Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Internship: part one- dressing like a schoolkid, annoying the staff & elusive Scout leaders

As part of my growing up phase, I've scored some work experience at the local paper. The York Press have kindly let me take a seat on the news desk and pester them for stories for a week- all as part of a placement organised by my beloved Yorker.

First came the clothing panic. I don't own any shirts or grown-up blazers, as I'm pretty lacking in the chest department and they tend to make me look like a schoolboy in an ill fitting suit. So, emergency trip to H&M and clothes raid on the much more sensible Emma Bennett's wardrobe, I was set. Come Monday morning, armed with my best pen, best notepad, and best intentions, I walked in the pouring rain to the Press office on Walmgate, dressed like an auditionee for the Young Apprentice. 

After a flying tour of the office, I took my seat and awaited instruction. Looking around, everyone seemed so busy and important. The floods had just hit York again, so that had taken over for the morning. I read a copy of the paper from front to back, then once again in case there was going to be a test, then gingerly asked for something to do. 

The thing with work experience placements is, you don't want to annoy anyone. Striking the balance between seeming keen and seeming plain irritating is pretty tricky. You don't want to look like you're doing nothing, and you don't want to repetatively ask for something new everytime you finish a task. You can see everyone's really busy- meaning there's definitely spare jobs going that they'd happily hand over- but they're also so busy that they forget to forward you that email or are interrupted mid-explanation by an important phonecall. 

Luckily, it isn't always much of an issue at the York Press. My request for more stuff to do does fall by the wayside some of the time, but for the most part I'm kept occupied. It's not boring stuff either; I've been writing stories that have appeared in the paper, and I've written a couple now that will even include my own byline- practically golddust for students trying to make a name for themselves in journalism.

Probably the most challenging task I've been given so far is to provide 150 words on a local Scouts Pack presentation evening. Sound simple? This scout pack just happen to be the only one in Yorkshire without a dedicated website. The hall they're based at doesn't seem to own a phone, none of the leaders are online in any shape or form, and the guy I needed to get in touch with turned out to be the most elusive Scout leader on the planet. Forty five unanswered phonecalls to the number I managed to salvage from very limited sources later, part of my soul was dying along with the chance of my first story for the Press ever being published.

Eventually, after two solid days of answering machines, emails, and pleading with any vaguely relevant parties, I managed to get through to a woman who seemed to be aware of the Scout clubs existence. She was as good as a spokeperson in comparison to everyone else I'd managed to get hold of, so I managed to wrangle a quote about how proud she was of the kiddies involved and hung up the phone in a triumphant flourish. I'd got the quote. I was the best investigate journalist in the world. 

Turns out the quote went unpublished, as we had enough information without it. So, two days of soul-destroying answering machines for nothing, essentially. BUT, more importantly, I'd learnt an important journalism lesson- cutting the wheat from the chaff. Also don't rely on a Scout Leader to ever answer their phone. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

I'm a fashion blogger now: my compulsion and first haul

I have an addiction. It's a little pathetic, and I've got a feeling my friends are planning an intervention some time soon. *deep breath* I'm Farrah Kelly, and I read fashion blogs.

It might not seem that exciting- a twenty year old female blogger reads fashion blogs- but this is so out of character for me, that I can't actually justify the obsession to myself. I don't like fashion. I wear the same outfit three days in a row before I worry if anyone's noticed. Half of my clothes are leached from my friends or mums wardrobe.I only go into Topshop when using it as a shortcut to the other side of town.

The beautiful blazer
If you think "addiction" or "obsession" is too much of an overstatement, then I can assure you I'm not exaggerating. I downloaded Instagram for the sole intention of following two of my favourite fashion bloggers. It's basically an app that streams their lives to my phone. I watch all their livestream shows, I delve deep into their archives and check their #OOTD/#WIWT's daily. It's even beginning to match my Corrie compulsions.

The thrust of my new obsession reached new heights last weekend. I spent £200 on clothes. That's the most I've ever spent on something that wasn't a holiday, rent or my phone bill. I don't know what came over me, or who I thought I was. I was in a fashion-blogger-frenzy, getting emotionally attached to jumpers within a heartbeat. I'm broke, but I didn't give a second thought to my battered debit card.

I realised how ridiculous I was becoming when I was shopping with my sister last week. There I was, unassuming in River Island, and our eyes met across the room. It was the same blazer as LLYMLRS's. I had to have it. I practically sprinted to the last size six, and ran shouting "shut up and take my money" to the bored cashier, who wasn't interested in my breathless recount of why this blazer was so fabulous.


I'm not really sure where to go from here. I'm still not interested in fashion, and my bank balance is back to feeling sorry for itself after a brief lull of happiness. I'll probably just sit and think about how much money I spent, surrounded by all these clothes I didn't need but really, really wanted.

Anyone who's actually seen me get ready in the morning will be scoffing at the idea of me doing a fashion blog post. Anyone who reads this blog normally will be confused as to why I'm talking about clothes. I'm sorry. It won't happen again.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Five reasons I love Huddersfield

Reading Weeks are fabulous things. We're given time off our intense series of lectures (read: six contact hours a week) to catch up on all the required reading, and to pen the perfect essays. So obviously, I've done the responsible third year thing, and gone home.

Pulling into Huddersfield train station is always such a relief. As wonderful as York is, it just doesn't have the "proper Yorkshire" feel to it- not like the Hud does anyway. And although I'm only really an honorary Yorkshire lass (MCR girl through and through), living here for the past four (or is it five?) years has infatuated me. I love Huddersfield. Here's a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of reasons why.

1. Festival of Light

Probably the best annual event in Yorkshire, The Festival of Light sees St Georges Square and the town centre filled with giant illuminated flowers, cranes dangling opera singers and harpists from the sky and marching bands parading through, emblazoned with lighting costumes and manic face-paint grins. There's tonnes of food stalls showcasing Huddersfield's best dining experiences (no, not you Jumbo's) and street entertainers round every corner and on every building. If you can only visit HUD for one night, make it one of these. Really, really spectacular stuff.

2. The Bus Station
If you've ever spent more than half an hour in this infamous bus station- and trust me, I've spent an unhealthy portion of my life waiting for X6's and 321's that never showed up- then you'll understand. The booming announcement voice that dutifully reminds you, every four minutes, not to walk in front of moving buses and/or smoke, the odd soundtrack featuring Westlife's Xmas Hits and Classic FM, and most notably of all- the people.

The people of Huddersfield Bus Station are so ill-explained and so awe-inspiring, it's hard for outsiders to understand. There's the lady with a giant afro, complete with forks, cigarettes and small mammals living inside. There's the woman in the baseball cap who swears at you for walking past. There's the guy who wears swimshorts every time you see him, no matter what the weather's like. To put it into a context we can all understand, here's the top tweet generated from searching "Huddersfield Bus Station"

3. The Nightlife
A standard Wednesday night out in Hud compromises three essential factors:

1) We meet in Verve, where the barmen remember us from the days of drinking in our college lunch hour, and know our usual drink orders by memory (mine's a jagerbomb, but with a full can of redbull and a straw). We then go to Parish once we stop caring what the booze tastes like, and the boys are longing for some heavy metal and a pool table.

2) I don't know how Tokyo Huddersfield does it, but it could give Tokyo York a lesson or two. The top floor is ace for dancing like you know all the words to Azelia Banks' 212, the middle floor is for if you are having a bit of a Beyonce moment (don't pretend this doesn't apply to you) and the bottom floor is for belting out all the words to whatever made the Libertines famous. There really is something for everyone, and if you can excuse the disgustingly sugary drinks and the kinda sticky seats, it's a good night out guaranteed.

3. McDonalds. Wait for one of the boys to order a forty box of chicken nuggets and swoop in. Try to hide your Happy Meal from the taxi driver, cos he will be pissed if you get McFlurry all over the back seat.

4. The Views
Huddersfield is beautiful. Tiny cobbled streets, long winding hills and the ever presence of Castle Hill. In the snow, it's to die for. Driving over the Penines and seeing Hud all lit up- easily my favourite view.  I could gush all day about how damn pretty  the place is but that'd get boring so here's a picture of what it looks like in the pub garden of my local.

5. The Independent Shops
Pink Cadillac is the best place to go for clothes, the Oxfam books is the greatest charity shop of them all, and the Topshop stall on the Saturday market is basically where all my clothes are from. If you fancy a charity shop haul, get yourself to Holmfirth for the best second-hand collections, if you fancy a homemade lunch go to that courtyard-y place tucked away behind Halifax and pig out on all their amazing fresh food, if you fancy some chilled music and great coffee go to Coffee Evolution and laze away an entire day in their unbeatably comfy ambience. Check out Byram Arcade for cool vintage and new designers' work, and if you're not too busy after all of that shopping and eating, go see a local band at 1.22 or try the cocktails out in Zephyr or Vox. For a tiny town, we've got an awful lot going on.

I'll leave my list at that. I could go on- I've not even mentioned the food festivals or the college rivalries or the camping opportunities- but I don't want to spoil the surprises for the Huddersfield uninitiated amongst you. And for those who've been here longer than me, what did I miss?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Liveblogging tidying my room. Really.

Genuine and realistic insight into my mind.

Things I'm going to blow my loan on

My loan came in this morning. After all the fuss, stolen eggs and tears, it's finally in. My fight with Student Finance England is over. I'll stop whinging now.

This means one thing, and one thing only. I'm going shopping.

Obviously, being a sensible and conscientious student, I'll contain myself and not blow the bank immediately. Having lived off ALDI's 69p veg for the past two weeks, I never want to find myself in a situation where the only way I can afford a cup of coffee is if I beg in the street for a bit.

So what will I buy first?

The plan.

Obviously, I'm going to get drunk first.Anyone who wants to see me celebrating the fact that I have real life expendable income, that isn't being instantly swallowed up by my overdraft, then I'll be the one at the bar ordering two for one cocktails at Dusk on Thursday. The Milky Bar Kids are on me.

Then, being a sensible third year, I'll recover from my hangover by doing a food shop. The first thing on my list is a crap load of coffee, because I ran out and I can't keep depending on Emma Bennett to supply me with it (#bestfriendever). I'll get some stationary to do some degree work with. And I'll buy some vegetables, some pasta, enough biscuits to see me through the dark days of essay-composing, and a huge bulk-order of flapjack ingredients. 

Then, as it's cold, I'm going shopping shopping. For clothes. Like I'm LLYMLRS or something. 

Winterwarm by farrah-kelly featuring bright blue skinny jeans

Look! I'm a fashion blogger now! Does this count? Strictly speaking, I can't actually afford all of those things. Even with the loan in. But, what is wonderful, is I can afford to get at least some of it. I need a new pair of jeans since I tore my faithful skinnys whilst giving the shower a good scrub, so that's pretty high on the list of priorities. The rest is slightly ambitious, but a girl can dream.

After I've finished recovering from my mega hangover, packed away all of my new groceries, and slid into my new pair of jeans, I'm going to book a trip. There's definitely a visit home on the cards, but I'm branching out past Huddersfield.

I want to review somewhere new. I've not had the time or money to go somewhere and explore lately, but I've been getting itchy feet. I'm thinking the Lake District, because it's as close as I'll get to the New Zealand landscape I've become obsessed with following my mega-LOTR-athon. Any suggestions to a cheap and lolz-ridden trip away, maybe for a weekend, would be much appreciated.

In the meantime, while I order food and splash out on an electric blanket, I'm going to be constantly humming a mix between Etta James' At Last and Nappy Roots' Good Day.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Losing my LOTR virginity

I was attacked by an orc once. I know that sounds like I'm trying to tell a bad joke, but I'm serious. It's one of my favourite anecdotes to prove how reliably ridiculous my life can be.

My friend Cat took me a few years ago to London to see Lord of the Rings: The Musical, and the audience-interaction levels were a little too high for my consciousness to manage. Having attempted to nip to the loo in the middle of a battle scene, the (really bloody terrifying) orc-actors had spread out into the audience in order to intimate us all. Wonderful theatre, but not too great for my psychological welfare.

In the strangest stand-off I've ever been in, me and Cat tried to outwit the orc in front of the entire upper circle. He took a single step towards us, and we quickly shit ourselves and scurried back to our seats with tails between our legs. Obviously, not feeling embarrassed enough, I decided to pass out. It's a trick I do when I don't feel like there's enough dramatic tension in a moment.

Needless to say, this traumatic LOTR experience was always enough for me. However, upon finding out I'd never seen the films, or read the book, my boyfriend decided I needed "nerding up", good and proper. So the next few weeks of my life became almost completely about Lord of the Rings. Romance isn't dead.

We rented each film, extended edition, and watched the lot. Three bags of peanut M&M's, half a cheesecake, seventy different pause-to-explain-what-just-happened-s, about nine brews and two library rental fines later- it's over. I've seen all of the Lord of the Rings there is to see. And it's pretty cool. I know I'm a bit late to the party to start reviewing them, so I'll skip that and get straight to the important shit.

1. How much of a dick is Frodo?! Like, I know you're having a tough time carrying that cursed demon ring, but can you cut it out with the elongated pauses and middle-distance stares? And getting onto that boat at the end was not cool. Honestly. You destroy one evil warlord-eye, and all of a sudden it's okay to totally bail on your mates and get on the boat full of cool grown ups. You're being a sulky, marde-arse weirdo.

2. Legolas is the coolest guy ever. Just casually killing orcs and sliding down stairs on a shield and riding an elephant while simultaneously killing it and just fuck yeah Legolas. He's also Orlando Bloom. He wins at everything.

3. Kings are douches. If I was a king, I would not ignore Gandalf. I also wouldn't try to drown people I didn't like in a landslide of skulls. Nor would I burn my own son alive. Nor would I be a marde arse about my daughter not wanting to live forever on my weird-ass eternity boat.

4. I want everyone to talk like they talk in LOTR. Next time I get on the bus, I'm going to bark at the driver- "Bus-driver, show us the meaning of haste!".

5. I kinda love Gollum. He's misunderstood. Why does everyone beat him up?! The only time I dislike Samwise is when he's being a bully to Gollum. I understand that yes, he does try to murder quite a few people, and that creepy phlegmy voice he does is kinda disconcerting, but that's because he's cursed. He clearly has a serious mental health issue, and Gandalf is right to stick up for him. He's also undeniably adorable at points. I think I'd quite like a Gollum. You know, as a pet.

After watching all twelve glorious hours, I'm kinda really into it. I've been watching YouTube clips, and I'm taking out the documentary on the making of Gollum as soon as I get chance. I think I've sufficiently been "nerded up", but Jonathan doesn't particularly agree. We've got to watch Star Wars next. Fabulous.