2016 – The Rollercoaster Year

Untitled-1.jpg

Sat with a half eaten box of Celebrations to my left (leaving behind Mars and MilkyWay, of course) and a sharing bag of ‘Cool Original’ Doritos to my right, I thought it would be the perfect time to reflect on the past year. Everyone take a deep breath.

2016, what a year it’s been. We’ve lost our some of the world’s greatest legends; Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Victoria Wood, and as sadly revealed on Christmas Day, George Michael. Just when we thought it could get any worse, Trump managed to worm his way into The White House and Britain chose Brexit. Gordon Bennett, let’s hope next year perks up a bit. Big news aside, I have had my fair share of ups and downs this year. In fact, it’s been an absolute rollercoaster year. Think Alton Tower’s Oblivion. You think everything is going fine and then all of a sudden.. BAM… a drop appears out of nowhere.

So, here’s a few of the highlights and low-lights of 2016.

Swings and Roundabouts.

beginning

I landed myself the job I’d been waiting a long time for. I’d found a team of people I loved working with (Even you Carps) and was finally doing something I loved, writing. But, eight months and three consecutive front pages down the line, things took a nasty turn. News broke. Yet, this time it was a story I hoped I would never have to write about. Dreaded redundancy. Absolute devastation. After the odd tear (Ok slight exaggeration), I brushed myself off and tried to see it as an opportunity. An opportunity to grab with both hands. Despite a few wrong turns, I received a number of job offers – it was a nice feeling. After following my heart instead of my head, I decided to snap up the job I knew I’d love going to every single day. In fact, I actually CAN’T WAIT to start. I have a good feeling about it. I have the feeling I’m doing something right – and that rarely happens. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is opportunities crop up for a reason

Hamburg

img_4277

Visiting the most beautiful city in the world is definitely a highlight of the year. Every single city should take a leaf out of Hamburg’s book. It receives top marks in every single area. I have never been so in love with a city in all my life; its culture, fashion and stunning buildings. I’d nearly go as far as saying it’s the prettiest city I’ve laid my eyes on – and I’ve seen a fair few. You’ll never step foot in a British-spin-off-german-market ever again i once you’ve experienced the real thing – believe me. You all know I’m a bit of a fashion freak (Ok, a slight understatement), so seeing stumbling across Neuer Wall was an absolute dream come true. Miles of designer shops, stunning shoes and beautiful bags – Gahhhhhh. There’s something a bit ‘jaffa-cake-like’ about Hamburg. Hang on, let me explain. It’s the place you could never get bored of and you always want to go back for more.

Dot2Dot festival

manc-pic

Bloody hell what an event that was. Me and cider fell out after that night. But Dot2Dot festival is by far one the best music festivals I have ever been to – and it was only 12 quid. We all know I know a bargain when I see one. Drinking tinnies while stumbling across Manchester’s beautiful streets and watching unsigned bands in grungy underground venues – there’s very little not to love.

Bonobo Live.

Seeing Bonobo live in Shoreditch is definitely also a highlight of the year. The warehouse venue, the atmosphere and the company – everything about it was on the money. Stealing the spotlight with a lengthy set, the electronic DJ was everything I imagined (.. and more). Listening to Cirrus on Spotify is pretty special, but believe me hearing it ‘live’ was on a completely different level. Seeing him again is definitely on my tick list… but perhaps I’ll reconsider my shoe choice next time.

Anyways, here’s to 2017 – the year I hope will be full of good health and happiness.

The Mad Grad 

x

Standard

Catfish and The Bottlemen – Victoria Warehouse.

Freshly washed hair, well-kept Doc Martens and a brand new A-line skirt, it is safe to say I had NOT dressed for the occasion – but bloody hell it has been a long time since my last gig. After a year of god damn awful pop music – If I here even an utter of Drake’s One Dance again, I can not be held responsible for my actions – I was looking forward to listening to some decent music with a cold cider in hand. And Catfish and The Bottlemen were exactly what the doctor ordered. The northern heart-throbs always remind me of my carefree uni days when my best friend would always have the vinyl blaring from her room – God what I would do to go back to those days. Right, before I get too nostalgic. Here’s what Catfish and The Bottlemen had to say.

img_4057

Sticky floor, ten-year-old confetti stained ceiling and a thrown together stage – I knew it was going to be a good night. Gracing the stage with the banging opener, ‘Homesick‘, the crowd went from a civilised bunch of people apologising for the odd push to absolute chaos in a couple of seconds. People catapulting themselves headfirst onto complete strangers, lads grabbing on to the sweaty jackets of randomers to keep themselves upright and fan girls throwing themselves on shoulders to get a quick glimpse of Van – gah what a man. With my shoes well and truly christened, I was more than in the mood for the moshpits which were expected to follow. Banger after banger, the boys did far from disappoint.

With a fair mix of tunes off their old album, Balcony, and their newest treasure, The Ride, the crowd were truly spoilt. Having not listened to the new album as much as I had hoped before the gig – a few songs were a nice surprise. ‘Anything‘ is going to be a grower for sure. You know you’ve done well when you’ve got a catchy tune – you know the foot tapper type of tune. But when you’ve got genuis lyrics to go with it, you know you’ve nailed it. And that’s what Catfish have done on every single album. Fair play lads.

fullsizerender-1

Biggest tune of the night was of course ‘Kathleen‘. I don’t think my feet stayed on the ground at all for the whole of that. But what I do remember is choking on a the wispy curls of the girl in front of my during my heartfelt rendition of the song – it was rather inconvenient. Hairballs aside, it was nice to be surrounded by a cracking crowd who were there to waste every single ounce of oxygen belting out the tunes – rather than perfecting the best shot for a snapchat story. There is nothing worse. If I wanted to watch the band through a tiny screen I’d be sat at home on YouTube, tar.

Despite a wicked show, the lads lacked a little something – a few words perhaps. I’m not asking for a sit down chin wag about Brexit or the presidential debate. But a few words would have been nice. I think Van said about four words in total. It just seemed as though the gig was over in a flash and that was it. ‘Tyrants‘, no encore and home.

All in all, they were well worth the wait and I can not wait to see what they come up with next.

Peace out.

The Mad Grad 

Standard

The fours for thought.

When it comes to fashion, there’s four gals who’ve got my back. For the I-refuse-to-wear-real-clothes Sundays, the shit-i’ve-got-an-hour-to-get-ready Saturdays and the I-refuse-to-get-up-earlier weekdays. These girls have got it sorted.

Megan Ellaby

Dune-London-MeganEllaby-Ellen-Jacksons.jpg

She’s a northern lass. She’s quirky. She has the best hair. So, I guess she’s an all round winner. She’s not afraid to experiment – but then again only she would be able to pull off sparkly shiver ankle boots with star print jeans. I’d just look like a massive dickhead. Everything just seems to work for her – jammy so and so. The moment I discovered her – when she went under the name asos_meg – my then waitrose wages started to dwindle. If she had it, I wanted it. Albeit she was a good 5″ taller than me, had sky scraper legs and locks to die for – I was convinced I could make whatever she wore work. Lol, wrong every time. She’s a grounded kinda gal. Prada sunglasses? Sure. But, I doubt she’s a stranger to Primark. Esp Manchester Primark. Like Alexa Chung, she likes to give two fingers up to everything which tries to get in her way. And she gave me a kick up the back-side to start blogging, play around with wacky pants and to pursue a career in something I love. Oh and we’re both a sucker for an artisan latte and a wardrobe full of Zara garms.

Alexa Chung

tumblr_o4lmn06uzv1r02rbso1_500

Ok every girl has wanted to be Alexa Chung some time or another – don’t try to deny it. First off, she made up half of the sexiest celeb couple – gah, I need to find a boy who sends me love letters like Alex Turner. Although a boy at school used to do that and it was weird. I decided I wasn’t one for love poems after that. She’s been the face of the dreamiest magazine in the world, … actually planet, no scrap that… the universe – Vogue. I dream every day about working in their office. Ok, there might be a handful of people that think she’s a dickhead – but she means well. Gals, be grateful she is a feminist. I remember being asked the make or break question in an interview earlier this year, who is your biggest icon? The girl to my left said some woman president another said some random french author from about a million years ago. I must’ve looked like a right twat when I said Alexa Chung. Safe to say, I never got the job. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that – and I stand by my decision. She stands for a lot more than just fashion. She’s got a bit of fire – something I like to think I have every now and then.

Jenna Rink – 13 Going on 30 (aka Jennifer Garner)

2bd4bc68-9734-4e25-827b-60a2afc81b4c

She perfected the god awful ‘spikey’ buns of the 90s (complete with the silver spiral twist clips) and bright blue eye-shadow. Out of all the films I’ve managed to watch right until the end – which has been few and far between – Jennifer Rink is the gal I can most relate to. Like me, She’s always dreamt of working for a fashion magazine. She had an obsession with dancing around her room to Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. Ok we didn’t exactly have the same music taste. And she owed one of those hideous-off-the-shoulder-gem-encrusted-blue-top accessorised with two whole rolls of toilet paper. The one thing I haven’t done yet is wear my silky nightdress to work.. but I guess there is still time.

Felicity Jones

012-felicity-jones-theredlist.jpg

Absolute hair goals – THE sweeping bangs girl. *quick fan girl moment* And boy does she knows how to don the peter pan collar. Ok she donned it went peter pan collars were in fashion. As much as I’m all for wacky patterns and quirky pants – she screams simple. But she makes simple so sophisticated. High neck jumpers and a polite-past-the-knee-skirt… Miss Jones nails it. Fav pic of all time has to be from her shoot with Vogue in 2014 – proper sixties. Baby blue coat with a dusty pink collar finished off with a Mary Quant-esk skirt. The outfit which dreams are made of. Icing on the cake? She’s a born and bred brummie – so there’s hope for us all. No matter how slow and stupid we sound.

Standard

Who gets lost at Dot2Dot festival?

eve-dot-to dot

So, I think I owe you guys an apology – it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been slacking on the blogging front. But, I’ll make it up to you – promise.  I don’t mean to rub it in – but I’ve been living the some sort of high life lately and haven’t had time to stop. From press nights at Turtle Bay to menu reviews at Missoula – I’ve basically been paid to eat my body weight in food and drink. Another rum punch? why not.

It’s been a very busy bank holiday. But, it started with a bang that’s for sure. I jetted off to Manchester for a day (and night) of unsigned bands, quirky venues and far too many ciders. It’s safe to say I’m still feeling the effects two days later. Ok, I guess it doesn’t help that I followed the ‘hair of the dog’ rule yesterday and had a generous tipple of gin at a family house party. But, it’s the bank holiday weekend and sleeping, eating and drinking is part and parcel, right?

Back to the festival, before I go on a sleep deprived tangent. The teeny-weeny festival – a cracking £12.50 a ticket – was scattered across Manchester’s Northern Quarter. Proper quirky. Like, who’d have thought you could watch Sundara Karma in a cathedral with a pint in hand? I know.

cathedral

I’ve been to a far few festivals, but this was something else. Ok, there was still the odd cup of piss flung in the air – but that’s a given. It was everything without the bullshit. No floral headbands, floor length kimono’s or 125ml bottles of wine in sight. It was just decent music for a change. We stuck to the pint-a-place rule so we could see as many acts as possible – and many acts we saw. By the end of the night, we had no sense of direction at all. Forget dot-to-dot festival – we walked the same circle three times to end up in the exact place we started. At least we found the kebab shop no bother. Saying that, we could sniff one out on a deserted island.  

Liss – a five man band from Sweden – tore the place apart in Soup Kitchen. Set in a grungy cellar – with make-shift toilets and stage – it was a real experience. We’d sacked the all-time favourite Mystery Jets off to see the unheardof band –  and it was well worth the risk. I’m all for sticky feet, sweaty hair and being packed in like sardines.

Dua Lipa were on point. Yet, the venue was past boiling point. Manchester’s Methodist Church was a literal sweat box. Vocally, she was wicked and she had real good stage presence (give or take the late arrival).

 

A festival up there at the top – it’ll definitely be on the cards for next year.

Ey up, a quick inside tip for anyone looking for somewhere ‘different’ for a drink

  • Soup Kitchen – kitted out with quirky furniture
  • Night and Day – proper chilled atmosphere
  • 57 Thomas Street – lush apricot cider

 

Until next time…

The Mad Grad

 

 

Standard

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.

manc pic.JPG

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.

screensaver.PNG

 

The Mad Grad. 

 

 

 

Standard

Just for the shits ‘n gigs.

 

Frequent gig go-er, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the downright ugly. Oh yeah, I mean the music not the band.

Here’s a few of the sickest bands I’ve seen live:

 

  1. Arctic Monkeys, Finsbury Park

arctic monkeysSheffield lads, Arctic Monkeys, brought the heart of the soul of the north to the country’s capital. Oh, and it’s weather too. Playing to over 45,000 people, Alex Turner was in his element and was able to be his normal smug self. Given a helping hand by Royal Blood, self-obsessed Miles Kane and Tame Impala, the Yorkshire lads didn’t have to worry about crowd pleasers.

Testosterone levels went sky high when Miles Kane and his Daz white pants took to the stage. When the crowd got a sniff of Don’t forget who you are, every lad locked their arms round one another and belted out the words. As for the girls?  they were either silent or utterly gob-smacked. Either way, Miles Kane is still a wolly.

50 year old dads, sixteen year old girls and ‘proper’ lads paid their respects for Arctic Monkeys and Finsbury Park was transformed into a hub of energy. As a reward for arriving nearly six hours early, we managed to grab a decent spot in the ‘pit’ and refused to move even an inch. Literally. Well, until Alex Turner graced the stage like God. Pfft, he likes to think he is.

Stumbling onto the stage half-cut, Alex Turner grunted a few words and the crowd went mental. Suddenly, everything stepped up a notch. It went from civilised to complete pandemonium in a matter of seconds. Drenched by flying cups of piss, consumed by lethal mosh pits and lads off their nuts on pills offering their shoulders. I’m still haunted by the 100kg giant who came flying towards me. Totally k’od.

Ignoring Alex Turner and his boastful and brash ways, Arctic Monkeys put on a hell of a show. Plunging into the past, the lads went back to their roots and revisited their most-loved and couldn’t-give-a-fuck album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.

Nostalgic tunes, Fake Tales of San Francisco and Dancing Shoes transported the crowd back to their youthful days. The days when this album was your jam for the bus ride home from school. Spoilt by their old tunes, the indie boys didn’t play Mardy Bum – screwing. A conscious effort no doubt.

As a promotional stunt, the band used the sell-out event to showcase their new album, AM, which had just been released. A new take on their previous albums, the lads veered away from their black skinny’s, mop-head and battered vans days but kept their couldn’t-give-a-shit etiquette.

R U Mine, which exploits love, sex and and its fuckery was well executed and received well by the crowd. Well, not like anyone was sober enough to appreciate the lyrics at this point in the night.

Long after the show finished, self-confessed Arctic Monkey fans decorated the streets and never-ending queues for the tube, belting out the bangers.

Although drenched in piss and whatever other substances lined the cups, the memories of that gig will last forever.

 

 

2. Bombay Bicycle Club, Manchester Academy2

bombay bicycle club

Like a bombay mix, you’ve never exactly know what you’re going to get with Bombay Bicycle Club. You just know it’ll be good stuff. Moreish – you’ll always want to keep coming back for more – sad thing is their tours are few and far between.

After the long-awaited album, So Long, See You Tomorrow ripped the seams, Bombay announced their tour and the internet was in turmoil. The quirky quartet were now back on the scene with a completely different, fresh and far eastern sound, inspired by front man, Jack Steadman’s travels around India.

Visually, Bombay’s set was second to none. Forget strobe lighting, a static overhead projection and budget smoke machines – that’s too amateur for Bombay. Think, industrial confetti canons, astrological graphics and psychedelic lighting.  You’d be finding remnants of the gig for weeks later in the shower.

Eagerly anticipated by an eclectic crowd, the Crouch End lads took to the stage and Manchester Academy’s roof went off. As always, the indie lads kept their cards close to their chest and opened their set with the progressive track Overdone to cement the tone. Safe to say, they did more than that.

The album’s experimental tracks and kaleidoscopic visual effects coupled with Jack Steadman’s mesmerising voice, it felt like you were trippin’ the whole time. It was so weird.

As expected, the best was saved till last. Luna, Bombay’s catchiest, indie-dance fused and flavoursome tune which is overlaid with a mis-match of sounds. Everyone’s possessions were flung to one side and the whole room turned into a colossal mosh pit. It was sick.

Boys, as always, you smashed it.

 

3. Nick Mulvey, Albert Hall.

nick-mulveyNick Mulvey – an almost religious experience. Snug in an ornate chapel, surrounded by stain glass windows,  colossal pipe organs and intricately decorated ceilings. An intimate gig – a different kind of intimacy. Not the type of gig where having some sweaty sixteen year old girls hair in your mouth or feeling as though you are third-wheeling with the couple in front.

Indie- Folk singer, Nick Mulvey, from Cambridge is an unpretentious singer whose gigs are very rarely described as a show. Mesmerised by his unique voice and his exceptional skills on the guitar, Mulvey always manages to keep you hooked for the entirety of the set. Everyone in the crowd seemed to be there for the same things and no-one had any expectations.

Out of nowhere, Mulvey pulled out an acoustic cover of Gillian Welch’s Look at Miss Ohio, a song which has been stuck in my head ever since. A truly stunning song which Mulvey executed beautifully.

We’ve all heard Arctic Monkey’s rendition of Drake’s Hold on, We’re Going Home, which don’t get me wrong is a first-class cover, but I must admit nothing on Mulvey’s. Whether it was his spontaneous decision to dip into a completely different genre or the way he accentuated every single word in the song – it was something quite remarkable.

Bringing the set to a close with an absolute belter – Mulvey’s ‘Nitrous’ X Olive’s ‘You’re Not Alone’. A 90’s delight.

The Mad Grad.

 

Standard