Friday, 30 March 2007

Wise words

I've heard some intelligent things recently.

  1. I just came across the best book title I've seen in a while. (The last best was 'Love and other near death experiences'.) So, the latest winner is: Life Doesn't Begin 5 Pounds From Now. I want to read it just to show my appreciation for the title.
  2. Our taxi driver last night drove us right into our student village, as one of the girls is on crutches, and he looked quite surprised when we arrived. I quote: "It's like a whole other city." So true. All the blurb about university integrating young people into adult life isn't so much the case for our generation, as far as I can make out. The mentality is more like it's one last party before you get chucked into fully fledged adulthood.

Sadly, it would be misleading to imply that I've said anything wise recently. The friend who phoned me last night for relationship advice probably wasn't very impressed at my sleep-deprived efforts. But I got 10 hours sleep or more last night, so I'm raring to go now! So maybe I should actually go pack now. It's funny - somehow the last day of term, with students carrying cases everywhere, makes me think about Hogwarts. I keep looking out for the Gryffindor Quidditch captain but no luck yet.

* * * * *

As I'm in a rather upbeat and happy mood, I'm participating in a 'foolish' themed meme from Five on Friday:

1. When was the last time you felt at least a little foolish?
Dancing to 'Everybody Wants To Be A Cat' in a friend's room at half 2 in the morning. I suspect that other people might consider this a foolish way to behave though actually I don't think so. It was fun!

2. What is the most zany thing you've done in the name of fun?
Well I had to check what 'zany' meant (bizarre, clownish, or ludicrously comical, according to Wiktionary). And I think the above answer would probably be the most recent example that fits that definition.

3. How well do you receive practical jokes?
Um, I don't think I've had one played on me in years. But, truthfully, probably not very well. Too much pride I suppose - I much prefer word play where I can easily fit in my own joke back.

4. Which topics or aspects of life do you feel should be off-limits from jokes?
Much as I think that political correctness can become too anally retentive in some areas of life, I really believe that off-colour jokes about stuff like sexual orientation and ethnicity don't need to be shared. I also feel uncomfortable with xenophobic or 'dead baby' jokes. I'm all for having a laugh but I have often heard the (predominantly male, it seems) argument that dodgy jokes are ok if you're just hanging around with your mates. This doesn't convince me - the act of sharing those jokes embeds them into the culture you surround yourself with and on some level must surely make you think that homophobia and the like are ok in everyday life. It puts you and your mates into a opposing category to gay people, or whoever the joke concerns. And that makes me annoyed.

5. What's the funniest practical joke or prank you've heard about or thought up?
I'll get back to you on that one, I can't remember right now...

* * * * *

Listening to: By The Way - Red Hot Chili Peppers
Drinking: Cold tea. Not so fun.
Need to: GO AND PACK!!

Thursday, 29 March 2007

Not impressed

Why my body thinks it's a fantastic idea to wake me up at some unearthly hour after a night out is beyond me. I woke up at 7am. Which brings my total sleep count to 2 and a half hours.

And right after waking up, my phone turned off by itself and now appears to have lost most of the 200 messages in my inbox - I only have the texts stored on my sim card left.

I don't think that this is the best start to my day.

Having said that, I danced to this song last night, and am still smiling. I used to love that film.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Launderettes and such things

I have always approached the university launderette with some trepidation. A few weeks into the university experience I had an encounter where, in the very busy launderette, I was knelt on the floor taking my washing out of the dryer. And stood right behind me was some guy who was obviously staking his claim to be the next user of that particular dryer. These days, I'd make a smart remark to move him back a few paces. I mean, I was struggling to unload all my underwear into my bag, and he's stood about a foot away looking over my shoulder. But I didn't. I was young and innocent and was only just beginning to understand all the unspoken rules of uni launderettes.

The weird thing is that it's been fairly empty in there for months now. I think everyone else has stopped washing. Or has cottoned on to going home every few weeks and having their mum do it. Sneaky.

But anyway, I just got back from transferring my washing to the dryer, and was quite amazed at what goes on in the washing machine. You think the clothes just go round, right? Well my pyjama trousers and my gym trousers had actually got knotted together. My sheets had twined round each other. And a pair of trousers, a t-shirt and 2 socks had all managed to climb into my duvet cover. Whatever happened to just spinning around?? I was hoping to just move everything over, not spend 5 minutes sat untangling my washing like it had had an argument with itself.

My washing had also inexplicably taken 10 minutes longer than it was supposed to, which gave me time to read a copy of the Cardiff student newspaper that was lying around. Get this: Charlotte Church is allegedly planning to marry in 'Castell Coch' in Cardiff. Which is very sweet and all but maybe someone should tell her that, last I saw it, it was partly covered in bright green netting and scaffolding. I went there with my family about a month or two ago. It was nice actually, though a bit on the small side for a castle. On the plus side, the press probably won't be able to find it...the route to it is up a hill and through some small and complicated villages.

I also discovered that The Feeling are definitely playing at our summer ball. The Fratellis and Girls Aloud are also rumoured, but they may just be rumours. Never mind the expensive shoes and dresses, I'd go just for the music. (Not if the Girls are playing though.) Alas, I'm not gonna be there. But it's outside so maybe I'll just stroll past and listen out, eh?

* * * * *

Just unearthed a pic from the castle. Here we go, Charlotte.

* * * * *

Listening to: Who The F*** Are Arctic Monkeys? - Arctic Monkeys
Munching: Reduced fat Maryland cookies. Not as good as the original for obvious reasons.
Next on the To Do list: Seminar prep for tomorrow. Fun.

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

Late again

Oops, I'm late for The Monday Melee again...

1. The Misanthtropic: Name something (about humanity) you absolutely hate.
The people that design stuff over at Accessorize. How dare they design such pretty rings with abalone in, knowing that I will end up spending my (OK, not that hard earned) money on one! They could at least do a size small enough for my ring finger.

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.
All the people that were strolling round the city centre this afternoon, looking all tanned in their sunglasses and flip flops. It was surprisingly sunny today, I grant you, but we're still in Wales. There's been about 3 warm days so far this year. So if they were expecting me to believe that their glowing tans were real, well...

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.
My hamster is pretty much dying, by the sound of it. And although I know he's a hamster and relatively small in the scheme of things, part of me wants to rush home to give him a cuddle as I'm not home for Easter til Saturday evening. I never tamed him as much as I should have, but he recognises me when I walk in and is generally great.

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.
Upon realising that the bottle she'd put in the fridge last night was in fact rosé champagne, rather than rosé wine, my flatmate decided that a night in with me, a rom-com and Chinese dim sum was as good a special occasion as any, so we went ahead and drank it. It was good.

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.
I'm staying in to read library books instead of going out tonight, so I can be all prepared when it comes to writing essays over Easter. Zero cool points but hopefully a decent essay at the end of it.

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.
Some fresh flowers. My daffodils are positively wilting.

* * * * *

Aww, here we go, a photo of aforementioned hamster. His name is Deuteronomy. Isn't he cute?

Not much else to say, really. I read an article on the f-word blog about a supposed equation that has been produced by some economists to explain prostitution. I couldn't quite believe it but the article is informative and also amusing in a twisted sort of way, so have a look. I was shocked in a more scared way by the BBC article about the 18 year old that shot a 22 year old man and claimed in court that he didn't, according to the Reuters article, think that the gun was real. What I don't understand is that the BBC quote him describing how he was on the phone and saw the 22 year old coming towards him angrily, so he "pulled out the gun and started shooting". Why was the gun in his pocket? Where did it come from? Why would he think it wasn't real? As I often feel when reading the news, I wish I could ask more questions. On the surface it sounds like he's covering up, but how do I know?

On a lighter note, I did laugh at the story in the Guardian about the two schoolgirls who discovered that there's almost no vitamin C in Ribena, and have landed GlaxoSmithKline in court. Why did they advertise the high vitamin C content when there wasn't any? In this day and age, you just know that someone's going to catch you out on it later. And I'm glad that it was those two girls - it amuses me somehow. I can sort of imagine my younger brother making some such discovery one day.

However, I do have to share an amusing story here. He recently switched secondary schools, and the other day he wandered off to school in his jumper, as you do. But our wonderful mother discovered his school jumper still in the house after he'd gone. It turned out that he'd managed to walk off wearing the jumper with his old school logo on it. And the two local secondary schools have been rivals for years!! Thankfully mum caught up with him before he got to school. I can't help but think that his limbs would not been in such good working order now if she hadn't! What makes it funnier is that he happens to have a brain the size of a planet. It's nice for the rest of us if he has a blonde moment once in a while.

And yes, I did fit in a sneaky Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference there.

* * * * *

Listening to: Audioslave (self-titled album)
Drinking: Tea

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Shoe throwing

I am currently reading Words in Ads by Greg Myers, for my Communication lectures on advertising. It's relatively interesting as I obviously see adverts all the time, and also the author happens to be quite funny at points.

In the chapter I'm currently on, Myers uses the example of a US television advertisement for a company that sells bonds, with the slogan 'Nuveen. The Human Bond.' On this, he comments:

"A viewer may either come to see the financial instrument in terms of their familial links, or throw a shoe at the television to express their disgust that all human relatioships were being reduced to a financial investment. (I threw a shoe.)"

The slogan was an example of a polysemic pun, by the way.

It made me smile to imagine this highly intelligent lecturer throwing a shoe at his TV in disgust :)

And I also had to smile at the thought that I am not the only one that occasionally gets that particular urge. On one particular occasion, when I was at the cinema waiting for a film to start, I witness one of the Remington adverts that contains the slogan It's what's on the outside that counts. Someone on LiveJournal describes the adverts well here. I actually did want to throw things. But as I was wearing boots and have appalling over-arm technique, I decided against it.

Of course, the film I was waiting to see was The Devil Wears Prada so if I wanted to be presented with a message that wasn't "You don't have to be beautiful but it sure helps" then I was admittedly in the wrong place.

Well, on with my reading...
* * * * *

Listening to: Come What(ever) May - Stone Sour
Wearing: Pyjamas and a hoodie...yeah!
Daydreaming about: Johnny Depp in Chocolat - was on TV last night.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

This time last week

Home, originally uploaded by lucylemon.

I was there...

Tom: Israel's new friend

Ah, reading the news in the morning is often a bit of a despondent activity. But today, in amongst the death and corruption and legal arguments, was something that made me smile. According to the Guardian, Israeli officials have set up a MySpace page to represent the entire state of Israel. Their MySpace page is here.

I think that's fantastic! "Excuse me, I'm off to go add Israel to my friends." How much can we bet they start a worldwide trend among governments now?

Actually I really am going to add them now. See you later.

* * * * *

Drinking: Coffee. The CaféDirect one. Yum.
Listening to: Half Light/Tourist - Athlete
Mood: Content

Friday, 23 March 2007

Encounters of the debatable kind

I was in the gym just now and while on the cross-trainer I was recalling a conversation I had with a friend last night, and I suddenly saw a different side to it. I got so distracted thinking about it that I then managed to knock myself across the knees on the rowing machine. Twice. You can't say I don't take this stuff seriously!

So the other night we were in an 'alternative' club which I hadn't been to before. The fact that it's 'alternative' basically means that the music is more Fall Out Boy than Five, there's more black clothing, it's darker and dingier than your average club, and there's less lipgloss when you look around. I feel at home! The alternative nature tends to also mean, for reasons I'm not entirely sure of, that it's a bit less touchy-feely. Which can only be a good thing. So I was there, after we'd been there a while, dancing with this guy. And I'm aware of my mate dancing near us, and she's obviously looking over to check I'm alright or whether I want her to interrupt. We were joking about this last night, saying we should work out a secret signal to say "yes I'm ok" or "no, come and drag me away". I mean, I'm perfectly capable of walking away from someone when I want to go back to dancing with my friends (and as a rule this takes about 2 minutes to happen) but it doesn't mean that you don't meet guys - usually at the bar, bless 'em - that are a bit persistent.

The thing which occurred to me earlier was that I can't imagine your average bloke going through the same process. Sure, I've seen girls drunkenly throwing themselves around, and it isn't pretty. But the impression you get is that power on the dancefloor is the male prerogative. To take a more extreme example, there certainly are some men that will go up to two women at the bar, or whatever, and offer them money to kiss. But I have never ever seen or heard of a woman going up to two men and offering them money for the same reason. Because that's not what we do in society, is it? In prostitution, where money is offered for sexual favours, 'prostitute' is an unmarked term for a female. 'Male prostitute' is the marked term for a man. This is significant in linguistics, because it's one way that inequality is embedded in language without us realising - if someone says something about a prostitute, you will tend to assume it's a woman that's being referred to. Granted, I believe there are more females in prostitution overall. And, whether they come to prostitution through trafficking or not, I can only assume that the reason there are more women involved than men is because there is more demand for them. Indeed, to take a current example about the 2012 Olympics, the BBC paraphrase the Home Office in this article as saying that "An influx of young male sports fans, such as happened during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, could see a rise in demand for prostitutes".

I know it's a bit of a stretch of imagination to compare clubbing culture to prostitution, and obviously I'm aware that plenty of couples meet in clubs and it's all happily ever after. And my night out never gets spoiled by a bloke...I'm hardly suggesting that I can personally relate to the pressure or environment that prostitutes face! It's just that I've never really thought about it so much before. I mean, a guy coming onto a girl in a club isn't noticeable. But a girl making a move on a guy is a lot more likely to get comments about it.

Pffft, I just thought I'd have my little debate with myself on this one! I should probably add that student culture is always a bit of a world of its own. And I'm not protesting at people being able to openly admit that they're attracted to each other. It didn't work for the Victorians so I'm not suggesting it will now. But, you know, it just feels a bit one sided these days. And, to be honest, a bit more grace and respect all round wouldn't go amiss. It feels a bit trite to moan about guys making moves on girls, and I know that not all of them are hoping to get sex out of it. But I feel that it's a relatively harmless level in a bigger scale of things. Abusive relationships. Date rape. Prostitution. Trafficking women. Trafficking children, for that matter. One blog that I read recently, which I sadly can't find the link to, talked about the problems that come up in date rape cases because the (typically female) victim may have consented to one sexual act but not another. There is controversy over this, with the courts often seeming to imply that consenting to one act means that the other must have also been consented to. Or, put differently, that saying 'yes' to one act means that the woman is expected to be happy with another. The feminist blogging circuit understandably argues that this is simply not how relationships work, and a woman should not have her rape case thrown out because she consented to some level of foreplay and then wanted to stop there.

Of course, there is a flip side to everything. Women manipulate men into things too. Women domestically abuse their husbands too. We know that. But, as far as I'm aware, the stats say that it is women that bear the brunt of these kinds of problems. And anyway, it shouldn't be happening to anyone, regardless of gender, age etc. This inequality business makes me want to change things, but until I figure out how to I can at least articulate my feelings, right? Good good.

* * * * *

Listening to: Ta-Dah - Scissor Sisters
About to: Cook chicken with chopped tomatoes, red pepper, peas and rice
Next task after that: Find my Charmander on Pokemon Yellow

Thursday, 22 March 2007

Tea and...transexuals

Yeah, look at my daffodils!

Sadly that has to be the worst flower arranging ever - I couldn't find a suitable vase in Tesco, so I went for a mug instead. Their bright yellow-ness makes me smile though.

It's funny how when you get to uni you suddenly realise all the things you just assume will be there when you need it. There aren't vases hanging around, there's not random stuff left in the freezer that you can use on a lazy night, there aren't packets of flour around if you fancy baking, there's no landline... It turns out that all these things I thought magically resided in cupboards permanently are actually put there! By my mum! So there you go.

It's been a bit of a bizarre day as I didn't surface til about 11 and since then have had a lecture, made notes on sociolinguistics reading, eaten, phone a friend, etc. I had to go to a Cultural Criticism screening of Paris is Burning, which was a bit eye opening. You can look at the IMDB summary I just linked to, but basically it's about the 'drag' circuit in New York in the 80s. I can only assume that this links to the stuff we're doing on gender next week! The strange thing was that in one of the scenes one of the women was talking into the camera. So I'm happily watching away and then she says "one of the things I really want to achieve by 1988 is to get my sex operation done so I'll be a total woman". That totally got me because I just assumed she was a woman. Funny what you take for granted. Or perhaps I was just being a bit naive - I hadn't really cottoned on at this point! I did actually miss the first 25 minutes of the film, which probably didn't help. It wasn't the kind of film I'd usually watch, but it was certainly interesting, and I thought that the producers got some very honest and thought-provoking images and words from the people involved.

Must go, talking to a friend on MSN Messenger after she made me. I feel 13 again. I'm simultaneously talking to one friend about her break up with her boyfriend, and with another about our night out last night and her attempts to convince every emo in the place that he was Adam Lazzara. Dear me.

* * * * *

Listening to: This New Day - Embrace
Feeling: Slightly pained - I overenthusiastically ate my chips really fast last night and burned my mouth
Hoping (randomly): That I will get to go to Greenbelt again this year.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Tea and daffodils

Ah, the sun is shining. The seagulls are cawing away happily. The clouds are white and suitably fluffy. It's funny how a bit of sunshine cheers everything up. The last 2 days in Cardiff it's been so cold that the skin on my knuckles was starting to crack. In fact, the skin on my hands still hurts slightly. I naively thought that as it had been getting warmer recently I wouldn't need my fleece-lined mittens. Wrong again, obviously. Of course, my happiness may also be due to my newly bought daffodils or the apple and cinnamon hot cross bun that I just ate. Yes, kids, money won't make you happy but what you buy with it in Tesco just might!

Anyways, I thought I'd update about the last few weeks as I keep meaning to do it and I've got half an hour until I need to collect my washing from the tumble drier. It's my fortnightly session of 'what will the university washing facilities do to my clothes this time'. I shrank 3 pairs of trousers before I realise that you should never tumble dry jeans there.

So...I went to be in the audience of Trisha Goddard the other week. It won't be shown for another few weeks yet but I'm hoping I'll be home to see it, as I don't have a TV here. The trip was organised by our Language and Communication society, and about 20 of us went. It's quite nice as the Trisha people put on a free coach from Bristol to Kent, where it's filmed. It was interesting to see who else was on the coach - there were people of all different ages, including couples, groups of girls, and even a family. You get a sheet when you arrive, telling you the stories that are appearing on the show. Then some guy that would have been perfectly suited to being a Red Coat at Butlins (very overenthusiastic and had obviously given the same spiel ten billion times) told us all about what was going on, and gave us strict instructions on the need to clap at any given opportunity and ask any question we could think of. What cracked me up was that during filming, there's a load of the filming crew stood at the side with their hands waving in the air, to politely remind you to ask a question. Having listened to dire threats on the subject of trying to take photos inside the studio, we went on in. My friend and I were directed to seats in the middle of the studio, on the front row. Cue slight panic. Trisha later spent most of the show stood either behind or in front of me. I suddenly became very much aware of the amount of times that I flick my hair back or shift the position I'm sitting in! Ah well.

It was great seeing all the set up and stuff that goes on, and how they move the cameras around and all that. I doubt I'd ever go into filming or something like that, but it's still enjoyable to watch how it works. I should probably mention that I don't think I've ever watched a whole episode of Trisha in my life. I've watched it while eating my breakfast a few times at home, and have always tended to ridicule it. I can't help wondering why, if your problem is that intense and personal, you would go on a public TV programme to bitch about it. In retrospect, I do still hold that view to some extent. But watching it up close does make you see it on a more personal level. I've done counselling training before, albeit at a low level, and much of what Trisha said to the couples was in keeping with the sort of stuff I was taught: encouraging people to state their arguments clearly, to consider their own behaviour, to think about how past events might have influenced their current behaviour. Of course, it's still often a case of taking sides and letting their audience chuck their opinions in. But for 2 of the 3 couples, at least, I felt that maybe they'll go on to get counselling and any other professional help that they need, and the experience will benefit them. Someone I was with said they'd heard that participants are offered free counselling after the show, and suggested that some probably make an appearance for that. And, well, counselling can be very expensive. Sure, there are ways to get it free, but it might just be that some people don't know how to go about it. That ain't so bad!

Having said this, I'm not going to become an avid Trisha fan. Even if I had a TV, I still get the unsettling feeling that some people that go on there are doing it for attention and to give their argument maximum impact. Sure, I'm glad they're gonna get help, but it doesn't mean it doesn't irritate me to watch it.

That's all for now - my washing's done and I want to go to the gym after I've collected it. More updating later.

* * * * *

Hypotheticals: If you were any animal, what would you be?
A black cat. Looking sleek, curling up by the fire, being cuddled all the time...I'd be great at it.

Anything Goes: What animal do you enjoy seeing most at the zoo?
I always love the lemurs. Absolutely no idea why.

No-Brainers: What store is represented most in your wardrobe?
It's probably a tie between H&M and Primark. Affordable, and their clothes don't tend to be cut to favour uber-skinny, flat-chested women.

Personals: What is it about you that people find irresistible?
Pffft, I've never thought about it. In people that know me, maybe the fact that I'm quite WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get, for the non-geeks). Those that don't know me don't tend to get past the stage of figuring out what they're seeing.

* * * * *

Listening to: The Life You Always Wanted - the Bittersweets
Drinking: Green tea and lemon
Eating:Tesco reduced fat rich tea biscuits. I used to brush them off as the fodder of middle aged christians, but now I love them. I must be growing up. (Meant in the nicest possible way...middle aged christians make up at least half of the people I respect most :)

Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Not much to see here

So, here's this week's version of The Monday Melee. It's a little late as I forgot yesterday!

1. The Misanthtropic: Name something (about humanity) you absolutely hate.
The fact that all the textbooks go on about natural selection and survival of the fittest, yet we still haven't mastered natural immunity to the common cold. I don't know what I've got but it doesn't feel nice.

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.
The whole debacle with Flintoff falling out his pedalo at 4 in the morning. As far as I'm concerned, if you've got a career that demands that much devotion and is that much in the public spotlight, you have to be a little bit sensible about it. I know plenty of people get drunk and do stupid things, but I think his position forfeits him the right to do that. His choice.

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.
I am currently playing Pokemon Yellow (I looked out my old Game Boy Color, yeah!) and I am totally lost. I seem to still be getting somewhere, but I have no sense of direction at all. Which is a little demeaning - somehow I believe that I should have improved with age.

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.
I think that credit should go to the woman who was supervising my giving blood last December. She had to sit fiddling with the needle thing to keep the blood flow going, and after 12 minutes I was still 100ml away from the fully pint. I then felt faint and ended up lying around for a while, before sitting quietly in a corner eating biscuits for a while longer. She was lovely throughout the whole process, despite the fact that they couldn't even use my donation as I didn't reach the required amount.

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.
For some unknown reason my muscles ache and my head is killing me and I keep feeling randomly sick, yet I have been nice to everyone around me all day. Anyone that knows me will surely appreciate this feat.

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.
Lasagne. I had it yesterday and I'm craving it again - anything that isn't chicken or penne pasta! I may just go and buy another one. Comfort food, much?

* * * * *

Listening to: White Ladder - David Gray
Last text message sent: "Ha, i'm never gonna complete it, i'm totally lost. oops, gotta go, cultural criticism lecture on race :s xx"
Last thing spoken out loud: "Right, I'm going to go put another layer on. It's too cold!"

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Good to be home

Today I have had real coffee from my parents' coffee machine, instead of my usual instant. I have finished the new Alexander McCall Smith book, as borrowed from my mum. I have strolled along the beach, had cinnamon dolce latte in Starbucks, and discovered the wonder that is 'manga Shakespeare'. I also bought some silver Rocketdog shoes. I have napped in my favourite armchair and showered under a proper shower. I am just finishing my second pint of Guinness as a nod to the Irish and their genius, and have just ordered my tickets for the Southampton Arctic Monkeys gig. I am now retiring to my normal sized bed and feather duvet.

Doesn't get much bettter than this!

Friday, 16 March 2007

What rubbish?!

According to the BBC government research has shown that it is viable to collect people's rubbish less often than once week, so this is now being encouraged. I get that this will hopefully increase recycling, but it just seems pretty unpleasant to be honest. When our rubbish wasn't collected over Christmas, it ended up taking up a lot of room and didn't smell that great. And yes all the wrapping paper was recycled!

Haven't got much time to write right now - stuff to do and all that - but thought I'd share. Also, I just discovered that the Killers are playing on Comic Relief tonight, and the Mighty Boosh are also making an appearance. Now I realise I don't have a TV to see the adverts or whatever, but how did I miss this? That's actually something worth watching! My memories of previous programmes conjure up hazy images of slightly sketchy celebrities trying to be funny, and not much else. Now to find someone with a TV that will let me watch it, hmm.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

Tired Thursday

3x Thursday

1. Are you a morning person? What's your ideal time to get out of bed? Why?
Haha, no I'm not. As is often typical, I was before I hit my teens and now the idea of getting up at 7am is not a pretty one. As I have frequently tried to explain to my medic friends (who regularly see 7am!) my sleeping patterns have changed at uni. My ideal time to go to sleep is between about 1am and 2am, so waking up around 9am and 10am is perfect. I will wake up refreshed and knowing that I achieved a lot of work the night before because I concentrate best around midnight. Strange but true. No doubt I will have to alter this when I am out in the *real world* but that's ok with me - I could get up earlier if I went to bed earlier!

2. What is your morning schedule like?
It varies depending on the day. On a Monday, I'll get up about 9/9.30am. After breakfast I go food shopping at Tesco, which is my big weekly shopping trip. After that, I go to the gym for about an hour and a half. It's only a minute or two from my halls so then it's back to my room to shower and grab some lunch. Then it's off to my first lecture of the day at 1.10pm. Yeah, I know. I'm an arts student, alright?

3. Do you like the sun being out and the birds chirping when you wake up, or do you prefer the opposite? Why?
Given the time I just said I like to get out of bed, I'd be alarmed if the sun wasn't out! I really enjoy it being sunny when I get up, and knowing that there's stuff going on outside. It's sometimes atmospheric to get up really early but other than that if it's still dim then it doesn't make me feel like it's time to get up and go!

* * * * *

Feeling: Slightly dazed from staring at this essay for so long, hence my reluctance to blog anything much today
Currently reading: Double Fault - Lionel Shriver
Currently craving: M&Ms

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Conditional immortality, anyone?

Well, here I am again. I am impressed to report that we have blue sky and white clouds here, and the hills are looking all Welsh and picturesque in the distance. You can bet that you'll freeze if you go outside in an optimistically thin jumper, but still. I don't have any lectures on Wednesdays so I'm doing this while my Kelloggs Crunchy Nut goes down, then it's off to the gym. I have coursework to do but my best working hours by far are late afternoon until the early hours of the morning, hence this order of things. Nothing much exciting has happened around here so far this week, but I discovered yesterday that the Arctic Monkeys are playing in Southampton when I'm home for Easter, so I am very very excited. Of course, tickets are being assigned via a ballot system, so there's no way I can improve my chances of getting one - I can only wait and hope! I'd love to see them though. I was singing along to them from about 6pm til 1.30am last night, so my flatmates probably aren't as keen on them any more. Oops.

Oh, actually, I'll show you a photo of the view from my room, so you can see how nice it gets. This was taken the other evening:

* * * * *

[Brief pause while I read the email that just arrived and discover it is Borders telling me about their latest book deals. There isn't one in Cardiff so this smarts slightly.]

Anyways, my topic today is the Seventh-Day Adventists. "But why?" I hear you cry. Well someone (OK, it was my mum) asked me recently what I knew about the Adventists, and I was a bit stuck. I vaguely recall the name from somewhere, but nothing else. So I spent some time on Google to see what I could come up with. Seeing as it was quite hard to find an understandable summary, I thought I'd share what I found out. I am slightly biased from the point of view that I'm a Christian, so one of the key questions I had in mind was whether or not the Adventists are a *Christian denomination* because some sources say they are, and some insist that they're not.

Predictably, the first stop of my search was Wikipedia. The article there defines them as a Christian denomination and states that the Adventists (which seems to be the abbreviation they prefer) are "distinguished by their doctrinal beliefs that the literal, visible second coming of Jesus Christ is imminent, and that the seventh-day Sabbath of the Ten Commandments (Saturday) is the authentic biblical day of rest and worship which is still relevant today." The statement of fundamental beliefs on the official Adventist website also states in the 25th paragraph that "The almost complete fulfillment of most lines of prophecy...indicates that Christ's coming is imminent". I'm not sure how to feel about this as I have heard some many theories as to when the second coming will occur and how we will know. Personally, I don't feel that it is possible to say "it's going to happen soon" because the whole point, as the Adventists bizarrely seem to also acknowledge, is that "The time of that event has not been revealed". We just don't know!

The business about the Sabbath being on Saturday is an interesting one, and I have been intrigued to discover why the Adventists observe it on Saturdays. On a message board there is an one explanation of this, albeit through the use of far too many capital letters for my liking. The contributor explains the notion that in Luke 24:1 the resurrection morning (which is accepted as a Sunday) is described as the first day of the week. Previously, in Luke 23:54 which takes place on the Friday that Jesus died, it is stated that when the sun went down, it would be the Sabbath day i.e. Saturday was the Sabbath. I think that most people would agree that the Sabbath was the seventh day of the the only argument seems to be over which day is the 7th day. My own Bible says in the dictionary bit at the back that the Sabbath was the 7th day in the Jewish week. This site suggests that the Sabbath at the time of Christ was on Saturdays. Wikipedia says the same - that Saturday was the Jewish day of rest. Both articles also reckon that Sunday is now conventionally used as a day or rest and worship by Christians because it commemorates Jesus' resurrection from the dead. So I think you can see why the Adventists choose to keep Saturday as the Sabbath, and I don't think I could criticise their reasoning. I like the way Sunday fits in with the resurrection, though.

This brings me onto another debate, over the Ten Commandments. The Adventists, from what I can make out, come from the stance that the Ten Commandments are binding and must be observed. This is mostly a matter of how you phrase it. I would say that, although the commandments are a very useful prescription for a life that strives for godliness, they are not binding in that they are not needed for a person to become a Christian and be 'saved'. They occur in the Old Testament, and the idea here is that because the OT describes events before Jesus' life, following the commandments was the only way to God. From Jesus' death and resurrection, Jesus himself is the way to God because of that whole him-dying-for-our-sins lark. So however well you follow the commandments, those rules in themselves will not make you a Christian. But I'm being picky here - it's hard to tell how the Adventists stand on this.

A BBC article reckons that the Adventists "accept that the cross was the full and complete sacrifice for sin" which obviously indicates that they don't see the commandments as binding, though I am slightly skeptical over whether this is maintained - I would have expected to see this clearly stated in their own statement of beliefs. But anyway. In other area, the Adventists seem to be pretty straightforward. The BBC article explains that they share core beliefs with other denominations, such as belief in the virgin birth, that Jesus was fully God and fully man, and that the Bible is the 'Word of God'. This is nice to hear and I can see why the Adventists are therefore seen as just another Christian denomination.

The Adventists encourage vegetarianism, and are against drugs and alcohol. While I've never had a problem with eating meat or enjoying alcohol (in moderation!) I suppose you could say that this is just encouraging healthy living and respect for your own body. Can't argue with that! Followers seem to vary in how far they uphold these views, with some saying that Adventists must be veggie etc and some saying that it's merely recommended. Certainly, considering how many problems drugs and alcohol can cause in society, I think it's cool for religious groups to encourage us to be accountable with what we put into our bodies and to recognise how it can affect others.

I do have one gripe with the basis of Adventist beliefs, which is that as well as the Bible, they also view Ellen White's writing and teachings extremely highly. A statement on the Adventist website reckons that White's life and ministry is proof of God's promise to provide the "spirit of prophecy" to the remnant church (more on that later). Hmmmm. I'm afraid I'm not too wild about this idea. Yes, I believe that God gives gifts to people to use as part of the church community. But I'm not convinced that any one person should be elevated in the way that White has been. I'm sure she did have some groovy encouraging words, and I highly value the work of those with the gift of teaching, because I really think that God uses people to put across his message in new, fresh ways, and to provide encouragement. But just this one woman? Not so much. The fact that she is described in places as a "founder" of the Adventist church grates me.

As for the 'remnant church' business, the Adventists say (again, in their fundamental beliefs)that in the last days before the second coming of Christ, a remnant has been marked out to hold up God's commandments and all that. They believe that they are the remnant church. Kudos for wanting to be involved, but what about all the other denominations? I'd kind of like to be in on that one as well, you know? Saying that they're the remnant church is a bit exclusionary. But again, the extent to which this is insisted upon varies. Some sources allow that other denominations may be allowed to join in. Another of their statements says that "we gladly acknowledge that sincere Christians may be found in other denominations". There's been a lot of criticism of the Adventist position on Roman Catholics, which shows in the way that the same statement adds "including Roman Catholicism". Officially, the line is that although they think Catholics as a group have made some mistakes in the past, they accept that at least some of them are genuinely Christian. Unofficially, I can't make out how many Adventists are actually against Catholics - mutterings in forums suggest that some of them are a bit angsty about accepting Catholics. The statement I just mentioned is definitely worth a read, by the way. And to be honest, some of the stuff that's mentioned - such as papal primacy - has previously bothered me as well. Again, it comes down to differences between all denominations!

Right, I think it's about time I wound this up. I'm almost apologetic about the rambling, but it interests me so there you go. So I'll finish with a few other bits. There's the idea of 'conditional immortality' which rejects the more popular view that humans are innately immortal. The idea appears to suggest that people do not immediately go to heaven or hell after dying, which I'd put up for debate. Then there's 'investigative judgement' belief that says that the judgement of Christians, which decides who is worthy of salvation, began in 1844. My first reaction to this was pretty much "you what?" as 1844 doesn't mean anything to me. There's an amusingly written account of why this date was decided upon here which I'd strongly recommend - it made me smile. I'm really unsure about this as I don't like the idea of seemingly arbitrary links being made to figure out a specific year. It sounds a bit too Da Vinci Code-ish for me. Another thing I'll mention is that here it's said that the Adventists publish their own translations of the Bible. Since the quotes I've read from them sound the same as what I've read in mainstream Bibles, that doesn't seem an issue, though I'd like to know more.

So there we are. I could no doubt do with editing this later, but I'm going to post it like it is for now. I'd like to clarify that I have nothing against the Adventist church, as our differences are no reason to flatly say that they're in the wrong. I would simply say that, while many of their core beliefs tie in with those held by evangelical Christians and other denominations, some aspects of what they believe in differs in some significant ways. I understand why they insist on being called a Christian denomination, and recognise that they support a number of positive beliefs. My personal view is that they are a denomination that makes me quite uncomfortable, and I would not feel happy in an Adventist church environment. But, as ever, where anyone else stands is entirely up to them. Over and out...

* * * * *

Listening to: All 7.9 hours of my Counting Crows collection
Feeling: Positive that today is going to be a productive day
Most recent achievement: Changing my Tesco Clubcard vouchers into £30 of Bella Italia vouchers. Score!

Monday, 12 March 2007

You what?

Just read this article over at Reuters, about a Chinese political adviser saying that Bibles should be put in hotel rooms over the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

I'm a little surprised, to say the least! Last I heard, Chinese officials were pretty keen to discourage those in China who wish to pursue Christianity. Far from clearing up misunderstandings about China and religion, as the adviser suggests, I'd say this just makes the Chinese government's position more complicated and two-faced.

This one just gets to me because I don't think it's right for anyone to say "no, that's wrong, you can't follow that religion" but I think it's even worse to say "it's wrong for you to do that, but as we've got people visiting..."

Just a thought.

* * * * *

It's The Monday Melee again!

1. The Misanthtropic: Name something (about humanity) you absolutely hate.
The assumption that someone wearing clothes that are not currently in fashion equates to them being unfashionable. I know people that are not told how beautiful they are nearly as often as they should be, just because they're not wearing this season's TopShop line.

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.
I know I'm taking a strong stance about something I'm certainly not an expert on, but I'd say that the Chinese adviser's attempts (above) to say that the Chinese government is totally cool with Christianity are pretty phony.

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.
I'm unhappy with Hotmail as - due to a fault with their email system - a friend just sent me an email that wasn't meant for me, causing embarrassment all round.

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.
I was staying with a friend in Birmingham over the weekend, and she sat me down to finally watch some of the films that I've never seen but have always wanted to. These included Jesus Christ Superstar and Phantom of the Opera, though I fell asleep during the latter as we watched the second half of it at 2 in the morning after we got back from a club. Among the many other films we watched, we also saw Mulan which I don't remember seeing as a kid. I loved it!!

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.
I can make a mean cup of tea *slurps*

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.
I wish that Ben&Jerry's ice cream didn't have any calories in it, so that I could go and eat the entire tub of it that I've got waiting in the freezer and think "oh what a healthy snack - aren't I good?"

To be continued: my recent trip to be in the audience of Trisha, and more on my weekend in Birmingham.

* * * * *

Listening to: Advertising the Invisible - Andy Flannagan
Actually hearing: Shrieking: one of my housemates just fell over the hoover
Thinking: How nice it is that sitting at my desk offers a clear view of the football players warming up outside

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

Tea and thoughts

You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.
- Jack London

Ironically. I came across this quote while looking through the other words... archives for inspiration.

I wanted to blog about something interesting today, but there's nothing that springs to mind. I went to the gym for an hour and 45 minutes, which was pretty cool as I didn't think I had the stamina to do it. Was a bit tired afterwards but I'm feeling OK. A killer headache has just materialised in my brain though, sadly.

I 'phoned a friend' earlier when I realised that I hadn't had a proper conversation with anyone all day. She's really busy with college and stuff, and we were talking about how you can see so many different people and be busy with so many different things, yet never end up actually spending time with people. Bit sad really. I've been trying to make a bit more of an effort recently - when I remember I need to email someone or call them or just drop a message by, I'm trying to actually get round to it. It always amazes me how grateful people can be for it. It's incredible to think that in this age of so many different methods of communication, it's still so easy to feel lonely in the midst of a load of people. Often when I pick up the phone I discover that the person on the other end was just in that place. I wonder if this is a bit of a national/worldwide thing. Seems to me that these days everyone's so busy trying to keep on top of life (and I don't deny it can seem an endless task) that we forget to just sit around and talk sometimes.

As an avid tea drinker, you'd think I'd remember it more. After all, tea is made for those brief sit-downs in which to connect with people and catch up with them. Hmm, that can go on my imaginary list of why tea in all its forms is so cool. Perhaps I should take to wandering around the city centre with a teapot, advocating a tea break to all the hardcore shoppers elbowing each other out the way. Perhaps...

* * * * *

Listening to: White Ladder - David Gray
Feeling: Oww, my head hurts
Wanting: Some galaxy chocolate...

Feeling warm and Fuzzy

"I can't remember a time when I didn't want to be a police officer... except for the summer of 1979, when I wanted to be Kermit The Frog."

So says Nicholas Angel in Hot Fuzz. Just went to see it in the Vue in Cardiff. This is always a weird experience as the cinema is inexplicably designed so that you have to go up 2 escalators to get to the ticket and popcorn bit, then it's a further escalator to get to the screen. There's nothing quite like a few minutes of single file standing in silence to bring you down after a good film!

It was...bizarre. By the end of the film I had decided that it was hilarious, but there was this whole section in the middle where I was thinking "hmm so now another person's been killed - old lady with gardening shears through her neck - and the comedy is where exactly?" But it definitely came through in the end. A big deal's been made of the fact that it's a 'British comedy' and all I can say is that it depicts British comedy as pretty twisted! But there is that traditional sense of irony in there, I suppose.

I don't want to give loads away about the plot but it's pretty much: very talented police officer gets reassigned to the sleepy village of Sandford...thinks nothing is going to happen...people start dying...the officer (named Nicholas Angel) ends up being almost solely responsible for getting things in order etc etc. Simon Pegg plays the whole dry humoured thing well, and writes an interesting article about the film in the Guardian here. One of my favourite scenes is a shoot-out in the local Somerfield. It doesn't get much more British than that!

To be honest, I only really started finding the film funny when it was quite a way through and one of the big plot points was unveiled. It was then that I realised just how ironic everything was. If you've seen the film and know why people were being killed, you'll understand me here. Until then I was feeling rather cheated because I'd heard it was a really good comedy but all I could see was people dying in rather gruesome ways. The fact that my medical student friends were wincing (or rather, hiding behind my shoulder) says something here! I'd recommend it though, if you like that certain painful kind of humour that we British seem to relish.

Mind you, I wouldn't mind having a watch of Charlotte's Web, too. I loved that book when I was a kid. I think I always reckoned I'd be quite good in the role of slightly strange little girl sat in the barn on her own, rescuing the runt of the litter and talking to the animals. I was a tiny baby - I think I empathised with the piglet, or something. Yeah, I was always a cool kid.

* * * * *

On a different note, I bought this t-shirt today, from Threadless:

Pretty cool, huh? I was indulging my whimsical and mildly feminist side =] I really wanted the "Shakespeare hates your emo poems" t-shirt but it only comes in cream, and frankly I'm so pale that I avoid white/cream clothing like the plague. It just doesn't look right. Bit sad 'bout that though.

* * * * *

Also, I was very excited today when I discovered that the latest issue of the Cardiff student magazine came out, seeing as I'd contributed to it! It was the 50th issue, so there's 50 different features in it to celebrate. One of them is the Digital section's list of 50 things in the technology world that have changed our lives. The first 10 were revealed today, and I was really pleased to find out that they've used 2 of my 3 contributions. I'm gonna post them here, so I can say that today I blogged about blogging.

Blogs: Whether you’ve experienced them or not, it looks like blogs are here to stay. Many in the communications world realise that they’ve revolutionised how we understand the media and find out about current events. They’ve provided insights into huge corporations: Robert Scoble, for instance, blogged while working at Microsoft. But they’ve also allowed millions of ‘normal’ people to express themselves and connect to like-minded others across the globe - even get married to them, apparently. Now how can that be a bad thing? Well, when your boring work colleague forces you to trawl through their travel blog, for a start…

Email: If you’re looking for dodgy prescription drugs, a fake diploma and a computer virus, look no further than your own email inbox. Filters may be getting more intelligent as time goes on but the fact is that you’re still getting spam. Email is a great tool for keeping in contact with friends, family and colleagues, but it’s hard to remember this when you check your emails on your mobile and spend a ridiculous amount of money downloading numbers of emails offering ‘V14GR4’ before seeing that no one you actually know has emailed you. Shame.

And my third suggestion, which may or may not be published at a later date -
Daytime TV: Once upon a time (1986 to be precise) it dawned on the people over at the BBC that it was time to start showing TV programmes all through the day, as they’d discovered a willing audience of the unemployed, the elderly, and the housewife. And so daytime TV was born – a tepid mix of talk shows, game shows, and the like. But love it or hate it, being a student makes it inevitable that you will one day succumb to its powers. Yes, you too will find yourself running to your room while shrieking “I’ve missed the start of Neighbours!” while your flatmates do the same.

* * * * *

Eating: Those [insert expletive here] chocolate digestives
Drinking: Regular tea, for once
Listening to: Infinity on High - Fall Out Boy
About to: Flick through the Daily Mail and the Daily Express for hopeful articles for my coursework. Hoping not to encounter any nakedness in these.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Misanthropy and Make-Believe

Writing these makes me start to wonder whether my subconscious reason for starting a blog was just to talk about myself. Hmm. But I've done 3 hours of sociolinguistics reading today and now myself is pretty much the only thing I understand...

The Monday Melee

1. The Misanthtropic: Name something (about humanity) you absolutely hate.
The way we have a state of mind where quirkiness and individuality in young women are qualities that are not valued as highly as flawless skin, big breasts, and the ability to wear obscenely short skirts.

2. The Meretricious: Expose something or someone that’s phony, fraudulent or bogus.
Tesco Value plain chocolate digestives. They cost 34p for a packet and I swear they have something addictive in them. I'm fairly good with the healthy stuff but whenever I buy a pack of these I just can't keep away. Cue pained face...

3. The Malcontent: Name something you’re unhappy with.
Tabloid newspapers. I bought the Daily Star and Daily Mirror today because I need to analyse an article for some coursework. The Star has a topless woman on the 3rd page, which I didn't expect when I bought it. Not sure if I was being naive there . I'm all for being open about the human body but for me this is taking it too far. I think it's cooler to leave something to the imagination and leave people to have meaningful relationships in which they discover the human body in private. And besides, even if you ignore all that, I have just braved that page once again to inform you that there is no way at all that those are real. Put them away!

4. The Meritorious: Give someone credit for something and name it if you can.
2 of my friends posted me a sweet card and one of those handwarmer things today, because I always complain that I'm cold. I feel very loved right now.

5. The Mirror: See something good about yourself and name it.
I am wearing a bright blue t-shirt with the Superman logo on it. Proof that I am very very cool.

6. The Make-Believe: Name something you wish for.
To be at the Killers gig right now. They're in Cardiff tonight and my flatmate phoned me from the gig just now. I didn't realised that tickets were out in November until the day after. And by that time they were long sold out. They're one of the bands that I would LOVE to see live, especially as a friend saw them a while ago and said they were fantastic live. Oh well...

* * * * *

The Music Memoirs: 10 songs that sum up your weekend...or were on your weekend playlist...and one picture that relates back. (oh, and if you feel like it, tell us why you picked the songs you did)

These were on my weekend you may notice by the comments, I was quite reminscent. Also, I spent the whole weekend getting all my errands done and getting organised, so there was a definite air of getting stuff sorted. Dunno what though.

Ironic - Alanis Morissette
I don't often listen to her but she has such an evocative voice, which is especially impressive on her acoustic album, which was the one I got this song from. This song reminds me of being 15 and one of my friends singing this as we walked home from school in the summer before she moved away.

You Laugh - Andy Flannagan
This guy is a total legend and is one of my heroes. He is one of the most inspirational singer/songwriter/campaigners you will ever come across, and his heart for coming to christianity in a totally humble manner is just amazing. Hearing him sing makes me stop and get myself together.

And I - Boxcar Racer
15 again and young and feeling like we could change the world, in the middle of a really close group of friends who were all the on the edge of everything else but very much belonged together. Not much has changed there - we're just more spread out.

Mr Jones - Counting Crows
My most favourite band ever, and this is one of their songs that I discovered last. I love the happy and free feeling of it. Makes me smile.

This Years Love - David Gray
Beautiful song, but annoys me because every time I see the name of it I continue my ongoing internal debate over whether there should be an apostrophe in it and, if so, where?

I Can't Come Down - Embrace
One of those songs that I loved from the moment I heard it. I bought the album purely on the basis of that, while not knowing anything about the band. I listened to the entire thing the moment it arrived, and was glad. I played it on repeat for practically a whole week while I was revising for my January exams.

She Is - The Fray
Again, from another album that I loved from the first listen. His voice is astounding and the song is one of those to play really loud and just lie back and listen to it.

Supermodels - Kendall Payne
The lyrics of this song just crack me up ("What lasts longer in this life/Character or rock hard thighs?"). I was luckily enough to meet Kendall at the Greenbelt festival before last, and she was 100% genuine, whilst being hilarious and fun to hang around with. Great voice and plenty of attitude!

Read My Mind - The Killers
"I'm gonna turn this thing around" - I can't explain it, this one just gets me every time.

Far Away - Nickelback
It's funny that this should be such an amazing love song but it just is. Brings to mind thoughts of sun and summer and young love. Bless... Worth a listen.

Sadly I'm at the end of my 10 now, even though I could've added plenty more!

Here's my photo:

My flatmate and I attempted to open a gorgeous bottle of red last night...we've had problems opening this particular brand before, as the cork tends to break and we're not very good at bottle opening anyway. So, erm, we ended up having to sieve the cork out. Little bit ashamed at our ineptitude (is that even a word?) but it was so worth it in the end!!

* * * * *

Just ate: Natural yogurt with tinned strawberries (like a Muller fruit corner if you close your eyes...)
Wondering: Whether the photos I ordered will arrive tomorrow
About to: Go clean my much loved George Foreman grill because I couldn't be bothered after I ate dinner

Friday, 2 March 2007

Oooh, look!

I was bored the other night, so attempted to find different coloured things in my room and photoshop them so that each picture showed a coloured object against a black and white background. In the end I tinted the backgrounds as well, which doesn't look as clever. But whatever. I managed to get a series of a few colours, then ran out of ideas. Good fun though! Thought I'd add this pic as it fits in with the fruity theme of my blog.

My name's Lucy and I've been clean from twiglets for 5 minutes now

Well, good evening.

A few random things to mention, really. First, it's raining. It was perfectly sunny this morning, but it is Wales after all. No one told me when I applied here for university that when people say that it rains a lot in Wales, it actually does. They're not kidding! And of course it was the one day I didn't have an umbrella with me, as I happened to be carrying a different bag to usual. Though on reflection I realised that I have left my umbrella in someone else's bag anyway.

* * * * *

In Cultural Criticism yesterday we watched a copy of 100% English, which was on TV as a single episode a while ago. I can't find it on the internet, but there's a clip of it on YouTube here and an article about it in the Telegraph here. The programme involved interviews with 8 participants who all considered themselves to be 100% English. They spoke about what they feel makes one English, and generally harped on about how English they were. They all agreed to have their DNA sampled, and tests were done on the samples to find out where their genes came from across the world, and also which bits of Europe they were from in particular. Of course, they all reckoned that they'd be 100% European and 100% from Northern Europe. Not so!! The look on Carol Thatcher's face when she was told that she has quite a lot of Middle Eastern ancestry was just priceless.

It was a really interesting insight into how widespread your gene pool can be, and was certainly a laugh when it came to some of the reactions. But, most of all, it was

painful. One woman in particular, an older lady from Kent, bordered dangerously on the outright racist side of things. A number of the participants implied - or stated - that they felt immigrants are undermining the English culture and should not be allowed to consider themselves English, and neither should their descendants be allowed to call themselves English. The woman from Kent used the analogy of 'well if you came into my house and started changing things around, I'd be most upset.' Much as I understand that people are entitled to their own opinions, some of what was said just made me angry. I mean, I consider myself *English*. But to be honest this is mostly because I was born in England and lived the first 18 years of my life there. I still count it as home and although I like to feel an affinity with Wales (being in the capital and all) I wouldn't say I'm Welsh, for instance. But it doesn't get much more complex than that. As far as I'm concerned, if you want to consider yourself to be English then you go right on ahead. And yeah, plenty of people from other countries end up settling down in England. If they want to think that they're English then I'm cool with that. I mean, I imagine for some of them that they've left countries where they don't feel they can identify with some of the values that are upheld. I'm not going to deny them something else to identify with.

It's funny though, how worked up people can get about it. One of the women on the programme actually threatened legal action after it was revealed that she probably had Romany Gypsy origins.

Personally, I'd love to take the test. It'd be nice to know what parts of the world I come from. The fact that my pale skin burns in minutes probably suggests somewhere not that hot, but who knows? I'll watch out for future programmes!

* * * * *

Don't think I've got anything else to waffle/rant about, really. I've had a quiet day or two and am feeling decidely blessed over the fact that I am going to have time this weekend to catch up on some errands and have a go at starting a piece of coursework. Not much happened today - had a seminar, got a mocha frappucino (yum!), read The Independent, bought some shoes (my Etnies are dying a slow death because of the fact that I must walk weird...I've totally worn the corners off!)...oh, and got quite excited at an advert for 'Guinness Marmite'! Can it really be true?? Sadly I just bought Marmite so I may not get to try it.

Right, I have to do some work now.

* * * * *

Eating: Twiglets! I feel 5 years old again

Most distracted from coursework by: Season 5 of ER on DVD - though it's sad not to be able to admire Gates, as with the current series

Listening to select songs from: Chris Cornell, Snow Patrol, The Goo Goo Dolls, The Spill Canvas, The Zutons, The Fray, Counting Crows, Editors, UK Escapade, Alanis Morrisette, Sting, Funeral For a Friend, Embrace, Santana, Maroon 5, Foo Fighters, Guns N' Roses, Oasis, The Killers, Nickelback, Guillemots, Aqualung, Daniel Bedingfield, Scissor Sisters, Muse, Phantom Planet, Chili Peppers, Fall Out Boy, Matchbook Romance, Franz Ferdinand, REM, Nizlopi, Van Halen, James Morrison, Boxcar Racer, K T Tunstall, Robbie Williams, Green Day, The Bittersweets, Starsailor, The Calling, Stone Sour, Doves, The Raconteurs, Kendall Payne, Pink, David Gray, Feeder, U2, Razorlight, Andy Flannagan...

p.s. A big thank you to Viola over at The Americanization of Emily for this post which helped me sort out the line spacing issues my posts were having with Blogger.