Monday, 24 September 2012

20,000 and more

This isn’t going to be a long blog post; this is just a little update.

Firstly this blog now has over 20,000 views! It’s 20,527 at the moment, so thanks to everyone for taking an interest, especially how I was celebrating 10,000 not even 3 months ago. From my stats I can tell that some of you were just looking for a photo of a tragus piercing but I can also tell that the number of referred views is much smaller than the total number of views therefore that means most of you have come straight here. So big hi to all viewers who have me bookmarked.

Secondly: I know, I know, I still haven’t come up with a name. I’m toying with a couple at the moment and I will pick one that feels best. There will be a name soon….. honest!
The view out my window

Thirdly and finally, (see I said it was going to be a short post) I’m feeling a lot more at home in England now. My family has been a big help in making me fit back into my old life but the thing that’s made me feel most at home? I think it’s the cold and the rain! This morning I’m wearing jeans, fluffy socks, two t-shirts and a huge hoody to stay warm and it seems comforting to be snuggled up 24/7. I’m also sitting in the sun/living room listening to the rain gently tap at the windows and I’m looking at how green the garden looks. The trees look happier for the rain and I would want the trees to be unhappy. I’m not sure why I like the rain but I do, maybe it’s engrained into every Englishman (or Englishwoman) to find comfort in the quintessential f their country? I’m sure I’ll be sick of the cold and wet soon enough but I’m going to enjoy it while I can.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Channelling my inner outcast

So this week I have been without my laptop because I fell for from horrible human beings internet scam. So my laptop is undergoing some drastic emergency surgery thanks to a very helpful ict department I have access to. It’s nice to have friends with useful skills. I actually wrote this on paper not in word as usual which I am actually enjoying in an old fashioned kind of way.

The main thing I miss from my laptop’s unscheduled absence, is the social interaction online. I grew up being the geeky, freakishly tall, odd girl (no princess diaries jokes please) and with that came an acceptance of solitude that I rarely resented having observed the strange beings that were my classmates and decided I was better off without. I was therefore, an elected hermit rather than an outcast but the effect was the same no matter what I called it. I never avoided social interaction but I rarely found someone entertaining enough to interact with.

From what I can tell, all comprehensive schools have the same social set up:

I spent years 7 and 8 in ring C. I worked my way into low B thanks to the year 9 Spanish exchange when I became useful for my skills; not Spanish, which I was pretty rubbish at, but I’ve always been quick thinking which was defiantly needed in that exchange. In year 10 my popularity was accidentally skyrocketed when I befriended a lady in waiting to the school queen. This girl was probably at best a high B but was the queen’s oldest friend so was escalated by default. I spent a year with the A* and found it to be useful but exhausting! If the politicians want to sort out international relations they should employ super popular teenage girls. Every move they make is carefully calculated an analysed to consider all parties involved, most are done to sabotage but they know they are stronger in a group so they keep together. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer and all that.

By year 11 I was established enough socially to start taking risks and doing what I wanted for a change. I kept the A* group close but I fitted more with the aloof art crew that ran the B ring. I enjoyed being in this group. They were all individuals rather than a hierarchy of drones. They threw good parties and I was allowed to explore who I was a bit more. Being an ex A* I was given enough respect to be influential. I rarely used this power but it was nice to have. I suspect that’s what saved me from being suspended when I accidentally spray painted the art steps neon green, I hope that’s still there!

But when I was seventeen either I changed or the people changed and being social was now appealing, even more inconceivable I got a boyfriend. Maybe it’s because I moved school and I was given the chance for people to see me for who I was then, rather than who I was in year 7 when all my previous school mates met me. Also I was in a more academically competitive and stimulating environment. Maybe to competitive and stimulating as it was an accurate joke that all enrolled at my school would at some point a) have a mental breakdown, b) develop an eating disorder or c) become a slut. Some girls got bingo but that another topic entirely. I won’t tell you which I got.

One of the best hipster memes
So that’s the story of how I became social. I moved to uni and continued to interact and socialise enough to make me one of the most recognised individuals in my class. No matter how much time goes by, I never lose the outcast identity I learnt from preschool onwards. I guess that’s my inner hipster saying that I was uncool before it was cool. However because of my resent gullibility leading t my loss of my laptop, it’s taken me a while to adjust to only being able to communicate to the cat most of the time. Yes I know I have a mobile but that’s imposing interaction on someone rather than being online implying a mutual availability for a conversation. I guess I’ve become more socially conforming and dependant than I thought.

I wonder what that does to us personally? How many people define themselves by others value of them? Having such an external identity must be unhealthy. Having realised that I was leaning towards this external identity I will make an effort to find some of my self-worth from myself. Not that being social isn’t a vital part of life but its apparently easy to lose yourself in it and forget that you are an individual outside of your social group and be happy with yourself without others approval, especially a young adult today.

Also, as this blog shows, I tend to move about a lot. Not only have I spent the last year in Australia and moved school at 17 and then to uni at 19, but I have spent months at school in Germany, a summer traveling through brazil and time in many other countries. I love to travel which means that I meet a large amount of people but never know them in person for more than a year as this seems to be the maximum amount of time I stay anywhere. I guess this could be partly the cause for my need for social interaction. If I rarely make long term friends then I am relying on new approval all the time. I don’t mean to say that I don’t have long term friends. I have two that I have known and been close to for nearly 18 years and I have half a dozen I have known for about 5 years. One of them recently told me that he couldn't move about as much as I do because he thought that leaving everything behind was too higher cost for a new experience. Is that true? Am I sacrificing social stability to explore? I always looked at it as: those that mattered would stay in my life and those that fell out of my life weren’t worth having. But now I think maybe I’m loosing out. So I have two options: either I chose to stay in one place and settle down and put the man hours in to make a stable life with the social approval the human psyche seems to crave. Or I can become more internalised and rely on myself and continue my pattern of exploration, meeting dozens of new people but probably never seeing them again once I leave.

However I am NOT thanking the low lives that compromised the security of my laptop. They can rot.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Great/Broken Britain

Since coming back to England I have been able to see my country with fresh eyes and notice all the things that I may have overlooked or I just took it for granted that’s how things were. I thought that when I came back I would be able to fit back into British life easily as I have lived here nearly all of my life, but it has been taking more getting used to that I expected.

Every day there is news of the economy; people watch it obsessively but, as I never really had any money, I never gave it much attention as it didn’t impact me. But having come back it is painfully obvious that the UK is in economic decline. Streets are shabby, public services are worn out and everything is either dark green, mud brown or grey as if the bright colours were too expensive to use. People go about their lives with a sort of stillness and solemn resolution to their fate. There is no energy or excitement. Recently there has been the Queen’s jubilee and the Olympics which seemed to generate enthusiasm at the time but now they are over its like they were never here and people have returned to their hum drum. Is there nothing in the whole country to be excited about?

Some of the signs on the trains
People appear to be stretched to desperation as there seems to be very little future or prospects, especially for the younger generations. Unemployment rates soar with the crime rates as people struggle to find employment that pays enough to live on. A couple of weeks ago my phone was stolen out of my bag in a club, it can’t have been worth more than £40 but someone was willing to risk a criminal record for that tiny sum of money. It’s gotten so bad that the entire population is scared of itself. I’m having to get used to never being alone after dark, never making eye contact with strangers and always having some emergency money hidden on me in case I’m mugged. There are now fake signs on the tube in London advising travel activities to avoid confrontation. At least the only threat on the tube is being mugged or stabbed; the threat of being blown up in a terrorist attack is subsiding, or people are just desensitised to it now.

Soon I will be returning to university to finish my studies. This means a new form of social interaction. I don’t mean between myself and other students but between myself and the rest of society. People say that there aren’t classes in society any more but they are alive and well no matter what the politicians may say. Students are regarded as lower than low. We are seen as a drain on the already crippled economy and regarded as troublemakers not to be trusted. According to the socio-economic classification used by the government, student is not even recognised as a class so I guess I would be classed at the bottom as “long term unemployed”. The other day I even found myself using the phrase “its ok for student standards” meaning it was broken, old and barely functioning but that it was good enough for a student. Students are that downtrodden that we expect this rubbish ourselves and worse, we are content with it! This is how Britain treats its future best and brightest. A report for Universitas 21 rated the UK 27th for spending on higher education. That says it all really. Maybe it’s some form of population control? If they make Britain so unliveable with so few jobs then immigrants will stop coming in, and the British born will emigrate out!

However there are some things that give me some hope for this country. Little pin pricks in the dark cover of ruin that let in the light if you know where to look.

Not everyone is out to stab you and there is still human decency in people. While at a train station in London something important fell out of my bag, and a nice old man brought it back to me. I was terribly grateful and it put me in a much better mood for the rest of the day. It’s a shame that we have to protect ourselves so much from strangers, but I would like to believe that those that we are protecting ourselves from are in the minority and most people are actually nice.

Not actually our show but similar
Since I have been home I have been to a couple of events that I think are unique to Britain. Or at least we are the last country to still have them. I went to my village Vegetable Show and actually enjoyed it! It was nice to see the community spirit still there enough to bring people together. I’ve also been to a Cheese and Pickle Fair! This again brought together lots of local businesses. It was nice to see that there still are some local businesses and the whole of Britain isn’t run by soul sucking supermarkets. This event restored my faith in Britain a little more than the veggie show or the man at the station as it included some young people. It had occurred to me that the honest man and the people at the veggie show were all older generations. Mostly retired probably and therefore they were tribute to Britain’s past not its future. But at the cheese and pickle fair there were lots of younger people who had set up businesses and more importantly were passionate enough to make them work!

I am actually really looking forwards to going back to university. Yes I know it will mean being treated like the scum of the earth for another year, but I’m at one of the top universities in Britain and the same report for Universitas 21 rated the UK second for university research and teaching so I am privileged enough to be in a really good higher education system. I enjoy my course and having spent a year out from structured teaching I am eager to get back into being intellectually stretched.

So Britain seems to be a country weighed down by its legacy and unable to lift her head up as she is crippled by herself. But I can see there are doctors working with her to try and get her strength back so she can once again stand proud and tall. I think it’s going to take a while and it may not even be in my lifetime but there are people out there desperately trying to rebuild Britain. Our history is scarred with battles, plagues, wars and ruin but we are one of the oldest sovereign states and we are still one of the strongest countries on the planet so we have been and must be a hardy country and get through this.