Friday, 19 August 2016

Olympic Village, 6AM

Alarm goes off [Belle & Sebastian's Olympic Village 6AM plays]

A bright new optimistic day adjusted to in bed with a preparatory stretch into the air. I rise from the covers, swinging my legs onto the floor, and wonder briskly across the room where I change into my country's kit. Staying in accommodation, flats shared with teammates, is sort of like being in university halls. The University of Olympic Games. Exam period. A first/ the goal: A gold medal.
On my way to the front door, I pass my flat/teammates who are rising into the morning with like-minded optimism. We high-five, exchange jokes, la la la. Then I skip down the stairs, out into the village, and jog/walk/maybe cycle around, clearing the head, warming up the muscles, getting the body moving. I see other Olympians, who are similarly relishing the sunrise, waving at the familiar, smiling politely at the rivals, perhaps taking a selfie with those of a kind of legendary status. I do my route around, flags of all different nationalities resting colourfully over balconies beside me and I think to myself: life is great, life is fun, let's take on this day!

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Olympic diaries

Last Olympics beach volleyball was the sport that took up most of my viewing time. Early afternoon when a new day's action got underway: yay beach volleyball's on! Flicking through the Olympic channels in the evening: woohoo beach volleyball. At night before bed when it was dark and just about all events had concluded: beach volleyball still on? yesssss.
This time, while I remained excited about the beach volleyball and it taking place in an actual beach setting, as opposed to the concrete streets of Central London, hockey has become the prominent sport so far.


First match of the day (2 o'clock UK time) was Spain verses New Zealand. It was a fairly slow paced match, New Zealand scoring two goals which were dispersed throughout the four quarters (2nd and 4th). Spain scored in the last 10 seconds of the match. The final hit was a goal. And, although they still lost, it was a display of great energy. Never give up, never stop. Not until the ending horn!

Browsing the red button post- run and I saw the conclusion of Australia verses India. A match that, as the scoreline told, involved goal after goal with Australia winning 6-1.

Points can happen in a forceful flash. Blink and you'll miss it. Unlike football where the ball may stay in the nest of the net, it bounces right back out again, raring to play and pick up speed.

Then there was GB verses Argentina, watched early evening before going to the Bradford's my neighbours' for a meal. Team GB secured victory 3-2, originally leading 3-0 before Argentina fought back in the latter stages. The crowd was harsh. Predominantly Argentinean, they booed every GB possession as though it were a foul, a dirty piece of play. Cool it, ok? In the final few minutes, my eyes were wide and transfixed then squinted anxiously each time the blue and whites enclosed the semi-circle. With thirty seconds to go, GB whacked the ball to a near empty opposite end to prolong Argentina's chances of equalising. It worked. Please don't score, please don't score... And relax. They didn't score.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

"I make wishes all the time and try to believe them"

Sweet, magical, descending gracefully before us like a sprinkling of fairy dust, Aurora Aksnes is the flowing blend of enchanting storytelling and intriguing personality. Sure, I've been listening to her for months and months now and you probably have too but it's only recently I have been watching interviews.
 She speaks of a childhood of pretending trees could talk and having friends but preferring to be at home alone, turning the world around her into something more exciting. She sees the good in things, stating that what inspires her most are "people and their stories and my stories and the world. It's good to make something beautiful out of something that is originally not that beautiful." And, being genuine and full of warmth, she advises that "the best thing we can do today is relax and be happy and try to enjoy just being ourselves because we try too much to be something or an idea of something we would like to be."
 In her music videos, she explores solitary in the wilderness, in front of waterfalls, in silent spreads of snow, and gets emotional while butterflies attach themselves to her. I imagine this to be an insight into her world - one that's centered around nature. She's like a delicate snowflake resting in the serene coldness of her Norwegian home or a mythical being tiptoeing out of overgrown bluebells.
 Love letter and bias journalism aside, Aurora demonstrates perfectly how an artist and their music can fit perfectly as one (unlike, for example, manufactured pop stars or people who make themselves/ their sound totally in keeping with what's popular. There seems to be a disconnection; things feel too forced) Songs are like tales, both from their side and our's as our imagination and emotions roam wild. Aurora, too, is like something from a tale.

Monday, 1 August 2016

Diary of a shy person

Sometimes I feel like the world is my bedroom
a place where I'm secluded and independent
and I'm lying on the floor immersing myself 
in books, observing the lives of others

Sometimes I want to speak but the words
just will not come out. Like there is a barrier
at the end of my throat announcing MAINTENANCE WORK 
aren't cool enough to go through

Sometimes I feel like air, always there
yet never taken note of, being seen right through
and I think: talk to me and I will talk to you too
get to know me and I could be fun too

Sometimes I feel like whatever, this is life
I've been in this position before and repeat
maybe I am just boring therefore what can I do?
so I stay in my room, awaiting

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Micro playlist for running on a beach

PEOPLE: Ahh, it's so hot. I just want to stay inside so I don't melt from the heat
ME: I really want to go on a run. See you in a bit.


*Let's talk about Weezer's White Album, released a few months ago. In it, is Rivers Cuomo a forty six years young man stuck in the mindset of an adolescent male, inexplicably nostalgic about a time that really wasn't that great but has merged into something golden and attractive in the imagination?  Or is he just a good narrator for that young, awkward, girl crazy period in life?
Weezer are a band that have never really come across as taking things too seriously, both lyrically and visually (see music videos). This album contains songs like 'Thank God for Girls' and 'LA Girlz', which initially made me cringe because, well, spelling and 40+ years of age with wife and kids. But then I laughed it off and thought haha that's probably the point. Things like 'if I was king of the world/ you'd be my girl' (King of the World) and 'oh why why why do my flowers always die?/ why do they die?/ I'm all jacked up over you' (Jacked Up) and 'I just want this summer to end/ what's the point of trying to pretend?/ she told me to follow the rules/ not all 19 year olds are cool' (Endless Bummer) , which are emotionally raw and longing in that youthful kind of way, are combined with a sound that's very old school Weezer. So actually maybe Rivers (and co) is more just celebratory, embracing the roots of the band that made them, in many people's eyes, great.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

So I had this dream. For no reason whatsover.

In a bid to reach out further to a younger demographic, Chanel sells new season sneakers at a fraction of the cost.

Stepping into the West London boutique and the recognisable sneakers line the walls. Pastel tweed, pristine whites, subtle rays of metallics and a plethora of stereotypical feminine tones catch the eye in a rainbow of youth. Usually selling at £350- £1000, a look at the label of many of these shoes shows a reduced price of just over £100 - £150. Yet for one customer, it was even less.

"I was just browsing and was completely drawn to this pink and lilac pair," says Frankie, twenty one years of age, pointing down at her feet. "I read the price and was like aww if they were a bit cheaper, like £50-£60, I would definitely buy them. Karl [Lagerfeld] overheard me, came over and said he'd drop the price so I could get them!" Asked why she considered this to be the case, Frankie responded with "I'm twenty one but look like a fifteen year old so he must have thought parfait! Any way to get my target consumer showing off genuine Chanel."

It seems out of character, and for many luxury shoppers sickening, that a renowned fashion house gleaming in tradition and wealth would sell in the same market as high street. It also seems out of character for the designer and creative director to be present and actively engaged in a low-key London store, especially when there is no event taking place. But Lagerfeld insists that it is the way forward for both Chanel and the fashion industry.

"It is not like this for every collection and product. Of course, that would be silly," he says. "But in order to expand and thrive in the industry  today, we need to be open minded. The youth are the future and so, as a company that always looks ahead, we should embrace that."

It's hard to tell if he's being serious, as emotions are disguised behind trademark opaque glasses and stern facial features, although one thing is for sure: There are a lot of joyful young girls strolling flat-footed through the streets right now.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Nobody told me

I don't know how it feels to give birth and have my own child and I imagine it's one of those life stages that can't be fully understood unless experienced. But Hollie McNish's Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood creates a genuine picture of what it's like. 

The book is a gathering of diary entries and poems written from the day the pregnancy test announced she was pregnant (on her way to Glastonbury) to her child's first day of preschool and the stream of thoughts throughout those years is both heart-warming and eye-opening.

Heart-warming in the sweet mother-towards- daughter emotions like this from poem You

You are the reason why my heart / skips a beat / every night / Why my laughter lines double/ and/ grow deeper/ each day

You are the smile carved/  like a permanent mark/ on my face/ Every time you wake me up/ at 6 a.m. to play/ Drumming on my belly/ Blowing raspberries on my skin / and I joke that one day I might put you back in / and when I tell you that you lived there/ you tell me it's a fib/ asking me for proof/ like a toddler detective

I point to the place / you lift my top up a little/ then bang on my stretch marks/ and giggle

While  eye-opening in the oh-my-god-society-is-so-frustrating kind of way.
Take, for example, the anger released with Embarrassed. I've never got my head around why breastfeeding in public, especially when done discreetly, is seen as disgusting. Surely what's more disgusting is this:

...after six months of her life spent sitting on lids/ As she sips on her milk, nostrils sniffing up shit,/ Banging her head on toilet-roll dispensers,/ I wonder if these public-loo feeds offend her

...And the more I go out, the more I can't stand it/ I walk into town, feel surrounded by bandits,/ 'Cos in this country of billboards covered in tits/ And family newsagents' magazines full of it/ WHSmith top shelves out for men/ -Why don't you complain about them then?

And the baby product business which Hollie remarks on frequently over the years, in particularly in Marketing Motherhood.

...Business marketing emotions as 'necessary buys' / as grands are spent from guilty feelings, unknown fears and/ cries/ as one hundred heavy bellies walk the isles, bulging with advice/ and tags are placed everything and unborn babies priced.

Trollies filled by worried parents,/ patents push the price, declaring/ products for those 'up the duff,'/ like/ if you don't buy this, you'll fuck your baby up

And the general rudeness of some people on public transport, which includes the disapproving reactions to bringing a toddler on a train journey during rush hour and the account of a woeful tube trip while heavily pregnant: 

'He has definitely seen me. He has looked at my belly. Of course he'd stand if he could. He might have bad knees, I think, might have had an operation last week, bladder issues or any other problems I can't see. So I stand, feeling like the heaviness of my bowling-ball belly pushing on my bladder might make me wee my pants right there, staring into space, trying not to hate humankind, and finally we're there. King's Cross.
The guy stands up and walks across me, out of the Tube, and sprints down the platform to catch his train. There was nothing wrong with his legs.'

It's always interesting getting drawn into the mind of other people via words on a page. It's even more interesting when, as is the case with Nobody Told Me, it's a portrayal of real life.