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June 30th 2017

Yesterday Benj and I went to support my fabby mate Isaac at a fundraiser gig he’d organised. I was super excited to see Isaac’s band Emergency Exit live for the first time and they did not disappoint!
Proceeds from the night went to the British Red Cross’ Refugee project – you can donate here to help support this amazing cause!
After work, I got the train to meet Benji and show off my new pink hair. He didn’t know I had dyed my hair pink, but got very excited and ran his hands through it when he saw me.

We got our connecting train to Huddersfield and asked the conductor for directions to Byrham Arcade. A short ten minute walk later we were jamming to Emergency Exit playing King of the Swingers, Toto’s Africa, Just the Two of Us and other funky hits. Although I only drank water all night, I was rather giddy, jumping up and down to the bands (and losing my sh*t when Slurp Dirty played their song “2 cheeses but only one cracker”), leading Isaac’s mum to think I was intoxicated (oops). On the alcohol-drinking-front, Benj had a pale ale from the cutesy-kitsch Panda’s kitchen bar. We also had to help a rather drunk American lady into the gig, where she danced with the young girls merrily. My giddiness was probably not helped by Benj and I leaving the gig briefly to get some dinner – dinner which consisted of cookie dough and waffles at this gorgeous ice cream parlor.

Although Benj and I left early to get the train home, it was a really good night. (Made even better by our taxi home from Dewsbury only costing us two quid because a random bloke asked to share with us – score!) Through Isaac’s amazing hardwork, over £200 was raised. I am so proud of all the hard work he’s put in. He’s a beacon of light, as we should all aspire to be.

An awesome night for an awesome cause! Thank you and well done to all the amazing bands that played! 10/10, would definitely bounce around and shake a collection tin to those funky tunes again.

Cute nights like this remind me of how much positivity and fun exist in the world. A tiny hall full of teenagers dancing and singing and giving money to a good cause made me reflect on how powerful our youth are, and how everyone deserves to feel safe and enjoy their teenage years. The air felt electric, and the joy was radiant. The money raised will go towards combating the issues that have barred others from being free and dancing in the same way as us.
The refugee crisis is real, pressing and present, but this event reminded me we can honor them and combat the negativity through hope, positivity, and joy. The negative news constantly blared in the media fails to show the compassion and community we all inspirit.
I often have felt guilty about having a “good time” whilst others out there suffer, but I know now that doing good feels good, and empathy doesn’t mean we should feel negative too. We are giving others a helping hand from our position of privilege; this privilege we should recognize, but more importantly, revel in, whilst helping other access this.
Keep the refugees in your minds in the coming weeks, don’t let their struggle go unheard as the news coverage of their plight declines.
We can make the future a much brighter place
-A x

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Goodbye A levels!

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Today I sat my last ever A level exam and the relief is immense! Studying A levels has been one of the most stressful things I’ve ever undertaken; last year, I became very ill with stress. But that’s all over now! I am free!
I have celebrated this new found freedom by drinking soya chocolate milk/tea, eating bourbons and having a hair-dyeing session with my delightful friend Liv. Liv has been a rock in helping me get through A level English literature.
Studying A levels was incredibly stressful due to the pressure you’re under, but studying at sixth form has been positive and helped me grow as a person. It’s opened me up to new experiences, taught me a lot about myself and my capabilities, and I’ve made some great friends!

The English department has been incredibly supportive of me as well. Whilst I struggled with my other A levels, I have had a knack for English lit. The teachers have been so inspirational and I will miss them greatly. I will hopefully be returning to my college at some point to do some work experience with the English department.
A huge weight has been lifted and I am so glad A levels are over. But most of all I am proud of myself for giving them my best shot despite adversity and health challenges. Results day will show how well they went, but I am still proud of all the hard work I’ve put in over the past two years.
The past two years at college have been truly life-changing. I have developed so much as a person and successfully battled my mental health problems. I am so happy it’s over, but also sad to say goodbye to all the wonderful people who have helped me on this journey.
As this chapter comes to a close, another one opens and that’s incredibly exciting. So thank you A levels for dragging me to Hell and back, because what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
A x

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Science has a New Explanation for Homosexuality

This is really interesting!

United Humanists

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 Science has a New Explanation for Homosexuality

When James O’Keefe’s 18-year-old son Jimmy came out as gay, James felt like he had failed him and regretted that Jimmy wouldn’t have kids of his own. Though he now realizes that Jimmy might one day have kids, as a medical doctor O’Keefe still wondered about the genetic and evolutionary factors that made his son gay.

“Viewed in the light of evolution,” O’Keefe said in a recent TED Talk (video below), “homosexuality seems to be a real self-defeating non-productive strategy. Gays have 80 percent fewer kids than heterosexuals. This is a trait that ought to go extinct in a few generations, yet down through recorded history in every culture and many animal species as well, homosexuality has been a small but distinct subgroup. If this were a genetic error, natural selection should have long ago culled this from the gene pool.”

So what gives?

Most…

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Books · Uncategorized

18 poems – Oliver James Lomax

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I met Oliver at a Beans on Toast gig (which I have written about in an earlier post) at the beginning of this month.
He kindly gave me a copy of his first book, ’18 poems’ as a gift for my friend Isaac, a fellow poetry-enthusiast.

As Lomax’s first collection, it displays a lot of promise in the fledgling writer.

My favourite poems of the collection are “The Ring” and “Free Range”.

“The Ring”, written in dedication to his grandfather, explores heritage, history, guilt and its significance. It’s a beautiful poem, its regular rhyme scheme reflecting the way history impacts the present, and calling into question how much of our identity we inherit.
“Free Range” is much more humorous, based on the escape of chickens following a lorry crashing near the Eccles Interchange on the M62. Lomax imagines two chickens in their contemplation of life and freedom. Despite the humor, it allows you to question the meaning of freedom, contentment, life, happiness and the ethics of the farming industry. He gives a voice to the voiceless chickens, using dry British humour instead of the ferocity displayed by some animal rights activists.

All the other poems are also beautifully written, often in free verse which, I believe, reflects the author’s slightly neurotic and surrealist style. He captures the beauty and tragedy of heartbreak, day-to-day life and nostalgia. ’18 poems’ is a promising first collection, and as it is published by a small Welsh company, I highly suggest you purchase a copy in support.

I look forward to seeing what Lomax will produce in the future.
-A x

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On turning 18…

So on the 24th of May I turned 18, which was a bit surreal to say the least. Whilst everyone claims “you won’t feel any different”, it was a bit bizarre to wake up and suddenly have so many more rights even though mentally and physically I was no different to how I was last week.

Becoming an “adult” is a momentous occasion so here’s how I celebrated.

On the 20th, the Saturday prior to my birthday, I went for a meal in a swanky restaurant with my dad, his wife, Benjamin and Mara, who has been one of my best friends since we were 11. As anyone who knows me well will tell you, it is totally unsurprising that I managed to instruct Mara to be there an hour before she needed to be, and only just gave her her own birthday present that night. (Mara turned 18 in September, and we both lead very busy lives so don’t see each other all that often. That, and given I’m a contender for the most forgetful person ever, the handful of times I’ve seen her since then I’ve forgotten to bring her present – which included an IOU as well…)

It was nice being able to spend time with Mara and my parents, and celebrate my coming of age.

On my actual birthday, I woke up early and was helped by my little sister to open my presents.

As a present to myself, I got my first tattoo. I have been so excited for this for so long! Luke at Tooth & Tiger Tattoo in Wakefield was a delight and did well in dealing with my first tattoo nerves, pedantry and twitching. He had been recommended by Mara’s mum, who kindly came with me to get my tattoo done. My delightful friend Liv also came along to hold my hand (despite her fear of needles and blood.)

After we all finished college at 12, our mutual friend Josh drove us to Wakefield. The sun was shining, we were singing Jamie T (loudly and badly) and I felt light, happy and free. My piece only took an hour and was not nearly as painful as I expected it to be. (I wouldn’t go as far as saying it was painless though haha).

18685446_971080866365684_1782417102_nI am in love with the result! I keep staring at my leg, I can’t quite believe it’s real and not just going to wash off in the shower (at least…it hasn’t yet haha).

The quote is from Neutral Milk Hotel’s In An Aeroplane Over the Sea. Their album of the same title was the first record I bought, and one of my favourites. I’d include a link to the album on Youtube, but it’s so much better on vinyl. (#vinylsnob)

Once the tattoo was all done, Mara’s mama headed back to work, and my own mam met me and Livvy. We nipped to Boots to stock up on the clingfilm and coconut oil before meeting Josh again and heading to Spoons. (Because who doesn’t take their mum to spoons on their 18th birthday?) We had a cup of tea with my mum before she headed off to pick my sister up from school. By the time Benjamin joined us at 3pm, I was arguably a little tipsy. I don’t normally drink alcohol but I was led astray by Josh and Liv, who argued “you’re supposed to get drunk on your 18th!”. I trust them with my life, so felt safe enough to drink with them. They looked after me, but I suppose they were obliged to after giving me shots. (I love you two really ;))

It was really nice to just hang out with them all, even if getting a bit wavvy was a regrettable decision. Luckily, I sobered up after a few glasses of water. Liv and Josh decided to go home and Benj treated me to pizza.

I didn’t picture spending my 18th this way, but it was very cute, and I was a very happy bean. I was spoilt rotten and I’m so lucky to be blessed with my friends and family (both blood and chosen).

Being an “adult” now is a very weird feeling – knowing I have the power to vote, buy fireworks, get a tattoo or get married and yet feeling way too irresponsible to be allowed to do those things. (But tattoo number one is done, I don’t need fireworks, I’ll be voting in the GE in a fortnight and marriage is not on the agenda for quite some time!)

This evening I will be celebrating my birthday with my mum’s side of the family at a BBQ at her house, and will no doubt receive lots of mockery from my siblings for my tattoo and becoming an “OAP” in their eyes. So I best be off!

Adulthood is my next big adventure and I’m excited!
A. x

Charity work · Uncategorized

Beans on Toast – May 2017

Beans on toast is one of my go-to comfort meals when I’m feeling down. It’s also the name of one of my favourite performers.
Inspired by his song 2016 I decided that in 2017 I would do the best I could to make a difference. In part to thank him for inspiring me and spreading positive vibes in the world, I emailed Jay (who performs as ‘Beans on Toast’) and with just a little bit of cheekiness, asked if he’d be up for letting me fund-raise at a gig of his.
I did not expect him to answer in the affirmative, but I’m so pleased he did.
I joined Beans on Toast’s “Down the Pub” tour on May 5th and 6th to raise funds for the Memusi Foundation’s girls’ dorms project.

May 5th – Bradford

I joined Beans’ at the New Bee Hive Inn in Bradford.
Bradford is a lot prettier, and a lot more welcoming than people would have you believe. I arrived in Bradford at 5 to 6 in the afternoon, after a pleasant sunny train journey, and asked the station ticket master for directions to the New Bee Hive. Despite his help, I managed to get lost, and luckily, ended up at the Alhambra, where the box office ladies gave me a map and directions. Setting off (still a bit lost) but armed with my map, a local lady stopped me and asked where I was headed, then gave me the final directions to the New Bee Hive Inn. I arrived there at about half past 6, and chatted with a sweet Scottish couple named Rosemary and John about the NHS/Rocky Horror Picture Show/University/Scotland/cruises, and told them a bit about why I was there fundraising.
The doors opened at 7 and I met some wonderful characters who were very supportive, whilst listening to the poetic, melodic Gerrard Bell-Fife. Alex, a Bradford native, generously donated and told me “where to check out” in Bradford, leading me to agree with him that “it doesn’t deserve the bad rep.” Two blokes from Skipton, who I failed to catch the names of , called to mind Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt in The Mighty Boosh and promised to give the Memusi Facebook page a “cheeky like” after emptying out their change into my collection tin. It was a fantastic night, but unfortunately, I had to leave at 9 to catch my train home.
Lizzy, Jay’s wife, offered to look after the collection tin for me, and I left it in her hands at the merch table, before making my way back to the train station (without getting lost!) through the dusky streets of Bradford.
I arrived home that night exhausted but exhilarated.

May 6th – Bolton
After finishing work at 4, I dashed to the train station for the 4:50 train to Huddersfield. As I walked from the bus stop to the train station, I passed a pub, where in the beer garden, a man stood feeding the stray cats kitty food. I switched trains at Huddersfield, encountering a man in full Captain America apparel and two women in psychedelic 60’s costumes as I dashed from one platform to the other. When I arrived at Manchester Piccadilly, daunted by the size, I had to locate Benjamin, leaving us with ten minutes to buy sandwiches. We enjoyed our make-shift-meal-deal-picnic on the train to Bolton, arriving there with 20 minutes to spare and utilizing Google maps (poorly, may I add) to eventually land at the Alma Inn. Beans was here supported by the fantastic acts, Arms & HeartsDog CoffeeAndrew Cream and the charming The Doublecross. All the musicians were incredibly talented. Poet, Oliver James Lomax, also read two of his poems between sets. A self-professed “poet with low self-esteem”, Oliver looked at me bemused when I asked if he was a professional poet, until a member of the bar staff helpfully added “Oliver! Yes you are! You have a book and everything!”
It wasn’t quite possible to tell if the Bolton locals were drunk, as their lilt has a ting of tipspyness, and as a lady told me “we’re a friendly lot, us Bolton lot, perhaps overly-familiar” but nevertheless, welcoming, supportive and open-armed. By the end of the night, most of the gig-goers were more than a bit tipsy but all were generous and supportive.

At the end of the night, Benj and I made our escape to the Holiday Inn, where we spent our first night together in a hotel (oooh snazzy). 

We woke early Sunday morning and got our train to Manchester, where Benj treated me to breakfast and we got the train to Leeds. I arrived at work with 3 minutes to spare before my shift started, but super happy, and full of doughnuts.

I am so thankful to Benji for supporting me in my impulsive undertakings (and buying me food <3). I’m also extremely grateful to Jay, Lizzy, Ivan, Liam, Oliver, and Sally for supporting my fund-raising attempts. Coupled with the money Benj and I raised in March through a benefit gig that my friends kindly supported me with, the money we raised this weekend is enough to build a dorm for two girls in Kenya, in order for them to remain in schooling and achieve their dreams.
Anything is possible, and I think this weekend shows how lucky I am to be alive and surrounded by supportive people, and how helpful people will be if you take a leap-of-faith and ask them.
-A x

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First blog post

Hello there! Welcome to my blog!
This is my first blog post (Ooooh).

I’m the one pictured above with the short hair (the blonde cutie next to me is my partner Benjamin).
This blog is detailing the ups (and a few of the downs) of my crazy life, primarily, my advocacy/charity work, and my mental health recovery. I hope you join me on my adventures!
I’ll be updating this blog regularly so please stay tuned!
-A x