For the past few years, I have been neutral with regard to my feelings for the monarchy. I’ve always sat on the fence, immersed in the belief that the Royal Family just sit around on their arses all day attracting tourists by drinking gin and wearing bling. But upon the engagement of uber-celebrities Kate and William, I’ve adjusted my view. The work I’ve seen the royal couple do ever since the wedding announcement has turned my head and dropped my jaw. Canada, New Zealand, the USA – they’ve been all over the shop, and not just to show their faces and make our country look awesome. For instance, the couple requested that anybody who wished to buy them a wedding present to instead donate to a fund for 26 charities, including a charity which aimed to soothe disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake.
And they just keep giving. Only today the Duchess of Cambridge announced the five charities she will support. To that, I’m sure that the anti-monarchists would go off on a tangent about how it is expected for each member of the Royal Family to have a number of charities which they publicly promote and work with. Good point, anti-monarchists. The entire Royal Family work with a number of charities – including many little-known charities which enjoy relentless media attention because of the royal face stamped on to their campaigns. Well, either that or they go out on to the front line to risk their lives for our country like Prince Harry (which, historically, is common – even Liz and her sister worked alongside other British women during World War Two). How nice of the Royal Family.
Furthermore, the introduction of Kate into the Royal Family has created a celebrity culture surrounding Kate which has rocketed the sales of magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Hello!, Glamour and OK!. In addition to becoming a duchess and style icon, Kate’s presence in these women’s magazines have enabled her to reach the younger generation of girls and serve as a role model in a way which no other Family member has previously been able to do. She has diverted the attention of impressionable 14-year-old girls away from basket case and boobie-flasher Lindsay Lohan and on to the more promising prospect of dressing respectably, working in hospices and using your knife and fork properly.
“That’s all well and good, but the cost of keeping all of their lavish palaces and designer clothing just isn’t worth the hassle, particularly in these tough economic times,” I hear you say. I understand your concern. It’s a genuine concern. But bearing in mind that it costs £18.00 for one adult ticket into Buckingham Palace and that over 50 000 people visit Buckingham Palace each year, that’s a fair few quid. In addition to that, most of those visitors probably buy a Buckingham Palace pen (£5.95) from the gift shop or treat themselves to a nice Buckingham Palace body lotion (£8.95). And then they might grab a bite to eat at £25.00 per person in a restaurant near the Palace. All in all, that’s around £26 million each year from Buckingham Palace alone (without taking into consideration the fact that guided tours are held all year at £65.00 per person, there is far more expensive merchandise in the Buckingham Palace gift shop than the 6 quid pen such as the Buckingham Palace gold charm bracelet at £350.00, many tourists will also visit other nearby attractions such as the London Eye – with tickets costing from £17.00 per person – and that there are nine other Royal Palaces dotted around the country which attract similar numbers of crowds). That is a lot of money. All of a sudden, my relentless loathing for those tourists in ridiculous Union Jack shirts has melted away.
…Dare I mention how much revenue the Royal Wedding brought in?
And as for the cost of keeping the Royal Family fed, watered, clothed and blinged at all times? Not a big deal – especially as darling Kate publicises her undying love for high street brands such as Topshop and the fact that she does her own make-up rather than hiring a gold-shovelling make-up artist.
Despite the fact that the Royal Family hold no genuine political power any more (it is often remarked that the Queen would have to sign her own death warrant if it was put in front of her), as a politics and history student I’m bloody glad that Queenie, Philly-boy and the gang are still kicking about. Being able to learn about the history of the Royal Family (which is the foundations of our country today) by hopping on to the Royal website, popping over to the Big B Palace (which I’m sure any architecture students will also appreciate) and jump on to YouTube to see the Fam talking about their ancestors is truly indispensable to me.
You will grow up and be a Tory. By the way, the welfare state is largely there to protect working class people and to level out levels of inequality. You being excessively middle-class, having a grammar school education and coming from a very wealthy area of the UK would not understand that. All very predictable. Maybe you'll get a lecturer at university who's a Marxist, one can only hope.
I don’t entirely dispute that I could one day vote Conservative - after all, I do often find myself agreeing with right-wing political theories. There’s nothing wrong with that (well, provided that I don’t delve into genocide to ensure that my views are upheld by others). Similarly, you strike me as a socialist - there’s nothing wrong with that (again, provided that genocide doesn’t feature in your game plan either).
However, I would never call myself middle-class. On the contrary, I am both a great supporter and user of the UK welfare state (to which I genuinely hope to contribute once I have finished university and attained a steady job) because it has helped me, my family and other people around me when they fell on their arses. For instance, a few years ago a family member was made redundant and was unemployed for nearly a year (due to the dire economic climate she was unable to find a job, despite her numerous applications to various employers in the area); without the security of the welfare system, she would have been unable to continue raising her family as a single mother.
Here’s a little bit I wrote a while ago about why the welfare state is as awesome as the general existence of Chuck Norris and here’s a little bit I wrote about my reliance on the welfare system (please note that the latter piece was about the abolition of EMA, hence the focus on education).
Furthermore, just because I am from a wealthy area does not by any means allow you to draw the conclusion that I am wealthy. The fact that I have a grammar school education surely indicates that, rather than being wealthy, my parents had to send me to state schools (the operative word in that sentence being ‘state’ - once again I have shown evidence of my reliance on and admiration of the welfare system).
Please do leave me more messages if you feel inclined to do so; it is interesting to see what people think of me and my writing (and, unlike most anonymous 'trolls’, you articulate your thoughts properly). However, your anonymity negates any argument you present, so I strongly recommend that you don’t click the 'anonymous’ button next time.
I actually wrote this article a few months ago but, seeing as exam season is just around the corner, I thought I’d best share it with the world again.
There are eight wonderful (and free) things I have discovered recently which have enabled me to avoid the temptation to mindlessly scroll through my Facebook news feed so that I can actually get on with some work (and I’ve thrown in some good study sites for good measure). Do you want to know what they are? Of course you do.
This is a programme which, once downloaded on to your computer, will track your activity (everything from Microsoft Word to Memebase) and keep a record of it all online. At the end of each week, it spits out a time summary which clocks up your hours on different websites and programmes, crunches up the numbers and evaluates how productive you’ve been. Seeing that you’ve spent fourteen hours on Facebook in one week will really open your eyes to how much time you must dedicate to uphold your hobby of Facebook-stalking. Hopefully, seeing these figures will serve as a foot up the arse and encourage you to get your head down.
If RescueTime isn’t enough to turn the thumbscrews on your work ethic, I find that Cold Turkey does the trick. This application allows you to block chosen websites for a certain amount of time – and, believe me, there is no way to get on to those websites until the time is up. It’s bloody difficult to continue a nuclear-scale poke war when you’ve chosen to block the page for 4 hours.
Before a lecture, it’s always best to read around the topic beforehand – but when you’re reading about a subject as skull-crushingly painful as the Thirty Years War, it can be a tad difficult to get your head around it (probably because your skull has been crushed). My tutors would murder me for saying this, but it’s at times like this that Wikipedia can waltz into the room in a blonde wig and ballet outfit and serve as your fairy godmother. I’ve recently discovered a little WikiTreat known as ‘Simple Wiki’, which simplifies a Wiki article down to the fundamental material. Just type www.simple.wikipedia.org and search your topic. Whilst (as with Wikipedia) not all of the information on there is accurate, it’s a great way to ground yourself in the topic and break it down into digestible chunks.
Just a side note for history students: an alternative to Simple Wiki is the BBC History website. It boasts a comprehensive record of a wealth of materials: profiles of historical figures; brief summaries of events; and in-depth accounts of accounts, complete with contextualisation. BBC History is always my starting point for my history reading.
I don’t know why the ‘e’ is missing in Bubbl, and nor do I care – this website is the bread and butter of my lecture notes and essay plans. I find spider diagrams to be the best way to plan an essay or compile revision notes, and this website allows you to do this for free without the scribbles, space dilemmas and general panic over how untidy your work looks. Bubbl enables you to create spider diagrams which, can not only be amended or printed at any time, look so pretty!
This handy little application really comes into its own whenever you’re writing essays, reports or any long-winded prose. It can either be downloaded on to your desktop (which costs little more than a tuppence) or is available for free as an online app. The basic principle is that it keeps you writing by punishing you if you stop tapping away at the keyboard. You can choose the punishment – from the computer playing an irritable noise to the application actually deleting your words – and the grace period can also be adjusted. All you need to do is enter a word goal or a time goal, and you’re good to go.
I’ve actually found this app so effective that I also often use it to write articles, notes from textbooks and short stories – so if there’s anything non-academic you need to work on, perhaps give Write or Die a whirl.
Edit Minion is a wonderful thing. Like, really wonderful. Once you’ve pasted your essay or report into its text box, this delightful online app will run through your work with a fine toothcomb and check for common misspellings, frequently used words, clichés, grammatical errors and practically every other potential issue in your work.
Much like Write or Die, this could easily be used for other (non-academic) work. It has held my story-writing in good stead.
Once you’ve finished typing up your lip-smackingly awesome essay on Write or Die, decent referencing is the cherry on top of your academic ice cream. Programmes such as Mendeley are great for anybody who needs to use referencing in their work – so, as a university student, this programme is a modern-day deity in my eyes. In order to get going, you need to make a free account, download the programme on to your computer and simply add books/websites/articles to its index. You can organise your catalogue of material into folders, allowing you to separate different subjects. At the end of an essay or report, this app is perfect because you can click one simple button and it churns out an entire bibliography in any referencing style you need. Mendeley stands out for me above other referencing programmes I’ve come across because you can simply input the ISBN of a book; once you’ve done this, magical Mendeley will recognise the book, author, year of publication and edition number (and, if you ask nicely, it could probably tell you the size and consistency of the author’s most recent lavatorial deposit).
My advice to you if you use a programme like Mendeley is to start logging your materials as soon as you can – it saves the last-minute panic and allows more time for more post-coursework binge drinking.
This website is, without a doubt, my most frequently-used website. It’s trustworthy, it’s expansive and it’s simple – there’s not really much more you could ask for from a dictionary website. I use it for everything. As well as basic English lexis (and American lexis too, in case you were wondering), it also holds a plethora of definitions for terminology. But that’s not the best bit. This website has simple, brief profiles of people, places and events. Therefore, if Simple Wiki, BBC and Google all let you down, Oxford Dictionaries is likely to bear the basic information which you require. Hooray for Oxford Dictionaries!
And if none of these tips help you with your work, try turning off the computer. The only reason you’re reading this is probably because you’re procrastinating (I know I am). Sod off. Go on.*
I am 18 years old. This means that, as well as being an adult (well, legally speaking), I can drink booze, chain-smoke cigarettes, gamble my student loan away, vote for the Monster Raving Loonies, watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre, purchase all-time adult classics such as Great Sexpectations and, of course, I can now get a tattoo.
This is an idea which I have been toying with for a few years, but upon reading an article in the Daily Mail a few days ago, I began to have second thoughts.
What if people judge me? Will it be more difficult for me to get a job (particularly in journalism, where I would seemingly be ‘in the spotlight’ and serve as a representative for whichever newspaper or broadcasting organisation for whom I would work)? Will I get heckled in the street, with fag ends and half-full cans of Special Brew being lobbed at me from every direction?
So, I sought a second opinion. I spoke to a few of my friends who have tattoos, and a few who don’t. Unsurprisingly, those who have tattoos seem far more pro-needle than those without. One 18-year-old with tattoos boldly states, “Being boring doesn’t float my boat, nor many other people”. She uses tattoos as a way to stand out from the crowd (as well as her bright blue hair), which I think is fair enough. She seems to have no trouble in society, either; she goes to school, has a job and manages to go outside – all without being spat on.
Similarly, I spoke to a young councillor with a tattoo who is adamant that “most people don’t think like that anymore”. His tattoo, which is on his hand, appears not to have held him back in his involvement in politics; so perhaps I needn’t worry about being seen on the 6 O’clock News whilst sporting a peace pax tattoo.
Nevertheless, this is not the case for every young person bearing ink. Speaking to another 18-year-old girl, she claims that “people do judge”, but that didn’t dissuade her – “getting my tattoo was for me more than anything else”. It seems that this element of self-expression is quite important to the inked generation (indeed, many of the people I spoke to reinforced the idea that tattoos “let people show how they feel and who they are”).
However, even amongst this seemingly-liberal generation there are people who look down on tattoos. Amidst claims from adults that tattoos are “useless” and merely used to adorn the “foolish”, people only a couple of years older than me were asserting that they are “pointless” and “a bit tacky”.
Although I keep hearing this relentless reel of insults directed at tattoos and their bearers, one question keeps popping up in my mind – why are tattoos singled out for being ‘different’? In the past few years, I have dyed my hair blue, pink and every other colour in between. Whilst some people probably frowned upon my pillar-box red hair, any derision was brushed under the carpet and kept well away from me. I only received comments such as “what an exciting colour, my dear” and “best colour yet”. Equally, my 14 piercings – which range from my nose to my belly – only receive words of praise. Therefore, I fail to understand why a bit of ink on the skin is treated with such contempt.
But perhaps my concerns are a tad premature.
With the growth of people such as Cheryl Cole and David Beckham in the media spotlight (in correlation with the declining media profiles of clean-cut old-schoolers like Lumley, Laurie and Lennon), I think that tattoos are ultimately becoming more accepted by society. Seeing bank workers and accountants with tattoos reaffirms this observation. Perhaps the job market (thus, wider society) isn’t so anti-ink after all. I sure hope so – otherwise people like this are fucked.
As you probably know, despite the fact that I reside in the UK, I keep US politics in my peripheral vision. And as you probably know, the US presidential elections are this November. After seeing the US Government’s appalling behaviour throughout the SOPA and PIPA fiasco – during which the Government sided with large media corporations rather than harmless internet consumers (many of whom are indeed American) – it seems to me that it is now in the hands of American citizens to vote and ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
Some US government officials could probably argue that they needn’t listen to American citizens; after all, only 41% of Americans voted in 2010, which suggests irreversible political apathy across the pond. Furthermore, a mere 20.4% of Americans under 30 voted – and this is the section of the American population which is affected most by campaigns such as PIPA and SOPA.
We can’t let government officials use this as an argument. Therefore, I strongly urge all of my American readers to register to vote for the election this winter. You can do so here – and then you can forward the website to your friends so that they can register too.
I feel quite helpless sitting here in my little flat in Scotland, hence the blog post. I find it quite odd that America is one of the most powerful countries in the world (some would argue that it is the most powerful country) – one of the powerful puppeteers with regard to the internet and online censorship – yet I don’t have the power to vote in the election. Their foreign policy affects all of us (including us humble Englishmen) to such an extent that it makes me squirm in my seat just thinking about it.
So please, lovely American people, get into that voting booth this November – even if you don’t do it for your country, do it for the internet. After all, it is the internet which gives us magical things such as this.
(I’d just like to say a huge ‘thanks’ to Fight for the Future for supplying me with the statistics and such. For those of who you don’t know, Fight for the Future was one of the huge online forces which strengthened the anti-SOPA campaign; without guys like these, SOPA and PIPA would probably be concrete acts right now. If you have a few minutes, give their website a gander.)
I’m currently in the midst of avoiding writing an English essay on the subject of parents. Half-way through analysing the texts, it appears that there is a pattern emerging – the various characters in the texts are all greatly shaped around their parents. Their sense of identity is imbedded in their parents’ characteristics and their parents’ approval of them. Whilst this is not news to any of us, it did get me thinking – is parental influence still as relevant now as it was back in the days of Cider With Rosie?
Every television show, radio programme, teeny-bopper novel depicts teenage children yelling at the tops of their lungs in their parents’ faces, with no respect for their elders and the like. Similarly, there are people at school who thrive by declaring their undying hatred for their parents to their peers – often interspersed with somewhat uncouth language – whilst fervently waving their fists in the air to demonstrate their passion for the subject.
And then I read Jeeves and Wooster. The adolescents in the series – however boisterous they might be when their parents have their backs turned towards the Vermouth – are always depicted to be upholding the stereotypical airs and graces we associate with another era.
I look at myself and wonder which programme I’d fit into better – Downton Abbey or Waterloo Road? I’m a political, animal-loving, party-going brunette with long hair, an interest in history and a soft spot for Captain Morgan’s spiced rum. I was brought up in a household which was decidedly ‘apolitical’ (although, upon reflection, there was always a copy of the Torygraph plopped on the dining room table or the six o’clock news blaring in the background of our childhood chats). Animals were forever wondering through the house – be it cats, dogs, or (at one time) a chicken. I was brought up around the party dynamic, with a mother who spent most of her childhood in a pub and a father who spent most of his adulthood in a pub. (I jest of course, Dad.) As soon as my older brother hit his teens, he would hold party after party – and if he wasn’t holding a party at the house, he was at a party elsewhere. I soon followed in his footsteps. Even as children, our parents would hold the traditional tea party-esque gathering with all of our school friends (party rings and pass the parcel included). The fondness for history is undeniably taken from my father; even today, he endlessly spouts out historical titbits about the British Empire or Weimar Germany (which is often met with a mumble of “yes Dad, I know – I’ve studied it”).
But the spiced rum? I have no idea. Dad has always sneered at the stuff, whilst Mum favours a good ol’ gulp of vodka or a chilled white wine spritzer. Equally, my brother tends to stick to beer or the Vino (and, on one joyous occasion, an accidental mouthful of urine). I suppose that’s a taste I’ve discovered for myself. That’s rather refreshing (as is a hearty swig of rum).
With regard to my relationship with my parents, I don’t spit and snarl at them at every opportunity; nor do I kiss their feet and feed them grapes. I consider them to be friends as much as parents – a feat which I hold truly dear to me. I feel as independent from them as I do shaped by them, which I reckon is a good middle-ground. Is this the epitome of a modern parent-child relationship? Let’s hope so – I’m as happy as can be with my parents standing by my side and a bottle of Morgan’s tucked under my arm.
I was speaking to my friend on Facebook chat the other day – nothing of any consequence, just chatting about everything and nothing – when I came to the absurd realisation that he lives in the same building as me. Moreover, all I’d need to do to get to his front door is roll down two tiny flights of stairs (which, admittedly, would hurt given that they’re made of concrete). Getting to his flat is hardly a tall order, yet here we were sitting on Facebook chat in separate rooms in separate flats rather than meeting up, going to the bar downstairs, and having a cheeky pint.
That’s when it hit me – I’m one of those technology zombies. When I’m waiting for my lecture to start or my bus to arrive, rather than having a quick glance at my book (which I carry in my bag every day, but is gathering dust at an alarming rate), my instinct is to delve in my bag and find my phone so that I can mindlessly stare at the screen to pass the time. As a person with quite a soft spot for traditionalism, archaic practices and pints of lager, I find this rather tragic. Does the development of technology necessarily result in the death of ‘old school’ habits like reading books and socialising in the pub? If this is the case, then Great Britain – a country which prides itself on its eloquent history, fondness for traditionalism and long-standing roots – is totally screwed. I don’t want to screw over my own country like that.
Usually I argue that technology is a wonderful feature of the 21st century (indeed, in one article I discussed how revolutionary the internet is) but, today, it is simply too difficult to fight that corner. I had never previously thought of myself as a technology zombie – having grown up in the countryside, I was accustomed to playing outside, having friends over for supper and playing mildly violent games of Snap in order to pass the days – so perhaps its society’s relentless imposition of technology which has pushed me to this. On every advert nowadays, there is a small graphic which you can scan into your smartphone so that you can view e-adverts. If one wants to access information about my lectures, the only way to do so is to log on to the university system and find the course e-booklet. An increasing number of books in my university library are being taken off the shelves and converted into e-books.
E-adverts? E-booklets? E-books? Whatever happened to adverts, booklets and books? Screw the ‘e’!
And that’s exactly what I did – I stuck it to the ‘e’. I logged off Facebook, rolled down two flights of stairs (I was correct – it was painful), knocked on my friend’s door, and we went for a good, old-fashioned, British pint. And you know what? I had a jolly good time (and not just because I was drinking rum). Maybe there’s hope for traditionalism after all.
Whilst reading and watching the consequences of the Hillsborough Disaster unfold this morning, I momentarily put aside my feelings of horror, disgust and general shock in order to focus on a rare and wonderful thing in the political arena – unity.
For the first time since the Coalition Government was formed, all parties have ceased the hair-pulling momentarily to pay tribute to those who died back in 1989 and to announce the truth to our nation. Miliband and Cameron have combined forces to condemn the various bodies and individuals who sought to blame the fans. The Sun is being castigated for its appalling role in the degradation of Liverpool fans by the vast majority of the Commons, as well as numerous media outlets; consequences are slowly being brought to News International after its abysmal actions, and justice is slowly being brought to those affected by the Disaster.
To me, this is what politics is all about.
Politics shouldn’t be about blaming the opposing party for the economy or scratching each other’s eyes out over education failures. It shouldn’t be about protecting the pockets of the rich, nor should it be about criticising those who receive large sums of money for working their arses off. Politics should be about working together in order to improve the country, promote justice and improve life for all who live under the flag of Great Britain.
In the midst of the horrific findings of the latest Hillsborough investigation, I have been reminded why I chose to study politics at university, why I choose to write articles and why I’m choosing to pursue a career in political journalism. And I’m glad to see that, for once, politicians in the House of Commons today have been reminded why they (presumably) chose to go into politics – to make a difference.
My intention in writing today is not to discuss the ruling of the B&B refusal case, nor is it to condemn you for your views – ultimately, you are perfectly entitled to your opinion (even if I do disagree with them to the extent that Hitler seems reasonable in comparison).
No, today I want to talk about your decision to publish the address of the gay couple in question with the hope of inciting a “demo”. If you were a normal citizen who remains out of the public eye, this would be a non-issue – but, like it or not, you have almost 20,000 followers on twitter. You have the capability to influence others, and you abused that power mercilessly. Whilst some of those followers may be like me and merely wish to keep an eye on what you’re up to, others are BNP supporters (or, at the very least, vaguely interested in what you have to say). Because you are a public figure, you have a responsibility to the entire nation to maintain a professional appearance. Posting the addresses of a gay couple is not professional, and it is not acceptable.
The London Riots were originally started by a group of everyday citizens on social networking sites attempting to incite violence. Of course, people glossed over it and assumed that, because these agitators held no positions of power, they would be ignored. People were wrong. As a result of those tweets, five days of violence spread throughout the country – violence which you openly condemned.
So what makes you any different to the “cowardly, lowlife scum”, the “little bastards” and the “vermin” (as you called them) of the most widespread example of mindless violence in recent British history? Given that you pressed for an “adult” debate about last year’s Riots, I find that the childish manner with which you approached this issue to be almost laughable.
Furthermore, publishing the addresses of those two men easily could have put their lives at risk. Looking at the actions of English Defence League members – who are often linked to your political party – I wouldn’t have been surprised if they bashed down the door of the gay couple and beat them to death. Fortunately, the swarm of thousands of internet users swiftly put their foot down and demanded that your actions were openly condemned (indeed, within a mere four hours thousands of people had signed an e-petition calling for the suspension of your twitter account).
You are a reckless, troublesome man who does not deserve the power and influence which you hold – and for that reason, I would fully support your removal from the European Parliament.
Tattoos - form of self-expression, or source of misjudgement?
As more and more of my friends turn 18 and get tattoos (an endeavour which I also considered upon reaching the age of majority), it’s got me thinking about society’s attitude towards the inked generation. I’m currently trying to write an article about this - and I would really appreciate your input.
Do you have tattoos? If so, do people treat you differently?
Are you clean-skinned? What are your views on tattoos - if you see somebody with tattoos, do you appreciate the artwork or jump to conclusions?
Also, if you have a couple of minutes, feel free to give this article a gander and let me know your thoughts.
It would be interesting to hear from you, so leave a comment on here, send me a message on facebook, tweet me or email me.