I Forgot How To Write

As my blog veers once again into more personal territory, due to a lack of good books and films to occupy me, I thought I would write about one of my favourite pastimes: writing. Writing about writing feels a bit silly, and reading my writing about writing? Sillier still. I have to do it, because with grief’s constant glare upon me, writing has been something of a solace. Cheesy, and perhaps a bit pretentious I know, but writing really helps me to stop thinking. Here’s the journey my writing has taken so far.

The only thing I was good at was writing. In school, my biology teacher assured me that I would never achieve my dreams of becoming a doctor, my PE teacher called me Lucy, but my English teacher was on another page. She gave me full feedback on the creative section of mock exams I took, she praised my stories, critiqued them, told me how to fix them. My confidence grew and grew.

The absolute pinnacle of my high school career came by writing. Without my permission, my teacher read one of my stories to the class. It was a story which, oddly enough, personified. I remained anonymous, I clapped along with the class, agreeing with my peers on how good the story was. Until someone pointed out that the characters were named after Sherlock actors and everyone realised it was me. However painfully cringe-worthy that is now, seeing the surprise on people’s faces changed me: I could do something!

Without my creative assignments, I was lost. I wrote whatever I felt inspired to: usually embarrassingly bad work. I was trying to recreate that feeling in the classroom, when everyone was in awe, but I didn’t know how to. There’s not much to say about this section – I was spiralling with stress at starting Sixth Form, failing miserably to connect with my new English teacher, and most importantly, I wasn’t writing.

I had one creative assignment all year. And I loved it. I was asked to read a novel – I chose Ian McEwan’s Enduring Love – and I would base a story upon the themes of this book. I was given a word limit of 750 with a 10% leeway. This was a huge challenge and I ended up handing in a piece exactly the maximum word count. I was so proud of this work, and my teacher loved it. Suddenly, I could write again.

It wouldn’t last. From that point on, I didn’t write anything. At all, for ages.

I soon realised something. I only thought I couldn’t write when I wasn’t receiving praise – I had never written for myself. Slowly, I realised that what made me love writing was, well, writing. I loved creating a world and falling in love with my characters. It distracted me, it made me feel calm. I needed that back.

At the beginning of 2016, I started to work on my novel. I always wanted to be a writer, I wanted to share my stories with others. Well, that hasn’t changed. I want to write, and the only way I can work on that is writing. I’ll happily share my novel-so-far on here, once my slow progress has achieved something.

Now I’m here, writing. I have a couple of works in progress, one of which is my baby, my novel, the book I’ve always wanted to read but never found. They’re slowly getting somewhere, but they make me happy, and that’s what matters. Hardly anyone reads this blog, but it makes me happy to do it. I’ll carry on writing whilst it makes me happy, and I finally feel like I won’t give up again.

Do London Without Breaking The Bank

I’ve never been in love with London. I haven’t fallen for her patriotic façade. It’s overpriced, it’s busy, it’s unnecessarily stressful. However, my most recent trip may have changed my mind. In terms of London, my friend and I had a fairly cheap day, so didn’t feel like I’d wasted my tight student funds. Still, it’s busy, it’s intimidating: it isn’t something I could handle regularly. Yet, it still makes for a really fun day out.

 

Save Money by Taking Advantage of Train Deals

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Victoria and Albert Museum
By booking well in advance, with a railcard and a deal on train tickets, I reached London and back in the same day for only £35. Considering it’s a journey across the country for me, this was cheap. I wouldn’t normally recommend London on a student budget, but honestly this was such a great idea. The train only had one change, Virgin trains are so comfortable and they have plugs, and it was super quiet because we got the trains at such unpopular times. The downsides were leaving the house at 5:30am and returning at 11:30pm. I was exhausted.

 

Actually Walk Around London

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The quote comes from the Queen’s words on 9/11
So it’s tempting to get on the Tube and see as many landmarks as possible, but if you propel yourself around the Underground, there’s so much to miss. After taking a wrong turn on our hour-long walk from London Euston, we ended up near the American embassy, where in a corner of Regents Park, we found a really beautiful dedication to those lost in the September 11th attacks. The message on the shelter reads “Grief is the price we pay for love”. I’m so glad I saw this. This past week I lost someone I love very much and, though these words are unconnected to my personal loss, I feel better for grieving – it’s not a sign of weakness. This realisation would have taken a lot longer had I not decided to explore London on foot, and see things I may not have otherwise.

 

Learn Things for Free at UK Museums

If you visit a museum, you should probably donate a few quid, but that’s a very small price for how much there is to do in them. The Natural History Museum could literally entertain anyone. There’s a room of beautiful gemstones, meteorites and geological wonders, that remind us how incredible our Earth is. To commemorate this (and to furnish my university room), I bought a lovely slice of agate from the museum gift shop, which is actually one of the best gift shops I’ve ever seen. It’s got this skulls and gemstones and pressed flowers aesthetic that makes it feel more like part of the museum

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Carved Red Coral
and less like a cash grab. The whale who hangs above the entrance hall is so huge that I couldn’t fit it in a photograph. There’s some dreadfully old taxidermy from when the museum was founded – it’s like an exhibition within an exhibition, it’s what museums used to be. If you like to take pictures, there are all manner of different things to capture, from the huge sea monster fossils to the beautiful building its self. It’s great for kids – and big kids – because there are dinosaurs, and I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t love to look at the dinosaurs in the museum.

 

Visit Camden Market for Lunch

Camden Market is only a short couple of tube rides from the museums – after all that walking, I desperately needed to sit down. Until that Tube journey, I could have parted with no money yet, see what I mean by cheap day? We headed down to Camden, which is full of cute stalls and street food. I had hands down the best gyoza I’ve ever eaten from Rainbo, a Japanese street food stall. It was a box of eight gyoza (half chicken, half vegetarian), Asian salad and sticky rice covered with soy sauce and sriracha sauce for only £7. It was plenty of food! There are all sorts of different types of food and drink of all different cultures to try out. There are places to sit under cover, so it’s not too bad if it rains, but I wouldn’t recommend you go unless it’s sunny. The stalls are really lovely – they have all sorts of unique gifts, like jewellery made from the skeletons of leaves, prints, vintage cameras. My favourite shop in the market was a little Japanese shop with lovely prints and lucky cats. The print in the picture below only cost £5 – all in all, a productive visit.

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The noodle bowl, which was on sale at Urban Outfitters, somehow didn’t break when I got it stuck in the gates on the tube

A Level Results Day

A year ago, on a clear Thursday in 2016, I received what I believed would be the most important piece of paper in my life. My grades were two As and a B. Honestly, I could’ve done better. I was two marks off receiving A*AA. Everyone always told me that university and A levels would be the making of me, but I think they ruined me.

Every time I think about my A level grades, I’m met with disappointment and regret. I should’ve done better. I worked so hard, but I probably gave up near the end. I messed up a couple of times. Cried in the class. Procrastinated. It’s my own fault. I was anxious, unfocused, undeserving.

Why do I still think this?

I got into my first-choice university, with grades higher than the entry requirements. I’m doing my dream course. I finished the first year of Media, Journalism and Culture with a first. I’ve only ever had one C grade. I still work hard. I still do well. I still strive to make everyone proud – to make this the making of me.

Somehow, having so much pressure to achieve all the time is hurting me, even though I’m able to achieve. I’m never convinced that I’m doing what’s best for me, and I thought that would end with good grades. Turns out, that’s me and that’s my personality, I’m constantly trying to sabotage myself because I’m too uncertain to ever be happy.

But that’s okay.

They’re only feelings. Achievement isn’t in those letters on a page, it’s in what you’ve overcome. Today is not the be-all-and-end-all. Good or bad, you’ll work it out. I have friends who went straight to university, others who changed courses, others who did an extra year. Everyone works it out eventually.

Simple Self-Care

Recently, I suffered the first big loss in my life. I haven’t struggled with my mental health very badly since around 2013, at which time my only coping mechanism was writing. Since then, I’ve learned how to control my anxiety, or at least to push it away. I’m no expert, and in the grand scheme of things my anxiety is very mild, so these tips won’t be helpful to everyone. Everyone’s experiences with mental health is different. You’re welcome to discuss your experiences in the comments.

Take a Day

This isn’t what self-care should always be, but it’s an important first step to getting back to yourself. You need a day to take your mind off what’s happened. Binge a series you used to love – I re-watched Sherlock. If you’re better off immersing yourself in something, get creative and play The Sims, maybe it seems childish but there’s nothing that distracts me better. I’ve also played some sixteen hours of the Professor Layton series – it’s been really comforting to revisit something from when I was younger. I would actually recommend this video game if you need some distraction, as the puzzles leave you with no time to think about anything else, the characters are absolutely charming and the music is really beautiful and calming.

Talk About It

Self-care is not all baths, candles, incense and yoga. You can’t bottle everything up or it’ll eat you. It doesn’t matter who it is – a family member, a significant other, a friend, even the audience on your blog! Getting it out of your system is liberating. Even if the feelings may seem insignificant, they’re not. Having a good cry, no matter your age or gender, is such an important part of this process. Maybe you don’t even need advice, you just need to talk. So write a post, like this, because it’s already making me feel a little better. Though your family might be hurting too, if you have suffered a loss, often they’ll be thankful for the opportunity to talk.

Get Dressed

When you feel rubbish, you can’t sit around all day doing nothing. Even if you don’t go anywhere, get back into the routine of showering and dressing, this can’t dictate how you spend your time. After what’s happened, I’m not sure I ever want to waste a minute again.

Make Plans

In the theme of not letting this dictate what you do – keep some plans. Of course there are times when you can’t do things, but sometimes getting back to normal – going for a coffee, going to the cinema, going shopping – is what makes you feel yourself again. As much as I don’t really want to drag myself around London this Friday, I know it’ll be good for me.

Recognise the Signs

For me, this is all about staying who I am now, not slipping back to who I was before I recovered. I’ve had trouble sleeping and I’ve felt like the room is slipping away from me – but at least I can see that it’s happening. I’m telling myself that I won’t let it happen again.

Get Creative

As I mentioned earlier, The Sims is a great creative outlet, but if you really are a creative person, sometimes you can write your feelings out of you. No, writers don’t have to be tortured souls, that’s only a harmful cliché. However, if I’m feeling particularly anxious, getting lost in my own world of writing really helps. If I can’t sleep, I turn to my phone notes and focus on the fictional problems of the characters I’m responsible for. I believe this works for me because it gives me total control, something anxiety often steals from me. If fiction isn’t your cup of tea, blogging about anything can help. If you blog about how you’re feeling, you’re helping yourself and perhaps others. If you blog about something totally different, congratulations, you’ve found a successful distraction!

Times like these have been tricky, they’ve left me unmotivated and I’ve neglected my blog, but getting back to normal is so important – whatever normal is.

Liverpool

A Level results are released in England and Wales next week, which means that this time last year I was trying not to cry at work whilst I considered how my impending grades would affect my future. My backup choice for university was Liverpool, which is one of my favourite cities in the UK. It would’ve been a dream to live there, but the course wasn’t exactly what I wanted. Nevertheless, I want to write about the city, because if you’re headed there for the next 3 years, or you’re thinking about it, here are some really great things about it. 

The Museums


Liverpool has a selection of museums, many free of charge. A favourite of mine is Tate Liverpool. They ask for donations as you enter, and there’s usually one paid exhibit but the rest is free. It has a huge variety of artwork on identity, gender, race, sexuality. You name it, there’s a piece there about it. It’s a must visit! A favourite of mine from my visit this August was Glenn Ligon’s work from the picture above. It says so much: its about America’s self-obsessed neon lights culture, the everpresent advertising and branding in our lives, or the dark current state of the once magical Land of the Free. 

The Streets

If you’re not so into art galleries, maybe you’d prefer to see work as you wander the streets. This picture comes from the charmingly quirky Bold Street, which has a great big pink wall that’s perfect for pictures. Liverpool is covered with interesting art, not to mention its fantastic architecture. The buildings of Liverpool are beautiful, somehow I prefer looking at them than London’s structures. It’s so much less busy, it always feels like there’s more time to appreciate the beautiful and the creative in Liverpool. 

The Food


There’s so much to chose from in Liverpool! Any chain you can think of is in the heart of the city. Whether you’re getting a Gourmet Burget at Liverpool One or you’ve ventured a little off course and you’re sat in an independent place on Bold Street, it’s all fantastic. My current obsession is pho, the Vietnamese soup pictured above. It’s so tasty and light, but absolutely filling. It’s so much better than ramen! Sometimes I wish I lived in Liverpool, so I could visit their pho restaurants every day. At the aptly named Pho, the food isn’t as overpriced as Wagamama. So when it’s cold and you have 3 essays due and none written and you just need some comfort, get down to Pho. 

The Shows

Now this was a long time ago, but it’s the only show I’ve seen in Liverpool so I’ll talk about it. Blood Brothers is one of my favourite plays, and it’s a wonderful example of Liverpool’s culture. It’s a heartwarming-heartbreaking play about class, fate and family. Written by Willy Russell, it’s one of his only plays that isn’t yet a film, perhaps because you have to see it on stage. It’s a musical with wonderful songs and a Liverpudlian cast. The perfect place to see this is The Liverpool Empire. It’s a gorgeous old theatre with a great view of the stage and comfy seats. If musicals aren’t for you, then there’s always plenty of comedy or gigs to catch in Liverpool. If anyone is playing at the O2 Ritz, don’t pass up the opportunity: it’s a cosy little venue with a great view and a balcony up above if you’re not one for dancing right next to the stage. 

The Shopping

Liverpool one has a million big brand shops, plenty of places to rush to on a Saturday to get an outfit for the evening. When the sales are on, there’s usually a lot of good stuff compared to my small-town-one-rack-in-New-Look to browse. There are also a lot of smaller independent shops, and plenty of vintage shops to browse. Of course, it’s not just clothes, music is Liverpool’s thing, so if you need some vinyls it won’t be hard to find them. 

Along with the Liverpool Eye, The Albert Dock and the bus tours, there’s plenty to do in Liverpool. So if you’re headed to any of their universities in September, you certainly won’t be bored. 

Book Recommendations

If you haven’t noticed, my borrowed book club has recently hit a wall. The next book I intended to read was Jandy Nelson’s The Sky is Everywhere. I couldn’t get into it. I even tried to read it on the train, the place I’m most productive, and I found myself distracted. The words rolled past my eyes and didn’t register in my head. I apologise to the ever-present Katie, who lent me that book, because I can’t write more than this about it. Since I should get past this slump, I’m writing a post of recommendations. These are the books I would borrow to you.

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

tkmb.jpgPerhaps an obvious choice, but this is my favourite book. I was twelve and I was awkward and I was in an English class with only one person I talked to. One day, the teacher looked at us and told us that we weren’t going to read the recommended book for our ability, instead she’d let us read a classic. Every word is still in her voice, and every word told me that I was capable.

My emotional attachment to this book isn’t what makes it great. It’s a classic that’s readable, real and emotional. It’s a refreshing break from Bronte, but falls into the same category. It’s a seasonal novel: every word pulls you into the childish nostalgia of muggy Maycomb summers. Its comments on racial injustice are pertinent as ever, and do not ignore America’s shameful history. Atticus Finch is a wonderful literary hero – he’s an understanding father, he’s accepting and he has strong morals.

Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife

A recurring theme in this post: I studied this collection of poems. As I had to know everything about fortysomething of her poems for an exam, Carol Ann Duffy was once my mortal enemy. However, we reached her World’s Wife poems, suddenly it was hard to deny her genius. Each poem is the voice of a woman behind her more famous male counterpart: Queen Kong, Mrs. Midas and Mrs. Lazarus. It’s a funny feminist triumph.

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Each character has a very distinctive voice, affected by the consequences of the man who defines her. Mrs. Midas sounds like she’s gossiping over brunch as she rambles about her difficult life, whilst Mrs. Darwin is short and smart. It’s so clever, it subverts the idea of history so well. It’s a very quick read, and her poems have so many different meanings that every reader gains something totally different from her writing. Borrow this book and tell me what you think it means, because I’m sure we’d have different things to say.

George Orwell’s 1984

This was required reading for my journalism course last year, and I regret not reading it sooner. In a world where the dystopian novel has been used too many times to count, where every trope is old by now, this novel takes it back to the basics. It has every dystopian trope – the forbidden love affair, the unsuspecting protagonist and of course the overbearing dictatorship. It’s less enjoyable because it’s been done so many times by now, and honestly the ending isn’t even that good.

The reason I would recommend this novel is for its pertinence. In January of 2017, following Kellyanne Conway’s use of the term “alternative facts”, 1984 flew off the shelves, selling out on Amazon. It is vital that we read this today, especially the essay at the end of the novel. Orwell creates a society who are controlled by language – the meanings of words are stripped and replaced with Newspeak. It’s something we need to understand in today’s world, because what a certain American President defines as fake news, is not what fake news is. He stops us from listening to each other. We can’t let a leader redefine the fundamental part of society – communication.

Let me know if you’ve read any, or if I’ve convinced you to borrow them! I would love to hear what you thought.

Nostalgia Goggles: Spyro 2

I spend a fair amount of time playing older video games. Partly because new games are expensive, and partly because nostalgia and I get on like a house on fire. In this series, I’ll test out some games I have fond memories of, and see how they hold up compared to today’s sequels or alternatives. I’m European, so the names will be different sometimes. Some are nineties, some may be from 2009, because games age quickly, okay?

It’s summer, and summer always makes me feel like a little kid again. My brother and I went to my grandparents’ house for lunch, and sitting there eating burger’s in her dining room, I could’ve been seven again. I wanted to be sat in the front room, arguing with my brother because he wouldn’t let me play the SNES. Since this has happened and I haven’t made a blog post in some time, I thought I’d start a new feature.

Spyro 2: Gateway to Glimmer (Ripto’s Rage)

This game inspired this feature on my blog. A few years ago, a week before my GCSE exams began, I rescued my brother’s Playstation 2 from being thrown away, along with a couple of games. One of which, was Spyro 2 for the Playstation 1. Naturally, my friend and I played it for seven hours straight rather than revising for our maths exam. I recently revisited the game with Miriam again, so read on if you’d like to know how that went. I grew up playing this game because my brother stepped on the original Spyro The Dragon, so only the first ten minutes would play. Still, it’s often regarded as being better than its predecessor, as it had a ground-breaking-for-the-time flying mechanic and a ridiculous amount of unique NPCs with complete voice acting.

When I was a kid:

I was obsessed with finding every one of the secrets, and collecting the orbs not because I wanted 100% completion, but because I genuinely wanted to help the characters. However, one level in particular always stood out as my least favourite: Fracture Hills. Unskippable cutscenes, annoying bagpipe music, the undefeatable Earthshapers and some unrewarding, frustrating orb quests. One of my fondest memories of this game is the orb quest of retrieving the professors pencil, as it involves trading different objects by interacting with different parts of the level. I remember thinking for ages about the logical thing to do to progress in the game. However, I never finished the game as summer probably ended with the disc lost to my grandparents’ front room

Now:

Fracture Hills is still horrible – I didn’t even finish it because I can’t do it. Some of the game is tricky and frustrating. Miriam and I were screaming at each other and snatching the controller at times. I’m not sure how I got to the final homeworld, because it took us hours. The challenging but fun aspect is sort of gone, it’s just frustrating and all I had any drive to do was to beat the game. The orb quests are still fun bonuses, but the enemies, bosses and your first trip through the level are quite easy. The pencil quest was easy, because I’m an adult. Still pretty fun to pass the time though. I finished the game, and the ending is way more rewarding than most games because you get a funfair bonus level. The characters are still memorable, and some of the game is kinda-sorta funny? It’s a pretty charming platformer that I was desperate to beat and find every gem, which is something lost to the nineties.

Bonus: Miriam’s Review

Stressful as fuck. However, I appreciate the game’s simplicity – you don’t have to spend ages in a tutorial. It’s all on instinct you just know what you’re doing and you don’t really have to care about a plotline that makes sense. Because you’re a fucking purple dragon.” – She played the game with me and one time she made me stay in school when I was sick just so that she wouldn’t be alone.

Compared To Spyro Today:

My little cousins play Skylanders, but is that really Spyro? This game can be more directly compared with the recent Legend of Spyro series. The Legend games had a complex plot, lore and a less ‘excuse me, princess’ protagonist. But I question whether the game needed this direction? Sure, there’s no nineties mascot war and there’s less call for mainstream platformers, but Spyro never needed to be an RPG. It lost its fun aspect when it became open-world. It needs levels with secret areas and bonus quests, scattered gems and enemies that don’t respawn. In the new Spyro games, you lose that drive to collect everything and complete everything. I don’t need a deep plotline to be invested, because yes, you’re a fucking purple dragon.

 

Verdict:

The 90s versions hold up way better than the more recent games.

 

I’d love to hear about your video game nostalgia in the comments!

Melodrama: In Depth

Lorde is my absolute favourite artist. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wandered to other artists: Lana Del Rey’s melancholy, Frank Turner’s hopeless romance, Tacocat’s Seattle pop. Yet there’s something about Lorde’s music that I relate to so terribly well. 

Pure Heroine released when I was fifteen. I listened non-stop for months on end. I decided that A World Alone would be played at my wedding, that on my birthday every year I’d tweet the lyrics “Today is my birthday and I’m riding hiiiigh”, Ribs made my crushes unbearable. Whilst not much of that has changed, I’ve grown a lot since 2013. As has Lorde. 

She’s a year and a half older than me, which makes her music all the more relatable. She writes it at one age, and by the time it’s released I’ve reached that age. Even in Melodrama the lyric “I’m nineteen and I’m on fire” reminds me that we have shared experiences, that I’m part of her L-O-V-E-L-E-S-S generation. All that said, Lorde’s new album does not tug at me the way Pure Heroine did. 

Lorde sung her dissatisfaction at the music industry’s praise of drugs, something to which she didn’t relate. Come Melodrama, she’s grown up at a faster pace: under fame’s limelight in the way she protested in Yellow Flicker Beat, she’s changed. Perfect Places is hallucinogenic, in The Louvre love is slipped under a tongue. It’s different, a shift that has perhaps strained my relationship with Melodrama. 

Green Light is Lorde’s introduction of a new era. The childlike wonder she had at love in Pure Heroine is gone, she’s been hurt but she’s found herself again. Like Royals, Green Light found chart success. It’s a brilliant summer dance track with somewhat of a twist on the norm. Lorde’s raspy tone has not been forgotten: it reappears as she sings “hope they bite you” with an over-the-top angsty air of violence. 

The idea of Melodrama being a concept album is introduced in Green Light, but by at Sober the concept is a little more audible. It’s about that person you’re not sure you like or even if they like you, but once you’re somewhere and you’re dancing and you’re drunk, all those doubts are gone. Lorde’s relatability is one of her best attributes, Sober is certainly an example of that. Although, to me the song feels too much like the full swing of a party to be so early in the album.

Homemade Dynamite is difficult, as it feels so similar to Sober. It’s another song about this being our place to do what we want, a recurring theme in the album. This song was apparently supposed to be a single but its release coincided with the horrible tragedy in Manchester earlier this year, so it was pulled. It’s history could put you off, or its in your face ‘singleness’. It sounds like a single, it’s repetitive, it’s catchy, it should have been but for good reason it is not. The one thing that saves Homemade Dynamite for me, is the verse:

Might get your friend to drive / But he can hardly see / We’ll end up painted on the road / Red and chrome, all the broken glass sparkling / I guess we’re partying

It encapsulates everything there is to love about Melodrama. It’s a narrowly avoided deadly decision, by a young person who isn’t thinking straight. When the consequences are considered, it’s not the idea of injury, it’s a spectacle: it’s the colours of what would happen, like art. Glass like a disco ball. A romanticised scene like the death of James Dean. It’s Melodrama. It’s taking every stupid little thing we do when we’re young and making it something bigger that ourselves. 

The Louvre is my favourite song. It’s purely Lorde but the concept isn’t lost. It’s dramatic and different, about a love so cherished that she thinks its artistic brilliance should sit alongside the Mona Lisa. Well, not exactly alongside it, at the back, but who cares? It’s still The Louvre. Lorde’s artistic obsession comes through so well in this song that I cannot stop listening. She’s explicit about the bad things this relationship made her do: ignoring her friends, feeling that she and her lover were superior. It’s both melodramatic and real, because sometimes you love someone so much that it feels like a masterpiece, but on the outside you’re just a bit extra. 

Lorde says that while some songs on her album are set at the peak of the party, others are when you’re drunkenly staring in the mirror, feeling insecure. Liability fits the latter description. Someone’s brought her insecurities to the surface: she’s too much for some people. This idea is presented in The Louvre, but Liability is when being melodramatic turns sour – it’s the other side of the coin. But it’s not all bad, the overall message is positive. She learns to dance with herself, to love herself more than others claimed they did. 

Hard Feelings/Loveless should not be one track. I’m sorry. They’re such juxtapositions that they work on the same track from an artistic point of view. They’re the two feelings during a breakup. The former is clinging to a failing relationship, the latter is the relief of being yourself again. Somehow I never feel in the mood to listen to both of these, it’d be like putting 400 Lux and Team on the same track. On the other hand, I love both songs individually. Hard Feelings is raw and heartbreaking, the slow burn of getting over someone. Loveless is dancing your pain away without a care once they’re gone. 

Sober II (Melodrama) isn’t a song I think about a lot. It presents the album’s theme quite tidily in a three minute song, one which is quite repetitive. The raspy “We told you this was melodrama” is fantastic. It’s a taunt, bringing Lorde’s classic witchyness back through audio. It’s threatening and over-the-top, exactly how late-teenage drama feels. Yet it’s an incomplete song, an interlude. I’m not a fan of pt. 2 of songs, unfortunately. 

Arguably, the most Lorde song on the album is Writer In the Dark. It’s quirky and complex. Her voice is tangible, her breaths are cool on the back of your neck. The song rushes through different emotions: violent anger, a painful cry, a calm realisation. It’s perfect, it’s what Lorde has always been: a strange take on the normal. Yet this song feels disconnected from the album’s concept. Does it fit into the idea of a house party? I question whether the album would’ve been better without a concept at all. 

Supercut could have been sung by anyone, but Lorde made it her own. It’s all our imperfections in a relationship, imagining things the way we wish we’d done them, not the way we had. Memories that plague us, not because they’re sad, but because they could’ve been so much happier. Who’d have thought this would make a decent dance song? It’s simple, but maybe it should be. 

I don’t like interlude tracks. Liability (Reprise) makes me feel a bit cheated. Though it may be those insecurities from Liability creeping back, weaker though no less persuasive. I’m not sure the song needed a revisit, Liability is so perfect that I think it’s reprise undermines that. It has nice sounds, I’ll give it that. 

As a song to close the album, Perfect Places is stellar. It’s all about intoxication, those places we go to pretend everything’s good, to dance our troubles away. It’s those places we are with our friends and we’re dancing together and we’re lost together and we love each other. It’s quieting the stress we’re feeling by doing these silly little things “blow my brains out to the radio“. Lorde ends the album in a similar way to Pure Heroine, by speaking in a raspy voice. She asks a question, it’s an answer she’s still searching for. If you immediately listen to Green Light after this, it becomes apparent that she’s doing her makeup in someone else’s car, heading to the party to find the answer. The album’s feel changes, Melodrama is a question: “What the fuck are perfect places anyway?

Borrowed Book Club – Everything, Everything

Borrowed Book Club started because my friends and I often pass books around to each other. I love to think about which of my friends my current book would suit, and I love that they sometimes think of me when they read a passage. Here is a review, exactly 250 words, about a book that was borrowed to me. Everything, Everything was given to be months ago by Katie, who should really have her books back by now.

I didn’t love this book. With glowing recommendations from more than one friend, I had very high expectations for Nicola Yoon’s first novel. Unfortunately (as with We Were Liars), the twist left me underwhelmed. I spent my time hoping that I hadn’t worked out the ending. This twist was a cop-out, an improbably hopeful ending that only happens in books. Perhaps we are supposed to figure it out before protagonist Maddy, even if so, it’s not effective. The twist is one for a tense thriller, not a melodramatic love story. This left me thinking that the love story may have been unnecessary. Another weak point is the plot’s reliance on the ‘sick girl’ trope. It’s overused, especially in YA, and I’m over it.

However, Everything, Everything does have its strengths. Where the plot may be lacking, the writing excels. The book is set out as a catalogue of Maddy’s thoughts – including simple yet beautiful illustrations and book reviews so short they rival my own. This form of writing feels original and prevents the creeping disinterest that comes with long chapters. Maddy is a fantastic character, and she’s rare – a genuinely believable YA heroine. It would be easy to read this in one sitting, but it took me some time to get through it. Perhaps I can only recommend when not to read this book: if at this moment someone you know is faced with a rare illness, the ending of this novel will give you no hope of their escape.

The Big Sick Review

Movie Rundown is a take on upcoming movies, recent releases and film news. It’s about what’s worth seeing and what’s worth a miss.

Quirky, funny, relevant. This is an accurate description of both Kumail Nanjiani and his true-story-romcom-drama. The film is touching, the characters are believable yet funny and it’s worth seeing. That said, those 124 minutes felt as though they dragged on for far longer, and as with any dramedy, the pacing was a little off. Yet Kumail’s comedy always feels this way, the awkwardness, the strange pace, the poor timing, it only adds to his character and the inevitable laughs. So perhaps that’s only a personal criticism.

Kumail Nanjiani plays himself, a struggling comic whose Pakistani family is desperate for him to enter an arranged marriage. Instead, Kumail falls in love with Emily, who is equally awkward and adorable. Their relationship is believable, probably because it’s based on Kumail’s real life. They have some very cute ups and a traumatic down. Emily falls ill, ending up in a medically-induced coma. Kumail must befriend her parents, deal with his parents’ reaction to their relationship, and handle his own feelings about Emily’s health. The best part? There’s no rush to the airport. There’s no screaming at the sky. There’s no kissing in the rain. Their emotions are raw, but real and understated, which makes it all the more poignant.

The Big Sick has a broader appeal than it may seem. It’s not niche. The laughs across the cinema were plentiful, to the point where I missed a handful of dialogue. Though it may come across as a millennial-hipster movie – he’s an uber driver who likes old horror movies – it’s pretty relatable. Kumail struggles pursuing a passion that his family don’t suport, he falls in love with a girl his parents disapprove of, and he really really loves The X Files. The tensions of interracial relationships feel very real in this film, it alerts us that even in 2017, this is still a controversial topic, one which is not nearly explored enough in films. There are so little people of colour on our screens, and even less interracial couples, this was honestly a breath of fresh air.

However, I do have criticisms for this near-perfect film. I feel that the ‘sick partner’ plotline is a little tired at this point, but it’s excusable since it’s a true-story. Not only did it actually happen, it was believable and necessary to the plot unlike many films who simply use the ‘ailing lover’ trope. Though it didn’t feel like an empty use of the trope, I’m upset we didn’t see more of Emily and Kumail interacting, who are one of the best movie couples in recent years. The film’s big problem was its run time. Though it wasn’t a long film, I felt as though I was watching the extended edition. There were many points where I thought the film would end and it didn’t. Though most scenes are interesting, emotional or funny, a few could’ve been cut to help balance the tone.

The movie was an Odeon Screen Unseen, and it was a perfect choice. It was unconventional, something most of us wouldn’t choose to see. In my case, my local cinema usually doesn’t get anything other than the blockbusters (we didn’t even get Carol). As I don’t think it would have been shown, it’s something I’m very glad I got the chance to see, and I’m thrilled I could see it early! I would always recommend Odeon Screen Unseen as it costs £5, which is far less than any cinema ticket, and it’s always a great surprise. This film is not a must-see, but a you-should-probably-try-to-see-it. It’s offbeat and funny and takes on racism in a way that should happen far more often. Romantic comedies need more people of colour as love interests, The Big Sick is a shining example.

Movies like What If wish they were this movie.