Thursday, 29 November 2012


All those that know me, will be aware that myself and my house mate Amelia, have been suffering from ennui for an extended period of time.

For all those who aren’t aware:

                Ennui: Listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement

Ennui raises its ugly head when you have too many assignments to do to allow yourself to go outside, but simultaneously you have no will to do any of them. So you compromise by sitting in the kitchen eating bread in your slippers and occasionally saying something a bit saucy about someone you don’t like very much, or reading really intellectual literature like “Why he thinks you’d make a flabby corpse,” in Glamour magazine.

My personal ennui has the following symptoms:

1.       Complete refusal to change my bin: At the moment my bedroom bin is like a disgusting game of ‘Rubbish Jenga.’ I have no will to change it and am simply balancing cotton pads, precariously, on top of its heaving mass.
2.       Unwillingness to eat a dinner that cannot by cooked in one saucepan: Everyone knows I’m kind of a healthy eating freak, I’m just a v. lazy one at the moment. So, most of my current recipes go like this: Step one: stir fry lots of veg. Step two: cover in tinned tomatoes. Step three: Add some sort of pulse so I don’t die of lack of protein. Et voila, enjoy your plate of steamy tomato mess. Don’t eat it too fast its heartburn in a semi-liquid form.
3.       Really boring outfits: For somebody who owns most of a retro warehouse, I have achieved wearing only jeans for three months and that’s on good days, most of the time its cow-print-dressing-gown-o-clock. Check out my mismatching slippers for further evidence that I'm becoming a member of the lost generation.
4.       Reiterating the same opinions cause making new ones is time consuming: I’m having to put Christmas baubles on my summer grievances as my ennui prevents me reading the paper, except for the stories about baby ducks.
5.       Anarchic washing systems: Take washing out of machine, spread all over banisters, leave for 40 days, throw in bottom of wardrobe.
6.       Refusal to do anything: Got a gig? I ain't coming. Got a poetry reading? I’m in bed. Any plans that normally I’d break off my arm and feed it to a dog to go to? I’m afraid you’ll be encroaching on my busy schedule of painting and re-painting my nails whilst not answering the door to the postman.
7.       Watching box sets I don’t care about: Heroes, Sex and the City, Roswell, various other vapid E4 9-o-clock heart-wrenched-teen shit. I hate all the characters, I don't empathise with their snotty lives at all, but dammit I'm in it til the bitter end.
8.       Listening to Belle and Sebastian on repeat: This can only be a bad sign.
9.       Writing false letters to Amelia, from the company that made her posh juice, claiming that she has wronged them and that they are terribly offended. (this last point of course involves carefully thought out writing, which I have done instead of anything productive.) I'm trying to make her paranoid. Its something to do.

So yeah, if anyone knows of a cure for ennui that does not involve getting sucker punched by a pseudo faith healer, let a spotty girl know eh?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Un-used Dissertation Questions

Last year there was much discussion, worry and some violent outbursts relating to how one could make the perfect dissertation question. This question should be so clever, so culturally relevant and well researched, that all other essay questions quivered in its presence and immediately dropped their knickers.

Here are some dissertation questions that didn't quite make it into a final 8000 words essay:

How does Shakespeare’s register indicate that he was actually a batty?

In what sense could reading Joyce’s Ulysses be considered a colossal waste of both yours and everyone else’s time?

Did Marlowe think Shakespeare was a bit of a prick?

‘Bird is the word:’ Discuss.

Look at the use of colloquial language in Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting. I bet you feel superior now, don’t you?

“The clothed hyena rose up and stood tall on its hind feet:” A critical analysis of the theory that Bertha Mason could actually kick Jane Eyre’s scrawny white ass.

How does Sixteenth Century conduct literature reflect the fact that everyone thought it was a bit funny that Elizabeth had gone bald?

“The tidal currents run to and fro on its unceasing surface:” In what sense does the water imagery in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness make you need a wee?

How does the characterisation in Wuthering Heights suggest that the Brontes needed to get out more?

In a psychoanalytical analysis of your classmates, employing techniques from Freud’s ‘The interpretation of Dreams’ how many of them probably had crap childhoods?

A Marxist examination of the suggestion that: The portrayal of class in the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy will not stop middle class teenagers from going to poetry parties, wearing berets and hand rolling their cigarettes.

Is there evidence that Salome’s milkshake bought all the boys to the yard? Was it Yazoo?

Did Seneca look like Helena Bonham Carter?

“Okoye was a musician:” When ‘writing back’ against the domination of colonialist rule is it important that Chinua Achebe knew to how to body-pop?

Saturday, 18 August 2012

My Summer Working at the Birthplace

In light of yet another roasting Saturday, standing in a 500 year old, overheated room, full of reproduction Tudor beds, waiting for someone to ask me the same question about the wallpaper that everybody asks, I have decided to detail some of the things that have happened since I have been a volunteer. The room in question is the ‘Birth room,’ where, it’s reputed, Willy-pants was born. On the bed in this room, is a reproduction Tudor dress that the Elizabethans used to make their little boys wear, as they believed the devil killed their boy heirs. So, they dressed them like little girls and curled their hair, until the age of five. I thought that was a harmless, interesting fact, until a Texan lady claimed; “They were all sick fucks damaging their young folk,” and stormed out of the house, interrupting a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream occurring in the Garden. Poor Bottom was terribly shocked as her considerable derriere barged past him. Shortly afterwards another guide asked an Asian lady what her son was called, to which she replied “Jonathan.”
“Jonathan,” screeched the guide, “but you’re Chinese?”
“I’m American” replied the, obviously offended, lady.
 At that point I started talking about the plague to lessen the tension.
It had all started off so nicely. I met a lovely sort-of Scottish girl called Hannah on day one, and I really needed her. The Birthplace main building is a maze, to get from reception to the main house I have to go through 17 doors, the door that leads to the garden has ‘Cellar’ written on it, and one of the doors says “Please open me slowly as people like to stand behind me.” Who are these people?! Is it the angry ghost of Willy Shakespeare, standing behind entrances to chide you at your lustful door opening haste? Anyway, Hannah knew how to get around the Birthplace so we worked as a team to get to the house each day.
I didn’t realise that the general public were so nuts. I know that’s a cliché, I mean, I’ve worked in restaurants, I know they’re rude and picky, but until you’ve had to ask an 80 year old Chinese man to stop eating some lasagne out of his pocket, whilst he stands in Shakespeare’s childhood bedroom, you cannot realise how strange people are.  One enormous American man lit up a cigarette inside the house, which is essentially an ancient ball of kindling. When we asked him to stop smoking, he smiled jovially and took another, long, puff.
So myself and Hannah would drive to the Birthplace, discussing if the actors in the Birthplace garden were gay or not, chain smoke on the way from the car, and finally arrive frazzled to stand in the opening cottage. The worst case, early-morning scenario is the one of the “blue badge guides”coming in with a group. These are guides that are from the Stratford town walk; they aren’t related to the Shakespeare Trust. They jump over railings, pick up alarmed antiques, one man ran through the kitchen brandishing the, extremely ornamental, stuffed duck whilst he discussed Tudor cuisine. Some of their punters think that William Shakespeare is a bit like God, a sort of “there is no proof of him” deal. One woman told me she “wasn’t a believer,” she doesn’t think he existed, like some sort of playwriting Vishnu. I did have to point out at that moment that if she felt that was the case, it was very silly to pay £13.75 to walk around the house, particularly as it was quite a nice day.
If we were unlucky, myself or Hannah would be in the opening cottage for an hour, where your main job is to stop people from taking photos and try and explain to them that, yes, William went to the local school and, no, he wasn’t the Earl of Oxford in disguise like in Anonymous or we’d be stuck in the exhibition. The exhibition has the same ten lines of the Tempest on an audio-loop over and over and over. It’s also a really boring exhibition. On week ten they provided some finger puppets to encourage children, which meant that I was forced to sit through a man showing me thousands of pictures of his pre-school daughter in a production of Romeo and Juliet, whilst she fiddled with a tiny felt Prospero. Best case scenario is we’d be in the workshop. I love the workshop, it’s where Billy’s Dad, John, made his gloves (called whittowing at the time). There are lots of props including a rabbit skin, which Hannah lovingly named Geoffrey on the day she fell down the stairs in front of a coach load of Japanese tourists. After visiting the Birthplace a woman left us 10 rabbit skins in her will (which I suppose is a nice gesture, but is a little odd), and as far as I know they’re still jammed in the office being used to mop up spilt tea.
Anyway there’s a lot more than that, I may do a part two. However, for today, I hope you have enjoyed my adventures as a tour guide. Tata xxxx

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Various Terrible Hats That My Mother Has Made Me Buy.

 I don't know about you, but at my family occasions, it is expected that you are to have FUN. Not just any fun either, ORGANIZED FUN. This might be a quiz downloaded from the internet where the answers are all famous European royals, a bonnet making competition (regardless of competitors' ages), an enforced sing-a-long to Edwardian music hall hits or something that involves mass cutting up of paper, which must immediately be put into a rubbish bag, leaving everyone scrabbling on the floor, instead of eating the long-awaited cake.

Anyway, sometimes, my family leave the house. This is probably not advisable, but we attend various events such as folk festivals or golden wedding anniversaries.  It then becomes apparent to my mum that, perhaps, we are not having any FUN because there are no quizzes or competitions and some of us are sitting down quietly, so there can only be one answer in her opinion: HATS. Who couldn't be having a good time if they're wearing a hat? I mean, sailors wear hats all the time, don't they? And they're always Hornpiping and dancing down to the brig. So here we are, I'm 25 years old and my bedroom is slowly but surely becoming a decaying mass of archiac headwear, from events at which I 'appeared' to not be enjoying myself.

Item 1: The Jester's hat
As you can see, this little gem is a velvet Jester's hat, as favoured as the drunk men who stand behind you at festivals, shouting abuse at your favourite band, the one that's the reason you bought the ticket, until they leave the stage, angry, having only played half their set.

Item 2: The spiky belly monstrosity 
 What's more fun than one hat? Well that'd be two sort-of matching hats. So while I wore the above velvet creation, my mother wore this bell-encrusted noise machine, to ensure the FUN was audible.

Item 3: the fake Japanese rice paddy hat
A while ago, my whole family read Memoirs of a Geisha. You've probably read it too, it's kind of a classic now, but I bet you don't have an authentic Japanese hat do you? Well, neither do I, the quality of this thing is shocking.
Item 4: Poundland's finest

Due to the fact that I appear to be at least 1/3 albino, this enforced purchase, was based on an overwhelming family fear that I would get sunstroke and not be able to partake in any of the planned entertainment, later in the evening.

Item 5: The world is heavy on my shoulders

In similar vein to the last item, this hat was purchased at a music festival fearing my scalp would shear off due to the overwhelming heat. This hat is made of bamboo. I don't feel that I can explain, using only the English language, how heavy this hat is to wear. Suffice to say, it was about a thousand degrees and I had to wear it all day. Oh, and my mum bought a matching one.

Item 6: I am not Fearne Cotton

On a trip to London, Everyone got over excited and thought it would be 'kooky' if I had a bowler hat. Now, I hate Fearne Cotton, with a fire that rages through my tattered soul, and she championed these a while back. I think that, by how dusty it is, you can see how much I've worn it. It was also really pricy.

Item 7: Pre sexual revolution chic
If I ever have to play a part in the remake of 'Driving Miss Daisy,' it will be in this hat.

And Finally:
Item 8: Hell freezes over
Similar to everyone wondering if I'm too hot, what if I get too cold?! Well, I need never fear with this little number. I know what you're thinking and you're right: I do look like a match.

So there we are, I can't bring myself to get rid of any of these, so I'm going to organize some sort of very over the top party at which they can have an outing. I would also like to point out that if you ever come to an event with me, and look a bit sombre,I'll probably encourage you to buy and wear a hat as we all end up a bit like our parents.

Bye Bye now

Katie :)

Friday, 15 June 2012

Being Good at Things

I am always slightly perturbed when I discover people that I know are good at things. For example when you discover someone you have known for, say, ten years, has been playing the oboe since the age of seven and you didn't know what an oboe was until the age of 14, and that was only because of the Alton Towers' advert theme tune. Also, in this case, it would be discovering that this person is of a completely different social class to you, like when one of my friends told me as a child she had a day nanny and a night nanny, who were fluent in different languages, and that's why she excels at languages. I live in a flat with two guinea pigs in the living room, the floor is a mass of hay, make your own conclusions.

Anyway, I think the phrase is "An All Rounder" which means you are relatively competent at everything. This, of course, is a lie. I cannot catch a ball, ride a bike without rendering myself infertile, run without looking like a chicken or eat without getting food in my hair, which means I have to scrape my hair back like a Victorian school mistress on a daily basis. Contrastingly, I am friends with incredibly talented artists, musicians, dancers and more irritatingly those girls who are just good at being alive, who have an inability to tread in dog poo. So though I've sat through a lot of really crappy bands because my friends are in them and seen a lot of terrible amateur manga drawing (really? A, well-endowed, female, pink fox who's also a super hero? Her powers are all in her breasts? Did you use your dominant hand for this drawing?), these people that are good at things surround me. Most of these people have been doing whatever their talent is since the age when I was still refusing to brush my hair, as I believed birds might nest in it if I was lucky.

So here are the things I think I am good at, none of them have ever got me a boyfriend/ impressed an employer:

I can do fairly accurate scathing impressions of people that I don't like/barely know.
I can wittily mock talented people whilst they are on stage making me and my co 'all-rounders' feel better.
I can analyze something for gender bias within 30 seconds.
I can talk authoritatively on subjects I know nothing about. This will be very useful when I'm a teacher, sod learned knowledge and practiced talent, the secret is to have a big booming voice and hold eye contact with the little shits.
I can tell you the glycemic index of almost any food.
I can make impressive and macabre fancy dress outfits out of chicken wire, newspaper and an immature imagination. Then I can probably bully you into wearing it.

There we are that's the sum of 25 years of learning, worrying and existing. I do worry I shall end up a strident feminist, in a macabre cheap wig, teaching a class about particle physics from an article I've just read on Wikipedia. Meanwhile, all my musical friends will marry Andrew Bird, my scientist friends will discover cures and my linguist friends will sort out the Middle East. At least I'll have time to watch Made in Chelsea.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Can opposites work?

 We are all aware of the saying opposites attract, but, just how true is this? In order to find out, this week we sent Beefy, a thirty four year old, self confessed, party animal, and Wolfy, a wolf, on a date to see "The Avengers Ensemble." Lets see if we can make the next love's young dream. Here's their stats:

Wolfy is 24 and works as an Orthodontist. He enjoys running through fields in the twilight, hunting and winding up his alpha. His turn ons include: Lack of mange, a strong fixed jaw and the ability to do tricks with sticks and balls. Turn offs include: The Conservative party and raw vegetables

 Beefy is 34 and works in Tesco. He likes to spend his evenings cross stitching and remaking old horror movies using Argos catalogs. Turn ons include: Knowledge of Chinese politics, Alexa Chung and limpets. Turn offs include: Adaptations of Hans Christian Anderson fairytales and overuse of the word 'basically.'
And so the date begins with a ride in a sumptuous carriage, provided by us!
"I was really nervous," remarked Beefy, "having never been on a blind date before, this was a worry, but Wolfy seems nice and his tail is very evocative."
Wolfy commented that the conversation was a little stunted "I've never really liked offal and Beefy was terribly keen, he kept calling my tail a 'snake of desire.' It was very off putting."

 We provided the pair with 3D glasses (no expense spared!) Wolfy seemed a little quiet, when asked, he stated that Beefy had asked him if he was an endangered species, he thought his beard was unsightly, he questioned if Beefy was a little drunk and he suspected Beefy was a closet royalist. Beefy remarked: "I've been concerned recently about my fungal nail infection, but I reckon Wolfy is the accepting type and gadzooks that tail hubba hubba hubba, I'd invite him round for Argos Massacre Night"

The rest of the trip passed in relative quiet. At one point Wolfy asked if Beefy liked Jazz, unfortunately, Beefy misheard him, believing he said "need a wazz." An awkward situation followed which we have promised not to discuss in this article.

Beefy doing the gentlemanly thing.

After purchasing tickets Beefy spent 30 minutes in the bathroom, almost causing us to miss the film. It remains unclear what he was doing in there. Wolfy declined to comment, simply stating: "this is going in my book."
 Beefy then insisted on having an icecream, which he ate whilst silently crying and attempting to stroke the hair of the cashier in front of him. I asked him how he thought the date was going: "Well," he said, "I reckon tails over there is hooked, I got it all baby, the hat, the ravens. In Tesco they call me "The womanater" cause I'm good with women."
I pointed out that Wolfy was not a woman but a male wolf.
He replied: "beggars can't be chooser."
We later discovered that the pseudonym 'The Womanater' was wanted by Merseyside police.

The two lovers entered into the film (Who knows who this woman is, someone entranced by watching a couple so obviously in love I'd imagine) Wolfy could be heard lovingly whispering in to Beefy's ear: "If you touch my tail again I'll break your bloody fingers." Sweet.

After the film was over Wolfy seemed uncharacteristically quiet stating that Beefy has spoken about his love of raw vegetables and the Conservative Party for much of the film and had , at one point, made him salute a tiny statue of David Cameron that he had squirreled away in his pocket. Our reporters pointed out that in all relationships one must make compromises. Beefy spent another 45 minutes in the toilets, we did not ask why.

 Wolfy was found hiding against a picture of Robert Downey Jnr, visibly shaken. "I won't go into those toilets," he told me, "that gingernut is a psycho."
Luckily the romantic mood was not spoilt as Beefy believed they were playing a game and quickly snuggled up to a picture of Scarlet Johanssen. "I've always thought Scarlet was a nice girl," Sad Beefy, "Now, back to the toilets!"

So far so good! The two of them seem to be getting on well!

Unfortunately, though Beefy wanted to take the date onto dinner Wolfy claimed he was leaving the country the next morning. So our lucky couple depart, will they make it? I don't like to use hyperbole but: They are the greatest love man has ever known.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Where I do a feminist reading of a terrible film.

Ok, we have all seen terrible films, I for one, occasionally really enjoy and am pleasurably astounded by how terrible some movies are able to be. Many a welcome night has been spent glued to the 'Zone Horror' channel watching some crazed dwarf chase a 1980s lady, complete with tight perm and neon leggings, through an MDF graveyard. However, there's kind of a limit with modern films as you can't blame it on them being:
a. dated or
b. Outside your pop culture knowledge.

This brings me to the sad story I have to tell you: last week I saw Wrath of the Titans. Bar having the obvious things wrong with it, for example Festus the "Fallen God" had a Yorkshire accent and, though I am pro-multicultural films, its a bit unconvincing that the Greek Gods included an Italian, an Australian, three Brits and a man who appeared to be half donkey or at least facially 90% teeth, it was a patriarchal nightmare.

Here is what happens with a feminist slant to it:

Perseus, an acceptable form of masculinity, is working as a fisherman after defeating the Kraken. He is however failing his societally per scribed masculine roles as his wife has died and he now takes full account of the child rearing of his son. He lives peacefully with his son as a fisherman (a non manly job, like being a lollipop man) THIS MUST BE STOPPED shrieks Greece. At the same time the 'imaginary' (imaginary/symbolic is associated with the female in the stage of a child's development) world of the Gods is crumbling as people don't believe in them anymore (like women's liberation's values). This is making way for the 'realist,' masculine world of modern human beings. In order to bring up his son Heleus, terrible name (I hope his dad chose it), in a fitting world Perseus (who is physically strong) must stop the negative portrayals of masculinity: the God of war (Ares) who is dumb and Hades (Rafe Fiennes who now is only able to play mythical bad guys with small noses) who is weak and feminised from resurrecting Kronos who is a man but is feminised as he gave birth to the world, see where this is going?.

Hades and Ares have Zeus locked up in the underworld and are draining his power to feed Kronos, which gives the idea of the feminine, maternal 'other' draining the masculine provider.To stop this Perseus, a donkey faced half God called Agenor and Andromeda, who is supposed to be a warring Queen but spends much of the film trapped, being freed and failing to land a single punch, hop off to an island to find Festus, a mad fallen God, not dissimilar in appearance to a rolling stone, who listens to an owl for advice. They take the phallic symbol Poseidon's trident with them which leads the way to the destination (we're all lost without a willy).

After a brief unconvincing battle, the party find Festus who agrees to show them how to get to the underworld. Ahem, however, one of the silly women has prayed to Ares, even though she was told not to by the men in charge and so Ares rightfully comes an kills her for being so silly. She has chosen the wrong kind of masculinity to value and shall be punished.

In the labyrinth whilst Andromeda and Donkey Face are lost and trembling for the 90th time, Perseus flexes about and kills a minotaur, a bulls head offering a figure of domesticated/controlled male sexuality, cause he's one masculine guy. Then they save Zeus, but Kronos gets out anyway, cause he's a bit feminine and they always comes back to cause more trouble (just like in the 70s). Later on, Perseus has to fight Ares up a mountain (queue a lot of grunts) in front of his son, he wins (obviously). Hades, sorry for his crimes comes to restore Zeus' power with the new reinstated sense of male solidarity (homosocial and competitive regarding a feminised character, but allowed cause it's not homosexual), they are able to assert their status over their female matriarch, and kick some ass.Then everyone does some fighting (only the boys land punches) and they beat Kronos, by putting all the phallic symbols of Zeus' lightning bolt, Hades' spear and Poseidon's trident together and *poking him with it* (they figuratively shag Kronos to death = Oedipus complex). By doing this the boys defeat their adolescence in which they were able to be dominated by women who 'gave birth' to them.

At the end Perseus decides to be a soldier instead of a fisherman (which is a respectable job, like a fireman) and hands over the sword (a phallic symbol of patriarchy) to his son to show this is how men must continue. Everyone has a girl, even Donkey face, though it seems not to matter that his may not speak the same language as him. Perseus gets with Andromeda (now he wont have to child rear!) 'claiming' her as a won possession and restoring the heterosexual matrix of society.

Everybody is terribly happy and they all have cake.

Poor old Zeus, he could have sorted all that out after a couple of hours with Freud.

Bye now xxxxxxxxx