Is Free Entertainment Really A Good Thing?

 

Today I took another step towards being an adult, I have paid for a subscription to The Times newspaper. I won’t lie this was mostly so I could read Caitlin Moran‘s column and swoon over her beautifully crafted words. I was spurred on to take up my subscription (costing just over £8 a month) after hearing her talk at Green Man Festival. She discussed why she believed the pay wall was a good thing and I am now inclined to agree with her.

 

 

Her argument concerned money, or lack of, in the creative sector. Apart from the whole economic down turn which obviously had an impact another big catalysis in this change is the internet. Offering free news, music and videos for everyone willing to search, and many of the creative people behind it never getting paid. The Times pay wall means that she, and other contributors to the paper, can be properly paid for their work. Interestingly when I was searching for a photo of Caitlin for this blog post the second search suggestion was “caitlin moran times column free”, highlighting unending search for free entertainment of the internet.

caitlin moran
If all entertainment is free how would creative people get paid?

 

This made me think about my relationship with the internet as I grew up. I was in the first generation to truly grow up with the internet. The box in the corner of my room was my passport to the world, with all the free music, books and movies I could imagine. I loved it, days spent reading fanfiction, watching movies and listening to music. It was all at my finger tips and it was all free (well my mum paid the internet bill).

But views like this mean it’s harder than ever for a band to be signed, journalists to get jobs and authors to get a book deal. The only ones who have a chance in this climate are those who have money behind them so they can spend months and years playing, writing and creating for free until they have enough support for their talents to be recognized. Even the amount of words written and read for free on WordPress blogs is unfathomable and without the internet these words would be not be given freely to be read by anyone around the world (one day last week I had a spike in views from people in Greece).

Slowly over my life I have stepped further and further behind the pay wall. Spotify, Netflix and now The Times have all sneaked into my monthly budget. As well as frequent, perhaps too frequent, trips to the Kindle and iTunes store. I am not saying everything on the internet should be pay-per-view content hidden behind a paywall, but compared to 15 year-old me I have begun to appreciate the creativity that goes into work that people make for free on the internet. Also I think that the creative industry has a massively important part in social and political change in our country and  we should not neglect the industry or the people who make it so fabulous.

Netflix and Spotify

Advertisements

Urban Art Number Two: The Best Street in Cardiff

My best friend and I were walking to the camping store last week to get last minute festival necessities and we stumbled upon the best two streets in Cardiff (except for any street with a bookshop, they obviously trump any other street). This is some of the best urban art I’ve ever seen. A five minute walk took us almost twenty as I spent time looking at all the art and taking copious amount of photographs. So here are some of my favourite pieces of art and I would highly recommend you find this street. I won’t tell you the exact location because things like this are always better stumbled upon.

This one give you a bit of an idea where we are at, love all the empty barrels and the awesome art behind it
Gangster Daffy Duck number 1
Gangster Daffy Duck – didn’t know Daffy was hip in the spray painting world.
This one completely snuck up on me. Can’t believe it was done with spray paint.
He must be more cool than I thought!
This is awesome! and reminds me of Karl Pilkington when he visits Mexico in An Idiot Abroad, Although Karl is a bit thiner and looks alot less tough.
He’s going to eat me :/
It's beyond me how people can do this, so much talent!
It’s beyond me how people can do this, so much talent!
Dog and Bombs
This reminded me of a Dr Who villain
This reminded me of a Dr Who villain
Running
Running Robot?
Don’t have a clue what this says but I thought it was beautiful. And it was the last piece of art in the street.

On Relationships, Harry Potter and Drunken Chats

I’ve just spent the weekend with my best friend at the Green Man Festival (blog post about festivaling to follow), and my best friend and I have a wonderful habit of philosophising and contemplating the world when together, particularly after a lot of alcohol has been consumed. Well, I say philosophising, we are probably slurring drunkenly and shouting, “Aye, fair dos mate!” every two minutes while pouring copious amounts of alcohol into a mug.

That aside, one thing we contemplated several times over the weekend was our current relationships and lack of previous ones. I won’t regale you with our drunken chat but the gist of it was that my adolescence had no prepared me for a serious relationship like it was supposed to (by these relationships I mean the proper adult relationships with the meeting of the parents and considering the big terrifying F*****).

When I was 15 years old my friends were having their first relationships, drunken fumbles at house parties while drinking Blue Wicked and tentative handholding at the school gate. What did I do with my late adolescence? I read Harry Potter, wrote FanFiction and listened to My Chemical Romance. In no way do I consider this a waste of my youth. I still enjoy Harry Potter, still have a quick fling with my favourite FanFics and love a bit of MCR. In contrast the majority of contemporises have now broken up with their first loves and are moving on to their new shiny squeeze.

But this adolescence of wizards left me at a loose end, relationship wise. I did not do relationships, a fact I told my Lady Friend when we started dating. Well, my wording at that point was slightly off; I said, “I don’t do relationships”, which was almost taken the wrong way. I had never had a meeting of the parents, an introduction to the friends and never even had a proper first kiss that wasn’t fueled by alcohol in a club at two in the morning. So going into a relationship was scary.

So where does this leave me now. I have been in a relationship with the LF for just over four months. Four wonderful months where things just seemed to have happened naturally. Nothing has been painful, or forced, or fake. It’s just been. I’m not saying I’m not incapable at times. I am. But I think we are working it out pretty well, I still have crazy ‘what am I doing’ moments, but they are followed up by laughs, and jokes and that takes away the scary moments.

Love
Perfect…but with many and varied flaws.

25 by 25

So on Sunday (18th August) I turn the grand old age of 24 and as this song demonstrates it is a terrifying prospect! So I have decided that before I hit my quarter century I should have a year of fun. I have been gathering suggestions from many of my friends and colleagues, and have finally got a list of 25 things I aim to do in the next year. This should ensure my year on the planet will be well spent, exciting and different from the last 24.

So here is the list, and I have from the 18th August 2013 till 17th August 2014 to complete everything on it.

1. Have a media black out month: no facebook, twitter, bbc iPlayer, Netfix, YouTube etc…

2. Lose weight: I would at least like to get into a comfy wee UK size 14.

3. Run a 10K.

4. Go on a proper holiday (with someone who is not a cunt, if this is not available then go on my own).

5. Buy flowers for someone and be bought flowers.

6. Get something published and be paid for it.

7. Write my thesis.

8. Write in my blog for a whole year.

9. Clear overdraft

10. Get a new job and life plan.

11. Visit one new place every month: Could be a new place like a coffee shop, restaurant, village, city, country. Just needs to be something that I have never done before.

12. Become accredited as a Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

13. Busking in town and then get drunk afterwards.

14. Dress up as a drag king for a night.

15. Cycle 30 miles in one go.

16. Read 12 classic novels: From this List

17. Get grade one on an instrument: perhaps my chanter or something totally new.

18. Get a provisional drivers license.

19. Go to a gym class with Leanne and meet Dom Jackie

20. Shave some of my hair off: I’m thinking a wee undercut?

21. Do NaNoWriMo.

22. Put on a one woman show for my friends.

23. Go to bingo.

24. Go fishing.

25. Knit something of substance: e.g jumper, animal etc

8 Things that Made the Age of 23 Special

Next week is my birthday and I turn the grand old age of 24. So I thought that this would be the perfect time to have a look back over the previous year and what has made it special. Not that all these things were good, or fun or really interesting, but they made my 23rd year what it was and that is special in its self.

Depression: I thought I should start with this as it started very soon after my 23rd birthday and has dictated much of what has happened this year. From my relationships with people to how I look at my life and myself. This is one of the things on my list that was not in anyway pleasant but like I said it made this year what it was and I am now looking at ways to overcome it and help myself to not relapse.

Depression
Choirs: This is a wee bit of an unusual thing I guess but my year could be split into choir events and occasions with different choirs. This time last year I had just joined my first choir Songbirds. I stayed in this choir until June this year and it was a fabulous adventure which sadly ended in June this year. Songbirds helped me find my place in Cardiff and I met some truly wonderful people and found a love for singing. I tried out another choir called Affinity at the start of the year, this one wasn’t for me.  Finally in June I joined Sororitas which is my current choir. I am having a fabulous time with these ladies and I hope to be a member for along time to come. Also some of my friends and I are organising a weekly sing-song which is beginning to get of the ground.

Songbirds
Some of the Songbirds at Corals Coming Out anniversary

 

Sororitas
Sororitas girls and Chris performing at a wedding in Brecon

Friends: I have many wonderful friends both in Cardiff, Glasgow and further afield, they make everything 100% better! I also had to cut a very good friend out of my life earlier in the year when we got into an argument about equal marriage. At the time this really hurt but I now feel very liberated by it. I am very grateful for all my friends and the many adventures they bring into my life and this week I get to spend my birthday with my Life-Wife in Wales which will be exciting.

 
My Coming Out: At 23 I came out to my parents. I was like letting out a breath I had been holding for just a wee bit too long. I am very pleased I have and both sets of parents have been wonderfully supportive in the last six months. My mother and step-father have even met and really like my Lady Friend (if over skype).

 
My Lady Friend: She is pretty awesome.

My Lady Friend and I

Dating: This ended very well with lovely trips to the beach and awkward hugs with lead to myself and the LF having the “So are we dating?” conversation at midnight in Penarth. But the first half of 23 was a minefield of online dating, written courtship and bad dates. The worse being a 3 month long affair over text and internet which was going pretty well until we went on holiday together, a foolish move when I look back on it, in which I realised she was not the one for me (and that is me being nice). But I did come back from Poland with a feck load of vodka which I ended up drinking on the first date with the Lady Friend.

Work: My PhD has spent most of the last year at the forefront of my mind. Driving what I do in my life and recently what I dream about. I went to several conferences this year traveling up and down the country to talk about science. My favourite was the Human Papillomavirus Meeting in Windermere. This was a nice small meeting with a load of lovely people and I got to present my work in the conference hall (or barn) which was awesome.

Participants of the First UK HPV Meeting
Participants of the First UK HPV Meeting

Moving House: So for my 23rd year I have lived in three houses. A few weeks after I turned 23 I moved out of the student accommodation I lived in during my first year in Cardiff and moved just round the corner with Davina and Anna. This was a very nice and busy house with some great memories attached. Alot of time spent with great friends and the Lady Friend. And then in July this year I moved into a wee house with my friend Suzy. I love this little house with its kitchen/livingroom, large bookcase in the hallway and hamster in the purple cage.

So on the whole 23 has been an interesting year with alot of changes. It was wonderful!

You

You

Before I saw You the music shook me. It fell over my body shattering my bones as I drowned my brains in toxins. Poisons for which I paid a price. The floor glued me in place, held, captured by fallen joy and last night dreams of the night. But seeing You slowed it down. Made the music soothe me and made my feet become as air. Able to float away but I allowed myself to he held in this world. Embraced with Your eyes. Time seemed to slow; seconds stretched to eons and seasons flew. And you my private treasure moved. Hair spilled around You. Lost in a tornado of your own making. A tornado of blood which swirled around You. Drawing everyone to You.

I made my way towards You. I could hear You calling, beckoning me to be by Your side. To touch You, to feel You, to put my fingers in You. I am almost there my love. To hear your sweet voice for the first. To touch the fire that surrounds You and let myself burn.

He touches You. Holds You from behind, and breathes in the smog and ash. You smile, teeth invite him and lips allow him. It’s he You will welcome into You tonight. He who will touch You and make You roar with pleasure.

All I had with You was the time when the music slowed and I watched You, My Girl who stopped time.

 

Landscape writing – Poetry

Yesterday I went with some other writers to The Ciliau which was a beautiful house in the middle of the country. There I met a range of women from professional authors, to a pilates instructor and an artist and we spent the day writing and performing poetry in this beautiful landscape. 

Later in the day we went down to the river and performed some poetry the waters edge and then had a chance to write some of our own. This is perhaps my favourite piece of the day and the most polished in the short time we had. I wrote several other poems and prose pieces during the day which I am still working on editing.  I read this to the group at the end of the day at Ciliau and got lots of laughs out of them. The leader of the group also said she liked the way I read it, I’ve got a bit of a accent that seemingly works well when I read, so I might try recording it and seeing how that goes. 

Stone

I’m a stone, a little red stone

In my little river home

 

I’m not self-conscious of my shade

So bright others call me brave

I don’t know why I am so red

“You’re just unique.” My parents said

 

But I’m not sure that’s really true

I could have been born green, black or blue

Perhaps its because I blush

Or I’m having a hot flush

But I am not prone to emotions much

And I’m not sure I have hormones as such

 

But yet here I am, a little red stone

In the little river I call my home

 

Urban Art

Outside of science and writing something else I love is what is a bit of urban art. These may be painting by known artists or scribbles on the street closer to vandalism. They all bring me joy.

I love walking down the street and stumbling across something interesting and out of place. It brightens my day and makes me look at the world around them more closely. Most of these pictures were taken around Roath, Cardiff and made me smile,

Image

This work by Scotto was found on the 30th of July 2013 as my flatmate and I walked into Cardiff city centre for a friends birthday dinner. I came home that night and had an almighty wine hangover and a carry out bag of left over curry.

 

Image

This one I found just around the corner from Richmond Road.

 

ImageImage

The two above photos were taken as I cycled around near to Roath Park. I have since seen several other electricity boxes painted similarly but I was sadly without my phone to take a photo.

 

Image

This anti-Tesco art was painted on an old shop on the Taff Trail.

 

Image

Found next to a bus stop. Hope their bus came soon!