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Why I’m going to Nicaragua for 3 months

In 3 weeks time I’m travelling to Nicaragua with Raleigh International to take part in a WASH project which focuses on improving water, sanitation and hygiene in Nicaragua. 

While I’m there, I will have very little contact with home. There is no wifi, and no phone signal. I will, however, have access to paper and will be sending letters to my family and friends. Fortunately for you, my Facebook friends I will no longer be able to post fundraising status, unfortunately for me, I’m concerned that I will no longer be able to keep up with the Kardashians. I wish I was joking. I’ll also miss whatsapp and perhaps my family too. I’m also gutted that I’ll miss the season 4 debut of House of Cards – premiering 4th Match on Netflix. Do yourself a huge favour and immediately catch up on all 3 seasons. Kevin’s Spacey’s performance of Frank Underwood gave me nightmares. In a really good way. But yeah, it’s mainly my family and friends that I’ll miss. 

The lack of contact is something that I know I’ll desperately struggle with. I really like my smart phone. It’s a fantastic invention. So to remove it for 3 months will be a challenge, but I’m excited to commit to this challenge.The lack of social media also means that I have to interact with human beings at all times, and will be able to fully immerse myself into the WASH project. I won’t even be able to show you how great everything is by posting about my charity work on Instagram with the caption #nofilter #soblessed. There is something quite exhilarating about not worrying if my Instagram has 11 likes on a Sunday evening. 

I will be staying with a Nicaraguan family, who have graciously offered British and Nicaraguan volunteers into their home. The village I will be staying in will have no sanitation facilities and little access to drinking water. The goal is to improve this situation within the 3 months, but to also ensure that the local people are able to sustain the sanitation services long after the volunteers have left. 
I will be living in basic conditions which will be another big challenge for me. Living without technology is a doddle really… But living without a flushing toilet or a power shower, or even a washing machine will be a very different experience. And I don’t think I can really prepare myself for this change. But I’m excited all the same, and just telling myself it will all be fine and I probably won’t even miss the luxury of hot clean running water. 

Over Christmas and New year, family members have asked ‘But why? Why are you doing this?’ 

There isn’t one sole reason that I decided to apply to do ICS. And without sounding like a pompous prat, I really want to do this to make a difference in this community that will make their lives a little bit easier, improve their health and living standards. I also want to see if I can actually do this, to live without technology, without basic amenities, with a language barrier in a foreign country. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m optimistic that it will be an unforgettable experience either way. 

There is still time to donate to my just giving page, and I would be massively grateful forever. 

And anyway, how much do the Kardashians really get up to in 3 months? (Answer: a lot, I’m kind of hoping when I return back to the UK Kylie has released a new shade of her lip kit. A girl can dream.) 

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graduate, humour, tv

What I did this summer

Despite graduating with a 2:1 in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading in July, I have spent a lonely summer in Carlisle, wondering if anyone will ever give me a job, and if my overdraft will ever disappear.

Lonely summers in Carlisle have amounted to long periods of time sat in front of my television, wondering how different my life would have been if I’d studied Accounting instead. Or how much fun I would have had if my Dad was the Managing Director of a global business and I could live my life like the basic Instagram user I know I could be #nofilter #summer #boyfriend #girlfriend #love

But alas, my financial circumstances led me to flee the south of England as soon as my student loan dried up and move to back to Carlisle. I didn’t even get to go Bali this summer. Unlike every other Facebook friend who has been tagged lavishly splashing with Elephants in this amazing local animal sanctuary.

But I did not waste the summer. I have made the definitive list of day time TV. No need to thank me. The next time you find yourself at home on a Tuesday afternoon, you will know exactly what to tune in to.

Keeping up with the Kardashians – Season 1-4

It’s important you don’t waste time watching recent episodes of KUWTK. I feel like you know the vague story of the Kardashians – 6 beautiful sisters wander the streets of Los Angeles. They all share the initials of K, constantly eat out in beautiful restaurants, and then return to their monstrous Land Rovers, and then get upset that the Paparazzi have followed them – ‘HOW DID THEY KNOW I WOULD BE HERE?’ Kim cries as she places her Venti Starbucks cool lime refresher into the cup holder of her 2015 Rolls Royce Phantom.

But the early seasons of KUWTK focus on an endearing story of a family who are trying to use their daughter’s sex tape to claim a mediocre modelling career. It’s like a really shit Californian version of TOWIE.

One of my favourite episodes is episode 9 season 2, ‘Kim’s Calendar for Reggie.’ Kim wants to surprise her boyfriend Reggie Bush with a sexy calendar. The calendar was meant for Reggie’s eyes only, so when Mom Kris makes the assumption that calendar was a business deal and sends out the calendar to every store in Calabasas – hilarity ensues. Kim and Brother Rob race around Calabasas buying up calendars in local gas stores while receiving bemused looks from store clerks. Did I mention I was lonely this summer?

Say yes to the dress – Bridesmaid Edition!

A bride brings her 37 bridesmaids to a bridal shop to find the perfect gown for all her gals for the upcoming nuptials. But unfortunately the 37 bridesmaids have completely different tastes, que 23 minutes of women fighting over fuchsia gowns. What I learnt from this show is everyone hates taffeta. Also weddings seem like an absolute nightmare.

Biggest Loser USA

This show is amazing. It’s very inspiring. The premise of the show is to tackle America’s obesity problem by inviting 20 incredibly huge contestants on to a weight loss ranch. The contestants are broken up in to teams and given personal trainers. My favourite trainer is Gillian. She scares the shit out of me. The first episode the trainers take the contestants into the gym. Obviously, the contestants are not used to being pushed hard in the gym. At least one person throws up on a treadmill whilst Gillian screams in their face ‘SO YOU’RE A QUITTER?! HUH?’ as they roll round on the floor sobbing. But around episode 10, when the contestants have lost 50lbs they have an amazing heartfelt chat with Gillian and thank her for all the shouting. It’s a beautiful show. They also have the best sob stories, legit terrible thing have happened to these poor contestants. But it’s totally fine because they lose 150lbs and get sponsorship from Subway sandwiches by the season finale. Nothing says ‘I’m fit now’ than unlimited 12 inch meatball marinara.

Judge Rinder

An incredibly poor British version of Judge Judy including the cast from Jeremy Kyle. Good Try ITV2.

Ex on the Beach       

I have no idea how MTV finds human beings to appear on this show. It’s horrible. They place 10 beautiful people (the cast look like a cross between shot girls in a Magaluf night club and the kind of men that would ask you ‘to get your tits out for the lads’ when you go for a quiet drink with the girls on a Saturday afternoon in Wetherspoons.) into a house, and then every day someone’s ex enters the house. It’s bizarre. It ends up with two women screaming about Kirk Norcross’s commitment issues on a Mexican beach while a lad from Cardiff anxiously tries his luck with a glamour model who nearly got picked to go on Celebrity Big Brother.

Extreme Couponing

A show about American women that are obsessed with using food coupons to buy completely useless groceries for free, it’s impressive but very silly. For example – a woman bought 133 boxes of couscous because she had a coupon. No one is ever going to use 133 boxes of couscous. It’s incredibly wasteful and basically encapsulates America’s issues with consumerism, greed and obesity. But it’s also quite entertaining for a show about coupons. The voice over is a welsh lady and it really adds to the drama of the couponing ‘Tammy has forgotten about the 241 deal on lady’s sanitary towels, will she be able to make it to the check out on time?’

Cake Boss

Sometimes this TV show feels like a Saturday Night Live sketch. It’s about an Italian family-run bakery based in New York City. They’re Catholic and love making huge cakes. What’s not to love? (Fred Armisen would play Buddy, and Kristen Wiig would play his loud mouth sister.)

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Politics

My thoughts on the 2015 budget

I wanted to write this piece straight after the general election. I began to see Facebook status’ of not-so-shy Tory voters banging on about the self-righteous left and some other nonsense about how awful Ed Miliband was. As a member of the ‘self-righteous’ left, I began to compose a passion filled, Fox loving, human right endorsing status. I began to furiously type why everyone was wrong, and I, the social justice fighting leftie would prevail to be the voice of reason on a day as horrendous as May the 8th. But just as I was about to publish my status, my sister rang me, she had finally got an offer to do medicine at Edinburgh. I was incredibly pleased, as she has worked tremendously hard over the past 2 years. After my phone call ended, I received a whatsapp from my close friend, announcing her engagement. After many squeals of delight, I was in a much better place, and saved the status for another day, I didn’t feel like arguing with ill-informed tory voters about benefit cuts.

But, as a politics student, it is my duty to shove my political views down your throat so hard that you can taste my tears of disappointment at the newly appointed government. Today, Cameron and Osborne released the first Conservative budget since 1996. But why am I bothered at all? ‘Who even cares? All politicians are the same!’ I hear you cry, but in this past year I have learnt the true extent of austerity, and I would like to share it with you.

This year, I wrote my dissertation on food banks. The question asked why there had been an 142% rise in food banks in the UK over the past five years. I visited 7 food banks as part of my research, and spoke to numerous volunteers and staff members. It’s important to establish what a food bank is at this point of the blog, it’s an apolitical organisation, that receives no funding from the government and solely relies on public donations. Clients of food banks must be referred from organisations such as the Job centre, the council, The CAB and the NHS. A client can only be referred 3 times, and their problem cannot be long ended – there must be a solution. I feel the need to explain this, as over the past year, a lot of people have asked what my dissertation topic was, and then gave a nonchalant shrug with one of the phrases ‘isn’t that for scroungers?’ ‘ I heard only immigrants use them!’ ‘They’re full of junkies.’ This baffled me. Until one day, I rang my grandfather, he asked me how my dissertation was going, and I began to relay some of my experience. Half way through he said ‘well that’s not what I read in the Mail..’ The Daily Mail published an article last year with the headline ‘No ID, No Checks… and vouchers for sob stories.’ Not only is this claim false but incredibly insulting to the hardworking volunteers, who give up their own time to help the most vulnerable in our society. The volunteers and staff do a fantastic job, when I visited they were unbelievably kind and patient. One of their crucial duties is to simply have a chat to the client, ask how they are doing, offer a cup of tea and a biscuit and suggest other agencies that a client may find useful.

My research found that a rise in food banks is down to several reasons. Including, benefit sanctions and benefit cuts. However, a lot of people who use food banks have jobs, yet simply not paid enough. Families are earning enough to pay the bills, and just about trundle on, but if there is unexpected bill; the car breaks down, the boiler stops working, suddenly a black hole is created in their finances, and they are stuck between a rock and a hard place: Do I keep a roof over my head or go hungry?

I now feel incredibly passionate on the issue of food banks, and I am consistently disappointed with this government’s lack of urgency on the matter. The Trussel Trust have recently fed their one millionth client. I dread to think what a further five years will bring to the most vulnerable people in the UK. As proven, austerity literally bites.

But I don’t have to wait five years, I barely waited 5 weeks. The budget was announced today, and yet again the most vulnerable people are in the firing line. University maintenance grants have now been cut. No longer will students from poorer backgrounds be eligible to receive a sum of money to allow them to survive. The government will save £2.5 Billion, but Britain will lose a generation of students. The grant will be replaced with a loan. The students that rely on grants cannot rely on their parents. As the loan is means tested on your parents income. We are letting the most disadvantaged young people pick up a bill that was not created by their spending or borrowing. Which I find troubling, and in all honesty, heart-breaking.

University is expensive. I lived in Reading as a student, and was given a £1000 loan every term. My rent was £375 a month – even over the summer months in which no loan was given. Without my part time job, my overdraft and help from my parents I would not have been able to attend university. I find it sickening that prospective students are being financially crippled by simply wanting to further their education and gain better opportunities for themselves.

The nasty party has returned with vengeance. This time they’re serious. About cutting tax credits and crushing dreams of social mobility. This is why I do not vote conservative and this is why I constantly share articles by Owen Jones on my facebook page. I ask that you keep donating to food banks, and maybe we could launch a kickstarter for all your poor friends that can’t afford to go to uni. But look on the Brightside, at least when your rich granny dies you won’t pay any tax.

(image found from The Guardian via google images)

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Politics

My relationship with Scotland, and my thoughts on Indpendence

This summer my eldest cousin got married, and I was sitting at a table with an assortment of cousins, family friends, and strangers. As we made polite conversation, my cousin’s boyfriend asked, ‘so what is it that you study?’ … ‘err politics’ I mumble knowing what this would lead to. The collection of wedding guests suddenly descended in to a 30 minute long heated debate about independence. Nothing says ‘family gathering’ like a dispute over North sea oil. The conversation then ended with ‘Well that’s the problem with you English…’

‘But I’m not even English!’ I said with my very much English accent.

I was born on the 31st of March 1994 in the town of Cambridge, England. I was ill as a baby, and my parents decided it would be easier to move back to their hometown of Coatbridge, Scotland to be nearer family.

But my gran told the story like this…

‘aye, so, me and your papa were in yer mammy and dad’s English flat, and it was horrible. It was offy cowl, and they didn’t even turn the heating on, even though it was snowing! And me and yer papa had to sit, with jumpers on and blankets, and I said to yer papa, this isn’t right. I said ‘no wonder this poor wain is sick, stuck in this English flat’. And so I said to yer mammy, ‘move back to back to Scotland. The Scottish Air will do her good’ and she did. And look at you now. You’re fit and healthy’

I lived in Coatbridge until I was 5 (my 5th birthday was held in the Time Capsule – obviously), until my mum and Dad decided it was time to move back to Cambridge.

I assume it was quite a big culture shock, to move from Coatbridge (probably google Coatbridge – if you’ve never heard of it) to a small village on the outskirts of Cambridge. I think adults must have been pretty bemused by mine and my sister’s accents, and would often ask ‘oooh, so are you Scottish or English now?’ I would fiercely reply that I was Scottish. And went to very extreme lengths to prove my ‘Scottishness’. For example, for the 2002 world cup, my primary school invited students to come in early and watch the England games on the big projector screen. Of course, Scotland didn’t qualify, which left me in a very tricky position. I still went to school early, with the rest of my classmates, but instead of being a good sportsman, I booed England. I went to school, an hour early, to boo the home team. That must have been a bizarre sight for the rest of the school. This small child booing David Beckham, and going out of her way to do so. When slightly cocky boys in my class reminded me that Scotland hadn’t even qualified, I just shrugged ‘I don’t even care. I’m supporting Sweden anyway.’ I was a huge Henrik Larsson fan at the time, I had a laminated poster of him on my wall, side by side with my Harry Potter Wall stickers.

After going through some sort of identity crisis at 8 years old, I’ve mellowed. For example, I no longer have Henrik Larsson on my wall, however, in July I went as ‘Sweden’ to a World Cup Party. I’ve always enjoyed being Scottish, and getting ‘in’ Scottish jokes. Me and my sister Katie loved watching Karen Dunbar, she had a character of a wee old Granny, and her catchphrase was ‘jeeeessooooooooo’. We loved it because it reminded us of our Gran and none of our friends would ever quite understand the joke. We always watched ‘Still Game’, ‘Chewing the Fat’ and ‘Burnistoun’, In my first year of university I couldn’t believe that my flatmates had never heard of Kevin Bridges. He is one of my favourite comedians, I showed my flatmate a clip on Youtube of his bit about ‘emptys’ and Chad Hogan’s house parties. I howled with laughter, my flatmate sat in silence: ‘I don’t get it’ she admitted, I re-enacted Kevin’s jokes…‘But…chip and dip man… chad Hogan! And then it’s funny because, at a Scottish House party someone Shat in a kettle… and it’s an empty… and…’ My flatmate took pity on me ‘I’m glad you find it funny Han! I just don’t get it.’

I’ve now lived in England for 15 years (our family moved to Carlisle when I was 9) , and although I would never define myself as ‘English’ I don’t state that I am ‘Scottish’ either, I would define myself as British – a mixture of the two. For example, I love quintessentially English things such as: Yorkshire puddings, chips and gravy and Made In Chelsea. I also enjoy the best of Scotland: Irn Bru, Frankie Boyle and phrases such as ‘pua chuffed to the gutty’. But together, I proper love British things; Great British Bake Off, The London 2012 Olympics, Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games and Harry Potter (Harry born in England, raised in Hogwarts, Scotland. Seamus Finnigan, Irish, and the final film was filmed in Wales. Therefore the best of British!)

The Referendum leaves me in a tricky position, what will I ‘be’ if Scotland votes ‘yes’ tomorrow? Basically, I want to be keep being British, I don’t want to be English on the week days, and Scottish on the weekends.

The referendum has left me feeling split in half, the term ‘heart and mind’ has been used a lot throughout the debate. Many Scots feel that their heart screams ‘FREEDOM’ and their mind says ‘ohh yeah, currency. Yeah we probably need a currency’

I’ve been asked countless times what I think about Scottish Independence. Honestly, I don’t know. It’s such a big decision. I can see both sides of the argument, I agree with points from both the Yes and No campaigns.

As a politics student, I have kept up with the debate reading countless articles, journals and even read (a bit) of the White Paper. However, as a Huge Harry Potter fan, J.K Rowling’s argument for the ‘No campaign’ was incredibly thought provoking. I have also always been a big fan of Frankie Boyle, and I thought what he had to say about voting ‘yes’ was different to any other Yes Campaigner I have ever heard ‘some people say they don’t want Alex Salmond in power… how long do you think he’s goanny live? He has the life expectancy of full fat milk.’ (This made my papa LOL, like proper lol, not just chuckle. ‘och, he’s no wrong that Frankie!’) An independent Scotland is so desirable, it would be fantastic to wake up on Friday, and suddenly Scotland is oil rich country with its own place in the EU and the UN, an army, a strong currency and a booming economy. But it doesn’t work like that, it will be a slow process with many hard decisions along the way.

We’re living in tough times. And I know that Scotland is hurting, the Bedroom tax has hit the most vulnerable in society, people are having to use food banks. But so are people south of the border, who also did not vote for David Cameron or his government. And without Scotland, the rest of Britain could be looking at another Conservative government or who knows, maybe even a coalition with UKIP (but that’s another blog…) , as Labour’s majority will suffer profusely, and Scotland has the power to stop that. Scotland also has free higher education. I have dreams about free higher education. I’m in my final year of university, by the end of this year I will be in approximately £30,000 worth of debt. As Cameron has just promised to up the spending per person In Scotland, A ‘No’ vote pretty much guarantees that Scottish graduates walk away with a degree and no university fees debt.

Ultimately I think we’re better together, I think England is better with Scotland, and I think Scotland is better with England and Wales and Northern Ireland. It’s a tough decision, one that should not be taken lightly. This is forever, it can’t be taken back. This referendum is like the drunk text you sent to your ex last night, once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t delete that text, and you can’t take back your words. Don’t be the drunk ex, be the Ex that the rest of Great Britain wants to keep seeing; ‘hey, did you see Scotland last night? Yeah Scotland was looking fine, what with its free education, free prescriptions and Major new powers over tax, spending and welfare services.’

 

 

 

Image via Google

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My day at the Commonwealth Games

‘What’s that orange drink?’ An Australian woman in front of me in the queue at the SECCC queried to the Glaswegian Cashier. The young Glaswegian looks perplexed, ‘Irn Bru?’ She nodded, ‘What does it taste of?’ The cashier faced the hard task of describing the taste of Orange carbonated sugar. ‘errrm it’s a bit like… a coca cola, aye, it’s a Glaswegian Coca cola.’ The Australian woman paid for her water and left.

After enjoying my second Irn Bru of the day, I returned to the Netball court to watch Malawi Vs Northern Ireland. My netball knowledge is limited. Limited to my school days, where I would try to feign an injury, or get picked to ‘umpire’ (otherwise known as getting shouted at by a sporty girl ‘that was definitely a fowl!!!!!! are you even watching Hannah?!’) A vivid memory of my schooldays was being picked as ‘centre’ by the P.E teacher. ‘The centre’ is quite a big deal, especially in Year 8. I feel she did this in good spirit; to get me involved in the game and actually take an interest in sport. I can’t quite remember what I did, but after a ‘dismal’ 4 minutes, the teacher called time out. In front of the class, she said ‘Hannah Birt, you are the worst Centre I have ever had the displeasure of coaching in my twenty year teaching career!’ I was demoted to Wing Defence and no one ever asked me to be Centre again.

So netball brings back a lot of happy memories for me, and I was super excited to watch the sport being played by real life pros. The crowd was jovial, and excited for the first day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games to begin. While waiting, the crowd was kept entertained by ‘bongo cam’. Bongo Cam is possibly the best thing ever. Bongo drum music would fill the court, and a cameraman would search the crowd for unsuspecting bongo players, their image would fill the big screens as would the cartoon image of bongo drums, the unsuspecting bongo player is encourage to play ‘air bongos’. There is nothing funnier than someone’s granddad playing ‘air bongos’. Fact.

I wondered if the netball could be as good as ‘Bongo Cam’ and debated only staying for one game. But suddenly, the athletes appeared and the game began. I was surprised at how amazing the game was. Which sounds stupid, but it was incredible. I’ve never watched competitive netball before and it was awesome. Malawi were crazy good, the way the players jumped for the ball was a thing of beauty. At one point, the lady behind me gasped, ‘wow. Where on Earth did they get these players from?’ A Scottish voice behind her replied simply; ‘Malawi’.

After the final quarter the score was 71 – 50. The Malawi team were beyond amazing; I was very much blown away by their performance and will be keeping an eye on their upcoming fixtures.

After the first game, I was hooked. I love netball. The next game was between Wales and Australia. I was fully behind the Welsh team. Not only because I love Wales, but because the Welsh netball Kit was incredible. It was a red one piece, accompanied by a white dragon and completed by sparkling Diamantes spelling out CYMRU. The Ozzies wore yellow and green, it was fine, but no diamantes.

The game was fierce, Wales fought a good game, but the Australian team were on form. Their Goal shooter was also a foot taller than everyone else on the court, and never missed a shot. The final score was 63-36 to Australia.

After the game we wondered down the Clyde and up to George’s square. I don’t think the phrase ‘Taps aff’ has ever been used so greatly in Argyle Street. As we sat in George’s square, a swarm of tourists suddenly appeared from nowhere. ‘Oh my god!’ My sister exclaimed, ‘Is that Billy Connolly?!’ A lookalike had appeared and was happily posing for selfies. He even made it to The Evening Standard
In good jest, my dad even took us to the Commonwealth Games Superstore ‘£17 for a fucking Tshirt?!’ We left swiftly.
As we boarded the train to the Whifflet, Glasgow bathed in sunlight; and it was a perfect example of pathetic fallacy.

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I’m going to see Busted tomorrow

When I was 10, I was given the opportunity to go to Newcastle, and see the best boy band in history perform LIVE.  That Band was Busted. And the year was 3000 (GETTIT?)

It was an incredible performance. The band executed their greatest hits: ‘What I go to school for’, ‘Crash the wedding’ ‘Air hostess’ all the classics. They then brought the mood to a solemn halt, Charlie hitting my emotions… he was ‘sleeping with the lights on’ there was not a dry eye in the Metro Arena. It was a fantastic evening, Busted even did a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ – it was so original and so 70’s all at the same time. I cheered for an encore, I squealed with delight at their scissor kicks, I even bought a t-shirt; Matt’s highlights looked perfect and glowed in the sunshine of 2004.

I was on a Busted high after the concert. All I could do was chat about Busted. I bought Top of the Pops Magazine. I and my busted fanatic friend even made a scrap book. It was literally the coolest thing ever. For Christmas my mum and dad bought me a busted Calendar, so that each month, I could be greeted with James’ cheeky face.

But my Busted dream was cut short. In January 2005, Busted announced they were splitting up.

Apparently Charlie wanted to take music more seriously. ‘Has Charlie never listened to ‘Psyco Girl?!?!!?!’ I cried to my less bothered classmates. ‘His lyrics are so intense in that song! She’s everything he needs, but he can’t stand her!!!!’ This made no sense. James and Matt looked gutted at the press conference, it was all over, and Busted was no more. I cried. I slept with my light on, listening to ‘Who’s David?’ on repeat on my CD Walkman (how retro is that?)

The years since that fateful day have been hard, I won’t lie to you.

I dabbled with Mcfly. I went to see them twice. Once in Glasgow. Once in Carlisle. It was ok. But it wasn’t ‘3 AM’ good.

I grew up. I’ve been to a few concerts since then. Kanye and Jay Z were awesome. Arctic Monkeys were probably the best thing since Busted on the British music scene.  I even took my 12 year old sister to see One Direction, hoping to recreate the Busted hype. Of course Niall was on form, but Zayne’s heart just wasn’t in the performance, they may have broken America, but they haven’t broken my Busted exterior.

I often ‘liked’ facebook pages such as ‘IF WE GET 10 MILLION LIKES BUSTED WILL REFORM’ I knew this was a con. But my 10 year old self still hoped that maybe, one day there would be a chance… that the impossible would become possible.

Then one day last year, all my hoping and wishing came true.

Busted were reforming. With Mcfly.

Sometimes things happen and we simply can’t find words to express our emotions.

So, tomorrow, I will be reunited with Busted.

10 years later, as a 20 year old woman.

It’s been a long journey, but don’t give up on your dreams kids.

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January is back. With vengeance.

January is all like ‘oh hey! Hey Han (January feels comfortable with nicknames – January is a cocky bitch that way) Remember me? I’m December’s older shittier stepbrother. Han. I’ve got some treats for you this month…’

January begins with a hangover.

My January begins with me throwing up peach snaps and chilli con carne. So. ‘This my life.’ I thought, as I wiped a kidney bean from the toilet seat.

I return to university.

This is a bittersweet time. On the one hand, I get to go back to University. I am reunited with my creative counterparts, the uni Bant-taaah ensues. I go back to leaving wet towels on my bed, without a parent screaming: ‘YOU ARE NEARLY 20 YEARS OLD, WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM WITH CLEANLINESS’. I instead return to my flatmates, ‘Hey han, just, er, don’t want to be that girl. But it’s just, erm, could you, like, if you don’t mind, perhaps, you know, clean your stuff?’ They are so polite and sweet; unlike my parents. *raises fist, shakes repeatedly in to air ‘Bloody parents, always trying to teach me manners’*

Student Loan returns

‘JAEGER BOMBS ON ME – YO TO THE FUCKING LO – STUDENT LOAN BABY’ shouts a guy at a bar. Somewhere. I assume. A guy at bar has never offered me a jagerbomb. But anyway, My loan arrives. Life is good.

Housing woes

But then I have to place a deposit on a house, and those drinks don’t pay for themselves. Bye student loan. It was fun while it lasted.

New Years Resolutions

Who the fuck invented New Years resolutions? Some condescending do-gooder, who loves to boast, and fucking loved the gym, and connected their stupid Nike sport app thing to twitter. Good for you, you ran 2K before 8AM. Well I can do that too. I can do good. I bought Davina McCall’s new DVD. And that new sports bra. Those trainers practically paid for themselves. So like, whatever. I don’t care. I have an overdraft for a reason. It’s quite cold in January. Is that rain? I might, just stay in tonight. I’ve set my alarm for 6 AM, so tomorrow. I promise tomorrow. Tomorrow is the day I run. As Annie the friendly ginger orphan bet her bottom dollar, there will be sun tomorrow.

Dissertation question deadline

Oh yeah. That’s a thing apparently.

Oh Hey January

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A love letter to Gravy

 

Dear Gravy,

Hey. It’s been a while. I hope everything’s ok with you. I guess things have been pretty distant between us recently. And personally, I feel so awful about it.

Look it’s not you, it’s meat. Like seriously dry meat. And I can’t deal with it any longer.

I’ve been seeing other condiments lately, but it’s not my fault. When I moved to the south of England, I didn’t believe the rumours on the grape vine. ‘They don’t like gravy down south’ I laughed in the face of this rumour, ‘But everyone likes gravy’ I replied.

 But I guess I was wrong.

It all started back in September 2012. My first night of fresher’s was over. It was a good night. I was ready to hit the hay. But not before the  classic combination of :chips, cheese and gravy.

I didn’t know the area. I stumbled in to the first chicken shop I saw, I approached the counter:

‘chips, cheese and gravy please’ I slurred

‘What?’ replied the aghast fast food worker

I repeated my order

‘We don’t do that here – I can do curry sauce’

In that split second, all my dreams had been shattered. I turned around, assuming to be backed up by angry freshers demanding that they provide gravy. The freshers shrugged, nonchalantly, ‘it’s not really a thing down south’. I held back a tear, I kept it together, I didn’t want my new friends to see me upset like this.  

But, I knew at that moment, I had made a terrible mistake.

I had embarked on a university course, and I hadn’t even checked to see that the city, that I would be residing in for 3 whole years, served gravy.

I eventually began to come to terms with my decision, and hence started a new life for myself; a life without gravy.

I won’t deny that it wasn’t hard for me, it was. My southern friends from Kent and Hertfordshire would taunt me, ‘I heard up north, people actually drink gravy, hahahhaha can you imagine?!’ they had no idea, what I would do for a steaming hot mug of gravy right that minute. I simply smiled, and nodded, they were unaware of the pain I was going through.

But today, I threw the metaphysical towel in. Today I went to a restaurant. Today is Sunday. Therefore, I was ordering the Sunday roast, ‘accompanied with Yorkshire puddings and lashings of gravy!’ the menu teased. ‘We’ll see’, I thought. I daren’t get my hopes up.

The meal arrived. The Yorkshire pudding was massive. The roast potatoes were golden, and the meat was succulent. But one thing was missing. The gravy.

I called the waiter over; ‘sorry, excuse me, is there gravy on this dish?’

He pointed underneath the Yorkshire pudding. I grimaced.

Like a scene in a Dicken’s novel, I dared to ask, what no other diner had ever dared to ask before,

‘may I have some more gravy please?’

‘more?’

And then we were reunited gravy. Me and you: against the world. We destroyed that Sunday roast. And we did it together.

I just wanted to say, I think you’re the best, gravy. I hope one day, gravy will be served through out fast food outlet across the country. Maybe one day. But until that day, I’ll have to make do without,

Yours forever more,

Hannah Birt

Procrastinating student since 2012

 

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Let’s talk about wrestling and fake butter adverts

I was watching television last week, and a pesky ad-break ensued. A cartoon advert came out of nowhere, and I was intrigued.

‘it’s mummy and daddy’s anniversary, we’re making breakfast’  giggles the cartoon boy, named Josh. Josh is probably around the age of 5. His older brother, Johnny can’t be older than 8.

Josh seems to know a lot about fake butter for a 5 year old (#justsayin) I don’t know many 5 year olds who are concerned with the health benefits of fake butter, but there you go. Josh is different to the average 5 year old.

So Josh and Johnny and their dog (un-named) tumble up the stairs, and guess what? Their selfish parents are playing ‘wrestling’- without Josh.  And apparently ‘mummy is quite good and it with daddy’. Classic Mummy. She’s such a hypocrite.  She won’t let Josh even watch it on TV. Standard Mummy behaviour. Who even is she?

I have a few issues with this particular advert, which I shall now explain,

  1. Firstly, it’s an anniversary breakfast. Fake butter on toast? That’s it? Not even eggs? I mean at least bring out the big guns for anniversary, I expect Lurpak on special occasions. But whatever.
  2. What doesn’t Johnny speak? I think Josh takes up a lot of screen time. I would like Johnny’s view on sunflower goodness.
  3. Oh yeah, and 2 SMALL BOYS WALK IN ON THEIR PARENTS HAVING SEX.
  4. And what’s the dog’s name?

The advert ends with ‘we know family life doesn’t always go right’ – yeah tell that to your counsellor Josh. Flora might do a follow on advert, 20 years on.  Josh is 25. He’s crying, his girlfriend left him because he inappropriately slathered her in fake butter and told her all the health benefits of omega 3, screaming ‘OMEGA-3 acids are VITAL for a  normal metabolism’ then wrestles her to the ground. ‘EMBRACE THE SUNFLOWER GOODNESS’ he would sob, as his girlfriend leaves.  

 

 

( you can watch the advert here )

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Twerk Blanket

Tomorrow I head back to University. From the age of around 5, I have been notorious for 2 things: wearing odd socks, and leaving everything to last minute.

When I say notorious, I don’t mean there’s a file in MI5 ‘HANNAH BIRT NOTORIOUS SOCK MIXER UPPER’ what I mean is parents, family members, friend’s parent’s, old lady bystanders are like ‘are you wearing odd socks?’ and I say something like ‘yeah, what of it? Do we live in a society which is so rigid that we can only wear matching socks? My right sock is so sick of my left sock’s constant shit, right sock hates wearing black, and left sock only wears black, the left is mourning the right.’ I never say that, because it does not make sense, but I wish I did. It would annoy people. I usually do an awkward chuckle, smile and say ‘whaaaaatammmmiiiiiiLiiiikkeeeee??’ as if I’m stuck in a 90’s sitcom about a girl who only wears odd socks, fighting the fashion oppression pressed upon her by her straight talking same sock wearing parents.

Yeah so anyway, I was trying to pack. I got to my final drawer. You’ll never bloody guess what was in the drawer? It was only a Hannah Montana Fleecy blanket! (I’m still doing sit-com voice, I’ll stop now)

Around 2006, my youngest sister had a crazy Hannah Montana phase. We had a hair brush that sang ‘nobody’s perfect’               (– catchy as fuck – you can listen to it here.) We had a dance mat as well. My friend Ryan fed the dance mat bread-sticks and vodka on my 17th Birthday (here)

Last year if I’d brought my sister’s Hannah Montana fleecy blanket to uni everyone would have said ‘is that Hannah Montana? That is so 2006. What were you thinking?’ and then they would have pulled a bitchy face, and probably laughed behind my back.

However, this year, the blanket has a whole new meaning.

This blanket represents the sexualisation of the early noughtie’s Disney star, the nadir of innocence, the microcosm of a generation which is lost to sex, drugs and skeletons made out of chips. But worst of all, this blanket represents twerking.

I don’t want to talk about twerking. Because I’m not at a strip club, and I do not wish to admit that I have a ‘big butt’.

What I’m trying to get across is; a lot can change in 12 months. Embrace it. Or Become Miley Cyrus. Either way, your life will drastically change.

 *********************************************************************************************************

I never explained the second thing I’m notorious for: leaving things to last minute. Well basically, I’ve written a 500 word blog entry about a blanket instead of packing. *WHAAAATTTAMMMMIIIIIIILLLLLIIIKKKKEEEEEE*

 

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