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