We Are What We Do

Monday, 5 May 2008

Silence on the Dance Floor

Yesterday I embarked on a new phenomenon hitting the UK...silent discos. I was quite ominous at first, what would it involve? My friend, stunned by confusion sarcastically stated "well that'll be a banging party". No lovely, there will be music just not through the speakers...

We each sported a huge pair of radio-dj style headphones. The kind you always see people walking around wearing and secretly have a huge desire to buy but never will because deep down you'd feel like a tiny bit of a wannabe rockstar. There was something ridiculously enjoyable about grabbing your headphones and swinging your head whilst dancing. I'm not quite sure of the effect this was doing to my dance credibility, but what the hell, I think my shouting had a worse effect.

I tend to shout when I dance, it's sort of my way of singing in the shower, nobody can hear, everyones too drunk to really care and it makes me feel like I'm singing in tune...this all goes out the window at a silent disco. Had the vodka not taken effect I may have been more consciously aware of the fact that everyone could hear me in all my shouting, out of tune glory. It didn't, and I think the word embarrassment was probably on a lot of peoples minds that evening. But then it dawned on me when I took my headphones off for a breather that everyone was doing the same thing. The most amusing factor of this charade was that everyone was singing different songs, and so in this strange scene I realised that anyone could pretty much be absorbed and accepted.

One guy I met expressed his love of silent discos as he no longer had to deal with the humiliation of being completely disorientated and out of sync whilst dancing. He could through dance moves this way and that without the fear of persecution, without people slowly sidling away from him in shame of his lack of coordination.

Silent discos also offer the choice of listening to different channels of music. Rather than being pulled from room to room in search of a good song, only to find its the end of the song you love by the time you return to the first room. Good for exercise, not so good for feet trapped in killer heels. It was a frantic panic to switch when you heard everyone shout as you knew you were missing out something amazing on the other channel, or you could just make a point of being different. Brilliant fun, perhaps this will really take off...perhaps they will start selling personalised wireless headphones. One set for each outfit you own, I think I'd quite like gold if thats the case.

But my overall conclusion is that silent discos are definitely the way forward, especially for people like me who now just embrace the fact I was not blessed with any kind of vocal ability and revel in it...

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Monday, 28 April 2008

In the Interests of the Intro

Hello, my name is Hannah, I spend a lot of time drinking coffee and talking rubbish with my friends. It takes me several attempts to get out of bed in the morning. Every night I convince myself I'm going to get up at the crack of dawn and go on an early morning run, every morning I convince myself that I'll go for a run tomorrow, and so begins the vicious cycle. I do not believe in God and get annoyed if anyone preaches to me, yet the concept of religion and faith interests me to the point of reading a book entitled 'The End of Faith' which I don't really understand but try to. I enjoy everything about art, textiles, drawing, painting yet I feel guilty if I indulge too much because I 'should' be doing something that will actually help towards a good degree. It is not so much I dislike sport, it is more the case that it dislikes me and I was never a firm believer of keeping your friends close but your enemies closer. I want to travel, partly to get away from the real world, partly to experience the real world. I enjoy meeting new people, that is why I've stopped to chat.

So, enough about me, what do you do?

What do you do... that is what a guy recently asked me. I had just met him and we were still at the awkward, judgmental stage of the meeting. Embarrassingly I misheard him and started reeling off my favorite alcoholic beverages, luckily he ordered me a drink rather than ringing AA. But it started me thinking about what it was exactly that I did? Also how much should you tell someone you have first met? Do they form an opinion of you on how much or how little you say?

What if rather than simply stating someones name you provided your own introduction to that person? A classic British introduction would consist of name, occupation and relation. Laugh in the face of politeness and you could say anything you wanted to. Oh how I could have my revenge on those whom I never was given the chance to.

So in my hazy memory I am pretty sure I gave him an exact listing of my life, in bullet point format. I had been confronted and so I panicked. You feel you almost have to sell yourself when someone asks you something like that. All spotlight is on you to perform, almost like a Gillette advert minus the foam. I attempted to disguise my non-sporting C.V with a lousy comment about the occasional trip to the gym, which takes place once every year when Saturn passes over the Sun. The next day I realised that whoever would ask a question like that probably lacked the spontaneity element that comes with a chance meeting. Who needs to know what you do? It should be what interests you and what you're passionate about.
I doubt I'll loose too much sleep over what he does or doesn't do.

Until the next thought...

Hannah xx

Saturday, 26 April 2008

The Story Behind the Gaze

Whenever I see a photograph what really brings it to life is putting a story behind it. It provides a reason why the person is smiling at the camera or why they are gazing pensively into the distance. I don't always put stories behind faces, if I did my time spent on Facebook would most certainly become a cause for concern. But every now and again I come across a photograph and my mind races.

I have to admit I'm a self-confessed people watcher. I could sit in a cafe and watch people hurry to and fro all day. It's almost like watching through the window at a make believe truman show. You can decide who's world evolves around shopping for tea-cosies, who's rushing to satisfy their strawberry ice-cream craving and who's truly, madly in love with the woman at the pick'n'mix stall in St. Davids. It doesn't matter how crazy the story is, for that fleeting minute when that particular person walks by you can believe anything you want to believe. It is only you who knows the truth behind who will receive the forget-me-nots from the stud in the leather jacket. That is the whole fun of creativity. Unfortunately I do not have all day to watch people dizzy back and forth in front of me, that is when I start with photographs.

One photograph really struck me the other day and that is how this blog came about. On the Times website they have certain slideshows on different countries. Normally I cling to the places I've been to in a hope to catch a glimpse of somewhere familiar to me. I have never been to Paris but I would love to go. Paris brings dainty cafe's surrounding the Eiffel Tower, the power of the french language to make my heart melt, pain au chocolats in the morning and cherry red berets. There amidst the woman who made money from making public her love affair was a couple sat at a table in a French cafe looking intently at a laptop screen.

It was all there, the dark red walls which made the cafe reminiscent of a moulin rouge boudoir minus the seediness. Outside you can imagine a woman tottering along with brown Mary Jane shoes and a classic polka dot dress like the scene in Sex and the City where Carrie took on Paris with her unique style. The man and woman in the photo look comfortably in love. Perhaps they are booking to go on a trip around Europe or looking for an apartment with french shutters and quirky retro wallpaper. Or perhaps they are reading the news together, as it is early morning and it is a tradition which takes place everyday before they say their goodbyes and head off to work. Him a freelance writer, her a photographer. Both taking in the culture of life everyday and then meeting again after work to discuss what they have seen and who they have met. Maybe they are saving to set up their own business, put their skills together and create a story about a European summer romance.

See...it is not hard to get carried away with someone elses life. Obviously I do not know who they are, I probably never will, but it sets the scene to really appreciate a photograph. To see the potential the photographer has seen. I like the tiny blue teapot and the way she is slightly leaning into him to see the screen on the laptop. It is every part of a photograph which makes it what it is.

So next time you see a photograph which catches your eye spend time looking behind the photograph and make your own story.

Until the next thought... (or when i have time!!)

Hannah xx

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Nostalgic Childhood

Every time I go in the Spar on the corner I have to buy a drumstick. It has become one of those day to day traditions that perhaps is getting slightly out of hand. I have no reasoning behind buying them, all I can think is that it is almost a gateway to my inner child. It's on par with midnight feasts, jumping in puddles and climbing trees. I just can't let go of this weird nostalgic kick I get from doing these sorts of things.

I went to the park with my niece the other day and ended up on the monkey bars. She can't go on them because she's unable to reach but that didn't stop me. No, I was going to swing to my hearts content. I am not sure whether it was for personal gain or because I wanted to tell myself that deep down I hadn't grown up one bit. There's something incredibly liberating about dangling, legs in the air, swinging bar to bar in probably the most unattractive manner possible. Then came the stepping stones. I haven't stepped foot on a stepping stone since the time I fell face first into the pond and nearly knocked myself out. But it started me thinking, why do you need to grow up?

Obviously perhaps things you used to do when you were younger aren't as exciting or appealing as they used to be. The idea of gardening makes my fingernails tremble with fear and I much prefer spending an hour deciding which pepper is better value in tesco's than actually growing my own. There is, however, a huge part of me that craves the days when you could get away with anything. A huge toothless grin got me through accidentally sticking an ice-cream in someones face and a teary 'sorry mummy' got me out of trouble when I accidentally set the parking clock incorrectly and she got a parking fine. Those days seem to be a lifetime away, now I keep being told I have to be 'responsible'. Eurgh....but why? Why do I have to have enough money in my bank account to buy a new dress? Isn't that why credit cards were invented, because someone out there decided it was more fun to spend money that you don't have? And when it comes to careers my "When I grow up I want to be an astronaut" is increasingly becoming "Next year I'm a real grown up and it's looking increasingly like I'm going to become trapped in the world of offices, ties and old men".

Perhaps responsibility is something which comes with time? University is definitely a very comfy stepping stone into the adultworld. I love saying "I'm a student", it offers you a wall to hide behind. "I'm sorry madam your card has been declined"...."Oh it's ok I'm a student, my fees must have come out". There's so much less judgement, I love it. No wonder Van Wilder didn't want to leave university...

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Who invented lime and vodka anyway?

My days been an absolute waste. I drank green drinks last night and now I look an unflattering tinge of green myself. I've also almost drank an entire 2Litre bottle of diet coke in a desperate attempt to shift my hangover, because somewhere in the back of my mind I remember reading something about it restoring sugar levels when you are hungover. However, it's diet, so that probably doesn't work really does it?

On top of a hangover from hell my mum has been openly telling me what a disappointment I've been today because I haven't managed to move from the sofa and help her with my nieces. That is literally the last thing I needed to hear in my state. I realise it is self-inflicted but when I have a hangover I treat it as a proper illness. In my eyes I don't get ill very often and so if there was such a thing as sick days in life, as in work, a hangover day would fall under the same category as flu. It is a little like mans flu, I roll around the house all day moaning even though nobody cares; I want to eat the biggest, fattest burger invented because sod the diet, all I want is to feel normal; and I expect everyone to rally round me because if I move from my spot on the sofa I get the distinct feeling the floor is going to come in contact with my face. As with mans flu, hangover day results in myself not getting any work done and so here I am, a bloody disaster area.

I do normally love it though. The girls and I normally lie around on Lynds's bed laughing hysterically about the previous night's antics. Then we scrutinise the photographic evidence and begin piecing the night together. It's like a club, without a hangover there is no membership. However, at home I'm always the only one is my house feeling crap, so I have to just wallow in my own self pity and cringe at who would have seen my queen stylee nose dive off the stage or my 'sexy' (most definitely was not sexy) solo pole dancing in Follies. Follies, the local classy establishment, full of sophistication and eligible bachelors. Careful, you almost believed me then.

A morning after a night out will most probably involve a lot of Facebook apologies. I don't know where I'd be without Facebook to sort my life out. Apparently there's going to be a monthly Facebook magazine, that should be interesting... Perhaps they will have random peoples profiles to nose through. I would say this would bore me, but then it's more than likely I would pick it up and read it if I saw it in WH Smith. Obviously hidden in a corner under a sheet of newspapers just incase people thought facebook had actually taken over my life.

When I was working in the city centre last week the audacity of the people who stand reading magazines in shops without buying them amazed me. That concept has just never entered my head. Perhaps they're the modern equivalent of a book club? Maybe they meet on Friday lunchtimes to discuss their magazines and rate them out of 10. After all, stealing is not classed as stealing unless you have left the shop without paying for an item. However, there just seems something wrong about what they are doing and perhaps a little sad. After all the people who stand around the aisles of WH smith and other newsagents seem to all be working men. If it was me I would rather relax on the sofas in Starbucks, cafe latte in one hand, marshmallow dipped in chocolate with hundreds and thousands in the other and a big, fat magazine on my lap. My idea of heaven. I guess it must be to save funds, perhaps when Amy and myself are bigshot magazine journalists we can go and blast them all out of there at lunchtimes. Or not.

Until the next thought...

Hannah xx

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Life is for Living

I was on the Press Gazette website yesterday and read an extract on the Student Journalism blog by Dave Lee entitled "Student journalists want whats best for this industry, so use us!"
(http://blogs.pressgazette.co.uk/students/2008/03/21/student-journalists-want-whats-best-for-this-industry-so-use-us/). In the blog Lee exposed his desire to be sent to a 'grotty, horrible' corner of the world to report on the realities of war, conflict, and life. In response blogger 'Martin' said that it was dangerous to send inexperienced journalists out to cover events as they might be killed. I do understand what he is saying, however I can't help but think that stuffy ideas like these mean that journalists who have just come into the field of reporting are being shot down before they have the chance to shine?

Life is for living, and in my opinion this is the height of living. Obviously everyone has different ideas about what they want out of their careers and life, but for me it's growing increasingly apparent that if I was actually situated in the country I would be able to see first hand accounts of the action. If more journalists had the opportunity to go out to the countries they were reporting on, I don't believe there would be any more debates on whether the quality of journalism had decreased.

On a different note, how interesting would this type of reporting be? Wherever I go travelling I crave the culture that's surrounding me. When I have the chance to go to Ghana this summer I'm hoping to become much more absorbed in the country than I have been previously on my travels. It's also the people you meet on the way, the dramatic contrast of their life to mine.
I'm getting flustered just thinking about it!!!

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx

Amy what do you reckon? xx

Monday, 7 April 2008

Put out the Flame

I never normally come over all political, so this is quite a new venture for me. When I started my degree the lecturers told us to "go get passionate about something". My friend and I used to turn to each other and shrug. Its not as though I don't have opinions about world issues, it is just that I've never had the urge to write my feelings on a placard and start stabbing it in the faces of politicians. That is until now.

I'm not sure whether it was the combination of being delayed in Bristol airport for 5hrs (when it probably would have been faster to swim home) but when I saw Gordon Brown on the television next to the Olympic torch, I had an overwhelming desire to hit him over the head with it. Oh how very big of you Mr. Brown that you did not hold the torch. That really makes all the difference to the Tibetans.

It's difficult to say whether the West would be reporting on Tibet differently if the Chinese didn't have such a large hold on who goes in and out of Tibet. The British government announced they didn't want to get involved with the 'political side' of the Olympic Games. The fact they spent one million on protecting the Olympic flame and violently tackled to the ground anyway who trying to extinguish the flame, has been ignored. I have a lot of admiration to those supporting Tibet and protesting against China. Perhaps if Tibet had oil then the conflict would become political for Britain.

On the Guardian website Gilady, NBS Sports, offered 'wise' words for Olympic athletes:

The important message is to tell our athletes that some people are trying to use them and to ride on their backs for solutions that the world has to find in other places like the United Nations.

Are the Tibetans really that manipulative? Have they not been trying to make the West or United Nations or whoever listen to them for the last few decades with no success? The Tibetans have been through years of torment and violence at the hands of the Chinese government, their homeland, their culture is being destroyed and they needed help. That is why it has come at this time, when all the worlds eyes are on Tibet, that is when they realised at last they have their chance to be heard. Not because they want to spoil our Olympic athletes moment to shine!

What has upset me the most is the way journalists have reported on the Tibet-China conflict. I do understand what they're seeing, but they are the journalists, they're the one who should be supporting justice. Lhasa is the main capital of Tibet, to go to Lhasa now you couldn't tell this. From spending a week traveling through Tibet and slowly seeing how the Chinese are moving in and destroying it I saw a completely different side of it all. To simply arrive in Lhasa and hope to see the same picture, journalists have failed miserably. In articles written on the conflict, the only ever sources they use are sources from the Chinese. Do they seriously expect the Chinese people to give a rational view of what's going on? They're terrified of saying anything against their government, and many are so brainwashed they would not even question the actions of state.

The Chinese are so afraid of loosing face against the West that they have done everything they can to contain the Tibetan threat. I'm not sure whether 'threat' is the correct term to use seeing as the Tibetans use peaceful protesting, unlike China who have slaughtered Tibetans in the past. They have blocked the BBC website, they have stopped access to Tibet, and they will continue to try and quarantine the problem until it's out of their control. I don't think they really need to worry about blocking english newspaper websites, they are generally on the Chinese side. Did they ask any of the Tibetan protesters why they tried to extinguish the flame? No. Instead they quote a Chinese student, Xiao Zhang, who said he had been attacked after he and his friends had chanted "liars" at pro-Tibetan campaigners. "They grabbed my flag, my Chinese flag, and put it on the ground. I don't know who hit me."

The West need to do something to help Tibet, the Chinese can not get away with destroying Tibetan culture and religion. The Dalai Lama isn't looking for complete independence in Tibet, they just want more autonomy and a right to continue they're practices without the Chinese controlling them.

Woooo...theres all my vent up anger out in the open!! It had to be said...

Until my next thought...

Hannah xx