Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Death of a Genius

Here's looking at you kid
Hard to forget

Here's looking at you kid

At least not yet

Your memory stays

It lingers ever

Fade away never
Roxy Music - '2HB'

Quite a bit has happened since I last posted. I'm on my way to getting a flat for September, I wrote another poem for my creative writing workshop and of course Valentines Day came and went, with my boyfriend Tom staying for the weekend and leaving me some nice jewellery in the process:

The gold one!

Aren't they just LOVELY? I'm wearing my necklace at the moment and just can't stop playing with it!

Something else has happened since I last updated that sadly is not as lovely as quirky jewellery. Alexander McQueen, a legendary fashion designer and one of my personal idols, took his own life on Wednesday, aged 40-years-old. This was days before London Fashion Week was to begin and with every collection I look at, no matter how much I enjoy it, or whatever opinion I may form about it, all that is in the back of my mind is that there will never be a chance to see Alexander McQueen's creations again. I'm clearly not the only one, as Bjork has written a conceptual poem to mourn her friend and Lady Gaga is reportedly too upset to perform her additional numbers for the closing of tonight's Brit Awards, claiming she wishes the performance to be a more sombre tribute to him.

The main school of thought as to why McQueen chose to take his own life is that his mother, Joyce, had died the week before. Twitter posts by the designer seem to back this up, with McQueen's mood being understandably up and down. Another belief is that he never got over the suicide of his close friend (and another idol of mine), fashion stylist Isabella Blow in 2007. However, while it is tempting to get to the root cause when discussing suicide, I don't believe we will ever come close to understanding the psychological turmoil McQueen must have been experiencing before he killed himself. While the ideas of Joyce and Isabella's deaths playing a part seems incredibly likely, I think this is really only scratching the surface and that may be as far as we ever get.

McQueen managed to leave a legacy that will probably not be forgotten in a long time, both inside and outside of the fashion world. While I follow a few designers, he is one of the only ones whose clothes really affected me. He never ventured into the world of haute couture, but his clothes managed to be extremely inventive and exciting, as did his catwalk shows. His S/S10 show was truly a spectacle, with footage of Racquel Zimmerman writhing with a snake before models strutted down the runway, looking somewhat reptilian in geometric prints:

A dress from McQueen's S/S10 collection.

However, it is his F/W09 collection that will always remain a staunch favourite, if only for its straight up oddness. With clothes in vampiric shades and wide mouths in black and red, it's certainly not for the faint-hearted, but just shows how unafraid McQueen was to take risks and polarise opinion:

Spectacular Weirdness: Excerpts from McQueen's F/W09 collection.

Therefore, while McQueen's death is undoubtedly a tragedy, I feel it's best to look at what legacy we might leave behind. If you were to die tomorrow, would you be happy with all that you've done in your life? Would you have made a lasting impression in any way? If his death has shown me anything, it's that aiming to accomplish your own personal goals can never come too soon.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Thank God I brought the 'A-Z'...

It's just an old war,
Not even a cold war.
Don't say it Russian,
Don't say it in German,
Say it in broken English.
Marianne Faithfull - 'Broken English'

So this entry is a slightly ranty one, inspired by something that happened yesterday. After lectures, I decided to catch the bus home as opposed to my usual walk, as my brand new (BEAUTIFUL) brogues were hurting. Hopping on, I said, as I often do if I catch the bus home, 'Platt Lane please'.

'Where?' asked the bus driver, thinking he simply hadn't heard me I repeated my initial statement. This stunning bit of dialogue ensued.

Me - Platt Lane, please.
Bus driver - Where?
Me - ...Platt Lane...please?
Bus driver - Where?!

Seeing my confused face, he explained he didn't even know where Platt Lane was, I explained it was in Rusholme and he told me the price and took my money - all the while looking at me like I was a blithering idiot! Now, I may have my extremely ditzy moments, but I have two problems with being regarded as completely stupid (apart from the obvious fact that I'm not):

1) The bus driver was just as at fault for repeating himself as I was. He could have said way before that he wasn't familiar with Platt Lane, rather than leaving me thinking he had some sort of hearing problem.
2) I have been living in Manchester for about two years now. The area I'm living in at the moment has been my home since September. Never in that length of time have I had to explain to a bus or taxi driver where Platt Lane was. It was slightly baffling that someone who gets people to their desired destination for a living didn't know where my desired destination was. I've had the exact same problem with taxis back in Sheffield, where I'm from. I don't live in a particularly obscure, out of the way area and yet after a night out, I've had a few occasions where I've hopped into a taxi and this has happened:

Me - (My house), please.
Driver - Where's that? You'll have to give me directions.

Given that I generally only get taxis at 3 in the morning, often after having a few alcoholic beverages, am I going to be in the right frame of mind to give directions? I struggle enough when sober, even if I know the area very well. Maybe that's my own stupid fault, but I think if you're being paid to take people where they want to go, you should have a vague idea where they want to go. If not, you should be equipped with some sort of sat-nav.

Okay, so it didn't massively affect or upset me. I certainly wasn't tossing and turning all night, thinking about it. It was just pretty irksome. Back to another light, yet less ranty topic about music. I've started listening to albums a lot more recently. Normally, I put a playlist on shuffle and just go with it, or if someone's reccommended a band to me, I'll have their songs on shuffle. However, last night I got an urge to listen to 'Alas, I Cannot Swim' by Laura Marling in chronological order, which I haven't done since I first heard the album. It made me realise how some albums are even better when you hear how all the songs flow together. Obviously, a lot of effort was made to make the album the way it was, so I really enjoyed listening to it properly. Anyway, this morning I did the same thing with Radiohead's 'The Bends' and felt the need to post the link to the music video of this little beauty:

Everything about this is just amazing to me. The concept of the video is so off-the-wall that it makes me want to watch it over and over. What impresses me as much as its originality is the band's performance. There's so much energy from every member that it's just captivating.

I have to leave the comfort and safety of the University library now to go flat hunting with Zoey. At least it's stopped snowing today. I woke up and it was so sunny that I didn't bother putting on a coat and then there was a full-blown blizzard which was making me dread having to go outside again!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Insomnia fuels the brain - yep.

Only half-awake on this sofa,
The ticking of the clock becomes
The nervous tapping of fingers
As excuses spill, like loose change,
Out of the pockets of the accused
And down its cavernous cracks.

My first poetry workshop was today and I really think I'm going to enjoy it. The leader wasn't some crazed hippy wearing natty jumpers, shouting inane things like 'BE the poem! FEEL the poem!', but that's okay. As entertaining as that would have been, it probably would have gotten annoying very soon.

I actually tried to do a meditation class at Uni once and we had a woman like that running it. I should have known it was going to be a failure because everyone was wearing loose-fitting clothes and I turned up in tight jeans and huge sunglasses to make myself feel cheery. The woman kept yammering on for the whole session in an 'away with the fairies' kind of manner and I got really irked and never went again. I don't think I'm the 'Ommmm, inner peace...' type.

Anyway, the leader of the workshop was actually this very nice, youngish bloke who I'd already had for one of my first year seminars. He explained to us that we'd learn about a different technique every week and then have to write a poem based on that. The poem at the top of the page is one I wrote for our very first exercise, which was simply meant to be a poem about two objects. I got the sofa and clock idea lodged in my head and simply had to get it out, as I couldn't sleep with it in. My poor boyfriend Tom is sound asleep next to me while I tap away at this blog entry, as now I still can't sleep! I'm sensing this is going to become a recurring theme in the coming weeks.

What I'm nervous about isn't getting back into the poetry writing process again, not at all. That bit is bloody good fun and I sort of need a creative outlet, what with the stacks of essays an English Literature degree demands. No, what's making me really nervous is having my work critiqued in front of me by my coursemates. Over the internet is no problem really, but it's the idea of having to look at someone while they tell me what they think is good and what isn't that's giving me the creeps.

I'm equally nervous about having to critique my coursemates' work in front of them as well. Give me a Blake poem, a Plath poem etc. and I can talk about it until the cows come home, but I'm worried I'll clam in front of the actual author. In fact, part of me thinks it'll birth some inter-workshop grudges. 'Oh, you're the girl who thought my caesura seemed unnecessary. BITCH!', that kind of thing.

Of course, I realise I'm being silly. I realise such criticism will only help me improve and therefore my own criticism will be beneficial to others and all that, but still, I reserve the write to be freaked out while my boyfriend sleeps soundly. The jammy sod.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Wine and Keats

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music - Do I wake or sleep?
John Keats - 'Ode To A Nightingale'

This is absolutely my favourite line from any John Keats poem, thus meaning that the fact that we get to study him as part of our 'Reading the 19th Century' course this semester makes me very happy indeed. I do, however, feel as if I'm getting very old, very very quickly. I passed up going to Sex With Robots (a night in Manchester - yes it honestly is called that) to drink red vino and read some Keats. Granted, it needs to be done by tomorrow, so it was more a case of me being practical than boring. Although having said that, surely as a 20-year-old student, I should feel that practical is boring? The mind reels.

In other news, some more people came to view our house today. Every time this has happened, I have been unprepared and my room is therefore disgusting. It actually looks like I test plastic explosives in my spare time. I'm starting to wonder if the landlord thinks I have a genuine hygeine problem, although in my defence they've only warned us that we have a viewing once. Tom says this isn't on and they're meant to give you at least 24 hours notice before they bring people over for a house viewing. I then pointed out that this was the same landlord who didn't get our bathroom ceiling fixed for about a month (and even then only when Bethan threatened to get in touch with Homes4U), so I wasn't expecting much consideration from him. In fact, I'm almost happy I'll more than likely be moving back into halls next year. Yes, they set fire alarms off at ludicrous hours, but at least they're likely to acknowledge holes in ceilings as a genuine problem!

My glass is getting vino-less and I've neglected Keats in favour of online Scrabble (I COULD HAVE GONE TO SEX WITH ROBOTS!) for the past hour, so I think I'll finish up for now. Auf-weidersehn, pets!