Month: July 2014

Glasgow 2014

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I’ve recently come back from a trip to Glasgow after being fortunate enough to get some tickets to the Commonwealth Games. It was my first visit to Scotland, which seeing as I’m from England and I used to have family in the North-East, seems quite unacceptable. But I’ve finally been so it’s all ok.

It was an absolutely incredible few days and we actually dubbed our final day as officially “Best Day Ever!” because of everything that happened. Everything was just amazing. The Games seemed perfectly organised, the atmosphere was awesome and the sport was world class.

I was just going to muse on a few things I learned from the trip, so hope you enjoy.

  1. The people of Scotland are ridiculously friendly and cheerful.

Being from the South of England and having family in the North, I knew full well about the idea that people get friendly the further north you go. People in London won’t make eye contact on the Tube, but a Sales Assistant in Newcastle is quite happy to hear your life story when they serve you. It’s a sad but true stereotype. Even more so when you go so far north you cross the border.

Every day, we walked past the cheerful volunteers asking for high-fives with their green foam hands, helpful and happy train staff (I know, I didn’t think they existed either) and general Scots who were nothing but pleasant and happy to make conversation. While waiting for a train at 11pm, one of the Games volunteers actually started a sing-song on her megaphone to perk the crowd up!

  1. You can basically get into any sport you watch.

I did learn this at the 2012 Olympics when I watch Bulgaria versus Russia at volleyball, but it was a point enforced again this time around. We watched hockey, which I played at high school and haven’t even thought about it since. Suddenly, I was a massive fan. We even sat through torrential rain without any kind of rain protection to see England play Malaysia, that’s how much we were into it.

The next day, we watched India versus Singapore in the badminton. Again, I used to play it at school and occasional book at court at the gym these days, but wouldn’t call myself a fan. A couple of hours changed that, along with the thousands of people in the arena with me. Everyone was on their feet, shouting and screaming, by the final, deciding match. The atmosphere really makes the difference.

  1. You will become an expert in any sport you watch.

 Well kind of. You’ll think you’re an expert anyway. You’ll watch a sport, get really into it and then start making comments as if you actually know what you’re talking about. Case and point, me watching the High Jump.

    4. You can Mexican Wave to The Proclaimers.

I’ve been to a lot of sporting events and done my fair share of Mexican Waves, but to do it in a full arena with people singing 500 Miles at the top of their lungs, is just something you’re not going to forget in a hurry.

  1. The athletics in the decathlon are obscenely attractive.

Seriously. Go Google Ashley Bryant and Curtis Mathews now!

  1. Greg Rutherford is a nice guy!

You may have seen the whole thing making the rounds on the Web about the steward who tried to walk Greg Rutherford away when all he wanted to do sign autographs over his qualifying jumps.

We ran down to the bottom of our section to get a photo with him (which we did manage!) although he had probably already had pictures with a couple of hundred people by that point. The best part was watching him being pulled away by the official, only to duck away when he got his chance and run back to sign more autographs.

He spoke to as many people as possible and was clearly happy to be there, enjoying the attention. Putting in that kind of effort to spend time with fans speaks volumes.

  1. You resolve to become fitter.

With the amount of six-packs on display (male and female) and seeing how hard the athletes push themselves, it makes you want to be a better person. They truly do inspire and you find yourself wanting to be like them. It doesn’t matter that while you’re watching the Games, all you’re eating is burgers and chips!

Check out the BBC Get Inspired quiz which will tell you what sport you should be getting involved with – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-28062001

  1. You will have serious withdrawal symptoms afterwards.

Going back to real life just isn’t the same. You feel the need to clap anything just to get an atmosphere going, maybe shouting encouragement at strangers in the street or wave a flag for no apparent reason.

Watching the events on TV just isn’t the same when after you’ve seen them live and you find yourself counting down the days until you can go again. I’ve already started saving for Rio 2016 and the 2018 Commonwealths on the Gold Coast!

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Burlesque: A Pro-Feminist Movement.

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Walk into any burlesque show up and down the country and you’ll find that the majority of the audience are women. In fact, a lot of the men in the audience aren’t usually there of their own accord but because they’ve been dragged along by a woman. So why does something that is essentially glorified stripping appeal so much to a female audience?

In this day and age where the standard of female beauty given off by the media is unrealistically unattainable thanks to Photoshop and Size-Zero constantly being thrown in our faces, burlesque offers a refreshing break from this. If you go into a newsagent and take a look one of the many gossip rags for sale, one week a front page will be sporting a feature on some celebrity in a bikini looking unhealthily underweight and the magazine is asking if she is too skinny. But as soon as this same celebrity puts on a couple of pounds and looks healthier, the same magazine is running a front page story asking if she is now too fat. It’s hardly fair and we just can’t win. But go to a burlesque show and you’ll see women of all shapes and sizes, oozing with self- confidence. Dirty Martini is one of the most famous and popular performers in the burlesque universe and she definitely does not conform to the idea that you can only be successful in show business if you are a size zero. Burlesque offers the chance for women to see something that has become almost extinct on the big screen, in music videos or in magazines – a real woman.

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Dirty Martini

One thing I have learnt from the burlesque performers I have met is that they have this incredible ability to see the beauty in everything. Something that might be a personal hang-up to you, they immediately spot the positive and can make you feel better about it. With encouragement like that, it soon becomes one of your favourite features.

The burlesque industry is a unique kind of industry which inevitably leads to close friendships, due to having others around you who understand that world when the majority of society doesn’t. The camaraderie that can exist between the women is incredible. After my very first show, I was astounded at how well everyone else looked out for me over the course of the evening. If you ever get the opportunity to try out a burlesque workshop, do it! Even if you don’t actually want to be a performer and simply want to go to gain a bit of confidence and learn a new skill (there’s nothing wrong with adding another string to your bow) it’s an incredible experience just because of the people you meet. The environment makes you leave any self-confidence issues at the door and exult in being a woman, helped on by the encouragement of the other women in your workshop who most likely felt the same as you at the very beginning. You’ll finish the workshop with some new moves, a new outlook and some incredible new friends. Granted you are always going to come across the catty woman who doesn’t fit this description (and really, really wants that job you want) but that’s life and you’ll find the catty woman wherever you go

The industry also teaches what can be achieved with a little hard work – an important lesson that seems to by-pass some people these days. Whether painstaking hours of gluing rhinestones onto costumes to the point you can’t see straight anymore or repeatedly listening to the song for your act while you practice the moves until you end up hating a song you used to love, most performers put a lot of thought and effort into their acts. But at the end of the day, when the act is complete and when you hear the cheers and applause from your captivated audience, it all becomes worth it.

Burlesque is an important aspect for the female race. It teaches you to love your body and to see the beauty of the female form, no matter how it might be formed. Burlesque doesn’t judge you; it just wants to entertain you.

Feminism doesn’t have to be doused in Germaine Greer-esque sourness. It can be glittery and wear nipple tassels. Whatever you do, as long as you are doing it for you (and are completely owning it) to make yourself feel good, that’s where true female empowerment comes from.

Rereading The Ex-Files

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After overhearing a conversation in a well-known coffee shop chain between two girls where one was lamenting to the other over the fact she had drunk a little too much and ended up sleeping with an ex the night before, I started to think about my own experience in that area.

Samantha Jones, the unparalleled source of knowledge for women, once said “Sex with an ex can be depressing. If it’s good, you don’t have it anymore. If it’s bad, you just had sex with an ex.”

I was veering more towards the latter, as was the girl whose conversation I probably shouldn’t have been listening in on – although she wasn’t exactly lowering her voice so I don’t think I’m the guilty party here.

I have only gone back and had take-two sex with someone I would class as an ex on one occasion. About three or four months after our original liaison had ended, we found ourselves back in bed. I will wholly admit to instigating it. Yes, I had consumed alcohol but nowhere near enough for me to have no control of my actions. I think the main reason I suggested doing what we did was because I hadn’t had any real say in the ending of things first time around and it had been done in a rather insensitive manner that had left me feeling pretty cheap. Now I had a bit more control and thought I would be able to tie up any loose ends. Or he would realised how much he missed me and my ego would be sufficiently boosted.

Sadly it didn’t turn out like I thought it would. What I was left with was a feeling of complete indifference. If I had to describe the sex, it would be meh. It was a bit of a disappointment because the sex before had always been pretty good. But I am a firm believer that sex is an emotional act as well as a physical one and only truly great sex can occur when there is an emotional connection between the two parties. That night, I didn’t feel the same about him as I had before. Somewhere during those months between ending things and having another night together, I had fallen out of love and it turned out I wasn’t particularly fussed by the whole thing. So I did the none-sensible thing of faking it (please see a previous post as to why we shouldn’t do that!) and in the cold light of day, we both kind of knew it had been a mistake.

Retrospect truly is a wonderful thing. I don’t regret what I did, but I do think I could have done something better with my time that evening.

So for anyone who might be looking to revisit an old experience, I would recommend not to. It ended in the first place, even if you weren’t the one who ended it, and you’re both going to be different people. It was never going to be how it was, so don’t try and live in the past, look forward to the future.