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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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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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I’ve just had to put my Spotify in ‘private session’ to listen to Taylor Swift, so people don’t judge me on Facebook and now I’m so ashamed of myself, I’m writing a blog about it

I have a reputation to uphold, before you judge me. People always compliment me on my music taste. People say things like ‘Hannah, oh my god, you’re music taste is the best, I love listening to your playlists, you are so cool’ and I’m like, Yeah I know. People have genuinely stopped me on public transport to compliment my music tastes. (#livingthedream)

Then I got Spotify. And Spotify asked me to sign up with Facebook. Spotify said it would be easier this way. Spotify said I could join my friends, and connect with them through music. And I said ok Spotify, I’ll play your games, I just want to listen to free music.

Then one day, I got a notification from an old school friend who had commented on my ‘recently listened on Spotify’ playlist:

‘hahaha Hannah, didn’t realise you were a 1D fan’

I hastily made a joke about one direction, made an excuse like ‘hahahhahaha no was my sister lol lol not me. Don’t worry hahah lol yeah hahhahaha’

‘Well’, I thought. I think the album track ‘I would’ on One Direction’s second Studio Album ‘Take Me Home’ is a catchy and uplifting song about a teenage boy loving a girl at school more than her current boyfriend who apparently has ’27 tattoos’. I mean, we’ve all been there, right? Harry Styles solo is perfection and heartbreaking at the same time. But, I remembered my music reputation, and I thought, I would keep these feelings to myself.

So that brought me to today. Today I remembered how much I love Taylor swift’s album ‘Fearless’ I love it. ‘You belong with me’ was the song that represented my 15 year old self . ‘SHE DOESN’T GET YOUR HUMOUR LIKE I DO’ I would cry in to my pillow at night. So many great memories.

I was like, do you know what? I want to listen to that album today. I want to just sing about boys who ride white horses and that are called Stephen, who are you to judge? So I put my playlist on ‘private session’.

I’m so disgusted at myself. I’ve became a music snob, I’ve gone too far, what if I become one of those  people who say something like ‘wait for the drop’ in a dubstep song. Which, incidentally, something I don’t want to be.

So I wrote a blog about it. I feel better about myself. It’s fine that I like Taylor. I just wish Spotify wouldn’t tell Facebook about it.

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Things that confused me at DisneyLand

 

I went to DisneyLand Paris last week. As a rollercoaster enthusiast and someone who enjoys the odd parade and a French Buzz Lightyear, DisneyLand Paris was the place to be. But there was some things that confused me about the experience, here they are;

  1. Why do children cry at Disneyland?

I will never understand this. What the fuck are you upset about? YOU ARE IN THE MAGIC FUCKING KINGDOM. Guess what babe? Life is downhill from here.  Never again will you be able to dress up as ‘Belle’ from beauty in the Beast, and people saw ‘awww’. In fact the next time you dress up as Belle at Halloween,  in  approximately 10 years’ time,  boys will come up to you and say ‘hey belle, do you wanna see my beast?’ or ‘hey belle, be my guest… in the bedroom LOL’ and you will probably feel violated, or enjoy it, because you’re a slut, either way, the future isn’t looking bright for that Belle costume.  

2.  Why is everything in the gift shop ’20 fuckin’ euros’?

This was my dad’s favourite saying, ‘see that keyring? Hannah?’ yeah, I see it dad ’20 fuckin Euros’ it became a fun game throughout the day, to find ridiculous objects that were ’20 fuckin euros’ My favourite was a plastic 3ft bottle which contained popcorn. Which was 20 fuckin Euros. Why would you want a 3ft container of popcorn? I can’t fathom a useful explanation for the creation of 3ft container of popcorn.

3. Why do parents buy small children princess makeovers?

It’s called ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique’ and girls as young as 3 can have a princess makeover. This includes ‘Shimmering make-up, face gem’ makeover. You can teach your daughter that her prince charming will only appear when she drastically changes her wardrobe choices, and her face sparkles like Tinkerbell on crack. Prices start from $40.

 

 

The light parade was fucking awesome though.

 

 

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Don’t need make-up, To cover up, Being the way that you are is enough… but you do need One Direction’s new makeup line.

‘You don’t know you’re beautiful!’, One Direction coo in the camera. You don’t know you’re beautiful young teenage girl, but we could help you out, we’ve got some make up stuff to sell, and you’re going to buy it.

I’m very much confused on why One Direction have done this. Firstly, please correct me if I am wrong, I wasn’t aware that they had any knowledge or even interest in the makeup industry. Secondly, their debut hit single ‘You don’t know you’re beautiful’ condemns wearing make-up, I assumed the hidden message to that number 1 hit was to boost teenage girl’s confidence and in doing so, dismantling cosmetic chains everywhere, I expected there would be some kind of anti-makeup protest, women every breaking eyeliners in half, and smearing lip stick to the ground. Strangely enough none of that happened, and instead One Direction have Brought out their own make up line ‘little things’ http://muacosmetics.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/one-direction-beauty-little-things-from.html

Apparently, according to the MUA cosmetics line website,

‘Harry loves Strawberry, Zayn loves Watermelon, Louis loves Vanilla, Niall loves Cherry, Liam loves Blueberry – which one will you choose?!’

I will choose my dignity thank you.

The best bit is the makeup packaging consists of the boys’ ‘what makes you beautiful’ line. This makes you beautiful, this blueberry lip polish will make you beautiful. And if you ever bump in to Liam Payne, then you have hit the jack pot, because Blueberry is his favourite.

Again, Why? Is this purely money related? Because I was under the impression that One Direction already had a lot of that, (£25 million to be precise). Or was it purely for the fans? I asked my 12 year old sister, who is crazily obsessed with the quintet, what she thought of the makeup range. “well it depends. What’s in it?’ I list of the range; a nail polish, lip polish, cheek tint and lipstick. “yeah. I guess, if it was nice” But, I argue, what about their song? You don’t need make up to cover up! ‘hmm, yeah, its hypocritical’ but you would still buy it? ‘yeah, I already said I would, but ONLY if it was nice’ she then walks off, and seems annoyed at me. She didn’t seem too bothered. Which probably sums this whole thing up.

 

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