Less Talk, More Action Please

If I asked people my age which political party they supported, I can pretty much guarantee that the vast majority would have no idea how to answer. To tell you the truth, up until a year ago I’d have struggled myself to tell you more than the surface differences between them. So no wonder the media complains about a lack of youth engagement in politics.

On Thursday of last week, my politics teacher organised a question time at my school, with local members of the five most prominent parties- from Green to UKIP. One of the many issues raised was the question of how the parties planned to combat the ever-increasing political disengagement, particularly in youths.  It’s funny because all of the parties got pretty excited over this question, insisting that “something must be done about it” and “my party will take measures to combat this problem”, yet not a single one cared to explain exactly how they planned on doing this.

How can you blame people for not trusting politicians, when this is a clear example of a promise with no real substance. The only redeeming one of the bunch was Chris Watts (the Labour candidate in my constituency in the 2015 election), who was completely honest in plainly admitting that the parties simply don’t do much to appeal to youths because they know that the so-called “grey vote” is the one that really matters.

Is that really an excuse though? Do they expect it to just fix itself? It’s clear that voting turnouts are just going to decrease in a society which no longer has politics ingrained into its core; in which young people grow up not even having any clue  how our government works. And I fail to see any real efforts to prevent this.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had this discussion though- I was lucky enough to meet with my local MP Claire Perry a couple of months ago and we talked about this exact issue. What’s ridiculous is that that when you talk to the individual members, they all seem to get it. They understand the importance of this issue and they really want ideas and advice on how we, the youths, believe it can be improved. Yet this never seems to to translate to a national level.. nothing is ever actually done, and talking about it doesn’t solve anything.

Whilst many politicians have argued that the fact that people like me are talking about this issue shows that not everyone is politically apathetic, and that events like the question time at school and meeting with Claire are great ways of widening interest. But to be completely honest, they are just preaching to the choir. The only people that attend these kind of events are those who care in the first place; what really needs doing is to target the youth population as a whole, and the only way of doing this is through education.

I have friends that live in America, and they are so shocked that we have no form of compulsory politics taught in school, accept for a tiny module in year 11 Philosophy & Religion that even the teachers seemed to show no interest in. Whilst there were people at question time that proposed compulsory voting as a way of forcing people to educate themselves, I see that  the best way surely is to just make it the norm to vote, as was the case when we had voting turnouts of 75-80%. If we introduced politics into the mandatory curriculum, then maybe people would actually be vaguely interested in voting. I’m not talking about in-depth analysis of parties and government as I do now in A Level Politics, but just a basic level of understanding is all I feel is needed to combat this youth disengagement in politics, which is a real problem.

I know this is unlikely to change anytime soon, but  I think it’s about time politicians were honest about what they are actually going to do to prevent the next generation from not even knowing the Prime Minister’s name. So less talk, more action please.

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Rhythm and Views: George Ezra- Cassy O’

I don’t want to jinx it, but I think summer’s coming. I’m actually writing this sat outside (as far outside as my wifi allows) with the sun beating down and it’s awesome. So  with this unseasonably beautiful weather, we of course need some perfect summer music to accompany it, which this week comes in the form of the bluesy tones of twenty-year-old, Bristol-based George Ezra.

IMG_1773dFor those of you that read my blog post on Monday, you’ll know that I was lucky enough to see George twice in the last week at Record Store Day events. I also met him at the first one, and he was genuinely one of the loveliest and funniest singers I’ve met- it’s lovely to see artists that are actually still down-to-earth and up for actual conversations with those who come to see them. George mainly performed songs from his second EP, Cassy O’ which was released last month, and so I thought that’s what I would talk about today.

IMG_1836There are four tracks on the EP, the first of which being the title track and definitely the most upbeat of them all. It’s unusual though, really unusual. Its lyrics are far-fetched and humorous yet somehow he manages to make it into an incredibly catchy summery song that I know I will have on repeat.

Next is ‘Get Lonely With Me’ which is probably my favourite track off the EP, with plenty of opportunities to show off those incredible gravelly tones of his voice that you only really get to truly experience when you see him live. Especially in such a small place as the Friska Cafe, with the speakers turned right up- the only way to describe his voice is truly penetrating, and pretty mind-blowing.

The third track, ‘Over The Creek’ is another catchy tune that is somehow upbeat yet chilled at the same time, and really just reminds me of summer. The EP ends with ‘Coat of Armour’, certainly the most melancholic with an intro that’s reminiscent of M83 and a sing-songy style which brings lyrics that are surprisingly woeful after the eccentricity of those of the previous tracks.

So I think it’s pretty clear that I’m a big fan of this EP, and I’m really excited to see more from him- I’m especially intrigued to see what his debut album will be like. If I had to sum up his sound in a sentence it would be this: beautifully energetic, kookily clever, unreasonably catchy and oh so very ‘BBC Introducing’.

Record Store Day 2014

First off I just wanted to say I hope everyone had a lovely Easter and everything, I would have uploaded this last night but for some reason I hadn’t considered the possibility that my grandparents wouldn’t have wifi… so that’s my excuse.

What I really wanted to talk about today though is Record Store Day, which as I’m sure many of you know, was on Saturday. For those that don’t know, RSD is a national day where music lovers join together to support the few remaining independent record shops, with live music and special releases from artists who actually care about the cause. It’s a really lovely thing to be a part of as it’s all focused on retaining the dying industry that is vinyl, rather than just being about making money and that’s rather refreshing to see.

IMG_1773dMy RSD actually started on Thursday, when my local record shop (Sound Knowledge in Marlborough) had George Ezra doing an in-store performance and signing so I luckily got to meet him as well as him signing my EP which was pretty cool. I am so lucky that even though I live pretty much in the middle of nowhere, I happen to have an amazing record shop in my nearest town that regularly gets artists in for free in-stores and signing- past events include the likes of Tom Odell, McFly, Scouting For Girls and Spector. This is definitely a part of the reason I think RSD is such an important cause, I couldn’t bare to see my local store go and it would be such a shame to lose records all together, because let’s face it.. everything sounds a hundred times better on vinyl.

On the Saturday itself, I went to Bristol to possibly my favourite record shop- Rise. I met with friends that I made when I was in the Dog Is Dead music video over a year ago, who I annoyingly hardly ever see thanks to the fact we don’t exactly live nearby, ranging from Devon to Cardiff to Leeds! It was lovely to see them again for the day though and watch some great music in Rise from the likes of the ever-hilarious Beans on Toast who I’ve managed to see four times now without ever specifically getting tickets to see him!

rsd purcahasesOf course, we also had a mosey round the RSD releases, although by the time that we got there at about 11 a lot of them had sold out already (the fact that the releases are so limited is one of the things that makes them so special and people queue from about 7am to get in!). I did manage to pick up a 12″ Haim special release of the ‘Forever’ single, which I was pretty chuffed with. I also bought the Mumford & Sons ‘Sigh No More’ LP which I’ve wanted for absolutely ages and couldn’t resist purchasing. After looking round some of the shops on Park Street, which are some of my favourites in Bristol, we wandered back up to Rise to catch George Ezra’s set, which was fantastic even though I felt like a bit of a stalker seeing him twice in three days!

Picture2I had a wonderful day, and I just felt so glad that so many people care about music and keeping vinyl alive that they go to these measures to ensure it doesn’t die under the domination of downloads. Maybe it’s just because my parents own so many records and hardly listen to anything else, but I really don’t think there’s any comparison to the sound they create. They’re so much more satisfying than just pressing a play button, and if we’re going to be superficial- they’re a hell of a lot prettier.

Paper Views: Animal Farm

I know that I did a book post recently and I promised to mix it up a bit, but I just finished reading Animal Farm the other day and I can’t help but write about it. It’s one of those books that everyone should read as a teenager yet for some unknown reason I’ve only just gotten round to reading it- at only 102 pages I really have no excuse.

I won’t go into too much detail about the plot as I’m sure most of you already know it, but for those who are unaware (have you been living under a rock?) it follows the story of a farm on which the animals overthrow their master and proceed to run the farm themselves, renaming it Animal Farm. It’s written to mirror the 1917 Russian Revolution and subsequent Stalinist rule, with characters representing all manner of political figures, from Napoleon who represents Stalin himself to Mr Jones (Tsar Nicholas II) and Mr Frederick (Hitler). As geeky as it sounds, as someone who took GCSE History I love reading it and recognising characters or events that I learnt about- it’s one of the many reasons I love this book.

As satirical novels go, it’s clever. Really clever. Orwell has this amazing ability to convey the characters and story completely through characters of farm animals in a way which makes this book a great read for those of any age, even though it is often marketed as a kids novel.  It also helps you really understand how deceptively the USSR became a dictatorship by telling the story from the point of view of those who are actively being deceived by those in charge, which somehow manages to be much more relatable than a textbook (I empathise more with a horse than a Russian citizen.. go figure).

I just think that this is a classic that everyone should read, no matter how old you are. Simply but beautifully written in only 102 pages, there’s no excuse not to.

I Guess You Could Call It A Haul

First off, I just wanted to say sorry for not posting in over a week, I’m bad I know. I don’t really have an excuse other than the fact that I just really didn’t feel like writing for once, so I promise to try not to let that happen again!

This week, I was debating over whether or not to do this post, but in the end my love for reading other people’s similar posts won out and I decided to go for it. The idea of filming a ‘haul’ is something much more associated with YouTube as I’m sure many of you are aware, which is one of the reasons I felt a little hesitant about this. I thought that maybe my blog was turning into too much of a YouTube in writing, but then I just thought; where’s the harm in that? I’ll put it out there: I love YouTube and YouTubers and I wish so badly that I could do that myself but to be honest  I just lack the confidence to pull it off, so I go to what I know best- writing. So now I feel I’ve explained myself sufficiently and probably bored you all to death, I thought I’d tell you about some of the products I have bought recently, a beauty haul of sorts.

Rimmel Colour Rush Balms

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I know I put these in my March favourites, but these are truly some of my favourite lip products at the moment and I’m sorely tempted to buy some more colours. They have a beautiful consistency that’s actually very moisturising for a product of their type, and the colour manages to be subtle whilst still retaining a certain vibrancy. Definitely a great buy- I have the colours 220 Keep Mauving (bottom left) and 220 Rumour Has It (top right). Price- £5.99

IMG_1757Rimmel Scandaleyes Waterproof Kohl Kajal

I am a massive fan of the Scandaleyes liquid microliner, so when I heard about these I already had pretty high expectations. I’ve always struggled with pencil liner, and liquid liner isn’t exactly ideal for much other than your upper lash line, so these seemed like the perfect mix of the two. Originally, I was only going to get the black one, but the lady at the till informed me it was 3 for 2 so I went and picked up the goldeny-coloured one on a whim, not really thinking about when I’d wear it. However, since getting them home I am in love- they are perfect for your waterline and I even use the gold one to frame my bottom lash line from below. For a product so cheap, I think these are fantastic and long-lasting and I’m so happy with them. I have the colours 001 Black and 012 Bronze. Price- £3.99

MUA Professional Undressed Eyeshadow Palette

IMG_1588For anyone that’s interested in the beauty world in any shape or form, it’s a universal fact that the Urban Decay Naked Palette is the king of the eyeshadow palettes. However, for those of us who can’t afford to splash out £37 on it, there has been a huge battle to find the perfect dupe. A few weeks ago,  I saw an article on missbudgetbeauty suggesting the Makeup Academy Undressed palette as the best dupe she’s found, so I definitely was intrigued to see if it would really live up to it. At this fantastic price, it’s definitely worth it and the colours match up really well to the Naked ones- whilst of course they’re never going to be able to totally recreate the quality, this is a pretty fantastic dupe and definitely worth saving your pennies on the real thing. Price- £4. Also here’s the link to the comparison arcticle which I read in case you want a more in-depth review – http://missbudgetbeauty.co.uk/mua-undressed-v-the-naked-palette/

IMG_1758Collection Lasting Perfection Concealer

I’m sure there’s quite a few people that would be surprised that I have only just purchased this product- it seems that everyone out there owns it and swears by it, but for some reason I’ve never actually purchased it myself. I guess this is partly because my local branch of Boots which I usually frequent doesn’t stock Collection, so last week when I finally went into a bigger store I picked it up to see what all the hype was about. As someone who is in love with the Rimmel Wake Me Up Concealer, I was expecting to be blown away as many people say the Collection one is a million times better. I’ve only used it a couple of times, but if I’m honest I’m a bit dubious. Yes, it’s good at covering blemishes as it has a much thicker consistency than the Rimmel one, but I also find it quite cloggy and drying to my skin. Maybe this is just because I don’t wear foundation, but for me I prefer the lightness of Wake Me Up, although the Collection Lasting Perfection is definitely better for heavy-duty coverage and might be a lot better for those of you that wear foundation as well. Don’t take what I say as fact though, I’m definitely in the small minority in this. Price- £3.99

I did actually buy more than this, but I feel like this post is long enough already so I might do the hair products in a separate one sometime soon. I know many people who read my blog will find no interest at all  in this post, but I’m trying to mix up the things I write about and to be honest, I am just writing about the things I am interested in and as someone who’s only just started wearing makeup again after approximately 9 months without it, I’m really enjoying finding new products to share with you. Obviously don’t take what I say as fact, makeup is a very personal thing that depends greatly on your skin type, etc so what’s right for me might not be for many of you. If you wanted to check out any of the products mentioned, you can click on the photos and it’ll take you to that product in either Boots of Superdrug so you can easily find them (sorry if you’re not from the UK). Again, I’m sorry for being so crappy at writing this week, hopefully I’ll be better from now on *fingers crossed*.

Had We But World Enough and Time

All through our time at school, we are constantly bombarded by queries of “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, and this is something that only gets more intense as you move up the school. Now more than ever, with only a few months left before I have to start applying for university, I’m being constantly questioned about what I want to do next and to be completely honest, it is terrifying. I don’t even know what I’m going to do tomorrow let alone what I’m going to do next year which dictates what I do the year after next which dictates what I do in five years time.. and you get my point. With exams next month, I’ve started to think about what I want to do in summer and even started planning what to do in my gap year that I’ll hopefully be taking the year after next, and while it’s really scary, I’m also ridiculously excited.

For those of you who did the same GCSE English Literature course as I did, you will no doubt recognise the quote that I used as the title of this post from the poem ‘To His Coy Mistress’. Whilst this poem used it in a rather creepy way, I really love this quote as it pretty much describes my life; there are so many things I would love to do with my life if I had the time and money. I don’t know if many of you have looked at my bucket list page on here, but I love to compile lists of things I would love to do, in the hopes that this might actually help me achieve them. Whether this works or not.. who knows. But it’s the reason that I pushed myself to skydive for charity last summer and the same reason I am doing many of the things I have planned for my gap year (interrailing, volunteering abroad, living in France). I am one of those people that is just so easily bored by my simple life in the bubble of Marlborough where everything is easy and repetitive and safe- I guess you could say that I just want some adventure, in any shape or form that comes along. I find it hard to comprehend the people that have no desire to see the world or experience new things because to be quite frank, what else is there to get excited about in this world? Whilst ‘new things’ for some people is very different to others, it doesn’t matter what kind of scale we are talking about, just simply the idea that you wish to challenge yourself or do something out of your comfort zone. Either that or you can just trundle along through life not questioning everything, just taking what you’re handed and asking for nothing else. But how incredibly boring is that?

I’d be really interested in hearing what other people think about this, is it just me that can’t stand the fact of spending my life in a repetitive cycle of eat sleep work repeat? Also what kind of things do you have that you want to accomplish, perhaps a sort of bucket list of your own? Maybe this is just me, over-thinking everything as usual.. but if it means that my life is a hell of a lot more interesting as a result, then so be it.

Paper Views: Perfume by Patrick Süskind

I’ve been writing these reviews for a few weeks now, so I thought it was about time to tell you about probably my favourite book of all time- Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Süskindy. This was a book that was recommended by my English teacher who raved about it so much that I just had to go out and read it for myself… and let’s just say I was blown away.

Without going into the plot in too much detail, the novel is set in eighteenth century France and centres around the unusual (to put it mildly) character of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, who is born and promptly abandoned, left as a newborn on the streets of Paris. The book takes no time at all with introducing the abnormal atmosphere around which this odd tale is constructed, with the introduction of the key theme: smell. Jean-Baptiste, known better as Grenouille, is a child born without a scent, yet with the keenest nose in existence nonetheless- something that is the cause of great unease from everyone he meets, meaning that his childhood was spent being passed around between carers. That is, however, until he finds himself working as an apprentice for Baldini, a master perfumer in Paris. By this point it is apparent that Grenouille has an unusually twisted relationship with scents, which proves to be almost perverse when he hunts down a particularly beautiful scent of a young girl, who later ends up as his first of many murders.

I feel like I’ve already given a lot of the plot away, but that’s only the first part of the book so definitely go read it to find out the ending, especially because I feel like I’ve severely depreciated the genius of this intricate plot! Seriously though, I think it’s an injustice that not everyone has heard of this novel; creating something this unique and thought provoking is pretty unusual in this day and age (this was actually written in the 80s) so  I personally believe we should grab every opportunity we find. So although it may not be the happiest story line and “not my kind of thing”, in the words of Rainbow Rowell, “art isn’t supposed to look nice, it’s supposed to make you feel something”. Which is exactly what this book does.