1 Oct 2014

Bangkok, Tuk-tuks and Scams

Arriving in Bangkok was quite extraordinary. My first impression was that their driving "skills" are something to be desired. Apparently there are no rules when it comes to driving there. No rules at all. Overtaking can be done whenever and however. You know those sneaky drivers who weave in and out of cars on the motorway and you just want to throttle them? Welcome to Thailand. Hard shoulders are driven on quite freely, and there is apparently no correct lane to use, whether you're turning left or right - you just sneak in at the last minute. In the UK we'd call that selfish, in Thailand they'd call it efficient. In fact, such a move in the UK would be lethal, and you would rightly endure the wrath and death glares of other drivers. Drivers in Thailand on the other hand will cut each other up like it's no big deal. Sometimes I felt like we were going sideways more than we were actually moving forwards. It was like being inside a video game - helloooo Mario Kart - and a three year old kid was controlling the gears. That's how crazy it was. Yet their ability to whiz in and out in such meticulous fashion without crashing is quite remarkable, and would suggest that my "three year old kid" analogy was quite wrong. Naturally I had to hold on quite tightly to my possessions (you can never trust people driving past on scooters, ready to pluck an iPhone from your hand whilst you take a photo of some temple or other).

This was my first experience in a tuk-tuk, and certainly one I wouldn't forget. I soon learnt that it all begins with a price negotiation (I've got better at this over time). It usually goes something like this: I pretend to look outraged at the initial sum they demand, and immediately halve it. The driver looks incredibly offended and contorts his face into a "are you effin' kidding me?" whilst you threaten to take the next tuk-tuk that comes along instead. Begrudgingly, he concedes to your close-fistedness, hoping to squeeze an extra 20 baht out of you. You look at him, stupefied, repeating 80 baht to him so many times that he finally relents.  Bloody foreigners, he thinks. But he probably hasn't given a ride for the past 3 hours. I can't work out if my haggling makes me an awful person. The price he is offering is cheap by UK standards, but then you're not exactly paying for comfort, (or aircon I might add). And everything in Thailand is cheaper, anyway. Many of them are also sponsored by questionable tailors, jewellers and fake tourist agencies. 

On one journey, my friend Jaz and I were headed to Chatuchak market, but the tuk-tuk driver insisted on taking us to one of his sponsors. We complained, but to no avail. Apparently that was the price for haggling so profoundly. We owed it to him. "Go inside and spend 10, 15 minutes", he told us. We stood outside Emporium Armani, surrounded by derelict buildings and mangy dogs. A classy place for such a classy brand. Something's not quite right. But wait..shouldn't it be Emporio Armani? Click. We stood outside the shop, scared for our lives, and peeked in nervously. Automatically we were shuffled in by owners and shop assistants. Was this all part of a larger plan to kill us? Does that door in the corner lead to a dungeon? These were thoughts going through my head at the time. However, they proceeded to throw fabrics at us left, right and centre. What if they smothered me with them? Must keep my cool. Apparently I had to buy a pashmina. "Today, good price. Cheap, cheap", he motioned to me in broken English. Once the fear that they'd lock us up in some back room and throw a bag over our heads had subsided, I merrily (maybe a slight exaggeration) waved my hand through all the shirts, suits, and scarves on offer, stopping at some shiny ties, before grabbing Jaz's hand and leaving. The tuk-tuk driver seemed somewhat annoyed that we'd spent little more than 2 minutes in his sponsor's shop, and that we'd come away empty handed. His commission wouldn't be good that day.

I was slowly being introduced to the scams, cons, and trickery prevalent in Thailand.

11 Aug 2014

I'm Not A Real Person Yet

So after a 4 month hiatus, I'm back on the blogosphere. Maybe that's because I’ve only recently recovered from writing my dissertation (a harrowing phase of my life which included multiple breakdowns, but also produced the mildly successful hit "Dissy's Done" à la Frozen), spent too much time revising for French exams (pfft as if), or because I ran out of things to say. Or maybe because I only have £4 in my current bank account (or any account for that matter), and I'm contemplating my life as an impoverished, out of work graduate, with as much life direction as a tangled slinky. Oh, and I just got fined £8 by Barclays because my phone bill bounced (too poor to afford it you see). That’s the price for being a pauper.

But enough with the excuses.

It's ironic perhaps that I wrote my dissertation on American independent filmmaker Noah Baumbach, because he's a sucker for this anxious-ridden phase of life. On my year abroad in Gay Pareeee, I saw his film Frances Ha (a B&W film starring the tantalising Greta Gerwig) and Adam Driver (think HBO/Lena Dunham's Girls). It was this film alone which made me decide to write a whole 8,000 words on the filmmaker, despite having never seen his other films. In retrospect however, I probably should have written on Woody Allen, or someone a little more mainstream. It was a Love/Hate relationship, leaning more towards the latter. Turns out the secondary criticism on Baumbach was sparser than the hair on the Duke of Edinburgh's head. Oh well, it turned out all right in the end, despite not being able to eat for a whole week before it was due in. No mean feat given I'm a massive foodie. The burger I treated myself to after dissertation hand-in made every gland in my body salivate. I’m joking. That's disgusting.

Baumbach's "niche" is struggling twenty-somethings (although sometimes older), stuck in that place between youth and adulthood, whilst refusing to grow up and take on responsibility. “How much longer can I act like a child? Am I still allowed to whinge and moan about trivial matters?” ask confused twenty-somethings. Except more commonly, he/she is unaware of his/her lack of maturity, so probably never gets round to asking such pertinent questions. When I broke down at lunch the other day (“My youth is over ” I lamented), my mum criticised me for acting like my life was already over. "Your life hasn't even begun yet" she muttered, shrewdly.

I was told throughout my teens that university would encompass the "best years of my life", and that I should make the most of it. Now that university is over, and the fear of long-term unemployment has kicked in, I can't help but think that it all goes downhill from here. No more mid-afternoon coffees in Exeter's many cafés, nor weekly shopping trips, late nights in mangy clubs, lie-ins, or hitting up the gym whenever I feel like it. My 8 hour week of studying will eventually be replaced with the structure of an 8 hour working day, 5 days a week. My evenings and weekends will suddenly become increasingly valuable. I'll become more conscious about making plans that I actually want to fulfil, rather than just doing stuff to kill time. But until then, it's a state of limbo. Just going for a ride in my #limbozine.

It’s fair to say that applying for jobs is a pain in the hooha (apologies gentlemen readers). My father likes to remind me that when he was my age, he worked his socks off in the summer to earn his "beer money" and afford his social life. But lest we forget, this was the early 1980s, and in the US of A, so making a comparison seems frivolous. There was a time, too, when you could hire someone off the bat, or pull in a favour for a friend's kid. My grandfather received an offer from Cambridge, after a mere phone call between his school tutor and a college master at the university. Now the rigorous Oxbridge process is enough to give anyone a nervous breakdown. The youth of today is competing against a pool of increasingly qualified people. Saying “it’s hard” is an understatement.

What’s more - it’s a Catch-22. You can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience without previous experience. But unless you plan on pulling this experience out of your arse, where on earth are you supposed to find it? And more often than not we’re forced into work experience and unpaid internships, just for CV bashing purposes, even if that means spending a month making tea and coffee for our colleagues, and doing random bits of admin that no-one else wants to do. But hey, at least you come out of it as a fully qualified hole-puncher. However, not everyone can afford to spend 3 months in London, unpaid. It requires the bank of Mummy and Daddy, or doting relatives to offer up the couch in their London pad. 

Maybe I’m just suffering from the rampant Generation Y disease known as cynicism, which is why I spend most of my precious time online, tweeting irrelevant remarks, complaining about the empty job market, and going overboard on the hashtags, just to spite people. ‘Cos you know, that’s how we value ourselves nowadays - on the number of likes, or followers, or whatnot. It amused me no end when I was babysitting 3 girls the other day and the eldest (at the youthful age of 11) boasted how she already had over 70 followers after a mere week of activating an Instagram account. When she discovered I had fewer followers and I’d been using Instagram for an entire year, I feared I wasn’t cool enough to hang around with someone of her Instaprowess. Meet “Generation Z” (those born mid 1990s-mid 2000s). They were practically born onto tablets. They were probably using wifi from within the womb. “Foetus is connecting to BT Womb-Hub 1234”. Username: Foetus, Password: Fallopian.

I’m bored. I think I’ll just take a #selfie, post it on Facebook, and pretend I lead an exciting life. And when I’m in Paris in a couple weeks, or travelling to SEA in September, I’ll post a daily #instatravel snap so you know how much fun I’m having. And if I end up in hospital with Malaria, I'll probably get the nurse to help me take a selfie, too (#nofilter). Just to prove how much of a badass I am. WAHOO #NDE. Have we become so obsessed with documenting our lives that we've entered a state of paralysis where we spend more time pausing for the camera, than going out and living life to the full? In a world desperately needing the youth to take on an active role, is it true that we'd rather take selfies with burning piers and dead bodies? We've also become painfully self-regarding, with an unruly tendency to splatter our innermost thoughts and feelings across social media. When is this going to stop? When will this no longer be "cool"?

To conclude. “I’m not a real person yet”, said Frances in Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, after her card got declined in a restaurant. And you know why she's not? Because she loved herself just a little too much. (Oh, and she happened to be virtually unemployed too...)

23 Apr 2014

AHOY SEXY: My Experience On Tinder

So some of you may remember that a few months back, I wrote a pretty scathing review of Tinder. But, alas, I bumped into a friend on the train on my way back to Exeter and he persuaded me to get it. I ummed and aahed for an extended period of time, but finally gave in. I handed over my phone (reluctantly I might add), and he carefully went through my Facebook pictures to choose the "perfect assortment." To the untrained eye, I was the ultimate catch.  Well, that was the plan anyway. He came up with a couple goofy lines for my bio, but I thought I'd best leave it blank. After all, it's not like I was taking any of it seriously...or was I?

My goodness is Tinder addictive. There's something so unforgivably titillating about it that I found myself losing sleep over it. Literally. I could stay up on it for hours, just mindlessly swiping pictures of men. Gosh that makes me sound perverted. But there's no point denying it - it's just so compulsive that you don't even need to flick your brain in gear before you use it. Just one more, you tell yourself, just one more. If you have managed to escape Tinder up until now, I urge you to keep it that way...particularly if you are in the middle of revising for exams or writing essays. It was quickly becoming my number one procrastination method....no more listening to remixes of Let It Go from Frozen...it's Tinder time.

So far the conversations have been pretty PG, well, relatively. I haven't started any conversations (apart from a joke one with my friend on the train), so I've let the men do the talking. There have been a lot of "hey! how are you?" type things - no awkward chat up lines thank goodness. One guy discussed his love of "McBusted" and how excited he was to be going to their concert. One guy took it a little far with the euphemisms. I stopped responding when he insisted on discussing his "wood." I told him I wasn't a very good carpenter, and left it at that. Another one told me he'd drive all the way over to see my "gorgeous ass." Where he got that from, I do not know. (Note to readers: I'm not posting pics of my "ass" on Tinder.)

But after having Tinder for less than 2 days, I decided it was time to hop off the band wagon. I realised that it was the worst waste of my time, ever. I'd racked up 51 matches in approximately 30 hours, but still didn't feel satisfied in any way, partly because I know some guys just "like" everyone for the hell of it, plus...it seems so insincere basing someone's worth on a few pictures. I won't deny however that it was pretty entertaining, and that was my main reason for using it. I was certainly not looking for love, or a quick hook-up. Basically, I wasn't treating it as a "dating app", and any guy that asked for my number received a resounding "no." I was treating it as an "I'm bored, let's do something fun" app, with a "this could be good material for my blog" mentality. Consequently, I spent quite a lot of time staring in disbelief at my iPhone. Most of the men reminded me of really poor quality advertising campaigns. I'm not expecting every guy to be an Orlando Bloom lookalike, but don't post really cringeworthy pictures of yourself looking like a douche. Let me elaborate:

What is it with the iPhone mirror selfies? I mean seriously. They make me want to tear my eyes out of my sockets. I genuinely have an acute aversion to this sort of picture, particularly when guys do it, and particularly when every single Tinder picture is an iPhone mirror selfie. Maybe that sounds sexist, but it really grates on me. And what is with the creepy under the sheets ones of you lying in bed? NO. JUST NO. Stop making love to the camera, it's creeping me out. And stop posting multiple pictures of just a third of your face, or only choosing pictures of you and a bunch of ten other guys. This should be your dating passport, and it gives me a headache trying to work out which one you are. Make it SIMPLE. It's not rocket science. Oh, and it's cute that you like your dog, but does it really have to appear in every single picture? How many angles of the dog's face are there? And why do you insist on hiding behind your dog in every single picture?

OK, so you may have good abs, or biceps, or whatever part of your body. But goodness gracious: put them away. The odd shot of you on the beach with your swimming trunks on is fine, but mirror selfies of you tensing is not a good look. Frankly, it makes you looks arrogant. Like I said earlier, anything involving a phone and a mirror is an immediate me no likey, left swipey.

Men with babies and children: ?!?!?!?!. In EVERY photo. Maybe it's your niece, or godson, or whoever...but when every picture is of you snuggling up to a bunch of kids like they're your own (maybe they are, maybe they aren't), I'm running a mile. Who are you trying to find? Playmates for your kids? Probably best to crop out the kids, or get the hell off Tinder. Moron. Hang on a sec, that was a bit harsh. If you're a single Dad, looking for luurve, please put it in your bio. I'm not ready to be a Step Mother just yet, so I'd like a little pre-warning.

You'd also think that in this age of super technology, offensively blurry photos would be something of the past. Apparently not on Tinder. Look, I'm not expecting microscopic HD quality where every pore on your skin is visible (that would probably be pretty unflattering for anyone), but when all your photos are as blurry as my vision is when I'm not wearing contact lenses...we got a problem. Get yourself a decent camera, or find a better picture. When the entirety of your face is pixellated, what is the point? And don't pretend you're going for the "artsy" look - this is Tinder, not Instagram. Sort it aaht.

When you say you're 22, but look 50....ummm, yea. Maybe you're one of those unlucky souls who is aging prematurely, but unlikely. Go find someone your own age. Perve.

Tinder has apparently become the platform to showcase peoples' extreme sporting capabilities - from skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, motor racing...As a skier myself it's nice to see someone else that also skies - I feel a connection. But if every pic is of you going down the mountain clad head-to-toe in bulky ski stuff, a balaclava and a helmet, I'm not digging it. Likewise with the scuba diving pictures. I also scuba dive, but if every photo is of you wearing Jupiter sized goggles, a wetsuit, and a massive tank on your back....hey, maybe I'm just being shallow.

One last thing. Dude, don't write in your bio: I like golf swimming climbing music gym biking etc. Ever heard of a comma? Apparently not...It's that little thing located on your keyboard and it looks like this "," <--- do us a favour, and use it. Love from the Grammar Nazi.

So there you have it - my experience with Tinder. It's safe to say that I will never, ever, return.

NB: This article is supposed to be OTT and ridiculous...somewhat, anyway ;)

2 Apr 2014

Am I The Only One Not Getting Engaged?

Engagements seem to be a daily occurrence on my Facebook newsfeed. I can't seem to wake up without being bombarded with sparkly rings, and pictures of smiling couples, kissing couples, "we're so perfect together" couples. Of course I'm happy for them (I truly am), but am I jealous? ERRR, nope. Not that engagements are a bad thing - I just can't see myself tying the knot anytime soon. So that queue of men following me around, ready to drop down on one knee: like, back off. I know you're there in your invisibility cloaks.

In the 1950s I would have been described as the "ripe old age of 22" - my Granny got married at my age, but already considered herself "on the shelf". I'm just hoping that a woman's shelf life in the 2010s is a little longer than in the 1950s, otherwise I'm screwed (any eligible bachelors out there? We have until December!) I might as well sign up to a nunnery now. Wait...would I even qualify? I'd probably be one of those "naughty nuns" people go as to fancy dress parties, with an offensively short habit. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I've been spending too long in the library...

I can't help but think that I'm way too young to be getting married. It feels like I've only just hit puberty. Nah, I'm joking. But I don't feel like I'm mature enough to think about the future yet - I'm still happy just figuring out life, and making mistakes, and living a little. I don't want to settle down with anyone before I've figured out what really matters to me. Maybe that sounds a little selfish, but isn't that part of the luxury of being in your twenties? That state of drifting, not really knowing the precision of your identity, and not really caring either. Maybe this sounds all rather silly, but that's how I feel sometimes. Responsibilities are there, but you can afford to throw your eggs in multiple baskets.

When you've got a dissertation to write and exams to revise for etc., I don't know how you're supposed to fit a fiancé into the equation anyway. And where the hell am I supposed to find him? Between a stack of library books? The only other place I tend to hang out is the gym, but I don't have a great track record (see post below). And contrary to popular belief, the TP and Arena dance floors don't tend to be ideal hotspots for blossoming love affairs. Just sayin'.

Between the all-nighters in the library eating my bodyweight in Mini Cheddars, and the sweaty gym classes, my life isn't currently cut out for romance, let alone a fiancé. Maybe I'm not the relationship type. A male friend once told me that I don't give off the "relationship vibe". I'm not quite sure what this vibe amounts to, or how I'm supposed to catch it, but I'm curious nonetheless. I have friends who are always in and out of relationships - always. My best friend and I couldn't be more opposite when it comes to dating. She's spent the majority of her tween years (teen and twenties) in long-term relationships. I genuinely don't know how she does it. And then there's me, the ultimate failure. Even Bridget Jones had two men fighting over her. Where are mine? Men: START PUNCHING EACH OTHER (it'll make me feel better).

Fear not dear readers, I am not actually feeling that "man weepy" (a stunning phrase a couple of my friends have used to describe their mental state in the month of February). Contrary to my rants, I'm perfectly content being single. Because nothing feels as good as Beyoncé's Single Ladies playing in a nightclub, and actually being able to throw both hands in the air, hoping that I'll be plucked from a crowd of other desperate hopefuls....I will live in the hope that if he likes me that much, he'll put a ring on it. And then I'LL be the newly engaged gal on the block....

26 Mar 2014

Cheating Husbands: I Was Almost The "Other Woman"

I’m a naturally bubbly and flirtatious person, and I’m happy to admit that. My girlfriends are always picking up on it. They’ve become so used to it that it’s become a running joke. They’ll roll their eyes, but I just laugh. But can I just clarify something? That doesn’t for a moment mean that I want to make out with every guy I “flirt” with, or that I’m attracted to him. It’s just my way of being - my personality, I suppose. 

My flirtatiousness (although often I think it’s just synonymous with talkativeness), has landed me in deep water on several occasions (I’ll enlighten you later on in this post!) Being talkative can be great - it makes “small talk” more bearable because you’ve always got something to say - but sometimes it’s better to just shut up. I’ll speak to almost anyone - in fact anyone. I’m not very good at giving off negative facial expressions either, unlike one of my housemates who seems to be a pro. If I try to ladle out “evils” on the dance floor, I probably look like I’m going for the “sultry, come get me boys” look, which is never, ever my intention. Definitely a reason to practice in the mirror beforehand…

I also have a tendency to smile quite a lot, unless I’m super duper tired and can’t physically move my smile muscles (I’m sure there’s a more technical term). Again, this can be a good thing because it shows you’re a warm, friendly person, but it also has consequences. I find that men often take this as a positive signal - like you’re giving them the go ahead. Errr…dude: I smiled at the pensioner behind you as well, so don’t get too cocky. Sometimes a smile is just a smile, not an indicator that I want your babies. Clear? And if I winked at you, I probably winked at the guy next to you as well. Because, like, I do this thing where I wink at people sometimes, accidentally on purpose (mainly accidentally…) Anyway, now for the anecdote (and this one isn’t from Paris surprisingly!)

So a couple years ago I went to a gym called Clifton Hill Sports Centre. Not gonna lie, the gym was pretty crappy, but it was a 2 minute walk from my student house so there was no excuse not to go. One Saturday in the summer term, there was the Exeter Respect Festival going on in Belmont Park just opposite. I popped down to the gym and it was virtually empty. A youngish man was sitting behind the desk, and he swiped my card. I threw my bag into a locker and went into the empty gym, headphones plugged in. I was using the leg machine when he walked over, clad in his suit. He started talking to me, and I responded in my usual vein: I was chatty. I stupidly gave him the time of day. He seemed nice enough, but before long it was obvious that he had an ulterior motive. It had only been five minutes, and he was already talking about a “secret beach” that he’d like to take me to. I tried to do my tricep dips, but he just sat opposite me, watching. I looked nervous, but he kept staring. After I finished he told me to come by at 9pm when the gym closed to give me a “tour”. I politely declined, but was admittedly flattered. Even with sweat dripping down my face, I held some sort of appeal.

I had never introduced myself to him. He didn’t know my name. Or did he? I arrived home and he’d already added me on Facebook. When he swiped my card, my name must have come up on his screen. For some (stupid) reason, I decided to accept him. I suppose I was intrigued, and was worried that it would be “awkward” if I didn’t. He started sending me messages, but I’ll tell you now that one of my biggest pet peeves is when people can’t spell, or use incomprehensible slang. “Wod” is not a suitable alternative for “would” - and “no” and “know” are not interchangeable. It wasn’t long before he started flirting; he wanted to take me on a date…to go for a walk in the countryside, and grab lunch at a nice pub. I was torn: should I just live a little, or should I avoid the man at all costs? Either way, the unofficial “date” was postponed because his sister was going into labour and he needed to make a trip to the hospital.

Whenever I went into the gym he’d try to subtly poke me in the ribs when no-one was looking. How was I supposed to act? One time he insisted on walking me to my front door. I tried to stop him, but he followed me. It didn’t take long for me to realise that he was trying to solicit sex from me. He was knocking on the wrong door, that’s for sure. I made it clear that I wasn’t interested but he insisted that it would be fun to go on a few dates before I went home for the summer.

He continued being really inappropriate, so I decided to block him on Facebook. I should have done it earlier, but I didn’t know what to do. The only thing I was certain of was that I wanted him out of my life….

A few days ago I was reminiscing about my 2nd year at university, and I started thinking about this awkward turn of events. I had a sudden urge to stalk him on Facebook (forgetting that I’d actually blocked him, which would mean he wouldn’t come up), and I found a profile for a man with the same name, who worked at the same gym. I was intrigued and started clicking through the pictures. There were various baby pictures, and pictures of the same man I’d met two years ago in the gym with a blonde woman. Ah, so he’s a newlywed? Not quite. On the “About” section, I found out that he got married in 2009. My stomach churned. It wasn’t long before I put two and two together and concluded that his “sister” that went into labour was probably his wife. 

But hang on a sec: How hadn’t I realised before that he was married? How had I not seen these pictures? I was having a Sherlock Holmes moment and trying to play detective when it suddenly hit me. He must have two profiles. I looked in my “blocked users” list, and surprise surprise, there was the same man, with the same name, that I’d blocked two years earlier. I unblocked him and began to stalk. In this profile he presented himself as “single”. So this was the profile he used to prey on young women? Apparently so…

So what did I do? Naturally, I added both profiles on Facebook to see what would happen. And this is how the conversation went (I’ve changed his name for privacy reasons…)

Married man
Hi x

Montana Gerry
do you have 2 profiles?

Married man
No why u ask ?

Montana Gerry
just because there's another guy called **** who works at the same place as you and was confused...?

but he got married in 2009 and has a kid...

Married man
So why the add??x
How have u been btw

Montana Gerry
i wanted to tell you that you should stop dicking around, you have a wife and kid, and what you did was disgusting.
i'm fine though, thanks for asking

Married Man
What are u going on about ! U added me to insult me!

Montana Gerry

i think you've insulted your wife more than i'm insulting you now
i'm not thick - you completely deceived me, and i think you owe me an apology

Married man
For what ??

Montana Gerry
are you denying that you're married?

Married man

U tell me u no all the answers so it seems?

Montana Gerry
you added me on Facebook, tried to have sex with me, have two Facebook profiles, at the same time as having a wife and kid

do you think that sounds normal?

Married Man
What wod u like me to say??

Montana Gerry
the truth, for once

Married man
U don't even no me !

Montana Gerry
you tried to force yourself into my house for a “cup of tea”, and then tried to have sex with me...

Married man

Montana Gerry
you're right, i don't know you. because everything you told me before on Facebook and in real life was bullshit

Married Man
So why have u contacted me. !

Montana Gerry
because i felt it was important to stick up for women who are married to unfaithful men.
i wanted you to know that i am not fooled, that your "secret beach" can go rot in hell. i just hope your kid doesn't end up like you

Married man

That everything?

Montana Gerry
think so, have a nice life.

Married man
U to !

And if that wasn’t enough, I soon discovered a third profile. I’m pretty sure it’s the profile he uses as a “single Dad”, to lure in all the single mums out there.

Understandably this man’s actions make me feel sick to the core. I was in two minds as to whether I should report him for stealing data from the gym for his own personal gains (adding me on Facebook), but decided it was in my best interest to just put it behind me. I’m just grateful that I didn’t get stuck in his web of lies for longer than I had to be. He was clearly on a mission to pick up women from the gym - it was no accident. I'm just grateful that I wasn't interested and that I didn't let the sex-hungry animal take advantage of me. But what if I had been? What if I'd been too weak to say no? What if I'd fallen under his spell and been drawn into his web of lies? What if I'd unknowingly been the "other woman"?

NB: Since writing this article, I've been contacted by various students who had very similar experiences with the same man around the same time. It appears I wasn't the only victim.

14 Mar 2014

RockSolid Race: ARGH

So one of my favourite gals and I have decided to embark on a fitness adventure: RockSolid Race. I've been feeling rather nonchalant about it for the past few weeks, until it recently dawned on me that the race is tomorrow. Yes, TOMORROW. Am I RockSolidReady? Well, I guess I'll find out tomorrow when I'm lying in a muddy ditch somewhere...

Ever since I completed a half marathon last year (yea I promise I'm not trying to show off with that comment!), I've become a bit of a sporting enthusiast. Wait, let me rephrase that: Since the half marathon, I've stupidly thought that signing up for things like this is a good idea. Yet despite the fact that the half marathon was a rather painful experience (I got blisters galore), the feeling afterwards was pretty insane. Not only had I raised money for a fantastic charity (International Justice Mission), but I'd proven that with sufficient motivation and training, I could run 21km. And that gave me a pretty positive, healthy outlook on life.

So this year I thought I'd do something a little different. Kelly and I have set ourselves the challenge of doing the RockSolid Race, a 10km obstacle course in Escot Park, raising money for various charities through RAG. We're talking muddy ditches, giant walls, crawling, cargo climbs, hydroslides, ropes, ice...you name it. The more I think about it, the more I want to curl into a ball and die. Nothing could prepare for me for this. I've been going to RockSolid Circuits at the gym on Mondays which has been great training, but they work more on improving my strength than preparing me for the crazy conditions that await me.

I suppose what I'm most looking forward to is that element of teamwork. The half marathon was a personal endeavour, but this race relies heavily on working effectively as a team. Of course you could do it by yourself if you really wanted, but then it would lose part of its charm (OK, maybe charm is the wrong word here). And given that I'm quite short, I think I'd find myself dangling off a few walls without some tall men to help me clamber over them.

What made me sign up? There's something quite exciting about a challenge; to be able to push yourself to the max. It's not just about physical endurance, but it's a lot about your mentality, too. Looking back, I never in a million years would have seen myself completing a half marathon. Never. Not because I'm a lazy sod (well, sorta), but because of the willpower needed to train religiously, every week, for a few months. Not to mention the inevitable pain that would come alongside that. But more often than not, it's a battle with your mind: do I stop now, or do I keep going? So when I proved to myself that it was possible to run a half marathon, why shouldn't I try a different challenge?

I've been training 5-6 times per week, and a big shout out to the guys at the Russell Seal Fitness centre for being so awesome and motivating me to work hard. I may not look like a Victoria's Secret Model (I like food too much, and err...I'm like a foot too small), but whatevs...it's been fun!

Finally, if you would like to sponsor me, then please do! The link is here:


24 Feb 2014

Student Accommodation: Mould, Slugs & Dodgy Flushes

So my days as a student haven't come without their fair share of problems. Let me enlighten you with the daily struggles my comrades and I must face:

1) Mould. As I sit here writing this, all I can see is a nice thick trail of mould going up my wall. My landlady calls it "condensation" - I call it mould. Call it what you will, but it's black and speckled. Not the sort of thing I want to be breathing in on a daily basis.  She's tried painting over it, but I'm not  fooled in the slightest. It's also on the kitchen walls, too. Mmmm.

2) Condensation (real condensation this time). I was having such serious problems with condensation forming on my windows, that I'd sometimes wake up to a small pool of water flowing along the windowsill. Apparently the only way to avoid this was to keep the window open; something which I was loath to do, given the extreme antarctic conditions outside. Thankfully after multiple complaints, they put in double glazing. Only wish that would sort the mould out, too.

3) Whoever installed the radiator in my room is a retard. The radiator is right next to the door, and couldn't be further away from my bed. Plus, it's physically impossible to put my bed nearer the radiator, given the layout of the room. #fail

4) Water bills. So South-West water is notorious for being painfully expensive. Before having a meter installed, we would have been paying £130 per month for water. We were told that with a meter we'd be spending more like £70 per month, which seemed far more reasonable. Recently, however, we received a bill for £3000. Yep, you read that correctly. £3000. My housemates shed a few tears, and our landlady threatened to dig up our kitchen (she was worried we had a leak). Turns out we only owed £30...South West water don't do decimal places very well.

5) Fridge. On multiple occasions we've had to put a chair in front of the fridge because it refused to close. And not because we had too much food in it, but because the hinges were dodgy. Our freezer is also a little too cold. You could make icy snowballs out of the amount of ice that accumulates.

6) Slugs. We haven't seen many recently because it's been too cold, but last term they were arriving practically daily. These grotesque creatures would leave slime trails all over the floor (which we initially mistook for "glitter"). These bad boys have been found in kitchen drawers, inside cereal boxes....you name it. We tend to throw salt on them so that they explode, but I have on more than one occasion stepped on one of these trespassers, and it wasn't a pretty sight.

7) Dishwasher. OK I know I shouldn't be complaining...we have a dishwasher, lucky things! BUT, I tell you...when most of the plates come out half-clean, you have a problem. We've been blamed for "not knowing how to use the dishwasher", but we're not idiots. Even with the best tablets money can buy, our dishwasher needs replacing. It may be the "best brand of dishwasher out there", but not when it's a few decades old.

8) Bathroom. The lock on the bathroom door is broken, until you master the technique. I've walked in on too many people peeing that it's no longer PG 13. Next, we've been told that we simply CANNOT get the bathroom floor wet, otherwise the tiles will loosen and we could risk falling through the ceiling. I also managed to considerably injure myself the other day when trying to turn on the tap, which decided to gorge out a hunk of my skin.

9) Toilet flush. So in one of our bathrooms we have a "modern" toilet flush. I say "modern" because this is what we've been told, but I'd rather go with "temperamental". This involves slamming a couple flush buttons into the wall at the same time, with just the right amount of pressure. There's an art to it, that not even the most skilled amongst us can manage. We've been given toilet flushing lessons from our landlady since day 1, but we're almost positive that this modern piece of technology is a failure.

10) TV. So we decided to fork out just over £100 on a second hand TV, but we needn't have bothered. The colour contrast is rubbish. I was trying to watch "Legally Blonde" the other day, and I couldn't make out anyone's face. It was like watching a horror film set in an underground basement in the pitch black.

11) Washing Machine. The washing machine has a habit of refusing to open after the cycle has finished. This has ended in our clothes being literally "trapped" inside the washing machine for days on end. Recently, however, I mastered the technique. It involves kicking the door aggressively with my foot until it opens. That's what I like to call "taking the initiative".

So there you have it - the trials and tribulations of student living.

23 Feb 2014

How To (Maybe) Get A Grad Job

So you may want to take everything I say with a pinch of salt (I'm hardly a know-it-all, and I can't really vouch for the fact that my methods  work)...but I've been applying for a few grad schemes recently, and this is what I came up with:

1) Don't play it safe. When an employer is receiving 700 applications for a job, you want to stand out. My first approach is to be a little wacky. They're either going to love it or hate it. But then again, you've got more of a chance of being "remembered", and that's a good thing, right? For one of my applications, I was asked to explain why they should hire me in 140 characters. Characters, not words. I suppose I could have reeled off a list of adjectives, but that's incredibly boring and unimaginative. So instead, I went a little off the beaten track and mentioned my notorious haircut from "magic fingers" twitter man, and how it was all part of a social media experiment. Apparently it worked, or maybe they were just intrigued to see the haircut. Either way, they invited me for a telephone interview so it clearly didn't put them off that much.

2) Never tell them you're "creative" in a boring way. Writing "I'm creative" is in itself a boring statement. Showing your creativity is so much more powerful than stating it matter of factly. 

3) Triple check for errors. I've committed the faux-pas of leaving applications too last-minute, and not having enough time to read them through properly. Better yet? Get someone else to look over it for you. If you're spending hours and hours on an application, it's easy to miss obvious mistakes. Misplacing an apostrophe could be the difference between making it to the next round, or not. Especially if one of your so-called strengths is "writing". You don't want them getting out the red pen...

4) If you're unclear about anything, email them. Most grad schemes will have an email account specifically for the application process. Don't ask them anything you can find online (that shows you haven't done your research), but if you're genuinely unsure about something, let them know! It will show you how keen you are to succeed. 

5) Research, research, research. It sounds obvious, but the more research you do, the more credible you'll sound. There's nothing worse than freezing during a telephone interview or one-on-one interview, simply because you didn't do some basic research on the company. Make sure you're familiar with their clients, any recognition they've received for their work, their values etc. Make sure you know the sector inside out, too. OK, so they're not expecting you to be experts in the field, but showing a bit of initiative and going out of your way to dig deep for information must count for something!

6) Swot up on current affairs. Don't want to be a journalist? Doesn't matter. An awareness of current affairs, and being able to evaluate how current events might be impacting your sector is crucial. It also shows your engagement with the world, and that you're switched on. When an interviewer is trying to talk to you about the latest scandal and you have no idea what they're talking about, that's when you know you're underprepared. My favourite way to scoop up news stories at the moment is through the app Flipboard, which pulls news from a variety of sources, allowing you to literally flip from one exciting story to the next. 

6) Spell their name right in the email.  Sometimes you'll just be writing Dear Sir/Madam, but if you're messaging someone specific, make sure you spell their name correctly. This might sound simple, but the number of times I have received emails saying "Dear Gerry", instead of "Dear Montana", just goes to show how careless people can be. I may not be employing you, but I can say right now that if I were working in HR and someone emailed me saying "Dear Gerry", they'd go straight into the rejection pile. Even with a first from Cambridge.

7) Don't be TOO schmoozy. So a bit of schmoozing can be great, but it's about quality over quantity. You don't want to overdo it. Imagine walking into a room and someone told you non-stop for 2 hours how amazing you are. Initially you'd be flattered, but eventually you'd become suspicious. Make sure you're being genuine at the same time. Flattery can go a long way, but only when executed tactfully. 

8) Don't lie. We all like to embellish slightly (and this isn't always a bad thing!), but please, there's a limit. I remember once in a French practice oral exam for GCSE, making up an exchange student called Elena who I went to visit in Spain. Safe to say, this Elena girl didn't exist. I suddenly became entangled in a web of lies, and didn't know how to get out of it. Ends don't meet, and you end up sounding like an absolute muppet. Frankly, these situations are embarrassing, and should be avoided at all costs. Unless you're a world champion at lying, leave it to the experts.

9) Don't be TOO humble. Humility is a fantastic trait, but can often end up with you refusing to acknowledge your skills, achievements and potential. There's a difference between arrogance and being persuasive; you need to persuade them that you're right for the role. Simon Cowell's favourite phrase may be "I don't think you know how good you are", but you should never, ever, "dumb down" your achievements. Because that achievement was seriously awesome. Obviously there's a way of phrasing things so that you don't sound in love with yourself, but it's important that you SELL yourself. And that won't happen if you're eating humble pie all the time.

10) Be yourself. Is that really cringe? At the end of the day, you want your future employer to like "you", not a persona. Don't pretend to be someone you're not - it's important that you keep your integrity, because this will be really important if you end up getting the job. You don't want to have any awkward "by the way, what I said in the interview wasn't true..." moments later on in your career. People-pleasing can be dangerous if you don't put yourself and your values first. So remember that!

15 Feb 2014

My Spotify Playlist

So my most recent procrastination method has been discovering new (female) artists on Spotify (well, new artists to me, but not necessarily "new")…and this is what happened. There’s a bit of jazz, and indie folk mixed in there with a splash of alternative music, too. Click on the links to listen to the songs on youtube and let me know what you think. Have any cool artists you want to share?  Let me know in the comments below!

The Staves

Lia Ices - Love Is Won

Banks Waiting Game

Thao & Mirah - Little Cup

Bat For Lashes - Laura

Kat Edmonson - LuckyI Don’t Know

God Help the Girl
- Come Monday Night

Hannah Peel - The Almond Tree

Lucy Rose - Night Bus

Molly Nilsson
- Hey Moon!

Scout Niblett - Kiss

Lisa Mitchell
- Neopolitan Dreams

Jenn Grant
Agnes Obel - Dorian

Haley Bonar - Bless This Mess, Candy Machine Gun

Jenn Grant - Paradise Mountain

Alice Boman - Waiting

Soley - Smashed Birds, Pretty Face

Alessi’s Ark - The Horse, On The Plains

Polly Paulusma - She Moves In A Secret Way

Over The Rhine
- Born

Soko - First Love Never Die

Stacey Randol - Fragile Forest

Katie Costello - Stranger
Stacey Randol

Sweet Talk Radio - Dotted Lines

Orla Gartland - Devil on my shoulder

Natalie Holmes - Backwards

Rae Morris - Don’t Go

Nina Nesbitt - Selfies

13 Feb 2014

First Year vs. Fourth Year

Yes, we fourth years do exist, much to the surprise of "the fresh". The number of times people have gazed at me quizzically when I tell them "no, I'm not a Masters student",  and "no, I didn't fail my third year", is frankly, embarrassing (on their part, I might add). I also feel shockingly old. '91 babies are a rare breed in Exeter, and I'm starting to feel like I'm already on the shelf. My youthful days seem to have flashed by me; I've already passed all the exciting ages like 13, 18, and 21. 30 can only mean the first signs of grey hair, and a considerably slower metabolism. Don't even get me started on 40…that's when the mid-life crises kick in. Yes, I meant to pluralise crisis - it's all about the multiples. Multiple chins, multiple tummy rolls, multiple children….Then I'll have to teach the children how to multiply for their maths homework, which will cause multiple problems, because I still count with my fingers.

Everyone is asking about plans for next year. Family members, friends, your friends' parents, professors, strangers, strange professors….the list goes on. Grad job or travel? You tend to give a different answer each time the question is thrown at you, or find yourself regurgitating the same sketchy response which you know for a fact to be untrue. But it sounds good, so why not? Or maybe you're one of those lucky buggers who did an internship at a bank one summer and got a training contract under your belt. In which case, go away and stop rubbing it in my face. 

People warned me that final year was going to be a step up, but they didn't warn me how much. First and second year studying English and French was nothing short of a doddle. I remember my Dad skyping me mid-afternoon a couple times, and I was still in bed. Peering out from beneath the covers, sporting outrageous bed hair, and still wearing pyjamas, I must have looked quite the show. I was probably watching funny animal videos on youtube, as we students are prone to do. Sadly, bed has become a rare pleasure in fourth year. No more lethargic lie-ins. No more mid afternoon naps, or crawling back into bed after a greasy fry-up breakfast in halls.

I'm the first to admit that the word library seemed alien to me in my first year. I'd often take a few books out before an essay (to trick my brain into thinking I was ahead of the game), only to return them, unopened. Who needs a library when I can get so much on Jstor and Google books? But now, the library has become second nature to me. It's practically my second home, and the breeding ground for all my essays. But the silence in there is painful. A rumbling stomach sounds like an earthquake. Eating a packet of crisps will incur the wrath of people around you. And munching on anything pungent is sure to earn you a few evils. I need not mention the culprits who "bagsy" spots in the library, only to disappear for hours, or sometimes even days at a time, to the anger of other students. If you fit into the latter category, shame on you!

Back in the youthful days of first and second year, I was indifferent to the library; I didn't care much for its existence. But now, I've developed a love-hate relationship with it (leaning more towards the latter). Yes - I'm starting to hate on the library even more than usual. First, the horrendous library fines (although I did manage to sweet talk a librarian into halving my fine the other day, because I thought it was unethical to charge me £5.50 for forgetting to hand back a locker key on time…especially because this was a first-time offence, and I didn't even receive a warning email). Secondly, the library gets outrageously busy. Every hour is a peak hour. Unless you fancy sidling in at 4am. I find myself weaving in and out of bookshelves to try and eye up a free desk, but alas, nothing. Unless you plan on arriving at the crack of dawn, you might as well forget it. I awkwardly walk into rooms to see if there are any seats free. People look me up and down, silently saying, "HAHA, that's what you get for rocking up at 10am, lazy fool!"

On the other hand, the library brings fear, and fear is what I need to bosh out a good essay. In first and second year I would write my essays in bed, propping up a mountain of pillows, and spreading heaps of notes out across my bed. I'd write the essays half dozing, in my jimjams, holding onto a hot water bottle, mug of black coffee in one hand, typing furiously with the other. I'd then run for my life to campus in my oversized hoodie, sans bra on one occasion, to hand in an essay at 3.57pm for a 4pm deadline. It's at times like this that I'm grateful my fitness exceeds that of a slug. I highly doubt I could get mitigation for running out of breath on my way to handing in an essay. Now with the new online 10am submission deadline, no exercise is involved. And no printing, either. I, like many a student I am sure, find printers exceedingly temperamental. Just when I need it to work, it decides to run out of ink. Just when I need it to work, it decides to get a paper jam. It's like the printer can feel the tension mounting up inside of me, and takes the opportune moment to break down and crush my sanity. So off to the print shop I would run…but oh wait, there's a queue…and the computers there take 5 minutes to log on. Splendid. So yes, I am indeed grateful that I can now send off my essays from the comfort of my bed.

One thing that hasn't changed? I still pig out in the final stages of essay writing. We're talking chocolate caramel digestives, crisps, gallons of iced tea….Anything that can take my mind off the task in hand. And usually food does the trick. Yummerz. Although I'm slightly worried my essay-food relationship will become problematic when I'm writing my dissertation. The plan is to graduate with a 2:1, not love handles.

But fourth year far exceeds first year in many ways. I know who my great friends are, I'm going out less (that's good right?), I'm tee-total (not as boring as it sounds), training for the Rock Solid Race (nothing like a good challenge), and applying for grad jobs in PR (I actually know what I want to do with my life, which makes a change from my 18 year old self!) Life has forward momentum - everything I do is leading up to something. First year was fun, but I felt like a small fish swimming around frantically in a big pond. Now, I feel like a big fish, ready to enter an ocean of opportunities.

15 Jan 2014

Miley Cyrus: She Was Never A Role Model

I only wish that the deterioration of Miley Cyrus was old news, but it really isn't. Frankly, I'm getting bored reading the same old articles being spewed out about her on a daily basis, so I've decided to come up with my own theory on the matter. Essentially, Miley Cyrus is an awkward caterpillar. She tried to turn into a butterfly far too quickly, and in doing so, found herself dressed as a gothic peacock ("I Can't Be Tamed") and straddling a wrecking ball (thankfully not simultaneously). Not surprisingly, the premature transformation from pre-pubescent caterpillar to dazzling butterfly didn't happen too gracefully; in fact, we are still witnessing the graceless transformation. However, I have a few (conflicting) thoughts to add to the pot...

I hate the fact that society is trying to find role-models in celebrities. Why? Because all we see of celebrities is the watered-down, over-elaborated, third-hand, recycled information about them. "A friend close to the source said that Miley was considering…blah blah blah". Listen - this "friend" doesn't exist. They might as well be called "a journalist's brainchild". It's like we're desperately trying to find and create role-models out of fictional entities who never existed in the first place. Because whether you like it or not, what you read in the press about our dearly beloved celebrities is far from the truth. Now I'm not trying to say that newspapers and magazines go about writing BS about celebrities all the time (although I know for sure that some of them do…*cough* mail *cough* online), but why would a celebrity in their right mind decide to tell the whole world how they "truly" feel? 'Cos that stuff's personal. I bet your bottom dollar that most of the stuff we read is either made up, or taken out of context due to ulterior motives, and lack of real news. When a photo of a celebrity gets taken, it's all about the "guessing game" - the amount of make-up they're wearing or not wearing could be the basis for a story. The fact that they're walking the dog "alone" sans boyfriend, obviously means they've broken up, right? That "mystery man" standing next to Cheryl Cole is obviously her new beau, yes? We have to stop guessing and pretending we know all about these people, when we clearly do not. Oh, you're a body language expert are you? You think you know everything about someone's life just because of one photo? 

Whether it's the way we dress, the parties we choose to go to or not go to, the music we listen to, the charities we support - there's always going to be a conflict between doing it to be true to ourselves, and doing it to boost our image (whatever that image might be). But it should be about the reason behind doing things, rather than the action itself. Giving someone a gift because you want to coax them into helping you with an essay, is not the same as giving someone a gift because you value them as a friend, and want them to know that. Same gift, different meaning behind it. Whether it's a Gucci handbag, or a lollipop - it's all about the meaning behind it. Which leads me to say this: I don't really care that Miley's licking a hammer, riding on a wrecking ball naked, dancing around with life-size teddies on stage, or whatnot. But I do care why. The whole world has been guessing. They've been trying to pigeon-hole her in different boxes which attempt to explain exactly why she's acting the way she is. "She's a slut"; "She let the fame get to her"; "She's trying to empower herself". But we haven't actually heard her side of the story. And I don't know if we ever will. Sure, she's fought back on Twitter and made a few feisty responses, but I very much doubt that she could sit face-to-face with someone and explain why she wanted to create this image. All in the name of art? I think not.

Maybe she wants to be "different". She wants to shock. It gives her a high. And if that involves being a hammer-licking, naked-on-a-wrecking-ball, tongue-sticking-out, foam-finger-in-my-crotch sorta-girl...if that's what "floats her boat"...if that's her way to mark herself as "different"... then, well, let her do it. At the end of the day, nothing we say or do is going to change that. It's only going to fuel her into greater depths of insanity. Do you really think Miley's going to say, "Wow, thanks so much Kate Winslet, Sionead O'Conor and all those other people who told me I was prostituting myself. I had no idea. You've totally put things in perspective for me!"? And the reason why she won't do that? Because it takes one hell of a strong person to admit that. And my thoughts are, she isn't so strong as she keeps telling everyone. It's not easy telling the whole world who've been hawking on you your entire life, that you are in fact "wrong" and that you despise the way you've been negatively selling yourself. She's clearly nothing more than an attention seeker, and by us constantly responding to all of her "attitude", she's getting what she wants. By acting insane, thousands of people end up writing articles about her, she becomes a Google sensation, and her salary just keeps rising. I mean, there's gotta be a reason why Marc Jacobs recently brought on Miley for his fashion campaign? There's something so titillating about the controversy that she's causing, that despite ourselves, we just can't get enough of it. Another reason is that anyone insane enough to think licking a hammer or riding naked on a wrecking ball is normal, is probably not "sane" enough to think otherwise. The more we say "STOP MILEY!", the more she'll respond with her infamous lyrics "WE CAN'T STOP!" So if she wants to swing on that wrecking ball, let her swing on it to her heart's content. One day, she'll get bored. Or fall off.

In today's society, it's because commonly accepted that we should want to 'mimic' celebrities, which is probably why Miley has been accused of being manipulative and a bad role model. Their fashion sense, their pets, their diets, their exercise routine. Yet if Miley goes to pilates twice in a day, she's described as obsessive and a bad role model because she's too weight-orientated. People start sending her threatening and aggressive tweets, accusing her of being anorexic, a bitch, or fugly. When you come to think of it, the people writing all these comments are far worse than Miley. These comments suggest that we believe, as "normal" humans, that we have the authority to dictate what a perfect celebrity should look or act like. WE decide how many times it's acceptable to go to pilates, WE decide if their diet is too extreme, WE decide if they are good people. Imagine if YOU went to pilates twice in a day and everyone started hating on you. How would you feel if people commented on your photos saying you look like a horse, have a monstrous nose, or the grace of an elephant? Again, who are we to decide what people should act like or look like? This is a free world, yet we abuse our freedom of speech. Celebrities aren't like robots. We can't control them, or tell them how to act.

Take Rihanna. Her relationship with Chris Brown was all over the press. When she ended it with him, she was deemed a role model for women in abusive relationships. Yet as soon as she took him back, everyone thought she'd let the world down. Just because Rihanna decided to momentarily get back with an abusive ex, does that suddenly mean that every single other woman in a similar position is going to do the same, or should do the same? Certainly not. I'm not saying that Rihanna should or should not have reconciled with him, but humanity can't blame her for the consequences. It's not Rihanna's problem; it goes much, much deeper than that. Why should what one woman does with her boyfriend, affect us? Why should we live our lives akin to Rihanna, or Miley?

The domestic goddess Nigella Lawson I'm sure disappointed (or even outraged) a few when they realised her culinary genius came with a line of cocaine. But I'm trying to crack (no pun intended) this "disappointment".  This doesn't suddenly mean we should start swapping flour for cocaine when we next bake a cake, just because Nigella fancied it. Why are we disappointed? It's not like we honestly knew any of these people. Go ahead and be disappointed for the person…be disappointed for Nigella or Miley. But don't be angry at them for the bad messages they're sending out. If you decide you want to mimic their actions, then that says more about you, than it does about them.

And as far as Miley's behaviour is considered wrong (because apparently she was/still is a role model for young girls), how did she even earn the honour of being a role model in the first place? Plus, it's not like she said "I'm a role model for young women." WE decided we wanted her as a role-model, and naturally, she let us down. All she did was take on an acting role in a show on Disney Channel. She's no superwoman. Let her solve world poverty, and then we'll talk.

So this leaves me with one final point: Miley Cyrus is not a role model, never was, and never will be. As a Christian, I believe the only person worthy of being called a role model is Jesus. Whether you believe in him or not, the New Testament describes a man who was faultless, loving, gracious, and sinless. Whether you believe he's the Son of God, just a random man who lived a good life, or think he's made-up (except there's more proof that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar if you know your history), you can't deny that his actions make him the ultimate role model for each and every one of us.

9 Jan 2014

Swab for Margot & Help Save A Life

I saw article on a friend's Facebook page about Margot, and it encouraged me to get a swab test and see if I could be a potential donor. To be able to help another human being is one of the greatest things any of us can do. So please - if you're as moved as I am, sign up. You could make a difference to so many lives.