Thursday, 18 September 2014

Favourite Holidays

Sept 18th: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you've been to or a favorite vacation.

This is going to be short because I'm having a pretty hectic/stressy time of it right now and my brain is frazzled, so, apologies in advance.

I have two favourite holidays. One was actually a college geology trip to Iceland in October 2012 and the other was a trip to Orkney (as part of a tour of Scotland) in summer 2013. 

Iceland was amazing because a) Vikings akfhslafha b) It's just magical there and c) THE NORTHERN LIGHTS 4 NIGHTS OUT OF FIVE :D ( one night viewed from a hot tub ;) ) 

Orkney was amazing because a) Vikings akfhalshlfashl b) Goregous accents c) Maes 
howe, Skara Brae, Ness of Brodgar, Ring of Brodgar, Stones of Stenness & Tomb of the Eagles 

So yeah, not a great post but all my brain can manage today. Has anyone else been to Orkney or Iceland? Or have any of you seen the Northern Lights?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

My Kiddie Wedding and Kiddie Divorce

Sept 16th: "Most people don't know this but..."

So....I found this one pretty hard because I can't really think of anything of any significance/interest I haven't already shared with most people I know. Well, that is, of the things I am prepared to share.  I'm drawing a complete and utter blank here. So I asked my friends and one suggested I share a story from my childhood, so, here goes:

Most people don't know this but...when I was 11 years old (in Year 6) I had a "kiddie wedding" to my then "boyfriend". 
I would like to point out that this was not my idea, nor the idea of the boy in question. No, this was some kind of strange project orchestrated by my then circle of friends and one girl in particular who led the whole enterprise.

You see, I had made the mistake of being the first in our group to get a "boyfriend" and that only happened in the first place because of my friends practically forcing the poor lad to ask me out and then practically forcing me to say yes. But because I was the first, mine was the "relationship" which held the most novelty factor and novelty factor to my 11 year old friends meant: "They've been dating for a week. Get them to have an embarrassing kiddie wedding"...I may be paraphrasing there but you get the gist.

So, it was only a couple of days before the planned day of the wedding and my "boyfriend" and I had just been informed of it's impending arrival. I remember being told by friend to everyone to bring in lots of jewelry like badges and rings for me to wear and that her and my "boyfriend" were going to sort out the "wedding ring". 

Then the day rolled round.

Lunch time. My friends help me pin a number of random pins, badges and brooches onto my school jumper, I go out of the Year 6 corridor door into a space of empty playground hidden from view of most of the school. The "boyfriend" stands there, looking as geeky and as nervous as he usually looks, but, pleasingly, looking happy at my arrival. My friend stands in front of him, ready to perform the ceremony. My bridesmaids and I walk over (they're also suitably adorned). When I reach the "boyfriend" the friend acting as registrar speaks. Says some words I don't recall. Then my "boyfriend" produces a ring. He puts on my finger. There's debate over which is the correct ring finger to wear it on. The "registrar" declares us "Kiddie Married" and so we are.

Jump forward a month of so.

Year 6 residential trip. By this point I have decided I no longer wish to go out with the then "boyfriend" and that I actually fancy another boy in my year. This leads to me being far too wimpy to break up with the "boyfriend" and instead making the awful mistake of allowing two of my friends (involved in the original plot to get us together in the first place and then in out kiddie wedding) to break up with him for me - Oh the shame, 11 year old me - and they declare than we have now had a "kiddie divorce".

So...that is the story of how I had a "kiddie marriage" with my first "boyfriend" which lasted all of a month. I did later ask the boy I fancied at the residential out and we "dated" for a few months before he began to annoy me and I ignored him until he got the hint......Don't judge year 7 Rachel....I judge her enough for the both of us....And even if you do judge me, don't judge me too harshly as the ex-"boyfriend" number two turned out to be a bit of a hardcore right-winger in the forthcoming years, with some pretty unsavoury views...."boyfriend" number one was a lovely boy who I actually realised I still fancied even when I was with "boyfriend" number two...but he moved to France half way through Year 7 dilemma solved....

[ Also, Most people don't know this but Sarah is freaking awesome ;) ]

Monday, 15 September 2014

This is my fictional world

Sept 15th: Make a mood board. Are you brainstorming a room re-do, or are you dreaming of glamping with gal-pals? Share a collage of any kind! (Examples here and here).

 So here a couple of collage things inspired by a story I'm currently writing. It's basically about a world that's been massively changed by some kind of environmental change that they call 'the disaster'. In the North (where the story begins about 14 years after the disaster) this has led to a lowering of sea levels and a colder, darker, wetter climate. The first collage (below) is for my main character, Pip. He's about fourteen years old, a shepherd boy and lives with his adopted family in a village on a small island close to the mainland. The fire is because his adopted family are blacksmiths and he often sleeps in the smithy. The stew and the cat are connected to another main character that Pip meets early in the story.

The second collage (below) is for the island in general. It's small, shaped like a fish and lies in a bay close to the northern coast but is only accessible by a wooden bridge/walkway with rope sides (like the pier in the collage). It's fringed by mudflats, meadows, marshes and sea. The mud and the rain signify how waterlogged the ground is by the near constant rain (caused by the disaster). The fog and the stormy sea show the Autumnal weather at the start of the story. The forge and the hall are examples of the kind of buildings I imagine to make up the village. The iris is for one of the main characters who is called Iris because of the colour of her eyes and the rabbit is because one of the only luxuries since the disaster is rabbit stew.

[I got all the images from Google image searches and I made the collages on ]

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Blog-tember: Late to the party

Seeing as I am late to this party, I'm going to do days 1 to 13 a bit more rapid-fire than was likely the intention but hey ho. 

Sept 1st: Imagine the front sleeve of a hard cover novel. Give us your "About the Author" so we can get to know one another, and for fun tell us what your imaginary novel would be about.

"Born in Portsmouth in the mid-90s, Rachel was a bit of a suck-up for most of her school career - well she had to do something to compensate for the distinct lack of pets in her childhood. For GCSE she took a second humanities subject instead of an arts subject as she is no way visually creative, good acting, especially musical (though she did play violin for 6 years as child) nor sufficiently geeky to take a computer course. For A level, she made the mistake of taking both maths and physics in her first year which went...well it went, anyway. Outside of education, Rachel likes to read - well duh, she's author (apparently) - pine for a pet kitten, fangirl over characters from 'Bloodline' & the 'Vikings' and basically have no life."

I'm currently part to mid-way through writing maaaaaaaaaaany stories. One is about a girl at court in the C16, one is about vikings in Ireland in the C10, one is set in a fictional dystopian world in the future-past, one is set in Orkney partly in the Neolithic, partly in the C12 and one is about a band and is set in the present day. OH and one is one I started writing when I was 13 and is well...bad...

Sept 2nd: Write about what makes you happy, from the little joys to the huge game-changers.

Lot's of things make me happy. They everyday little things that make me happy are all those 'uplifting' stories you see sometimes in the news. Things like, "10 year old boy with Autism tells his mother he loves her for the first time" or "75 year old lady marries her partner of 30 years after the legalisation of same-sex marriage" or "Family reunited with pet after house fire". Any positive story about ordinary life makes me happy, at least temporarily.
On a more personal level, my friends being happy (especially if they're clearly very happy or excited) makes me happy. Learning makes me happy. Reading makes me happy. Listening to podcasts and singing badly to music makes me happy. Baking makes me happy. Nice food makes me happy. Scandinavians make me happy. Anglo-Saxons make me happy. Bloodline makes me happy. I could go on listing for a while, so I'll stop...

Sept 3rd: "When I grow up I want to be...." Feel free to answer as your 5-year-old self or as of now.

When I was 5 I wanted to be a steam train driver. I still kind of do, in my heart of hearts. The dream ended when I realised that to sell the Steam Engine Driver look, you had to wear dirty overalls and probably a flat cap. 
When I was a bit older I wanted to be a receptionist in a vets (I dunno either). Then, briefly and in quick succession, a teacher, an author and a actor in musicals.
When I thought about it seriously, aged around 11, I decided I wanted to be an archaeologist and this carried on until about 18 months ago (save for a short time when I wanted to be an astrophysicist hahahahaha) 
Now? Well, the dream is to be a documentary maker/presenter for the TV and radio. If that doesn't pan out (or even if it does) I'd like to work for a museum (curation/research/education) or for a university (teaching/research).
I also want to be a Dr...not a medical doctor....but I want a PhD...I don't know if it will happen...but I'm aiming for it.

Sept 4th: Pick a fashion trend you love and a fashion trend you hate. Win us over!

I'm not really into fashion but there are definitely fashions I dislike. One being wearing leggings (which are quite often cheap and pretty much see-through) with nothing covering the bum area. It's the same as wearing thick tights and a t-shirt but one is more acceptable than the other even though both are stupid. Also, finding a well fitting pair of jeans is a nightmare. As is trying to find "fashionable" shoes that aren't dead flat or heels.
Fashion trend I like? I don't know that it's a trend exactly but I really love waistcoats.
Sept 5th: "I am passionate about ______________. "

Oh well I guess I'm passionate about quite a few things. I can certainly enter into heated debates about any number of different topics. I suppose the thing I'm most passionate about is a sense of fairness. Unfairness and hypocrisy are the two things that make me the most passionately angry.

From the interests perspective, I can't really think of too many things I'm passionate about. I get far more passionate about ideas and principals and actions than about the things that really interest me.
Though, having said that, I do really passionately fangirl over anything to do with Vikings, Celts or Anglo-Saxons or Scandinavian because alsfhakfhalksfhalskhfa 

Sept 6th: A "currently..." post. Tell us what you're loving, hating, reading, eating, etc. If you want to borrow a list, mine is here.

...reading Oh I'm half way through dozens of things but I guess the real answer would be 'The Last Viking 1066' by Berwick Coates
...watching Vikings series one and two again, Great British Bake off, Doctor Who, Strictly.

...trying to make a dress for Comic Con in October with mixed results 

...eating the yummy yummy junk I usually eat

...tweeting the usual inanity.

...going to university in London very soon
...loving my friends and family 

...discovering I'm really going to need to work hard at uni if I'm going to manage my time/budget/diet properly 

...enjoying the books I'm reading at the moment and volunteering

...thinking about all the amazing experiences I'm going to have throughout my four years at university

...feeling excited, stressed, excited, under-prepared, excited, tired, excited, happy, excited a bit more, scared, back to excited

...hoping I'll get along with my flatmates and course mates and for a good year for all of my current friends.

...listening to Fall Out Boy, ABBA, Adam & Joe podcasts, Just William stories, S Club 7...Most of the contents of my iPod

...thanking anyone who bothers reading this

...starting to freak out about just how close I am to moving away from home 

Sept 7th: What's on your current reading list? Or what have you read that you recommend?

I actually wrote something a couple of days ago about my favourite books:

Sept 8th: Music that moves you. Are you a Spotify addict or a Pandora guru? Tell us your favorite artists/stations!

Well....if I'm taking 'moves' to mean an emotional thing then most, if not all, of the Les Mis soundtrack has me sobbing every time and, as with most people I'd imagine, a song that resonates with my current situation is more likely to make me emotional. Songs that always make me happy include Imagine Dragons 'On Top of the World', ELO 'Mr Blue Sky', The Killers 'Mr Brightside', Mika 'Elle Me Dit', anything by S Club 7 or ABBA or from an upbeat musical and basically anything I can sing along to loudly and out of tune.

In a slightly different sense, something else in me is moved by anything vaguely celtic or dark sounding and anything in a language other than English. 
I don't really have a favourite band or artist and I tend to listen to spoken radio (Radio 4) more than music centred radio but, generally, I like rock, country, folk and some pop.  

Sept 9th: Let's talk personality types. Introverted? Extroverted? Unsure-troverted? ;) If you know your Myers-Briggs type, tell us about it! If not, you can take this similar test and share your results.

I'd say I was definitely an extrovert. I really hate being on my own for long periods of time and get really hyper when my family come back from work after I've been home alone all day. Even when I can't really be bothered to go to volunteering or get up early to go see some friends, once I'm there, I crave and enjoy the company. That's not to say I don't get sick of being with people, because I really do. It's a bit of a bummer really that I hate being on my own but I get pretty easily irritated by annoying habits. I certainly don't suffer fools gladly (as my mum would say)...Generally, though, I'd MUCH rather be in company (not too big a group though) than on my own.

Sept 10th: List 10 things that you love about yourself! Let's kick that negative self-talk outta here!

1 - I like that I want to learn new things even though I'm out of compulsory education.
2 - I think I'm a pretty good friend(?) I dunno...
3 - I like that I care about things that I think matter...even if I can't do anything about it
4 - I like that I've got waaaaaaaaaay more confident around new people since I started volunteering
5 - I like that I had the guts (stupidity) to decide to study a subject I really want to do even if it doesn't get me directly into a job
6 - Linked to above, but I like that I'm brave enough to pick a course which involves studying in Danish in Denmark for a year which is something I really want to do but am realllly scared about

7 - I like that I have amazing brave, thoughtful and clever friends who have been through so much crap but are still here
8 - Superficial, but I like my eyes and my nose
9 - I like that I bake pretty alright cakes, as it goes
10 - I like that I like myself enough to have good self-esteem but not so much that I don't know my own flaws (of which there are many)

(I found that list sooooooo hard to do :/)

Sept 11th: How do you stay inspired? Who inspires you the most? friends inspire me a lot. Lots of them have had or are having rough times but they're getting on with it, however bad things are or however bad they feel. On the one hand this makes me feel guilty about my laziness and lack of motivation for many things, but on the other it shows me that if my friends can get up everyday and do something, so can I.

In terms of inspiration for my future career and my passion for public archaeology/heritage/history, I'd say my inspirations are: Mick Aston, Mary Beard, Alice Roberts, Michael Wood, my A level Archaeology teacher, my GCSE History teacher, everyone at the museums I've volunteered at this past year and probably so many more I can't think of right now. 

Sept 12th: Tell us about a favorite tradition. It could be a family tradition or from a holiday, university, you-name-it. What makes it so special?

I can't really think of any specific traditions apart from at Christmas. When we were young, my parents would try to minimise mine and my brother's hyper-active excitement on Christmas Eve by having my brother and I exchange presents before going to bed on the 24th. We still do this to this day even though by this Christmas I'll be 19 and he'll be 26.

Sept 13th: Your current relationship status. If dating/married, give us a glimpse of your story! If single, share about this special season.

I'm single at present and it's okay. There are many upsides to being single and some downsides. I'm not looking for anything but if it happens, it happens. 

Sept 14th: When did you start blogging and why?

I started a few months ago.....I don't really have a good reason why other than because I felt like it at the time....I suppose I kind of thought it would be a good hobby, something to do to get my random musing about things down somewhere and as a way to archive uni when I get there... but mostly it was just....'cause...Not a very good response but that's because I really don't have "a reason" for starting...

Saturday, 13 September 2014

A Week Today

I’m starting university a week today. Well, that might not be strictly true. I can say that I’m moving into my university accommodation and that this signals the start of Freshers Week but the nitty gritty of university? That probably won’t be starting for a couple of weeks.

Still, moving out of the parental home and being in charge of my own shopping, cooking, clothes washing, budget and overdraft is a big enough step for the time being. The independent studying and freaking out about not being able to get good enough at Danish is two years to be able to study in Danish in Denmark in year three (Okay. Breathe), can come later. Well, a week later.

Weird thing is, the first step doesn’t really scare me that much. Maybe it will the day before or when I get there or maybe never. I feel like I’ve been preparing for independent living for this past year and, whilst not always entirely successful (okay mostly not), it’s made the whole ‘moving out of home’ thing far less scary. That and the fact I’m only moving two hours away by train. Having visited London for day trips twice in the past month, the proximity and the relative familiarity has taken the edge off the nerves.

What I am getting stressed out about is being under-prepared. I don’t even really know what I mean when I say that. Maybe it’s that I haven’t really done much packing or that I haven’t finished reading two library books due back on Friday or that I haven’t finished my dress for Comic Con (I need to do it before I go because I’m not going to have a sewing machine/time at uni). Maybe it’s just displacement because I really am worried about moving but I’m distracting myself with all these perceived preliminary tasks.

I am so so so SO excited about going to uni and beginning my course. I am so excited about being in the middle of London with everything on my doorstep. I am so excited about meeting people from all over the world and from diverse cultures. I am so excited about sharing a room with one of my best friends. I am so excited about going to seminars. I am even so excited about writing my first essay.

So, with just a week to go before I’m off, I best stop writing this and carry on with all the things I have to do.

Friday, 12 September 2014

It's been a while...

Okay, so I was going to do a lot more posts from my Northern Ireland trip and all the things that have been happening to me since, but well....I kinda...didn't.

Partly this was because I was just busy having a nice time. Partly this was because the camera I was using to document things started playing up and it's far more effort to transfer stuff from my phone to my laptop (it's actually easier but I didn't realise that at the time). Partly this is because we had car problems on the way back and it disrupted the next week and a half after we got home.

Anyways, the point of this is to say that I am, once again, going to be making a conclusion effort with this blog.

At least for a few weeks.

Oh and I will finally be putting some stuff up on my Mostly Books blog as I have a few things lined up, including an awesome trip to see The Crucible at the Old Vic!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Flags & Pride

Evening of 31st July to Morning 2nd August

I don't think I have seen this many (Union Jack) flags in such a short space of time ever before (well maybe in the Summer of 2012). I have to admit I was rather surprised at the number and density of flags being flown in and around Belfast. Sure, I had expected a couple of various lilts concentrated around the 'peace' walls, but they were practically everywhere (outside of the city centre). The vast majority of these were Union Jacks or Northern Irish - Unionist - flags; some streets in largely Protestant/Presbyterian had alternate Union flags/Northern Irish flags every few meters.

Flags seem to be a thing that the people of the city (and of Northern Ireland more generally) cling to for a sense of identity - Downpatrick, Clough, Lisburn, Ballymena and Ballyboogey all full of Union Jacks and Northern Irish flags. We ventured on an open-topped tour bus and our tour guide informed us that although the divisions are still very pronounced in Belfast, many (mostly likely the majority) of people in Northern Ireland just want peace, not politics.
Politics, however, seems to be what is being clung to in these flags. Especially as many of the Irish flags in the largely Catholic areas we passed through, were accompanied by Palestinian flags; their mark of solidarity for the Palestinians. The Unionist side didn't seem to be involved in that particular bit of politics but I did see one solitary Israeli flag at one point (though this was very close to a traditionally Jewish area of the city).

It was harder to get good pictures on the 'Nationalist's Side' as the wind was blowing quite a lot.

Two flags/symbols that the city does seem to unite (or at least not fight over) on, however, is Manchester United (George Best) 

and (pleasingly) The Belfast Pride Festival, which culminated with the march today. Much of the city centre was full of Pride flags, merchandise and posters and none of it seemed to be meeting with any hostility.


From 31st July 2014

Reminiscent of our journey exactly a year previously from
 Gill's Bay (Scot. mainland) to St. Margret's Hope (Orkney)

                                                             Beautifully calm Irish sea

                                       From Cairnryan (Scot) to Larne (N.Ireland)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Not Falling in Love

(Apologies in advance that this is going to be a bit long and a bit of a ramble because I'm just free writing and it's a bit of a mess to try and edit it)

One of my biggest fears in life is that I will never fall in love romantically. 
I'm nineteen and I've never even been close.

It feels like almost everyone I know that's my age or older (and younger in some cases D:) has been or is in love. It's not that I fear myself incapable of feeling strongly or caring genuine about someone, I just have only ever felt it in a platonic way; I love my family and closest friends deeply and care a lot about them but the closest I've been to being in love is the fantasy of it.

 In all of the relationships I have been (attempted to be) in, I have been the one who's lost interest. It seems as soon as I have (and take) the opportunity to be with someone I'm attracted to (both physically and because of their personality) I find they are not all the kind of person I am attracted to and I just...stop being attracted to them...with some I've just stopped liking them full stop.

Part of me thinks this is just because I've got into a couple of "relationships" I shouldn't really have gotten in to. Primarily this was because I knew I didn't really want a relationship at that stage - I still don't, I don't think - but I'd convinced myself that for this person I did, for this person I would make the effort. I would want to make the effort.

But, alas, no.

And the fact I'm not even all that sorry about it not working out, that I realised so early on that these weren't relationships I wanted to make the effort for, is the reason I worry. These are people I really liked before, people I really saw myself being with. People I could talk to for ages; it could be just the two of us and it not be awkward; people I would look forward to seeing. Then as soon as we'd been on a date or the joy of knowing they liked me back had worn off, I just felt....nothing. Just annoyance and slight resentment. This all just makes me think that the reason I worry I'm never going to fall in love is because I get bored of (potential) boyfriends so quickly. Someone said this to me once and I denied it profusely because I thought he'd got it all wrong - I hadn't got bored of them, I'd just realised we didn't have as much in common or as much attraction as I thought - but what if he was right? What if I'm going to be one of those people who never falls in love or has a long term relationship because they only want the chase and not the result?

It's not like any of this is a conscious effort. I do enjoy the build up, the flirting, the possibility, the wondering far more than I have enjoyed any (well maybe all but one) date I've been on but is that just because I was going on dates with the wrong guys? Or is it destined to stay like that? Does whatever weird mix of chemicals and consciousness that decides my emotions not have the capability of desiring anything more than the chase?

Maybe not, because despite all this I do crave some aspects of an established relationship: closeness, trust, being able to talk about anything from the most trivial to the most personal (and, of course, physical attraction). Maybe it's not the being in love bit I don't want but the preliminary bits that go into it - the getting to know each other part where each time you have to decide how much more to reveal about yourself. The effort, essentially. Without this, though, the love bit is obviously never going to happen.

So maybe this is all just immaturity? I know I have to put the effort in, I just don't want to. So in a few years, when I've gone to uni and matured (ha ha ha ha) and had a far larger pool of people to choose from than I've ever had (or am likely to have), I will find that guy who I like so much I will want to make the effort (?)

But as I said, I know all that already, that I have to put effort in and have never wanted to....So is that really immaturity? Or is it the wrong guys or is it the wrong me? Is it linked to the fact I don't have a particularly obsessive personality? I've never obsessively collected anything or got really obsessed with celebrities, etc because I just don't have that trait.  Is romantic love (or at least certain types of romantic love) just a form of obsession? If so, then I don't think that kind of love will ever be available to me (or anyone else lacking an obsessive trait). (Maybe that's not such a bad thing, though.)

So (not to repeat myself) maybe it really is just that I get bored of everything eventually; I always want to move onto something else, thus I've never been obsessed with anything. I want to move on to a new club, a new subject, a new story, a new hobby, a new idea so will this desire to move on will also apply to my dating life too? I hope not. I really don't want to be the kind of person who has to move on from every relationship because 'I've got all I can out of it'. I want to be the kind of person who finishes things, follows through but I'm having to fight myself for all of it. I only followed through with my A levels by not really trying after around February of second year and now I regret the fact I could have done better (not that I'm complaining about what I actually got!). I hate that part of myself, I really do but my motivation just goes from everything before I'm done with it (with the exception of reading a good book!), even if I was enjoying it to start off with. Falling in love is following through with someone and your feelings for them. It's following through with the emotion so that it doesn't evaporate when commitment is on the table. So will it always be a forced experience to follow through, even if it's for love?

I know I'm only young and I have (hopefully) many years of my life to work all this out and fall in love. I know that, having never been in love, I don't actually understand it or how it feels or works. I also know that falling in love is not the be all and all of life. I'm just scared of the possibility that I have an inability to ever experience it (being in love). I'm scared that I'll be lonely and be left out of the experiences of my peers because of it.  - it's hard not to when every piece of pop culture seems to revolve around people in love.

I really don't do well on my own.

I guess I'll have to learn to.

I'm not actively looking for a relationship right now and don't intend to start in the near-future, I just hope the situation changes eventually...

Sunday, 20 July 2014

What is a "hero"?: Lot's of questions, no actual answers

So, I walked the 10k Race For Life today for (if you don't know) Cancer Research UK.

My participation in the event evidently shows I am pro-fundraising events of this nature; mass participation makes sense if you want large numbers of people giving a relatively small (or not so small in some cases) amount of money adding up to one large sum. In an ideal world we'd all give as much as we could afford without prompt but as this doesn't work, fundraising events are the way to go.
I am aware of  how cancer (and other serious illnesses) affect both the patient and those who love them; obviously I don't want people suffering, but is everyone who raises money for research into cancer cures really a "hero"?

Dicitionary.Com defines "hero" as: "1.a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child."

Firstly, I'm not sure I really have my own definition for what a "hero" (or "heroine" if you want to go down that path) is (in a non-lead character sense). Whilst I don't disagree with the dictionary definition I'd certainly find it hard to apply to real life situations (as you will see) and I wouldn't use the word as freely as I have seen it used today. Is someone walking 10k and getting sponsored £30 comparable to the acts of other people defined as "heroes"? Is it comparable to someone fighting for their country or rescuing people from dangerous situations or a parent going hungry so their child/ren can eat? Most people would say no. These are extreme examples, yes, but my point is should the word "hero" be solely reserved for things of an extreme nature?

Does the frequent use of the word in a situation such as this diminish its value in the same way I feel the overuse of the words "tragic"/"tragedy" and "disaster" (amongst others) by the media diminish their value when genuinely horrible news is covered (war, mass loss of life, etc.)?

Is it just that I feel the word is overused because I would feel it misplaced if directed towards me? Sure, I feel pretty good knowing I'm helping a good cause and I hope the money I raised will be put to good use (I'm sure it will be) but on the scale of noble things achieved and achievable by human beings it hardly ranks highly. I am all for small and everyday acts of kindness and generosity (I wish I was better at it) but I feel the people that do these things aren't (primarily) doing them for the recognition, they're doing it for the cause - they don't necessarily want to be constantly called "heroes". Is there a better word or phrase we can use to show our gratitude to them without using the word "hero"?

Or is being a "hero" something totally relative to the situation? If, as in the dictionary definition, it is based on the opinion of others, does that mean that the participants in fundraising events are "heroes" to those working and hoping for cures and treatments? Thus, others naming myself and the rest of the participants in the race today "heroes" is completely justified if it comes from those benefiting from it.

If we run with this, then maybe it is always necessary to preface or qualify the "hero" to show an acknowledgment that it's all relative: "You're a hero to the people you are helping" "You've done something heroic" "You're a hero today" perhaps?

Then there's all the grey area, the huge spectrum of people between walking a few miles for sponsorship and the extreme examples I mentioned previously. When and where is it appropriate to name any of these people "heroes"? Do these people who arguably deserve the title more but are forgotten about because their efforts are less public?

What about celebrities who do (usually) sporting events for charities? Clearly these people feel strongly about the charity in question and if they inspire others to get involved that's commendable but should they be called an "inspiration" rather than a "hero"? Do they only get given the latter title because of their public profile?

Do you qualify for the title of "hero" only if you actively raise money for many causes? Or make an extra effort to spread the word about the importance of what you're raising money for? Or, more broadly, if you make a repeated effort to do more than the majority, for something which primarily benefits others? Basically: can heroism be defined persistent/widespread small and medium actions? Or is that something else?

Is it just silly to think that the word "hero" is overused or to try and define it too generally?
At the end of the day people make their own judgement as to whom they would view as a "hero" and whether or not they feel comfortable with the title for themselves.

The important thing is that people are helped by the actions of others, not what they are called for doing so.

So let's just let them get on with it.

Well done to everyone raising/donating money for/to any charitable cause, including all my fellow participants in Race For Life today.

To those working on a cure and  people who have fought/are fighting/will fight cancer and their friends & families, I truly hope the money raised will help.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

So Actually, My Life is Pretty Good

Although much of this content of this blog is likely to dwell on my fears, insecurities, stresses and inadequacies as a human being, I think it's wise to note that despite these things, my life is actually pretty darn good. Perhaps there are some of these things that we should all be more grateful for (in the UK) - healthcare,  peace, education*, perhaps everyone is and I'm teaching my grandmother to suck eggs. Somehow I think not...

Here are some things that I personally am (very) grateful for:

  •  My parents (and by extension myself) are comfortably enough off.                                                                             
  •  I live in a peaceful (within itself, ha) democracy with free health care and education and a welfare state                                                                                                                                                      
  • I got good grades and am going to a good university.                                                                                    
  •  I have friends and family whom I love.                                                                                                                               
  •  I'm in good mental and physical health.                                                                                               
  • I have a long (though rapidly decreasing) summer to read and relax and enjoy the nice (if muggy) weather with my friends (if I actually motivate myself into organisation, which seems unlikely)                                                                                                                                                                          
  • I am only 66 days away from starting a university course for which I will become £54,000+  in debt. How is this a positive? Well, I will get the pleasure of moaning about being £54,000+ in debt whilst knowing that until (in the, most likely, distance future) I start earning £21,000+, I won't have to pay any of it back and it's highly unlikely I'll ever pay it all back...So hoorah! The best of both worlds...(The making students paying £9,000 a year is really paying off there, isn't it Government? Don't even get me started on the fact the maintenance costs are a more immediate factor in whether university is affordable)                                                                                                                                                 
  • For university I'm moving to London, the biggest, scariest, most expensive place I'll have ever lived, as well the most exciting, diverse and unique. This also affords me the right to moan about housing costs to anyone who will listen. Who says the ability to moan shouldn't make you happy?                                                                                                                                                                                         
  • Going to university means I have an excuse to buy things I quite frankly know I don't need but can guilt my parents into believing I do - "Oh but everyone will have their own chopping board. People will hate me if I keep borrowing theirs" "How can I study properly if I don't have coordinated stationery?" "Doing laundry will be really expensive so I'll need this extra pair of jeans" etc.                                                                                                                                                                             
  • Doctor Who is back soon and who doesn't like watching it with the blind optimism this series will be better than the last only to be bitterly disappointed every time?

In all seriousness, though, despite the possible appearances of this ramble of a post (yeah, sorry), I am really quite content with my life and situation. Not content enough to sit still and do nothing but secure and grateful in the knowledge I have all I need and more and am likely fairly spoiled because that fact.
Can I ever be too grateful for that?
Hopefully one day far more of the world will be able to say they are grateful for, can take for granted even,  free education, healthcare and peace and the opportunity this affords them to do more with their life than just survive it.
Can we ever stop trying to make that happen?
Having these things gives me the chance, the responsibility perhaps, to go out and do with life what I can, and do that to the absolute fullest. It isn't always easy to be positive in life, whatever your situation, and people who should seemingly be content with their lot can and do have very valid reasons for not being.
For me, right now, however, whilst I'm still lucky enough to have my health and my youthful optimism, I feel I owe it to the world to be as positive and life-grabbing as I can be. By George, it'll be one hell of a ride!**

Oh lordy, I hope this won't turn into a blog of lists and rambles...

**If 'one hell of a ride' means lots of reading, kittens, homemade Viking costumes, food, rum, fruitless attempts to right the world, and a whole load of weirdness.

*[Of course there are things to not be contented with in my country (and the world more generally). True equality is still not really (definitely not) here. Minorities of any/every description are still seen as a threat by certain people in society and people are made to feel badly because of it. There is a huge disparity between what people of lower income and higher income backgrounds earn and achieve academically (on average). There aren't enough people talking about mental illness, disability and (real) sex in public (not suggesting these things are related other than that they're 'taboo') etc. etc.]

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ten Things that I Fear

SO maybe not the most uplifting first post but just some thoughts I was having last night....

1) I'm nineteen and hate the fact I only have a few months left of being a teenager. I fear I've wasted my teenage years.

2) I am at once unbelievably excited about growing up and unbelievably petrified.

3) My biggest fears are loneliness, car crashes, never falling in love and never realising any of my dreams. Unfortunately these are all things that are likely to happen to me.

4) My degree choice is obscure and I'm worried it won't get me a job.

5) Me and my best friend are going to the same university but I still worry that although being there together we'll drift apart as we meet new people.

6) The number of people on my chosen uni course is tiny and I'm afraid that I won't get on with any of the other people on it or, if I do, that I won't be good friends with any of them.

7) In exams I have to check I've written all the information (centre number, candidate number, question number, date etc.) correctly about four times before I can hand it in and even after that I fret about it until the results are announced.

8) I fear that I'll read something amazing but somehow forget about it and I'll have lost out on the joy of it.

9) I fear that I'm a mean person for finding people annoying when they can't help it and that I'm an unforgiving person for for finding them annoying when they can help it. I also find myself annoying at times and worry other people do too.

10) I worry that people I love won't be happy and that they'll be nothing I can do to help.