‘In yer f*ckin face’

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Take what you know about theatre and fuck it out the window – that’s exactly what In Your Face theatre did. A 75 minute fix; disorientated, confused and at times, extremely uncomfortable – it was proper hit. Performed in The Rainbow (a cold, dilapidated shed) and engulfed by a 90’s rave on arrival – reality was soon lost. Perplexed was an understatement. You just knew it was going to be an eccentric performance, then again, it was Trainspotting.

As a sparse set, erratic strobe lighting and make-shift bodily fluids lined the floor – the artistic directors depicted Welsh’s 80’s novel remarkably. Faced with full-frontal nudity (some involuntary closer than others), extreme violence and a-little-too-convincing drug use, it was impossible to escape from the real issues that were being touched upon. Like the junkies, we also had no choice.

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A credit to Welsh’s don’t-give-a-fuck novel, the performance was next to nothing. Gavin Ross – who managed to get himself into a series of shit situations – played Renton to a tee. Shoulders deep in a faeces infested toilet after lubricating a suppository which he earlier stuck up his back side – Ross has guts. Either that, or a trained gag reflex. It’s more than most of the audience could say. Then again, I didn’t receive a clout in the face with a unknown-brown-substance-soaked-tissue (Others weren’t so lucky). Perhaps quite a large claim to make, the Scottish star’s performance was on par with Ewan McGregor. Ey up Danny Boyle, we’ve found your man for the sequel.

It’s a performance for realists. Screw your average theatre with your pigeon holed stalls and boxes – this was a free for all. Screw boundaries. No-one had a right to an opinion in this place. No-one ever felt safe.

A story about a lack opportunities, an ambiguous future and a broken society. You could say, History is repeating itself. “Choose life, choose a career and choose a fixed-interest mortgage repayments”(yeah right, like that’s possible.)

Done and dusted in Birmingham, the cast have moved onto Bristol for the last leg of their journey. Living up to their 5-star rating, they’ve performed at Edinburgh Fringe Festival in front of Irvine Welsh, the man who gave birth to this outstanding cult novel.

“Shocking… and I wrote the f*cking thing.”

                                             – Irvine Welsh, On ‘In Your Face’ theatre performance.

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March fashion

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The struggle is real. It’s the end of the month, pay day is still two days away and the shops are rife with gorgeous clothes. It’s torture. Haunted by a hefty credit card bill that needs to be paid off next week; all I can do it wander aimlessly, touch every luring piece of clothing and create outfits in my head. Spring has arrived and the all the shops have undergone a complete revamp. It’s out with the old, dark and dismal colours and in with the new, bright and vibrant. Hang on a minute, let me just wipe my mouth.

Call me a drama queen, but shopping is an addiction. It’s an expensive habit and I get withdrawal symptoms – as you’ve just found out – yet it gives a buzz like no other.  Screw Alcoholics Anonymous, I think I need some kind of retail therapy (… just not in the way I know it.)

March has been mayhem. My feet haven’t touched the ground after tearing up and down the country for various reasons. Unfortunately, these required new outfits. Ok, I guess required isn’t quite the right word to use here.

Here’s a couple of this month’s outfits:

Pinny Prinny.

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Top; H&M (£14.99), Dungaree Dress; Primark (£12.99), Earrings; New Look (£2.99)

The 90’s is making an almighty comeback; the era of oversized dungarees, high ponytails and garish tartan co-ords. Alexa Chung – the queen of fashion – has brought dungarees back in a way we’ve never seen before. She’s gone chic. Comfy, versatile and down-right trendy, the dungaree dress is definitely an investment. Like an irreversible coat – except nowhere near as ugly – you’ll get more than one look from it. Easily jazzed up with a patterned blouse or dressed down with a casual top, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever be in a fashion dilemma again. A sucker for turtle-necks, the bright number from H&M adds a pop of colour to what could have been a very dark and dull outfit.

Spring Chicken

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Top; Topshop (£36), Trousers; Topshop (£40), Watch; Olivia Burton (£70)

Patterns, patterns, patterns. Never underestimate them – they speak volumes. I’d rather stand out than fit in – that’s boring – hence why I chose this outfit for an interview. Creative, colourful and classy; I let my outfits do the talking. Dressed to impress, I put on a pair of nude court heels to compliment the dusty pink in the blouse and finished the outfit off with a classy, suede mac coat. Of course, that’s not a practical look for everyday. Alternatively, the outfit can be made more casual by swapping the mac and heels for a denim jacket and pumps.

Photography – @emilyalicephotography

The Mad Grad.

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Better luck next time – ‘Computer says no.’

 

Rejection – I’m sure you’ve experienced it sometime or other. It ain’t pretty. We’ve all had heartbreaks, feuds with bouncers and had our train tickets spat back at us. However, I’ve never felt rejection like the  ‘you’ve been unsuccessful’ email. That’s always a killer.

I guess I’m not afraid to admit it – I hate failure. I always strive to succeed in everything I do to achieve the greatest results. You could say I’ve always felt like I’ve needed to prove myself. Perhaps, for my own peace of mind. Saying that, aside from the bit-too-determined and driven front,  deep down I’m a bit of a mouse.

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On Tuesday, I attended a group interview in Manchester with a company which sounded like Google on paper. The website bragged of an office decorated with a gym, steam rooms and a state of the art bar. The benefits boasted starry-eyed bonuses, numerous social events and free booze on a Friday afternoon. It almost sounded too good to be true. Curious to see if there was any truth in it, I set out to complete the quirky job application. Successful, I started to imagine what it would be like to start a life in Manchester – yeah, I got pretty carried away.

The office looked exactly how it sounded on the website. There was a bar. There was a giant chess-board in reception. And yes, people did actually walk around with no shoes on. It was crackers. It seemed like the place to work. Not every CEO organises a make-shift beach or ice rink to be built in the car park.

I spent the whole morning downing bottles of water to hide the hunger pains – the interview really was that long. Psychometric tests and pointless Q&A sessions – the type where pretentious candidates splurge all the facts and figures they’d read on the website. Basically, a computer was testing me to see if I was fit for a creative job – logical. It didn’t take long for me to realise that practically everyone in the room was going for the same job as me. Picture this, we’re talking about 30 people here. Proper bottleneck. Or, as Darwin would say, it was the survival of the fittest. Safe to say, I knew I had been defeated by the maths questions, but stood my ground as well as I could and left with my head held high.

It didn’t take long to be brought back to reality anyway. The walk into work the next day was enough to do that. So, you can imagine how I felt when I received that email on my break. The day just went from bad to worse. Initially gutted, I’ve realised it could be a blessing in disguise. I think it’s so easy to lose sight of what you actually want just because something sounds like an easy option or incredible on paper. I’m guilty of it. I was proper disheartened. I’d failed at something and now I’m admitting it.

So, I guess that’s telling me something. I’ve changed and I’m a lot stronger than I think. I only have to look back a few months to the passing of my absolute hero to see that. I’ve discovered that sometimes things do fuck up and don’t go the way you want them too, but that’s all part of the plan – I’m convinced.

For the first time in my life, I’m going to forget everything I’ve done previously and follow my gut instinct. Screw the salary, the over-sold job specs and over-exaggerated benefits – I’m going to focus on achieving exactly what I want. Not something easy that I can settle for, or even a job which I think is going to make my parents happy.

I want to be a newspaper or magazine editor, so that’s exactly what I’m going to be. Jennifer Rink made it to ‘Poise’ in 13 going on 30 and Isla Fisher made it to ‘Alette’ magazine in Confessions of a Shopoholic. Call me mad, but I think one day I could see my name in the byline of a high-end magazine, who knows.

At the minute it’s just a dream, but with a shed load of perseverance and determination I reckon I could achieve it – or maybe get somewhere close.

For now, this is my everyday inspiration and I’m excited to watch it grow.

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The Mad Grad. 

 

 

 

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The struggles of banter.

When you say are you up for a giraffe, I’ve got a funny joke?

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9/10 this is the reaction – you’re like alright no need to gloat.

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Chill-out man, ‘why the long face?’

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Listen to this: ‘What did the bald man get tattooed on the back of his head? A rabbit because from far away it looked like a hare.

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Creasing inside, they try to hold in their laugh

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But, realise how funny it is and fall on their arse.

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With a smug look on your face you bang out the next and crown yourself the bantersaurus Rex.

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The Mad Grad

 

 

 

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Travel blaggers.

 

Nomadic Matt

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A degree, a dead end job and trip which fed the insatiable desire to travel – we’ve got a lot in common.

Born and bred Boston lad, Matthew Kepnes had never set foot outside of the United States, up until his early twenties. Stuck in a rut and itching to explore, he planned a trip to Thailand- a trip that unbeknown to him would change his life forever. Proving that he has bigger balls than most of us, he uprooted his life in America, palmed off his cubicle job and became a homeless traveller. Ten years later, the nomad has covered over 80 countries, learned different languages and figured out the world’s best kept secret – you don’t have to be rich to travel.

Budget travel expert – who has literally been there and got the t-shirt- Nomadic Matt offers realistic tips to travel for longer and cheaper. You could say he’s the Martin Lewis of the travel world. From ‘How to’ guides to the best food places around the world, Nomadic Matt doesn’t leave any stone unturned. Guaranteed to wet your appetite and quench your travel thirst, Nomadic Matt’s blog gives you every reason to drop everything and explore.

You’d be mad not to take the nomad on your next adventure.

 

JacksGap

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Two lads, a YouTube channel and a hell of a gap year – not your typical ‘gap yah’. There isn’t a pair of ethnic print pants, selfish selfies with sedated tigers or an elephant ride in sight. There’s all the culture without the commercial crap. Saying that, I’m not entirely sure you can call it a gap year considering it went well over the 12 month mark.

It’s mad to think that Jack’s spontaneous decision to document their gap year turned them into such an internet sensation – jammy buggers. Check this out, they make epic, seasonal playlists which they post on their blog too – no wonder they’ve taken the internet by storm.

Passionate about positive change,  Jack and Finn Harries work with organisations all over the globe to raise awareness and funds for charities close to their heart. Merging their lust for travel and yearning to make a difference, the lads use their blog and video channels to project the amazing work they do, the fascinating people they meet and the stunning places they visit – fair play!

From documenting the effects of Global Warming in Greenland to simply racing down India’s unpaved roads in Rickshaw’s, the duo have certainly scoured every corner of the globe and (unlike most travellers) have actually made a difference along the way.

Whether you’re interested in volunteering overseas and looking for some inspiration, or are just in need of a decent playlist, JacksGap is the blog for you!

 

 

The Expert Vagabond

mattkarstenOr, as I like to call him –  the bald blogger. Part-photographer-traveller-blogger, Matthew Karsten knows a thing or two about travelling. Living up to his name, the nomad leads a totally unsettled and carefree life – what a way to be.

After breaking up with his girlfriend, the travel blogger has been on the road for the past 5 years and has seen more than just the bright lights of New York. Eager to embark on adventures with a bit of a bite, the vagabond is the pro of taking on new and death-defying experiences. Only he would camp on an erupting volcano in Guatemala!

There’s no adventure too big or too small for the Expert Vagabond. Armed with a make-shift pair of sandals (literally a piece of string and rubber base) ,he hiked along Caminito Del Rey- Spain’s most dangerous, hairline path . What a fella!

Always up for a nail biting adventure, I read the Expert Vagabond’s blog for encouragement and plan to do something unheard of. This time? A zip wire down Mt. Snowdon – why the hell not.

 

The Mad Grad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Feb fashion.

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Food, fashion and festivals are my forte. I ain’t going to pretend that I’m an avid follower of London Fashion Week, neither am I going to confess that I religiously purchase editions of Vogue. More to the point, I wouldn’t even say I have an ‘eye’ for fashion. I just like nice clothes – simples.

Ok, like might be an understatement. I’ve got one little confession – I spend nearly every penny I earn in Zara. Just call me Isla Fisher. Quirky shoes (or, undertaker shoes which I often refer to them as), modish coats and drool-at-the-mouth bags. Zara wins me over every time. I’m not obsessed,  I just thrive on being well-dressed.

Far from a fashion snob, Primark is definitely my next go to. The majority of the time when people ask me where my clothes are from, I say Primark. Approximately 9 times out of 10, no-one believes me. Disgusted by Topshop’s extortionate prices and irritating staff, I refuse to spend any of my hard-earned cash in there. Don’t get me wrong, I do really like some of their stuff, but I can almost guarantee that Primark are going to release some sort of replica in a few weeks. So, my word of advice is always to hold fire.

January and February are meant to be lull periods for going out. Apparently, I’m the exception to that rule. The past few weeks, I’ve been fully booked every weekend. That’s very unlike me – I don’t even own a diary because my plans are usually few and far between. Let me get one thing straight, I don’t buy a new outfit every time I go out – I wish I could. Luckily, I have four sisters who have the same size clothes and feet  (winner winner, chicken dinner). Well, it’s all fun and games until your favourite clothes go missing. I’m not mentioning any names (Cough, Caitlin, Cough).

So, here’s a few of my favourite garments:

70’s chic.

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Top; Forever 21 (£10.99), Trousers (or pants if you’re from t’north); Zara (£29.99), Shoes; New Look (£14.99),  Belt; New Look (£2.99)

A 70’s inspired look; the era of retro prints, flamboyant flares and the hippie look. It’s all making a comeback and at a fighting force too. Not only echoed through fashion, the music scene is increasingly becoming infiltrated with 70’s vibes. You only have to listen to the 1975’s new album to know that. So, just as you thought the days of Mods, Hippies and Teddy Boys were long gone, it might be time to rummage in your parents old boxes. Back to the outfit,  for little 5’3 me it’s very rare that I can find an outfit that accentuates my legs and can make me look incredibly taller. These bell-bottom pants were the answer to all my prayers and made me feel like a giant the whole night. Fi-Fi-Fo-Fum, pass me that gin and pass me that rum.

 

Jumpin’ Jack.

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Jumpsuit; New Look (£22.99),   Belt; New Look (£2.99),   Shoes; Next (£35)

Resembling a jumping jack, you’d think I was auditioning for a part in the circus. Invented in the early 1900’s, the jumpsuit is far from a new kid on the block. Equally as classy yet a little more conservative than a dress, the jumpsuit is ideal for a casual or plush night out. Sometimes time isn’t always on our side and tanning your legs isn’t on your day’s agenda,  so it’s always a bonus to find a gorgeous outfit that requires such minimal effort. Although the New Look jumpsuit comes with a tie belt, I’m a huge fan of top and trouser compilations, so I added my own leather belt to create that illusion. Psst… these shoes are the comfiest ones I’ve worn to date.

Formal Finery.

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Dress; Zara (£24.99),  Coat; Topshop Outlet (£7),  Shoes; Zara (£19.99)

They say it’s always about first impressions. I always think if you can present yourself well, then it shows you’re serious. Oh yeah, I’m also a firm believer that shoes are an imperative part of any outfit. If you’re anything like me, shoes are the first thing I notice about a person. If they are shiny, little bit wacky and little out of the ordinary, you can be sure you’ll have my attention. Purchased in Zara’s Boxing day sales (Of Course…), these shiny patent brogues go everywhere with me. Often worn with a casual pair of black skinny jeans, these shoes can spruce a dull outfit up in a matter of seconds. Oversized boyfriend coats are literally the yin to my yang and I wouldn’t be without them – surprisingly they never let me down.

Until next time…

The Mad Grad.

 

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