Archive | December, 2011

Five random bits of strangeness from 2011

31 Dec

So everyone is getting all reflective about the highs and lows of 2011, I have to say that I’m not in the best frame of mind to talk about 2011 and what its meant to me, don’t get me wrong I’ve had good things happen to me and have had some highlights, but there’s also been quite a lot of negativity in my life as well. So best not to talk about that right now, I’m going to give you my five strange random things that made me raise my eyebrow or question general societies sanity this 2011, but at the same time made this year another unforgettable one.

1. Giant yellow banana riding the tube.

On an English uni trip down to see the National Libraries new exhibit, me and the girls decided to do a bit of a speed tour around some London hotspots and caught the tube, tube hopping we encountered a guy dressed in a giant banana suit riding the tube as if he was completely normal. This sums up life for me really, amongst a bunch of faceless people, there’s always one giant yellow banana of a person that catches your attention and makes all others fade into the background.

2. Lapdancing and then a lamp through the car window

After moving into the flat me and Rachel thought we had got rid of crazy neighbours, no, we just exchanged one lunatic for a whole bunch of others. After an evening out I came back was drawing curtains and caught my neighbour opposite me down below doing some sort of strange interpretive lap dance for her partner. Maybe he insulted her technique because that same evening at 1am the whole of our flat block was woken up by their domestic in the middle of the street, he got in his car and tried to drive away, she took a lamp and put it through his windscreen. All of Hever Hall was standing on their balconies watching….who needs a TV and Eastenders with neighbours like that?

3. ‘My Abs hurt’

So I joined a gym at the beginning of my third year at university as I do like a good de-stress workout (I’m in a far more mellow mood if I’m physically exhausted) Megan joined as well and we started doing work out and spa sessions together. Our gym offered lots of classes as well as an ‘abs on the hour’ session designed to work those stomach muscles. After a bit of cajoling I decided to give it a go if Megan was and despite the red face, I didn’t feel too bad. Until the next day, where I spent the rest of the week walking round clutching my stomach in agony, and for the first time ever using the expression ‘my abs hurt.’ I didn’t even know they could!

4. Woohoo I’m not dead!

Over May time I was meant to be revising and whilst that was going on, the world was also meant to end. At the time specified by the prophet of doom I did mute my music, put down my revision, looked out a window and waited to see whether it was worth continuing copying out my English notes. There was pretty much silence and I thought to myself ‘oh dear…maybe it is the rapture.’ Then  a minute after the specified time had come and gone I heard a guy shout out from somewhere ‘Woohoo I’m not dead!’ You just can’t fight that enthusiasm for life.

5. I love Christie

I was walking around doing a bit of shopping, grabbing a coffee, and just doing the usual in my own little world. A little while into my shopping a guy walked past me with two giant pieces of white card covering his front and back which said ‘I love Christie’ whoever that Christie is, she’s a lucky girl! Shame about the very large curly moustache he had drawn on his face, I felt it detracted somewhat from the romance.

So these are the five random things that I thought made the year 2011 just that little bit more randomly amusing and strange. This is hardly a list of important occurrences, but sometimes I think it’s the strange little things that happen in life that help to make it just a bit more complete, lets face it without them each year would be that little bit less bright! So perhaps when you’re reflecting over your personal journey for 2011, you should also have a reflection on the random ridiculousness that your sure to have encountered, and how it added to the year.


The virgin bargain hunters guide to the Christmas sales

26 Dec

In my household this year Christmas has been a bit bare boned, unfortunately instead of asking for pretty frivolous things that my mind wants beyond all reason and logic, I’ve had to ask for things I need, like a hair-dryer, socks and a toothbrush. Its seems that of course when you have very little money, all the everyday necessities start to malfunction and need replacing which can end up very expensive. So for the first time in well….ever, I have gone hardcore and transformed myself into the very type of person I use to heap my scorn upon…the hardened soul-less sales junkie.

That may seem a bit of a harsh description but believe me to survive the type of sales where you actually do make a saving, you have to be hardened and open to a whole new shopping experience where manners, social etiquette and norms no longer exist. This year being my first I’m hardly a sales veteran, but I made some good savings on items that were desperately needed, and after working the Next boxing day sale today, I have a few tips and tricks for those of you who like me, need to start saving pennies but feel too overwhelmed to take on the sales.

1. Santa isn’t the only one who needs a list                                                                                                

No wonder people find sales daunting

Before you go bargain hunting write down the items your hunting for. At a sale you’ll be surrounded by pretty items with big discounts and when everyone around you is snapping them up its easy to get carried away, but remember your trying to save money and buying items just because they happen to be cheap and catch your eye, ends up costing more than you think. If you know what you’re looking for, you’ll not only be quicker to find it in the store and can spend less time in the crowd and queues, but you won’t end up getting carried away and spending money you don’t have, you’ll make the savings you intended on the items you actually need.

2. The earlybird catches the bargain

Unfortunately most sales happen to be at highly unsociable hours of the morning, and you may have to queue up quite some time before the store opens to make sure you get in before the shop becomes one giant jumble sale and all the desirable items, that you and a large portion of other shoppers are most likely after, disappear. Be prepared to get up early and queue, this is one of the reasons sales have never appealed to me, who wants to get up on Boxing day and start shopping at some unholy hour? You have to weigh up how much you need to save money, how much you need the items and how much of a difference there will be between the original and sale price. Whether its worth it or not.

3. Close encounters…of the downright impolite, rude and uncivilised 

When I mentioned above that sales day shoppers were hardened I really wasn’t kidding, working the boxing day sale today I saw people shove each other aside to get to half price clothing, some people were unnecessarily abusive and snatching at items like spoilt children, blocking paths to rails so that they could have first pick and cutting ahead in lines. As someone who was raised in a house where nothing less than perfect manners was acceptable I felt like I was witnessing the decay of civilised social behaviour. I don’t wish to generalise that all shoppers behave in this manner, but the warning is there, you will encounter people who will have seemed to have lost all concept of acceptable behaviour. The best way to deal with this is to be firm but calm, stand your ground and don’t let people push you around, but don’t become aggressive.

4. Keep your cool

This may be the season for wrapping up warm but in this case wear something light, shops crowded with people get extremely hot and standing in a large line arms full of items will be bad enough without wearing a thick coat in the bargain, also take a bottle of water, you wouldn’t be the first to be overcome by the heat, it’s a sensible precaution to hydrate. Another little tip I’ve learnt from today’s experience working a sale…bodyspray. Shopping all day? In and out of hot crowded shops? Can’t hurt to have a little freshen up every now and then.

5. Its worth a go

So you try a sale and its not for you? Never mind, you haven’t lost anything by trying, and its always worth trying once! Don’t forget that you can always do a bargain hunt online as well! They may not have the same savings as the stores do, but you can do some shopping from the comfort of your own home, its a good way to get use to the Christmas sales, and snap up some bargains. With today’s finances as they are, it can’t hurt to explore new ways of saving money.

Taking the plunge

12 Dec

A fresh start for a fresh year

For a while now I have been struggling to find a way to gain a job that is even half way related to my degree, and failing dramatically. I’ve applied for opportunity after opportunity but turns out they weren’t my opportunities just other people’s. A paranoid part of me (at least I really hope it’s just paranoia and insecurity) kept thinking it was me, taking the rejections personally.

I’m perhaps misguided in thinking it, but I really do feel that I have all the essential ingredients for a good CV, lots of work experience in my field, good references and a large portfolio as well as lots of volunteering under my belt. But still nothing…locked in this cycle of depression, a part-time retail job, volunteering and fruitless job searches I’ve made a life changing decision and decided to take the plunge.

A new year means a new start, so in 2012 I will be turning my life upside down and moving to our glittering capital, London here I come! The career aspect is not just the driving force behind this move, I see everyone I know moving on and having lives, getting jobs, moving out, challenging themselves and making a little world of their own.

 Seeing everyone else having the courage to take on new challenges has given me the strength to start my own.

Moving to London will be hard, finding a job in London will most likely be harder. I’ll have no friends and its been over eleven years since I’ve lived there. It will be a risk for so many reasons, and I can’t deny that I am plagued by doubts. What if I don’t find a job? What if it all goes really wrong? What if I fail? Will I make friends? Am I up to the challenge?

My destination 🙂

Honest answer I don’t know…but I’ll never let fear stop me doing anything. If it’s a disaster then at least I’ll be able to say I tried and won’t regret not taking the chance. So 2012, new year, new start, new life hopefully a new job. I’m officially taking the plunge and moving to London in February.

I’ve watched my friends live out their own adventures, now its time for one of my own, all my friends have had the strength to be brave and make changes, inspiring me to make my own. The good news is I’ll be able to write more blog posts about life in the big city and all its strange quirks and undiscovered wonders!

Wish me luck!

Exit through the gift shop

7 Dec

Coventry’s Herbert Art Gallery and Museum was selected for the screening of the new film from popular and mysterious street artist Banksy. ‘Exit through the gift shop’ is part of the large street art exhibition the Herbert is currently showing to the public.

This strange but equally compelling film, documents the rise of street artist ‘Mr Brainwash’ from his beginning as Thierry Guetta, the Frenchman.  Whose obsession with filming everything and with street art leads him to meet and film famous and illusive street artists, such as Invader, Shepard Fairey and Banksy. We see how with the help of Banksy and other street artists, Guetta moves forward to become a street artist himself and take the art world by storm and cause massive controversy with his exhibition, much to the surprise of the street art community.

Street art, technically classed as graffiti and an illegal offense often carries political messages and challenges authority through art with iconic images such as the print of ‘obey’ by Shepard Fairey. What started as backstreet graffiti now has a following of thousands of fans, with some street artists selling work for thousands.

“The film was hilarious” Michaela Yates a Banksy fan commented “I’ve always loved Banksy and have some of his prints at home so I was excited about this film. It wasn’t what I expected with the focus being on Mr Brainwash but I thought it was great, the footage of how street artists produce their creations showed me a whole new side of street art, and it was amazing.”

Mark Jameson a street art enthusiast also found ‘Exit through the gift shop’ to differ from expectations and felt a strong reaction towards Mr Brainwash. “It was a fantastic film, and great to really get inside street art, the interviews with Banksy and Shepard Fairey gave some real insight into the process they go through as artists and also show some of the thoughts behind some of their more well-known works. The focus on development on the street artist Mr Brainwash was interesting but I was hoping to see more of Banksy, Mr Brainwash’s work seems a bit unoriginal to me and just a different copy of what other street artists have already come up with, and not worth the hype.”

‘Exit through the gift shop’ gives a never before insight into the world of street art and challenges the audience to decide whether ‘Mr Brainwash is the latest in a long line of brilliant street artists, or just another copy cat.

(NOTE: This interview and article was competed and published a long time ago and is being included as part of my online journalism portfolio)

Coventry’s got talent 2010

7 Dec

Calling all budding singers, dancers and variety acts, the popular spin off of everyone’s favourite TV show Britain’s got Talent, has come to Coventry giving local stars a chance to shine. Coventry’s Got Talent 2010 is back, with auditions being held at the Coventry Transport Museum on the 21st of November from 12-4pm. Just in time for the star studded finale on the 8th December.

Three local specialists from Coventry and Warwickshire in performing arts and music will be judging, choosing the lucky winner of the £100 cash prize and the priceless opportunity of appearing, and performing at next year’s Touch FM music event. Auditions slots are open for ages 10 years and above, giving everyone an opportunity to show off their skills, and must be booked in advance by phoning 02476234270.

“Coventry’s Got Talent has evolved from the Christmas factor” Clive Skelhon head of PR and Marketing at the Transport Museum commented “last year we has people coming off the streets wanting to audition, they didn’t really put any real effort into it or took it that seriously, so we thought we should develop it into something which a lot of people would like to take part in. There are a lot of talented people in Coventry and it’s time to give them an opportunity to show what they can do.”

Brody Swain from Touch FM will be hosting and introducing finalists for this much anticipated event that has already received much interest from the public. Coventry’s Got Talent has even sparked international interest, with a male yodeller travelling all the way from Romania to take part in the competition, for his chance to win.

“Almost all of our audition slots have been practically filled, people are looking for an opportunity to appear in front of the public and perform and that’s what we want to give them.” Clive added “the museum has always been a tourist attraction. And to most local people a kind of community centre which they regularly visit; it’s great that we have a new way of getting new people in here, and introducing them to the city, and what it has to offer.”

The final on the 8th is open to the general public; all are welcome to come along watch and cheer for their favourite act and be part of the audience.

(NOTE: This article is not recent and was published a while ago, it has been included for my journalism portfolio)


Charlie Beckett: Filmmaker, award winner, media sensation

7 Dec

Charlie Beckett, the man of many talents and careers appeared in Coventry Conversations to discuss the general election and the important part the media played in developing campaign tactics, and reporting on the crucial event that had the whole of the UK talking.

Charlie Beckett has been no stranger to diversity and change after a wide and varied career. An award winning filmmaker, past editor of the LWT and author of ‘SuperMedia,’ not to mention working at the BBC and Channel 4 News have been some of the highlights of Beckett’s lifework. Now the founding director of Polis, the journalism think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences, which holds lectures and seminars focusing on social media, financial and political journalism and media development, he devotes time to teaching others the craft.

“It was that rare thing, a very exciting general election, because we didn’t know what the result would be. The campaign really mattered, and was a close race which made it very exciting for journalists and also meant that the media really mattered” Beckett commented.

Beckett proposed that this year’s general election was unique from past elections, not just because of the precedence placed on campaign, but new through the way the campaign was reported and communicated to the public through the media. “What is interesting was the coverage of the general election and how it’s changed, for example the TV debates, we’ve never had them before. The TV debate had an extraordinary effect and put the Lib Dems in the centre. It dominated the whole coverage of the campaign and became the most important part, Nick Clegg, who most people probably hadn’t heard of, was voted as the winner of the debate.”

Beckett illustrated how the development of social media also played a part in making the political campaigns and election, a new and more engaging experience for voters. With record numbers twittering, Facebook posting, and blogging about the TV debate Beckett claims it’s never been easier for everyone to become interested in politics. “What happened in the elections was exceptional, it was a much more interesting way to talk about politics, thousands of people were on twitter answering the politicians directly, it shows that people are interested in politics and do want to talk about it, but in their own way.”

Finishing with advice to aspiring young journalists and political enthusiasts Beckett said, “Journalists are now networkers. Facebook, twitter and blogs on the web are all new platforms to display work on and show what you can produce.”


(NOTE: This interview was completed and published a while ago and is being included as part of my Journalism portfolio)

Behind the scenes exclusive! Debbie Isitt on Nativity!

7 Dec

Popular local director Debbie Issit returned to Coventry University to discuss her award winning film ‘Nativity’ and give the lucky Coventry Conversations audience an exclusive sneak peak preview of the behind the scenes footage appearing on the unreleased DVD and the future development of ‘Nativity’ as well as her other upcoming projects.

Isitt, renowned for her improvisational and creative approach to her work smiles as asked why her film was such a success with the viewing public “I suppose it was just one of those films that the public took to their heart, we won the Richard Attenborough award and even caught the attention of Gordon Brown, who needed some Christmas cheer! My family and myself sat at the back of the Odeon cinema in Nuneaton on Christmas eve watching the film and the audiences reactions, thinking this is fantastic, we’ve made a film and these people are here watching it on Christmas eve.”

Despite ‘Nativity’s popularity with the public and reaching number four in the Christmas film charts, film critics remain unconvinced, particularly and most memorably Jonathon Ross who in ‘Film 2009’ slated it as ‘the worst film ever made.’

“I’m use to being slated by the press and have done for years, but I felt slightly confused. I couldn’t understand why he hated it and was so disgusted by it” Debbie commented. ‘Nativity’ cost around three and a half million to make, in competition with Disney’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ this underdog regional film went on to be a large success “our tiny low budget, cheap title film is competing with Jim Carrey and other big ones’ Debbie said proudly.

Debbie revealed the exciting amount of interest in developing ‘Nativity’ with Universal Studios interested in doing an American remake, “I’m reluctant” Debbie admitted “there’s no guarantee I can direct and I can’t separate the work I make from me, its not about the money, some people are for sale but that’s just not me.”

Sky are also interested in creating a mini series based on the film and plans for a ‘Nativity 2’ as well as the possibility of a potential stage production are in the pipelines. “We really want to make a sequel” Debbie commented eagerly “we have a really good idea for Nativity 2.”

“I’m always there with a camera” Debbie advises budding directors looking to send their own creative visions out into the world “if you want to direct there’s nothing like seeing the world through the eyes of a lens, make your own movies and film everything!”

Issit is set to return to Coventry University to unveil a placard honouring her achievement and eager fans won’t have to wait long for ‘Nativity’, which is set to be released this November.


(NOTE: This interview was done and published some time ago and I am including it on here as part of my journalism portfolio)


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