No hero in her skies

Life is a little crazy at the moment and, apparently, I’ve decided the best way to deal with this is to go out all the time. This is my first night in, sans alcohol, in four days which maybe doesn’t sound like a lot, but trust me, it is. We’ve been hitting it hard, especially Thursday when we went for a random cocktail eve – working with a hangover is the worst thing, I need to get that through my head.

Funny though, even as recently as a month ago, I could drink as many cocktails as I wanted and I wouldn’t have a hangover. I was just somehow blessedly immune. But, what feels like overnight, that has just suddenly changed and now everything hits me that little bit harder. Everyone told me it gets worse as you get older, but I didn’t believe them. Curse you, age! My body is betraying me. Further proof of this, I rolled my ankle as I was walking home last night and it completely folded in under me, like it was made of cheese or something. It’s no longer an ankle, just a swollen, bruised source of pain and disappointment.

It’s struck me recently how much this feels like home now. It makes it so hard to think I will have to leave it all behind in little over 3 months. I’m so comfortable here, everything is so familiar. I walk these streets like I own them. I love this town. So much. I love the variety and all the options available to me. I love my friends, who are all wonderful and amazing and different. I love being close to Abbi. I love my flatmate, he has to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. And I love my job, most of the time, when they aren’t screwing things up. I’ve been sad and heartbroken for most of the last month, but even that never diminished the swell of…well, belonging I get when I walk out the front door every morning.

I’ve just been so lucky, in the way everything here has worked out for me. If I didn’t have A to look after me, if I didn’t live with F, if I didn’t work with such amazing people, who turned out to be great friends, not just work mates… maybe I never would have experienced this feeling, this unadulterated love for London, in all its glory and imperfection. I am so, so glad that I have this. I don’t want to give it up.

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A week in the life…

Music: The blower’s daughter – Damien Rice

No time to regret

I finally got round to watching The Great Gatsby recently and you know what? I really enjoyed it. I can see why people would take issue with it, but then, if you’ve ever seen a Baz Luhrmann film before, I don’t really understand how you could have expected anything different. It’s so typical of his style, of his approach to storytelling – with rapid cuts, overwhelming colour and interesting musical choices. And for those saying that there’s little substance to the film…well, I think that’s kind of the point. There’s little substance to the novel either – the characters are one-dimensional, vapid and vacuous as they are, but that’s exactly what the story is trying to illuminate. It’s symptomatic of the careless nature of that time, wasteful, overindulgent and devoid of any greater meaning.

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

I really loved the novel, and I really love Fitzgerald. Not necessarily for the stories he tells, but the way in which he does it. I’m so caught up in the way he writes, the way he creates worlds, it’s mind-boggling how beautifully done it is. His sentence structure, his word choices, it’s enough to make you want to never write again. And I feel that, particularly with The Great Gatsby, this works incredibly well because the story lacks substance but the writing is so gloriously done…it’s just like the characters, they’re one-dimensional but they live their lives in this glittering splendour. No other writer could have made that story work. No one else has the flair.

In a way, the same can be said for Luhrmann. I realised after watching Gatsby that I’ve loved all of his films. His style is so over the top, but I think the risks he takes, particularly with modernising things, is so compelling that it overrides any objections I may normally have regarding style-over-substance. He’s style is kind of quirky and often a bit disorientating, but I think it lends itself well to his particular brand of drama. And it’s all there in Strictly Ballroom; he had such a clear, definitive style from the very start. Of course why it might put some people off, it definitely falls on the histrionic side of the style line, but personally I think it works so well with the kinds of stories he tells. Which, granted, are mostly love stories. Love and the pathos of life.

My favourite thing about Lurhmann films, though, is the soundtracks. To me, his musical choices are always spot-on. Romeo + Juliet is pure genius. No two ways about it. The ‘When doves cry’ cover by Quindon Tarver is inspired, and come on, it features Radiohead. Strictly Ballroom single-handedly rejuvenated John Paul Young’s career…which may not necessarily be a good thing, but I think it proves how significant music is in Luhrmann’s films. And Moulin Rouge has more clever medleys than you can shake a stick at. It was sold on this as well…the end of the trailer proudly rattled off “New music by…” The Great Gatsby can now join my Baz Luhrmann Soundtrack Appreciation Club almost entirely on the back of the Beyonce/Andre 3000 cover of ‘Back to Black’, and the Jack White cover of ‘Love is Blindness’. Then there’s ‘Together’ by the XX and ‘Young and Beautiful’ by Lana Del Rey…point is, this film has some good songs in it.

The only film that doesn’t have a soundtrack I instantly recall is Australia (a film I absolutely adore, I don’t care what anyone says.) The only music I remember from that is ‘Over the rainbow’ cause that was a major part of the narrative arc…but nothing else. I think maybe the focus usually given to music was actually given to landscape and environment, and that sort of took up all the evocative space. Maybe? Interesting thought though.

So, yes, Baz Luhrmann. Certainly a divisive director, but I think at the very least always an interesting one.

You got a whole world to change

I woke up on Saturday morning and wandered through the flat. The only thing I could think was that even if you didn’t know me, you only had to take one look around to know a depressed person lived here. The thing about depression is that it makes you selfish. You just don’t care about…well, anything really. You’re too wrapped up in how you’re feeling, or in my case not feeling. It consumes all your time. And you just cannot be bothered with anything else.

So my dirty dishes piled up during the week. And my clothes lay strewn across my room. And nothing gets put away or moved or tidied. Because who can be bothered? Who cares, when you’re feeling like this.

It’s probably a good thing that my flatmate is away on holiday at the moment. Although if he had been around, I might have felt more compelled to do something about the state of my life. But because I didn’t have to, I didn’t feel guilty for messing someone else around, I just let it go.

I’ve dealt with depression my whole life. It’s not something I’m a stranger to or something that I am particularly worried about. Sometimes it’s worse than other times. But I know what to expect and I know that, eventually, it’ll go away and I’ll be alright again. Swings and roundabouts. I’m very self-aware, what can I say. It’s both a blessing and a curse. The two years I’ve been travelling, I’ve rarely had to deal with it. It hasn’t been nearly as common or severe as it was when I was working in Magazineland. I guess it made me kind of complacent. Like it wasn’t really an issue anymore. Silly, cause it’s coded in my DNA. No escaping that.

As usual, it’s my innate ability to just suppress my own emotions in favour of other people’s that fucks me over. Many of my friends are going through various things at the moment, and I want to be there for them and support them. I listen. That’s what I do. But when people don’t even ask you how you are, it starts to wear on you…even if you don’t admit it. I had an absolutely lovely time at End of the Road, so it’s unfortunate that it comes on the back of that. August has just been so busy for me, I haven’t really slept, my health is shite, and so many external things have been bothering me – especially last week, when I found out that both my mum and my dog had to go for operations. It stresses me out that I can’t be near them. I know, realistically, even if I was there that I wouldn’t really be able to do anything but proximity matters. I want to be there for them. To offer what comfort I can. And when I can’t be there for the people that matter to me, I feel absolutely horrific. It’s like the only thing that gives me value as a person – which I know sounds crazy, but hey, I’m weird like that.

So yeah. It all sort of just boiled over this week and all the emotions I’ve been suppressing for the last few months came spilling over too. That’s the problem with the whole suppressing thing, it doesn’t go away, it just waits and grows and becomes angry. I didn’t even realise what a terrible state I was in until Thursday when for the first time in my life I was maudlin drunk.

So it goes. I think realisation is everything though. When I admit to myself that yes, you are sad, and you are actually feeling these things, and that’s ok – that’s when I can move on. That’s when I can get over it. So Saturday, when I looked at the flat, and started tidying, that’s when I knew that it was on the upswing. Cause cleaning gives me a sense of order when there are things I can’t control. And the fact that I actually care enough to clean, that’s good. It means I’m feeling something positive.


Music: Victory lap – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Festivus for the rest of us

I have survived my first camping festival! I returneth with the minimal damage of sunburn, minor bruises and a cold. Thank you, thank you, applause is not necessary. In retrospect, my apprehension seems entirely misplaced. Most of it was camping based; I worried about borrowing F’s tent and ruining it, and not being able to pitch it. These were all unfounded fears. The minute I unpacked the tent, I remembered all those camping trips with my parents and got it set up in no time at all. I admit, some of my apprehension was also based around not knowing everyone in our camping group. While my social anxiety is a lot a better than it used to be, I do still sometimes get overwhelmed by having to deal with new people. And considering how ready I’ve always been to go home at the end of all the one day festivals I’ve ever attended, I guess I can’t really be blamed for having doubts about this experience.

But that’s all in the past. Everything has changed. I cannot recommend the End of the Road festival highly enough. It is just brilliant. Brilliant. In fact, I think it has spoiled me for all other festivals and I’ll now just always live in disappointment until I can come back. Which will hopefully be next year. (Yes, I’ll fly all the way back from Australia, what of it. Don’t act like you don’t know I’m crazy.)

Everything about this festival is a delight. The facilities are kept in remarkably good nick across the weekend, the party goes till the wee hours, the food is great, drinks are reasonably priced and everyone, workers and fellow attendees, is just so nice. There is a really lovely, chilled, laid-back atmosphere and it’s just perfect for relaxing and enjoying some great music. It’s also not one of those massive, sprawling festivals so moving between stages is pretty stress-free and you can catch multiple sets pretty easily. You also don’t have to worry if you get separated from your group because sooner or later you will bump into someone again, guaranteed, so wandering off is actually wonderfully appealing and not at all terrifying.


Main stage action on the first day

We were camped quite close to the main entrance which was really handy for popping back to get warmer clothes and/or beverages. It was also prime location for hearing whoever was on the main Woods stage without actually having to do any work. My camping group, as it turned out, were all awesome and perfect camping buddies. We were 10 in all – two of them are good friends that I work with, two others I’m on relatively good terms with, while the rest were all acquaintances of the former that I’d never met before. We all had our factions that we mostly hung out with but we’d meet up to laze around in front of the main stage or to party in the forest disco in the evening. It worked out brilliantly, with everyone being quite independent and just focused on having a good time.


The only complaint I had the entire weekend was that I was a leeeeetle bit chilly. Especially on Saturday night when the temperature just plummeted for no good reason. Next time I would definitely take my own thermal sleeping bag (sadly stuck in Oz) as well as a blanket. And an actual pillow. My idea of stuffing a pillowcase full of clothes only works if it’s one night…four is a bit of a stretch. I’d also take my backpack (again, sadly stuck in Oz) since this seems to be the done thing. It is a bit baffling to see people carrying packs the same size as the one I took around Europe for three months – you’re only gone for a weekend! What are you packing? I’m being petty, of course. Our camp crew included a trio of girls who’d driven down and had brought all manner of useful gear with them, including a gas stove that one of them kindly used to prepare breakfast for us all. So, really, I can see how you may need a big backpack. Oh! And there were a lot of wasps. An insane amount of wasps. It was like a wasp convention. So next time I’d definitely bring bug repellent. Or some sort of machine that pumps out wasp dispersing gas. Yes. That would be good.

Anyway. I digress.

Overall, the weekend consisted of a lot of dancing, drinking and early morning, bleary eyed wanders around a deserted festival ground. Some of my non-musical highlights include being told to “just walk into the sun!” as directions to find our camping spot when I first arrived; #doublebear; the hangover inducing cider bus; the Great One Direction Debate in the Tipi Tent; the double rainbow after the only bit of rain we had and witnessing a lovely chat about geology between two of my camping buddies. The forest disco was also a particular highlight – yes it’s a dance party in the forest. Getting waylaid by strangers is a high probability. The hands-down winner of the food battle was the Paellaria, home to the best paella possibly ever. And my favourite stage was actually the main stage, The Woods, just because it was so nice to lie in the sun in the early afternoon and get in the mood for excellent bands and shenanigans.

Forest disco is go

Forest disco is go

I saw so many great bands that it’s really stressful to choose a favourite set. But still, here’s my top 10. I would review them properly but I’m too tired. Maybe later. I’ve linked them all up so you can check them out if you haven’t heard of them.

  1. Frightened Rabbit
  2. Sigur Ros
  3. Daughter
  4. Merchandise
  5. Evening Hymns
  6. PINS
  7. Parquet Courts
  8. Palma Violets
  9. Savages
  10. Belle & Sebastian
PINS kicking ass.

PINS kicking ass.

I feel like this festival was all about the female singers/musicians. So much talent, it’s almost painful. And, y’know, there’s something really great about being able to get up in the morning and see a bunch of bands. It’s so much less stressful than going to a day festival because you don’t have to worry about getting home. Also, because EOTR is so compact, you never really feel worried about times. I mean on Sunday we had a pretty full on day of running around trying to see conflicting sets, but the clashes weren’t really major – 15 minutes at either end at the most – and you didn’t feel like you were missing out.

It really was just a wonderful weekend hanging out with great people and enjoying awesome music. It could not have been any better. It took ages to get back to London on Monday, post waiting for the shuttle bus back to Salisbury station and undignified train nap, but it was with relief that I finally collapsed on the couch at 4pm, dreadfully tired and sore. I had a brilliant time that I hope I’ll always remember, but I was ready to be home. Or, rather, to be warm. It’s just that simple wisdom of getting out before you stop enjoying something – the timing all worked out perfectly.

I really hope I can do it again next year. It’s more fun than I can adequately express.

And the sunsets are amaaaaazing.

And the sunsets were amaaaaazing.

Never to come out

I’m wasted, losing time
I’m a foolish, fragile spine
I want all that is not mine
I want him but we’re not right

In the darkness I will meet my creators

And they will all agree, that I’m a suffocator

I should go now quietly
For my bones have found a place
to lie down and sleep
Where all my layers can become reeds
All my limbs can become trees
All my children can become me
What a mess I leave
To follow