Thursday, 29 September 2011

Very small fish, very big pond

The whole concept of guy-meets-girl during freshers fortnight resembles to me something similar to the horror stories I’ve heard about Chat, where coming face to face with a total stranger can often leave you feeling dumbfounded, visually violated or harshly rejected by a guy you didn’t even have time to feign an interest in, but whose dismissiveness somehow offends you nonetheless.

I have encountered all of these in the past fortnight, most completely harmless and to great comic effect. One guy unknowingly hit on me twice last week, the second time round having made up an entirely new life story. On another night, a really gorgeous boy pulled me over on the dance floor, his Paolo Nutini esque beauty thankfully distracting me from his use of the line: “Haven’t I seen you here before?” Not distracting enough however to mask the fact that he was wearing a white tank top and a straw hat... on the dancefloor (it wasn’t fancy dress). Did someone say deal breaker? It was such a shame. A novice in the world of casual dating, I only gave out my number once all fortnight, and two purposely ignored ‘booty call’ texts later I had promptly learned the lesson of my naivety.

All this is no credit to me by the way, I am but a very small fish in a very big pond. I was probably one of a dozen girls that our resident Paulo took a fancy to between 1 and 2am that night. I can’t blame him for the others, either. I have never seen so many beautiful girls in one room before – a guy could fall in love every night for three years here, and I bet that some of them do.

I thought I’d met my match already, when I arrived at the Superhero’s party and locked eyes with the only other Peter Pan in the room. Then I saw him in broad daylight the next day, when the white V-neck and Dolce and Gabbana belt told me everything I needed to know about that.

The thing is, I’ve been thrown in at the deep end. I’m just a girl who flirts with her eyes, someone who doesn’t have a type, who accidently imagines how a guys surname sounds after her own following their first conversation, who thinks things were simpler – but far less interesting – when you weren’t supposed to kiss on the first date, someone who gets tongue tied talking to handsome strangers despite her degree being pretty much based upon an (apparently lacking) ability to hold a conversation with anybody.

After just a fortnight at Uni I’ve realised there are only two options now, little fishes: sink or swim.

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Non-Politico

For a journo, I’m not that passionate about politics. I know who runs our country and who’s in charge in America, but I hesitate to admit that I didn’t vote all the way from India in 2010, nor did I stay up all night when Obama secured the top spot. I want to be in the loop but like so many others I am perched nervously on the outskirts peering in.

I am an outsider, I don’t speak politics. Left-wing, right-wing, liberalism, Lords, Commons, Republican, Democrat – all are phrases which instil in me the same frustration as the AS Level French I have long since forgotten. I recognise the words in context, but understand very little about them alone.

Of course I don’t want to admit this. There is an air of arrogance surrounding those who are fluent in politics which I think the rest of us find a little daunting. We think we’ll be judged as clueless if we don’t understand why they’re angry about something (and you know they’re always angry about something) so we just nod along and feign outrage until the next baffling topic comes up in conversation. In the meantime however, our insecurity and understated input can be mistaken for incuriosity, provoking dismay with those who know the ins and outs of Westminster like they know their own home.

We clueless are just as quick to judge though; those stuffy complainers going on about immigrant workers and inflation rates and how this country has gone to pot. Having been to a third world country where the sick and poor can’t see a doctor, I may never be able to tolerate complaints about our NHS, but I can understand why the Politico’s might think that my relative ignorance in their field is unforgivable.

Am I ignorant, though, just because I don’t know why Ed Balls is on the news so often, or how much fairer AV really would have been, or how to spell George Osborne’s job title? Yeah, I am. When it comes to current affairs, I read all the stories but I know nothing of what lies between the lines. That’s something I have to work on.

But I’m not an outsider like I thought. I was with hundreds and thousands of students in spirit protesting about the rise of tuition fees, I was in full support of the enquiry that followed the downfall of the News of The World just a few months ago, and only weeks before writing this, I sat and watched in shock with the rest of you as the riots wrecked Britain’s biggest cities. Evidently the political spirit is in me – it must be in all of us – but perhaps it’s a question of how well we can learn to relate to it.

In religion, there were once just believers and non-believers, but nowadays there is a much wider acceptance for those who find themselves lost somewhere outside of those two circles, peering in, looking for answers. Aside from the fact that they have to choose between the two, those outsiders are not so different to the Non-Politico’s. We’re all just trying to get by based on what we think we know for sure but we may never know the answers until we get ourselves inside the loop.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The day that trousers walked back into my wardrobe

Who needs trousers outside of the office when there is a denim for every occasion?
I love a great fitting pair of jeans: in summer I strut about in a £15 high waisted pair from TK Maxx - with white strappy wedges from Next -  and come the colder months I love a great fitting skinny tucked into my ultimate shoe indulgence - high heeled brown leather boots courtesy of my first pay cheque at Barratts.
If I ever thought trousers, I thought work. Be it school or customer service, for years the only image this article of clothing has formed in my mind is one of unflattering practicality; dull and decidedly un-fashion-forward.
Then suddenly the chino snatched the fashion limelight from the old staple jeans and what followed was a national change of heart. I had resisted for weeks to follow the first unisex trend I had ever encountered, all the while becoming more immersed in a crowd of guys and girls in turn-ups and boat shoes.
Then came this pair. Like the insatiable sweet tooth that I am, I couldn’t resist the caramel brown in this silky evening-wear material. As a regular bargain hunter too, it was a treat to pick up such a quality piece from Oasis at more than 50% off, and a delight to slip sweetly into a size 10 for a change. I can't help thinking it was meant to be...

Top: £8.99 New Look, Trousers: £18 Oasis (Sale), Shoes: £25 New Look, Aviators: £4 New Look (Sale)

I went shopping looking for a summer jacket and returned home realising that it is always a good sign coming back with something completely irrelevant, if it’s equalled by how much you look forward to wearing it.

Teamed with a simple but statement top from New Look, nude leather heels and old-school Aviators, this is a great day time look that I’d happily swap my skinnies for.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

How the phone-hacking scandal silenced me

The last ten days have been some of the worst to be called a journalist.
The thickness of my skin has been tested before, but the phone-hacking scandal has changed everything.
I had previously gotten by believing it was only what I thought of me in this industry that mattered. In fact, a few months ago I ended an article with this line, which in the current context is a little too light-hearted: “For all you journo-generalisers out there, rest assured, the only thing I’ll be tapping into is my own potential.”
I thought that if I knew I would never be the reason why journalists had a bad reputation, that that would be enough. But I’m not sure if it is anymore - it could be my fatal flaw in this industry that I have always worried that I’ll be seen not for who or what I am, but as just another hack. I may know I’m not like that, you probably know I’m not like that, but aren't we all guilty of generalising?
Media ethics have faced constant scrutiny, but the downfall of the News of The World was a question of morals. It’s not the journalist’s head and ruthless competitive spirit under attack this time, it is quite seriously his heart and soul – or some people would argue, his lack of.
I can’t explain fully why this bothers me more, when I know – just  as I did before – that I’m not one who should be tarnished by the same unforgiving brush. But as the last ten days have thrust every insecurity of mine about the industry into the spotlight, like a lot of the public, I have become increasingly disillusioned.
So whilst its biggest critics have cursed the media on the World Stage, an equally damaging effect has occurred silently in the consciences of people like me, as they wonder how they can continue on a path to a world in which we are struggling to see any good.
And with all that on my mind I have become a little lost for words lately. I can’t, and I won’t, defend the actions of the people who have always put me off the idea of entering the world of journalism. And yet I don’t want to have go around shouting that the majority of us do not aspire to turn out that way. I just want to find a way to drown out the voice in my head which says people will doubt you regardless.
I’ve had to bite my tongue regarding my own insecurities about how the rest of us will be judged in the context of the phone hacking scandal. I know that by holding on to personal integrity I can remain afloat in the industry’s stormy waters. But with sharks under the surface and hunters on land, at what cost, and to what end?