Monthly Archives

September 2011

Five for Friday: Why I'm kissing goodbye to my social life

Five reasons why I’ll be socially inactive for the near to mid-distant future:

1) Just started a Masters in Online Journalism with Birmingham City University. Read all about it at Journo Nest.

2) Have joined the Brew Drinking Thinkings team as one of the wedding writers.

3) The old day job is turning into a day-and-some-of-the -evening job.

4) As well as playing netball twice a week I’m also coming out of volleyball retirement this season. Just wanted to throw some physical pain on top of the mental pain points 1-3 will cause.

5) I have a fantastic husband and crazy doggy I’d like to kick back with when I’m not doing the above.

Why I hate nightclubs…

Fame hen weekendI had loads of fun at my mate’s Fame-themed hen weekend (I have to say that, I was co-organiser, but it happens to be true) although it did serve to remind me why my clubbing days are well and truly over. I used to love a good night out but now the sofa beckons…

Here’s why…

1) You have to pay to get in. And if you don’t like it when you do get in, there’s no refund policy or try before you buy.

2) Even if someone is shouting directly into your earhole, you still can’t hear them.

3) Random men feel it’s appropriate to dribble over you, grab your buttocks and spoon you on the dancefloor. It isn’t.

4) You have to queue for a ridiculously long time to get a drink. In this day and age where you can get the latest James Paterson novel on your kindle in three minutes flat, slow bar staff and elbow-jostling queues just doesn’t do it for me.

5) Clubs smell of incredibly sweaty armpits. The toilets smell of wee, poo and incredibly sweaty armpits.
Going to the toilet involves dodging other women’s wee, grappling for tissues in the absence of loo roll and getting scowled at by other women as you top up your lip gloss in the mirror. At the weekend, two guys were so brazen they chose the ladies loos as a good place to (potentially) pull. Helllloooo! Seriously guys, you need to try harder.

6) Women in nightclubs don’t like other women. Every other female who isn’t your friend (and sometimes even your friends count) is judged as competition for single men or a threat to happy couples and nice looking women are generally disliked most. None of this bothers me in the slightest but as a semi sober person I noticed a lot of women scowling.

7) High heels and dance floors don’t go. My trainer-hungry feet were screaming at me in pointy high heels and forced me to lean against a wall and sway for the latter part of the evening as my shoes lay idle on the floor and my bare feet dodged the spilled beer and broken glass.

8) Night clubs don’t get busy until very late. We arrived at 11.15pm and it was practically empty. 11.15pm is pushing my bedtime as it is, it’s a struggle to stay up later just to catch the crowds.

9) Leaving nightclubs is the best bit, the chance to kick off the killer heels, head towards a warm and cosy bed and maybe scoff a dirty kebab on the way. But first you have to dodge touchy-feely men, drunken shouty women and sporadic piles of sick, just to get to the taxi.

10) The reason why I used to like clubbing? I was so blind drunk that I never noticed any of the above. Maturity and sensible drinking has a side effect – awareness.

Brunette is best

I made a mistake on Friday… having taken the decision two months ago to change my hair colour from red-ish to blonde-ish (I fancied yet another change), I went to the hairdressers on Friday to go even blonder. You see, going lighter takes some time, especially as my hair’s been all sorts of colours over the past few years and blonde needs a bit of time to really take hold. Apparently.

Blonde hair disaster

Seriously bad hair day

But my hair sucked up all that bleach and now I have very blonde hair, whatever ‘very blonde’ means. And it’s dry as a bone. And it feels like straw. And I HATE it.

Every time I glance in the mirror, rage races through my blood, and I’ve spent the weekend with it tied up so I don’t have to see it scratching at my face or get my hand stuck in it when I attempt to move it from my eyes. It’s horrid.

Apart from it looking and feeling as thirsty as a desert – oh, how I miss the shine – I really don’t think I suit being a blonde. It’s just not me.

So, after wailing to my lovely hairdresser down the phone (she must think I’m bonkers) I return to the there at the end of the week to go dark brown. Dark, dark brown. For me, brunette is best, it’s what I’m comfortable with, it’s who I am. And I’m hoping the shine and gloss I once had will come back too.

Fingers crossed it’s not too windy this week, I’m fearful of my hair snapping off at the roots in a big gust of the stuff. Reminds me of when I was about 12 and the hairdresser suggested I cropped my long hair. I had no idea that cropping meant CUTTING MY HAIR SHORT!!!! otherwise I’d never have agreed. What resulted was a lot of tears, a refusal to go to school until it had grown back and a lesson to always talk the same language as my hairdresser.

To be fair, this time my hairdresser (not the evil woman who scarred my childhood) did what I asked and did it well. I have the blonde hair I asked for. What I didn’t realise was that with a bleached bonce comes knots, brittle locks and a fond longing to be a brunette again as quickly as possible. Roll on Friday!

Have you ever had any hair disasters?

To what degree do you need a degree? My next challenge…

It’s not like I don’t have anything else to fill my spare time but last year was pretty monumental… got engaged, moved house, got a dog, celebrated someone special’s 30th birthday, got married, honeymooned and spent my first Christmas as a wife surrounded by a lot of snow after only just making it home from New York in time thanks to an icy runway at Heathrow.

So this year, apart from another house move, has been pretty tame in comparison and I do like a challenge. And this one’s pretty huge too – in a couple of weeks I start an MA in Online Journalism with Birmingham City University (distance learning).

What’s so big about that I hear you cry? Well, I work full time in a busy job as it is, have a pretty active social life, sporting commitments and a family who occasionally like to see me (go figure) so there’s the time angle. This MA will take up around 18 hours of my week and when you factor in everything else in my diary, that’s not going to leave a lot of time for lazing around reading crime novels, watching my Murder She Wrote boxsets or scoffing curries after work with my colleagues.

But there’s anther angle too… I don’t have a degree and a Masters is what you’re supposed to do after the degree. Luckily for me my experience ‘in the field’ has made up for my lack of degree and not only did they let me in, they also gave me an advanced scholarship. So I don’t want to let them, or me, down.

Journo Nest logoI say lack of a degree like it’s a bad thing but I have to say that not having one has never ever held me back. I’ve always applied for jobs which are for graduates and got interviews; and, of course, got my current job that way. Yes, my current employer – a university – questioned my lack of degree but I answered with: “I have three years experience working full time in the industry instead of a degree. That makes me three years ahead of anyone else my age with a degree, it would be impossible for them to have as much work experience as I do.” And that did the trick.

And in newspapers, the industry I worked in before my current job, it was never about qualifications, it was about experience, ability and enthusiasm. That’s not to say qualifications aren’t necessary, they often are and I’ve endeavored to do any qualification offered to me while also working – some NVQ Levels 4s, a CIPR Diploma in Public Relations etc – so on top of experience, so far, that’s stood me pretty well. If you can gain experience AND work towards a qualification, grab the opportunity with both hands. It’s one of the reasons The Open University works so well, it offers people of any age and background the chance to do both. But don’t underestimate the power of experience, it’s what says you can actually do the job.

When I did my journalism training at just 18, my mentor confessed to preferring to take on 18-year-olds than 21-year-olds grads – we were youger, keener, easier to shape and the full-time college experience was much more a replica of a working day than the traditional university lifestyle which made graduates a bit lazy. His words, not mine.

So, not only am I worried about the time it will take me to complete the MA – which is over three years and done from home – I’m also worried about the academic side of it. Am I up to it? I screeched and moaned my way through the CIPR Diploma because it was tough (perhaps because I was a journo sitting in a room of PRs?) but if I had my time again I’d still do it.

And this is a small worry but my peers are likely to be a decade younger than me, probably a lot cooler and grew up with online tools where as I’ve had to actively learn them. But this is minor league, I’m down with the kids and looking forward to swapping knowledge and views and experience.

But all of those worries sit beneath a bubble of excitement that I get to study the subject I love under the guidance of a well respected and talented tutor (see Online Journalism Blog), and that will boost my career and my qualifications. I’ve reached the point where I’d like to be academically more able and have some theory behind what it is I’ve been working at for more than a decade.

So, it starts in a couple of weeks and I’m desperately trying to get ahead by preparing, doing some background reading and trying to conjure up some kind of study plan. And seeing my friends because I won’t have so much time to do that when the MA kicks in.

And until it does start, I am full of excitement, nerves and questions. I’ll keep you posted. Oh, and the plan is to blog as I go at Journo Nest, the sister blog of Robyn’s Nest.

One Day by David Nicholls

One Day by David NichollsI read this book for two reasons – one, because a few of my lovely writer buddies think it’s the dog’s behind and two, because I want to watch the film having read the book first. While films can never capture the detail and emotion of the novels on which they’re based, I like to start with the original version first. I find it hard to read books when I already know the ending and obviously watching the film would more then give it away. I also wanted to focus on the characters as the author meant them to be, not the allegedly dodgy portrayal of a northern accent by the lovely Anne Hathaway. I’ll make my own judgment when I watch the film.

Having mentioned the book to a work work colleague, she found it just average. Me? I thought it was a fantastic read, about two characters I grew to love and who grew to love each other.

The concept is brilliant… the books tells the story from the viewpoints of Emma and Dex who meet officially (after passing glances) following the night of their graduation; they share a bed, some cigarettes and conversations about how their lives will really begin after university, well off Dex keen on travel and women, incredibly bright Emma a tad daunted by the years ahead.

And then the book skips one year ahead, on the same day, St Swithun’s Day in July. The pair have remained friends, writing letters regularly and sharing a increasingly strong friendship, him a real ladies man, her a bright girl who hasn’t really grown into herself just yet.

And so the book continues, with each chapter on another St Swithun’s Day in another year, and we seen Emma and Dex’s lives unfold, their love interests, their careers, theirs highs and lows, their mistakes, and with one common theme running through – their friendship; they completely get each other.

And so the story spans from early 20s to early 40s, two decades of character development and life-changing events. I knew it was going to be a weepy right from the beginning when a undelivered letter potentially changes the direction of their futures. And at the end, I am indeed sobbing.

It’s a lovely story and while the last chapter – no doubt indended to round the story off just so – doesn’t quite pull itoff for me, it’s beautifully written and a pleasure to spend two decades follwing Emma and Dex around from the comfort of my armchair. Loved it.

Robyn’s rating: 9/10

Posted: September 2010