December is finally here, and I’m a mere ’15 sleeps’ away from completing my first semester at Uni. It’s been a hell of a ride- from car crashes to monumental finance fuck-ups- but I’ve survived and I’m genuinely looking forward second term.
My friends, who were quick to leave home, are now longing to return, for a break and ‘homely comforts’ that they’ve grown to expect. My own experience was one of torture- ask my parents, they’re still claiming to have severe ‘abandonment issues’, they’ll definitely agree that this has been horrific.
You see, I have wonderful Helicopter Parents.
The only way they’ve been even moderately sedated by this whole dreadful experience, is through the wonders of modern technology. Each night we sit on FaceTime working away whilst chatting, or cooking dinner together; for me, It’s the only thing that’s kept me remotely sane.
I think I’d of gone on a ferocious, hormone driven killing spree by now without my parental safety net. My phone records will show just how erratic the last 3 months have been- from at least 2 calls a day, sometimes almost 15. Even at the start of this week when I had a mini-breakdown.
The first thing they said was “do what makes you happy”. Followed by “What does your tenancy agreement say, can you leave!?”.
Moving away from home and my family, has been both eye-opening and stressful, but going back every other weekend and Facetiming day- we’ve made it through. And I wouldn’t want our relationship to be any other way.
Mobile phone journalism- other wise known as Mojo! Is a new procedure sweeping the journalism industry, it involves ditching the normal bulky cam equipment favoured by most, and picking up a rucksack on your way to the job. Dougal Shaw, BBC news video journalist and guest speaker at the NCTJ talk at Portsmouth University last week, has just completed a month long ‘mojo-diet’. He gave the room an in depth ‘masterclass’ on the topic, and from this I’ve gleamed together his 6 main reasons for getting involved with Mojo’ing.
You’re always prepared- you’re part of the new breed of journalism, it only takes a small bag, no bulky multiple carry cases;
Light-weight tripod, clip on boom mic and a larger zoom lens are good things to invest in, and they don’t take up much space!!
It’s pocket-to-pocket journalism, you take the picture or the film, then on your way home or back to the office you can easily edit it on the go!
No hanging around or wasting time, plug your Iphone into your IMac, or just use n editing app.
You can easily create all sorts of different angles using your tripod- it’s far more versatile than a large camera.
A simple lift of the arm, using an extending tripod can give you a ‘drone-like’ view over the area you’re filming, it’s also space saving and can tuck into a corner. Different updates and apps can provide slow-mo add ons.
It’s fantastic quality, the average Iphone 5 onward can create beautiful and high quality images.
The Iphone 6 actually films in 4k high resolution, which in most cases is a better quality than the usual camera.
Anyone can do it! It creates a cheaper option for a freelancer, looking to get involved in the industry.
Most people own a fairly decent smart phone, and it’s as simple as that. Of course attachments can be purchased to increase the sound quality, battery life and general elegance of the recording process. But it’s a cheap alternative for a breaking out journalist, Vlogger or freelancer.
It’s informal and creates a better relationship with the story giver and the reporter.
It’s not overwhelming or ‘in your face. There’s no looming camera over your shoulder making things awkward or uncomfortable, it creates an equality with your subject. It makes journalism empowering, no fancy hi-tech equipment creating a barrier between the average person and the reporter.
From a young age I was exposed to customer service, building up my work ethos slowly. My family owned a party shop, it’s motto was literally ‘we take having fun very seriously’, and it was a hell of a lot of fun, so I was used to talking to customers. I assumed that life was always going to be that great; and fun (Oh the naivety). So by the age of 14, I began taking on a summer job at a food place, down on my local seafront. But nothing can ever prepare you for what it’s like working in the food industry. That in itself is a whole other fucking mine field when it comes to customer service.
The top 10 things I will never understand about it. And can never even begin to explain to myself, let alone other people.
1- Why on earth would you talk to your server like a piece of shit when they’re about to handle your food?!
2- If your server tells you that they’re out of stock of a particular product, why on earth would you begin to abuse them and take it out on them? I’m guessing if it was your 15/16/17 year old on £3.68 an hour you’d kick up a bitch fit if they came home and told you just how a customer had talked to them.
3- Why would you post all over social media about the state of a fast food establishment’s tables and site; and complain how disgusting it is to eat in that kind of environment. Whilst you, yourself, then proceed to drop half of your meal onto the floor, smear sauce on the table top, allow your annoying sprog to wipe grease all over the windows, oh and not forgetting leaving your rubbish strewn across the entire place.
4- Who in their right mind decides to coat a fucking toilet seat in mayonnaise?
5- Why after great customer service would you go into the bathrooms and forcibly ram a whole toilet roll down the loo to deliberately block it up?
6- If a server or waitress tells you that if you order your food in this way and listen you could have it a hell of a lot cheaper, why ignore them?!
7- People who decide to cancel their entire order, after it’s gone through to the kitchen and they’ve started making it already. Just because one teeny item from their order isn’t available to buy.
8- When you re-read someone’s order back to them 5 times, and they agree with it after making multiple changes. Then when it comes out they scream at you for it being wrong, and how it could only be down to you. Even though you read it out to them like 5 times before you processed it.
9- The amount of mess customers can make.
10- When you get a totally unreasonable customer, who takes their entire life and problems out on you, decides to become condescending; and then assumes because you work somewhere for a low wage, you must be worthless and totally not have smashing grades, life goals and plans.
In my entire life so far, I have never been able to accept why such idiotic people exist. What kicks could you possibly get through belittling your server. Oh and when they chime in with the comments of ‘If it wasn’t for me buying this stuff, and making this mess, you wouldn’t have a job’. On a regular and pretty much daily basis since the age of 14, I’ve fantasised a lot about what I’d like to do to difficult customers in my head. Yes I’m smiling on the outside and calling you sir and madam politely, but inside my head you’ve been suffocated, beheaded and reversed over by a fucking truck.
With each year of maturity, comes a hardier and politer customer service front, I’ve loved every job I’ve had since I started working. A few have had their awkward and shitty moments, but usually the great customers outweigh the awful ones. Take Monday night for example, I had several ladies compliment my eye makeup, and ask how I do it. How do I stand there for hours on end, and greet every individual with a smile and a look of genuine care and concern for their issues. I couldn’t answer, I laughed and made a joke about how it’s hard at times; but at the end of the day it’s regular and guaranteed money. But in the same evening, where I geniunely felt so happy and positive about my job, I had an individual forcibly ram a whole loo roll down the toilet. Eh, it’s swings and roundabouts. You can’t win them all.
One thing I can say, I know that when I go out; I neatly stack my plates, use tissues to wipe any sauce mess up, I bin my rubbish and put away my trays. Because I know that my servers have names, they have emotions and they have feelings. They are not robots- programmed to put up with your bullshit. Yes it’s their job, but no one wants a shitty day; and if I can make someone’s shift a bit easier, I will!
I’m also not a total wanker of gigantic proportions.
You can always tell if the person you’re serving has ever worked in the food industry; life usually gets 100% easier and they’re incredibly understanding most of the time. If you’re planning on applying for any job that involves customer service, and or food; grow a thick skin and learn to take life with a pinch of salt.
You can honestly never predict how a shift will go, what you’ll get next or how a night will end. What I love the most is having a great team; knowing that I can have a laugh with the people I work with; and we can sit and have a giggle about the bad together and get through it. I may not be able to go back out there and deal with a difficult customer, but a colleague can; and she can go out and call them ‘My lovelies’ and pacify them completely and make all of your frustration just wash away.
Find a job, but find one with a great workforce. If you can’t have a laugh- you won’t be able to cope. I still bring up the mayonnaise on the toilet seat story now, 5 years on, and it still makes friends laugh. You may get a shit wage, but you’ll have memories that last a life time. (Ha!).
So the 8th November is fast approaching, to the average Brit it’s just another day if they’ve been hiding under a rock- But to America and the wider population it’s the Presidential Election. The day of Governmental reckoning.
Clinton Vs Trump. Otherwise seen as Nope Vs Noper to most Americans, a battle between the embodiment of everything that’s wrong and corrupt within the US Government and everything that’s wrong with US culture and viewpoints. To me it’s a terrifying ordeal and I’m still pledging #MichelleObama2k20 (I can dream).
See, I want to jump up and down and preach how fantastic Hillary is, but I cant bring myself to lie. She’s a fantastic advocate for so many different rights; LGBT, Women, Children, the minorities- but no matter how I try to dress things up, I cannot ignore the irrevocable evidence that she’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Trump on the other hand- what you see is what you get. He’s a liar, a self-proclaimed racist, a total bigot and the biggest misogynist I think I’ve ever had the displeasure to hear speak- and I cannot even begin to believe how this utter wank-job was allowed to even run for Presidency in the beginning, let alone get this far?!
Democrats and Republican’s alike, the general consensus is that none of them can understand that out of the millions of American’s available, the candidacy selection was allowed to be whittled down to Hillary and Donald. It’s the most hyped election since Obama- but for very different reasons. However, it will be the lowest turn out in years, down to one thing alone; the depressed and repressed voter.
Bernie Sanders was the Democrats love child- the perfect candidate, the millennials adored him, he was ‘hip and trendy’ without trying. Hillary on the other hand, tries far too hard to net in every minority voter; Trump has alienated most non-white voters, and any women with common sense, including well educated millennials, who are old enough to see just how corrupt Clinton supposedly is. And what a monster Trump is.
Instead of excitedly queuing up to vote next week for the candidate of their choice, most won’t bother to get time off of work, or to brave the weather- let alone bring people with them and share in their hype. They loathe the fact that the one person they believed was good enough to represent their vote, is no longer in the running, and they hate that they’re stuck between the rock and the hard-place that is Hillary and Trump. So most will choose to not vote out of spite.
I haven’t been very vocal about my current situation on social media, because if I’m honest- I’m pretty embarrassed and nervous about it.
I worked my socks off and spent a fortune learning to drive from June-Septmember this year. I was determined that I’d pass before my first university term started, and I was a week out. I had my first test and was practically faultless- I failed because I was overly cautious and didn’t feel safe overtaking a cyclist on a busy road. I felt like the cyclist, other passers by and my own life were more important than rushing to overtake (the Highway Code states you should only overtake if it is totally necessary). However my examiner felt like I should have had the confidence to perform the manoeuvre.
I was in bits when I discovered I hadn’t passed- but I booked another test for 13 days time and I practised as much as I could. And when the date came I aced it- I passed beautifully with (I think?) 3 minors. One for being 2mph over the speed limit, the second for stopping at an amber traffic light and the last one for a bumpy move off. But I was chuffed as anything.
My family helped me to buy my plum Peugeot and I felt like a total grown up, I drove my Dad over to the ferry terminal that night and said goodbye (Mum followed with the family in her car and drove home after) and he was so proud of me. I drove off the ferry on the other side and eagerly picked Jack up before we drove home together.
Skip forwards three weeks and everything was perfect, my parking, consistent speeds, timing- the works. I felt fully fledged. I allowed myself well over an hour and half to drive from Southampton to Portsmouth for my 3pm lecture, Jack in tow. We enjoyed the motorway journey- singing away to Ben Howard.
My Mum’s parting words to me that Monday I drove onto the ferry after passing were “I love you to pieces and I’m so incredibly proud of you. But please remember better late than dead”.
We arrived in Portsmouth in due time, around 2.20pm as we pulled onto Park Lane and drove towards the traffic lights I popped my indicator on to turn right. I put my hand break on at the lights and waited. The lights turned green. It was a yellow box zone, and I patiently gave way to oncoming traffic (as you should) I pulled out into the yellow box and I began my right turn into Burnaby road.
At under 10mph still in 1st gear you smashed into me. You forced my car to crumple- the bumper flat out. You span my partner and me round so hard we smashed our heads off of the sides of the car and were forced forwards into the airbags. We did a full 180 degree U-turn and ended up back where we had driven from, but on the wrong side of the road.
My ears were ringing and my chin felt like I’d hit a brick wall. The engine had been forced that far back it had crumpled and I was left with the steering wheel jammed so hard into my knees they almost instantaneously went black and blue. The doors would barely open, I couldn’t even think about Jack’s safety, let alone my own. We had to ram the useless and gnarled metal so hard it cut my knuckles, you’re lucky that was the only blood split. I’ve been told that if you’d have hit me head on, my chances of walking away, and Jack’s chances of walking away; would have been incredibly slim.
You deserved the abuse I shouted at you after I had finally gotten out the smoking heap of expensive metal crashed out behind me. I screamed at you until my chest seized up and my first panic attack set in. You came out of nowhere, sped up at the last minute and forced me off of the road, not only endangering your own life selfishly; but mine, Jack’s and the dozens of innocent students walking past on their way to lectures. You were incredibly lucky that no one was hurt- I would have never have forgiven myself, let alone you.
The embarrassment that crept over me as the police pulled up and routinely breathalysed me before they turned to you. But I was the newer, younger driver; I was on the pedestal because the general saying is “with age comes wisdom”. I guess they forgot to include arrogance and ignorance with it. With reference back to the fact that I failed my first test for being a safe and cautious driver I know hand on heart I would never endanger anyone else on the road, let alone my partner or my own life. It’s 12 hours bottle to throttle and I stick to all the rules. I bet you prayed your socks off that my reading wouldn’t be a clean zero, I was in bits about my dream car being in bits. And you had the front to declare “my car was brand new too!”
Perhaps if you hadn’t been doing well over 30mph turning into a 20mph student zone, neither of us would have had our Monday’s rocked by this incident.
I believe that this car accident will definitely affect the way I drive now, I’m going to be a million times more cautious and I’m never going to disrespect the rules of the road. I’d rather suffer abuse from road users for being slower in dangerous areas, and I’d rather know that the people I love are safe and won’t be harmed whilst I am driving.
Oh and full disclaimer- I’d never buy a Peugot 107 ever again. 2/3 star safety rating and very prone to crumpling! My dream first car, turned into a nightmare.
But I’m grateful. I’m so very grateful that Jack and I walked away with our lives, with our futures. And that no one was seriously injured.
P.S Jack thinks he’s indestructible now. Well done.
For the last 5 years I’ve had numerous medical procedures done and I’ve had so much blood taken; I probably could have given someone a full transfusion if you add it up.
At the age of 14 I started getting awful abdominal cramps, that would rip through me and leave me feeling like I was going to pass out. Then would follow a mysterious internal bleed! (Spooky and gross, I know, I know). At 14 it was terrifying- when the inside of the toilet looks like a horrific murder has taken place, you begin to panic. This came on right before my GCSE’s and it slowly increased in pain levels and frequency as I got older. At first I was told by the doctors that it was nothing and I needn’t worry. I was told to eat more fiber and I would grow out of it. (Fannied off as I like to call it).
Then when it got to the point that fatigue had set in that badly and often i was fully bedridden and struggling to muster up enough strength to even go downstairs; let alone into sixth form for crucial lessons. We knew something was really wrong, it went from a fairly regular occurrence that would just come and go, I’d cope with the pain and it would be over. To something so excruciatingly painful and horrendous- the doctors could no longer ignore it.
I was prescribed all sorts to try and take away the pain, and that was as good as it got. I sat on waiting list after waiting list for procedures; from barium meal tests, to multiple colonoscopys, X-rays of weird things, internal organ investigations, sooooooo many blood tests and finally after 5 years a gastroscopy. I went from being told it was nothing at 14 and fobbed off, to aged 16/17 and being told I could have Bowel Cancer or Crohns Disease. I was shell-shocked, as were my family and those around me.
November/December/January 2015 were really dark months for me, after being told this news by my local doctors, my family insisted on a second opinion. I was very fortunate to have my wonderful Granny around to help at this point- it was totally unfair to assume that my family right after Christmas could afford to fork out for a private doctor for me. But we were all freaking out, no one wants to hear ‘it might be cancer’ at any age, let alone before the age of 18- and I know it sent my parents into utter shock. They started talking about holidays away, getting a puppy, there were constant hushed tones coming from the kitchen and I never wanted to show them how sad or worried i was by it.
The private ‘specialist’ was no help, other than ruling out Cancer with a click of his fingers (supposedly) he performed the tests that my doctors had already done and concluded ‘you’re just getting lady pains and a mixture of hemorrhoids’. Even though I know the difference between menstrual pain?!? And most certainly didn’t have hemorrhoids. I lost it completely, I left the room in tears and felt utterly defeated by those who we are supposed to rely on for help when we need it. I continued to surf the waiting lists for my other tests, all of which ruled out cancer officially as well as bloody piles!!!
But none of them left us any the wiser as to my problem. By this point I was questioning was I mad? Was I a hypochondriac that was just insisting something was wrong and it was all in my head?! The only thing that kept me sane was the chronic amount of blood- as grim as that sounds. I honestly thought we’d almost exhausted everything! I was sick to death of Google. Can I just also point out- please never ever sit on Google (you just end up feeling worse). I cut out meat at one point, I attempted a month without gluten. That in itself was rather hard, as without the proper guidance you’d be shocked by just how many things we put into ourselves on a regular basis that are contaminated with gluten.
For me the final procedure that led to my medical conclusions was a gastroscopy. A teeny tiny camera was inserted down my throat all the way into my stomach, where it took biopsies (little samples of inflamed tissue) to be tested by their labs. And yes, it was just a disturbing as it sounds. You don’t eat or drink for like 12 hours before, which as the total fatty that i am, was hard. I insisted on the pain relief to numb me the fuck out via an IV and the throat numbing spray (I’m not an idiot, I wasn’t facing that not off of my tits).
Two weeks later I was informed by my doctor that I was a type two coeliac. Hoorah 🎉🎉 5 years too late.
Apparently I could have had a simple blood test and saved this entire palava. The NHS at its finest in my opinion, I’d supposedly had every blood test under the sun done, but not the one for coeliac disease. It’s actually kind of funny when you look at it now, I love the description online available for ‘coeliac disease’
And that’s totally not the wonderful array of symptoms I presented for the last… Hrrrrm…5 years;
– Severe stomach problems (charming way of putting diarrhoea)
– Followed by on and off constant constipation
– Any family member can tell you about the insanely gross levels of wind.
– Reccurant stomach pain and cramping.
– The one thing my blood levels did show was a severe lacking of B12 (so I was actually given an injection to rectify it?!)
– I was the lowest weight I’d been in yonks back then, I managed to hit a size 10 and weigh around 10 Stone. After my diagnosis, I’m now a 14, with wonderful weight fluctuations.
– The never ending mouth ulcers.
– I’ve always had a dry skin eczema issue.
– I won’t lie, I put my constant downer mood onto the fact that I was in a lot of pain and just hated everything and never contemplated ‘depression’, as I’m a relatively upbeat person.
– Christ, my balance is in-existent as is my coordination, Sixth form put that down to Dyspraxia. Oops. Along with my joints wonderful game of ‘Oooh Patsie’s going up or down stairs, or crossing the road- let’s give way on her!!’
So yes… I had a lot of fun in my teenage years. As I creep closer to 20 with every day, I’m happy that I have discovered what’s wrong with me and I know how to rectify it. It’s not easy.. I mean I found out a week before I started working in a fast food establishment that literally just sells southern fried chicken. And it sucks, I’ve given in and caved a few times (it smells that bloody good all shift) and believe me, I pay for it. On a vast array of different levels, and I know I have no one but myself to blame.
But I’m mostly good, as the one things that scares me more than anything else is the line on every web page about coeliac disease ‘increased chance of miscarriage and fertility issues’. I know I’m only just verging on 20 and I’ve got my whole life ahead of me, but I’d hate to know my diet now would be the contributing factor in why I wouldn’t aspire to have a family of my own. And I know more than anything, I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself. Followed by ‘an increase risk of bowel cancer’, Sod’s law being I can have kids, but oh look; ‘nope you’ve got bowel cancer’ is my prognosis and how I’m leaving the world. I am that macabre, this is how my mind works.
So I try to stick to my ‘Gluten free diet’- the food is mediocre a lot of the times. I like to call it ‘Food that’s double the price, but half the size!’. But already, I can see a great increase in the market. It’s expanding like crazy, as more and more people become aware of the growing need coeliacs have. (Not to eat utter shit and muck when at home or out and about may I just add). Literally, I tried this ‘Mrs Crumbles’ Pasta packet at work the other day, one word; VILE. Like ingesting vomit infused with cheese. But the ranges of foods, sauces, desserts, and snacks available are amazing. You just have to look and experiment, I guess its personal taste and preference, as I loved ‘Mrs Crumbles’ biscuits. They’re delicious. Marks and Spencer’s and Morrisons for me are leading the way, it’s not always cheap, but it’s worth it. From tempura chicken to fish fingers, fudge cakes to pot noodles and my favourites so far are M&S sausages. It’s so hard to just walk into a shop and pick up a packet of sausages now.
Life is easy and tasty, as long as you prepare in advance. Gravies are delicious if you use a knorr stock pot and a bit of the meat juices and some corn flour to thicken, soups can easily have the same added to them (minus the corn flour obvs). But my all time favourite is still CHEESE SAUCE!!!! The only thing you’ve got to worry about is gradually adding your flour or it will over thicken. Eating out is simple, so many places cater for coeliacs!! I had a wonderful gluten free meal at Pizza Express yesterday:
And shockingly, many festivals do too!! My Isle of Wight Festival 2016 experience was made by tons of fantastic stall holders who had alergen information on hand. My only (sober) photo of my gluten free choices at the Festival was this;
The Crispy Duck wrap stall was very happy to help, by providing duck fat chunky chips instead!!
And all in all, I think I’ve gotten off lightly; yes it’s a life long infliction and I’ve got to give foods up. But I’d rather give up food than my chance to have a family and enjoy life. My only wish is that I’d known sooner, so the damage to my gut would be less severe. I feel happier as a person, my mood has brightened, the pain has gone, my stomach is fine 99% of the time, I’m happy to leave the house!! And I’m not obsessing over my weight, I feel confident and radiant as a person; whatever the scales may say. So here, enjoy a dodgy full body shot of me (with my legs out and on show in a fairly skimpy playsuit). I was so confident that night, ft. My wonderfully talented and gorgeous friend Danni.
All I can say is if you’ve read this and you think ‘I bloat a lot and end up in a lot of pain’, please do not try and cut gluten completely out of your diet. As that can be honestly be a trigger!!! Seek medical advice and just keep pushing, maybe just reduce the quantity you eat in the mean time. So yes.. Enough of my gross ramblings, pictures of food and pictures of me for one day. I hope this could maybe be of some use to someone ☺️
An Indie rock band, composed of; John Whittle, Jamie Foster, Lew Barker & Dan Harding. Originating from Portsmouth, self described as “an unstoppable rhythm section, edgy vocals and driving guitars they have a heavyweight modern sound with a hint of 90s Britpop for good measure.” I instantly thought, a lighter Kasabian yet a darker Kaiser Chiefs- with hints of Two Door Cinema Club- a fantastic mix. They were wonderful to chat with, happily accepting me waffling away about finding this hard whilst sober, they were refreshing yet crazyily down to earth, lovely guys. I wish them all the luck in the world for 2017, I can’t wait to see them again live!
So guys, what’s the name about and how did you form?
“There’s not really a story to tell, it was pretty random and we all liked it. We started the band in 2013, we’ve been up and down the country ever since; performing at gigs and all sorts.”
What’s the plan for next year?
“It’s the end of the festival season now, we’ve really enjoyed sharing ‘Generation’ with the world, but we’re winding down, planning on meeting over Christmas as prep . We want to release a new EP later on next year, our current one we’ve actually just got a new video up on our Facebook page that you can check out now.”
So if you were a Hendrix song, which one would you be?
“That’s a collective toughy- it’s got to be ‘All Along The Watchtower’, funnily enough Jamie has a Hendrix themed guitar tattoo.”