Thursday, 29 October 2015

Why 'nice' is an underrated word

I'd like you to have a little think for a moment and see whether you can remember those far off days when you were trapped in school. It might be a little harder for some of you than others (not being rude or nothing...but're getting on a bit now! Only joking - insert sticky out tongue emoji here).

Anyway, sorry got off topic for a second there. I was too busy insulting you. But have a think back and see if you can remember your literacy lessons in particular. What was that one word which you were told you shouldn't use in your stories?


You were told over and over again that nice wasn't an acceptable word and you should choose another one. Maybe your character could be interesting. Or maybe they could be smart. Or maybe adventurous. But nice? No - think of something better.

It became a bit of a banned word within school. And over the years, it is drummed into you so much (NICE IS BAD NICE IS BAD NICE IS BAD) that this continues into adulthood as well. Almost like subliminal messaging.

So much so, it's not really seen as good enough if you are simply a nice person.

It makes me wonder whether this is the reason that there aren't that many genuinely nice people around. Or maybe it's because if you are nice, you are often taken advantage of. It is taken for granted that you won't complain about how you are treated and you will always do your best to please everyone all the time. You will keep putting up with the fact that everyone puts others first, and you are constantly cancelled on and let down.

But niceness should never be unacceptable. It is a HUGELY underrated quality that you don't see in very many people any more. This could be because it has been squashed out of people's personalities to protect themselves from dickheads or because they weren't that nice in the first place.

A place where you do find lots of nice people grouped together, is in shops. The people who work there only want to do their best to ensure you find what you need and leave the shop happier than you were in the first place. They are smiley and friendly and wonderfully nice. What do they get in return? A load of crap normally...with people shouting at them for things that aren't their fault.

Humans can be pretty horrible to each other. They say rude things and are selfish and judgemental. So when you do come across a nice one, my advice is hang on to them with all your might. You will need them to help protect you/make up for the waves of nastiness that will crash into you over the years.

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Thursday, 22 October 2015

Starbucks Joke

Let me tell you a little story...

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Charlotte who spent a bit too much time in Starbucks. Therefore, to amuse herself and liven up all those times she was awaiting her precious cup of coffee, she decided to play a little practical joke on the poor assistants within the coffee shops.

And that's how my game began it's life.

Basically, I decided to think up the most ridiculous name I could and see if I received a reaction from the barista who had to write said name on my cup. And I would work my way through the alphabet.

One year on, (I started around November last year) I have finally finished. Hoooooray. Which is just as well, because, now I have moved back to a little town, I am pretty sure they are starting to recognise me.

As you will see, a couple of them are missing pictures and towards the end I ran out of steam. But I hope the little stories attached to each name give you a giggle anyway. And to the baristas who had to write these down, I am truly sorry.

Andromeda - greek mythology - The girl at the till asked me to spell it and she still got it wrong bless her! And the guy who was calling out the names after he had made them, didn't call out mine. I think he was unsure how to pronounce it.

It's actually a really pretty name, if a little bit of a mouthful. I sat down and the polish guy on the table next to me, asked me if I was greek. I said no, but it's just that my parents were really interested in greek mythology. He started to chat to me about mythology, about his polish name and how he always simplified it so people could actually spell it (Thomas instead of Tomasz). And then chatted/flirted with me for a bit longer. A great start haha.

Blodwyn - means white flower - I was actually on a date when I did this one. Just moments before, I had been explaining this game that I started two days ago. So when they asked for a name for our order, the guy I was with turned to me to offer one. I think it was to see if I really would do it. Therefore I said this name to the girl at the checkout who sighed and was it you spelt that?

Chardonnay - wine - The guy hesitated ever so slightly and then asked me how to spell it! So I told him and added 'yes like the wine.' He made no comment though except for 'it's really long!' We then had a chat about how Starbucks didn't offer discounts to the Oracle Shopping Centre workers any more which sucked for him because he didn't get any discounts in the other shops!

Dothie - short for Dorothy - I automatically spelt it for him and he said he was going to spell it with 'tty'! I told him, with a completely straight face, I was special. After I paid he said 'thanks dothie!' And in my head I went 'who?' I need to be more committed otherwise I am so going to slip up! I was good with the first one as I had been planning to do this post for a while before I started the game! We shall see...

Egberta - bright sword - she didn't say anything while taking my name but repeated it with a certain air of incredulity and then couldn't quite hide her smile! Nearly made me giggle and blow my cover so I had to drop my eyes and pretend I was embarrassed about it!

Fabrizia - Worker - I was going to do Fanny for this one but I chickened out! So this is what I went for - pronounced fabreeze-ia! She asked me to repeat it but then didn't bat an eyelid! I went bright red though because she was standing next to someone who had served me the week before and I am sure he recognised me! I need to start going to a new Starbucks!! I also took a massive gulp and burnt my tongue so it was a bit of a failure of a trip!

Glennis - from the valley - The spelling was not even close!! Which made me laugh! I hadn't done one of these 'special names' in a while so I kept on not responding to my name! But hopefully he just thought I was a little away with the fairies! 

Helga - religious/holy - Was with my friend and couldn't keep a straight face because she made me laugh and called me an idiot. Behind the till, it was the same person who served me last week and he said 'remind of your name?' He blatantly knew I was making them all up! 

Isadora- I went to a different Starbucks this time but unfortunately it was still a barista I have encountered before. And he definitely recognised me! Oops! I might be starting to get a reputation. He repeated my name with incredulity and then asked me to spell it. I laughed with him and went 'and what'

Jaime - I pronounced it like the French word but he spelt it really wrong! I really like the name Jamie for a girl though. Not completely sure why but I think it's cute.

Keturah - Abraham's second wife - When I said my name the guy just gave me a look as if to say 'are you FRICKING kidding me?' And then he waited for me to spell it for him without even asking. I half laughed and did so. The pen wasn't working very well as you can see and he clearly couldn't be bothered to find another one and ask me to spell it again. 

Lois -new testament, greek name - I was a bit out of practice because I haven't bought coffee in ages. I hesitated and then said my name a touch too early but he didn't say anything. He did obviously think I was a man though, considering how he spelt it ha.
Mildred - I hesitated badly but I don't think she noticed! She hadn't heard the name before and said it was pretty. I was like really!? And then I forgot the name so when the guy called me out I didn't respond. Such a fail! It was just me in the queue though so that was ok I got there in the end. It didn't help he couldn't say it properly either.

Norma - The woman who wrote this was completely unphased and just calmly wrote it on there. And she was very patient dealing with my indecision about whether to go for a strawberry or caramel frappe. It's the big decisions in life that are important! 

Oregon - For months, I have continually been forgetting to say a different name but I thought I would restart. The barista was really good looking and he asked me how to spell it because 'he didn't want to make a fool of himself'. I said it was 'yeah like the spice'  He was definitely flirting with me and then we talked about how he got free coffee all the time! I felt a bit jealous actually, maybe I should start working in starbucks (Or not if they get lots of difficult customers like me).

Prudence - I think the woman recognised me because she repeated my name with disbelief. Either that or she just thought it was really ugly. No offence to any Prudences out there - but I just think of that horrible character in the St Clare's series by Enid Blyton!

Queenie - He repeated it when I told him my name and looked at me weirdly so I felt compelled to add 'it's a nickname.' He half laughed and went 'oh ok'. I am disappointed he didn't ask for more info. I had a whole spiel lined up about how my real name was Elizabeth! I think I am getting a bit too into this. It's quite fun pretending to be other people.

Roxie - This was rather a poor effort as I wasn't prepared and didn't have an R name lined up. I was with my friend too and when she heard me say the name she laughed so loudly and unsubtley. Apparently because I was 'so not a Roxie'! Which is kind of the point...

Savannah - This is one of my favourite girls names but the lady spelt it completely wrong! My friend completely pissed herself and made me laugh too.

Trixxie- He asked me how to spell it and after I chose this spelling I said about how most people don't bother to ask. He then said that I was the first Trixxie he had ever met and was it short for anything? I said it was actually a nickname and he asked me my real name. I said it was boring and that it was Charlotte! He said it wasn't that boring, he'd heard worse! He was really nice and I'm sorry you haven't met a real trixxie ;)

Ursula - I was with my sister and she gave me a look when I said it which almost sent me into fits of giggles! The barista took it in her stride though and just moved on to the next person without comment or even a flicker of emotion 

Virginia - This was my first pumpkin spiced latte of the season and I had a chat with the barista about how much I was looking forward to it!! They are so good but I think he now believes I am weird.

Winona - I added like the actress :) She commented that she had had a few other cool names that day including a Hamish and a Sherlock! I love the idea that someone pretended to be Sherlock Holmes. Maybe I should do that in the future and pretend to be various book characters.

Xenia - I had to spell it for the girl obviously but I think I confused her by saying it was with an X. The other girl who gave me my coffee refused to say my name. Probably because she recognised me and knew it wasn't my actual name! 

Yazi - This was actually the last 'special name' of the game because I did 'z' at an earlier time! I just kind of wanted to get it finished because some of the baristas definitely started to recognising me! So I panicked and just chose the first name that came into my head! 

Zante - I made a bit of a mistake with this one! I thought that zante was actually spelt xante so this was going to be my 'x' one but I figured this could be an excellent z one anyway! And she misspelled it. Am pretty sure she recognised me

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Thursday, 8 October 2015


Today is National Poetry Day so I thought it was only fitting that I should upload one of my own which I wrote a few weeks. Do bear with me, this is a working progress. And also, it's technically meant to be a song but, as it has no music yet, I thought it still counted =]

Hope you enjoy it and do let me know if you would like to read more of my creative work/whether you would like to see me attempt to put this to music.

You think you are my king
and that you're the one I live for -
the only one I live for
and I want nothing more
than to run around after you
protecting you from whatever comes near;
stopping anything else from getting close.
What would you do if I was not here?
The answer to that question
is you'd be just the same.
You have no need of me
trying to protect you within my game.
So why am I still here
waiting for your love?
Which I know will never come
because I am not good enough.
I used to think that you were my knight
and I was your queen
but I should never have been
so naïve that I might
mean something to you.
I'm simply a pawn in your game
and there's no way you feel the same
as I do
about you.
You took away the rook
so I can't walk in a straight line
but I still hobble on
pretending that I'm fine.
I turned to the bishop
for a little bit of help. And pray
that I will actually move forwards
one of these days.
I knew I should never have started,
I knew I should never have played,
I knew I should never have tried,
I knew I should never have stayed.
It's no good playing the master
or trying to beat him at his game
because it will destroy your life and soul
and you will never be the same.
Moving me around the chess board,
placing me where you please.
Why is it me that you had
to bring to my knees?
But it's over now - you've won!
It's checkmate.
Look at the state
of me.
Can't you see?
I'm done!

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Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Book challenge - Part 4

I have had a busy few months and am actually taking part in another Book Blogging challenge for Blogtober. But I have finally managed to complete the 4th Part of my #26BooksWithBringingUpBurns challenge. You can read the 3rd Part here (and there are links to the other 10 prompts in that post too). Or just go ahead and enjoy prompts 16-20. Only one part to go...

16. A book you learned about because of this challenge - The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada
In order to choose the book that fit this criteria I asked a question on a wonderful Facebook group's page called The Bookshop Café (which I am very active on and I urge any book lovers out there, to join this group too. We have great discussions about books). The question I put to this lovely group of book nerds was 'What is the book which you think nobody should live their lives without reading??' I didn't want simply to know their favourite book or a book they find kind of ok. I wanted to know the books that every single person should read. And I got some great answers including this one, which, after I read the blurb, I was very excited about reading.

And, after reading this book, I have to say that I agree with whoever suggested it to me. This book is truly beautiful and should be added to every single TBR list immediately.

It is only very short at 128 pages but the emotions that the author manages to pack into this tiny novella is a little extraordinary. This book is set in a concentration camp in the early 1940s where Jewish Daniel has managed to survive due to his use as a carpenter. But his real profession is actually as a violin-maker and when his German commander learns of this, he is forced to make a beautiful violin as part of a bet that he has with another commander.

Of course, I won't tell you whether he succeeds and I can't tell you a lot more or I would accidentally give it away. But my god, is this book haunting. It has all the brutality that you would expect from a novel set in a concentration camp but it's so much more than that. There is some real beauty in there too and deep friendship is also portrayed. It really is worth a read and it will stick with you forever.

17. A book that will make you smarter - Get Rich Blogging by Zoe Griffin
I think if you read anything at all, it will automatically make you a smarter and a more rounded person. But I decided to read a non fiction book for this prompt as I don't often read them, apart from the very occasional autobiography. And I thought this particular book would help my knowledge of how to turn my hobby into a career.

This had a lot of waffle in it. A lot. But if you managed to wade through that, there was some really sound advice. I underlined and highlighted and scribbled throughout the book (much to the horror of one woman on the tube who wouldn't stop staring at me as I did this) and I think I have come away with some good tips. Even if I don't become rich it was really useful to see how I could enlarge my audience and begin to make money from something that I love to do. So watch this space. You never know, you might be looking at the next Carrie Bradshaw.

18. A book with a blue cover - On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan
I love it when a front cover is actually relevant to the novel within its clutches and these days, so many don't relate at all. But you can always count on certain authors to do the job properly and the blue cover was 100% representative of the story.

This was only a short book - my copy was about 160 pages long. And it depicted one night in July 1962 - Edward and Florence's wedding night, with some flashbacks to their earlier courting.

A lot was packed into those 160 pages: love, loss, anger, betrayal, pure happiness and the deepest depression you could imagine. There was mental illness, physical illness, birth and death and it ended up spanning a little more than just that night. It truly was a beautifully written and exquisitely created book. Every word meant something. And Florence's pressure to perform was so emotive. Each character had their faults but you couldn't help loving them anyway and longing for them to succeed. Which they did but not in the way you would expect.

And where does the blue cover come in, I hear you ask? Well, blue has always been the colour of purity as it is associated with the Virgin Mary. So do you think this young bride succeeds in losing her virginity or not? Is that even a success anyway? Read the book and find out...

I really really recommend that you read this book. It will stay with you for a long time (I seem to be saying that a lot in this blog challenge).

19. A book you were meant to read in school but didn't - The Catcher in the Rye by J. D Salinger
I, of course, was a very good girl when I was at school with a huge love of literature. So I obviously read every single book that I was meant to. Therefore for this prompt I thought I would take a book that I read in school and reread it.

I studied The Catcher in the Rye for GCSE just over 7 years ago but have never reread it since then, which is very remiss of me because it is an excellent book.

However, on going back to it and despite loving it when I was studying, I found I didn't enjoy it half as much now. Maybe it's because I didn't have the wonderful passion of my year 11 English teacher behind me, pushing me to examine the text in depth. Or maybe it was simply because Holden Caulfield is so darn annoying!

I understand that he is meant to be this way. He is mentally very unwell which could have been caused by the death of his brother, or the (implied) inappropriateness from past teachers. But when I read, it's the characters which always make me engage with it and make/break a book for me. And this character just annoyed me. I couldn't deal with the fact that he kept on saying one thing then doing another. Or ostracising someone for a certain characteristic and then displaying that he had that characteristic himself. I just became angry with him and, although I did finish the book, I couldn't say I particularly enjoyed it this time. I will have to try again sometime in the future, and see if my views revert to their earlier love.

20. A book everyone but you has read - 1984 by George Orwell
This is the big one that most people are surprised I haven't read (I have now yay!). I have read Animal Farm which makes it a little better but the idea of the Big Brother-ness of 1984 always scared me

And I was right to be scared really. This book really really freaked me out. I finished reading it about a week ago and I am still feeling really unsettled by it. The thing is, the (hugely cruel) world portrayed, could so easily be a part of the one we live in today that it made me feel odd. And it is a reality to a certain extent, in places such as North Korea. But it is only one little step to being a part of daily life here in England and for us to be controlled by whichever governing body happens to be in charge. It's just a horrible thought.

But that shows what a truly brilliant book it is. It touched a nerve and stayed with me, and although it was written so many years ago, it is still very relevant today. Not many writers can say that.

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