Monday, 31 December 2012

Continuity vs. Change

Coming home for the holidays as a university student is always a difficult re-adjustment. I remember my first term coming home. I had spent 3 months cooking for myself, making my own cups of tea in the morning and learning that you do not put red jeans in a predominantly white wash, even if you do invest in Poundland colour catchers (they don’t work). To come back to familiarity, home cooking meals and mysteriously self-washing clothes (that don’t come back pink) should seem like bliss, so why did it feel like a step backward? Why was I expecting everything to have changes and I was confronted with the realization that continuity prevailed?
Flash forward a year and it’s the Christmas holidays after a tough first term of second year.  After a year of practice, my parents and I have found a balance, which still undergoes frequent revision.

The title of this blog post will be a very familiar concept to those who study history (and possibly other humanities subjects, I’m not sure.) It is the debate over whether our past can be divided into easily digestible chunks, periods separated by a radical change in society or lifestyle, or whether this is a framework imposed by the poor historian who is trying to make some sort of sense out of the mess that come before us. Recently, there was the Facebook (and apparently news worthy) subject of the Mayan prophecy that on the 21st December 2012 there would be a transition into a new era. In classic human fashion we deemed this to mean there was going to be an apocalypse and we were all going to die (needless to say this was probably a bit too far-fetched).
The Human habit of trying to categorise the past and seek order out of complexity is one which is both a quality and flaw. We should pride ourselves on our ability to rationalise the irrational and discover trends which we can remind us of what NOT to do, but is this really the most effective way to live your life.
Back to the everyday and it is difficult not to look back on your own life and try to pinpoint certain events which led to the circumstance you find yourself in today. The phrase ‘how did it get to this point? Where did it all go wrong?’ is one which frequently comes out in drunken tears at New Year’s Eve parties to a complete stranger who you end up waking up next to in the morning, accompanied by a headache and the depressing realisation that this year will most probably be exactly the same as the one just passed. However, this does not stop us trying to make a change. New Year’s resolutions have a reputation for being overly ambitious and lasting a week, a month if your ‘truly committed’, until you discover the left over Terry’s chocolate orange from Christmas and normality resumes along with a feeling of failure and ‘fuck it ill try again next year’.

This year I want it to be different. My New Year’s resolution is to accept continuity and the changes it brings. Embrace the butterfly effect and get swept away by the unpredictability of life and its spontaneous challenges. I’m tired of trying to control the future and make sense of the past, its and pointless pursuit and one which takes up time that can be better spent doing two separate clothes washes, trying to locate the Christmas chocolate that ‘must be around here somewhere, and revising the concept of continuity vs. change for the upcoming January exams so that next year I don’t find myself crying into a bowl of stale crisps wailing ‘where did it all go wrong’. We can’t plan our future but we can face the challenges life brings with optimism, bravery and the resolution that everything happens for a reason. So pass the champagne and see in the next year in the comfort of knowing life will carry on as normal, and there will probably be an apocalypse in 2013 anyway J.

Peace and Love x

Saturday, 8 December 2012

The Bliss of a Black Hole

So it's been over a month, a really long month.

When it comes to finding a work/life balance I seem to constantly wobble. I'm sure everyone has those days/weeks/months when you feel like you're living in a black hole. This black hole was called Hallward Library. It was 'deadline doomsday' folks!
My life slowly began to revolve around three 3000 word essays; hanging over my head like a black cloud and slowly turning me into a hermit.

The black cloud period wasn't great. The storm came and really hit hard. Panic Attacks, Stomach cramps and an inability to stop crying wasn't how I wanted to spend the majority of my November. It was a tough month, not going to lie. To feel like you are literally going crazy is one of the scariest things i have ever experienced...

The Darkness
To come out of the darkness and into the light
knowing you cant make it one more night
Drowning in tears unable to breathe
Strangled by the pressure you can't seem to releive
Want to seal off the world and hide away
Not wanting to live the rest of today
But try again tomorrow when the day is new
It will be outside the window that is cold and blue
Be surrounded by love, remember who you are
The days and night end morning is never far.

With my thermos flask filled with liquid misery (i.e. highly caffeinated coffee) Hallward became my home, my family became the Starbucks staff and my brain slowly dissolved into a History mush made up of  Atomic Diplomacy, 18th Century town life and Medieval Agriculture.

  'The Cage', as it was lovingly termed,  perfectly summed up the feeling that you're locked up until your sentence reaches its end. That end was 5th December.

Cue a beeline of the SU bar and a bottle of Rose followed by too many strawberry cocktails and lost memories of a history social (only to be revived when the gut wrenching notification comes up on facebook that you have been 'tagged').

I would just like to publicly thank the most amazing friends that were always on hand to cheer me up, give me hugs and empathize.I can honestly say I wouldn't be here without them and I cannot thank them enough! (you know who you are!).

Once the hangover cleared so did the dark cloud.

Welcome back to Uni life!

Peace and Love x

Sunday, 4 November 2012


The student stereotype of a bed-bound, pyjama bottom wearing and ‘so laid back we're almost horizontal' lay-a-bout is a pipe-dream right now. As any reader of this blog will realize, this could not be further from the truth; unless, of course, pyjama bottoms are still as in fashion as they were in summer. Lack of posts, once again, must be blamed on my writing being aimed more towards the academic sphere than the whimsical. This will probably not be ending anytime soon so in the meantime this will have to do.

The blog title is therefore NOT referring to its informal meaning (i wish) but in fact in relation to that most British of topics, the weather. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops to nose-nipping lows, one can't help to feel that life is also getting a bit grey. I still maintain that the reason this time of year has so many events, namely; Halloween (also would link to the ‘Chilling’ title), Bonfire Night, CHRISTMAS!, and New Year is because of the need for sparkle and light to make those cold days and dark nights bearable. While you can't been a bit of juvenile  leaf kicking on the way to and from lectures and indulging in festive snacks in the safe knowledge that all the sins will be covered up by yet another 'must have' vintage novelty jumper. I still long for the day when days get longer, because right now there are definitely not enough hours in the day!

In the meantime... the pursuit of sparkle must go on!

Peace and Love x

Thursday, 11 October 2012

In Defense of History.

A month into University living... note to self 1)Invest in more pads of paper, 2) Never turn down a free pen (or free drink), 3)Addiction to BBC IPlayer is fatal and 4) Coffee loyalty cards are a mini-miracle and not to be sniffed at.

Having trudging my sorry butt through the rain to Uni campus and camping in the Library, only made bearable by the constant influx of friendly (and also slightly harassed)  faces and the promise of a self-indulgent Library Cafe lunch (it is self-indulgent when you have to pay for it despite having perfectly adequate sandwich making facilities and Tupperware at home), I can safely say I now know more than I ever needed (or wanted) to know about medieval agricultural development and thirteenth century consumerism in London. Despite the primary response to this being 'Why is this important again?', the secondary response came as more of a surprise  The reason I decided to read History was due to a love of the subject that I had never been able to attribute to anything in particular other than it interested me and apparently from the time of childhood I was constantly asking, my no doubt highly offended Grandparents, about what happened in the 'olden days' picturing them in poverty ridden Victorian England or war ravaged trenches.

Recently two events occurred in my life which led to an epiphany (or at least an ideological stand point which sounds far to try-hard to be deemed intelligent and incredibly pretentious.)
Firstly, a weekend trip down to Leeds reminded me that life is amazing and it can be enjoyed to its up-most if you have good friends and a little money left in your budget. A posh meal at Browns (with skinny Margaritas),

 a very long night at the pub (made by provision of cheap wine, pool and a really cheesy DJ) and  a Vintage fair accompanied by a (majorly) hungover lunch with a friend I met in Paris (ooo get me), meant I basically passed out on the recently purchased reversible camel and sheepskin vintage trench coat as soon as I sat down on the train; prompting an entertaining response from two older ladies mumbling something about 'bluddy students.' There is a reason for my showing off, this trip coincided with some rather disturbing news which I could both identify with and reminded me of how much this 'idealized' life can sometimes be too much and lust for stability can lead to the irrational.
The Second occurrence was a very kind treat of a trip to the Ballet (Madame Butterfly). From the age of 4 till I was 15 I was a little ballerina and ever since watching Black Swan I have regretted letting it escape my life. The music and flow of movements just seems to whisk you off into a safe world where you are completely engrossed in what is unfolding in front of you. For a moment you are in a bubble of calm that's only popped when the lights come up and mini pots of overpriced ice cream are shoved in your face.
Right now you are probably thinking that i've completely lost the plot and the point of this post has been lost. I will now attempt to gather up the loose threads into a classic thought provoking conclusion....

The post began with a want to try and explain why History is the degree I chose to spend 3 years of my life enslaved too and why I spend my precious time learning about seemingly irrelevant topics. The reason I came to was this...
 In life you will always be faced with the unfamiliar and a succession of seemingly unconnected events (good and bad) which keeps you on your toes and is summarized by the Ronan Keating classic 'Life is a Roller-costar' (just gotta ride it.. all night long!). This ever expanding web of complexity can seem overwhelming and a want for rationality becomes unbearable. Just like a composer makes order out of various notes to create a melody and a choreographer orders steps to convey emotion without the need for words, so do we crave to impose some sort of order and make sense out of the chaos. The reason I love History is that it is a way of making sense of the past; of discovering trends, reducing seemingly unconnected events to a melody,  the flow of time. By engaging with the past it makes you realize that we are living through periods which ultimately all accumulate and add to the grand scheme of things. Large events seem smaller, tragedies seem almost trivial and its sometimes comforting to know that however much you think things wont change, they always will and usually for the better (if the Whiggish perspective is to be taken- sorry Historiography nerd!). Ultimately we cant live in our own little bubble because eventually it will pop (unfortunately not always with the promise ice cream). So we just have to go with the flow and look back on our lives with the knowledge that without our past our present wouldn't be the same and, after watching 'The Butterfly Effect' last night, it dawned on me that messing with ones past could lead to it being a hell of alot worse.

Peace and Love x

Sunday, 30 September 2012


So it's been a week since I re-located to student housing in the second home that is Nottingham. (Lack of posts has been a result of this upheaval.)
The change of pace experienced when one comes back to the academic fold is not always what is expected. The student life portrayed on television by the likes of 'Fresh Meat', 'Skins' and the rest of Channel 4 only shows one very narrow part of realistic experiences. Yes there are nights out with your top girls...

 ...and yes you spend a stupid amount of time watching shit telly and trying to winch yourself off the sofa to do something productive, but the domestic expectations which hit you like a train after a whole summer of home with a mother cooking, cleaning and reminding you to 'PICK UP YOUR PANTS!' brings you back down to earth. 
An equilibrium therefore has to be reached. There will be times when you feel lonely and you're sat alone in your room with only the Sims 2 for company, there will be days when you're walking around campus in the rain wondering why its so damn cold when you have 4 layers on and you seem to have been running around like a headless chicken all day with pen on your face that none of your 'so-called friends' have pointed out. The realities of budget also come into play and you soon come to see the benefits of 'Tesco value' and BOGOFF's over you're usual indulgences. The first week is also the week of admin over load, re-adjusting to the REAL reason you're at university, i.e. an education. The effort required takes immense self motivation and organisational skill which needs to be awoken from its summer hibernation in order to start the year in the way you wish to go on and avoid flustered phone calls to your heads of Dept. with an empty timetable and that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach.
However, after a year as a fresher, and a week of second year successfully completed with body, bank balance and most of my kitchen appliances intact 3 survival tips have re-emerged in my frazzled, wine fuddled brain; 
1.If you wake up in the morning with the darkest of dark clouds hanging over your bed, wash it away with a shower and your favorite smelly stuff, (my fav is a Lush shower gel bought for me by one of my Best Friends called 'It's Raining Men' its like washing in honey mmmmm), do your hair and put on an outfit which you feel like you can conquer the world in and get out of your room, even if you have nowhere to go, you know that you look and feel nice and are ready for any eventuality.
2. Buy one little indulgence every week. This week i bought myself 'Date Bouquet' L'Occitane hand cream, made extra indulgent by the fact that it doesn't officially hit the shelves until next week but the luurrvvllyyy shop assistant informed me they had just received the delivery and made by day by fishing out from the back stock room just for iccle me! There is nothing more luxurious than hand cream and whenever I felt shit this week I just put some on and I felt like a princess (despite looking like a mentalist walking round the town center/campus smelling my hands). £8 well spent!
3. Don't ever stop making friends. I was waiting in a queue to see my personal tutor and saw a familiar face in the queue, one of those faces which you see but never talk to, just because the opportunity never arose. Anyway.... a borrowed pen and swapskis of numbers later and out of the blue I spent yesterday afternoon having a mooch round the shops, dinner and wine with a girl who I CANNOT BELIEVE has not been a part of my life till now!! 

 Take every opportunity and say YES! Pursue sparkle and get out there; life is waiting...
Peace and Love x

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Rembrants ('Friends' Theme)

As the summer holidays draw to their inevitable close and the new academic year advances, the conflicting feelings of unbearable anticipation and resistance to change become two common characters on your shoulder.
Speaking of two common characters in my life; these last few weeks have been spent with my two bestest friends, making the most of the last days of close proximity. The beauty of making memories like this is that it reminds you that you are still the same dorky little teen on the inside despite insisting that maturity and experience have taken their hold over you.
As the following photo-dump shows, this is perfectly epitomized by our exploits...
The CLASSIC Wagamama's Walrus pose...

Of course, age has shown its benefits and new activities become available.... and when i say activities I mean...

As you can probably see the photos took on what I like to think of 'candid' (or as most people would claim 'unsteady') character. A hangover is made infinitely more bearable when you crowd round the camera and know that all the tired panda eyes and achey feet were worth it. Sometimes you just have to suffer for your art.....

While this post seems abit disjointed I guess it might help to illustrate what i'm trying to say...
 Life is disjointed.
It took 3 months for the three of us to really spend some time together; holidays, work and family commitments made what seemed like a relatively easy task of reunion a real riddle. Now we are all out in the big wide world, spreading our strange sayings, actions and in-jokes all over the globe (Australia, Czechoslovakia, New Zealand, Canada, Europe...) it is a credit to our friendship that none of this matters. When we get together you realize who you really are and it reminds you of what you could lose if you don't put in the effort. 
Life may be crazy and unpredictable. We all have our own hopes, dreams and aspirations. We come and go but we know we have our power base to charge us back up when we sound the alarm. 

So to the future... to the new experiences... challenges and adventures. I can't wait to snuggle up in PJ's in front of a sweetie buffet and a 'so crap its good' film and tell my girls all about it when we all come back. Sharing 'shiggles', shoes and nail polish.
Only a true friend can give you this and say 'hey this bar was made for you...' thanks RAE!!!

I thought this was more rational... (and boring) 

So here's to you guys... Bring the sparkle...I wouldn't have mine without you.

Peace and Love x

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

The Good Life...

It is a paradox of modernity that as the world seems to become materially smaller, one can't help but wonder if, as a consequence, humanity and a sense of community fragments. In true 'keen been' fashion I have been trying to get a head start for my degree next year by pre-reading and trying to familiarize myself with the periods and issues that will plague my brain in the coming year. My first compulsory module is ' The Contemporary World since 1945' and in true modernization fashion (and with reference to 'The History Boys') Nothing seems further away than the recent past.

What struck me most was that as technology and post-industrialism took a firmer grip on society, it seems to squeeze out traditionalism and values that have characterized the British isles for centuries.  A gain in globalization has led to a loss of locality.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. A trend of 'kitsch' and the glamorization of 'country chic' makes sure old English tradition does live on and (while plagued by commercialism) 'Grassmere Sports' in the Lake District re-affirmed my faith in simple pleasures and a good old fashioned sense of Heritage. Since my youth, i have been drip-fed a love and appreciation of the lake district with a family pilgrimage every few weekends to the top of the world with a promise of a pub dinner and nap in the car journey home if we got back down to the bottom. This charmed aspect of my childhood was sorely missed when I left for university last year so one of my summer wishes was a family day out to renew relations with an old friend.
So donning the wellies, waterproof and gilet we set out (along with new puppy) to fulfill my wish.
Mud, Tug of war and real men in Lycra is probably the best way to summarize my day along with the smell of cider, Cumberland sausages and wet dog. After eating a poor guy out of flavored honey samples (Apple, Rhubarb, Sticky toffee and Dandelion and Burdock but to name a few) we entered the Daisy in the dog show as a kind of 'inauguration' into Lakeland life. Safe to say she didn't do herself justice but giggles were many.

Okay so i wasn't necessarily only focusing on the dog's merits.... but i know who i would give my rosette to ;)

What a couple of Bums... hahaahahha (okay so not that funny)

 Please welcome to the 'Sparkle blog' Mummy and Daddy Clark...

Nawwwwww their giving each other a hug.....


Another flirtation with tradition was had last weekend when attending a 21st Birthday party. Little did I know until I had already picked my outfit, that the theme of this soiree was Barn Dance and Hog Roast. So in true Anne Hathaway as Cat-woman style, not even harm inflicting boots could prevent my involvement. Yes i was petrified of impaling old women and small children with my Jeffery Campbell boots but the compliments and admiration I got afterwards just made the experience even more hilarious.

The moral of this post is STEP AWAY FROM THE SCREEN AND INTO LIFE!

Peace and Love x