Sunshine

I find the sunshine a little magical. How it can instantly brighten someone’s day and alter their disposition. Something about those warm rays on your skin. They radiate through you, make you feel wrapped in positivity and joy. A big hug from mother nature. You feel alive. At least I do. Anything can happen in the sunshine. Anything can happen in the rain too but people aren’t open to it. They want to run to their next building instead of being cried on. Tears of cold and misery. In the sun there’s no better place to be than outside. Yeah, you can get sunburnt and sweaty but these are mere side effects. We’re willing to live with them if it gets us the cloudless blue sky. We flock to the shop for ice creams, strawberries, ciders. We drag our lives to our gardens, to the parks, the seaside. Because we know here the sunshine is fleeting. She won’t stay long. So we don’t waste a minute. When I wake up and I’m being blinded by the rays seeping through my blinds I know the day will be great. You don’t want to sit inside. You’re restless. So we go to rooftop bars, we go hiking, we go on road trips to nowhere. Just being outside revitalises you. Recharges you. The sunshine makes me feel like I can do anything. I want to be coated in it always. It inspires me to get off the couch and actually live my life.

And today it’s a glorious day outside. So why are you sat here reading this? Go and enjoy it!

T-Shirt Weather – Circa Waves

Elle Woods Is A Boss

Elle Woods is unapologetically herself and I think that’s the best thing you can be. Want to wear a baby pink suit to congress or have scented CVs? Why the fuck not. Be individual and authentic and original. Don’t compromise yourself to please others or to be who you think they want you to be. Elle tried that and she showed it only affects you and your identity. Even if you change for others it will never be enough for them. Other people have got their own lives, don’t worry about what they’re doing.

I mean, just look at Warner: ew. All he does is try and please people. He’s selfish but he’s mainly just a puppet of his powerful family. By trying to win Elle back once she’s bested him in every possible way shows his cowardice. Where Elle oozes intelligence and integrity Warner demonstrates none. He doesn’t know how to be his own person. Don’t be a Warner.

Elle is a badass feminist and I’ll argue with anyone who thinks she isn’t. Her ferocity is why I’ll time and time again come back to these great movies. (Though not knock-off Legally Blondes, that’s two hours I’m never getting back!) When they both finally arrived on Netflix I was bloody elated. I think it’s easy to dismiss these movies as rom coms – as with Mean Girls and many others – but I think that’s a real shame. You’d be missing a great role model. Elle empowers young girls and women. I mean the whole premise of the first movie is a blonde, Malibu girl trying to make it at Harvard Law School. You expect her to be out of her league. Yes, she originally goes to win back her boyfriend but who can say they haven’t done something stupid in the name of love? At least Elle was coming out of it with a law degree.

But the tale quickly becomes much more than that when Elle realises she’s actually good at being a lawyer. She’s honest and bold and she believes in the good of people. She’s not cut-throat because she doesn’t need to be. She’s just confident and effective. She’s strong and intelligent. She’s underestimated constantly and by basically everyone in her life – most dishearteningly by her parents – but this only fuels her determination. The scene with Elle in the pool at her parents house gives some real The Graduate vibes. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Elle is looking at her parents lives and thinking, yeah, she’s not entirely sure where this next adventure is going but she’ll be damned if she doesn’t at least try. Her parents lives are frivolous and she wants better for herself.

I think that’s pretty boss.

I think a big lesson in the movie is understanding your self-worth and then fighting for what you want. And for Elle she concludes, sure, she loves glitter and bikinis and getting her hair done. And she always will. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But that’s just one part of her and she’s so much more. She craves a greater purpose in life and a bigger challenge and I think that’s only a good thing. It’s inspiring.

Go and change everything about yourself like Elle because why the heck not. Or just use Elle’s positivity and drive to go after something you’re already slightly working towards but mainly just in your head. Turn intention into action. Just be daring. Be kind. And don’t ever compromise yourself. Because if you’re being truly who you feel you need to be then you don’t need to worry about fitting in or being cool because you already are.

At least, that’s what I learnt from Elle Woods anyway. I’d go as far as to say she’s a feminist icon. But maybe I’m just being a fangirl. Either way, I’m still sitting here waiting for the third movie.

Perfect Day – Hoku

Tattoo Origins: Run For Your Life

I’ve always just known that me and Neil are on the same page. He’s my brother but he’s more like a twin. We talk about when we were younger, we talk about big issues, about our ideas, we drink and do centurion, we watch sitcoms. We coexist. When we were teenagers we both had a paper round on parallel streets. Neil had recently taken it upon himself to spray paint encouraging phrases, ideas and mantras onto prominent walls in our town. Our town needs a little waking up you see. They need to burst the bubble they’re so fondly stuck in. He sought to it. ‘Carpe diem’ and ‘be your own hero’ started appearing in our neighbourhood. He showed me one on our way to the paper shop one day. Carpe diem. We’d learnt that from Robin Williams. If you don’t know the movie you should. I try to live my life by that. Who wouldn’t? Well, these well wishing phrases were soon painted over. I told you about the people in our hometown, right? They just don’t get it. So stuck in their privilege yet blind to it. What was so offensive about these phrases? There wasn’t even any swear words. Well that wasn’t going to stop Neil. He soon replaced them with things like ‘make love not war’, ‘free your mind’’. A fucking lyrical Banksy. But how does all this link to the origin story? Relax, I’m getting there. Simple. He spray painted these words on a fence near our house. The fence was on my paper round route. I wanted a tattoo. I asked him what that meant to him and he said ‘if you ever stop pursuing extreme emotion you may as well fester and die’. And then I knew. For an English student and book lover, I am a horrendously unreliable quoter but I’ve never forgotten that one. I like to think he put it there for me. I had to cycle that way every morning. Everyday it reminded me to better my life. To never settle and to stay authentic, to keep my integrity. Years later it’s one of my favourite tattoos because I got it for him, because I respect what he says and because no one ever understands the tattoo just like no one fully understands us.

Barney Rubble – The Twang

Hung Parliament

Warning: This is a real-time thought stream not a coherent article.

So what am I feeling after this snap election? I’m not sure really, I’m still trying to gather my thoughts. On one hand I’m kind of super proud of people for changing their votes. I’m especially proud of young people for getting out there and voting when they said we wouldn’t. But the young vote is not surprising – we’re thinking of our futures and the country not just our own financial gain. And I think a fair mention is due to all the boss older generations who are voting Corbyn for the young people they know, for themselves and because they know it’s right. But I mean Tories still won, May is still PM. Yeah, she’s a fucking joke and her leadership is in tatters but she’s still in power. And millions of people still voted for her. And who the fuck are the DUP and what the hell is Scotland doing? Stop being so selfish. You’ve gone from Labour to SNP to Tory. You’ve actually voted for May and her fields of wheat and her magic money growing tree and her scoffs at the poor. And I’m presuming you’re not all millionaires. Self-destruction. But we gained a lot of seats, Corbyn proved himself not just a leader but a strong one, one that people believe in. And in a snap election I think that’s a victory. People have overwhelmingly stated now that they want Corbyn so hopefully the PLP will just shut up and get behind him. Even with millions being funnelled into atrocities like the Daily Mail, The Sun (don’t buy the Sun) and The Daily Express he’s shown his strength. Well, fuck the right wing press, you lost. Is this the end of newspaper obvious bias and personal attacks to win Westminster sway? People actually crave real stories and facts now. Maybe you should look for a new empire, Rupert. In a normal election I think Corbyn would have actually won it, he was steadily building momentum (<- accidental choice of word but now I wish it was capitalised!), but this was a snap election no one knew was coming. Unless May obviously did and she thought she’d try and get ahead – isn’t that ironic. I do think it’s a bit of a joke that the DUP are now part of the coalition that’s in power. They have less votes than the Green Party. Less than half their votes but nine more seats.. They’re climate change deniers, against abortion and gay marriage and now they’re in Parliament. Oh and they’re big Leavers just to top it off. In the few hours immediately after May announced this deal there was a surge in google searches for DUP and I think that’s all you need to know. Caroline Lucas quite rightly pointed out that May has been pushing hate for this ‘coalition of chaos’, yeah good one mate, you’ve just created one. Another aspect that’s bothering me is May’s continued lack of effort to show authority. I mean ‘certainty’?! Could she have picked a fucking stupider word? Who is she kidding? All she’s shown time and time again is that she’s incapable, unreliable and pretty uncaring. She’s ran the worst campaign I’ve ever seen in my life. I know I’m only 23 but, Jesus, it was bad. I’d love to ask her how she thought it went. She’s so smug and complacent that I think she’d even now think it went well. She didn’t show up to the leadership debate and she refused to go against Corbyn head on. For one, that’s just completely undemocratic in this day and age and I simply don’t know how she was allowed not to show up. I’m not sure what she thought the gain was there either because all of her incoherent answers to the press (and the hilarious edited versions on social media) have just been jumbled garbage. I’m not gonna be the first to say that ‘Strong and Stable’ was thrown completely out the window there. She looked inept and weak. She has this nervous yet condescending laugh and it goes right through me. I don’t think she actually knows how to hold an intelligent conversation. She’s answered questions like a politician and Corbyn has shown that’s not actually necessary – you could just speak to us like we’re actual living, breathing, functioning, adult human beings. Novel idea. But whatever, I really don’t think she’ll last long. She’s not credible in the UK and certainly not in Europe (there’s some certainty for you, Theresa, love). She’s created her legacy and now she’ll have to live with it. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Tory back bencher coup, but let’s not ruin the day more with thoughts of Boris. Christ. I think my overall feelings from the result are a little disappointed but mainly hopeful. I didn’t expect this good of a result for Corbyn even though I believe in him. The shambles of the 2015 GE and 2016’s Brexit easily crushed my little, socialist spirit. I’ve been trying to find faith in the British public and maybe it’s creeping back. I hope so. I don’t think this propped up coalition will work for long and at the next election we’ll be fucking ready. Viva Corbyn!

(p.s Clegg lost his seat and he looked really sad and for a second I felt a pang of sympathy then I got over it, good riddance. See how I just completely 180’d myself there, Nick? Ouch.)

(p.p.s Corbyn is also a bloody vegetarian so what more could I or anyone else want?)

Peace.

The ‘Milk and Honey’ Hype

 

I’ve heard people say Milk and Honey is really overhyped and all I have to say to those people is, mate, have you even read it? It’s true, often books, movies and bands can be really hyped and then you end up disappointed when you eventually explore it yourself. It happens. But that is so not the case here. Since buying this book of poetry last year I have read it in its entirety several times, often in one sitting. It’s just addictive. It’s one of those works of literature which is just so damn good you wish you’d written it yourself.

Except I couldn’t have because not all these poems align with my life experience. That being said, what I love about this collection is that Kaur manages to break your heart over and over again, both through your own experiences and through empathy for others. But it’s not all doom and gloom. A big part of the collection being spilt into four sections is that it works through the emotions, the feelings and the tragedies in life. Simply, the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. But then you move past it. History. Your history. You don’t let it define you. You live in spite of it. And you celebrate life instead. Whilst Milk and Honey is deeply moving and tragic, I find liberation and love far outweigh the sorrow.

If ever you find yourself in a reading slump this is all you will need. It will consume you and it will make you fall in love with words again. I’ve tried to work out my favourite poem since reading this collection and I’ve come to the conclusion that that is impossible. I can narrow it to possibly a top twenty. At a push. There are just so many important themes within the pages that I dare any reader not to find solace or salvation in one of them. In ways they can’t be compared to each other.

Milk and Honey is about self-love, friendship, violence, abuse, race, strength, healing, self-empowerment, growth, authenticity and woman power. It’s badass and it’s honest.

Even if you ‘hate’ poetry or at least find it disengaging I implore you to try this; it will change your perspective on poetry forever. It’s not all Shakespeare and his three and four hundred year old white male mates. Poetry is for everybody. It’s a release and it’s a cleanse, it makes you feel part of something when you’re completely lonely. It shows you that what you’re feeling is never weird and it deserves to be expressed. So give it a chance.

On the other hand, for people who say the poems are too simple, I think you’ve missed the point. They are unapologetically blunt and real. They don’t hide behind frills because the big, bad world certainly doesn’t when it bulldozers through your life. These poems are about difficult topics but it’s imperative that the stories are told. No sugar coating. We need to feel each others pain and tell each other it will be okay. This collection is a cry for solidarity.

And it is a story of hope.

I just can’t recommend it enough and I can’t wait for Rupi’s next work.

Sirens – Woodlock

Bookshelves

I think it’s common for lovers of books to also be lovers of bookshelves. Sometimes somewhat obsessed. At least I am. Rearranging my bookshelf is easily one of my favourite hobbies. Or only hobbies. Occasionally I enjoy it even more than reading which is a whole separate issue. It’s satisfying to see your personal library staring back at you. You’ve put a lot of time and money in to it. You appreciate the privilege it is to even be able to buy your own books, sometimes going without phone credit or bread because you preferred the book but always knowing there’ll be more money coming. Been there. So it’s important to respect them. Especially for the people who don’t have them. Books are knowledge. They hold facts and dreams and ideas and truths. It’s your responsibility to treat them kindly. So yeah, if people want to spend hours making sure they’re ordered correctly or nicely then that’s cool with me.

But like most things, there are different ways of doing it. So many different ways to order things with varying functions. Being an avid watcher of Booktube I often come across bookshelf tours. Whilst they usually last over thirty minutes I think they are really worthwhile. I’ve found several books I’d never heard of through bookshelf tours. Milk and Honey, The Vegetarian and Yes Please to name a few. I have a lot of time for them. But what I always notice is how different people choose to place their books.

And I’ve come to a conclusion: people are obsessed with their shelves looking like a rainbow. Like, I get it, it looks cute but it’s so impractical. For one you have to remember the colour of the spine of every edition of every book you own. Not the front cover, the spine. Also, most of my spines are black or white – whilst I think that’s cool, I think it would look like a super sad shelf. Maybe it works better for YA-heavy shelves with their eye catching blue and yellows but my shelf has evolved from that scene somewhat.

Another order than will always be popular is alphabetical and whilst I respect the vibe I think it’s tired and a little lazy. I did that for many years myself. It makes sense; well it makes sense by author surname – I’ve seen title and author first name, just no. But ultimately it just got a bit stale for me and somehow having Neil Gaiman next to Elizabeth Gaskell was just weird. It’s efficient and time-saving but I just think we can do better.

And there’s other orders too: genre and form, as well as completely chaotic – ordered simply for aesthetic. Whilst I agree with aesthetics in some sense (it creates a nice hygge) it just clutters my brain a little. Organised chaos has never worked for me, in any aspect of my life. As for genres I also get it, but it’s just not how my brain compartmentalises things. I like a lot of genres but I find a lot of books are more than one thing. Just Kids is a memoir but it’s also coming of age, a book of love and friendship, a comment on society, a love letter to art. Yeah, you could say it’s mainly a memoir but I don’t pigeon-hole that way. Similarly, Harry Potter is kids literature, sure, but also fantasy, it’s basically a modern classic these days and it’s a series. Where would it go? Should you just give it it’s entirely own shelf? Maybe.

So I get all these orders but for now I respectfully decline.

The one that makes sense in my mind and one I’m surprised you don’t see more is publication date. I’ve been doing it for a few years now and I find it really interesting. It’s cool to see things next to each other which you wouldn’t normally put together. For example, when I saw The Communist Manifesto and Jane Eyre were published the year after each other I was baffled. Even though I knew the year each was published I hadn’t connected it in my head. They’re opposites in my mind but not in the strange sense that books can be in an alphabetical order. Their authors are meshed together by chance, simply by the name they were given or chose. But here you have magic, the same moment in history explored from completely separate eyes. And I think that’s what I find fascinating about this method – you can see the ideas of a generation at any given moment, the schools of thought that were around and what their goals were. For example, Howl and Giovanni’s Room are next to each other on my shelf and that neatness makes me smile. To know people were breaking down barriers and exploring sexuality at a time when Narnia was reaching its conclusion (the other side of Howl). It’s peculiar but it humbles me.

But then there’s other pairings like John Cooper Clarke wedged between Beloved and The Color Purple. They seem bizarre next to each other at first glance but then are they? Ten years in an open neck shirt is about societal norms, challenging the establishment and living authentically. It’s surreal and it’s punk. Seems weird to fit with Walker and Morrison but it does. They’re trying to smash the establishment by shining an incredibly unflattering light on the shambles that is the human race. And whilst these authors thoughts are different I think their end goals are similar – a better world. I hate when people say that’s idealistic. It’s easily realistic too if everyone got off their entitled arses and chose to change the world (excuse me, that’s just me getting hopped up over the general election next week). But it’s true, be the change and all that. It gets me excited to read what’s in the pages of my books and thousands more.

And imagine, if I threw a rainbow on my shelves all I’d know is that red goes next to orange.

stones around the sun – Lewis Watson