Tuesday, 25 May 2010


Ironically, since ending my academic career by handing in a pathetically small pile of footnote-enhanced pages ten days ago, I've been pretty slow on the Bowlface front. In order to mask the pain caused by departing the warm, cosy cradle of education and its red-brick institutions, I've been treating Newcastle like a tourist resort; gallivanting around on my beloved cycle Joan for afternoon rendezvouses and working insane hours as a catering monkey at its 'premier music venue', the SageGateshead.

However, over the last couple of days my life has become considerably more structured and I'm back on the career bandwagon. In the form of an ever-so-slightly nepotism-gained placement in the BBC News Education and Social Affairs unit. I know, grown-up, right? What with the past 48hours also being major movers and shakers of Governmental educational reform, I've been treated to standing as unobtrusively as possible in various terrifyingly-pressured broadcasting environments. Every now and then, like right now, I'm returned to the dark, quiet corner that all interns are supposed to belong in for blog and facebook-update purposes.

Although all the sneaky tagging-along on filming, editing and producing has been awesome, and watching the 1 o'clock news go out from the gallery (so many screens and buttons and countdowns I felt ever caught between an epileptic fit and thinking about what Twitter must look like to my Mum)was the stuff of filmic legend, I've not been cool enough to suppress my excitement about how many media slebs are contained within this very building. I'm literally ten metres away from the Newsnight desk, however, despite being promised Paxman, THERE HAS BEEN NO PAXMAN. Although PAXWATCH is constantly occupying my mind from this particular intern-location, it's not been all bad as I did bump into a couple of glossy female newsreaders when attempting to find the loo.

In the meantime, I'm researching, which occasionally involves talking to the politest of Swedish press reps from a radical, and google-unfriendly, free schools organisation and trying to work out who leaked the Queen's speech at the weekend. Not been tempted to pop across the road to Westfield Shopping centre one bit.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Autodictactism is my friend.

So it would seem the Sunday Morning freak-post has become a double week tradition. The 'freak-post' title has been awarded this morning due to the fact that I'm no longer a student, having finished my degree officially on Friday and therefore have no procrastination reasons for blogging; and that given this student-finishing business I've had a rough total of ten hours sleep all weekend. Which, funnily enough, is probably a third of the amount of alcoholic units which have been imbibed in the same time. And yet, here I am, albeit still in bed (after all, it's not seen much of me), in a Newcastle University teeshirt (signs of denial over not actually being there), BLOGGING. Worse, blogging about blogging, yawn.

Moving swiftly on from such self-indulgent and pedestrian prattling. Due to no longer being a student I have decided to become an autodidact. Although I always have a mental reading list, I give it a week and a half until this is translated into amazon.com wishlist form, inspired by the recent activities of an autodidact friend and guru (she has them stuck to her walls). Alongside re-enacting a feeble form of my degree, this autodictacism will apply to the 'real world'. Not in the form of the CV-friendly 'transferable skills', but in being amazed by cool places and 'amused' by 'funny' people. Which is how, so far, this weekend has panned out.

Friday night saw me leave the country...for Edinburgh. Which, being only an hour and a half from Newcastle, is somewhere I should have gone far more than the couple times a year I have so far been managing. Beautiful city, not least when the sun's out; the tourist fascination is justified. My host, tourguide and clubnight-organiser hero for the 28 hours I was there lives on Broughton Street, which, like Jesmond, is possibly the poshest street a student can afford to live on in Edinburgh. Instead of buying booze from an offie, our nearest option was officially 'the best wine merchants in Scotland'. Walking in down a few cobbly steps (the only form of entry to any Edinburgh establishment, it would seem) we were immediately greeted and asked what we wanted to drink. Problem being that we didn't really know, as it's normally all part of the off-license experience, and, reverting to an embarrassed teenager state, muttered something about 'vodka, please'. This got all the more shameful when we could only buy a litre of the stuff from behind the counter, our cheapest option being Glens (we were in Scotland, so it's...justified?) at £9.99 before it was wrapped up in pink tissue paper and we handed over our grubby little English tenner. The chances of getting coke to accompany were null and void.

Broughton Street's middle-class excess came to a painful head the next afternoon, when we tried to track down not only an all day breakfast - or at least one which was served after 11.30 - but a greasy spoon in which to eat it. Crossing the road between the many, many bistros with a hangover and a tummy rumbling for cheap sausage only to be greeted with the option of £4.95 'doorstep toast' which ended two hours previously is a recipe for potential Edinburgh hatred. Luckily, our host and tourguide got us bundled into a cab, driven over to the other side of the city and plonked into Snax Cafe. £2.70 full Scottish (haggis and hash browns on the side, yes please).

Upon returning to Newcastle last night I donned DoubleDenim for a party which apparently is just another on a current DD party bandwagon theme, except it was hosted by a load of noise metallers who wear DD all the time and therefore the irony levels were far too low for this to be considered a 'scenester' vibe. Decked out in my PDSA and Sally Army purchases the visual treat of various skirts-worn-as-capes and bi-leg-jean combos was entirely comparable to the Royal Mile. I did, however, embark an essential piece of social autodidactism, being: 'COMEDIANS' WHO TALK ABOUT THEIR COMEDY AREN'T FUNNY.

I learnt this by getting somewhat trapped in a corner with a chap who announced that he was a stand-up comic; except when I asked him to crack a joke he clearly thought I was some kind of comedian-interviewer and proceeded to reel off his comedy CV at great and inpenetrable length. Apparently he makes jokes 'about English politics and American politics', doing a five minute set of each, a technique which compares favourably to.....well, actually at this point I got mesmerised by some double denim bunting and ran off to check on the whereabouts of one of the few females there. Essentially, I think he was claiming to be a better comedian than any others ever - something about 1995-2001 being the 'golden age of comedy' which he was single-handedly returning to the world - except he didn't make me laugh. Shitter.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Library Tweets

It only took 48 hours for the library novelty to wear off. I knew there was a reason I had boycotted it for all this time. Even situated in a library-crew dominated part of the 'learning lounge', next to three large windows allowing sunshine and scenic views (of the Great North Road and some foliage, albeit) and a mere five metres from the cafe, it still only took me approximately five hours to crash and burn, groaning loudly in public and then banging my head into a copy of The Interpreter of Maladies.

A highlight of my day, however, (which really puts things into perspective), was the discovery that Newcastle's Robinson Library has its own Twitter account. Bearing in mind the recent Twitter addiction - new procrastinatory measures are essential in such times, and it's a fun way to find out news, and it's updated internationally so I can find out what's happening in other time zones when other people are having Sunday morning lie-ins - and the temporary love of the library, this was pretty epic stuff.

You can follow the library here, but for non-tweeters I can't help but feel it's necessary to share the wealth. @nulibrs has a lovely shot of the external 1970s brick delight that is the Robinson Library from its 'good side', i.e., near a tree, but also updates shockingly regularly on just how busy the library is. For example, on May 9th at 3.03pm, we learn that 'the library is very full at the moment. All the laptops are out on loan and the clusters are very busy' - pray tell, just what is the library tweeting on? Fret not, though, as @nulibrs does offer handy, thoughtful advice, such as: 'We are open til midnight tonight. Why not come along in the evening when the Library is quieter and you have a choice of desk space...' I love the use of elipses. It's like the library is asking you out on a date or something; "you can choose your own desk, library user".

Sometimes @nulibrs just takes it one step further, however. Granted, this was at around 3.45 yesterday, when the delirium was really setting in, but I did a proper not-suitable-for-public-use GUFFAW at this tweet: 'The student Nightbus service will not be running again until after the Bank Holiday - the bus has faulty gear stick.' The attention to detail is just beautiful. As is the sheer optimism in its followers, demonstrated in the following: 'For more info on how you can help keep the library clean and quiet during the exam period have a look at: http://bit.ly/9yfcPm.' There's procrastination and then means of failing a degree - desperation to the extent of wanting to look at that bit.ly probably falls into the latter. I can't imagine, nor am I going to stoop so low as to look at it to find out, what it says. Probably something along the lines of 'use a bin'. 

I am one of 28 proud @nulibrs followers. That's three more than how many follow it, which is significantly better ratio than on my account. What's really great, though, is the fact that it's following OTHER LIBRARIES' TWITTERS. There's this whole community of libraries-what-tweet, including the British Library, Sheffield, Liverpool and Leeds University Libraries, and, potentially my favourite, the 'gangsta' 'Toon Library' - being Newcastle's City Library. This could become a whole new flock of tweets to follow in these dark assessment days. 

In other news, I saw a crack fox in West Jesmond last night. I know, hard to believe in potentially the most salubrious student-dominated suburb ever, however, it did run out of a garage and along the metro line, so it gets some 'grit' points. Sad to say in the evening sunlight it was a beautifully glossy ginge colour, potentially over-large and certainly didn't offer me any 'blood from a cat's face'. Anyway, in celebration, here is one of my favourite bits of the Mighty Boosh about a crack fox. Enjoy. 

Sunday, 9 May 2010

I Heart Grammar

for any myopic readers the caption says 'my cat likes it when you pull on it'[incriminating apostrophe]s whiskers

I appreciate it's bizarrely early on a Sunday morning to be blogging, however, this is pure, unadulterated evidence of the strange turn my life has taken in the last three weeks.

Side affects of academia include:
- waking up minutes before the un-student alarm time of 7.30am goes off
- becoming blogging-dependent

A combination of these things results in early Sunday blogs. I've always been a morning person (a phrase that has an incredibly loud sub-text of 'BEING UNCOOL'; however a recent admission by a member of my facebook community, posted at around 6am, brought all of us out of the woodwork and now I'm safe in the comfort I'm not the only one), however, the guilt/need that comes with the assessment period requires near-imminent work-starting after waking.

I had two revelations yesterday which have affected this somewhat:
- working in the library with a group of friends transforms it from the fear-ridden brown 70s hell hole into a light and near-'fun' communal working experience.
- Mozilla FireFox has changed my life.

The latter isn't quite so relevant. However, this new 'library love', arriving six days before I hand in 18,000 words and say cheerio to BA academia, has stopped me from falling out of bed and into the publications of Palaniuk, Rushdie and Brennan; as I've got a fun 'communal working experience' waiting for me a couple of hours down the line.

I can't, however, quite kick the habit. Hence the need to post really very drivelly blogs on a Sunday morning instead of:
- rolling around in bed
- making pancakes
- getting quietly angry at T4 presenters.

In other slightly more interesting news, another discovery I made yesterday is that there is a lady called Joan who emails Radio 4 every time they make a grammatical mistake. The presenters on the Today Show were being fairly rude about her, and although all the deep science of grammar she used to explain their discrepancies did go somewhat over my head. However, my heart still skipped a beat: as a modern-day pedant, such dedication to grammatical correctness is nothing but a brave if admittedly futile martyrdom to the cause. Furthermore, that Joan shares the name of my beloved bike is even more exciting. My English teacher (still stuck in the fifties and used to give us regular tests in the subject) would have been proud. Or maybe it is her...under a pseudonym...

Hearing from another grammatically-inspired soul I started searching www.threadless.com, a tee shirt website that some of my boy mates are religiously devoted to, for grammatical tee shirts. Admittedly a dodgy strategy, after I was deeply disappointed for a good two days after a Thesaurus-Dictionary cartoon number was sold out. However, what this search led me to was a whole cyber world of other young grammar pedants relishing in the world of geekily amusing tee shirts and critiquing the cute, but grammatically incorrect ones. The comments produced on the above design are numerous, but I think this beautifully concise one sums it up: 'I like design, I dislike grammar issues'.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

politics in moving pictures

Be pretty wrong for a historical moment like my first ever vote to go past undocumented. Not that I've voted yet, but it's all in the name of building tension. Being surrounded by student media types politics chat is the next most popular variety after dissertation chat, and infinitely the less boring. Cleggmania has got its grip firmly on Newcastle, and Wendy Taylor, Lib Dem PCC for Newcastle East, looks a lot like my favourite ever history teacher, which gives her a few (albeit superficial) points up on the £18 grand food bill expense man Nick Brown.

Anyway, if you've not been religiously following the debates and the constant news coverage and blahabaahahaa, (and it's utterly understandable) to form your decisions on the big day, then it might be worth taking a look at VBS's election series. It focuses on young representatives of all three major parties, and it's super enlightening. There's a moment in the Tory one where I swear the crying girl has been posessed by the spirit of the BNP member who used to prop up the bar in the Shire pub I worked in as a teenager. It's got to be seen to be believed.

On the complete flip side, Alan, who could potentially become the youngest MP ever, is totally adorable.

Not least because his hair matches his campaign colour in being a near-fluorescent orange, but also because he speaks as passionately about being a ginger as being a Lib Dem.

The Labour video shows Mo Iqbal, who is hoping to be the youngest Labour councillor in Greenwich (he's 23), doing some Bollywood Dancing and philosophise about what his dad might say about getting his wheel clamped. It's also an eye-opener.

Happy voting, y'all.

Monday, 3 May 2010

homewear: like homeware, but with vowels in different places.

Above is pictured what has been ruling, and continues to rule, my life of late. However, good news! I've been fairly obedient. Coupled with the fact I've working since stupid o'clock on today's project, the mysterious '2nd A.C essay (it's about Fight Club and neither as cool nor exciting as that should sound), and I've sacked off this evening.

As part of the list of 'acceptable assessment period fun tasks', blogging is taking preference. Then I'm going to rip the polythene of this month's Vice magazine, which I've been longing to do for a while now. First things first, and I thought it was about time to bring a bit of style back to Bowlface. It was, after all, around this time last year that Bowlface first stepped into the world of style blogging. Whilst I never pretended to be the next Susie Lau, I do really regret not buying those 50p desert boots I mused about on here. It took me a few months to come round to the idea that actually, yes, they were really cool and now I want a pair and refuse to pay whatever the high street is charging. Live and learn.

Now, by deeply ironic contrast, I'm refusing to buy anything. What with the relatively near future involving me living out of a suitcase - literally - adding anything else to my borderline embarrassingly-large wardrobe is only going to cause painful decisions later on. Furthermore, the current state of insane workload has resulted in me adopting 'housewear' all-day-round, often the same outfit for days on end. I am leaving the house, but the housewear habit is a hard one to kick.

Housewear constitutes the likes of the onesie. But, what with considerably warmer conditions, the onesie is kept aside for chillier days and evenings (I know how to party). With spring comes the arrival of garish elasticated shorts. PERFECT house clothes. On the same theme as the onesie, they're like pajamas in comfort but much less gross because you have a shower and stuff before putting them on, and are only appropriate for short naps, rather than full-on sleeps. My current favourite pair are part of a set a middle-aged woman bought in a Turkish market and then put on ebay for 99p. Here's the proof:
Yup. Due it not being quite Turkey temperatures, a pair of leggings are near-essential house clothes wear underneath. Currently I'm sporting a much-loved Primark pair which have shiny black zebra stripes on. They're bursting at the seams, which gives them slightly higher housewear points, but I can't bear to throw them out. Rope-soled espadrilles have come in where Grandad's socks and slippers went out, although these truly are housewear only, as I realised to my error in attempting to dash out to Tesco in them - trip-a-rama. Add to the mix the ultimate comfort in Truly Madly Deeply 'smushy' batwing top, a slightly-too large American Apparel oversized breton top and I'm as ready for not leaving the house as can be.

elasticated floral goodness

This is where that whole scenesters-wear-AA thing comes a little unstuck. I'm an American Apparel fan as much as the next 21 year old with a love of overpriced jersey, but I've strict rules. Namely: one piece per outfit (excluding underwear, another housewear essential). But furthermore, with the exception of those things with 'shiny' and/or 'disco' in the title, I never want to wear them more than when I'm hungover or sleepy. This, obviously, does make AA products amazing partywear because passing out in them after a night out is uber-comfy. On the plus side, they do legitimate an otherwise housewear outfit outside. I did go for lunch today in the shorts/leggings combo, but the breton top makes it passable, right?

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Yes, yes I am Teri Hatcher.

Sociology Flatmate thinks that he might have got confused because Lois Lane was a journalist.

Students don't relish in Bank Holiday weekends. Especially ones in May. Especially ones that were spent in Berlin this time last year. Sad, slightly bitter evidence that my life is thankfully not Groundhog Day. As a result, I'm sat blogging under a blanket (where did Spring go?) having consumed half a can of sweetcorn to constitute 'tea', rather than attending any of the five events facebook claims I am.

Might also be because I'm a little weary from working the door at a Crystal Antlers gig last night. The air of authority Sociology Flatmate and I must have unwillingly given off can only have come from How to Communicate Effectively. Man, that book is potent. Anyway, after most of the bandmates had incomprehensively nattered to us all night about how 'totally spaced out' and Californian they were, Guinness, other people's incomprehensible accents and 'Harlem douchebags at parties that, like, steal beer tokens and party in their own rooms?!', we finally got round to seeing them and they were grreeaaaattt. And more than a little naked. We disappointed them all by refusing vague 'party' offers, and oh boy am I glad because the walk home via the all-night pizzaria was an encounter with a walking cliche I hope never to forget.

Mr. Stag Night was apparently sober. He was, naturally, in a blonde eighties mullet wig, muttering racist abuse at the pizza chaps and had an air of mild aggression. Halfway through ordering the cheapest pizza on the menu (margherita, 10", £3.80. God bless Newcastle), classic 'ice-breaker' arrived in the form of: 'are you off the tel-leh?' Having not yet achieved that level of fame, I answered no, obviously. He clearly thought I was lying: 'You are. Superman's girlfriend.' Uh-huh. 'What, Lois Lane?', 'Yeah!'. Seeing as I was six when I last remember watching the early 90s Superman series, the chances of me acting as a full grown woman in it is highly unlikely. I asked him if he thought Teri Hatcher would be scrabbling around in her purse for two pound coins in an all-night pizzaria in Newcastle's (arguably more salubrious) student suburb. He replied by asking 'if he looked like Pat Sharp'. When we said yes, asking if he was meant to be him, he said 'no'.

This, however, just encouraged a whole new line of talk. Turned out matey was up from Burnley on a stag weekend. Except that he'd been thrown into a police cell since 11.30 am for 'no reason' - "the police said they'd tell me later, but they didn't". They let him out, but only after giving him a cheese and tomato sandwich. I didn't want to suggest that perhaps he'd found himself passed out in Greggs and hadn't been arrested at all. Apparently, he'd only adopted the wig after being let out of the 'cells'. Then there was another conversation about who's stag night it was, 'James Edwards', obviously (we later found out he went to school with him) and another about how Sociology Flatmate MUST like gravy because she's 'northern'; how I 'sounded like one of his mates [he] met travelling, who was from Sussex, or Essex, or Northampton' and I'm a representative for the whole of the UK south of Burnley, as well as being Teri Hatcher. Wowzers, she's a busy lady.  

Saturday, 1 May 2010

How To Communicate Effectively

This is the title of a real book. It's published in 1988, so it's like an archaic pre-internet artefact. Seeing as most of my communication is done through twitter, facebook, email or text message and none of these things existed when this book was written, I can definitely learn a thing or two from it. Exciting.

I stole it off Sociology Flatmate, who apparently has to write an essay about it or something. It's an improvement on the post-apocalyptic and consumerist nightmare novels I'm meant to be writing essays on, and furthermore the fact it's written in the form of Girl Talk-esque questionaires gives it an extra element of nostalgic fun.

So, I have compiled the best of the questionaire questions in this 96 page book so you kids can have a fun early evening activity and surmise absolutely nothing about how effectively you communicate.

1. Do you know what 'slow-blink' is and why it occurs?
2. Do you communicate impatience by drumming your fingers on the table when you are listening?
3. Do your glasses inhibit good eye communication?
4. Does your telephone voice differ from your speaking voice?
5. Can you recall the last time you looked up a new word in a dictionary?
6. Do you tell more than two jokes a week?
7. Do people tend to laugh when they are around you? (I really think this question should be accompanied with an 'if so, why?'