Sunday, 30 August 2015

An Ode to Barnstaple

A parting partial ode to the town of broken dreams and stagnant hopes. I have wandered through each chartered street. The estuary acting as a reminder of the enclosing rurality, this; a sweet concrete haven from the stale muddy fields and damp cottages.
Glide down the high street and avert your gaze as you brushing shoulders with every sexual encounter since aged 14. Nobody ever leaves this town. They enroll on a woodcraft course then advance to a bedsit by the bus station.

And to the library! An imposing brutalist literary safe space, do not try and engage in small talk with the women on the counter. They know of your £30 card fine and thus will never let you loan A Vindication of the Rights of Woman til this is respectfully wiped. Upstairs smells faintly of urine but you find your habitual corner and try to absorb as many books as is humanly possible til closure.

Newly sprung Vintage shops line the side lanes, self aware pretension with an air of celestial condescension on the Adidas mortals. Why pay £80 for a dress you could have bought for pittance at a a neighbouring charity shop? Funding a charity? It probably won't smell of lavender and the women serving you probably won't have a fringe. But this is a Hit New Sensation! The North Devon Journal produce a glossy two page spread on the Aspirational Entrepreneurs. Slow and aged disciples of the Shoreditch mass. Barnstaple is a 24 month time-warp. The seeds of the hipster are freshly sewn and bleed tentatively through the fabric of the high street. Swathes of 60s Swedish fabric, draped in the window display amongst über-chic mannequins and redundant whicker baskets. Aesthetics.

A little walk further, and you may stumble into Green Lanes Mall. Mighty 70's institution. Shelter for the New Look honeys. I tend to shuffle my feet past River Island after an unfortunate job interview, superficially unpleasing or something, not in line with the brand ethos or something.

In the population of 31,000, few go unseen. Foreign blood is clocked and logged and remarked on and slandered. That tart from Appledore. Archaic slips, adorable ignorance; homophobia, racism, transism, UKIPing fascists. You'll find yourself regularly wincing. "The only black girl at school", this is how she is primarily identified by peers.

And should you find yourself, unflinching explorer, in the realms of Fever, or The Rising Sun do not hesitate in smiting down any man who non-consensually gropes you. You may be the only female not donning heels, instead in a particularly unenticing pair of DMs but the sheer fact you (may) possess a vagina is incentive enough for these rapscallions to dive into a soirée of molestations. Watch you back as you walk swiftly down the high street back to your getaway car in the old cattle market car park. In the hours of darkness there is an ilk of man who revs his wagon, in convoy with his pals, full speed down the pedestrian only street. Don't go weak at the knees for a wink and a growl.

Amongst the misogynist japes and lecherous outbursts, the Barnstaple realm also homes the only women’s refuge in the entirety of Devon, homing between 50-60 families per year. A service recently jeopardized by drastic funding cuts of £2.4 million meaning the charity is now heavily reliant on it’s two charity shops operating in the town. Devon County Council have oh so much to answer for.

Birthplace of Katie Hopkins. Resting place of tedium and all that is bleak and retrograde and mundane. I'm outta here.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Things you should absolutely definitely not do on your Gap Year

Dear Me,

Intrepid 18 year old; would be voyager, fresh from the gates of sixth form. You've already torched all your unit 4 past papers and squeezed a fake plastic tear for the circumstantial friends from your form tutor you'll probably never see again, with good reason. You're drunk, both literally and figuratively; on the prospect of 12 months of self discovery and hedonism, slinking off to a foreign cave for a few weeks in late November perhaps. You don't a clue what you're fucking doing.

So here, in a insipid bullet-pointed manner is a list of non specific things you should absolutely definitely not do on your Gap Year.
  • Firstly, you should certainly never make yourself an internet vow that you will capitalise on one day each week by posting a blog article. This will fundamentally never happen and you shall again find yourself stuck, ironically, back in the ritual of never actually writing.
  • Get a job at a sexist dive bar called 'Fever', to which even the name connotes a hangover/venereal disease. Work this job for 3 1/2 hours in an XS t-shirt. Earn £18. Spend it on something illegal.
  • Fall in love with somebody you initially met on Tinder. Immerse yourself in their life, read extensively on Socialism and Post Modernism and watching three seasons of their favourite American sitcom on Netflix. Subsequently break your own heart when they flit off to various Nordic countries for the next 15 months. They're better at writing than you will ever be. Swear profusely at your iPhone.
  • Cheat on them with a tiny Italian man in an outdoor Cuban nightclub on the West Coast of India. You're a fucking idiot.
  • Think that the journal you keep whilst traveling, nay, the Facebook album, nay, every hilarious hostel memory is poignant. It's not. It's eye-wateringly narcissistic and if you keep beleaguering your nearest and dearest with South East Asian anecdotes they are going to write you out of their lives.
  • Attempt to keep up every single college friendship. You're doomed to failure. As you slowly watch the decay of the HASHTAGGALS group chat, jump the sinking ship. You don't like somebody? Delete them. You disagree with someone's opinion? Articulate your criticism. Life is too goddamn short to pretend to like people. Embrace the decline of cool. Listen to precisely what pleases your ears. Stop caring about music festivals. Their primary purpose is telling people you are going to this festival, their secondary is actually going.
  • Promise yourself that you'll finish reading Ulysses by the end of the week. You won't do this. You'll get depressed that you didn't. Start with poetry and work yourself up from there.
  • Dye your hair 'Tangerine Dream' the day after Halloween, unintentionally. You are not punk rock. The Doctor doing your travel vaccinations will laugh at you.
  •  Inadvertently volunteer at an Arts Centre with over 20 men and women between the ages of 50-85. You thought you'd be helping the woman on the Media desk. Instead you're licking stamps and stuffing envelopes with the Christmas catalogue in exchange for piss warm milky tea.
  • Buy a scooter. Learn to ride this scooter. Crash this scooter on a rainy afternoon skinning your ankle, heavily bruising your right elbow and unable to use the push clamp because you were riding in heels. 
  • Keep smoking. You are living at home. Who are you trying to impress? It is a counteractive activity that literally burns your money. I appreciate you are depressed. It's inevitable that you are going to have low points but utilise your new found maturity and pour your air into a more constructive hobby. Take up the flute again. You used to be so good at the flute.
  • Inaugurate a babysitting business in the local village. Put pastel coloured bunting on the poster to appeal to the middle class mothers because Bitches Love Bunting. Accept the friend request of one of the dads who liked your post on the local village Facebook page. This dad is a racist and you know it. He's shared 14 Britain First photos. Accepting money from racists is morally wrong.
  • Take that booty call. Even if he's moving to America.
  • Do not NOT spend your days in the local library researching Middle Eastern countries you have never heard of but feel like you probably should because you heard about them on Radio 4 and your stopover was in Qatar.  You'll later be approached by a man in a knitted hat whilst on a train to Exeter who'll swear blindly he spied you from behind a book last Thursday and ask what you're doing tonight. Deny all knowledge, but continue your studies.
  • Let your work mate Tony think you're really Wiccan and into Tarot. You're not, you're just being polite and didn't want to discourage him when he told you he'd cast a spell for a good KPI score this morning. Click 'maybe' on his Tarot evening Facebook event. 
  • Decide to change your UCAS confirmed option university mid June having had 10 months of seeming contentment and applied for accommodation and/or finance. Address your doubts. Change your course.

LOVE YOURSELF. Stay cynical xxx