So this blog went fierce idle for a fierce long time. Here are a list of reasons why that happened:
1. I moved country and things got very busy in that new country
2. I was getting more and more anxious which was paralysing my writing work
3. By the time I was ready to come back my anxiety was too bad for me to write
4. I also got a Tumblr and… well, stuff got pretty hectic all up over there.
But I’m back now, officially reviving Bank Holiday Tuesday as a blog and a place where I post my thoughts, write stuff and tell you all things that are funny. It’s strange to revive this blog; I’ve actually been up to rather a lot of stuff since I’ve been away. When I was last writing here I was in a very different place and just in my first few months of Aberystwyth. It’s now nearly a year since I moved home for my final year in University in Ireland and I’m making plans to go back to Aberystywyth and take up a job there. I also finally got some much needed help for my anxiety problem. It got pretty bad and dark there for a while and I’m quite stressed with college but medication and lots of support is keeping me stable.
So with all that said, here’s a return blog post, all about how I was supposed to go drinkin’ tonight but got distracted with dorky things. Enjoy!
Today I was supposed to go drinking.
But then I got up late, like super late. My house was empty- older brother moved out last week, younger brother in work, Dad in work, Mam on a trip to Belfast. So I slept late, sue me people who insist that only getting up before 9AM on a freaking Saturday makes you productive. I got determined to do something positive with my day so I cleaned up my room. Like I didn’t just tidy up, man fuck no I pulled all the dusty crap off my shelves and dusted this place the fuck down. Got a big old basin of hot water and went to TOWN. It was AWESOME.
So I cleaned my mirror, my window, got all my little ornaments cleaned and I even threw out a completely destroyed jewellery box I’ve been using since the age of nine. It was really weirdly satisfying to see all this dust that I couldn’t even comprehend getting started on shift underneath my cloth. I was a badass spring cleaning superhero in a floral dress, scrubbing down windowsills and tossing out basins of dirty soapy water.
After that I got down to getting Pathfinder ready. I run a Dungeons and Dragons game for three of my friends and I’m just now getting the hang of running well planned, smoothly organised sessions. I had lots of notes and ideas and they had great fun. We went for three hours and I was flying so high. We were all supposed to be going out drinking after we’d finished up killing some cultists that were chasing them down on a canal barge (I run a weird game). Once the game was over though I knew I couldn’t go out. It was like my energy bar had reached zero. My sub tanks were drained. I was so done. The girls went off for a fun night of drinks and dancing, I stayed in and managed to drag myself up the stairs to get ready for bed, whereupon I found I couldn’t sleep, despite feeling so tired. It’s an emotional tiredness; like I’ve had my dose of doing stuff for today, now I need to zone out to podcasts for a few hours, thnx.
Sometimes I forget that I’m on medication. Sure it’s a low dose and I’m generally functional, but I can’t really grind along the way I used to, eating badly, sleeping badly and running the tank on empty. I need to sleep twice as long to have half the energy and lord help me if I’m not eating well, like I’m not right now. I go from being pretty productive- seeing people, keeping myself clean and fed, getting work done- to just barely functioning on impulse power. Today was a pretty nice realisation that it’s okay to wear down the limited energy I have to get stuff done. My room smells fresh and clean for the first time in ages with all the dust that had built up cleared. The party had a good session and managed to escape with their unconscious prisoner on the back of their horse (yeah it’s a weird game, Pathfinder). I even managed to tuck up and get some work on my zine done. And heck, here’s a blog post too! Wow we are killing it tonight.
So I guess the point of this post is don’t be hard on yourself if, like me, you’ve got a lot of stuff going on in your life. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’re doing okay, it’s alright to do stuff at your pace. Not going Drinkin’ is not a sign of failure.
Niamh ‘Sorry for missing your birthday drinks Ciara’ Keoghan
More notes on leaving home: The war of the noticeboard, letting go of bitter things and early drafts of new year resolutions
The most important note to make on leaving home- remember. To do. The hoovering. You are going to regret it so much when you neglect the hoovering.
The notice board wars began in early October and have continued until now, the final week. The debate over which side shot first rages on, but what is known is this; in this Welsh medium hall, on the noticeboard there is a welsh and English side to each notice. Someone swapped all of the notices to display only the Welsh side, or only the English side, depending on who you ask. The war began to escalate into a blockade of language. The English notice would be pinned over the Welsh, the Welsh over the English, endless loops of passive aggressive pinning. The battle reached a fever pitch when someone took a sharp object to the English section of a notice and slashed it through. The war then entered an uneasy truce. We all knew a line had been crossed. The war was revived last week, when someone attempted to throw out the ruined and slashed English language sign along with a reminder to keep the kitchen clean for inspection.
The war entered a new, potentially explosive phase: That of the note. A note was posted, berating the attempted binner of the notice and the slashed sign. A reply was quickly posted, citing the reasons for the binning and signed ‘love, Batman.’ A final note was posted in an attempt to defuse the renewed hostilities. ‘I LIKE TRAINS’, it proclaimed. There could be no truer peace treaty than that, and for now at least, the warriors rest.
So I’ve been in Wales for three months, and it’s been nice. A new network of friends and interests hesitantly and shyly started to root out. A lovely thing that happens when you’re completely removed from your old town is that all your bitterness and anger just flows away. It’s so much easier to just let go when you realise that these things don’t really matter, that these things are shifting, that there are more people to see and places to go and things to do than you could ever possibly get through. Why waste time being stubborn and unhappy? I slowly started to reflect on the place I’d stepped out of and while looking at it from an angle I hadn’t seen before I began to see where my edges were. Where all the things that I had raged and wailed and cried about didn’t actually matter one single fuck once you were out of there. I slowly got back into performing, after a pretty bitter departure from it last year. I rediscovered the old magic and sprang back into it.
Doctor Who and Roomates
I started bonding with my roomates on the Pantycelyn international students corridor. Three Americans, an Austrian and two French girls formed my little circle, along with some friendly Welsh and English from upstairs. In a moment of near unrivalled glee, we ran up to campus as a group and found a Tardis parked in front of the Union, with a talking, lit up Dalek trundling around. It offered a great photo op, both sweet group snaps and self indulgent selfies.
Now it’s nearly time to come home. I’ve started into a new diary, a smart black notebook I bought to convince myself to maintain this diary- I paid 13 pounds for this notebook, for fucks sake, so I’m going to use it. Around this time of year, I usually start to think about what I want to do next year, and reflect on what I’d like to develop, change or introduce in 2014. I present to you here my rough longlist of new years resolutions for your consideration.
1. Become blood of the Dragon
2. Buy more mugs
3. Get really buff and strong. Start lifting.
4. Also, get super fit and flexible. start yoga
5. Kiss more people.
6. Use the word ‘accoutrements’ more (Referring to luggage and bags)
7. Vacuum every week, so that your room does not become white with dust and the halls warden suspects that you’re dealing cocaine.
8. While deflecting this suspicion, illicitly brew Yakka in bedroom sink (not really, I promise. Please don’t kick me out if you read this…)
9. Listen to more podcasts. In fact, make one. It can’t be that hard.
10. Do couch to 5K, without ending up in a bath of cold water sobbing and eating oranges.
11. Learn to dance properly, and not like a complete berk. (seriously, you’ve made a name for yourself here as the ‘dancing Irish girl’. That’s not a good thing. You need help.)
12. Drink less soft drinks. Stop being happy about being a non-drinker when you ingest about nine times your healthy level of sugar and caffeine every day.
13. Try to quit coffee. not tea though. You gave yourself a three day migraine last time.
14. Vacuum every week. Remember how much you regret not hoovering enough this semester. Remember it!
15. Post more letters. people like letters.
16. Practice yoga stretches, tai chi and herbal tea to become one with your spirit and nature.
17. Be less of an angry motherfucker.
18. Keep your diary this year. don’t just get bored after a week like usual.
19. Make lists that are a nice, satisfying length. Don’t end list blogs on an odd number.
Niamh ‘Wait… fuck!’ Keoghan
In the wake of Jemma O’Leary’s interesting column ‘Ultra-Feminism is Eroding Our Values’ on the university times website, a lot of people asked the question just what is an Ultra-feminist? Well I’d like to take up this mantel and proudly declare myself an ultra feminist. I claim it not because I think all the lowly men-folk in this world ought to be made slaves that carry me around like Cleopatra and feed me grapes for the rest of my life, but because I am a screaming, raving, hardcore fan of feminist theory. I’d just like in the spirit of sisterly debate to rebut a few points Ms. O’Leary made in her piece. I promise that I’ll try not to oppress anyone too hard under the hard sole of my Doc Martens and sexual liberation.
I just really like critical theories that point at the world we live in and go ‘hey, here’s some stuff that seems RIDDLED with problems. Can we get some maintenance guys in to look at this? There’s a light bulb gone in the gender relations department.’ Feminism is essentially a strand of critical theory- It was created, generally, by people looking around, seeing that there is a whole world of stuff to examine through the prism of gender (or class, or race, or whatever) and went with it. That’s all. Much as I would love to think that feminism has become so influential in the corridors of power that it could even approach being an oppressive force, I don’t think that’s true sadly. In a country that doesn’t even have free right to choice for it’s citizens and less than 10% of the parliament is represented by women, I don’t think Ms O’Leary has a strong case.
Ms O’Leary also talks about how she, in her personal opinion, thinks feminism has gone ‘far enough.’ Well, I think I can agree with her in so far as it’s done wonders for women like us- both university students, both from presumably comfortable backgrounds. She’s right that generally speaking, we’re doing okay. We get to sit around in seminar rooms and read about all this stuff and decide for ourselves what we’d like. We have protection in employment, pretty good maternity leave ahead of us and anything that we need that our country doesn’t offer to us, we can pay to travel out of Ireland to get it (we also have the freedom to travel wherever we like without suspicion, as western ladies) Yeah, We white middle class western ladies have it pretty sweet.
It’s like Lucinda Creighton when she spoke of how proud she was to be an Irish woman, and how she thinks it’s a grand county to be a lady in. Well, it’s great if you’re university educated, middle class, in a well paying job and don’t have to look beyond your own experiences for things. If my and Jemma’s experiences were the sole barometer by which we measured how all 3.5 billion odd women in the world were getting on, I might agree that we ought to tone the feminism down a tad. Perhaps.
But it’s not. We live in a world where class, gender, sexuality and race all intersect in fascinating ways to create the accepted structures of power. That’s how you get cases like Slanegirl- Variously described by the delightfuls on twitter as a ‘skanger’, a ‘knacker’, a ‘dirtbird’ and a good old fashioned slut. It’s not that all the feminists were crowding around to defend this girl to the hilt; it’s that in the face of a torrent of online abuse and mirth at the picture of a public sex act, it was the girl getting all these names thrown at her. The man in this story was ‘a pure lad’ a ‘lucky bastard’ or a ‘dirty fucker’- but there was still a sort of shrugging ‘eh… fair play’ reaction to his part in the act. The girl was the dirt bird. It goes back to all these double standards we have about sexuality, and the roles we give people in sex. Which while we’re at it, sucks for everyone.
Women are told by society that sex is a chore and something that needs to be endured to please men. Men are also told this and that reinforces the idea that women need to be sort of coaxed into the act. Like they’re an easily spooked pony, you must always approach a lady from the side. I’ll also point out that the entire field of masculinities is a feminist critique of the expectations placed on men by a gender binary and how deeply screwed up it is. Just look at the absolute goldmine of essays on breaking bad and masculinities recently. The expectations placed on dude by the patriarchy are crushing for the men who don’t easily fit into them. Personally, I strive for a feminism that allows us all to shag without shame and with respect for each other.
I just question what ‘values’ Ultra Feminism is eroding and why they’re such a great idea anyway. Why is that value that sex is basically dirty and gross and people are gross for doing it something that needs to be protected from erosion by the sea walls of patriarchy? Why does the value that women ought not to criticise or speak up but rather elegantly and gracefully take it on the chin something that ought to be preserved? Ms. O’Leary doesn’t make a decent case for this at all. The entire idea of Critical theory is that it challenges these norms and forces us to examine them. It’s the similar to Marxist critique of capitalism- just because you have a few problems with the way the world works doesn’t mean every single Marxist is out there tearing it down. Feminists simply point out inconsistencies in our social world. That can be uncomfortable for us all- being forced to acknowledge our own privileges and biases- but it’s important work and it certainly doesn’t need to tone it down.
Let’s call a spade a spade here- O’Leary isn’t talking about the erosion of ‘values.’ She’s talking about the erosion of norms, and not making such a hot case for why they’re so great in the first place.
Really at the end of the day, Ms. O’Leary is saying people are ‘ultra fems’ (I do love this term, and hope that she won’t mind me nicking it for my own purposes in future) are out of control because they dare to criticise. ‘Critical’ is a very loaded word when it comes to women. All their lives women are cautioned against being a shrew or a nag, or being too loud. Being ‘Critical’ is kind of code for ‘being a bitch’ or ‘thinking too much into these things.’ But when you really examine feminist theory- And I mean get a cup of tea, a pack of biscuits and really sit down to get to grips with it- you’ll find a multitude of voices.
It’s not a monolithic structure with ONE opinion, that opinion being CRUSH THE MEN. There are actually lots of ideas and opinions about lots of things- about body image and policing, about gender roles, about Trans women, about race, about class- and yes, some of these theses don’t include a disclaimer that says ‘by the way we recognise that men aren’t all pigs, some of them are rad.’ That goes without saying. You’re not going to get much out of feminism if you just read The Second Sex and How to be a woman then dust off your hands and declare it all a bit of a faff (although I do recommend reading both as an excellent articulation of basic theory and a silly but enjoyable memoir respectively). If you look at the wealth of feminist literature out there- From the big guns of the 70s like Greer and Dworkin right through to the bloggers and activists of today, you’ll see a lot of variety and lot of discussion.
So yeah, I don’t think Ms O’Leary is, as she so elegantly put it ‘a cold-hearted bitch.’ I think she’s a little blinkered, possibly a bit sheltered to the wider field of feminist theory and activism. I think she probably forgets that she, like me, grew up in the age immediately prior to camera phones being carried by every person in Ireland connected constantly to twitter and Facebook. We both had our teens played out in relative, blissful privacy and all our moments of ill judgement or drunken revelry were carried out away from social media and only the stuff of mere rumour. I think in short that she’s being a little judgemental in writing a piece that writes off an entire field of critical thought as going ‘a bit too far’.
Sorry if you were expecting me to smash a table or scream ‘INTERNALIZED MISOGYNY’ at you for a few paragraphs. That’s not how the Ultra Femmo rolls.
Niamh ‘Battle cry of the Ultra Femmo’ Keoghan
I didn’t really think I had much of an accent before I left Dublin.
Of course, when you grow up in the Dublin bubble, of course it wouldn’t be noted much. In fact usually it’s my lack of a distinctive accent that is remarked upon back home as it is now. I have a voice that seems to shift depending on the direction of the wind and the regional accent featured on whatever TV show I last watched. But suddenly when asked where I’m from, I reply ‘Ireland’ and people go ‘oh of course, yeah!’ Three drunk guys hardly able to stand who wandered onto my corridor picked it up from my irate yelling at 3AM and started doing mangled impressions of Dara O’Briain.
Leaving home is really weird.
My final week in Dublin was strange. Packing up things for the first time was strange. Sifting through clothes and finding I could actually fit all my outfits into one case was quite satisfying. After a summer spent mostly alone whilst my friends got stuck into intern ships and J1s, my final week was a flurry of fond meetings and cheery goodbyes. I think it’s because it’s nice to say goodbye to someone who actually wants to go and have an adventure for a bit, unlike the goodbyes we’re all getting used to. Plus, I am very lucky that I’m only going away for a little while. Just to test the waters. Other people aren’t so lucky and have to leap blindly into new lives without any set date to return and pick up all the threads they left loose in Dublin. I was really lucky. I could leave all my threads uncaught and they’ll still be waiting when I get back.
So far (A week in) assimilation has been swift and painless, probably because lectures have STILL yet to start so I’m been officially mucking around doing nothing for six months. I sank instantly into my new bed and slept like a baby in a huge room meant for two people that I inhabit on my own. It even has a sweet view of the town and the sea. I don’t think anyone has ever landed smoother in a place than I have here.
Laundry, far from being a chore was an opportunity to finally learn how to play poker. The only moment of tearfulness was the very last moments I had before my parents got in the car and drove off last Saturday morning (and we all had the good sense to cut it off before we all blubbed in the Car park of Lidl. It was more dignified that way) On the first night I became paranoid and convinced one of my corridor-mates had stolen my freshly bought milk. A day of crazed labelling and criminal profiling eventually led to the discovery that the entire fridge had been replaced in the night, with my milk becoming one of the old fridge’s casualties. I’m not 100% convinced that it’s not all just a very elaborate plot to steal my milk. Either way, this university owes me 45p.
The new town is very friendly, busy and exactly the sort of place I’d like to get lost in. Students here don’t go home religiously every weekend and there’s things to do on Fridays. I can walk from the top of the town to my room in 15 minutes flat. There is an incredibly satisfying to climb hill to my building. It goes vertical at some portions. I’m beginning to form the calf muscles of a mountain goat. Seeing Freshers lose their minds and get absolutely shitfaced on freedom is funny until I remember I’m just like them on my own in a strange town for the first time. The only difference is I’m 21 and really can’t drink more than half a glass of wine without keeling over.
My first pang of homesickness came when I skyped home, and saw my family all wandering around behind my mother on the camera. Making dinner, asking for things to be washed, arguing over the Playstation. I ached for home for a second, until my brother came into the room, pulled down his pants and mooned me. I quickly remembered why I left in the first place and reaffirmed my determination to not waste any time feeling angst for home. It’s still there waiting for me to get back to, so for now I need to enjoy my sea view and eating bagels for every single meal.
I’m living in a Welsh speaking hall which is a baffling experience to tell the truth. Most spectacular was the mix up yesterday when I sauntered into my safety induction talk 10 minutes late to find I was sitting in the Welsh language session. Welsh speakers don’t fuck around, man- Irish speakers will alternate between Irish and English every few sentences, but here it’s about ten minutes of welsh with a quick sentence or two summation at the end for the non-speakers. There’s a sign in the bathroom that I’m pretty sure tells you how to work the shower head, but which is solely in Welsh. Everyone who I say ‘I live in Pantycelyn’ to chuckles and wonders why they stuck all the Erasmus people in there. I shrug and just remain thankful that I wake up every day halfway up the hill and don’t have to climb the whole bloody thing.
I discovered that our generation on the whole loves getting postcards. They’re a lot of fun to write, and after the format was rammed into me during leaving cert Irish and French I’m rather good at them. Stamps are 88p to post to Ireland, so anyone who gets one ought to appreciate TEH FUCK out of it. They might as well have been written in my own blood. So far so smooth for my Welsh adventure. We’ll see how it goes when the work actually kicks in.
Niamh ‘Don’t you dare quote Mock the week at me, I’m cross with you’ Keoghan
Any regular readers of BHT will know that I’ve been on a weight loss kick since last September and so far, I’ve done pretty well. Since then I’ve lost a stone and five pounds. Over the months a few people have asked me about how I did it, what kind of diet I used and do I have any advice for them. I’m always reluctant to say anything- I’m not a doctor and I don’t know what will work for other people. I’m also coming from a place where I spent years hating my body quite intensely and comfort eating to an alarming degree. A lot of the people who asked me about weight loss were also not overweight themselves, which really changes the game. The difference between losing a stone when you’re already 3 stone too heavy is very different to dropping nine pounds from the upper threshold of a healthy weight. I didn’t really diet so much as I started weight watchers, which is cool because it’s more about monitoring how much you eat and the quality of that amount- basically what a diet should be with no gimmicks. That idea of ‘not eating like you’re preparing to hibernate’ served me pretty well, and then I started exercising, which has got me going again.
I’ve become aware of the fact that once you start losing weight, it does become a sort of personal challenge, and I’ve begun to beat myself up a lot when I don’t lose anything for a few weeks. Not out of anger at how I look (I look and feel fantastic overall compared to a year ago when I’d just eat another bag of crisps and cry) but because not losing makes me think I’ve started ‘slipping back’ on my good habits and that I’ve done something wrong. I think I’ve discovered the root of my problem- the fucking Bathroom scales.
owning the number
We recently got a lot of work done in the house and part of the work was a shiny new bathroom with shiny new tiles and a shiny new bathroom scales. We’ve never had a scales in the house before; as a teenager I’d weigh myself at my grandmothers on her absolutely flawless set of scales from 1980 but because that wasn’t a regular thing I wasn’t able to put the number on the scale into context. Until I was 17 I didn’t know what my healthy weight ought to be. I just had the vague knowledge that I was some degree of ‘fat’ and lived with it. When I started weight watchers I got used to being weighed once a week. Being weighed once a week is brilliant. It’s just long enough to keep a watch on it but also not so long that you can do any serious damage. I’ve never gone up by more than 4 pounds in one week before I brought it back down. But then we got the scales in the house.
It started that I’d just ‘check it’ on a Sunday to make sure I was keeping on track to losing that week. Then it was every time I had a shower. Then it was every morning. The scales became a daily habit, something to tick off having done. Since we got them in February, I haven’t lost any weight. I just go up and down around the figure of 13 stone. And every single day the needle would stay on that number and madden me. I began to get very depressed. Even my dad noticed, which means it must have been bad. I started skipping meals and fasting, which is just fucking stupid. it was my dad who actually had the quote that snapped me out of the mindset- ‘Up a pound or down a pound, it doesn’t fuckin’ matter- you’re still alive you know!’
I finally understand what people meant when they cautioned me not to get obsessed with my weight. Having a scales there every day in open view is a nightmare, because weighing in every day is pointless- having a cup of tea can add on a pound, peeing can take it off again – at least when it’s once a week you can take that number away and work on it. So no more daily weigh ins and no more depression sessions about it. The amount of frustration and reduction that number creates is frightening- no matter how fit or good you feel that day, it still marks you down as ‘fat’. Not fun. See I like the Weight Watchers model- I know it sounds strange, going in to get weighed. It does *sound* very judge-y, but I’ve always found it to be a very positive way of keeping a handle on things. The person running the class is usually someone who has successfully lost weight themselves (personally, my local weight watchers leader is HILARZ) and it’s always framed in a very positive manner. Obviously not for everyone and at a tenner a week, not the sort of thing everyone can afford, but I’ve found it useful.
So yeah, fuck bathroom scales, fuck daily weigh ins and fuck that level of body monitoring. It’s scary how easy it is to fall into that habit and how natural it feels- even now, I have the itch to go and check my weight even though I was weighed AT 6PM THIS EVENING. It’s scary. My only advice to anyone trying to lose weight is this- only weigh yourself once a week. And do it in the morning or just before you go to bed. And do a big poo before you get on the scales.
One thing that has become clear to me is that eating a healthy diet, avoiding fast food and just generally trying to moderate my comfort eating has taken me as far as I can go with this whole journey. I still feel quite doughy and unfit, while having this lighter, more mobile body that I can put to use. So I tried running for a bit which was a disaster. I’m just still too darn heavy and my knees were bearing the brunt of that. Swimming is a lot of fun but it’s a pain getting out to my pool now so instead I managed to get what I’ve been hankering after for a while- a brand new bicycle.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find a shop that stocked Penny farthings (Actually that was fortunate because they’re actually really hard to ride). It had to fit two important criteria
1- sturdy enough to cope with moderately long cycles
2- girly enough so that my brothers wouldn’t ever be inclined to ‘borrow’ it.
The second criteria ruled out anything like a racer and my childhood of bounding around on a series of rusty mountain bikes has left me with a bias against them. I finally found a nice heavy roadster that looked nice.
They see me rollin’, they hatin’
So I set out for the first time and tried cycling around my area. The great thing about cycling is that you can feel like the cat’s pyjamas rolling out of the drive way and speed through your estate to the coast all in fifth gear, then you turn around to go home and find a subtle uphill climb waiting for you. There’s something very satisfying about it. It’s the same sort of satisfaction I got from walking, except you go faster and farther. There is a strange, simple satisfaction found in bringing yourself to a new place by the force of your own feet (and some forgiving down hill slopes). As exercising, it’s rewarding. You sweat all over and your knees feel like jelly.
The honeymoon was short. After a day, I had my first puncture and after 2 days had my first crash into a parked car on an empty road. The next day my mother came home with a hi vis vest and shouts at me if I don’t wear it.
BUT, the best thing about cycling everywhere isn’t the weight loss part of it (I actually haven’t gotten any lighter since I started- I’ve gone up a little bit because I’m eating more and making myself crave sugar). The best part is after three weeks starting to feel my body get a bit leaner and fitter. Hills are still an absolute BASTARD but I’m recovering faster and I’m lasting longer. now that I’ve got a feeling of control over my weight and my body, I can actually do fun things with it. That was my problem all along- I didn’t have a weight problem, I had a control problem. I felt utterly powerless and out of control when it came to my body. I was a slave to my compulsive eating, which meant I was a slave to being overweight, and then a slave to whatever clothes they had in my sizes.
It’s nice to feel like you’re putting your body to good use rather than just losing weight to sit around and look better. Being lighter means I can actually do stuff that before was just so fucking hard. Seriously no lie, I had a mountain bike last year and every hill I came to I had to get off and wheel the thing up. I was just too goddamn heavy to pedal myself up the hill. The bike was constantly punctured and I’m pretty sure that was a combination of being an old bike and being unable to carry my weight. Probably the best thing about getting fit again though is all the time I spend on my bike is time spent thinking about blogs and writing, which I’d fallen out of doing since my commute ended.
So in summation- Bathroom Scales bad, Cycling good.
Niamh ‘Can all car drivers please look for cyclists before they fling their doors open onto the road’ Keoghan
Imagine my surprise when I went to the cinema to see the trailer for an all new adaption of THE GREATEST. LOVE STORY. OF ALL TIME.
Romeo and Juliet is one of those works that most people get quite a young exposure to. Unlike the other Shakespeare play that people are likely to study for their Junior Cert (The Merchant of Venice) Romeo and Juliet is part of our cultural shorthand. It’s been misinterpreted and analysed over and over for nearly 400 years and for the last century has been the most popular of Shakespeare’s plays on stage and screen. Everybody knows the plot by heart even before they go in. Two kids from warring families hook up, get married then kill themselves. It’s kind of the Star Wars or Sixth Sense of Elizabethan drama, in that the twist in Romeo and Juliet is so well known that it isn’t even a twist anymore. Starting in the first act as a comedy, the sudden shocking murder that leads into the later acts was a bit of a swerve back in the day. Turning from jolly and light to dark and brooding, it’s not really a love story as much as it’s a story about how shit feuds are. The lovers in this story are the pawns in the quarrels of their parents.
Judging by the flat, airy trailer this adaption is going to take itself quite seriously and play the subject matter very straight. It won’t have the intense longing and tension of Zeffirelli’s film or the riotous over the top 90s excess of Baz Lurhmans 1996 effort. Each version has always said something about the era in which it was made. Particularly Baz Lurhman, whose best skill is portraying opulence and excess, as seen recently in the great Gatsby. Romeo + Juliet also started that explosion of late 1990s classic literature adaptions set in high school- you had O (othello) Ten things I hate about you (the Taming of the Shrew) Clueless (Emma) and cruel Intentions (dangerous liaisons) among others. A lot of these versions woefully missed the point of their source material and being loose adaptions with the original dialogue and characters changed distances them from their source material particularly with the Shakespeare adaptions. Still, hard to believe about 15 years ago the hot trend was for adapting dusty classics into teen movies.
Overall, will this be an iconic bench mark for a generation? It’s obviously following in the footsteps of Julian Fellowes beloved Abbey, but also weirdly enough in the footsteps of Taylor Swift’s hilarious fan fic version of the Romeo and Juliet tale told via her video for ‘Love Story.’ It’s a bit uncanny. The irony there being that the respective soundtracks for the 1968 and 1996 versions have gone on to become as well remembered as the films themselves
whether it was the contemporary pop of 1996 or the big, sweeping score of 1968. That was the key with those versions, I think. 1968 felt big and dangerous in it’s own way- hell, Olivia Hussey who played Juliet wasn’t even allowed into the premiere, because of the rating- a rating that was high because of her own brief topless nude scene shot when she was 14. It was edgy, man. It still it today. 1996 felt… opulent. It played up the hysteria of the feud and the tensions between gangland families and subtly, to the long standing antipathy between the Irish and Italian communities in the US and the tension between old and new moneyed families. What I’m saying is both iconic adaptions did something striking. This new one just looks.. brown. Even the freaking poster is brown.
It remains to be seen what 2013 will look, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. If the flat delivery and lifeless pretty faces of the trailer are anything to go by, this won’t be anything special.
Niamh ‘Sorry I’ve been away for so long’ Keoghan
This concludes tonight’s 2013 Eurovision Song contest live blog. Goodnight Europe
11:50- there it is folks, this years winner- Denmark!
11:10- ‘SHE GONNA EAT ME IN MY SLEEP’- Screams BHT as Lena gives the points with perky jumpy aplomb
10:55- It’s not the winning r beating the UK that counts, it’s the shirtless men.
10:50- Azerbaijan looks like the Predator Alien.
10:45- GOOD FRIDAY AGREEMENT MY ASS. 800 YEARS.
10:42 Sweden’s judge looks like a character from Final Fantasy. Ireland got two points, ripple of ‘wooos’ spread through the room.
10:40 BHT is hugging her wine bottle, sobbing and singing along to winner takes it all
LIVEBLOG SUSPENDED because how on earth could you top that.
10:25- ‘Is this really funny or do I just really like Sweden?’ ‘You just really like Sweden. And you’re drunk.’ (Then the titties happened) SKIRT RIPPING
10:10- Maybe this is the wine talking, but BHT predicts A MILLION POINTS for Dreamboat Dolan tonight. Interval act is a medly by last year’s winner, wearing a dress that has crashed into a seagull on the way to the Arena. Sex Kitteh likes her hair, but is uncomfortable with the juxtaposition of ‘We got the power’ alongside white flag and military jumpsuits.
10:05- Georgia are really fuckin’ boring so instead we’re waiting for DREAMBOAT DOLAN to wrap up the show, and seeing what kind of riverdance knock off Sweden have planned for the interval
9:55- ‘FUCKIN’ DUBSTEP!’ BHT declares, spilling half her wine drunkenly as Danaerys Stormborn takes the stage for Norway.
9:50- Team BHT now wondering what happened to make Lena so fucking weird the year after she won Eurovision as Italy takes the stage. Fun fact- Italy were never regular attendants at Eurovision until recently, where they’ve performed… dreadfully. Italian singer having a bit of a wobble during his song.
9:40- The most homoerotic song of the night from Azerbaijan. Greece next with ‘Alcohol is Free (but trousers are expensive)’. Any song with a bazooki solo is fine by me. Sex Kitteh wants to vote for Greece, so Germany will have to pay for the party next year.
9:35- Denmark is tonight’s favorite to win doing a Sandie Shaw and singing barefoot. Sex Kitteh and bearded Avenger have named her Hermione Granger. ‘If there’s nothing but teardrops between you I’m sure you could sort it out with some vigorous sex.’ Thor representing Iceland now, which seems like unfair advantage to BHT. Then again, only other skilled singer from Iceland=Bjork, who is probably an Alien.
9:25- BHT’s brother would like it to be known he wants Hungary to do well because he did three weeks of chef training in Budapest.
9:20- ‘Thats just what Bonnie Tyler SOUNDS like!’ BHT snaps defensively to Sex Kitteh and Bearded Avenger.
9:15- Romania, otherwise known as the best fucking song of the entire fucking decade. BHT is excited, BHT sex kitteh is intrigued and BHT Beard Avenger asks ‘Is that the bad guy from Tekken?’ We will hear no bad words spoken about counter tenors. Second Dubstep breakdown of the evening.
9:05- Jesus up there currently. Armenia is so boring we muted them so we could listen to 2011’s winner, Lena. First glasses of wine cracked out. the Nethelands up next, dark horse entrants into the contest from last week. BHT hopes Adele is listening.
8:55- Eupoooooooooori- Whoops, sorry. We meant Gloooooorious. Germany standing atop the bare staircase of Austerity. Pretty symbolic.
8:55- Malta, home of Malteasers on stage now. Poor guy sounds like Bruno Mars with kidney stones. Worst instrument miming of the night goes jointly to the Acoustic Bass and ukulele mimers. Maltese Bruno Mars, following girls is not cool. Russian entry singer needs to reconsider the position of her parting as she continues the scourge of maxi dresses. Cascada up next for germany, prepare to relive MTV in 2006
8:40- Estonia has broken the Eurovision by switching off the colour. BHT sex Kitteh is dissapointed with the lack of skirt ripping so far. Maxi dresses and beach coverups dominate tonight’s wardrobe. Enough dry ice to smother the first five rows. Giant disco ball from which emerges slutty Taylor Swift singing for Belarus wearing a Gina G style sparkly dress.
8:30- Spain off key and boring. Awkward instrument miming all up in here. BHT co-host ‘sex kitteh’ asks ‘What are the chances some of Spain’s dress coming off?’ Wishful thinking, BHT SK. Are bagpipes native to Spain? Belgian performer is only 18 but still has the eyes of a serial killer (BHT Sex Kitteh thinks he’s sexy.) (no she doesn’t). BHT SK- That’s ‘the is it thrush?’ dance from the Belgians. FIRST DUBSTEP BREAKDOWN OF THE NIGHT
8:25- ‘Oh wait! There it goes!’ Skirt is growing. Resembling a volcano. As Finland takes the stage, Feminists everywhere gird their loins for the problematic lyrics. WIND MACHINE VEILS
8:20 First superfluous dancers of the night from Moldova AND a bloke miming the piano. BHT party currently arguing about Molodovan performers skirt. ‘Is it growing bigger? No thats just the lights on it’
8:20- Everyone in Lithuanian entry singing off key. Strobe lighting giving BHT and co-hosts a small seizure. Verdict- this really sucks.
8:15- BHT waiting patiently for the ABBA reunion interval show. Assuming Benny and Bjorn are backstage trying to squeeze into their stretched out jumpsuits. France first, a rather jazzy entry of the style which has left them bottom of the table in recent years. Entry looks like Ke$ha and Country Love crashed in midair.
8:10- Out Ireland comes in dead last. BHT hopes this is not an omen of things to come…..
8:00- Fuckin’ neon butterflies invading Malmo via the sea. If BHT was the olympic opening ceremony BHT would sue….
7:55- Fever pitch! Here’s our spotting guide and an awkward photo of Dana
1-Skirt ripping (or someone emerges from someone else’s skirt)
2-awkward attempts at humour from the host
4-completely superfluous dancers
5-Obviously mimed instruments
6- Graham Norton says something bitchy
7- Marty Whelan tries to sound like Terry Wogan and fails.
7:45- dreamboat junction in fifteen minutes
7:30- Prep underway. Hair blowdried and backcombed, leather pants applied. Wine uncorked.
11:30AM – Bank Holiday Tuesday will be liveblogging and tweeting the 58th Eurovision Grand Prix tonight from 8PM. Follow on twitter @Keofunkel and @BankHolidayTues for the proceedings which are sure to include alcohol, camp and shrieks of joy at the sight of the return of those leather pants to Irish eurovision hopes.
Niamh ‘BHT is back in business baby’ Keoghan
This week’s guest post comes courtesy of Catherine Brophy, a storyteller, broadcaster and author. Her new book burning bright is available through Amazon both in kindle and paperback. Here she talks all about different ways of coping with speaking in front of a crowd and gives us all a few pointers
RIDING THE WAVE.
They say that the two greatest fears are:
2. Speaking in public!
Wow. Speaking in public is almost as scary as death!
I LOVE speaking in public. I love standing up telling stories, giving a talk or giving a workshop. I love the moment when all the eyes are looking and I know I have them in the palm of my hand.
It’s to do with a certain kind of power. But hey…not in a Neuremburg rally kind of way! It’s about the power of two-way communication. Not just me telling you and you listening, but about you telling me something back and me listening as well. Here let me explain.
There are three ways to respond to an audience.
They’re all looking at me! What’ll they think of me? They’ll think I’m stupid. I’ll make a fool of myself. I’ll get mixed up. I’ll forget what I want to say.
So you get up, you do all the things you predicted. You stumble, you forget, you make a fool of yourself, you embarrass the audience and afterwards you feel terrible and you swear that you’llnever do it again. Either that or you run away and afterwards feel terrible and wish you had the courage to do it.
Rating: 0 stars!
Create a mental glass wall.
Someone advises you to imagine them all naked. But, when you’re standing up there, that’s difficult. So you take a deep breath and mentally cut yourself off. Then you deliver your words.
This works reasonably well. You get through your speech. You don’t make a fool of yourself. Afterwards you feel relieved and pleased that at least you did it. But the communication is only one way. Because of the invisible wall, you were unaware of the audience response. Ever sit through a talk/ lecture/ performance where you’re stifling the yawns and wishing they’d stop waffling and just hurry up and finish? That’s someone who’s created an invisible wall.
Rating: 2 stars **
Ride the Wave.
Anyone who has ever stood in front of an audience knows that you can feel something from them. Some kind of energy. And that every audience feels different. But every audience has one thing in common, a positive hope. Please be good, they’re hoping, entertain me, inform me, interest me, make me laugh, make me cry, horrify me, thrill me, excite me. Nobody gets themselves ready and leaves the comfort of home in the hope of being bored! This means that:
Every audience is on your side. Yieeeeeeeeeeha!
Every audience is willing you to be fabulous. Yabbadabbadoo! That’s what you feel when you stand up in front of them. A wave of positive hope, of them willing you to be wonderful.
But then there’s the stuff going on in your body. The huge cloud of butterflies fluttering about in your stomach.
Butterflies are the physical expression of adrenalin.
Adrenalin is the chemical that pumps you up to perform.
Butterflies love oxygen. It helps them to fly in formation. Take a couple of deep breaths.
But then there’s stuff going on in your head. Will I remember? Is it okay? Assuming you know your stuff and that you’ve prepared – yes it will be fine. Stand securely, feet shoulder width apart, relax your shoulders. Look at the audience. Yes look straight at them. See all those shining eyes? They love you already. Breathe in that wave of positive energy and ride, baby ride.
Then something magical happens. Suddenly you find that you can improvise, make off the cuff comments, make jokes. And if you stumble over a word, forget something or make a mistake you have the confidence to laugh at yourself and instead of thinking you’re an eejit the audience loves you for being human. But most important of all, when you ride that wave, you become hyper-sensitive to the audience reaction. You know when something is working and you know when to cut something off. You now have information that will feed your next performance and make it even better.
Riding the wave means that you have to open yourself to your audience. The first time you do it takes courage but the rewards are so great that next time it’s going to be a doddle!
Rating: 5 stars *****
Ps-you may have noticed a lack of updates lately here. This is due to builders in my house and upcoming college exams. Because of the fact that I don’t have a roof, desk or any time to spare, Bank Holiday Tuesday will be taking a brief hiatus- See y’all next month! xx
Niamh ‘I’m just stepping out and may be some time’ Keoghan
This weekend has been one of nostalgia, dear readers. Usually I am wont to tell nostalgia, politely as I can, to fuck right off. Nostalgia at it’s root means to long for something you can’t return to and I’m not down with that futile shit, yo. But now and again, nostalgia can be a pleasant, warm ride.
I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaaa-aaaaa-*Cough*
Last Friday I was mildly surprised to hear that the band that haunted my adolescence more than any other was splitting up. This was strange for me, as I was under the impression that My Chemical Romance broke up in 2008. Alas no, they have plodded on since the early days of 2006, which is when the first contagion of the emo craze was spotted in secondary schools across Dublin. I was there, man. I remember it. Those little bug eyed cartoons drawn on schoolbags in sharpie marker. The elaborately decorated Nightmare Before Christmas wallets. And the music. Oh God, the music.
I think I am completely qualified to talk about the emo craze because not only was I there, I desperately wanted to be one of them. A younger BHT wanted so much to have a side fringe, a piercing in the cartilage of her ear and one of those chains you put your wallet on one end of and clip to your belt. I wanted the Chuck Taylor sneakers and the dyed black hair, the gloomy outlook of a misfit child happily counterpointed with impossibly hysterical, chirpy melodramatic music and an aesthetic picked up from a children’s animated musical made in 1993. But I didn’t manage to make the emo transformation for the following reasons:
1: I was too fat for skinny jeans.
2: My mam wouldn’t let me get piercings1
3: All of those accessories were so expensive
4: Razor blades make BHT so awfully nervous. Poor 14 year old BHT saw one set of earring studs shaped like razor blades and she was outta there.
But ultimately I never really ‘got’ how to be an emo. Young BHT did make a very ill advised decision to cut a side fringe over the Christmas of 2006 and spent the next eight months going around convinced it was the cat’s pyjamas. My Chemical Romance existed on the side fringe of my teenage years: I was never really a true fan, but they were everywhere around me. Slowly they soaked into my subconscious and made a damp little nest there. BHT for one will mourn their passing as a band. I will remember them fondly during my more melodramatic moments, where I am fond of screaming ‘I’m not okaaaaaaa-aaaaaa-aaaaaay’ in the style of Gerard Way.
I feel like the whole emo brand has come full circle on me. Last week, I bought my first ever pair of Skinny Jeans. Maybe there’s hope for me yet. But anyway the whole MCR breakup was in my head for a few weeks while I encountered other nostalgic fare.
Is nobody else still excited about the TGV except me?
I caught the last ten minutes of the 1996 boom fiesta Mission: Impossible on Friday night and it triggered yet another wave of nostalgia. The climax of MI is possibly the most 90s thing put to film along with that scene in Baz Lurhmans Romeo + Juliet where Leo DiCaprio sits on a beach in California looking meaningful and young while Radiohead play on the soundtrack. In Mission: Impossible, between product placement for the (at the time newly opened) TGV high speed train and Tom Cruise running away from things (as is his wont in every movie ever) we are treated to copious shots of mid 90s mobile phones, laptops and internet woes. Then a freaking helicopter gets dragged into the channel tunnel as the train rockets through the English countryside. Tom Cruise, why are you running everywhere? How is this CGI so hilariously dated? Tom Cruise, how did you survive that explosion? How are you not deaf?! Why does the English bad guy look like the current prime minister of Australia? Questions for the ages…
I felt a strange pang of nostalgia while watching this scene. I can just about remember 1997, back when a mother fucking high speed train that goes through a tunnel under the freaking sea was pretty much the best humanity had. The boundless optimism of the booming 90s, the clunky technology proudly flaunted as cutting edge. The pre twitter, pre-wifi pre smart phone world is a quaint one indeed but it’s also the one little BHT was convinced she would inhabit one day. I imagined myself sitting on my high speed train under the sea, tapping away on a ten pound slab of a laptop, while wearing a big hat.
I’m a Daphne in the street and a Roz Doyle in the Bed
The 90s were a good decade for Seattle- There was sleeping in Seattle, a little known music movement you might have heard of called ‘grunge’ which would eventually spawn the emo monolith discussed above, and then there was that spin off from Cheers set in the rainy north west city that nobody has given a shit about shit (literally nothing else has ever happened in Seattle except for Jimi Hendrix and Boeing).
There is something supremely comforting about the 1990s high-brow sitcom Frasier. Because the series focuses generally on the lives and problems of well educated, gainfully employed people of means, it’s a very safe show. Nobody is going to be left destitute, evicted or oppressed. That’s not to say it’s a bad show. A modern comedy of manners with what is to me a wonderfully welcome early 90s trip. The big hair, the baggy suits, the PHONES again, posh people bitching at each other and inevitably being zinged perfectly by the down to earth working class characters.
If given the chance then, would I wish myself back to the golden days of 1994? Or perhaps to 2006 to relive the emo glory days in the skinny jeans I could probably fit into now? I think not. Nostalgia is tempting but in the end, all one really remembers are the highlighted high points and moments of quality; with respect, if all I can remember of the emo craze are the ‘good parts’, I’m fine with staying here. As for the early 90s, I actually can’t imagine life anymore without constant remote access to twitter.
Niamh ‘That being said, I think I’d go back just for the big hats’ Keoghan
I was sick for a vast portion of last week and consequently spent a lot of time aimlessly dicking around on Facebook and Twitter. To be fair, this is what I do every day but this time I was in bed with absolutely nothing else to do. And a strange thing happens in the middle of the day to college students on both of these social networks. They all start updating their statuses about some of the following topics:
1. Really bad diarrhea.
2. Their penis is stuck in something.
3. Something stuck up their vagina.
4. Their sudden coming out as a homosexual/heterosexual and their appreciation for the genitals of men/women.
5. Description of their STI symptoms/general genital rash woes.
Those five themes pretty much cover every sort of ‘frape’ I’ve witnessed. As a comedic endeavour it’s pretty limited: you only have about five minutes tops to think of something witty. Another feature of the frape is often violent sexual language: people talk about the rough anal sex they had last night and how sore their bum is today. And that’s funny because… anal is a completely acceptable sexual act? Wait, why is fraping funny you guys?
A few weeks ago now there was a Senate discussion on cyber bullying. Dopey Senator Fidelma Healy Eames spoke of the TERROR facing “our youth” (a phrase always used by people whose children left college and home in 1998) online, using the example of “fraping – when you get raped on Facebook.” That quote has been circulated widely, but you know what? I knew it was going to come and bite us in the ass eventually. There is a problem with equating the mildly embarrassing experience of someone posting stupid shit on your social networking page with a deeply violent and invasive betrayal of your personal space.
Our generations gone a bit bongo mongo with the term ‘rape.’ You only need to walk down the street and see a bunch of lads jostling and messing before one of them will howl ‘RAAAAAAPE!’ As if, again, a violent invasive crime is equivalent to your friend playfully jumping on your back. I’ve heard people talk about raping essays and raping people in COD. Fraping and twaping (Twitter rape) are the most commonly used terms on social networks. And now can I respectfully ask for two things:
1. We stop using the term frape. It’s really deeply insulting to rape victims and cheapens the meaning of the word at a time when rape culture is a massive societal problem. My friend once suggested the slightly less catchy but far more accurate term ‘impersa-face’ to refer to Facebook pranks.
2. Can we actually make Facebook pranks funny?
Maybe it sounds like I’m being negative and moany. I am infamously grumpy about people messing around with my Facebook and Twiter, so I do have a personal bias against these sort of jokes. But I am being honest when I say there has only been one occasion when I experienced a funny Facebook prank. It was 2010, in the early days of my life on Facebook, and I’d been in my friend Tara’s house. I checked Facebook and left myself logged in. I walked home and then logged in on my laptop later that evening. Tara had access to my Facebook for about half an hour.
She had liked nearly 100 different pages dedicated to Justin Bieber, Twilight, Miley Cyrus, Fianna Fail, Margaret Thatcher, Country Music, Marmite: anything that she knew I didn’t like, she had ‘liked’. She pranked me so deeply and effectively that three years later I’m still getting Facebook ads for Twilight books and Bieber concerts. She updated my status telling all of my friends how I’d been SO WRONG about Twilight before, that Bella was SUCH a role model. She did it so subtly people couldn’t tell if it was me being sarcastic or someone messing. I STILL haven’t managed to remove all of the shit she liked that evening. She was a downright pro about it.
What that evening launched was a Facebook war to end all Facebook wars. Phones were wrestled out of hands, people would leave for the bathroom, shriek ‘OH FUCK!’ and sprint back into the room and punch you in the stomach to get the iPad off you. I once accidentally posted on Tara’s mother’s page that she was going to ‘give up on men forever and join the nuns in the South of France.’ It was a WAR. It was a dirty, hilarious war that stretched on for months. Apps were deleted, texts were sent saying ‘you fucking bitch get OFF my Facebook.’ It was INTENSE. So when people tell me I ‘just don’t get’ what Facebook pranking is about, I laugh. Please, I learned from the master, and she created her own worst enemy.
I know what a lot of people will say about this: big fucking deal, who cares about the word frape? It’s just a word! But the thing is, language has importance and weight. You’d be surprised and amused if I told you how emotional and angry people can get over words like ‘feminist’, ‘cunt’, ‘slut’ or ‘llama’ and it’s the same with ‘rape’. There are some words we need to take the venom out of, like ‘fat’ (or ‘llama’), and there are other words like rape that need to be kept to define only what rape is. There’s too much bullshit and disagreement over what’s a ‘legitimate’ rape already, we don’t need it being claimed as a catch all term for all mild impositions.
Finally, y’all need to up your games, guys. Status updates about poo and itchy privates are fine when you’re in like, sixth year. But this is UNIVERSITY. You’re adults now. You should be getting more sophisticated in your pranks than willies and rashes. You guys are the future of Irish Law, medicine, commerce and in the case of Sociology/English students, the retail and fast food industry. We owe it to ourselves to AT LEAST do a decent impersa-face.
Niamh ‘I frape, you frape, he/she frapes…’ Keoghan