Saturday, 31 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 24 - Your favourite movie and what it's about

As the Film and TV editor for my student newspaper, I watch a lot of films. I always know what it is on at the cinema and I have seen such a huge range that this question is hugely difficult to even consider cutting my massive list down at all, let alone choose just one. So I have given myself a few (and by few, I actually mean loads of) runner up films on top of my favourite movie. Hope you like at least a few of them.

The Runners-Up (in no particular order)
Pitch perfect
I love the theme of this...how an unconventional group of people come together and manage to pull through to win against the odds. And who knew that Anna Kendrick was such a good singer?

Perks of Being a Wallflower
This is the only film where I do in fact prefer the film to the book. I felt that the character of Charlie was far more rounded in the film and I could care about him more because I understood him more. And that just didn't come across in the book. Which I know was the point but still...

My Week with Marilyn
Based on a true story, I love this little film. And with an all-star cast it's a complete winner.

Arthur Christmas
Even though it only came out a few years ago, this has become my favourite Christmas movie. It's action filled, humorous and includes all the feelings that are stereotypically associated with Christmas such as love. There's loads of love.

Tangled
This list could have consisted purely of Disney and Pixar movies. But I felt I should be slightly more diverse. There is a big Frozen/Tangled debate that goes on about which is truly the best but I do think Tangled trumps it. Love the songs a lot, love the characters a lot, love everything about it.

The Lion King
This is a classic. End of.

Inception
It is very long and confusing but insanely good. All the characters are engaging, the plot is delightfully enthralling and it is action filled without being too jumpy.

The Green Mile
You have to be in the right mood to watch this movie...it is a little dense and takes energy to watch. But it remains to be the only film that has ever made me cry (I didn't even cry at Les Miserables). And I properly sobbed. Which just shows the depth of the characters that are portrayed.

Bridesmaids
Very lighthearted and just a nicely gentle comedy. There are some really funny moments, some great quotes and instantly relateable portrayals of jealousy and close friendship.

The History Boys
I watched this when it first came out in 2006, but being only 14 at the time I didn't really enjoy it that much. I re-watched it a couple of years ago though and found it absolutely hilarious. At 20 I was finally able to appreciate it. It has a great cast as well including a young James Cordon (famous for various comedy roles and writing) and Dominic Cooper (who has been in all sorts of things from the singing Sky in Mamma Mia, to the far more dark Uday Hussein in The Devil's Double).

Chicago
Gritty and sexy, this is my favourite musical. I am not a huge fan of Renee Zellweger but she is absolutely fantastic in this, as is Catherine Zeta-Jones. Her solo dance in 'I can't do it alone' remains to be the one of the most skilled things I have seen on the big screen...she is a phenomenal dancer. And most of the songs still give me chills, even though I have watched the film hundreds of times. Everything about it is perfect.

And the winner is...
An Education
Expertly acted by a very young looking Carey Mulligan, this is the story of Jenny and how she is rudely forced to grow up. There are not that many films these days where you truly know a character inside and out, but this one you certainly do. You ride an emotional roller coaster with her, sharing all her joys and pain as she tries to find her place in the world.

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Friday, 30 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 22 - How have you changed in the past two years?

By the time I was 18, I thought I was done with growing. I had spent 7 years in a boarding school and survived. And while I wasn't really happy with who I was, I had come to accept that I wasn't going to change. I genuinely thought I was done...that was who I was and people would just have to deal with me, warts and all. It therefore surprised me greatly to find that I did continue to change and adapt once I started university in 2010. It just didn't occur to me that this would happen at all.

I don't believe that it is time that changes people at all... it's your experiences which shapes who you are. So it is the experiences who allow you to change and develop. It just so happens that, as you get older, you tend to have more of those and even as you leave your twenties and head into thirties you will continue to adapt to the new situations you are faced with. However happy you are with yourself, not one of you would want to be the same person in 10 years time.

The reason I didn't expect to change at all though, in the past couple of years is because I didn't see university as any different to boarding school. Which it obviously is. You continue to grow up, moving away from the stability of your parents, finding your own place, learning to deal with rent, bills and annoying people, juggling workloads, coping with stress...all these things contribute to your personal development. And it is so gradual, you don't even notice that it's happening. But I then looked back and I am definitely not the same person as I was when I started university or even that I was two years ago. Or, odder still, that I was a few months ago.

In some ways I am much more confident and in others I am much much less. But this doesn't worry me, as I know change will continue to happen throughout the rest of my life. And yes I have changed a lot in the past two years but so has everyone else around me. And, as uncomfortable as I am with some of these changes, I couldn't regret any of the experiences that I have had to make me this way, as I know that it is all part of a big bright future that is just around the corner. 

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Saturday, 24 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 17 - Your highs and lows of the past year


It's always a bit dangerous asking me to talk about my feelings because I don't really open up about them very often to anyone. And I tend to be up and down like something that majorly represents a yoyo. So highs and lows have been frequent over the past 12 months. Therefore I will just go into the major ones that have affected my life more fully.

Let's get the lows out of the way first as they are so not as fun as the highs...

Potentially the biggest one was the decision to give up the teaching part of my primary education course. Just to give a bit of background to the importance of this decision...I am currently studying on a four year Primary Education with English degree at Reading University. Which, along with essays, assignments etc, also trains me practically to be a teacher through a number of placements. During my third year I was having a lot of doubts about my skills as a teacher and whether I actually wanted to go through with it. Following a disastrous placement, the little confidence I had was ripped to shreds and I decided I was not going to complete the teaching side of my course. I still will have a degree but will not be a qualified teacher at the end of it. Which begs the question what am I going to do next year? Which is stressing me out hugely. As honestly, I have no idea what my plan of action is after I graduate. All I do know is I am going to stick around in Reading but apart from that...no clue. And this lack of direction is making me feel a little lost at the moment. But hopefully something will come.

University life can be stressful and when it was the week prior to handing in my two dissertations I was feeling pretty awful (read how you can survive your dissertations here http://charlottecoster.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/how-to-survive-your-dissertations.html). Trying to juggle that amount of work was hard and I was having a confidence crisis a day, and crying every 10 minutes solidly for about two weeks. Just to clarify, I don't really cry a lot and definitely not in front of other people, but this was properly stressful. I also was quite poorly at the time as well with the combined effects of a throat infection and anorexia, meaning that I wasn't eating or sleeping at all and I was just exhausted the whole time. Needless to say this was not fun. I was fully expecting an anorexic relapse at some point this year due to the stress and the fact that I was living with someone who also has an eating disorder. But this did not make it any easier when it and the accompanying feelings of low self esteem arrived. Now my university work is finished, I look forward to being able to concentrate on myself and improving my health.

And my final low was the death of my grandmother which happened last November (you can read my tribute to her here http://charlottecoster.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/rip.html). We have always been close but her health went really downhill throughout 2013 and she died peacefully in her sleep. Loss is never easy, however much you anticipate it's arrival but she was given a wonderful send off and I know she is in a better place now.

Thankfully, I have a lot more highs over the past 12 months that are just fabulous. I had many personal milestones, such as I moved out of my parents house officially and turned the big 21. My 21st birthday was pretty awesome and I had about 3 weeks worth of celebrations which included 3 ultra-posh meals with close friends and family, a house party, a trip to the theatre (theatre-going was a constant theme over the past 12 months and something I never ever get tired of...love it more than anything) and a fortnight of interrailing around Italy. You can read a little more about it here http://charlottecoster.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/interrailing-around-italy.html but it was so incredible. I went with incredible people, there was great food, weather and we saw and experienced so so much. It was the best trip I have ever been on. I love traveling so much and hopefully will do a little more of it once I have left university.

I am now very very close to the end of university and finishing my uni work was a definite high. It all ended with an exam (my one and only exam I have taken in the four years here) on the 15th May. And along with two dissertations, countless assignments, presentations, lesson plans, resource making, research, teaching practices, file collections....it has been a long old slog. But I have made it and I am still alive just about. Last summer, quite a few of my friends graduated. And I just felt so much pride in them and what they had achieved. It was a really lovely celebration and I hope they will all be there to celebrate my day with me as well.

Obviously as so many of my friends left last summer, it was a really great opportunity to make a few more. And I have to say that I have met so many incredible people here...I am a lucky girl to be surrounded and close to such wonderful people, knowing I can rely on them and they are always here for me. They never fail to cheer me up and are the craziest bunch of nutters that I know. I never laugh so much as I do when I am with friends and I dread to think what kind of a mental place I would be without them. They keep me sane.

My final high point that I wanted to mention, happened on my most recent placement. As I had given up teaching, I was placed into The Education Library Service in Reading where I worked to help promote reading in schools. And it was really enjoyable. But the best bit about were the author events where we organised for children's authors to come into school to work with the children. There were 3 while I was there and two in particular, Guy Bass and Louise Yates, were really lovely people. And, considering that I would one day love to be a children's author, they didn't mind at all when I quizzed them endlessly about how they got published and their lives as authors. Louise even went for coffee with me. Was so so wonderful to meet them both.

I have to remember that while I do have a lot of problems and some quite debilitating lows at times, everyday life is on the whole pretty excellent. I am so much luckier than many and I do find life pretty great. I generally, try to look on all of my experiences, whether good or bad, as positive for my personal development. They make me the person I am today and I do not want to change that for anyone or anything.

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 14 - Your earliest memory


I read somewhere that it is actually impossible to remember anything before the age of 5. And those memories that we think we have, are actually projections that we have imagined by looking at photographs. Or that we think we remember because of the stories told to us from our parents or other adults. However, I don't think this is true.

I have a number of memories from when I was little. Like when I reached the age of 4 and thought I was the most grown up girl in the world. Or when I used to be terrified of fire, so I would carry around a little plastic bag full of my most precious possessions. Or the day my sister was born when I was 5 and I was so overly excited.

My very earliest memory was at the age of three around the time that the above photograph was taken. My parents were building a house and they would occasionally bring me to the building site with them, leaving me in the care of my older brother who is pictured with me sitting on the foundations of what was to become the fireplace. I loved it and adored hanging out with my big bro who I absolutely worshipped (still do of course, Stu if you are reading this). What I was a lot more frightened of though, were the diggers. I remember being absolutely terrified that they wouldn't see me and would scoop me up. This is not a feeling that I think I was particularly vocal about because it surprised my parents when I told them this story a short while ago. And it is not something that you can imagine from a simple picture. I couldn't remember what we were doing in this picture (I was later informed that we were in fact playing telephones) but it is interesting that at that young age I was aware of my inferiority in terms of size. I understood that I was small and the diggers were large and dangerous. An interesting concept for a young child to grasp.

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Monday, 19 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 12 - Bullet your whole day


I really wish this had been the title for yesterday's post because I had an incredible day in Bristol being flown around Somerset by my best friend who is training to be a pilot. But today has been pretty good too.

So at midnight, I was technically still up, drinking around a bonfire with my best friend and his neighbour. The night got a bit more nuts as we became more inebriated, no idea why and it involved pushing said friend around in a wheelbarrow, hiding his car keys, rolling around in the dewy grass and telling ridiculous jokes. We eventually gave up and chatted whilst eating some cake to try to take the edge of the drunkness...it didn't really work though.

We eventually went up to bed at about 2am - or I tried to anyway. It turned out that their cat, Phoebe was already very comfortable in mine and when I came in, she fixed me with a steely expression on her face as if to say 'What are you going to do about it?' In response I mercilessly turfed her on to the floor.

Woke up at about 9.30 which was unfortunate. I hate my body at the moment because every time that I have a hangover, my body wakes me up at a stupid o'clock in the morning. That way I can experience the whole hangover from 'Still Drunk' to 'Headache' to 'Feel sick' to 'Can face the world again'. It's like my punishment for daring to consume alcohol.

Needless to say the morning was very slow, trying to recover. We lounged in the conservatory, chatted to his Dad, watched television, had lunch, played bananagrams (if you don't know this game you should buy it - it's awesome) and generally just relaxed.

Eventually at about 2pm we headed into Bath for the afternoon. I love this town, it's so so pretty. We wandered around it a little but couldn't face going shopping so we just went down to the Weir. We witnessed the fire service carrying out an exercise in rescuing a drowning person and then felt we couldn't stand up any more so went to have a coffee. While we were there, we bumped into an elderly couple who were originally from Bracknell (near where I live) and traveling the south on a narrow boat. They were really lovely and answered our many interested questions. Sounds like a divine way to travel England.

I eventually said au revoir to my friend at about 5pm ish and headed back home where I spent a little while airing the house and generally unpacking and tidying before another friend came over at about 8pm. He'd finished his exams and subsequently completed his degree today so I was helping him to celebrate. Which of course included more alcohol and bananagrams. Whatever they say about university students being alcoholics is unfortunately completely true...your degrees will drive you to it. You have been warned.
 
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Saturday, 17 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 10 - Discuss your first love and kiss


As I have already expressed on Day 01, I am very cynical about love and have never been in love. But rather than leave a day blank or repeat myself, I thought I would do some creative writing exclusively for this blog. I hope you enjoy it...

Waiting for you

I met you when I was 5 years old
a long long time ago,
back in the day when life was simple.
Back when we didn't know
what was to come in the future
all the stresses and the strains.
The love, the loss, the grief, the joy,
repeating again and again.

Chorus
I have loved you since way back when
and I don't know what to do.
All I need are three little words
but I'm still waiting for you.

On that day when we were kids
you pulled my hair with a cheeky grin.
We played in the grass while our parents chatted
and you beat me at chess (but I let you win).
From that day on we were side by side
us against the town.
Just me and you, you and I, it's all we needed.
You never let me down.

Chorus

In school you were a grumpy teen.
I got into music and dance, you played football.
I sang songs and you dated cheerleaders.
We stuck together through it all.
You held my hand when guys made me cry
and sat through my concerts and shows.
I instructed you when you went on dates
and cheered you on from the sidelines even though I froze.

Chorus

Now we are adults, I haven't seen you in an age.
You sound happy when we talk on the phone.
Your new girls sounds perfect and I get you're so in love
but I'm feeling so alone.

Chorus

I am so looking forward to seeing you today
but if you don't shut up about her, I'll go.
I'll leave, I'll run, I really can't take that now
I just don't want to know.
I enter the café and there you are.
You give me a peck on the cheek,
then pull out a great big bunch of flowers
which you hand to me before you begin to speak:
'I have loved you since way back when
and haven't known what to do.
I know you've never felt the same
but I have carried on waiting for you,
hoping and hoping you'll change your mind
and see that I am the one.
But I cannot wait any longer,
I am officially done.'
I step forward and stroke his cheek.
'All this time I've waited for you
and now you're here I can say at last,
just how much I love you.'

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Friday, 16 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 09 - How you hope your future will be like


As a rule, I don't make future plans. I think life is too changeable and you will only become disappointed if you have set your heart on being married at 25 yet it still hasn't happened by 30. So I just let myself go with the flow, and trust fate to lead me on the best course. I do however have one hope for the future - I do hope at some point (the sooner the better really), I will feel worthwhile.

For the past 7 years or so I have suffered from anorexia and as this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought I would therefore open up about my experiences a little more. This is something that I tend to never do. Not because I am ashamed of it but rather as it leads to people's pity and awkward questions. However, I am bored with trying to fit into a stereotypical form of society. It is about time that people were more accepting of those who are different to themselves. This is the 21st century after all and nobody should feel ashamed about who they are. Least of all when they have no control over it, it's not their fault.

It's not  the anorexia that I am afraid of. It's the all-encompassing feelings of worthlessness and insecurity that scare me more. The physical act of not eating and wanting to lose weight is only a tiny part of anorexia. What runs much more deeply is the need to conform to those around you. I hate everything about myself, both how I look and my personality. This leads me to not feel good enough for my infinitely superior friends and family. So I control the one thing that is easiest to control - my weight. 

In the future, I am not hoping to throw off anorexia once and for all. I am definitely not hoping to gain weight and I am not daring to hope that one day I will be the confident person that I pretend to be. All I am hoping for is that one day, I will look at myself in the mirror and be vaguely comfortable with what I see both inside and out.

You can read more about the mental health awareness week here http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/

You can also read about Time to Change's campaign #TimeToTalk which is a valuable campaign encouraging people to discuss mental health more, therefore causing it to become more understood and hopefully more accepted within society
http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/talk-about-mental-health

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Tuesday, 13 May 2014

30 Days Challenge - Day 06 - Write 30 interesting facts about yourself


I am not a very exciting person so I am not entirely sure that I will be able to reach 30 but here goes. Let's see how I do and you can judge how interesting you think they are.

1. My full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Coster
2. I am both the middle and the oldest child in my family - I came after Stuart and Marie-Louise (who are half siblings), but am older than Matt and Lizzie
3. I'm 6ft tall
4. I once dated a lecturer at my university
5. My older sister lives in Brazil
6. Two of my Dad's previous jobs were a racing car driver (which he gave up because he didn't want to die) and an actor (he has acted with Kenneth Brannagh and Judi Dench in the past)
7. I am a complete commitment phobe and have never been in a real relationship
8. I attended boarding school from the ages of 11-18
9. The first time I have ever been pick-pocketed was on New Year's Eve 2013 in Madrid. Only Ivy the Iphone was taken and she was replaced by Ida a few weeks later.
10. I play the clarinet to a distinction level at grade 8 (I also sing and play piano to grade 8 and 6 standards respectively)
11. I have suffered from anorexia since I was about 14
12. I have phobias of feet and spiders
13. I didn't own a mobile phone until I was 15
14. I have been to see 18 West End shows in less than 2 years (some of them twice)
15. When I was little I wanted to be an archaeologist and Time Team was my favourite programme (I was a nerdily cute child)
16. I had to do two dissertations for my course and spent more time in the library in the four weeks leading up to the handin dates than I did in the four years prior to that. I also cried every day for the two weeks prior to handing them in (not an exaggeration, it was stressful)
17. I once got so drunk I passed out on the pavement outside a club and got taken to a police station
18. When I was about 5 I had a crush on my neighbour, David, but our romance abruptly ended when he pushed me into a bramble bush - what a charmer
19. I own 62 dresses (and still never have anything to wear on a night out)
20. I can't step outside the house without putting on eye liner first (at least)
21. I have worn glasses since the age of 4
22. When I was 7 I walked into a lamp post and had to have two stitches in my eyebrow (there is now a small bald patch where the hair has never regrown)
23. I went to school with the England rugby player, Joe Launchbury and used to watch him play every week because I was dating another member of the First XV rugby team
24. In my final year of school I was made Assistant Band Captain of the marching band which I'd been a part of since I was 12
25. I have sung in Westminster Abbey and St Paul's Cathedral. And played the clarinet at Lord's Cricket Ground, the Lord Mayor's Show, St John's Smith Square, the Queen's 80th Birthday Parade and led the Disney Character's Parade in Disneyland Paris (my school marching band was awesome)
26. I have never owned a pet
27. I have never set foot in a KFC
28. I spent four years at uni training to be a teacher and then decided not to be a teacher
29. I never knew my grandfathers who both died before I was born. My grandmothers now have also passed away.
30. I hate milk and don't even drink it in tea

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Friday, 9 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 02 - Where you'd like to be in 10 years


This is one of those questions which seem to be asked over and over again throughout your whole life and whether you're 16 or 40, people always seem to be forcing you to look to the future.

When I was 7 the answer was simple. Assuming that I was not going to become a princess any time soon, I wanted to get into this amazing boarding school in my area that I knew would just be like Malory Towers and Hogwarts (which I did eventually go to and no it wasn't like any literary boarding schools). When I was 10 the answer was also pretty easy - at university. I didn't know what I wanted to study yet, but it all sounded like fun and I was definitely sure I wanted to go. Probably to Oxford or Cambridge, because in my naïve little mind, I was definitely cleverer than the majority of the people in the country.

However, in the past few years this question has been causing me a little more difficulty. Because the honest answer is - I have no fricking clue. I can barely plan for next month, let alone next decade.

So I have come to hate this question with a passion but that does not mean that everyone leaves me alone to work it out....no no. If anything, they seem to be asking more frequently, wondering if I have come to a decision yet. And as the impending doom of my graduation comes closer, the frequency with which I am asked, is rising....and yes I do see my graduation as doom. Not because, I am not excited to join the big bad world. Not even because I am going to miss the subject I am studying (I am more than happy to finally put an end to my 18 years in education). But purely because I have literally no idea what I want to do with my life. None at all. And the people who keep on asking me to think about the future are stressing me out.

I am currently on a teacher training course and the amazing thing about studying a vocational degree (such as teaching, medicine, veterinary sciences, journalism, nursing...) you are pretty much guaranteed a job at the end of it. And you certainly don't have to stress about what you are doing next. That decision has already been made. The problems only begin when you are part way through that course and you realise the vocation is no longer for you. Which is what happened to me last summer. A major, hugely difficult decision that I had to make. Fine. Good. That's step 1. Step 2, is working out what I actually want to do. Another idea will come soon...right? What I did not bargain for, was how rushed off my feet I was going to be this year. I barely have had time to breathe, let alone make life decisions. So it's 11 months on and I still have no ideas.

But I think that's fine. And if I decide that I want to spend a year working in a shop so I have a little time to work out my options, that should certainly satisfy everyone else. On top of that, people forget how young we actually are. We have plenty of time to settle down, have kids, get trapped into a mortgage and sell our souls to a company who overwork and underpay us. When people spend their time constantly looking to the future, wondering what their next moves are, many of them forget to enjoy the present. Life has this way of working itself out eventually so my advice is to stop worrying about it and just go with the flow.

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Thursday, 8 May 2014

30 Days Blog Challenge - Day 01 - Your current relationship


I am going to throw it out there...I don't think love exists.

An uncharacteristically cynical opinion for a 21 year old female but, however many Disney movies you may have watched when you were little, I am afraid to say that no prince is coming to sweep you off your feet anytime soon. They don't exist either.

What does exist though, is attraction and, rather than love, I think relationships stem from that. You are attracted to the person, you get to know them, you get used to them, you continue putting up with them...that's it. None of this wishy washy lovey dovey stuff.

We live in a very shallow society where looks matter a lot. Whoever tells you otherwise is lying. If you get on with a guy well, that's all well and good but, to put it bluntly, you are not going to have sex with a warthog. There has to be a level of attraction and if you do not find him appealing, there is no way you will actually take things further. Tinder is a prime example of this. Following its release and subsequent popularity, it was absolutely panned by criticisms of it being unbelievably judgemental. But isn't that exactly what we do all day? If a guy approaches you in a bar and offers to buy you a drink, he's not psychic. He doesn't know the first thing about your personality, it was all down to looks. So how is Tinder any different?

It won't surprise you when I say that I am single. Very single. But happily so. I am an educated, semi intelligent, independent woman and although they seem to be a rare breed, I do not have the overwhelming need to rely on a male's good opinion of me to feel worthwhile. And actually when I have dated or fallen for people in the past, it seemed to have the opposite effect. So for now, I am completely fine with my own company. But who knows...maybe my prince is waiting out there for me and in a few year's time, I will be writing a very different blog post...


If you want to read further about what it's like to be single at university, click here http://charlottecoster.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/single-life-at-university.html

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Monday, 5 May 2014

I can't sing - The X Factor Musical

Theatre addict as I am, I find it extremely difficult to stop myself from going to see a musical that is closing. There is something so irresistible about the possibility of a show never returning to the stage. And in this particular case, that is a more than likely outcome, following the early closure on the 10th May.

Having opened a mere 6 weeks ago surrounded by a lot of hype, the X Factor musical was absolutely panned by the critics. This obviously had a knock on effect on the sales which were not huge. And they desperately needed to be. Placed within one of the largest of the West End's theatres, the London Palladium, it demands over 1000 tickets to be sold every night in order to fill the house as is necessary for a new musical. Needless to say, this did not happen with sales dipping to as low as half what they were hoping for, on some nights.

However, the failure that has caused this musical to close so early can not be blamed on the size of the London Palladium, but on Harry Hill's poor writing. I am not a huge fan of Hill's slapstick comedy anyway, and as the musical continued it became more and more absurd with crazy props and a plot I couldn't always follow. Considering that only a couple of years ago, the age old classic of The Wizard of Oz was on this very stage, the X Factor musical was very unsophisticated. But even if you ignore my personal tastes in comedy, the plot was undeniably rubbish with undeveloped characters and an odd pacing - some parts moving far too slowly while others moved confusingly fast. The songs were musically samey throughout, the lyrics were uninspired and the choreography lacked individuality.  Props were overwhelmingly and unnecessarily large, in an effort to fill the Palladium's huge stage (or maybe that's why it was placed within this theatre in the first place) yet still the stage felt a little empty. However much you may enjoy Harry Hill, what became abundantly clear is that he is not talented when it comes to writing musicals.

Saying that, the cast did brilliantly with the underwhelming resources they had to work with. All were talented (and could indeed sing very well). There were some humorous moments that I managed a small giggle at, although most of these were from sarcastic referrals various characters made to the musical's early closure (that obviously would not have been added had the musical been a success).  They interacted with the audience in a faintly amusing way. Furthermore, the actors imitating the celebrity judges and Dermot O'Leary were spot on, playing their characters' mannerisms to a slightly exaggerated perfection.

The failure of this musical reminds me strongly of Viva Forever. Firstly this is due to the plot as they each chart a young girl's journey through a talent show and her subsequent disenchantment with fame. Secondly both were written by similarly successful comedians but both were flops. It just shows that musicals which are put on purely to cash in on a brand, don't work. Leave the theatre world alone to do what it does best. And I have to admit before I go, I am feeling faintly smug that this little part of Britishness has remained safe and (almost) untainted by Mr Simon Cowell's greed.

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Friday, 2 May 2014

How to survive your dissertations


















As any of you who read this blog, or who follow me on twitter will know, I have been rather stressed recently. The wonderful university course that I am on has given us not one but TWO dissertations to strew over that were due within a week of each other. And although there were some crazy-arsed moments and I didn't stop crying for about 10 days, guess what? I actually survived. But having two, puts me in a better position than most, to give some advice on how to get through this stressful period and how you can come out the other side with a ghost of a smile on your face.

Make friends with clever people
You will be able to pick their brains whenever you like, and they will always give you the right answer about where to find that document or how you actually reference a website when you have no idea when it was written or who wrote it. Plus you can borrow their books knowing full well they are excellently useful and steal their references...at this stressful time of your life there is no time for actual friendships so you must use every person you know, shamelessly to your advantage.

Make friends with stupid people
Keep a few of these in your life...it will be depressing if you know everyone around you is going to get a better grade than you.

Have no filter
There is enough stress in your life already, so why add to it by conforming to society...take this chance to go absolutely nuts. You can say whatever you like, and you can just blame it on all of your worries that are doing weird things to your brain. And cry. A lot. It makes you feel better and is expected. Just let it all out.

Embrace reality TV dramas
I am sorry but you are going to have to get into one of these horrendous pieces of television...Made in Chelsea is probably the best one as  there are a few hot people to stare at. Plus, if people are that educated while at the same time act so thick yet STILL be rich, then you imagine how rich you have the potential to be...education AND common sense...wow. The possibilities are endless.

Do not go to the library
Everyone knows that the best resources are online these days, google books can fill in the rest and you don't have deal with the stupid first years that I mentioned in the previous blogpost. And all that productivity is annoyingly depressing. And you don't have to pack up your station every time you want a cup of tea. And you don't get glared at if you drop a pen on the floor. And you can eat, which is very very important at times like these. Pretty much stay away.

Take up a new hobby
Your brain fizzles out and dies during the dissertation writing process, so you need something to keep it alive. Plus, you do need to be proud of something you have achieved at the end of it all and that probably won't be the tear-stained document that you are attempting to write

Buy a lot of post-its
They are one of the only things that got me through this whole period...I needed them to mark important phrases in my millions of books, I wrote to-do lists every day (that normally didn't get completed, so I would just have to cross off the 'Monday' at the top and change it to 'Tuesday' then 'Wednesday' etc...) and I wrote inspirational notes for my friends and myself that we attached around our laptop screens.

Ignore all normal meals
This is possibly the one time in your life where an ice-cream-only diet is not only acceptable but compulsory.

Embrace alcoholism (NB this can be substituted occasionally for tea while you are actually writing)
You need a day off every now and then but to your horror you will find that your brain doesn't allow you it anymore. The whole time you will be distracted thinking about that dissertation of doom, waiting for you when you get home and you will be guiltily thinking how you should probably be working on it right that minute. The only way you can shut off, is through excessive binge drinking. which will invariably lead you to sobbing in a toilet cubicle at 1am about how you are going to fail. But it is worth it for a few hours of downtime away from it.

Save money
Printing and binding is SO EXPENSIVE. It's about the cost of a small house. So make sure you have saved up a bit of your student loan for this, especially if the due date is at the end of term.

And finally, Don't despair - you will get there eventually. And once it is done, it will feel amazing.

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