Adventures of Frangipan

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Fast Fashion

When Gok's Fashion Fix first started Gok came up with 4 outfits, which each had to cost less than £100; while the designer girls could spend as much as they wanted. I didn't always like what he came up with, but he was great at showing how outfits can be customised using a bit of imagination.

Three years on, the slogan is still "no matter what your budget is, everyone can afford to look good". But now Gok can spend up to £400 per outfit. I don't consider myself to be poor, but I certainly couldn't afford to spend £400 on an outfit: in fact, I probably don't even spend £100. I'm quite sure I'm not alone either, judging by the number of people pouring into Primark, Peacocks and the like on a daily basis.

The whole programme really is a dichotomy. Gok says you don't need to buy lots and creates 'capsule wardrobes' for lucky fans, but at the same time it probably does a lot to feed the fast fashion industry too.

We seem to have reached a point in time where the number one pastime is shopping. I'm concentrating mostly on clothes here, but the same is true for electronic goods, houseware, etc. There are loads of magazines around now with fashion sections, and most come out on a monthly basis. Years ago, clothes would stock clothes for seasons. With the popularity of magazines and consumer demand, shops started changing their stock more regularly. Now there are fashion magazines that come out on a weekly basis, so there seems to be even more stock. Rather than changing the stock more regularly, shops seem to be providing more choice.

Ordinarily I would consider more choice to be a good thing, but we also have to consider the waste. Firstly the materials have to be created, whether its cotton grown in fields, leather from cows, or polyester. You could argue that all this work provides jobs in parts of the world where it's needed, but they also take up valuable land and water, use pesticides and chemicals, and have to be transported. Then when the clothes are being made, some material will be wasted as it's cut. This is perfectly normal, but obviously as the amount of clothes being produced increases, so does the off-cuts. Next, the shops provide much more than they ever sell. And lastly, people spend so little on the clothes they buy that it doesn't matter when the fashion changes: they can just throw last season's clothes out. Very little is built to last.

I own a lot of clothes. Unlike most people, I wear the majority of those clothes on a regular basis. I also buy a lot from charity shops.

I suppose my point is that we need to learn to buy less clothes, and pay a bit more for them. But it's a global thing: we have celebrities shopping on a regular basis, shown in the paparazzi's favourite magazines. They appear in new outfits at countless events, and are interviewed about their style, where they tell us they have dressing rooms, 50 pairs of jeans and over 100 pairs of shoes. That's where cheap highstreet shops come in: allowing the less well off the chance to keep up, albeit in polyester rather than silk or satin.

So if we had to spend a bit more on each item of clothing, we would have to buy less, and therefore would shop less. Then maybe the population would develop some more meaningful pastimes. And then maybe we would all care about more than how we look.

Labour Behind the Label and the Clean Clothes Campaign produce an annual report on the efforts of high street shops to improve conditions for their workers. It's very easy to understand, and can hold some surprises. For example, New Look and Primark are in the top category, doing work to increase wages; while Debenhams and John Lewis are doing 'no work to speak of'.

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Friday, 24 September 2010

Freshers' Week

The weekend was quite boring but things improved throughout the week. We had a programme induction on Monday, where we were given course guides and met our lecturers/tutors. There are about 30 of us on the course. Afterwards I spent some time in the coffee shop with a few of them.

On Tuesday we had a library induction and I went round the freshers' fair and sports fair with the people I met yesterday. I got a few freebies (most of which are now in the bin) and signed up to a few clubs. I feel like a lot of the clubs miss out on some interest because they're so competitive: they don't have much room for people who just want to play a sport for fun. Thankfully the kayaking, equestrian and badminton clubs I've signed up to do understand 'recreational'. They looked a bit confused at the football table though. But I've since found the 'give it a go' sports programme, which is basically the recreational clubs. So I can do football after all. And ultimate frisbee. Maybe.

On Wednesday I had a meeting with the programme director. During the induction he mentioned that we could do extra modules, such as GIS (which used to be one of the options but isn't anymore), but it won't appear on the transcript. Basically we can either just sit in on lectures and he will write a reference saying this, or we can do the coursework too, and he'll give the mark gained in the reference. I also asked about being a course rep, which looks like very little work but still something to add to the CV. Afterwards I went around the societies fair and signed up to a few: World Vision, rock music, photography, film, sky diving, volunteering, and One Planet. The fifth housemate arrived tonight: one more to come.

Thursday started with a walk: our lecturers were taking us on the Ouseburn walk, which led from the university, down to the river, along the quay, and up the Ouseburn. They told us a bit about the history of Newcastle, and some rather disturbing things about reclaimed contaminated land. Then we went to a really nice pub called The Cluny for lunch and a quiz. It's just across the road from Stepney Bank Stables, where I hope to volunteer soon. I had to leave early because I had my gym induction, which I was a couple of minutes late for. So I got to see all that the new £30m sports facility has to offer: a swimming pool, climbing wall, huge fitness suite, sports halls, arena... lots! I signed up straight after, so I have to go now to make the most of it!

The weather up until Thursday has been fantastic. It's been so warm and sunny, I've been walking around in vest tops and skirts, and not believing I'm in northern England! But on Thursday afternoon the heavens opened. It bucketed down for a couple of hours, so I went into town and bought a hat and an umbrella: I guess there'll be more of this to come! On my way home I went to the library and checked out my first book: Green Development.

Today I had nothing to do in uni, so I stayed in bed until lunchtime, then I went to B&Q to buy a shelving unit, and that has basically been it!

My housemates have been going out and doing the fresher thing. The two girls have been out a couple of times but haven't gone nuts. The newest guy went out last night but is in tonight. And the fresher guy - in the room next to me - has definitely been making the most of freshers' week. I don't think he's been in before 4am, he's loud, and he's often drunk when he wakes up in the morning too! He apologises to me every day and asks if he woke me. He has woken me a few times, but now it's all blurred into one. I'm hoping he'll calm down once uni starts and he gets a few more shifts in work.

So I haven't been out yet. Me and Mum went for supper in town last Friday, but were both too knackered to go bar hopping afterwards! And the idea of a few thousand 18 years olds in their first week away from home scares me a bit. I do want to go out and socialise, but I'm happy to wait until I go to some course and society socials. Our lecturers do a Friday night pub thing every week, and one of them is having a garden party next week. And between all the clubs and societies, I should have a few nights out!

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Saturday, 18 September 2010

Starting in Newcastle

I'm feeling quite bored and lonely at the moment. I'm worried it's all going to go the same way as Leeds did. Or that I don't connect with my housemates. It didn't help that today I lost the piece of paper that had the key code for the door and alarm on. I spent a couple of hours worrying that I might've dropped it right outside the house, or that I'd been pick-pocketed. I had a brief wander on campus, finding the main buildings and students' union. Again, I felt noticeable as I was alone.

I need to get over this. I need to make sure that I get involved. I want to. It's only my shyness holding me back.

So I've met 3 housemates and the boyfriends of one. Really nice people, but they are all 18, so it's all new and exciting to them. One of the girls I'd been in touch with isn't coming here anymore, and there's still two more to arrive. The one thing that is becoming apparent though is that these guys all have their lives set up: they already knew each other, work together, and they're all quite local. So I'm in a position where I absolutely have to get to know other people, or this could turn out to be an even more lonely experience than Leeds.

I'm hoping the course is small enough that I see the same group of people again and again. I'm hoping there's lots of group work, so I can get to know people on the course. I hoping that by the time of the welcome fairs next week, I'll have built up the guts to sign up to the societies I'm interested in.

I have to do this. I can't spend this year thinking about how great life is at home: I'll go nuts. I need to make the most of this year. It's about setting up my career path as well as looking after my mental health. I haven't set myself up in the best way, between not sorting things with Dad and my bizarre boy hang ups.

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Thursday, 16 September 2010

24 hours to go...

... or maybe a little more, until I get to Newcastle to move into my new student house, in preparation for starting my masters degree on Monday.

I've been quite calm and relaxed about this until now: the reality doesn't usually set in until quite late with me. I packed up a lot of stuff a couple of weeks ago and all was fine. But earlier, I was packing up food and started to feel nervous!

I've been settled for quite a while now: I came home from my last trip 3 years ago, I've been living at home since then, and I was in the same job for almost 2 years. I've had a nice life here: an income, family, friends, hobbies, and a place I know.

But now it's time for the unknown. Moving in with 5 people I don't know, in a place I don't know. Leaving my friends, family, and horses behind. I'm really going to miss them all. But I've moved in with people I don't know before and it was fine. And I've visited Newcastle and I like it. It's only for a year and I'll be home every couple of months.

So the only really scary part is the money. I'll have to live on a lot less than I've been used to so I'll have to adjust my lifestyle accordingly. But worse than that, I haven't had confirmation of my loan through yet. It's been delayed and I won't find out until next week whether I've got the money or not.

I can't afford to do the degree without it. If I get turned down, I'll have to apply for another loan. And if that happens, I think I'll have to put my tuition fees on my credit card.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Scott Pilgrim vs The World

What a breath of fresh air!

I've been struggling with comedies lately: everything seems to be following the Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughan, Will Ferrell vein, and I just don't find them funny. I enjoyed The Wedding Crashers, Dodgeball and 40 Year Old Virgin when I first watched them, but there isn't anything to make me go back and watch them again and again. And I have no idea what the fuss about The Hangover was all about. I know they keep getting made because they sell, but how many times do we have to hear the same jokes in a slightly different way? I don't find someone saying 'suck my dick' as trash talk funny; but then to have to sit through it being said several more times, using slightly different words? And fat jokes. Haven't we had enough of them too?

But Scott Pilgrim is fantastic. It's original, off the wall, and will surely be a cult classic. The humour is a mix of quirky and sweet. Some of the jokes might not be new, but the delivery is brilliant. People might struggle with it because it is set in the present day but is completely unrealistic. I've told all my friends who would probably think that way to just go with it.

A woman in the row in front in the cinema stood up at the end and said, "Well that was the shittest film I've seen." I think that made it even funnier!

You can also check out the graphic novels here.

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Casual drinks

I went out for drinks with my future husband on Friday, and it was quite nice. We were being our usual selves: sarcastic and cutting, and a bit flirty. We ended the night with a hug and even though I was a bit unsure at the time if that was all I wanted, I'm glad it ended there.

We have an undeniable connection, and we bounce off each other well. It's just really easy with him, and I can be open and honest. But I haven't thought about him since then, and I'm not really attracted to him.

So maybe the friends thing will work.

It would be nice if it could be that easy with someone else, without having to go through all the shit that we've been through. There have been a couple of occasions recently when I've been very honest with people, and I felt great after, like it was a huge weight lifted and I didn't have to analyse all possible scenarios without really knowing what the other person thought. Easier when you're not making yourself vulnerable though.


Sunday, 12 September 2010

I've read loads of my blog posts today. Gone all the way back to the end of 2007 trip. It's been quite nice going back over stuff, but I've noticed a few spelling errors! If I get the time I might go back and correct them.

It's quite interesting to see how honest I am about my feelings in the more personal posts. And how much my feelings have changed since writing them. It's still important though: I might not feel the same way anymore but I did at that time, and I like to remember that.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Lady Scarlet

My friends' band, Lady Scarlet, played a gig in a local pub on Saturday night. It wasn't packed but those of us who were there really enjoyed it. Check out videos of some of the songs on my youtube channel, especially their version of Dizzee Rascal's Bonkers. Apologies for the sound quality: it isn't an expensive camera!

I'm very glad that they'll be playing more gigs at Christmas and can't wait to see what they come up with this time. Personally I'm hoping they do this...

Not holding my breath though!

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False advertising

"Transforms your look for impact you never thought your lashes could achieve"

And guess what? They still won't achieve this look because it's enhanced in post production. If these companies and make up artists are so confident in their product, why not advertise without the enhancement? I realise Max Factor are far from the only ones to touch up pictures, but I'm just getting a bit fed up of being told I can look this good using this product, when the girl in the ad needs falsh lashes or hair extensions to look that good!