be maintained) but I’m going to have to remind myself occasionally not to allow the empty void that is job hunting, to swallow me up. Not allowing myself to forget that this isn’t a job hunt forced or fed by my dire desolate need to escape the limbo of uncertainty that is part time retail and job hunting, but rather a job hunt fuelled by my desire to do well in an industry that I care about and want to be a part of.

To anyone out there who is also finding things hard I can’t offer much advice, when all is said and done I am still an unemployed graduate, but I would ask you to give yourself a reminder of how much love you have for the career you want. How inevitably that passion, drive and enthusiasm will reward you with a job that means more to you than a pay cheque.

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