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Sell me a story: Top 5 emotive adverts

SELL-ME-A-STORY-3

I really expect something special from an advert nowadays. Be that print, radio or television, It’s irksome when I see the same BORING and PREDICTABLE content being churned out again and again. Of course there are certain standards that should be met regardless; good design, good copy, good use of space but there are a few extras that I think should simply make best practice.

I want to FEEL something from an advert, that doesn’t necessary have to be a passion for the product or brand, but just a feeling in general. Humor is a great one but is often attempted through archaic stereotypes and terrible actors and tends to work best when it is a bit random and instantaneous, think the new Mercedes ‘Chicken’ advert.

I believe adverts should always attempt to think outside the box, I think they should be responsive and relevant, they should tell a story and evoke an emotion. We often don’t need a product explained to us, we want to connect to the Brand selling the product. Adverts invade our personal space and lives everyday – so it’s only fair to have expectations.

On the note of Emotive adverts I picked a few of my recent favorites which I feel have gone for an inspiring / emotional angle and all come together quite nicely! Enjoy and please share your all time favourite Ad campaigns in the comments below!

T w i t t e r | B l o g L o v i n ‘ | I n s t a g r a m | P i n t r e s t


RAM Trucks ‘Farmer’ YouTube


Dove ‘Real Beauty’ YouTube


Guinness ‘Basketball’ YouTube


Bell’s Whisky ‘The Reader’ YouTube


Schwarzkopf  ‘You – A Declaration of Love’  YouTube Continue reading

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STOP EVERYTHING you’re doing and watch the new Game of Thrones S4 sneak peak

You can imagine my delight when I Buzzfeed’d my way across this 15 minute beaut whilst enjoying some mid-afternoon online procrastination. It’s only the MOST WE’VE SEEN OF ACTUAL SEASON 4 FOOTAGE so far, plus some lovely and funny insight from the cast and crew themselves! Holy Moly.

Excitement overload subsiding. Since dedicating the later half of 2013 to completing the Game of Thrones books I’ve been left with a Westeros shaped hole in my life. Judging by the five years it took Martin to complete the fifth volume A Dance with Dragons I’m not holding out hope for the sixth to grace my life anytime soon, so the return of the equally gripping HBO TV series is the perfect way to fight off withdrawal symptoms.

Knowing what’s going to happen does not spoil the excellently crafted TV show it just makes me eager to see how they choose to bring the complex story threads to life. It makes you feel like your in a position of privilege and I’m sure this is a feeling I share with other fans of the novels.

Game of Thrones entire novel series
As for the exclusive video sneak peak: What do we find out?
Game of Thrones Season 4: Ice and Fire: A Foreshadowing
We are introduced to new character Oberyn Martell which will ignite the Dorne thread of the series I’m really looking forward to. We get to see Rory McCann who plays ‘The Hound’ speak for the nation as a he lovingly describes King Joffery as a “wee prick” and a “mummy’s boy.”

The beautiful Emilia Clarke who plays ultimate heroine and Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, discusses the conflicts her character faces in the upcoming season as she struggles to rule over Meereen in the wake of her slavery revolt. It looks like we’re set to see more breathtaking scenery out this way (one clip shows the shadow of a rather larger wing span across Slavers bay which can only mean DRAGONS!) and of course in the snow blitzed unknown beyond the wall. PS Expect to find Jon Snow’s character quite changed as he returns to The Wall post Wildlings escapade.

Gwendoline Christie, who plays one of my favorite characters, the tenacious Brienne of Tarth is quite frankly hilarious in video as she describes the ‘mental storylines’ including the ripping off of Hoat’s ear. Meanwhile whilst we’re still left reeling from the Red Wedding that climaxed Season 3 we see no time is wasted in preparing for the extravagant Royal Wedding at King’s landing. But in true Game of Thrones style we better be expecting the unexpected…

I’m delighted to say that Game of Thrones returns with its 4th season 6th April 2014!

T w i t t e r | B l o g L o v i n ‘ | I n s t a g r a m | P i n t r e s t

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Last Week #2

♥ T H E  G O O D ♥

TV Roundup: Game of Thrones, New Girl, Dr Who: *spoiler alerts* *spoiler alerts* 

Well Game of Thrones season 3 is here!! There was a huge buzz about its return and I think the first episode didn’t disappoint! I’ve only recently become addicted to this series but as you can probably tell I can’t stop raving about it. Definitely one of the best television shows out there at the moment and I do stand by my belief that atypically for its genre it appeals to a wide audience so if you don’t think this will be your cup of tea you may be surprised. Me and John become so engrossed each episode that we are often literally shouting at the screen and you feel such a huge rush of pride when one of the ‘goodies’ triumphs! (Although the line between the ‘goodies’ and the ‘badies’ is always thin in GOT.) Things I cant wait to find out in the upcoming series, When will Daenerys (who I did love but seems to be quite a brat recently) make it to Westeros and will she have any allies? Will Jon Snow become a traitor or will there be a allying of the Wildlings and The Wall as they fight the white walkers? P.S best quote from him in S3E1: “I want to fight for the side that fights for the living.” Also how is Arya going to get on and Bran (they’re two of my favourite characters)?! I’m thinking I have to start reading the books, they seem right up my street plus I just want to know more about the world and the characters. The only downside to the return of the show on TV means I can’t watch them back-to-back anymore, a week is so loong (yes I’m impatient).

Other things I’ve been watching this week are the latest Dr Who episodes. I quite like Clara as a side kick. She seems brave, curious and kind-hearted  (and I’ve got a bit of a girl crush >.<). Plus I’m very interested to find out about her parallel versions. I also caught up on New Girl. I kinda get why they are dragging out the Jess/Nick romance, (its hard to imagine where they are going to go with it’), but I think it opens up a lot of avenues and am rooting… so just happen all ready! Schmidt still continues to deliver epic quote after quote: (to Nick) “Here are some things you want to hide about yourself on tonight’s date–you’re cheap, you’re a heavy drinker, you’re broke, you have a problem with anger” (S2E21).
.
Socialising: For the past month I’ve been being good on the weekend and staying in, trying to save money, and except for my trip to Cornwall for Lucy’s birthday, I’ve been achieving this. However with Lucy out over the weekend and John back in his hometown Oxford I thought I better get out and about and see some friends. Surprisingly I managed to have two really great budget nights! On Friday I went in to Leicester Square with my friend Charlie and we had a few (4 large each…) glasses of wine at Yates. It was one of those nights where it was just really fun to get drunk together and have a natter about whats been happening in our lives and it was only £6.30 a round (which Charlie mostly bought because she’s amazing like that.) I ended up falling asleep on the last train home though which is never fun! On Saturday I met up with my ex work colleagues (and beautiful friends) who worked with me in my last restaurant. It was a guy’s birthday which he had reserved an area for, there was wine, there was jugs of cocktails and there was prosecco… yum! Here’s some piccys from the night! I stopped myself getting a taxi back and went for the night bus home so all in all a pretty cheap night : )

♥ Saturday Night | Friday Night outfit: Skinny Jeans, heeled boots, denim shirt done up, grey vest | Bus Friends
| Make up Friday | Birthday Present | Cecilia & Vlad | Me and Beautiful Tara | Make up Saturday | Birthday Boy & Us ♥

♥  T H E  N O T – S O – G O O D  ♥

Hangover Hell: With the joy of going out and having a good time usually comes the dreaded HANGOVER day! Of course you can argue that days such as these would easily be avoided if you didn’t drink to excess the night before, but in all fairness I don’t think I do. Sometimes I can escape with a minor headache, or a general grotty feeling but both nights out this week left me feeling rotten the next day. The hangover miracle cure I swear by is drinking tonnes of water, (in fact I’m a bit of a water obsesso in general), but as always I don’t always follow my own advice. Instead I stupidly passed out in bed as soon as I got home, no water was drank, no make-up removed (ouch poor skin). This meant I missed out on a really nice day Saturday, I stayed in bed all day mewing and feeling sorry for myself watching too much YouTube and New Girl until I finally dragged myself to Tesco. After some Lucozade, Innocent raspberry and apple juice, tea, soup, bread, pringles and dip (I always have the weirdest cravings when I’m hungover) and a shower I felt marginally better and dragged myself in to town for round two. OH the things we do to our poor bodies! It’s safe to say I’m going to be taking it easy this week and making sure I’m being a bit more healthy.

Window Shopping: Is the only shopping I can do right now *cry* I had a browse around Urban Outfitters in Spitalfields the other day, so many cute things I want! Nice mugs (I love buying mugs) nail polishes, coasters, candles and quirky books (don’t even get me started on the clothes!) Oh well a girl can dream.

Buses: Neither good or bad but I found it quite amusing when I was walking down The Strand the other day and saw seven buses in a row… you know the saying >.<

Do you have any miracle hangover cures? Have you been watching any of the TV shows mentioned, thoughts please! : D

photo credits ©:  BBC | HBO | Fox Broadcasting

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Last Week #1

LASTWEEK

♥ T H E  G O O D ♥

Work:
So last week marked my second (and a bit) week of temping. I haven’t really mentioned much about this because I’m saving it up to write a blog post all about my temping experience (the pay, the hours and my general opinion.)  But just to fill you in briefly I’ve signed up with a lovely recruitment agency who send you out on assignments across central London to office assistant or reception based roles. So far I’ve done a Friday on reception for a financial company, the majority of the week before last I helped out with event co-ordination for another financial firm (they had an absolutely lovely kitchen with lots of yummy food and tonnes of tea we could help ourselves to!) and last week I worked right next to Tower Bridge in another reception role.

It was a front desk position at this super posh building called 4 More London.  There was a slight misunderstanding about the dress code when I arrived so spent the first day sheepishly in my light brown (dress code black) top and casual cardy (dress code smart). But despite my NON-EXISTENT funds at the moment I managed to make a dash to Primark to better equip myself. I got a few nice black tops, some patent look high heels and a blazer. Teamed all week with the only pencil skirt I own (also Primarks finest)!

It’s been quite a nice role, 8am – 5pm, and I just had to look attentive at the front desk, sign in visitors, call the companies in the building to announce people etc etc. I’ve spent a fair amount of each day reading blogs because there are long quiet periods. Situated right on the river there was an AMAZING view from the all-glass reception area, but on the downside when you step outside it’s a hurricane. Strong, icy winds that destroy any attempt at nice hair for the day and manage to seep in and make you shiver whilst working. But working in the heart of London is definitely an experience I wouldn’t pass up on. Each day is pretty unique and I had an easy journey this week, ten minutes to London Bridge and a 5 minute walk.

Game of Thrones:
In other things me and John have been plowing through Game of Thrones we only started watching last week and are now halfway through season 2. (Coincidentally season 3 comes out now! so must catch up.) It’s so addictive, confusing at times but fast paced, action filled (a tad gory really) and fascinating. I love things that fall into a high fantasy genre but only when they are structured with a solid back story and a certain level of realism. GOT translates really well to the screen and I think they’ve done a superb job of crafting the world of Westeros and Easteros and intertwining the parallel story lines and the conflicts between characters. Not just one for those with a love for Medieval drama either GOT has depth and is also heavily focused on politics, family values, betrayal and morality.

CORNWALL:
I took John Home to Cornwall for Easter!! which you can read about more h e r e. I had a Lovely Easter weekend with my family and it was also my flatmate’s 23rd birthday so we celebrated that in one of our old haunts in Truro.

Pizza Bus:
We went to our local Deptford pub, which is called The Bird’s Nest, after work this week. Well happy hour ‘one-drink’ turned into happy hour three and before we knew it we were pretty starving! I’d always wanted to try the Pizza Bus next door which is a novelty London double decker bus turned restuarant. It was much better than I expected. The interior of the bus is decked out (haha) nicely with candles on each table and the food was great. There was also a bar and seating area outside with pretty fairy lights! : )

Home made treats:
Made a pretty tasty spagetti bolonaise the other day (the leftovers also turned into chilli) and John made us some American style pancakes which we ate with Bacon, eggs and maple syrup. MMmmmm.

♥  T H E  N O T – S O – G O O D  ♥

Train Etiquette:
I’ve found my rage for how a certain few (in fact most) use the London train and underground system has reached new levels. It’s never pleasant when you have to join the masses and fight your way onto the train, just to stand between someone’s newspaper and another’s armpit (lovely). But it must be done if you need to be somewhere between those peak times and it can be bearable if everyone just showed a little train etiquette! Now I rush myself, it’s hard not to match the pace those mornings require, but it really riles me when you get someone behind you stepping on your heels when YOU CAN’T GET ANY FASTER. I always shoot them a dagger look. Same goes for when the overground train pulls into the station and you get that eager guy by the door pressing the ‘Open’ button repeatedly before you’ve even stopped. You’re already rolling your eyes at him and waiting to get off, then someone behind you starts elbowing through trying to pass you in their panic to disembark. Just be calm, be patient we’re all going the same way! It’s so frustrating and makes an already unpleasant journey even more so. Rant over.

Early Mornings:
I. do. not. like.

Mess:
No matter how often it feels like I tidy my room… mess finds me again! I need to get a bit more organised I think and start making my room prettier.


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It’s not just you…

I had a great time reading Thought Catalog’s  humorously entitled “15 Things That Make Us Paranoid… Or Is It Just Me? Crap, It’s Probably Just Me!”  Whether on not we all share the same irrational niggles in the back of our minds there are always some that overlap. I find there’s a great sense of community in reading personal anecdotes or thoughts from others that make you want to turn and nod to anyone nearby whilst you virtually scream ME TOO!!! in your head. I often feel that same sense of shared experience from stand-up comedians who focus on everyday life (their wives, children, commuting politics) as opposed to extreme comedic anecdotes that are more fiction than fact.

Glamour Hey It's Ok

This is me…

The quips they follow with vary from the self-indulgent: Hey, it’s OK to laugh at your own jokes…they’re hi-larious the irrational: Hey, it’s OK to be a little offended if he’s not completely all over you every single time you get undressed to those habitual, guilty things we find ourselves doing: Hey, it’s OK to switch off instantly the second
someone says, “I  had such a weird dream…

Best of all they make your actions feel completely excusable! Enjoy some more below courtesy of the Glamour Pintrest page! I’m thinking I might write a few posts detailing some of my own guilty confessions and irrational habits!

hey its ok starbucks

hey its ok audrey

Hey Its Ok to...

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The Host

If you are a twi-hard fan then back in the day you may have read Stephanie Meyer’s other novel, The Host (2008). However you may have stumbled across this book just as a lover of Young Adult sci-fi as it’s a pretty damn good read. I ended up flying through this book in one of those intense all night reading sessions after I’d bought it for a mixture of the two reasons above. It caught my eye because of the publicity it received, being from the author of the Twilight sensation, but it also fell into a genre I had a tendancy towards already.

There’s been a huge surge in dystopian fiction aimed at teenagers, to name just a few novels that have recently been gracing the ‘Top Seller’ lists internationally: The Uglies, The Maze Runner and Divergent. The genre, bench-marked by classics such as Orwell’s 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World, has exploded in fiction aimed at young adults. Perhaps its popularity stems from a fascination about the state of our planet and a growing awareness of political and social fractures that might cause a modern-day dystopia. However not all dystopian themes mirror a future that could be possible many steering towards a very fantasy or sci-fi direction and might serve as pure escapism and indulgence in some pretty dark themes. Either way the genre is open to a lot of different themes and interpretation and if your looking for some good reads to ease you in then check out my recent post on some dystopian fiction I read when I was younger.

The Host is set in a future where a race of parasitic alien ‘souls’ have taken control of the majority of humans left on Earth, all except for small pockets of resistance. It is in the journey to find such a free community that the still-human protagonist Melanie is captured and taken over by a soul. The narrative centres on the battle of free will as Melanie refuses to completely lose herself to the ‘soul’ whose mission is to inflitrate the resistence and also the soul’s own conflicts of conscience. Along the way there is naturally love and heartbreak and a touch of action. Due for release later this month (March 29th 2013) I’m intrigued to see how they’ve adapted the novel for the screen.

In a similar vein the hugely successful trilogy The Hunger Games hit the big screens with its first installment last year. I always have mixed views when a novel I love is made into a movie. “They don’t look like that?! what happened to that bit!” are phrases that will often pass my lips after I’ve watched a movie adaptation. Preconceptions are shattered and that indulgence you share with a book in being able to visualise the words and characters and themes in your own way is ultimately gone. I’m not against it completely and there will be movies I watch where I’ve yet to read the novel and perhaps later do and enjoy in a different way. However for the most part I tend to seperate them as best I can. I personally felt that The Hunger Games movie was not a touch on the novel but can see why. There is afterall a complex world and fast paced plot to capture in 90 minutes or so.

Whilst The Host may be one I save until DVD release (which seems to come around so fast these days) I’m keen to check it out and hopefully be plesantly surprised! You can watch the trailer below.

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Creative dissertation proposal

My dissertation proposal – feel free to pick apart and offer suggestions in any form!

A collection of short stories: An hour to exist – conceptual outline

The project will comprise of a collection of short stories based on concepts taken from the philosophy of existentialism. The stories will incorporate themes of absurdity, meaningless, angst, alienation and boredom. There will be 3 or 4 stories (around 1200-1600 words each) which will be entirely character focused with an aim to depict a ‘snapshot’ (an hour) of the characters lives. The characters will not know each other or live near each other but there will be details within each piece of fiction that ties them all together.

Hooper (2000 p.2) when talking of Edgar Allan Poe’s famously gothic short stories describes them adeptly: “In the space of a few pages and a few minutes we are offered quick but indelible glances into Poe’s dark characters.” He then furthers his view on some of Poe’s classic work such as ‘The tell-tale heart’ (1850) as offering us “peeks at the possibility of darkness in our own souls.” This sense that the reader can draw out of a story a sense of dark and quiet reflection is something that the collection proposed would aim to recreate.

“A good short story asks a question that can’t be answered in simple terms” (Mosley and Keison 2003 p.XV) The themes that the stories proposed will encapsulate will ask questions, and draw upon many worries in life that many of us think about or at least lie dormant within our subconscious. These include a sense of not fitting in, an awareness of death and a struggle to assert meaning to human life and existence. The issues raised by those who believe in the concept of existentialist philosophy can be seen as relevant to us all.

Many existentialist issues have been raised in literature such as Albert Campus’s novel ‘The Stranger’ (1942) and Satre’s play about the afterlife entitled ‘No Exit.’ (1944) Furthermore elements of such concepts can be seen woven into modern fiction such as Nick Hornby’s ‘High fidelity’ (1995.) Works such as these will be closely looked at and interpreted for their views on existentialist concepts and themes. ‘The Scream’ (1893) the famously haunting painting by Edvard Munch will be used as a starting point for inspiration as it is a beautifully captured piece that expresses intense and painful desperation.

Medium
The short story feels right for this project. There is a sense of totality in the reading of a story in one sitting, an intensity that can strengthen the message intended. “The pleasure of the quick, concentrated reading experience is more piquant.” (Hooper 2000 p.2) Every word in a short story feels precious; leading purposefully toward a predetermined effect.

The short story can also be seen as a ‘fragment,’ as a small glimpse into something immense. This ties in with the concept of the collection in that the stories would be snap-shots, focused and intense insights into individual’s lives, thoughts, and anxieties. The short story can be seen to present “in a vigorous, compressed, suggestive way, a simplification and idealization of a particular part or phase of life.” (Albright 2009 p.5) in other words it can be seen as a small piece of a puzzle, that although can seem abstract and sometimes incomplete, can still bring something to the user, and is vital and needed despite its size.

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World cup 2010 here we go…

Its only a matter of hours until we’ll be cheering our lads on to the pitch, fresh and ready to take on the Yanks in the first England match of the tournament. I’m no football fanatic, hell I’m not even a fan, but its hard not to be whizzed along with the wave of world cup madness that is engulfing the nation. I have to wonder now where I even was in 2006 because my interest never peaked then – all I knew is that we were knocked out by those pesky Portuguese in the quarters. But the hype that surrounds the 2010 world cup is intense. Social networking site Twitter is alive with avid tweeters and football fans alike tweeting predictions, reporting live on the matches and offering support to their teams. The world cup kicked off with a spectacular opening ceremony yesterday followed by South Africa vs Mexico (1-1) and then Uruguay vs France (0-0) But what we are all waiting for is the first England match and I’m looking forward to my first football-watching-in-a-crowded-pub experience! I would say wish me luck (you know amid all the testosterone and beer) but I think its safe to say all of the country’s luck today lies with the England squad! 🙂

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Eclipse soundtrack listings released!

Yesterday the much anticipated soundtrack listings for the latest installment of the Twilight saga, Eclipse, were released and boy are they good.

1. Metric“Eclipse (All Yours)”

2. Muse“Neutron Star Collision (Love Is Forever)”

3. The Bravery“Ours”

4. Florence + The Machine“Heavy In Your Arms”

5. Sia“My Love”

6. Fanfarlo“Atlas”

7. The Black Keys“Chop And Change”

8. The Dead Weather“Rolling In On A Burning Tire”

9. Beck and Bat For Lashes“Let’s Get Lost”

10. Vampire Weekend “Jonathan Low”

11. UNKLE“With You In My Head (featuring The Black Angels)”

12. Eastern Conference Champions“A Million Miles An Hour”

13. Band Of Horses “Life On Earth”

14. Cee-Lo Green“What Part Of Forever”

15. Howard Shore“Jacob’s Theme”

The list was released via myspace over the course of the day and has already riled quite a few people. Twilight-haters are believed to be fuming over such good bands being used in a movie franchise as big as this:

“It’s weird how such an obnoxious, mainstream , over-exposed movie franchise goes out of their way to pick really subtle , unknown Hipster bands for their soundtracks.”

quotes one unknown individual on Perez Hilton’s comment thread. Personally I think its great that some really good bands are getting a chance to shine and make some money out of what they love doing. It really grates me how pretentious some people can be especially when anything remotely successful, popular or mainstream is involved. If people like it, then these people immediately don’t. Which when you think about it is petty and childish.

I loved the Twilight books and enjoy watching the films, I’m not gonna be dissuaded any other way just because they are too ‘mainstream’ for some and as for the soundtrack I’m loving the choices and can’t wait to see how the songs are incorporated into the forthcoming film.

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Indesign magazine layout

This term we got instructed on how to use Adobe InDesign software in order to create magazine layouts and spreads. For one of our assignments we had to write a feature article on an aspect of Bournemouth (I choose the music scene and you can read the full feature here) we then had to produce a double page magazine spread for this feature. See what you make of mine below.

comments appreciated, to download the full PDF for a closer look click here

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How will it end?

Lost Tv Show ReviewAs an avid fan of the hit TV series ‘Lost’ I will be sad when it’s all over. Lost will last be gracing US screens May 23rd where it will be given an epic farewell on the network channel ABC. The two-hour finale will be slotted around a two-hour pre-show and an hour special Jimmy Kimmel late night show afterwards where the cast will be guests. So five hours dedicated to Lost, a bit too much? Definitely not! The producers have also put in speculation that they will have three alternate final scenes to show.

For us Brits we only have to wait until May 28th in order to see the climatic ending to the much-loved show on Sky One. Entertainment President for ABC has announced that Lost will conclude in a ‘highly anticipated and shocking finale’ feeling that: ‘this was the only way to give Lost a proper creative conclusion.’ So Losties get you tissues ready for what’s going to be one hell of an ending.

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The woman with the red umbrella

A short piece of fiction I wrote for a University assignment:

When you are ill you are told all sorts. Some of it bullshit, some of it helpful, some of it plain stupid. Friends and family cluster round your bed like ants in the garden, annoying and indistinguishable. “You’re bound to get better”, “Don’t think about the pain”, “stay positive.”

But when you are told you are going to die the silence that follows is the worst. Now people can’t fall back on their positive pick-you-ups because there is no positivity to be found in death, none whatsoever. You could search the dark corners of that empty and vast room for eternity and fail to find anything. So people are quiet. For the first time in fourteen months I felt as if I could hear again.

I could be cared for at home they told me; I laughed. Maybe that was rude but I couldn’t even begin to explain what it would be like to spend my last weeks trapped at home, suffocated by their pity. I didn’t blame them, not in the slightest, they loved me and they were bound to feel powerless, grief-stricken and numb, but I did not want that around me. I was happy here in my hospital bed, surrounded by people who dealt with death on a daily basis. Hell, I was practically living with death if I stayed here, maybe we could build up a rapport, a friendship. Maybe he would take me out nice and easy.

It was a week after I had been told about my date with death. My health was “deteriorating rapidly” I was told by my doctor.  “Tell me something I don’t know” I laughed. He gave me that funny look he gives me often, shaking his head. He was leaving when he stopped at the door, tentatively turning to me, “Molly, you know there is always the hospital’s minister, he can pop up and talk to you anytime you want.”

“Oh Kevin, Kevin, Kevin. I already see the counsellor. Not my thing sweetie. But thanks for the thought.” I smiled brightly. “Now some more morphine would be accepted with gratitude.” He held up his arms and clipboard defensively before leaving. I had always wondered why doctors carried around clipboards, but maybe it was to hide behind.

The hospital’s counsellor was called Mrs Sims. She tried to ‘engage’ with me, but they had the wrong woman for the job. She sat at my bedside with her pinched up eyes and cold hands and tried to talk to me for an hour every week. I dreaded it. How was I feeling? (How did she think?) What were my fears? (That these visits would over run?)

I turned to the bed on my right. An elderly woman had been admitted a few days ago but had been sleeping most of the time. When there’s a bed shortage (with the NHS when isn’t there a bed shortage?) they group you all together. The terminally ill, sarcastic young one and the old and forgotten one who is surely on her way out. C’est la vie. She stared at me now unblinking. Her eyes were small and green, the folds of skin around them had fallen down (gravity always wins) but they had once been pretty eyes, I could tell. She had had no visitors so far.

“Who’s in the photo?” I asked, pointing to the framed black and white portrait by her bedside. It appeared to be the only possession she had, apart from a slender red umbrella propped up beside her.

“That is Henry, my husband. He’s dead.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Why? He died more than fifteen years ago. What have you got to be sorry about?” I felt stumped. Like my mum perhaps, who had just been told her twenty seven year old daughter was dying.

“I guess it’s just what you say.” I paused. “Do you miss him?”

“I see him everyday; the Lord makes sure of that.” If it hadn’t been disrespectful I would have snorted. Instead I just nodded vaguely.

“Child, you think you know everything about the world, about life and about death.”

“Don’t tell me I don’t know about death. I know death all right.” I felt angry now. The woman was smiling.

“Okay dear, Okay.” The nurse came to give her some medication then and the pale blue curtain that separated us was pulled firmly shut.

I lay with my eyes closed watching the soothing pattern of blood flowing in my eyelids. It pulsed slowly, a red haze blanketing it all. I could stay like this for eternity, here I was safe. The noise of the hospital was a far away buzz now, a backdrop. I thought about something Sims had said to me the other day about dealing with what would happen to me. I’d told her there was nothing to deal with, I would be gone, and I would cease to exist. People talk about coming to terms with death, about accepting it. But I would rather lie here in my red world and feel the steady pulse of my beating heart than feel sorry for myself. For I would be gone.

Over the next week the lady with the red umbrella and the dead husband, and I talked. Between pills and pain killers, drips and mushy food, she told me about her ‘God’ and I told her about my life. She didn’t look at me with sadness filled eyes, she didn’t tell me how young I was, how life was cruel. She told me I was cynical and bitter and I agreed. When she spoke to me with her straightforward attitude and the vagueness of a stranger I felt the knots in my stomach untwisting and the fears I had locked away rising to take centre place in my jumbled thoughts.

“Do you ever wonder where your God is sometimes?” I said one night. We both lay in the darkness but I knew she was awake. “Do you ever want to ask him why? Why bad things happen…“

“…to good people?” she cut in. “And no I don’t question it. My faith is all I need.”

I thought of my Mum crying, my little sister, the children I would never have, the grand children I would never have. It all made me awash with sickness. But I knew what the worst fear I had was. I just didn’t want to say it.

She died on a Tuesday. I woke to her empty bed neatly made on my right. Death makes sure it leaves no trace of its presence. I felt sadder than I’d felt all year. Later on a nurse brought round her red umbrella, she had left it for me. Attached to the slim handle was a post-it note. It read:

You fear that soon you will be gone, and that you won’t be remembered. But you should know that it is okay to be scared. For 15 years I have carried this red umbrella with me, through rain and shine. Whenever I feel my faith slipping, it reminds me that no matter how invisible I feel, God can always see me. Even if you see no God. He sees you, you will not be forgotten.

And I realised we are all just competitors in one big race trying to shout high and loud with our tiny voices: “I have lived. I was here.”

2

A matter of monotony

Feature article written for a University assignment

A matter of monotony: the search for Bournemouth’s alternative music scene

With an abundance of popular nightclubs and trendy bars Bournemouth doesn’t fail to provide its mainstream loving students and tourists with a promising night out. But is it falling short when it comes to catering for those with more alternative tastes.

It’s crowded, hot and the queue for the bar seems never ending. You know this place of by heart; you know how it will go. You ignore the pervy gaze the chav in the trainers is throwing your way and the chat up lines from the creepy old guy in the corner. Stumbling across towards the dance floor you push past the swarms of top-shop-clad girls in six-inch heels. They somehow manage to drench you in vodka lemonade (diet of course) whilst making you feel like it’s your fault – but you aren’t giving up the fight yet.

You’ve already spent more money than you intended, feel the morning’s headache creeping in and know you have to be up at nine am tomorrow for Uni but even all this would be bearable if it weren’t for the music. Endless mainstream chart songs play over and over again. Tinchy Strider, some JLS followed by a helping of Taio Cruz. You know the set nearly song for song and whilst you like it the appeal has been lost after hearing it for the 200th time. As a student at Bournemouth University I can assure you this scenario is familiar.

Bournemouth doesn’t fail in offering its many students cheap club nights. You can head out nearly any night of the week and expect to find bars and clubs that host cheesy pop and popular RnB, but when your nights out seem to merge into one you know a change of scene is needed. Now I’ll be the first to put my hands up and admit I love a good dance to some standard clubbing tunes. I’m not going to deny that some of my most memorable nights out have been at Bournemouth’s more typical student haunts such as Lava or Orange rooms. Neither will I assert a (pretentious) disdain towards mainstream music; It’s my guilty pleasure. But as a lover of alternative genres and live bands I was curious to see what else Bournemouth could offer.

Bournemouth’s town centre is jam packed with clubs and bars, some of which dedicate specific nights to different genres of music. The popular venue Dusk till Dawn hosts ‘Big in Japan’ every Thursday playing the best of electro, old/nu disco and techno. Popular with AUCB kids don’t let the dark ‘basement’ interior of the club put you off, it actually adds to the atmosphere and the music. Just up the road you can find more indie, electro and dubstep nights being held at student union The Old Fire Station, but I was disappointed to find out how frequent the nights occurred. The hugely popular events ‘We Are Your Friends’ and ‘Dubnium’ held once monthly only. However more efforts seem to be being made with the introduction of ‘Milk’ the latest weekly addition to The Old Fire Station. A night dedicated to indie and rock playing everything from The Strokes and Maximo Park to Rage Against the Machine.

Despite the clubs attempts at accommodating to a more alternative taste, venues offering live music seem to be dwindling. The Gander and Metrapole used to host an array of live bands but have recently been replaced with a branch from the well-known chain pub Whetherspoons. More discouragingly a recent revelation has been made to demolish much-loved punk venue Sound Circus (formerly The Villa) to make way for (another) hotel. Tony Grey, long time resident of Bournemouth said with regards to this news “The town already has very few venues catering for alternative music, this would be another nail in the coffin for any potential cultural growth here.” Similarly current student Geo Willis felt that Bournemouth “doesn’t cater for the whole gamut of sub-genres, it’s a bit rubbish only having a few places to choose from.”

However there are a few saving graces to the dire music scene of present. Bournemouth’s recently refurbished 02 Academy is playing host to part of Slam Dunk By The Sea this summer headlined by New Found Glory, Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals. Welsh rock band Lost Prophets are also set to play this April. Close by Bournemouth’s International Centre (BIC) try to weave in some heavier music between their usual theatre productions and mainstream pop tours. I was working recently behind the bar at the BIC when British indie rock group Kasabian performed. It was an understatement to say the crowd were enjoying themselves. The energy coming from the main stage was phenomenal and when sweat covered fans came panting to the bar to pause for some water they sang nothing but praises for the band.

In addition to these larger venues Ibar also plays host to some well-known and undiscovered talent. As one of the few independent bars in Bournemouth live bands go down a storm, whether its Electro, Punk, Metal or something more off the wall. Music fanatic Charlie Keating recently saw hard-core punk group ‘The computers’ at Ibar. “It was £7.25, which I thought was quite expensive and would probably put a lot of people off, considering not many people have heard of the band.” However she was pleased to get out and go to something a bit different. When asked about the Bournemouth clubbing scene she said: “We usually end up going to the same clubs that play the same music, Its always a fun night when your with good friends but I feel I miss out on going to gigs around this area.” When asked what could be done to improve the situation Charlie felt more venues needed to dedicate nights to live music “It would be great to see more new talent out there but we need somewhere to see it first. They need to advertise bands more, perhaps online to spread the word that there are places to go and listen to some quality music.”

It appears Bournemouth’s alternative music scene, while maybe not extinct, is certainly endangered. With the majority of clubs playing commercial chart music to please the crowds it seems those with more niche tastes aren’t catered for. With much loved venues on their way out and no plans to provide more live music, those like me with a partiality for something a bit different will just have to keep looking. In the mean time check out The Cellar bar in Boscombe which offers six nights of live music a week. 60 Million Postcards and Buffalo Bar, both quirky independent bars, also offer a chilled atmosphere and some great music. Don’t forget to check the listings for the 02 Academy and the BIC so you don’t miss any of the great bands that appear there.

It seems then that there are places to go if you fancy a bit of punk, rock or even acoustic. However you have to search thoroughly just to find a good venue or night. With monotonous music pumped out of every club around Bournemouth needs to put some effort into nurturing the growth of its alternative music scene.

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