Showing posts from 2016

2016, a disgustingly good year (bar all the shit)

Good evening.

I'm starting writing this post in the afternoon but there's a lot of food in the house at the moment and I'm prone to distraction so it'll take me a while to finish this.

I've not blogged since I got a job. That's because at the end of the work day I'm so sick of staring at my laptop screen that I can't bring myself to blog. But I'm not back at work til Jan 3rd so here we are.

Yeah, so, 2016 was a bit out there wasn't it? On my to-do list for 2016 I included "do something that 2015 Libby wouldn't have done". I did way too many of those things, which is great, because it proves I've grown as a person, but is also terrible, because here are some of those things I've done:

Tried coffee.Ended up crying on North Bridge in Edinburgh at 3.30am. Between the hours of 5 and 6am I went for a walk somewhere. I only know this thanks to FitBit.Spoke to a guru for advice, and trusted said advice.
I like to be in control of al…

8 things I learnt in Glasgow

At the end of my two and a half weeks volunteering in Edinburgh, I had a free day. In typical Libby style, I decided to head to Glasgow for the day. Here's what I learnt.

Wasps are fucking scary.
Yeah, I already knew this. But as I sat down in a cocktail bar, on my own, to begin writing this list of things I'd learnt, a wasp took it upon itself to pester me. My usual reaction is just sit tight and wait for it to disappear, but it didn't. I was in a great position, with a plug socket for my dying phone and free WiFi, so I refused to move. However, on reflection, I did look like a massive twat sat on my own and freaking out whenever the wasp came near me. At one point it made me jump so badly I sneezed so loudly I think I actually cleared my week-old cold.
I felt very Bridget Jones-y.Ask for friends' recommendations.
I usually head to cities and just wander or use Trip Advisor to find nice places, but this time I asked a friend who was a local. He pointed me in the direction…

6 things I learnt in Skegness

In my continuing bid to abandon all aspects of real life and absorb and enhance my inner Jack Kerouac, last Wednesday evening I headed to Skegness for no reason at all. After coming back and checking Facebook I realised almost half of Derby had the same thought pattern at some point this week.

I can't sleep in a Corsa.
Alas, I do not mean "one" cannot sleep in a Corsa, because my traveling companion got a solid three hours sleep as well as napping half the journey home. I mean I can't, mainly because it's a stupid place to sleep. This is because it's a Corsa. The seats recline to almost horizontal, but the point remains. It's still a Corsa. And I will sleep anywhere, including standing up in a club. But I cannot sleep in a Corsa. Because it's a shit idea.Two pence arcade machines remain the greatest invention since sliced bread.
Perhaps they even top sliced bread. We all know it's just the tiny dopamine rush that makes them so good - it's the sam…

25 highlights of my first uni year

I finished my first year at university nearly two months ago. I ran for the first train out of there and haven't had chance to craft a blog post in the time since. It's been an odd year, half living in Stoke and half living on a train bound out of Stoke.

I don't want to write a tedious post on the ins and outs of the year, so I've crafted a few listicles. Everyone loves those, right?

Please bear in mind when I say "uni", I mean the time between moving in and moving out. A lot didn't actually take place "at uni".

In no particular order, my top 10 favourite moments of uni:
Cartwheel in Edinburgh
When in Edinburgh, the hotel was big enough for me to do a cartwheel in. It was very odd, especially as I was underground, but I was so far away from everything and spending the weekend on my own, and it was nice.Postman's Park in London
For a few years, whenever I went to London I'd been trying to find Postman's Park. On my last trip I finally fo…

25 things I learnt in St. Davids, Wales

I like traveling. I don't like reading or writing travel blogs. From all my adventures I'm going to give you a list of things I've learnt on them. Maybe I'll add in a few witty anecdotes, about how I cried through the thunderstorm or someone wanted to steal a goat.

Here's what I learnt after a night in a sleepy Welsh suburb and four nights camping on a farm.

There's a Bret Easton Ellis line from his debut novel Less Than Zero: "People are afraid to merge". This is true.Driving on your own is the best way to listen to new music. Plug the aux cable in and put your phone where you can't reach it whilst driving.Get postcards from everywhere. I probably go overboard with this, but I don't care. At all.People look at you weird if you wear ripped jeans at a National Trust property. Remember they're the ones with the problem, not you.Being a girl on your own in ripped jeans paying for things in cash at a National Trust property makes you feel like …

My final words on the EU referendum (at last)

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm so excited for this whole referendum lark to be over. It's got all the excitement and apathy of Christmas meets Eurovision, but where you know Australia are going to bring a tornado as their entry.

If this is Christmas, then I'm somewhat fortunate to have been selected several months ago to be on Santa's good list of young uns and that the general public want to know what I want to Christmas. If this is Eurovision, I'm one of those screaming families that records their ridiculous parties and Graham Norton shows them to the world.

For whatever reason, the BBC chose me to be a part of their coverage of the EU referendum along with 200 other 18-25 year olds. For all intents and person, we are the ominous, unheard, marginalised "voice of the youth".

But for the best part of the program I've been a totally silent voice of the youth, basically getting a lot of exciting phone calls then being told the day before I …

Eurovision's corruption doesn't matter

Remember when America stumbled across the concept of a "cheeky Nando's", and they wanted the English to explain it? I saw my friend tweet that it was an "abstract concept". He was jesting, but in a sense it is, and in a sense the fact that people in the UK understand the concept of a "cheeky Nando's" but people in America didn't - well, to me, that say more about British culture than any amount of fish and chips, the monarchy, and tea: the things that allegedly sum up "British culture".

To me, the same applies for Eurovision.

Theoretically, Eurovision should be a singing contest, but anyone from Europe will tell you it isn't. The best song probably doesn't win. The best song charts around Europe the following Sunday (well, Friday, now), but all sorts of different factors affect who wins Eurovision.

I've previously said that I don't feel an overwhelming sense of pride in Britain, whilst I do in Europe, but this year…

Big Sixes and Club Omega

As people keep saying: Big Sixes are over, but Club Omega is forever.

A few weeks ago the "contemporary post emo jazz" (indie rock to you and me) band Big Sixes called it a day. The music industry seems to be in a current crisis of excellent bands calling it a day, but these guys were something special. It seemed only right to share a few memories.

These were the guys who performed a show on a boat in the Thames, the guys who called their shows Club Omega, who made a zine, and a T-shirt with Madonna falling over on - and another with Justin Bieber on. They were more likely to steal the interview and/or camera than to participate nicely. In fact, they did here.

Big Sixes made art and bought together a community of people who loved art like they did. It's fair to say everyone in "Club Omega" was chuffed when they were signed to a label, but the guys were always a little more than just an outfit who made music. They were the most brilliant collection of artists, a…

A eulogy

I wasn't sure if "eulogy" was the right word. I gave the definition a Google and feel it is.
Just over four years ago, someone bought me a pair of shoes, and a few weeks ago they fell apart beyond repair.

Didn't have me pegged as a person who would be moved by losing a pair of shoes from her wardrobe? Let me tell you that these weren't any old shoes.

They cost £3, came from Primark, and were brown, lace-up wedge heels with a fabric, like, cuff, around the top. I don't know what it's called I never buy shoes. You're not reading the words of a shoe fanatic, you're reading the words of a practicality fanatic.

At first they were just a pair of shoes that made me look about three inches taller, it took me until the following summer for me to realise they had super powers.

Perhaps not super powers, but you've got to respect that fact that these were a pair of three quid Primark shoes that took a lot of wear and tear.

Over the summer I went to Edinbu…

Edinburgh: mash, milkshakes, and Christmas

It's 8pm on a Saturday. I'm in bed watching TV and writing this and once again contemplating if I'm living my student life "right". If there is a "right". Perhaps that's not what I mean, more, I feel like I might be letting my "best" three years slip away.

By the way, I'm in an Edinburgh hotel.

So I might not be "wasting" my student life, but it certainly feels a little odd. Since Christmas, I've got into a bit of a habit of disappearing from uni each weekend.

I didn't decide to write this till late in the first day, so mind that I've not included anything before then. A summary: Scotland is far away, I ate a meal in the form of mashed potato, I got stuck in the back room on a vinyl shop.

I think part of the charm of the Scottish capital might be that it feels nothing like a capital. Ten minutes out of the city by train and you could be in the middle of the Highlands. Actually, I take that back. I thought Carlisle…

Brexit, pursued by a bear

Finally, after months of drafting and re-drafting this post, I can form it into something more than an nonintellectual babble with little articulation or purpose.
On June 23rd, I'll be voting to stay in the EU.
At first I believe this vote was merely dictated by my want of some level of security, but after a discussion yesterday, I've realised I can now support my argument, and I'm no longer in a position where I could be swayed.
A "reformed" EU From what I've seen, a lot of people are voting to stay in the hope of a "reformed" EU. I don't know exactly what this vague term means to individual people, but I presume people are looking for a more democratic union.
I won't quote statistics here, because I believe every figure I've thus far seen on any matter relating to the referendum has been challenged somewhere else, so there would be little point in doing so. It would deduct from the point.
However, what I do know, with enough certainty t…

31 songs: part 3

The end is nigh (at last). Part three of three of my 31 desert island songs list. Normal blog posts shall soon resume. Postal Service - District Sleeps Alone Tonight
Last December I got into loads of new music. Postal Service was one of the best I found, they're fantastic.Public Service Broadcasting - The Other Side
Another band I got into last year, during my Mercury Prize love phase. I found this in a list of artists that should have been nominated but weren't. The whole album, Race For Space, is brilliant, but this is particularly special. It's bizarrely motivational.Relient K - Must've Done Something Right
I saw the lyrics to this song on Tumblr. Googled the lyrics, loved them so much I got hooked on the song. I have a blog named after a line. They're so cute.Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter
My favourite film (if you hadn't guessed) is Closer, and this is the song through the titles. This track got me into Damien's music, it's sorta wonderful.And…

31 songs: part 2

Following me finishing Mentioned a week ago (and what a relaxing week it's been for it), I started building a list of my all time, desert island, favourite 31 songs. You can read the first ten here, and below is the next bunch. Fatherson - James
A lot of musicians fill my Instagram feed, and in the spirit of "support your scene", they share a lot of music they like. As I'd heard the name a few times, when I saw Fatherson's I Am An Island posted on there, I gave it a listen in a late study session after college a few years back. I fell in love with one track off the record, Cat Stevens, and when I listened back to the album in full a year or so ago, I loved the whole thing, but the line, "so go home, sober up, take a weight off your feet and just chill", caught me. In the first weeks of uni I wrote it out with a thick marker pen on some cardboard and stuck it up.The Front Bottoms - Cough It Out
Someone posted the internet famous line, "with tears in m…

31 songs: part 1

On Monday I posted about closing down the project/website I've worked on for years, Mentioned Reviews. For whatever reason I never posted any listicles or opinion pieces there, so I thought posting some here might be an approrpiate way to finish things off.

Nick Hornby, author of High Fidelity, wrote a book called 31 Songs. I'm a big fan of his work and even I wouldn't say it's his best offering, but I wanted to post a selection of my desert island favourite songs and 31 seems a good amount - not as brief as 10, not as labourious as 50, and can be almost split into thirds, so I've a few low-maintenance posts to put out whilst I get back into the swing of uni.

Here are the first ten, alphabetically.
Gabrielle Aplin - November
This list has taken a lot of editing. I was going to start the list with Air Traffic's Shooting Star, but replaced it for 23. When Aplin released her first album I only listened to a couple of songs, but from last July when I started by trave…

A heartfelt goodbye

One night in the final days of August 2013, I had an idea that kept me up all night. Under 100 hours later, after a long time spent staring at a computer screen, sending emails, editing, writing opinion, writing HTML, setting up social media, and contacting people, the idea was launched. Here's my final post to say goodbye to it.

Whilst I was planning for my next blog post to be about vegetarianism, I realised last night that this was a move I'd been putting off for a long time and that it's time to properly shut off Mentioned Reviews.

A full blog post might seem a little excessive, but this outlet isn't solely designed for opinion pieces and social justice ranting, a blog might as well be about my life and after the impact Mentioned has had it only felt fair, right, and proper to give it a little more than a few dozen words on a Facebook status, especially for all the people who ask me for reviews or know me because of the site.

Thanks to Mentioned I've got to kno…

For World Poetry Day - one poem everyone should read

When I was in primary school, about 9 years old, my teacher showed my class a poem. I didn't get it. Two years ago on World Poetry Day, it popped into my head and I suddenly understood it.
Written by Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, If was written in 1895 and published in 1910.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em…

Understanding the problem with #AllLivesMatter

I understand that all lives matter, of course they do, but there's more wrong with the seemingly well-meaning "#AllLivesMatter" stance than may be apparent.
After the media, or at least social media, began to promote awareness of cases like Michael Brown's - the innocent black teenager from Ferguson who was shot and killed by American policeman Darren Wilson in August 2014 - there came a rise in the use of the hashtag "#BlackLivesMatter". In response to this, there was also a rise in the use of "#AllLivesMatter".
It may seem perfectly innocent - after all, we're aiming for equality, are we not? - but it's actually a problem.
There's a concept called being "colour blind", which essentially means to claim to not "see" race; there are also variants for not "seeing" gender, sexuality, religion etc., all meaning the same thing. It's a well-meaning term, saying that you refuse to discriminate or treat peopl…

How to get cheap train tickets

I have a lot to write about at the moment, from International Women's Day to film analysis, but trains are something I've had a problem with for a while now, and after a particularly frustrating moment whilst trying to figure out the cheapest method to get to Lincoln, I snapped.

Our railway system is ridiculous, so here are some tips I've discovered about how to get cheap tickets, along with some of the more ridiculous things I've stumbled across.
Buy a railcard. These are best if you're traveling a lot, but even if you're a student going home at the end of every semester the savings can turn out to be brilliant. With a Santander student bank account you get one for free - I was notoriously excited waiting for mine and took a gratuitous trip to Lincoln when it arrived - but over the course of weeks-months of trains journeys, they really pay off.
Book in advance. "Book in advance and save up to £EXTORTIONATE AMOUNT". This isn't a scam, booking in adv…

John McDonnell: "I will never stand to be the leader of the Labour Party"

Over the past few weeks there has been some media speculation about who will be the next leader of the Labour Party.

More specifcally, there has been some speculation about whether John McDonnell will be the next leader of the Labour Party.

At East Midlands' first Momentum conference last Saturday, I asked McDonnell for his response to this.

"Jeremy Corbyn is my closest friend, we've worked together for over thirty years, he's the leader of the party, he's going to be the next Prime Minister of this country.

"I'm pleased that he's chosen me to be the Shadow Chancellor and that's the role that I'll play.

"I will never stand to be the leader of the Labour Party.

"The recent poll in terms of Jeremy's support, the support among the Labour party in rank and file has gone up since he was elected.

"He was elected nearly 60% of the electorate last time around, and if there was another leadership election tomorrow or in the next coup…

Owen Jones: reforming the press

Two weeks ago Owen Jones, author of Chavs and The Establishment And How They Get Away With It, came to Staffordshire University for a two day residency to speak to hundreds of students and members of the public on all manner of topics including journalism careers and the "politics of hope".

Last week I discussed a topic Jones spoke about at length - how we can go beyond "preaching to the converted" and encourage people who are currently disinterested in politics to engage with it. Across the talks he gave there was another topic he touched on several times - how the press can be reformed to work better and more fairly for everyone.

When asked directly for his opinion on the topic, his main objection to the current structure of the press was the ownership of it. It's renowned that Rupert Murdoch owns more than his fair share of the press, especially in Australia, and Jones described Murdoch's open aim as to "shift the political agenda - and it works, pe…

YikYak: are anonymous views always bad news?

Let's wind back to August 2013. Anonymous question site is big. Just as big are the stories of teen suicides due to cyber bullying. One of the biggest stories is that of Hannah Smith, and whether or not there is truth in the inquest that said 98% of the hate messages she received came from her own IP address, the end game is the same - was to blame. wasn't the first nor the last website to offer a method of anonymous messaging; Tumblr's anonymous message setting has also been a culprit of causing suicides.

Now there is the rapid rise of YikYak, a localised anonymous messaging service that works primarily as a phone app - think Twitter, but only with people nearby, and, of course, without names. I first heard of the service several years ago in an article on Radio 1's Newsbeat, discussing how and why the app was to be banned on school campuses - to prevent bullying. At the time, YikYak wasn't that popular on this side of the pond but in the last…