Saturday, 28 February 2015

The Roar of the Crowd: On Sporting Events

     The ball sails through the air and lands in the waiting hands. Run forward. Dodge. Run on. Pass the ball. Pass again. Run on. Tackled. Release the ball. Pass back. Run. Tackled again. Release the ball. Pass back. Pass. Pass. Run. Dodge. Dodge. Run. Run. RUN KEEP RUNNING AND HE’S OVER THE LINE. TRY!

Scotland rugby team scoring a try
     What’s your favourite sport? Most of us have one or two that we’re at least partly interested in. Maybe you just catch the final score on the radio; maybe you buy tickets to go see a few matches; maybe you stay up until crazy hours of the night to watch games or races in different time zones. It’s funny, the emotions that sports can bring out in us; after all, it’s often just a bunch of people running madly after a ball of some shape. But we get excited, competitive, angry, frustrated and delighted about what happens.

     Personally, I’m not into much in the way of sports, but I do like a bit of rugby from time to time, as some may have guessed from the opening paragraph. The 6 Nations tournament - currently partway through - is when I watch the most. I don’t have a local team that I support, as I’m not invested enough to watch matches all the day, but I’m a staunch Scotland supporter in any international matches they play. Usually I watch games on TV, but I have been to a couple in person before. And it’s there that I’ve realised my favourite thing about sporting events; their way of bringing people together, of creating a community.

     The atmosphere in a stadium can be electric. People cheering and screaming and chanting and singing, faces painted with the colours and designs of their team, waving flags and banners, dressed in their team’s strip or a mad costume, blowing whistle and horns and even - as I saw once - playing the bagpipes. Crowds are so excited and passionate, so determined to see their team win, and it can be something quite special to behold. The idea that there are thousands of you, who have never met and may have nothing else in common, but are all united for the sake of this one thing. It’s like you’re part of some hugely extended, utterly bonkers, family. I find this to be especially true when supporting my country, as I’m not only invested in the sports team, but I feel a huge sense of national pride. I could write a whole other post about national pride, and why too much of it can be a bad thing, but when I’m singing our songs that have been around for hundreds of years, alongside so many other who share the same heritage, for the sake of wanting nothing more than a small sporting victory, surely it can’t be all that bad?

Scotland rugby fans with saltire face paint and tartan kilts and bonnets
     Lines do have to be drawn, of course. Rivalries need to remain friendly, and be left behind when games are over. My opinion of anyone would never be altered based on what team they support, and while I am guilty of shouting a few names and bad words at the TV screen during matches, I would never say those things to a person, or even as much when attending a match. My animosity towards other teams only exists during the match, and then everything goes back to normal afterwards. As a Scot, we typically always want England to lose to everyone; but I have friends and family who are English, and I bear them no ill will because of sporting events. We have to remember that sports are just silly games, and while losing sucks, it’s nothing worth being sour or bearing grudges over.

     Sports are something to be enjoyed. We band together in support of our favourite teams, spurring and motivating them onwards. Big sporting events can even unite people across oceans; look how many of us watch sports we never normally would during the Olympics (I somehow learned a lot about boxing last time!), or tuned into the Superbowl when we understand nothing of how American Football actually works. They are a source of entertainment, that can be incredibly fun to watch, and make us feel part of something bigger. And there’s nothing wrong with showing love for your team, as long as you can be a good sportsman and respectful of others. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I do believe there’s some rugby on this weekend… COME ON LADS!

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Review - The Last Five Years

The Last Five Years movie poster
     I’ll be upfront and admit that I have a love/hate relationship with musicals. Sometimes I find them inspiring and touching, and I usually find they work best in either a fantasy or historical setting; think Disney classics, Into the Woods, Les Miserables, Oliver, The Lion King (definitely my all-time favourite) etc. Other times I find them cheesy and clich├ęd, typically when they’re put into more realistic settings; along the lines of Grease or Mamma Mia. So you can imagine my surprise when I ended up liking The Last Five Years.

     It’s not a musical I was familiar with before seeing the film, so I can’t compare it to stage versions. To summarise, it’s about a couple, Cathy and Jamie, who each tell the story from their point of view, in parallel, but reversed. Cathy starts in the present, at the end of the relationship, and moves backwards over the previous five years, while Jamie starts at the beginning and progresses forwards; and everything is told entirely through songs. While some musicals move in and out of dialogue, there is next to none in this case, as every scene is another song. I was sceptical about this, but it ended up reminding me of the power of music and songs in telling stories. Dialogue and explanation isn’t necessary, as the songs give you just enough context to fill in the gaps yourself. What they really focus on is the characters’ emotional journeys. It’s staggering how emotionally invested you get in their relationship, when you only see brief glimpses into it over this five year period. Even skipping by large chunks of time, you understand how things started so well, and how they ended up falling apart, through explorations of Cathy and Jamie’s personalities and motivations. There’s a few lighter songs mixed in with the powerful, emotional songs, to stop everyone completely dissolving into a puddle of tears; however, the juxtaposition of these makes the story even more powerful. Even though you know from the start how things end, it’s heartbreaking to see the excitement and happiness of the start of the relationship right alongside the pain and fighting at the end; without giving too much away, the final scene is particularly gut-wrenching.

     Such a character driven story has to have strong actors behind it, and Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan fill these roles well, carrying the story with practically no other characters present. I’ll see almost anything with Kendrick in it, and she still hasn’t disappointed yet, though Jordan was unknown to me before this. Both show great versatility, in moving through the emotional turmoil and character growth that takes place. Jordan switches from youthful and exuberant, to frustrated and resentful, while Kendrick travels in opposition from weary and defeated, to passionate and bubbly. Their performances are immersive and touching, prompting strong emotional responses to their plight from viewers. They are truly talented singers, and do a stellar job of illustrating their stories and emotions through each number, without the use of dialogue.

     Overall, The Last Five Years is a touching, heartbreaking story, that I found myself enjoying far more than I thought I would. I suppose this is a lesson for me in trying new things from time to time; you never know when you’ll be surprised! Great acting, beautiful singing, and a unique take on a love story.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Outfit of the Day - Memories

     Casual simplicity is my staple for everyday outfits. I love this cardigan for transitory times of year; it's not exactly super warm, but it does add an extra layer to an outfit, for a bit of interest. I've featured these jeans before, as I really like the acid wash effect, which I think works best with a fairly plain t-shirt like this. I've gone for slightly nicer jewellery than some of my other pieces, to dress up what is otherwise quite a plain outfit. The necklace is a Venetian glass pendant, and the bracelet was also bought abroad years ago, in Spain I think. I like jewellery from markets abroad, since they're like little souvenirs to remind me of places and experiences.

Outfit of purple string cardigan, black tshirt, jeans, and brown ankle boots

Outfit of purple string cardigan, black tshirt, jeans, and brown ankle boots

Outfit jewellery details of blue & black glass necklace

Outfit jewellery details of blue starfish bracelet and silver knot ring

Outfit details of blue acid wash jeans and brown ankle boots

Cardigan - New Look, Top - Debenhams, Jeans - New Look
Boots - Ziga, Necklace & Bracelet - Market, Ring - Gift

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Travel Inspiration: Barcelona

     Today's travel inspiration is taking us to quirky, eclectic Barcelona. I spent two nights here as part of my European Escapade trip. It wasn't a whole load of time to see everything properly, but I got a whirlwind tour through the main sights, as well as a bit of time to explore by myself. Barcelona doesn't have huge list of well-known sights like other European cities, but there are a couple. And the city itself has such a fun energy to it, with its unusual architecture and laid-back atmosphere.

Barcelona cathedral in the Gothic Quarter

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

642 Things - Arsenic


Arsenic poison bottle
     The little bottle sits squarely in the middle of the table. The dark coloured glass masks what lurks inside. It could be anything really; something pleasant, something harmless, something nondescript. But then you see the label and know it’s not. It’s deadly and lethal. It’s going to end my life. 

     It stands proud, confident; it knows it’s purpose. It knows why it’s there. And it’s taunting me. Fear courses through my body, my pulse racing and my breathing shallow. Nothing has ever terrified me as much as this tiny bottle and the poison that it contains. I can hardly wrap my head around what it will mean when I take it. My life will end. Over, done, fade to black, fin. A gaping eternity of nothingness stretches before me, with no end to it ever. I don’t believe in heaven or reincarnation. I know that death is the end of everything. I cling to the knowledge that my consciousness, my mind, will be gone. Infinity is a daunting prospect, but I won’t experience it. I will be gone; and that it my oddly calming rock, the only things that will get me through this.

     Because as scary as the prospect of death is, the idea of living is so much worse. The world around me has become grey. There is no life, no colour, no emotion left in it. My days are tedious, a repetitive monotony stretching behind and in front of me for years. I am alone in this stupid, messed up world. I’m not depressed though; I feel nothing. I am entirely indifferent to what goes on around me, and most of all, to what happens to me. It’s all become meaningless and pointless. So why carry on? The only thing I do feel is tired. I’m tired of the routines, tired of the problems, tired of pretending to care, tired of pretending that everything’s ok. It’ not. And I don’t know how to change that. I don’t really care though.

     The bottle still taunts me. It doesn’t think I have the guts to do it, to end it all. I’ve tried this before, and it’s been right. Three times now, I haven’t been able to go through with it, and succumbed to the fear of oblivion. The bottle is smug about this, knowing that it has power over me in this way. But not today. Today I will have one last victory; take control of my life one last time, for the first time in years.

     My hand shoots out, before I allow myself to think for longer and change my mind. I wrench off the cap and throw the substance into my mouth, before grabbing the glass of water to ensure it all gets washed down. The bottle rolls out my hand and across the table, now sad and forlorn, emptied of its power. I clench my fists, waiting for what comes next. The fear bubbles in my stomach for a split second, but I suppress it, knowing that it’s too late now.

     A searing pain rips through my body, and I cry out loud. My stomach churns as my body desperately tries to eject the poison, but I focus all my will on holding it inside. I fall to my knees as the pain increases, growing inside me like some angry demon. My breathing begins to catch, and my insides feel like a burning, stewing, liquified mess.

     “Is this how it ends?” I think to myself. I’m going out in a blaze of pain and suffering, and it’s all I can focus on. No final thoughts about my life and what it became; just hot, agonising pain, lying on the floor in a puddle of my own bodily fluids. No glamour or glory; I will just be gone. The room is swimming around me, and all I can see is the lethal little bottle rolling towards the corner. I close my eyes. Black.

For more 642 Things to Write About posts, click here.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Outfit of the Day - Tropical

     Oh summer, where are you hiding from us? I do love the changing seasons, because each one has something I like about it. And I also like hanging up my wardrobe with each season, and not being stuck in the same clothes all year. But every now and then I yearn for the changes to come sooner. This dress is so bright and fun that it just screams summer, but I do crack it out early on occasion for a night out. Dark tights and a leather jacket make it more appropriate for this time of year, but here I'm showing it off in all its summer glory. I'm wearing nude tights, for a little protection against the cold (and of course would have a coat on top outdoors!), and flats are my go-to for a night of dancing. The armful of bangles and feathered earrings complete my fun, tropical, summery look. Rio anyone?

Tropical | outfit of bright patterned dress, black flats and colourful jewellery

Tropical | outfit of bright patterned dress, black flats and colourful jewellery

Tropical | outfit jewellery details of blue and gold bangles

Tropical | outfit jewellery details of green feather earrings and large blue stone ring

Tropical | outfit details of nude tights and black flat shoes

Tropical | outfit of bright patterned dress, black flats and colourful jewellery

Dress - New Look, Tights - Marks & Spencer, Shoes - H&M
Earrings - New Look, Bangles - Forever 21, Ring - Unknown

Saturday, 14 February 2015

You Me At Six & All Time Low: Arena Tour

     Earlier this week I went to see You Me At Six and All Time Low on their co-headline tour, and it was pretty damn awesome. I've seen All Time Low once before, and this was my fourth You Me At Six show, but I'd never seen either in a venue like this. The show was in the Glasgow Hydro, which I was a little bit wary of. I tend to prefer smaller venues, where you can get up close with the band, and it feels much more intimate - especially since I last saw You Me At Six in a tiny room in Paris. However, the opportunity of seeing two great bands in one night was too good to pass up. I’d never been to the Hydro before, and while it is huge, it actually wasn’t as big as I’d imagined. And despite being very late arriving, we managed to get a decent spot in the crowd, so I didn’t feel too isolated from the band.

     The support act was Walk the Moon, but we missed at least half of their set because we were late (I forgot to factor in rush hour traffic, ok?). The couple of songs we did catch were bouncing with energy though. I like seeing new bands as support, in case I discover a new favourite that way; bands like Natives, Canterbury and Lower Than Atlantis were introduced to me in this way. I’ll have to check out more of Walk the Moon’s music before I decide that though.

All Time Low performing live in concert in Glasgow Hydro

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Musically Inspired - Fear of the Future

    For the next four months, I will be completing my university degree. Then, from the end of May, for possibly the first time in my life, I have no idea what I’ll be doing. I’m both excited and completely terrified.

Drew Huston parachute quote

Monday, 9 February 2015

Outfit of the Day - Cherry Blossom

     Sometimes things take you by surprise. As I've mentioned before, florals are not really my style. However, I picked up this top in the sales and was pleasantly surprised by how much I like it. It's not the traditional floral print, since it's a bit more abstract, but it's definitely been influenced by it. Busy tops like this, I tend to find, are paired best with something plain, so this black skirt and boots matches with pretty much everything. I wanted to try out some new patterned tights too (they are just black by the way, I don't know why they look pink in the close up photo, and I think the geometric print complements the more unusual, less structured print of the top. I've gone for no necklace, since it's a higher neckline, but big, statement earrings instead, dark purple to tone in with the rest of the outfit.

Cherry Blossom | outfit of purple floral top, black skater skirt, biker boots, geometric striped tights

Cherry Blossom | outfit of purple floral top, black skater skirt, biker boots, geometric striped tights, black cardigan

Outfit jewellery details | black ring, silver knot ring, purple and silver charm bracelet

Outfit jewellery details | black and purple large statement bead & chain earrings

Outfit details | black geometric striped arrow tights, black biker boots

Cherry Blossom | outfit of purple floral top, black skater skirt, biker boots, geometric striped tights

Top - Primark, Cardigan - New Look, Skirt - New Look,
Tights - Primark, Boots - Even & Odd, Black Ring - H&M,
Earrings, Bracelet & Silver Ring - Gifts

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Travel Inspiration: Paris

     This is the first in a new series I've decided to start. I've been lucky enough to travel to quite a few places now - and hopefully will go to many more in the future! The purpose of this series is to inspire others to travel; posts will be largely photo based, as I have heaps of pictures I haven't shared before (focussing on my best ones, or different viewpoints on places). I'll also include a little bit about why I've enjoyed certain places, or highlights to check out. Sometimes a post will feature a city, a region or whole country (mostly depending on country size and how much of it I've seen). First up, the City of Lights: Paris!

     I've been here several times now, first as an 18th birthday trip, a few times while on my year abroad and most recently on my European trip. I still never tire of it, and I'm always finding some new part to explore. Or, I just enjoy revisiting old favourites. Definitely my top city in France.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Being in a Band: The Blink-182 Drama

     So I’d imagine that most people have heard about the Blink-182 drama that hit the news this past week. As a self-professed music addict, I thought I’d chip in my two cents on the story. I’m not going to rehash the whole affair - a quick internet search will get you up to speed - and what I’m going to say doesn’t have to only apply to this specific band.

Monday, 2 February 2015

Outfit of the Day - Bullshirt

     You'd be forgiven for thinking that this top is a bit rude, but look closely and you''l see that it reads 'Bullshirt' - that 'r' is crucial! While I'm a big fan of skirts and dresses, sometimes nothing beats a comfy t-shirt and leggings combination. This is a much more casual, tomboyish look for me. I was never a fan of leggings for a long time, but now I frequently wear them with shorts, to add something a little different in the winter, when it's too cold for shorts alone. I also like the contrasting purple and green combination, which makes this outfit bold and fun. Continuing with the casual theme, I've forsaken jewellery, apart from the ring I always wear, in favour of some wristbands instead.

Outfit of Bullshirt t-shirt, long cardigan, denim shorts, leggings & Converse

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