Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Hero Walk for St Wilfrid's Hospice: My Personal Hero

The Wikipedia definition of 'hero' is: "a hero or heroine refers to characters who, in the face of danger and adversity or from a position of weakness, display courage and the will for self sacrifice - that is, heroism - for some greater good of all humanity." 

When I found out that St Wilfrid's Hospice have arranged a 'Hero Walk' for 21st September, it got me thinking about my own personal hero. Sure, I could write about my Mum & Dad but they both get quite emotional whenever I'm nice to them (I spent years torturing them with mood swings) or I could write about John Lennon, but I'd only need to include the link to the 'Imagine' video for you to understand the hype surrounding him.
No, my own personal hero is...somebody who does all of the above Wikipedia definition, every single day. They're somebody who is teaching me how to do the above, too:

Dear Carrie Lloyd (you've always said you dislike sentences that begin with your name, but see this as an online letter, almost. Go with it, please),

It's October 2010, I'm 17 and reading an article, on random acts of kindness, that you've just tweeted. I have no idea who you are (yet) but I know that your writing evoked something in me that I didn't quite understand; I think it was probably the first time I ever *truly* connected to a handful of words thrown together on a page.

I replied to your tweet and we exchanged contact details. I sent you some of my writing and you replied with an e-mail, the size of War and Peace, that remains to be the most treasured piece of feedback I've received. Ever since, I've struggled with criticism when others give it to me because it's never as nicely packages as your's.

In the four years that have followed our first e-mail exchange, our connection has become stronger and much more powerful; you guided me through my first bout of heartbreak, my last years of education and making a decision as big as moving to London, alone, at the age of 18. Alongside all of this, you've never once asked me to stop sending you e-mails with my writing attached, begging for feedback.
My inbox is at it's best when it includes an unread message from you...I'm at my best when I read that message.

Our first phone call involved you going to the toilet, whilst in the middle of an in depth conversation. Our first meeting saw you introduce me to red wine and promptly eat all of the pitta we were supposed to be sharing. Soon, I not only began to see you as my writing mentor (a title you've had very little say in) but a friend, as well.

There are three moments in our friendship that stand out for me, that I think completely warrant the title of a 'hero'. You're going to disagree, because you're not very good at receiving compliments...

1) The conversation we had in which you told me you were moving to America.
Your faith is quite a large part of you, just like my feet are for me. It's never been something you've shied away from or denied, choosing instead or make the most out of what can be an awkward conversation. From the very beginning, you chose to explain your faith to me in a way that almost made me want to read the Bible from cover to cover: it's just about love.
So when you told me you were moving to America, to study at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, it made perfect sense. Your purpose is so obvious, it's almost blinding, and in you doing something to fulfill it only provides me with a level of admiration I have for very few people.
Leaving behind a career, friends and family and a very cute dog to do exactly what you've been put on this Earth to do must be quite daunting. What happens if you get there and you decide you much prefer spending your Thursday evenings, sinking vino in the pub with your mates? But you've made it work, Carrie, and that gives me so much hope for what I believe to be my own purpose.

2) The WhatsApp message you sent me, announcing you were being published*.
The time difference between America and the UK can make our communications quite infrequent. Add to that both of us having crazy busy workloads, social lives to maintain and writing to do, it's safe to say we probably spent a lot of time meaning to contact each other but never quite doing so. Until September 2013.
I was sat in Hamburg airport, having just spent three days meeting one side of my family I'd never met. My brother and his girlfriend had announced they were expecting a baby. I'd drank enough German beer and eaten enough pretzels to last anyone a lifetime. There was so much I wanted to discuss with you but having had no Wifi made that impossible. It wasn't until I connected to the hotels internet that I realised you had already sent me a message. A message that simply said "I'M GOING TO BE A PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!! XXXX" - I couldn't contain my excitement, spilling Coca Cola all over the table and forgetting just where I was.
This was everything we'd spent the previous three years talking about and I honestly couldn't be more proud of you.

* Carrie's book, The Virgin Monologues, is out in November and I think you should all buy a copy.

3) May 2012, June 2013 and July 2014
May - I had just started a new job, I was finding my feet in London and was 100% sure I had made the wrong decision; you spent two hours on the phone to me, talking about everything from bitter brides to how best to enjoy myself at work. You gave me pointers on dealing with bitchiness in the office. Which nail varnish to wear with a particular outfit. Just why I shouldn't give up on a situation that was so obviously meant to be. I hung up, went and ate a load of Chinese food and never once regretted my decision again.
June - after spending a year embracing a new writing adventure, it came to a particularly upsetting end and again, I started to doubt myself regarding my writing. Once again (there seems to be a reoccurring theme here), you phoned me and mocked me for getting a tattoo I probably shouldn't have got, told me to cry a bit more and then move on from it. That phone call made the world of difference and I suddenly didn't feel so bad; that's one of the many powers you have which I'm yet to get my head around, but you can utter one word and I'm back in the right mind frame again.
July - you were visiting the UK for the summer and I filled your phone with text after text after WhatsApp message after e-mail on details of every single aspect of whatever was clouding my brain. Your responses came at a time when I have never felt more alone, when I needed somebody to literally pick me up, shake up and tell me to get my act together. Which is exactly what you did, except virtually and in a nicer manner.

You encourage me to be courageous, to show the world exactly what I have to offer; to never apologise for being sensitive or inquisitive or for making mistakes. You remind me, on a daily basis, that I have so much of the world to see and articles to read and people to meet. To not rush the time I've been given and to appreciate it every single step of the way.
You've never once told me off or encouraged me to cloud my judgement with negativity, something that can be so easily done.
You provide me with inspiration by the bucket load and your name is the name I'm most excited to write on the 'Dedications' page of my first book.

The invitation to the Hero Walk, mentioned above, invites you to "join hundreds of others descending on Eastbourne's beautiful seafront for this 10km (or 5km) challenge, dressed as, or walking for the hero of your choice."
Now, whilst I do think it'd be amazing to wear Carrie's Louboutins for 24 hours, I'm not taking part in the Hero Walk, but if I was, then I would 100% be walking for everything Carrie has instilled in me over the last four years: the phone conversations, the mentality, the life lessons, the text messages, the e-mails, the songs, the book recommendations and the memories we're yet to make.

I might not be walking for you, Carrie, but I promise I will be making you proud...and I do still expect you to buy me bubbles...

Love always,

Vic xxx

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

"So what happens after he climbs up and rescues her?" "She rescues him right back."

In 'Pretty Woman', when Richard Gere shows up outside Julia Robert's apartment, facing his fear of heights and clutching a bouquet of roses between his teeth, I suppose the aim of the scene was to make women all over the world melt into their seats and curse their partners for not reaching the same levels of romance. And whilst some girls probably "aww"'ed, it actually made me heave a little. Am I a cynic for saying it didn't have the desired effect on me?
Maybe it's because I'm more of a Hugh Grant fan, instead?

Whatever the reason for my lack of emotion, I can't help but feel sorry for those girls who place ridiculous expectations on their boyfriends; not everybody is going to have the amount of money that Richard Gere possesses, others might require hypnotherapy before curing such extreme fears and well, other men might just be lazy.

For 21 years, give or take, I've been over the moon when a man has done something as simple as buy me a drink. The idea that a woman would place every single one of her expectations on a man who she has only known a short time confused me. What about her career? Her ambition?

Needless to say, I haven't climbed very far up the relationship ladder. Still though, I always assumed that when the time was right, I would meet somebody who wasn't phased by my lack of interest in a relationship, and could deal with my always-dramatic mood swings.
Continuing with this assumption, I've been happy drinking the drinks men bought me and flirting with them until the inevitable "I only live around the corner..." popped into the conversation. Even though, nine times of ten, that corner was usually an hour away.

It wasn't until recently that I realised I've never really been shown the "How To" guide on dating; not that that's anybody's fault but isn't there a list of rules we're supposed to be following, in order for us to achieve the golden status? The 'married with 2.4 kids and a white picket fence' status? If there is, I've definitely missed out. Is there a Facebook page on it?
I have no idea how to date, how long to wait before I let somebody see me naked, what to even do when that topic gets brought up...up until now, I've always downed whatever I've been drinking at the time and hoped for the best.
But then, we never really get given a "How To" guide on life, do we? So, just like our everyday existence, does the same apply for our relationships? Just keep our fingers crossed, submit our CVs to a few potential places and hope that one of them calls you back for a second interview?

In Caitlin Moran's latest novel 'How To Build a Girl', the main character, Johanna Morrigan, goes on a long and eventful adventure in order to build her own 'How To' guide. She sleeps with people she shouldn't be sleeping with, works out the best way to embarrass yourself on national television and builds herself upon a foundation of her heroes. All before she realises it's going to take more than that to make her fall in love with herself.
I haven't embarrassed myself on national television (although through social media, I'm pretty sure rather questionable photos have been 'leaked'), I've definitely got down and dirty with people I shouldn't have even been talking too and, God, if I even began building myself from building blocks made from my heroes, I'd be a mess by tomorrow lunchtime.

The very subtle point Moran was making throughout the book was that it takes more than one attempt at the above to work out who you are. And to work out how to love that person.
It takes an absolute tonne of attempts and it's definitely not for the fainthearted:

"So what do you do when you build yourself - only to realise you built yourself up with the wrong things? You rip it up and start again...and you will be quite on your own when you do all this. There is no academy where you can learn to be yourself; there is no line manager, slowly urging you towards the correct answer. You are midwife to yourself, and will give birth to yourself, over and over, in dark rooms, alone."

I would never expect somebody to love me, if I couldn't even love myself; if I hated myself for saying I liked a band based on somebody else's interests, how could I expect somebody else to like that?
So whilst we may not be presented with a 'How To' guide on relationships and dating, it's because we're still writing our 'How To' on just...being. When we're comfortable and content with who our favourite bands are and whether we're sleeping with somebody because we really, really like them or simply just for attention, the other guides start to write themselves.

Maybe Julia Roberts didn't really want to be in a relationship at the start of 'Pretty Woman', but experiencing things with Richard Gere made her realise she did. Because, she had ripped up the version of herself that knew how to live without him and wrote herself a new version of, well, her, including him, and it read much better.

I suppose these 'How To' guides are simply that: a guide. And who says what's right or wrong? We're our own authors.
Maybe I shouldn't feel sorry for those girls who place every single ounce of their being on a relationship, because they probably feel sorry for me, when they see me drinking drinks bought for me by men I don't know.

Whether you want your very own Richard Gere or you're trying to be Richard Gere yourself, this 'How To' guide is awfully time-consuming and thirsty work; whilst I'm trying to write my own guide, I'm going to keep accepting those drinks bought for me and try to cut down on those mood swings.

The moral of this blog is that I'm 99% sure Julia Roberts only had two mood swings throughout the entire film...nobody should be expected to deal with that.
So let's just finish writing our own 'How To' guides before we base our happy endings on somebody else's story.

Friday, 20 June 2014

"Our world revolves around iTunes and Instagram, narcotics and Netflix." - Paris Lees

Macbooks. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Pythagorean Theorem. Microsoft Excel. The perfect cheese sauce. Covalent Bonds. To Kill a Mockingbird. Shakespeare; these are just a few of the things I can remember learning about in my five years at secondary school. Have any of them come in handy?
To an extent, yes.
I mean, I'm yet to perfect a macaroni cheese so the cheese sauce is out of the window, but I know how to right click when I'm using my MacBook and that's pretty much all that matters...

From the hours of 4pm to 5:10pm today, I spent my time engrossed in this article: Millennials are Idiots. I should have been working, but the heading caught my eye. Am I an idiot? 
Many of you will be pleased to know that after reading the article, I decided that, yes, yes I am an idiot.
So I made that decision (mainly so you wouldn't have to do it for me) and whilst I could have got upset and refused to move from my bed until I knew the periodic table off by heart, I could recite 'War and Peace' at the drop of a hat and my brain had swollen to twice it's usual size, I chose, instead, to press the 'X' button on the article and pack my desk up for the day.
In the words of Jerry Lewis, "I've had great success being a total idiot."

I passed my GCSEs with flying colours, I have A Levels and I've somehow managed to convince a company to employ me; I'm doing okay.

But then it's not necessarily the 'book smart' idiocy that's bugging me; as much as I would love to spend my days dissecting Tolstoy novels, that type of knowledge comes with wisdom, experience and maturity. I've got a lot to learn...

No, the thing that's bugging me is that I know very little about the world around me. Around us. I'm speaking on behalf of myself here so as not to offend anyone, but I wouldn't know where to start when it comes down to mortgages. I couldn't tell you about credit ratings, political parties, tax evasion or the NHS (except I know we're very lucky to have them).

Instead, I can tell you every single filter used on Instagram. I can tell you why social media is becoming more and more powerful by the day. Which angle to take the perfect 'selfie' from. How much a large glass of wine is in a typical London pub. How many Jagerbombs you can get for a tenner in your local Whetherspoons.

Whilst I know for a fact that many 'millennials' know plenty about the 'important' aspects of our generation, such as politics, environmental issues and financial news, I can guarantee that more will have information on the latter half of those subjects.
And is that a bad thing? Do I blame my parents for allowing me to spend some of my free time, growing up, on a computer instead of practising my knowledge on Tony Blair? Or is it down to me, for being lazy?

I'm yet to decide.

Whilst the world of some 18 - 25 year olds does tend to revolve around who's topping Radio 1's chart show on a Sunday evening, how many 'likes' we've received on our latest 'scenic' picture of the London skyline, the percentage of our wage packet which can be spent on shit cocaine and which episode of Orange is the New Black we're now watching, there's a healthy balance who think about recycling, their pension fund and whether they're left or right wing.
Why do we have to be one or the other? Why can't we just be in the middle?

So, as brilliant as that article by Paris Lees is, I couldn't help but be slightly offended. Not only on behalf of myself, but on behalf of my friends who would rather watch Newsnight than down shots in a bar, the 21 year olds who dedicate every ounce of their free time flyering for their chosen political party, the people who have worked their arses off since they hit legal working age to save up and make something off themselves, without having to rely on anybody else.

I feel sorry for them because these millenials are being tarnished with the same brush: "Millenials don’t care if we’re fighting a gay person or a black person or a fucking Sims character for that last slice so long as we have the freedom to snatch a crumb or two for ourselves."

But the truth is, a lot of us do care. A lot of us do want to work on 'changing the world' (or at least the small part around us), making it a better place.
We grew up on a diet of the Spice Girls, Fresh Prince of Bel Air and turkey twizzlers (well, until Jamie Oliver took them away from us); we understand equal rights, freedom of speech and perfecting the balance between good and bad - I mean, the Spice Girls may have released 'Wannabe' and 'Say You'll Be There', but they also released 'Holler' and 'Headlines'...swings and roundabouts, m'friend.

We might know very little about how lucky we are to have smartphones, to have internet access whenever we need it, to having parents who are willing to sell their kidneys rather than see us struggle during the last week before payday.
But we're not idiots.

We know how to use those smartphones, to make the internet as beneficial as possible (minus porn. I do not agree with porn) - I should use Justin Bieber here as an example, but I don't really feel as though it sets the tone I'm going for - and when we're rich and famous thanks to whatever social media trend has taken over, our parents will know how thankful we were for their last pennies because they'll have books dedicated to them, film credits with their names in and songs written about them.

So, yes, Paris Lees, millenials might be stupid, but we're really, really good at it.

Monday, 26 May 2014

13 Things To Make Your Hangover From Hell SO Much Better...

If a Bank Holiday means the same to you as it does to me, I'm going to assume everybody reading this is still having to wear sunglasses to open the fridge. A fridge that was full to the brim with alcohol on Friday afternoon and come Monday morning, houses one lonely lettuce, mayonnaise and something suspicious that was made at 6:30am on Saturday morning.
Bank Holidays were made for fun. They were not made for spending 36 hours in bed and consuming three bottles of full fat Coke. But, you know what? We can't change that. It's happened.
The weight you've gained from doing nothing all weekend will haunt you for the next two weeks and the stupid things you text to your entire phonebook on Friday night will get you some funny looks at work for a really long time...it's okay though, 'cause I've come up with a list of 13 things that will make your Bank Holiday antics so much easier to deal with:

1) Watch your favourite band perform live (via YouTube).
Seriously, stick on festival highlights from 2010 and reminisce on a time when alcohol didn't leave you broken. Instead, it aided the best weekend of your life; watching Arctic Monkeys perform to a field full of randoms, each person holding a pint of Strongbow and grimacing every time somebody hit their sunburn.

2) Turn your phone off.
Okay, I know this is going to be a hard one but during the messy alcohol haze, you sent selfies to your Manager, your best friends and somebody you slept with when you first moved to London. You text at least four people telling them you love them (but not in a 'lez' way) and you Instagram'ed two pictures with a woman with gold teeth.
Cut yourself some slack and give yourself a break. Delete every single awkward message, remove all evidence that alcohol had taken hold of your body from social media and SWITCH YOUR PHONE OFF. You do not need to see what people are going to be replying to you, especially not in this state.

3. Surround yourself with people in the same state.
Luckily for me, my housemates were all feeling exactly the same as me and I have never been more grateful. Sit in the garden, share a hair of the dog and laugh about avoiding your next door neighbour. Talk rubbish and make pacts to never have a party at your house again.

4. Failing that, surround yourself with people who make you feel good.
You do not need to be reminded of the state you were in the night before. Before following point two, call somebody who makes you feel like you can walk on water, even when you can barely walk. Get them to sing down the phone to you, ask them to list a few reasons as to why they love you. You'll feel so much more motivated, despite the quantity of rum you drank the night before.

5. EAT!
Oh God...eating. This dangerous subject. If you're anything like me, food is the last thing you need. But I'm learning that, seriously, it will make you feel so much better.
Raid the freezer for whatever frozen food your housemates have stocked up on, throw some potato waffles into the oven and be prepared to be fixed.

6. DO NOT phone your parents.
Your parents might seem like the most sensible point of call - who else to make you feel better than your Mum? But phoning them is not a good idea. They do not need to know that you're suffering from the world's worst hangover, that you house turned into Ministry of Sound for the night and you're worried you kissed somebody you shouldn't have...

7. Hydrate
Waking up with a mouth as dry as Gandhi's flip-flop is probably the worst way to start a hangover. Regardless of how drunk you are, make sure you put a glass of water next to your bed before you go to sleep. If you don't remember, ask your housemates too.
Drink every possible non-alcoholic/harmful liquid you can find. You will thank your lucky stars for the coconut water in the fridge the next morning.

8. Shower.
Oh good Lord, if I had known how good a hair wash on a hangover would feel when I first started drinking, I swear I would never have got out of the shower. There is nothing like washing away the dirt from the night before and smelling as fresh as a daisy...even if you don't look like one.

9. Cuddle a baby.
Any baby will do, it doesn't matter. Luckily, my housemate has a baby boy so cuddles are on tap in my house. Make sure you're sitting down and that your teeth have been cleaned - nobody needs the smell of stale booze and cigarettes on their face, especially when they can't tell you it's horrible.

10. Take your make-up off.
If you failed to do so the night before, grab a wet wipe and scrub your face until it's red raw. Remove every inch of make-up you threw onto your face when you were sober and wash your face properly. Spots, and dry skin, will not make you feel any better about yourself.

11. Avoid dairy.
Dairy on a hangover is not the one. Regardless of how badly you're craving that tub of Ben & Jerry's you have stashed in the freezer, ice-cream will only curdle with the other substances you have in your body.

12. Tea, cheesy films and bed.
So if you really want to have dairy, make sure it's in tea. I never fully understood why adults drink so much of the stuff, but as I've worked out, it's a fucking excellent hangover cure.
A cup of strong tea with two sugars and a splash of milk will do more for your body than whoever you dry humped the night before.

13. SLEEP!!
Made plans for the rest of the Bank Holiday? Cancel them. Seriously, cancel them all.
Retreat to your bed (after you've washed, eaten and had other people make you laugh, obviously) and don't get out until you feel capable of fixing the world's problems.
You may have ruined your life the night before, but eight hours of shut eye will fix it.

Happy hangover guys, x

Saturday, 26 April 2014

"Write a poem about me", you said.

"Write a poem about me", you said.
It's 5:27am and I have never been happier
I think that's because of you.

19 // 19

You're fickle. 
When we sleep, you stretch onto my side of the bed.
Your Instagram does nothing but annoy me.
Your music taste changes on a daily basis, I can never keep up.
I do not need fixing.
We get into trouble when we're together. 
I can't rely on you for emotional stability. 
We covered up whatever it was we were hiding with alcohol, drugs and bad jokes.
You're emotionally manipulative. 
I call you when I'm lonely.
Your driving leaves me terrified.
You're better at a lot of things than I am and I don't like competition.
I don't like competition.
You are a threat to everything I once stood for.
We could never be 'normal', everything is a show.
My eyes never had your full attention.
You're looking for a love that doesn't fail, like your parents did.
There is always going to be somebody better, for both of us.
We never understood each other's families.

We take our tea the same way. 
And eat the same biscuits.
You are the song I put on 'repeat' at 8:43am.
You're the start, the middle and the end of a dream I don't want to wake up from.
Every single one of my secrets, you know, and yet you still want to kiss me.
Texts saying "I love you" sent at exactly the right time.
Laying next to you was just like the Snow Patrol song.
You never once doubted my dreams.
Our sleeping pattern was so in sync.
I learnt so much from your silence.
It took me nine minutes to get to your house and 13 minutes to get into your bed.
You are the easiest person to be around. 
We are the only people who think each other's tattoos are works of art.
I dropped every single one of my bad habits and picked up you, instead.
You never once asked me to explain myself.
I never considered myself a failure because I always succeeded in your eyes. 
We found comfort in each other's flaws.
Time was never an issue: you loved me from 4am to 3:59am. 
You loved me.


Saturday, 19 April 2014


how do you write something about someone who isn't trying to fuck you up? 
i'm still learning - like i always will be - about how to do things right. how to write. 
and it's only when i'm sat in a reggae club at 1:45am, with strange substances swirling around my body,
that i can be honest. truly honest. mainly about how i'm so scared i'm going to mess things up.

because good, healthy relationships are something i've never had.
not really.
so as i'm learning to do things right, properly,
just bear with me.

i promise the weird freak outs and my ability to only be nice when i'm drunk will all be worth something soon. when your name is written in big letters on the first page of my book, under the word 'dedications', which will be written in bold italics (calibri), that's my way of saying "thank you for the being the only person who has ever bought me a birthday balloon."

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

"Does growing up mean growing apart?" - Goose - Dawn O'Porter

It's always hard writing about something that plays such a huge role in your life; for me, I can never find the right words to express how passionate I am about something and, in turn, end up ruining up whatever it was that I was trying to say.
However, I was recently given the opportunity to review Dawn O'Porter's latest novel, 'Goose', and I promised myself that I wouldn't mess it up.

Dawn is one of my biggest writing inspirations; she has been since I first read her material in Stylist magazine, so obviously it's a pretty big thing, for me, writing about her words. Let's see if I can do them justice...

From about the age of four, friendship is a huge part of any girl's life. If you're lucky, you could manage to stay friends with the same girl who you shared a book with in nursery - despite the obvious differences between you as you grow up. Or, you might find new friends, every week.
Regardless of the longevity of a friendship, every girl will understand the importance of their best friend. She's the person you call when you've got your boy troubles, your partner in crime when you're up to no good and your cheerleader when you're feeling a bit rubbish.

'Paper Aeroplanes', the prequel to 'Goose', introduced me to two people who reminded me so much of my best friend and myself that I almost felt as though Dawn O'Porter had been spying on me since birth.
When I finished 'Paper Aeroplanes', I didn't quite know what to do with myself for a little while. I found myself wondering, every so often, what both Renee and Flo would be doing: had Flo lost her virginity? Did Renee make peace with her sister? Had they made friends in their new school?
When I received 'Goose', I wanted to know the answers to those questions so badly, I finished the book within a day; there are obvious differences between the two books, but both are written so beautifully and capture the innocence of a teenage friendship so perfectly, O'Porter's writing made me want to go back to school and relive the beginning of some of my best friendships all over again...almost, I'm not sure I could handle double Science lessons again.

When you leave school, you realise that a lot tends to change within the first few months, mainly to do with friendships. As relationships and University/the future start to become priorities, friendships come to an end under the pressure of reality, outside of school. 'Goose' explores this intensely and I cannot credit O'Porter enough for capturing this transition so perfectly.
Both Renee and Flo are changing, since leaving school, and although it's in different ways, their friendship remains as strong as ever...or so it seems.

Flo begins to call her faith to help her through this particularly hard time and finds peace in religion. Renee finds sex. And plenty of it.
Already, the changes both Flo and Renee are undergoing could not be more different and as the book continues, we soon question whether the girls' friendship can withstand such changes.
At a time when you're desperately trying to find yourself, your best friend is the biggest comfort. However, Renee falls for Dean, who we're introduced to at the beginning of the book, and Flo thinks she could be falling for Gordon, the leader of a bible group she joins.
I don't know about other readers, but I instantly disliked both boys; maybe it's because I could see the distance they were placing between Renee and Flo or maybe it's because I felt as though neither were good enough for the girls. Whatever the reason, O'Porter tackles the issue of 'young love' so well, I almost wish she had been present during my first bout of heartbreak.

It's not only relationship issues that cause trouble between our two protagonists; family issues, school work and impending plans soon raise their head to create more negativity between the two girls.
Not only did O'Porter make me wish that 'Goose' had been written four years previous, so I could use it as a manual when undergoing these sort of changes myself, but I wanted to reach into the pages and tell both Renee and Flo to stop taking each other for granted.
I am so lucky that some of my best friendships have withstood the trials of time and whilst reading 'Goose', I grabbed my phone after every couple of pages to remind my closest pals of how much I loved them for putting up with me.

I believe this is one of the main reasons as to why 'Goose' struck such a chord with me; it's real, raw and realistic. Every girl can resonate with the friendship set out between Renee and Flo, especially throughout the book.
'Goose' embraces all of the issues the majority of girls have to go through as they grow up and it teaches us to disregard the embarrassment, or taboo, that comes attached to them.
O'Porter doesn't shy away from any topic, ranging from 'fanny farts' to wanting a boy who doesn't want you back. In today's 'cotton wool culture', it's rare to see such topics dissected in such detail but boy, am I glad they are.

Growing up, I never once read a book that tackled what I was thinking in as much detail as 'Goose' does; it doesn't hold back on the frustrations, or the beauty, of a realistic teenage life. This is something O'Porter manages to capture excellently within her writing; it's the reason 'Paper Aeroplanes' was such as a hit and it is the reason why 'Goose' will be flying off of bookshop's shelves.

In my opinion, I loved seeing how much the girls change from the start of the book to the end; Flo changes dramatically, from finding a relationship with God to making other friends, outside of her friendship with Renee. She develops a confidence that is so raw and fresh, it made Flo's journey almost addictive. Her need for 'something more' is so apparent, you can't help but read on.

Renee's journey, on the other hand, is one that is quite simple: she will always want more. She is never satisfied by what she has, apart from her friendship with Flo, that everything begins to seem inferior. It takes a dramatic event in the book - which I won't ruin for those who are yet to read the book - for her to realise her friendship with Flo is more important than a relationship with a boy, 'cool' new people and sex.

The relationship between Renee and Flo does start to disintegrate throughout 'Goose' but by this point, most readers are already hooked. We've all been there, we've all lost - or started to lose - a best friend because of our own ignorance and thankfully, O'Porter manages to cease any potential heartbreak.
Renee and Flo's friendship becomes more 'adult', more serious; less 'you're my best friend because you helped me when I was drunk' and more 'you're my best friend because I actually don't know how to live without you'.
Both girls are looking for something outside of their friendship, that they soon realise lies in each other.

The contrast between the girls is huge and quite extraordinary; Renee and Flo find confidence in different things (faith vs boys, school vs adventure etc) and their friendship is a constant reminder that sometimes, the simplicity of a friendship can be the most beautiful thing about it.

Despite the second half of the book seeming almost rushed - or maybe I just wanted it to go on for much longer? - compared to the first half, 'Goose' combined being perfectly complex and flawlessly simple in one go. There's something about the voices of the main characters that is almost addictive; I didn't want the book to finish because I wanted to find out how Renee and Flo's friendship develops.

Whilst the plot does get thicker as the story unfolds, there are moments of lucidity that remind us what the book is all about: a friendship that withstands the true tests of reality, despite everything being against it.
Having finished the book, there are moments every so often when I close my eyes and I'm reminded of Renee's birth control situation, Flo using Dirty Dancing as a seduction technique and Aunty Jo's geese.
Not many books have the power to continue captivating their audience once they've finished, but this is something I am in total awe of Dawn O'Porter for being able to do.

I would be quite happy to lose myself in Renee and Flo's world over and over again; one of my favourite things about the book was how it kept reminding me not to take my own friendships for granted, how lost I would be without one of my best friends and how tough it was growing up.
I can safely say that I don't know who I would have become if it wasn't for my own friendships like Renee and Flo's, and I recommend 'Goose' to every single woman - regardless of age - out there. In actual fact, I'd recommend it to boys too because it doesn't matter which gender you are, friendship is something we shouldn't take for granted. Ever.

Dawn O'Porter deserves a huge amount of acclaim for this brilliant, brilliant book; I want to drink cocktails with her and continuously thank her for creating such an amazing piece of writing.
Not many people have a way with words like O'Porter does but, as most of her writing seems to do, 'Goose' has left me speechless.
When I grow up, I want to be Dawn O'Porter, please.

Find Dawn O'Porter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hotpatooties
Order 'Goose' (or 'Paper Aeroplanes') here: http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/dawnoporter/goose OR here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Goose-Paper-Aeroplanes-Dawn-OPorter

Wednesday, 26 February 2014


You can't force yourself to love someone.

You can't sleep with them to "see what it feels like", 
especially when they've told you on numerous occasions that 
           they love you. 
They love you at 2:53am, they love you when you've taken too many drugs and can't walk properly, 
they love you when it's time to go to the party and when it's
time to leave. 
    They love you when you're sat in Nando's on a Saturday afternoon.

You can't sleep with them, to see whether you can love them back. Love doesn't mean exchanging 
         bodily fluids...at least, 
       I hope it doesn't.


Monday, 17 February 2014

more than friends.

                                                        You don't spend days in bed with *just*...anyone?
I don't let *just* anyone see me when I'm sick.
                                                                                           The reality is we just fuck. With each other's
                                                                                                                     minds, as well as our bodies.

                                                        I've never been a fan of reality.
When anybody mentions your name, my head
                                                                     gets confused, like when you see light after being in the dark for so long.

                    Your name doesn't sound as beautiful when it's on the tip of somebody else's tongue.


                                                                                      Let's just admit that we
                                   haven't got a clue what we're doing; we're just
              two people, touching bodies like we've never
                                         touched flesh before and hoping to God that we're doing it         right.


Saturday, 11 January 2014

Blog Challenge #1: Eyebrows

Our eyes are apparently the window to our soul...which means we should have something excellent framing them, right? 
Which is why I'm baffled that so many girls have jumped on board this crazy fashion trend and messed about with their eyebrows. WHY WOULD YOU SHAVE THEM OFF?!
Up until I was about 16, I didn't realise eyebrow specific make-up even existed; my Mum was adamant that I wouldn't pluck my eyebrows until they grew so thick, they prevented me from seeing. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on how you look at the situation, I started to resemble Ugly Betty and left her with little choice but to hand the tweezers over to somebody professional. Hurrah, I was able to see again!

Now, I'm reasonably happy with my eyebrows; despite an over-plucking disaster in the summer of 2011, I'm able to maintain them on a day-to-day basis quite well - God bless eyebrow combs! When I'm going 'out out', I tend to fill them in a bit with Benefit brow zings, only because I wear quite dark eye make-up and my natural eyebrows just don't cut it. But overall, I haven't really got any complaints about the weird hair that grows above my eyes.

However, looking at eyebrows throughout the years, it does make me wonder how we ever got to where we are now; girls are leaving the house looking like they used a Sharpie to draw their eyebrows on. Some girls don't have any. Other's have dyed their eyebrows so much, it looks as though two slugs have just decided to camp out on their face. 

In the 1920's, it was the norm to have over-plucked, straight eyebrows. The thinner and straighter they were emphasised the look of worry on your face...and women had a lot to worry about during this decade (they were, however, given the right to vote!):

In the 1930's, the 'thin is in' look was still very much prominent. However, the difference between eyebrows in this decade and the 20's was the exaggerated height; women were permanently seen to look astonished:

Wahoo! By the time the 1940's had come around, women were slowly, but surely, embracing the more natural look. Tweezers were ditched and thicker eyebrows became the norm: 
images (11)

Marilyn Monroe took eyebrows to a new level in the 1950's, personally my favourite eyebrow decade, with a thicker brow but a deeper arch. Audrey Hepburn, a huge eyebrow crush of mine, is a huge inspiration for women across the world during this decade. I don't think eyebrows get better than this:
images (3)

The 1960's is my favourite decade simply because of The Beatles, the fashion and the casual attitude to psychedelic drugs...however, when we throw the evolution of eyebrows into the mix, I wish we could just skip this decade altogether. It was here that women started to shave their eyebrows off, favouring instead to pencil them back in in relatively thick strokes:
images (4)

Going back to the natural-ish look, the 1970's put the ridiculous trend of shaved eyebrows to a close. Women favoured natural styles instead, leaning particularly towards an eyebrow with a round ball at the beginning of the brow...not my favourite, so I'm glad we saw this out:
images (7)

My second favourite eyebrow era and all I have to say is THANK GOD FOR BROOKE SHIELDS. The 1980's were home to heavy, yet bushy, eyebrows and women across the world are throwing away their eyebrow pencils and leaving their tweezers at the bottom of their make-up bags:
images (8)

Ah, Madonna. There's a lot of things I love this woman for and eyebrows are just the start; still taking inspiration from the natural look above, the 1990's saw eyebrows become 'cleaner', allowing the face to be 'opened up':

As the 90's drew to a close, the 2000's saw eyebrows follow the natural shape but take inspiration from the thicker, fuller look of the 80's. The Spice Girls all had excellent eyebrows. Julia Roberts eyebrows are one of my favourite things on this Earth:

So, how is it possible that we went from the above to this?!?!?!:

It's not even funny anymore when you think about what the next generation are going to be doing to their eyebrows; we need positive eyebrow influences, not women who think 'Darkest Black' Magic Marker is their perfect shade of eyebrow pencil. I'd erect a statute in honour of the eyebrows belonging to Audrey Hepburn, Brooke Shields and Julia Roberts if it meant women these days would stop taking a razor to their face and shaving away their eyebrows...only to draw them back on. It doesn't make sense to me...why not spend your time reading a book or eating really, really good food?

What women do their eyebrows will always baffle me, which is why I'm signing this post off with some of my own eyebrow role models. If you're even thinking about shaving your eyebrows off, PLEASE look them up on Twitter, beg them to give you their eyebrow care regime and follow THAT through instead: