Wednesday, 8 June 2011

That's Just Cricket

I grew up sticking Giggs' face into my Premier League sticker book, and the revelation that he had a superinjunction on information about an affair was somewhat heartbreaking. Though I am a Chelsea fan through-and-through there's something about Giggs' spectacular fall from grace that dwarfs the injunction even of John Terry. Giggs was so well-loved and long-serving, he seemed like the least likely candidate for what has become a fair pedestrian occurrence of Footballers-Gone-Wild.
Yesterday, Matt Prior threw down his cricket bat in the England dressing room, upset over his performance on the field. It is a move of frustration I have witnessed in prep school pavilions a million times. Unfortunately the bat ricochet off other bats lying on the ground, bounced up and broke a window, showing shards of glass over spectators below. Prior, along with England captain, Andrew Strauss, apologised immediately in person to those affected.

These are the heros of sport. Not for cricket the weeping confessions of a Tiger-Woods-style press conference. Not for cricket the hubris of covering frivolous infidelity with legal protection. Instead, just an immediate, humble, and gracious apology. The matter ends there.

It is to be celebrate that there still exists in this country a community of sporting gentlemen. Not to be romanticised, the cliches about cricket, its players and its spectators, have a sense of veracity. It is still a place for civilized sportsmanship.

Monday, 6 June 2011

If Man Must Whistle, 'Sluts' Must Walk

About a week ago, walking back from dinner at a friends house ten minutes away from my own, two guys, hoods up, sauntering down the street on bikes took to wolf-whistling me as I passed. It was a threat, NOT a compliment. At 5ft2.5 (yes, the half inch is vital) and weighing a slight 7st2, walking alone at 11.30pm down a quiet street, it scared me. I was not dressed provocatively, but I hope 'nicely' and 'stylishly' (of course)! This one act made me feel vulnerable. Was it my fault for being female and apparently attractive? No. It was theirs.

THAT IS THE POINT OF SLUTWALK as I see it. This is not "belittling rape" as Brendan O'Neill's article suggested, with the frankly revoltingly crass title of 'These are the most anti-social sluts on earth'. Excuse us, Mr O'Neill for wanting to feel safe in the streets. Excuse us for feeling threatened when we attract the advances of men while we mind our own business walking home.

My example is tame and represents the tip of the iceberg of the casual approach to what would be considered sexual harassment in any formal setting. In a civilized society, is it too much to ask that the male gender behave respectfully towards women they find attractive? Must we stay quiet and tolerate this, frankly, atavistic approach to gender relations that shows no respect for the woman involved? It is not far from the chest-beating and leg-cocking of those beasts whom man banishes to the cage for their inability to behave as humans see fit.

I also loathe the suggestions that this desire for slut-blaming to end means that we must be prudes who hate sex, men, and that this is all down to PMS or some other ovary-induce ridiculousness. This approach is horrifyingly Victorian and has no place in 21st century gender discourse.

What's more, Mr O'Neill seems to have missed the glaringly rational point that 'context is king'. Flirting in a bar, or being provocative in a club is not the same as blaming a 'sluttish' woman for her rapists crime. There seem to me to be obvious boundaries in this discussion of what's appropriate. I'm sure Mr O'Neill knows as well as anyone when it is appropriate to 'come on' to someone, and yet, for finding that same bahaviour unacceptable at times when we feel vulnerable (eg, walking at night etc) we must be 'antisocial sluts'.

If I am a slut, Mr O'Neill for expecting more from 'civilized' man, then you are an ignoramus for not setting higher standards for your gender.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Standards of Higher Education, Grasping my 4-Hour-Old M.A.

Today I found out that I got a 2.1 in my English Literature degree from Edinburgh University. A respectable grade for a very respectable degree at a decreasingly respected institution.

My Bookshelf: Proof That I'm Extremely Well Read

I have just read (Oxford grad) Daniel Knowles' response to an article written by (Oxford grad) Owen Jones and wanted to response in (non-Oxford grad) kind. First, to directly address some of Jones' points.

So, 'normal' people don't want to mix with the wealthy and privileged? If this were reversed, the world would weep. I faced some extremely insulting displays of reverse-snobbism in my seminars, and it always crossed my mind: If I mocked your accent back, I'd be asked to leave this school quicker than you could say 'Rah'.

It also seems absurd to suggest that Oxbridge admissions are unable to tell the difference between the genuinely bright and those who had only "benefited from tens of thousands of pounds of resources thrown at them all their lives". Have they not been doing this a long time? It is not in their interests to admit only the truly worthy?

To suggest, even in passing, that Oxbridge ought to be brought down to a level on par with other institutions of higher education, fills me with despair on a day spent grappling with UK higher education. It exactly contradicts what I have thought for four long years, slogging away at this degree: If only ALL universities were more like Oxbridge. It shouldn't be this easy. The reason everyone in my class, excepting a handful of die-hards, walked away today with a 2.1 is that we are just not pushed. There's not enough of a threat of failure, not enough time spent in a classroom (although, those as neurotic as yours truly will not struggle to make up for the former). Call me Queen of the Nerds, but I wanted to work more, and harder. What was the point of all of that time and money otherwise?

Essays were so sporadic that any hope of improvement on style and technic could only be implemented too late. Students outside the Oxbridge nirvana are not taught good essay practice, strong argument construction, or even to construct an accurate bibliography. I came into my own during tutorials, always eager to debate ideas with my classmate, who were always either too hungover, or disinterested, to rebut.

I realise that in writing this I am painting a picture of myself as an overeager 'brown-noser' but my point is this, and this alone: ALL universities ought to strive to be MORE like Oxbridge. Their hallowed halls still echo with the voices of the best and the brightest in the world. The education system needs fixing, the recent survey on books in the home proves that complacency towards academic betterment begins much earlier than Jones' seems to think. The is much to be done. However, to blame the standards set by Oxbridge is just... madness! Anyone suggesting that these institutions ought to be diluted, to be made to suit the shamefully low standards of the Everystudent, has got to be making a play for satire. The standards of university ought to be raised to match Oxbridge, or else higher education in this country will be brought to its knees.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Royal Wedding in 5 mins...

This Time video doesn't actually show the ceremony, which was arguably the most wonderful part of the day, although it DOES show the kisses, which... Well, they were a close second. Kate's nerd giggle and Will's blushing cheeks are just too adorable. One thing is for sure -- we LOVE our new Princess here in the UK!

Friday, 1 April 2011

Under The Tuscan Sun?

I'm currently trying to work out if I can afford to go and lie somewhere hot post-graduation, but in a dream world, in 43 days I'll be wearing this and lying under the Tuscan sun! Isn't it the most glamourous thing you've ever seen? Love. I'll take one in each colour... Just as soon as I've won the lottery!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tooting My Trumpet, Again...

I know, I shouldn't brag, but I'm so excited about this -- I was snapped again! Amazingly, I was just heading home after handing in my dissertation! So that look of exhaustion mixed with a two-week-long cold, chest and ear infection is ALSO mixed with jubilance! I'm looking pretty scruffy, especially since my jeans are splattered with nail polish, and not in a cool, intentional way... Still, I'm wearing one of my most favourite pieces, my Ralph Lauren cashmere cape. It's the most glorious, cosy thing -- the fashion equivalent of wearing a blanket in public!
This second picture is from another day -- I've been collecting vintage, and high street, gold jewellery for a few months now, trawling ebay and ASOS and such for unique pieces. I absolutely love wearing tons of gold jewelry to give an outfit an edge. Like a madpie, I luuuuuurve things that sparkle!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

My First Street Style Shot!

This is so exciting! Sadly, I look a touch manic - taking a coffee break after hours and hours in the library! But - yay! Dream realized! Thank you to Louisa, Edinburgh's own street style snapper! (link)

Monday, 21 February 2011

It's been a while...

This is going to be an absolute must-see for us street-style addicts. What a a trailblazer!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

World Book Night!

I was selected as a Giver for World Book Night (the highlight of my year so far) and was devastated to see this article in the Guardian - ‘World Book Night branded ‘misguided and misjudged’ – quoting independent book shop owners complaining that it will be damaging to their trade.

Well, firstly, they seem to have missed the point of World Book Night. The biggest give away of free books ever attempted is surely exactly the event where, overheads be damned, a million people will celebrate the joy of reading, the glory of the written word and the, frankly, VITAL practice of friends, family and strangers sharing and recommending books!

Secondly, if these booksellers could draw themselves away from spitting at Kindle users on public transport long enough, they would realise that there is huge potential here to harness a whole new wave of book-buyers. Someone gives you a free copy of The Blind Assassin by Margret Atwood, and your eyes are opened to the genius of Atwood’s writing. So, naturally, you go along to your local bookstore and ask for another Atwood recommendation. This seems like such a blindingly obvious scenario, and one to be HUGELY CELEBRATED, that it is heartbreaking to me that these noble booksellers are taking such a mercenary and uninspired view of the event.

The absolutely amazing Jamie Byng (who is an Edinburgh University English Lit alumni, I believe) who bought out Canongate in his mid-20s (!) and is the man responsible for publishing “two obscure books written by a little-known Chicago lawyer named Barack Obama” (God, Byng makes my heart all nutty and excited) and has now initiated this wonderful event. Defending World Book Night, he says:

"The key thing surely is to embrace the possibilities that it offers, which are enormous and forward-looking, rather than cynically dismiss the idea before it becomes a reality."

Yes, Mr Byng. Oh, and will you marry me, please?

The content of my box of free books with be Seamus Heaney’s New Selected Poems, and as I feel that I’m running out of overzealous adjectives, it will suffice to say that this collection of poems has given me hours and hours of joy, and I am thrilled to have an opportunity to share that joy with others. It is my fervent wish that, out of my 48 books, one will surprise and delight the reader enough to begin a lifelong love affair with poetry.

I guess we’ll have to wait and see…

Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication by Seamus Heaney

1. Sunlight

There was a sunlit absence.

The helmeted pump in the yard

heated its iron,

water honeyed

in the slung bucket

and the sun stood

like a griddle cooling

against the wall

of each long afternoon.

So, her hands scuffled

over the bakeboard,

the reddening stove

sent its plaque of heat

against her where she stood

in a floury apron

by the window.

Now she dusts the board

with a goose's wing,

now sits, broad-lapped,

with whitened nails

and measling shins:

here is a space

again, the scone rising

to the tick of two clocks.

And here is love

like a tinsmith's scoop

sunk past its gleam

in the meal-bin.

Friday, 11 February 2011

A Seriously Budget Bouquet

Things you'll need: Flowers from the Tesco bargain bin (these were £1.79), an empty 2l bottle of Evian & a short piece of ribbon

I am totally broke at the moment, but I am also trying to make my desk a calm and comfortable place to work. This morning in Tesco I found these gorgeous flowers for only £1.79! I came home and realised that our little rental flat didn't come with any vases, so I cut an empty Evian bottle in half with a kitchen knife (beware of cutting yourself, obviously) and tied a piece of ribbon around the middle! The result is not too shabby, considering it hardly cost me anything!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

It's Spring, OK!

I decided this weekend that it is spring. I am sick of winter and winter has made me sick (but I’m taking Vitamin D – sunshine tablets, so I’m all good) and as a result, I am declaring it Spring already. I know, it’s still January, but if you guys just play along, perhaps Ma Nature will do the same…. Are you with me?

Here are some pictures from the archives to get you in a Springy mood…

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Sleep is Good!

I know, I know… Another TED talk. But I am someone who has suffered from insomnia on and off since I was 15 years old. Arianna Huffington is absolutely right. Sleep is everything. I have recently been put on Melatonin which is helping, I think! I recommend sleep to cure almost everything. So… Yay, for TED, once again!

What a Way to Start the Year!

Dear Reader(s), another unforgivably long absence in the face of unrelenting Christmas merriment. And here we are, a new year and a new start for all of us. I can think of no better way to begin 2011 than with the most painfully glamorous video/collection/people you could possibly imagine gathering in one room. It is, of course, Tom Ford’s first collection. Enjoy, and may this year bring you glamour and excitement in many forms! -- Just Another Blogger xo