Thursday, 6 May 2010

'I'm ambidextrous when it comes to strangling people' (Shan, D; 2010)

As my title may suggest, there is a man of many talents in our midst. A month or so ago, May was inconceivable as a time where I could enjoy myself. That said, only the first 12 days were foreseen as a murky mess of deadlines and stress

Yesterday, after posting uni work, we scoured the shops of Ormskirk, calling more specifically at WH Smiths and Waterstones to compare the prices of The Thin Executioner.

The Thin Executioner is the first instalment of a new series by author Darren Shan. When I was ten years old, I read his vampire series and loved them. I still have all 12 books lined in order on my bookshelf. I also have the first few of The Demonata series which regrettably I still haven't managed to read. Yesterday, though I still felt particularly ravaged by my cold, we set out in the rain to the train station. On our last visit to Liverpool we had discovered a leaflet in the pages of a Shan book advertising a signing. We decided we really must take this opportunity, and now I am so glad we did.

We wandered through the streets yielding umbrella's to ward off the grey skies; there wasn't much I could do to combat the cold; such adverse conditions to only the day before. We allowed Paul to nosy around Top Man and Primark before heading to the bookshop. We still had an hour and a half to kill and decided to sit in illy enjoying a hot chocolate, which apparently had been a popular choice with the punters that day. Once we had finished, we bought our books and joined a slowly forming queue.

Yes, they were mainly high school students, but I had been that age whilst reading the series. I also learnt whilst waiting that there is an adult series by Shan and his vampire books have been converted to manga too. We waited for forty minutes before the author arrived and a further twenty until we saw him. He was obliging and signed every single book which was placed in front of him. There were even those who presented him with his entire back catalogue! Hayley and I noticed Shan posing with his hands clasped around the throats of his ‘victims’. We were amused by this stance and as we were visiting him in a pair, I jokingly asked which one of us was going to be subject to his strangulation. He replied coolly, ‘I am ambidextrous when it comes to strangling people’, which I found particularly funny. So he managed to strangle both of us whilst looking pleased with his efforts.

Our books were signed, each with a personal message and sweeping signature. Hayley, for some reason, was jealous that I had a smiley face drawn in mine. The signatures themselves look rather prominent as they are written on a black page in silver marker pen. Signed and dated, a nice reminder of an author who encapsulated my mind in younger years inspiring my love for reading, and especially writing!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Satan's Hollow

It's always nice to go somewhere new, it makes a change from the same old and is usually much more memorable. After work last week I went to an 18th birthday celebration. It was great to chat to my auntie and uncle etc who I haven't seen for quite a few months due to a hectic work schedule. I was really enjoying chilling out with them, but as I had promised to go to town with friends after my previous weekend away, I had to leave after being there for only an hour. Mum was very kind to drop me at the bus stop.

Many people, when I told them where I was going, asked where it was. For once, I didn't have the slightest clue. I met friends at Picadilly in Manchester as usual but then assumed sheep position behind Tom and Chris. They lead us down towards Yates before veering off to a side street. The odd bunch forming a queue alongside the building were my indication that this was where we were headed. At this moment, despite having spent a good twenty minutes on Piccadilly surrounded by cash machines, Tom decided he had no money. On our return from RBS, we still had a good 20 minutes or so of waiting. It turned out that there was a gig finishing up inside.

Entering the building, we were in a corridor lined with gambling machines which lead us past a locked set of doors to a main room. In the centre of the club there was a raised railed area. At this point there was a band playing some form of 60's music, a theme which continued til long after they had vacated the stage. Whilst they cleared the area, we had a look around. There were two bars, one near the door which we visited first; no cheap stuff, just blue WKD and Smirnoff for £2.80 a bottle. Good thing I wasn't looking to become paralytic. The DJ box was shrouded by a towering Satan with his arms streched along the walls. In the corner of the room was a 'mortuary', i.e. a raised platform lined with benches and I found myself a nice pillar to perch on whilst observing the crowd. The branches of the 'trees' above me glinted as they were decorated with fairy lights which dangled above.

There was a strange selection of people scattered about the room. This is why I love these places, no two people look the same; they embrace individuality presenting an interesting aesthetic for those like me. I didn't fail to notice an intriguing barman in a Misfits t-shirt which Del found amusing. I also spotted a face which looked strangely familiar...

The second room opened its doors, and, as the 60's music hadn't yet relented and was getting slightly tedious, we decided to investigate. We were greeted by the likes of Head Automatica, The Used, Lostprophets, Fall Out Boy and Disturbed. I liked it. This room held it's own in terms of intricate design. Skulls were embedded around the ceiling and branches gnarled their way across.

The familiar face was back and it turned out that he was with a girl from college and her boyfriend. We all pretty much kept as a group with one half leading the other between the main room and the smaller one. The music wasn't quite what we're used to on a night out, I thoroughly enjoyed the change but it took its toll on Tom and even Rachel, who are more used to the likes of The Venue and 42's. I really enjoyed the music, Adele and Andy are slightly more into rock rather than indie so they enjoyed the likes of Drowning Pool and Metallica.

I was right to ponder over the guy; when Andy introduced him as Charlie, it clicked into place. One of my high school friends had dated his brother and he went to my primary school too. Strange how faces you may not encounter often can stick with you. I hope we visit Satan's again soon, new places are always an adventure because you don't always know what to expect!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Lakes of Luxury

I have lived the British way for twenty years now; it’s a simple life but it’s full of systems and hierarchies which you work through without a second glance. The ideology of public education escalating to a prospective wealth is embedded in our sub consciousness from such an early age. Money is good, good jobs bring lots of money. It’s a simple rule of thumb but how they underestimate the steepness of the ladder.

We juggle many things in life, we want friends and we want success. Success brings friends but they’re not necessarily the ones we would make if we were broke. These are the ones we want, those who are there through everything, and those who love us for who we are, not what it says on our CV. After another year at university where my main objective has been to try and gain decent grades, the path has been lined with thorns which have swayed me. I never want to lose those at home whom I never used to go a day without seeing, this now spans to weeks and only recently have I realised, that if they are worth keeping, they’ll be there when I get back home in only a matter of weeks.

This allowed me to take a much needed break. I had a day off work last Saturday, on the way to university the previous Sunday; I received a text from a friend whom I haven’t seen in at least a year inviting me to many a student’s menace, yes, the pub. I had already planned my weekend because my parents had booked a weekend at the Lakes... This posed a potential problem for me, I wanted badly to go and see these friends but I also wanted to spend some time with my family, especially since, when I go home; they seem to get the least attention despite how much they do for me. I figured that my friends could continue fine without me for a few more days and chose the lakes.

It wasn’t the most exciting of places. However, spectacular views and the overall feeling of content, which overcame me once I stopped obsessing over uni work, was worth missing one night at a Manchester indie venue. I was able to relax but also visit so many places in only two days, I relished being able to take in the vista passing me by so leisurely whilst I listened to music on my iPod. Windermere prompted a boat ride, which lead us to a little known town called Bowness. It may seem obvious but again, as my parents pointed out, who goes to the lakes without taking a trip on the water? There was a magnificent view across a marina where I spotted a boat called Meerkat, I smiled at this as I enjoyed yet more splendour through the window of a pub restaurant on a Saturday evening, we returned there the following day after visiting Keswick which felt rather strange as the same staff served us our meal.

Such places boast a spirit, which surpasses many, with unique little shops and a tiny local public house on the curve of the junction. Another pub half an hour into the journey was set back against the rolling hills with bikers sitting outside, something about these small businesses suggests such a tight knit community. This is sometimes lacking in the suburbs of cities. It makes a change to see trees proceeding in lines along the road, rather than the usual scattering of run down shops, preened cul de sacs and alleyways. Not even the stream of Conservative signs nailed to every other tree and fence perturbed me. The only form of repetition that did annoy me seemed to come in the form of the iPod. I cannot fathom how to make shuffle last through a power off!

It only seemed right on my return to uni that we did a bit more sightseeing but of the Liverpool area. We visited Crosby to see the statues by Anthony Gormley, who is also responsible for the Angel of the North. I had preconceptions that there would only be a couple of statues, perhaps in a line and there wouldn’t be much to it. In fact, there are 100 of these figures which are moulded to the shape of the artists’ own body scattered across the entire beach, all of whom are fully submerged at full tide and some were already ‘wading’ in the water as we arrived. Of course, the first one was fresh with graffiti ‘2k10’ scrawled across the chest. Nobody can leave anything alone these days. We visited the leisure centre which was intriguingly shaped... almost like a UFO as my dad pointed out, I wonder who was responsible for that. We did find other statues that were untarnished and were able to absorb their atmosphere without being distracted by the scrawling.

On my return to Ormskirk, I felt refreshed. I was able to settle back into my room having unpacked my suitcase again. Living in a suitcase might not be a lifestyle choice for me in the future, where my life will take me is unforeseen. As I was reminded today, I don’t have to have one main route in life, I can dabble in many fields which can be applied to now. I have friends at home, at work and at university, I love them for who they are and with the knowledge of a solid base I can push to achieve without any worries that I will lose anything important on the way. Hopefully these avenues will lead to something I can be proud of.

Pictures soon =]

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Today I've been reminiscing my dream. Before I came to University, my life revolved around my friends and music. It still does, but unfortunately, I am restricted in the gigs I can attend these days. It's a hobby which seems to have taken a back seat but is gorged on when the opportunity presents itself.

The stereotypical angst filled teenager is a part of everyone and my outlet which served through these years was in the form of gigs. There is a certain buzz to be enjoyed on the purchase of a ticket to a show, this buzz builds slowly in the months preceding the gig. A particular show I was desperate to attend was abandoned in my fight for a Green Day ticket, I won the battle at a loss of £50. But that means nothing until summer when I will be standing in Lancashire Cricket Ground enjoying the show. However, that £50 disheartened me. It meant that my money in reserve of a You Me At Six ticket was spent.

My dream itself came in the form of music journalism. University courses in Journalism seemed to be centred on the politics of newspaper reporting. I strive to be more involved in the creative side of the spectrum, this is quelled by Creative Writing. But now, I write poetry and fiction with a vigour renewed from my younger days. My music serves to inspire me, I no longer get to read it, I get to expand on it.

I read articles in Kerrang! magazine, how the credit crunch affected music is a feature which has stuck with me even though I can't remember the issue number or even the month. That is the kind of thing I like, not poetry inspired by recession or newspapers branding the government a failure.

Last Friday, walking into the Manchester Apollo, after completing the longest queue I'd ever seen outside, I felt like a failure. I had managed to see Lostprophets here two weeks before; but I hadn't visited for a long time prior to it. Nor had I entered the Manchester Academy for too long. We had to take seats as we were late bookings. My friend Sarah had bought two You Me At Six tickets when I had failed, her brother had changed his mind and the ticket came to me. I was ecstatic to receive it and also to be at the sold out show.

The surprising opener of 'Safer To Hate Her' sparked a run of second album 'Hold Me Down' material punctuated by earlier hits such as Jealous Minds Think alike and Kiss and Tell from the re release of Take Off Your Colours; The Truth Is a Terrible Thing and Always Attract the only unreleased songs from the album to air. After a short intermission, The Consequence revealed a new dimension to the stage, revealing ramps which were mostly trampled energetically by Josh, Matt and Max.

Fireworks and Always Attract showcased Josh as the ballads demonstrate his superb writing talent and performance.

Promotion of Hold Me Down went without a glitch as fans sang back every word to the material, the biggest audience You Me At Six have ever obtained by themselves. However, their last show at the Manchester Roadhouse is the fastest sell out show the venue has ever had. Save It For The Bedroom invigorated the audience to even dizzier heights followed by the finale of Underdog. It makes me wonder, just when will they grace the stage of the MEN as the headliners??

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Psychopath parks at a supermarket

As a creative writing student at Edge Hill University, I am taking up blogging as an outlet and an opportunity to hone my writing skills. My name is Kirsty and I am currently living under the illusion that I am a teenager and instead of twenty, I am in fact twenteen! This is the joke used by all of my friends on the turning of their second decade in this world. We are extremely good at kidding ourselves that we are still the innocent youth we once were, when we know that this is by no means true. God knows what we'll do when the big 21 comes around.

Last night, we had a visiting writer in the form of Jen Ashworth. My course friends accompanied me to The Rose Theatre for the compulsory event. However, it felt anything but compulsory. I really enjoyed the writing style of the first person narrator. Jen read some excerpts from the beginning and chapter 13 in particular because it was a self confessed favourite of hers. I found the first person narrator very intriguing, as she was witty and I could relate to some of the domestic situations she was describing. Microwaveable meals are a particular favourite of cash-strapped students eating for one. It was enlightening how the circumstances rang true, despite how different the life of the main character was from my own.

Following the reading, in true student style, we hit the pub. The Buck In'th Vine in Ormskirk is a favoured meeting place for students and teachers following readings. The tradition is yet to be broken as we queued to the bar, then followed through to a rather dark corner at the back of the pub. We took to reading some material from a friend and chatting about anything and everything. The idea of a blog sprang to mind at this point, hence this first post for almost a year. I'll also be keeping posted on the progression of a possible new publishing venture. We are considering creating a blog for writers to submit work to, it could indeed be an extention of this very page.

4th March, Jen was back. We had a seminar split between our usual tutor and Jen. We did a very useful exercise which, in future, will surely cure writer's block! We were given a type of character and a domestic action to perform. Mine was a psychopath parks at a supermarket, the bare bones are down, but it may just turn into a very intriguing story in the near future. Tonight, I plan to start reading my signed copy of A Kind Of Intimacy by Jen Ashworth!!