Tuesday, 29 December 2009
Sunday, 27 December 2009
It is broken.
Not the internal memory, thank god, but the plug for the USB; it's come loose, and I can't fix it. I cannot get to any of my photographs.
There is hope, though. It's 90% likely that the wonderful people at the camera hospital can recover everything. But, I can't take it to the shop before the New Year... On the other hand, I can still access all the new photos I take, plus Photoshop. I have my 50mm, and my strobes (which, my I add, I've spent the day setting up*.) *read as: being blinded several times.
I have a working camera, and a notebook full of photo ideas. All is not lost. (Although, my Week 16 will be late. It's taken but I transferred the files onto my hard drive just before it broke... It is on Flickr, though: fourth in comments here.)
I suppose now would be a good time to plug my new photography blog. I'm not abandoning Mystery Companion - just re-locating some of my photography posts to tumblr. It's awkward having both my personal stuff and my photography stuff on the same blog, especially now certain things are starting to happen with my photos**. Stargazing isn't just my work either; I'm using it as a place where I can collect inspiration too. Tumblr's reblogging tool is really useful for that. I'll probably still posts some of my work here, but only my 52s and the other bits I like best.
oh... **The Young Photographer asked me to be their first showcased photographer. I don't think I've ever been so excited.
Friday, 25 December 2009
I didn't wake up until 9 O'clock.
I was worried, when I first saw that my stocking was still full and there was actually light coming through my window that Christmas was officially dead to me. How could I possibly have woken up later than 5am?!
Luckily, that was most definately not the case. I mean, how could you not be excited at: a 50mm f/1.8 lens; a new tripod; a pile of books (not including the Austen essays you asked for, but instead Dickens' Our Mutual Friend. gee, thanks Dad.); the entire last season of LOST (which you didn't get to see because of damnyouSky); way too much chocolate; and slipper-boots - so you don't have to wrap your feet in binliners when you sit at your desk in the winter.
Oh, and I nearly foget.
A full set of strobes.
(minus the soft lights. not that I'm complaining!)
Thursday, 24 December 2009
But. My parents had a cunning plan. You see, in order to speed things up, I always got my first Christmas present that night. And it was always a new pair of pyjamas. Instant bedtime.
*They had always disappeared in the morning. And Mum always topped up the whisky a little bit...
**I never understood why parents insisted on making me choose one with a pair. One year, I woke up to find my stocking with teddy bears had magically changed into one with snowflakes, which looked a lot like the one I'd seen in their room earlier...
Sunday, 20 December 2009
Only at Christmastime can you sing and dance along to the radio, loudly, in Tesco car park with your sister - and be clapped
Only at Christmastime will a card come in the post from someone you haven't seen nor spoken to in nine years, without a return address
Only at Christmastime does generousity get the better of you (and your bank account). groan.
Only at Christmastime is it ok to laugh at your music teacher in church, as he uses his grade 5 piano skillz (and forgets to play the last verse of Hark the Herald...)
Friday, 18 December 2009
Monday, 14 December 2009
Sunday, 13 December 2009
Saturday, 12 December 2009
Now, despite living in The Big City I hadn't seen or heard a real gun in my life. In fact, even when the first few shots echoed around the trees I didn't twig immediately. I don't remember a lot of it, I think I was too frightened, but I do remember that my instint was to crouch and freeze, and the taste of iron in my mouth. I didn't think to call out or scream. Instead, I bolted. And in the circumstances, it was the worst thing I could do.
I think they mistook me for a deer. In any case, the shooting started up again - whether as close as I remember it or not, I don't know. I got out into open field, and didn't stop running.
I was shooting my Week Fourteen in the same woodland this afternoon. Nowadays I'm far more wary of where I can and can't wander, but I often use that patch for my photographs and I know it's not often patrolled. There's shooting too, sometimes, but it's always further away, in a different copse. They were there today, but I kept a cautious ear open and didn't pay them too much mind.
It wasn't until I had wandered away from my set-up, intent on finding a spot for a concept shot I've been planning, that I realised how close they had come. Three shots echoed in quick succession and most definately in my neck of the woods. I yelled out a hello, but the only answer that came back was another burst of rifle power. Resisting my rabbit-like instinct to run, I moved back towards the clearing where my make-shift studio was situated and hoped they would go away. The gunshots only succeeded in getting louder and more frequent. So, as I started pulling down paper and slashing string free of the trees, I did the only thing I could think of: and started singing.
God knows what they must have thought if they heard me. The first things that came into my head were some old folk songs Gareth and I have been using as technical practice, and I was belting out The Ash Grove as hard as my lungs would let me. My hands were shaking so badly I could hardly get the pegs down. Eventually, as I snapped my tripod up, the shots subsided. I still couldn't work out where they had come from because of the echoes, but I jumped the ditch and didn't stop singing all the way home.
Sunday, 6 December 2009
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Monday, 30 November 2009
Please, if there is a god up there, don't let my Christmas present be a steamy night of late Russian Romanticism.
*disclaimer: Yes, I know Rachy did compose for more than just the piano. But to be fair, none of that stuff went anywhere either.
Sunday, 29 November 2009
Friday, 27 November 2009
Wednesday, 25 November 2009
Sunday, 22 November 2009
E's been rejected from our third choice without interview, as was my good friend J from Cambridge. (Bearing in mind she wants to read History, this is all despite the fact that she already has an A as A2 French, two As in her ASs, and came in the top ten nationwide for History at GCSE.)
On the upside for E, his Cambridge interview date has just come through.
je suis jealous much?...
Me? Neither York nor Warwick have got back to me, yet. So obviously I've spent my time wisely
Most of which involved therapeutically ripping up certain prospectuses.
Wednesday, 18 November 2009
Monday, 16 November 2009
Sunday, 15 November 2009
Saturday, 14 November 2009
And in other news, the number of British military personnel killed on operations in Afghanistan since 2001 stands at 232 after a serviceman from 4th Battalion The Rifles died after an explosion near Sangin on 8 November.
Friday, 13 November 2009
Oh, and the chance to perform with them at two concerts.
Iamsoridiculouslyexcited. Miss B is an actual legend, and we will never complain about buying her coffee for her again.
In the concert, we'll be playing along with the orchestra for Elbow's One Day Like This. They recently performed it on the Electric Proms...
So that's A and T on their violins, E on her trumpet, N on drums, D and (Sch)M on guitar, J on keyboard, L on her sax (?), and me on vocals... It is going to be epic.
Wednesday, 11 November 2009
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
I found this book in the library today, by Susan Sontag. It's not a book, really; it's a series of essays. She's a literary theorist, but I don't know which genre of this particular book would fall under, because it's not literary criticism. It's photographic.
It sort of blew my mind. I was waiting to log on and it was just sitting on the shelf so I picked it up, and the next thing I knew the bell had gone and I'd been reading it for an hour. She talks about what role photography plays in society - what its purpose is, what it makes us. Stuff I'd almost thought about*, but couldn't unlock.
I can smell intellect. I can taste academia on the back of my throat. It's there, I just can't have it yet. I want uni so bad.
Incidentally, the video has nothing to do with any of this. I shot it last night, when I realised I was too late for the lens flare I'd wanted, but I couldn't bear to waste the sunset. I think stop-motion is going to become a new obsession.
*Jeez, I think this is Larkin's "almost-instinct, almost true" that I can't get out of my head since the lesson today. I need to stop nicking other people's stuff, and come up with something original.
Sunday, 8 November 2009
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Go here and here.
And then here.
And if you get the chance to see him live, don’t think twice.
Monday, 2 November 2009
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
Thursday, 29 October 2009
We went back and got the camera stuff...
Let it never be said I don't hold flippin' good birthday parties.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
- Corinne Bailey Rae, 'Put Your Records On'
Thursday, 22 October 2009
I could write a post about working class issues, and the real reason so many people vote for the BNP.
I could write a post about the effects of an economic downturn, and the jobs our asylum seekers find themselves working.
I could write a post about the right way to beat fascists*, and the role of the BBC in all this.
But it's late, and as it happens I've found someone else to do it for me.
(*with a baseball bat.)
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Look at her. Isn't she radiant? She is smart, witty, eloquent, artsy, creative, goofy, loyal, brave, beautiful, intelligent, and, in Heather's words, far more brilliant than she gives herself credit for.
I mean, who would Heather be if it weren't for K?
I'm afraid I don't have a long, romantic story to describe how we became friends. It all happened rather quickly. I have a hazy memory of tents and non-stop walking, earwigs, charities, and a notebook. No idea what it all means. But in any case, you know the sort. And she is the epitome of a girl's best friend.
Happy birthday, sweetie.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Or possibly here.
Or maybe here or here or here.
Not as close as E is, though. He called me this evening, as I was on my way to music lessons. He has an offer of AAB for English at the UEA.
...Now I can't stop refreshing my email.
Update: Oh dear. Oh dear oh dear oh dear.
Sunday, 18 October 2009
Ok, maybe it is a little bit.
But it's also a tribute to Cancer Research UK's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One in nine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, and about 12,000 women die from breast cancer each year in the UK. (Of course, breast cancer affects men too - but I couldn't persuade E to put on a leotard for this shoot).
This month, donate to Cancer Research UK to help them with their fabulous work. No loose change? Try looking here.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the UK, but - thanks to work done by cancer charities like Cancer Research UK - early breast cancer can usually be cured and each generation of women has a better chance of surviving breast cancer than their mothers' generation. Donate here.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Yesterday he got out his old wind-up gramaphone and we sat and listened to Callas sing Clair de Lune. Then we talked about lied and the relationship between poetry and song, and then about thinking spectrums and Eastern thought philosophy. And then I had a go at singing something.
Singing is a state of being. You can't take it out of context; if you've had a dreadful day it's impossible to sing well at six O'clock, because when you're still learning to make your voice work, take a deep breath and get on with it just doesn't do the job. Music doesn't grow on trees, can't be hatched or swallowed. You have to work for it in order for it to come to you. You have to coax it, focus on it, and get your head in the right place. If you can't do those things, music won't come out of your mouth.
That's what Gareth gets.
Monday, 12 October 2009
I have a theory that almost every instrument has a human name. Even if the guy in the tux at the Albert Hall says his clarinet is just a clarinet, you can bet he really calls it Humphrey. Here, the piano is Theodore, the harp Celeste, my sister's violin Vincent, and my guitar Josie.
The point of the story is, at my piano lesson today my teacher was telling me the YIM stories which have accumulated over the last week. The best one went like this.
"I have a boy starting on the 'cello, and he's been waiting for it to arrive for weeks. [In actual fact, I found out, this nine-year-old was desperate to play the double bass, until he realised it was almost twice as tall as he was.] His sister plays the violin with me, and we've name it Alfred; so of course, this boy wanted to name his instrument too. Now, his headteacher called me up on Friday in a bit of a state. Apparently the boy had been asking all day at the office if someone called Edward had arrived yet. They didn't know who this person was but the boy said I would know, so that's why they called. I had to explain to her that he was talking about a 'cello."
Sunday, 11 October 2009
Friday, 9 October 2009
Thursday, 8 October 2009
My EPQ anthology has finally arrived. I am ridiculously proud of it; Blurb have done an amazing job with the printing and binding. My first published(-esque...) poetry. I was feeling at a bit of a loss, now it's all done - until Ms O'G told me about this.
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
I love these guys. Yes, it is as hard as it looks.
On the other hand the eight of us taking Music A2 managed to get it right, after an hour of ignoring our copies of a Beethoven symphony and lots of foot stamping.
Who says our lessons aren't productive?
Sunday, 4 October 2009
Friday, 2 October 2009
You can probably factor it down to a case of repelling magnets. We were far too alike; both headstrong, both defensive, both battling for the top spot in every class. In the end, nobody won. Those turbulent friendship groups of lower school resolved. And when the dust settled we found ourselves surrounded by the same people, and realised that our similarities would have to be put aside.
In the years that followed we found some differences to cling on to; the most obvious being her love for maths and my hatred for anything with numbers. We both loved English, and hated PE; but while she played the trumpet for an hour a week, I could be found on the piano in the music room every lunchtime.
I love her to bits. She is one of the funniest, bravest, most talented, and most intelligent people I know. Now we’ve ended up at different schools, and our subject choices could be more dissimilar: her maths, further maths, physics, chemistry, and geography to my English literature, music, politics, and French. Our paths are polarised; and yet I miss her like an arm or a leg.
Here’s to mochas and chocolate cake more often, Lo, and hours reminiscing about the old days, and the times to come.
And found this.
This kind of journalism makes me spitting angry, and I’ve had some experience with it. A few years ago I was put on a drug known generally as Roaccutane. The side effects are pretty radical, ranging from extremely dry skin to birth defects to depression and suicide. It’s a post I might write another time, but for now the point I’m making is that it is an incredibly controversial drug and the arguments are emotionally raw on both sides. In the USA some states won’t prescribe it; there are hate sites devoted to the “killer drug”.
But it works. And I wanted it. And I was well-looked after by some fantastic NHS staff, and after 9 admittedly rocky months I had never in my life felt better. No, it isn’t always a miracle cure, and yes, it can be dangerous. But with proper monitoring and a will of steel, it can help others too. What infuriates me is that the sites which call for it to be banned use arguments which are simply wrong. Not simply that I don’t agree with them, but that they are factually incorrect. That kind of scare-mongering by uneducated, ignorant, reckless individuals who have never had to go through the every day battle that serious acne entails is so thoughtlessly stupid.
Of course, the figures can be manipulated on either side; but it’s the use of emotive language which grates on me. Just give me the facts straight, and let me make up my own mind.
On Thursday, waiting for the HPV, I had half an hour to make up my own mind. Google it was. And like I said, I found this.
And it is wrong. I won’t challenge every single argument (indeed, I agree she makes a formidable case and some points can’t be countered) – but I’ll highlight the main areas of her argument.
“the media have largely parroted official assertions that it is "safe, proven and effective", all of which are unfounded.”
The media can’t be trusted, and that’s what’s so fantastic about them. They go looking for trouble. And so far, have they found anything to prove that what the government has been saying is false? Yes: a story about a girl who died following, it turns out, a malignant tumour. And a lifestyle piece in the Independent by someone who has no medical knowledge nor experience. And who is, incidentally, a man. Cervical cancer must be a real issue for him; he knows exactly where us girls are coming from.
“it is a fabulously expensive way to deal with a problem which, although horrible for anyone who develops it, is hardly a major health risk”
HPV is, potentially, an incredible major health risk. There are few health risks I’d class higher than cancer. No, HPV in its “normal” strain is not dangerous, but if a drug against it will protect someone from cancer then I see nothing wrong with that. As for “fabulously expensive”, I’d say that protection from a painful, needless death is priceless. A government who is prepared to admit that, and pay a little of it too, gets my vote.
“The fear is that the programme may reduce screening attendance as vaccinated women assume they are safe.”
This bloke has obviously never seen the leaflet we were all given. Nor the adverts on TV. Nor attended a high school PSHE lesson, or read the posters in a doctor’s surgery. We know we still need to be tested.
“Side effects included birth defects and juvenile arthritis.”
For one thing, there is no evidence to back up this point. For another, this kind of extreme side effect is warned against in most vaccines. The winter flu jab which has been prescribed to thousands for several years without general uproar lists both of these as possible side effects.
“Justice Watch has been prising figures for adverse reactions to Gardasil from the US authorities. Last October, the total was around 3,500; by this July, the figure had risen to 8,864, including 18 deaths and 140 "serious" reports.”
What is failed to mention is that all 18 of those deaths were complications due to underlying health issues. Like the girl in recent reports, it has emerged that the drug had very little, if nothing, to do with the deaths apparently “attributed” to the vaccine. Before the injection, a series of questions are asked about your general health which establish whether it is safe for you to have the jab. As for the “serious” reports; perhaps there is reason to be concerned. The fact that no more is said about this vaguely-labelled figure makes me think there is not.
It’s a balance of risks. 1.4 million doses have been given out, with a tiny percentage claiming side effects worse than a sore arm. On the other hand, 1 120 women will die of cervical cancer this year.
I’m not telling every girl to get the vaccine. Of course I’m not. I’m countering sloppy journalism which prays on the turbulent emotions of (let’s be honest here) mothers of young girls, who are trying to decide whether to let their daughters be injected with a chemical. I’m telling you to see the other side, and make up your own mind.
I hate injections. On Thursday, one of my friends took me to the front of the queue, asked me if I was sure, and passed me onto a (patient, understanding, funny) nurse who let me listen to my iPod while she did it. It stung a bit. There are two more to go. I’ll still have smear tests. But tonight I’ll sleep, just a little bit, more soundly.
I am no bird; I am a free human being with an independent will.
Charlotte Bronte, 'Jane Eyre' ch.23
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Monday, 28 September 2009
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Friday, 25 September 2009
My dance teacher, Miss B, laments that I still can't do the move at 1.23. (Not to mention, you know, 2.49...) With the discovery that 1980s musical numbers could potentially turn us all into Darcy Bussells, she's taking our entire dance school to see the new Fame remake tomorrow.
I'm preparing myself for a let-down (the reviews are dreadful and I love the original way too much). But me and K will have a giggle and a singalong. And if Miss B starts expecting triple-turns followed by splits followed by back-flips... hopefully she'll remember that the floor had been polished tonight.
Update: The girl who can't pirouette in the film would be called Rosa, wouldn't she. sigh.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I like photos though. If you hadn't guessed. And I've finally got round to starting a Fifty-Two Weeks project.
As the name suggests, the aim is to take one self-portrait a week for one year. Each portrait should expose part of your personality, or something important which has happened to you in the last seven days.
Anyway, I'm a couple of weeks behind: but here are my first two.
We watch the days we make our plans/We change in ways a life demands/I'll always remember this time, this place/The hope in your voice, the light on your face/Because anything can happen
- Jackson Browne, 'Anything Can Happen'
We learnt more from a three minute record, baby/Than we ever learnt in school.
- Bruce Sprinsteen, 'No Surrender'
It's interesting, posting them here on my blog and seeing how they relate (or don't relate) to the posts I've written in the last week. I'll refrain from posting my mini-diary here, as I do on Flickr, and only include the song lyrics. If you really want to know more, though, track the project on Flickr.
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
A year ago today I turned up at a new sixth form for a second time, was given another planner, another timetable, more folders and more forms, and yet again found myself treading water in a rough sea. Most of what I remember of that day, though, is E.
A year on, there must be few people happier than I am.
My beautiful bunch I left in a bucket by reception, but the other twenty slightly spindly, trampled, weather-worn stems I gave out around college.
And may you have a bloom of Red joy today, too.
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Wednesday, 16 September 2009
"Vitamins and rest", the nurse said. bah.
I'm absolutely sick of being at home. It's bad enough missing college, but yesterday I felt too ill to even attempt something vaguely productive. I ate yoghurt and ice cream, and sat in front of Jeremy Kyle all day. My soul feels dirty.
A little better today, but there's only double English first thing, and I didn't surface until half nine. I'll write up the Politics notes E left for me last night, and finish the EPQ summary. And steer well clear of the smoothie maker.