Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Thursday, 25 November 2010
|Flickr photo: Mike Baird|
Sunday, 21 November 2010
|What lay at every audience member's feet at the end of the night|
Another section of the concert was based around the paper's various articles and features about food. There was even a chef on the stage cooking the recipes which had appeared in the Weekend mag that day, with the smells wafting across the audience throughout the entire evening. As a foley artist created the sounds of mould growing (to match a video being shown which had been mentioned in the paper, of-course), we were told to make paper aeroplanes out of the recipe pages to represent food airmiles. The sight of hundreds of paper aeroplanes whizzing around the RFH was magical.
I cannot express enough how much I enjoyed the entire concert - it was performed with such humour and intelligence, even including when the performers bowed at the very end to reveal Rupert Murdoch's face adorning the top of everyone's heads. But I'll let you all make your own minds up about what Herbert was trying to imply with this...
Sunday, 31 October 2010
Saturday, 23 October 2010
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Don't get me wrong, the tour was impeccably organised and it was entertaining - especially for the kids who were there with their parents - but I wasn't looking for theatrics, I was thirsty for information. It was great that there was an old tube train that we could explore, but surely if they wanted to give us a true indication of what sheltering in the tunnel was like during the Blitz then there shouldn't have been a train on the tracks or fancy lighting and sound effects? I simply wanted to be shown around and told about what people had to go through, but instead I learned more from health and safety talk which was given in the ticket hall before the formal tour began.
I was still glad that I got the opportunity to explore Aldwych station, but I'm not convinced it was worth £8.50.
My second tunnel adventure took place last weekend at the Old Vic Tunnels underneath Waterloo station. Indeed, these are the same tunnels that were used by Punchdrunk for their Tunnel 228 project I went to last year. This time the exhibition was called Hell's Half Acre, and consisted of a series of installation artworks by various artists, inspired by Dante's Inferno and curated by the Lazarides Gallery.
I must say I was utterly blown away by this exhibition. As usual, I couldn't tell you what it all meant, and having never read 'Inferno' I couldn't place the works within any kind of context whatsoever, but I can honestly say that around every corner there was an installation that made me gasp, coo with awe or grimace with a strange sense of admiring unease.
Humans in cling-film cocoons, a ball of pigeons, magnified maggots, a hypnotic perpetually-changing projection reflected in a pool of water, random etchings on layered plates of glass that formed a perfect image if you stood in the right place....I could go on.
Unfortunately the exhibition - which was free though you had to pre-book - is finished now, but I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for more Lazarides / Old Vic Tunnels projects.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Sunday, 1 August 2010
To clarify, I recently returned from a fabulous fortnight in the USA, where I spent a week in the state of Massachusetts, and another week in Ohio. This was no ordinary holiday, as I was accompanying a friend of mine as she embarked on a fact-finding mission about her incredible and dramatic family tree (but that's her story to tell). As a result of this adventure we didn't stay in hotels, but instead resided in two extremely welcoming all-American households, both connected to my friend's family history.
|The Charles River in Boston|
|The best bagels in the world? Nomably|
Where I acquired the whoopie pie referred to above. However, as the name suggests, their main area of expertise is in the realm of bagels. They freshly bake every kind of bagel imaginable, and it's a great local spot for brekkie or lunch. No website but here are the details.
Back in 1939 the Kimball farming family had a lightbulb moment and decided to turn their woodshed into an ice cream parlour. Over the years word spread about Kimball's until they eventually stopped farming altogether to focus on the ice cream. It turned out to be a good decision, and today you could quite easily spend a whole day at Kimball Farm playing crazy golf, pitching and putting, shopping in their cute country store and filling your bellies at the seafood shack. But a visit wouldn't be complete without sampling the ice cream. A word of warning: the portions are HUGE. A 'small' tub consisted of three massive scoops and, much like everything in the States, the 'kiddies' size was more than sufficient.
Tiny's is perfect and embodied everything that I wanted to experience on this trip. It's a roadside restaurant which is well off the beaten track tourist-wise but really well known in the community. I inhaled a delicious bowl of clam chowder followed by a tasty lobster roll. You can't get more Massachusetts than that.
Goodwill, Shaker Square, OH
A very stylish colleague of mine asked me upon my return to work whether I'd managed to shop in a Goodwill store, and unbelievably (and quite accidentally) I had! We stumbled across this gem of a place in Shaker Square; a lovely area of Cleveland packed with cafes, galleries and a gorgeous cinema. Goodwill's is basically a charity shop, but on a much larger scale. They sell an endless array of things, including some high-end clothing labels if you're prepared to rummage (which we very most certainly were); my friend bought three things for a mere $12, and I picked up a top for $2.
|Tommy's in Coventry|
Tommy's Restaurant, Coventry, OH
Coventry is a quirky "village" just outside Cleveland, which is where all the hippies used to hang out back in the 60s and 70s (and we should know since we were staying with two of them!). Coventry is very proud of its liberal heritage, as demonstrated by the psychedelic street signs and street benches depicting various peace/love-related symbols. The heart and soul of Coventry is Tommy's, a permanently-packed restaurant which arguably serves the best milkshakes in the world. Their chocolate peanut butter malt blew my mind despite the fact that I'm not even that keen on peanut butter. Seriously, it has to be tried to be believed.
|Munching corn at Taste of Tremont|
We were lucky enough to be in the environs of Cleveland to coincide with the annual Taste of Tremont festival. Tremont is an arty little neighbourhood renowned for its restaurants, and every year in July all of the local eateries set up stalls on the streets and sell their delicious nosh at knock-down prices. It was loads of fun. I ate too much. I also shopped in a great Tremont boutique called Banyan Tree.
|How 'diner' can you get?|
This was probably the most 'dinery' of diners we found on our travels. Located in Cleveland's university and cultural district, Silver Spartan is so retro and American that it's almost a parody of itself (check out this video for evidence). The food was classic diner fare but sadly we didn't get to sample the shakes, which are meant to be pretty good (though surely not as good as Tommy's).
Friday, 9 July 2010
The sad truth is that there just aren't enough graduate jobs out there for everyone to land their ideal position straight away. But what is a 'graduate' job? The Association of Graduate Recruiters survey, which has led to the '70 applicants for every job' furore, "is based on responses provided by 199 AGR members in May 2010." These members include big companies like Cadbury, Marks & Spencer, JP Morgan and Vodafone, so presumably the survey is only talking about graduate 'schemes', rather than job vacancies as a whole. The competition for such schemes has always been fierce, and the evidence is there that it is now even more difficult to snare such a coveted and relatively well-paid position straight out of uni, but what about all the other jobs out there?
This is my experience. I graduated at 21 with a 2:1 degree in journalism. I'd considered doing a post-graduate journalism qualification but the bottom line was that I couldn't afford it, so I ruled that out. I happily moved down to Hampshire that summer to be with my then-boyfriend. I knew no one, I had no job and had no idea where life would take me. It was exciting, but within a few days that excitement turned to fear when our letting agents started pressuring me to get a job once we'd signed the lease on our little house. Of course, they were right; I needed to be able to pay the rent, after all. So I started job hunting.
This was 2003, and even then finding a job was a lot harder than I thought it would be. But I got myself a full-time admin position in a sales office. Not the most interesting job in the world and certainly not well-paid, but I earned just about enough and I used my holiday allowance to do a couple of work experience stints at local radio stations. The fact that it was a six-month maternity cover contract gave me something to aim for and plenty of time to look around for other opportunities.
That opportunity arose at a local newspaper, which was advertising a receptionist vacancy. Again, a maternity cover role, so I went for the job with the naive notion that perhaps I could get into journalism that way instead. To an extent the plan worked; I was interviewed for a trainee reporter role after a few months on reception, but the editor (correctly) sensed that I wasn't cut out for the death knock, and although I did some freelance bits and bobs (I got to interview NOEL from HEARSAY!!!), I quickly cottoned on to the fact that a career in journalism wasn't for me. Gah - what now?
PR seemed like the natural next step, so over the next three years I worked in two further education colleges doing in-house PR thanks to the contacts I had made at the local newspaper. Then life changed a bit and London beckoned. And after 18-months doing more in-house education PR for a small organisation in the West End, I found myself at the Guardian, doing a job I'm good at within an industry that fascinates me and for my favourite newspaper.
Who knows, maybe I was just lucky. I certainly consider myself fortunate now to be doing a job I love and without major financial worries. But getting here wasn't easy; nothing was ever handed to me on a plate and I never got a job because I 'knew someone' who could help me get a foot in the door. But I also know that I wouldn't have the job I've got today without a degree, and without giving up my holiday allowance in the early days to get some unpaid experience to pad out my CV. So although my degree may not have provided me with opportunities straight away, ultimately my three years at uni paid off.
I rarely write such personal / preachy blog posts, and I don't want to underplay how difficult it is for anyone - not just graduates - to find a job in the current climate, but my annoyance is summed up neatly by the aforementioned PR intern, who justifies her decision to work for nothing as follows:
"I've signed up for lots of websites and recruitment agencies, but there's nothing that fits what I want to do – just administrative jobs and call centres."I'm sorry, but get real! It goes without saying that my experience is entirely irrelevant to many students who are looking for a different kind of job, but my advice to media / creative graduates would be to think about your career in the long-term. Don't expect to get your dream role instantly, or to even find any kind of job in your industry of choice, as it took me six years to get to where I am today, and without my so-called "administrative jobs" I may well be still clinging to dreams of a career that ultimately I wasn't suited to.
Life is tough in all respects, and one's professional life is no exception, but plug away, work hard and stay positive because - quite a lot of the time, and in my experience - things tend to fall into place in the end.
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
Saturday, 5 June 2010
So when I discovered that Kev - the guitarist in my band Witness To The Beard - had booked us in to a recording studio just off Brick Lane for a day I was excited that I now had a genuine reason to hop on a shiny ELL train for my short journey north. The train was indeed very shiny, and I loved the fact that you can see from one end of the train to the other because of the lack of divisions between the carriages. I arrived at Shoreditch High Station in no time.
Monday, 31 May 2010
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online.
Saturday, 29 May 2010
Ok, here's an amusing anecdote from the Dunlop archive at the end of a very long week....
As we wandered through the dark Spanish residential streets on our way to the local restaurant, we spotted a conspicuous-looking black patch in the middle of the pavement. Taking a closer look, we realised that it was in fact a hazardous hole, about a foot square in size and a couple of feet or so deep.
"Well, that's rather dangerous," my dad said, shaking his head. "Someone could step into that and hurt themselves, there are no warning signs up or anything."
Indeed, indeed, murmured my mum and I, as we continued our eatery-bound amble. Following dinner, we deliberately walked on the other side of the road in order to avoid 'the hole'. "We'll just have to remember it's there," I said, putting it to the back of my mind.
The following day, as I read a book on the roof terrace, my dad decided to go out on one of his 'walks' (what is it with dads and their 'walks' when on holiday??). As he put on his baseball cap, fastened the Velcro straps on his sandals and strolled purposefully away from the villa whilst clutching his map, my mum jokingly shouted "don't forget that hole!"
*90 minutes or so later*
Like a kid who'd fallen over in the playground, my dad had blood trickling down his knee. "What happened to your knee, Dad?" I asked, genuinely concerned. "Take one guess," said my mum, in between the fits of chortling. I looked at her laughter tear-stained face, then to my dad's rather bashful expression, and it all slotted into place.
"YOU FELL IN THE HOLE!"
Hysteria ensued for the next 5 minutes or so, until my dad could sufficiently collect himself to tell the story.
"There's not much to say, really, except one second I was walking along, and the next my leg disappeared from beneath me and I was knee deep in the pavement!"
The funniest thing about the situation was that it was probably the only hole on the face of the entire planet that he had known to be in existence. He had known precisely where it was and had even commented on its threat to pedestrians. Yet he STILL fell in it. He STILL put his foot in precisely the wrong spot on the pavement. "If I had put my foot anywhere else at that moment it wouldn't have gone in the hole," he spluttered between chuckles. "But it was the exact size of my foot, and in it went."
Sunday, 16 May 2010
Sunday, 11 April 2010
My week of gastrono-joy was completed yesterday, when I slipped into a summery dress and headed to the swanky Sanderson hotel for a girly afternoon with a crazy twist; a Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea! Although the hotel resembles a concrete lump from the outside, inside it's sleek and stylish and we were seated in the hotel's pretty courtyard garden. I'd never 'done' afternoon tea in my life, so had no idea what to expect, but when the waiter brought out our individual vintage cake stands stacked with multicoloured sandwiches, scones, cakes and lollipops, I couldn't help but squeal with childish joy.
*If you've never heard of Qype I'd urge you to check it out. Not only does the site give you access to squillions of user-generated (and very well written) reviews so you can see what other people think of local restaurants, bars and shops, but they also organise loads of cool events for regular reviewers to go along to. So it's like a review website and a social network all rolled into one.
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Monday, 5 April 2010
Some interesting debates going on today about the Chris Grayling B&B story. As reported in The Observer yesterday, the shadow Home Secretary was secretly recorded saying he believed that people who run B&Bs should have the right to turn away homosexual couples. The fact is that it's against the law for ANY business to discriminate. If the Tories want this law to change then they should come out (for want of a better phrase) publicly and say so. But Cameron has stayed very quiet since the recording was made public. What that means I don't know, but the issue has definitely touched a nerve with absolutely everyone, one way or the other, so the Conservative Party should make their stance official.
Sunday, 28 March 2010
It was also quite a notable year for me in terms of my musical tastes, as this was the summer that I abandoned boyband pop in favour of indie rock, most notably in the form of Ash and Dodgy. Indeed, you could even argue that Dodgy's gloriously-titled 1996 album 'Free Peace Sweet' was what sparked my interest in puns.
It was a strange moment for me - and I'm sure all the wine helped - but I suddenly realised that my youth is well and truly over, and for a split second I felt uncharacteristically overwhelmed. I know that may sound strange coming from a 28-year-old, as factually speaking my youth has probably been officially over for the best part of a decade, but so much has changed. There's now a complete lack of political optimism which - even as a 14-year-old - I was aware of in the run up to the 1997 election. Summers never seem so sunny anymore. And now Nigel and Andy from Dodgy are now just two chaps with guitars who are still happy to play a set in Lewisham at 1am (which became 2am what with the clocks going forward) on a Saturday night. And although I'm very glad they did, it did made me sad that it isn't 1996 anymore.
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
BK: "WHAT YOU TALKING ABOUT??!!"