Radio Show Glasgow Adventure Time

Hey Hey Guys!!

Today has been a good day.

I had my first ever Radio Show, What’s Up With Gem?, on www.radiocaley.com, I got some life changing news and I saw (potentially) the love of my life. Yeah, y’all heard it! I’m making it  more than FBO; I’m taking that s**t to the BLOG!!

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

Just a wierd man playing a violin while walking a tightrope. Standard in Glasgow

So today I have a lot to be thankful for. It all started this morning, early (too early for my student brain to get it’s tiny little temperament around, if I’m honest). My doctor gave me the news I’ve waited 106 days to hear. I literally skipped down the corridor from his office with glee that would make McKinley High School proud.

Then I got an email from Scotcampus (shout out, by the way!! Follow them dudes on twitter!!) saying that they would like to meet me for an interview for an internship! At a magazine! A real one, not just one that is online! I was about this excited last time this happened, with Source Magazine pity that one didn’t quite go as planned…

Then I had my first show on Radio Caley! Well wasn’t that something! Honestly, it was great. I’ve been on the radio before but I have never hosted my own show. Now, I have one every Tuesday! On my way to Uni (where the studio is) I passed by a girl busking. But she wasn’t just busking. Oh no, she was busking my first song!! FLEETWOOD MAC, GO YOUR OWN WAY!! This lovely lady was playing it 🙂

Lovely Busking Lady

Lovely Busking Lady

I saw a man playing a violin while on a tightrope… so that was a thing… (see above) Pretty standard practice on Buchannan Street, to be fair…

I bumped into an old friend on my way to the studio (which was lovely) then I got to present my show with one of my best friends as a guest, which was such a relief! He’s far more technically minded than me and fixed all my little (*ahem* potentially disastrous *ahem)* technical hitches without a thought. Which I absolutely wouldn’t have been able to do without him. Because I am so technically challenged it’s legendary. ( The tech guys in uni won’t let me borrow equipment without a tutors’ say… I try, guys, I really do…)

On the show there was a major topic I wanted to discuss. For the past 4 years I’ve been heavily involved in the Mental Health services of Scotland, mainly as a patient, but also as a volunteer. It’s a subject close to my heart because it’s affected not only me, but my family and friends, as an extension. I’ve been going through what my dad describes as “a little blip”, but what my psychiatrist would probably call “the reason he has a job“.

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I’m not sure I’m 100% comfortable revealing exactly what I’ve been going through, but I’ve hinted at it in previous posts. My point is, though, that this is Mental Health Awareness Month an I am a survivor. I’ve been through the worst (twice) and now, look. I survived. I’m back at Uni. I’m (hopefully) going to be interning at a magazine. I’m on the radio. There were only 5 listeners but still! That’s 5 people who I hope have been enlightened a little bit, amused, heartened or even just mildly entertained. If one of those 5 got any kind of enjoyment or education from my heartfelt statistics, then I consider that, job done.

What could have, and with my luck might well have, been a catastrophic black hole of a day, was actually something rather wonderful. I’m cherishing this day because there are so few like it for me. There are so few days when things actually go relatively to plan. So often there is something that plagues me, that s**ts all over everything, no matter how hard I try. I neglect self care because if I don’t love myself, then I can’t be disappointed when I receive no love in return.

Keeping it real

Keeping it real

I don’t seek attention, I seek to attend to others. But now, maybe it’s my turn. Maybe I will get the chance to be happy. So I’m going to work hard to make that happen.

SSDD

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Murray Mania: Enthusing a Nation

Those of you who follow TENNIS or are just captivated by the quintessential optimistic Englishness of strawberry’s and cream in the constant face of a potential storm, will know that Andy Murray is kind of a big deal.

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He’s THE NEW WIMBLEDON CHAMPION!!!!! 😀 😀 😀

GO ANDY!! :D

GO ANDY!! 😀

Andy’s perseverance to become so has inspired a nation for the years he’s fought to win on Centre Court.

He beat off Novak Djokovic in 3 straight sets, in blood boiling heat of almost 50 degrees, in a battle that will surely have it’s heart racing final game replayed on the golden reel of tennis forevermore.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Andy Murray broke a 77 year dry spell of Male British Winners of Wimbledon, the last British Male to win being Fred Perry in 1936. As the commentator said as the players walked onto the court, if he were to win (which he did) he would be the first player to do so in shorts – gentlemen played in long trousers back then!

There are so many reasons to be proud of Andy. For one thing, he’s been playing in Wimbledon for several years and done well, meaning that for the few weeks of summer left after the tournament ends, about 90% of British children and 20% of their over-involved parents *, become healthy, enthusiastic health freaks, and join a Tennis Club. A membership that gets shoved to the back of a drawer as soon as the Autumn winds appear. Around August. So he’s inspiring a healthier nation, if only for the short weeks of summer.

*(these statistics are totally made-up, btw)

But more than that, he does what few things can; he brings together a quartered nation under the shared support of one man.

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man or boy?? …

Great Britain, in spite of its’ name, is not a particularly “cuddly” places, regarding it’s relationship with its members. The ancient rivalry between Scotland and England has often served as a divide, much in the same way the USA views Canada. But for that fortnight in July, when the spell of Wimbledon sweeps over this island, we are united. Sure, we indulge in petty quibbles about “when he’s winning he’s BRITISH but when he’s losing, oooh, then he’s SCOTTISH!”, but that’s all part of the fun. Those little jibes that let us keep our national identities while still reveling in the shared bolstering of a 26 year old already held as a sporting treasure.

Until yesterday we had become accustomed to that perpetual let down come the semi finals. But all that has changed.

Yesterday, both my dad and I cried tears of pride in a man who has literally trained his entire life and who has now achieved his dream. To watch someone’s dream come true on live television, along with 17.5 MILLION other people was really quite a special experience and not something I’m ever likely to forget. That shared elation may only have been a tiny piece of the overwhelming ecstasy Andy Murray was feeling, but to be a rock in the waves of the young athlete’s joy was enough to give me a head rush – imagine the effect it had on his 6ft 3″ of tennis-star muscle!

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Another, lesser reason I am personally proud of him is the fact that he’s Scottish. As a Scot myself, whenever “we” win at something, it’s always a cause for national celebration. And, while I’m not exactly a patriot, I do feel a sense of pride when someone from up North beats someone, anyone, really. (… but yes, when we beat England…)

Prime Minister David Cameron went on record today as saying that he “can’t think of anyone more deserving of a Knighthood” in the New Years honours list for 2014.

the face of a new Knight of the Realm?? :D

the face of a new Knight of the Realm?? 😀

So, next Wimbledon, with our Pimm’s, ice and mint, strawberry’s and cream, white flannel shorts and button down polo shirts, we could be bounding onto center court in unified support of SIR ANDY MURRAY! Roll on the New Year and we’ll find out…

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Now, where’s my tennis racket???… I feel the need to thwack furry yellow balls…

LINK TO ALL THINGS BRITISH AND TENNIS!!

 

SSDD

Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

Daily Prompts: From the Gut: Belly-Laughing with a Boy

The last time I belly laughed was today. And it was about fear. In a way.

gem and keef

The time before that was… so long ago I can’t actually remember when it was.

If you had asked me before today I would say I belly laughed with my friends, several  times, all recently, all with genuine gusto and enthusiasm. But.

This was a different kind of laugh. There is laughing, elation, embarrassed and nervous laughter. Then gut-grinding, ab-aching, cramp your tummy til you can’t breath and you feel like your head is no longer attached to your body it’s been so long since you breathed, but that’s ok because everything is hilarious – that kind of laughing. That’s what I had today.

It’s rare you find someone who can do that to you; make you laugh so hard your forgot you could, or ever did. The best part was, it was over something SO ironic it made me laugh even harder just thinking about how ironic it is! 6 months ago the topic at hand would have made me cry or scream or rage like cat in a corner, probably, but this time, I was causing so much noise in the tiny cafe that I was getting disturbed looks from… well the only other couple in the cafe, but still!

Keef and I

Keef and I

Then again, the topic we were laughing about might have seemed funny as hell to us, but to them… well, I’m surprised the Wacky Wagon wasn’t rolling out as we asked for the cheque.

Laughing, they say, is the best medicine, but I’m calling shennanigans on that one. I think laughing at something you once couldn’t is more therapeutic.

I don’t want to say exactly what it was we were mocking; that part is a little too RATED R for polite blogging; but put it this way – parts of the convo involved explicitly large German sausages, Scottish competitors for said sausages, and drunken visits equipped with chocolate sauce and… miniature rolling pins 😉 oh yeah, and Christmas. Dirty stuff 😛

What has this to do with fear, you ask? Well, if you could see inside my head…

We all need to laugh at something, for the sake of your  sanity you’ve got to. And apparently the moment for me to heal a bit, is over some dirty jokes, a dose of sarcastic irony and a diet Irn-Bru. 🙂

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(For those you you who don’t know about Irn-Bru, it’s a Scottish thing, Google it – the National non-alcoholic beverage, actually.)

SSDD

The Curious Case of the Optimist

Recently I have experienced that curious branch of humanity, The Optimist.

The road to your sunrise may be long, it may be at the end of a scarcely trodden path... but it is there...

The road to your sunrise may be long, it may be at the end of a scarcely trodden path… but it is there…

More often than usual I have encountered this peculiar breed, or perhaps I have just become more atuned to their presence in my life. In an age of austerity and recession and all that bad stuff we are told to be scared of, Optimists seem to be few and far between. Their numbers were slashed dramatically when the worlds money had it’s plug pulled and no-one could finds where the pipe lead to get it back,. Like their will to find the pot of gold drizzled away with the bounty, once they encountered Sir Fred Goodwin and had someone to blame. Those silver linings and golden nuggets have been become ever more grey and tarnished. In America, Optimist did not so much vanish, as go into hiding from all the gunslingers, after that tragic spate of school shootings. Money worries have never been Americas prime complaint, even during the hard times; they are too community orientated for that.

Optimism (1)But now, I find myself bombarded with them! Left right and centre, at my emotional weakest, at my most ill expectant, bang, another one serenades me with pearls of tolerant wisdom, showers me with unrelenting bombs of positivity. Silver linings have  never been my thing. I’ve lived in the shadows cast by the glow of The Optimists glimmering light. I’m hardly the Hades to their Zeus, but that oh-so-familiar form of wit, sarcasm, always took the place of peace of mind.

SAD is a real thing – all Scottish people suffer from it.

It’s a kind of National Affliction I reckon. Everyone is just happier when the sun is out. It was today and I saw people out in shorts! In Scotland! That kind of madness hasn’t been seen since the great heatwave of… well, last March, but still. This year we had snow for godssake.

So why, you are asking youself (coz I can absolutely hear those cogs whirring, voices speaking, irritating little nagging buggers whinging away in your brains, magic as I am) why is she blogging about the weather?

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Well, because happiness is in itself a form of Optimism and one neglected too often, I feel. Simple pleasures such as the sun can noticeably alter a person point of view. It literally shines a brighter light on life. The sun is an illuminator, both in a literal and figurative sense. People see clearer, encouraged, as they are, to crawl tentatively out of their safe, though often chilly and pessimistic nooks and sniff the sweet, warm scent of positivity.

Coose to see the world through rose tinted specs... what's the worst that could happen... in fact, don't answer that...

Coose to see the world through rose tinted specs… what’s the worst that could happen… in fact, don’t answer that…

It can be scary; too much of that heady scent can be overwhelming for some. But an occasional measure of it can truly enlighten. It can boost a persons belief systems enough to get them through. And so long as you are getting by, for the time being, is that not enough?

optimism

 

 

SSDD

Times Flies When Distance Parts You…

How did they get so old??

This year, a lot of my family are reaching age-related milestones, not to mention an first wedding anniversary and a new engagement so far already. So far we have have had twins turning 16… a 17th (Higher exam age in Scotland)… Most recently, on 9th May, an 18th… coming up a 21st… my own 20th…

So my question is – when did we all get so old!?

It’s like these milestones just snuck up on us and it irkes me, because I’m missing them! My little cousins turned two of the ages socially dictated to be the most prevalent in terms of a persons maturity (16 and 18) and because we live approximately 443 miles away from each other, I had no idea that was how old they were becoming until, in February  my mum informed me that in January this was how old the twins had become. The second instance was not quite so shameful; I was asked to sign the card for the 18 year old the week before we sent it, which was a bit of a hint.

As for my older cousin, who is turning 21 this July, he is going to be at sea in San Francisco working and will consequently miss both his own coming of age in America (while actually being in America, which is ironic considering he’s Scottish and had never been to America before this trip) but will also miss my 20th, or, as I am beginning to consider it, my termination-of-my-teenage-and-therefore-able-to-get-away-with-things-I-wouldn’t-otherwise-be-able-to years. This puts him in a similar situation as the one I am in with  my other younger cousins.

Now, if you are still following after this rather convoluted explanation of my family’s aging population, I think you to be a very intelligent person, because I am even struggling to keep all that crap in check.

I suppose my point is really that, while I have always thought myself very close to my younger cousins, despite the massive distance between us (equal to almost a return journey between here and the moon!! … Well, you might be able to pull and Apollo 13 and use the gravitational pull of the Earth to get you all the way back, but I wouldn’t put my money on that working a second time… that one seemed like kinda the luckiest, smartest fluke in the world…) but the fact that their graduating to these pivotal ages of development seems to have almost completely bypassed me gives me the sad feeling that perhaps this distance really is making more of a difference than I noticed.

I mean, that kind of makes sense; we see each other once a year, if we’re lucky. But I still always saw myself as the cool(ish) older cuz, who had wisdom and knowledge beyond their youthful years… Forgetting entirely that they are, in fact only two and 4 years younger than me. Hm.

Ok, I can still pull the “experienced and knowledgeable beyond anything you can perhaps imagine, though I wouldn’t put it past you to already be well informed as the internet is not the friend of children’s innocence these days” thing as far s the 16 year olds go, but with the 18 year old – not so much.

I would say that at 18 I was not so much more well informed in the deep dark ways of the world as I was this time last year. A lot can happen in 12 months, that’s all I’m saying.

As much as we can say, “distance will never come between us”, that can, in effect, become horse shit when the fact is, facebook and text messaging just do not instill the same level of intimacy as face to face conversing. Human contact cannot be replaced by technology, as wonderful as Skype is. Science says that your body cannot tell the arms of your mum from your own arms, it only knows you are being embraced, meaning that you can effectively stave off your own loneliness. You can convince yourself you are being hugged by a loved one while really just wrapping your own arms around yourself. However, the fact remains that if you admit it even for one moment, the illusion is broken, and you know you are just standing being a bit awkward and touchy feely with yourself.

I would say it’s “old age” that’s making me so sentimental, were I not so sure of being told that 19-nearly-20 is no age to be making such claims, but for sure, my missing of these dates are laying heavily on me. They come about only once in a lifetime, and I would rather not miss them so entirely. I really do feel so detached from them as if one of us really were on the moon, sometimes, and it makes me disappointed that, for all our technology and all our good intentions, staying in touch is not always as simple as it seems.

I hope to see them later this year, for our semi-annual catch-up, but there are no guarentees in life. Perhaps I’ll catch them on their 20th, 21st… wedding…

Ponderously wishing I were as indifferent to the passage of time as I was at my cousins age… oh right… they aren’t 12 any more…

 

SSDD

Shutter Island

Shutter Island.

Movie Poster

Movie Poster

Insanity. Psychosis. Delusion. Violence. Murder. Denial.

Mental health is a sensitive subject matter and one demonstrated by veteran thriller writer Dennis LeHane, to have not been fully understood in the 1950s. Adapted to film from the original 2003 novel by Martin Scorcese, his 2010 movie is as chilling as it is true to the original tale.

The story follows US Marshall Teddy Daniels and his partner Chuck as they venture to  Shutter Island, effectively an island-wide prison in the Pacific Ocean, a confine for the criminally insane, to investigate the mysterious disappearance of one of the patients there. But Daniels reveals himself to have an ulterior motive for going there and all is revealed as they are whisked around, experiencing the delusions of the island and its maddened inhabitants.

The tale is plagued with questions; What is really going on in the lighthouse? What secrets are really housed in this dark place? What mad truth is to be found amongst the cruel and the condemned? What really happened to Teddy Daniels? Will they ever got off the island? And who is Andrew Laeddis?

shutterisland-lighthouse1

Whirled around the island, embroiled in a vortex of self assessment and secrecy, the pair attempt to unravel the mysteries, which increasingly to be intrinsic, with Daniels himself.

With Mental Health Awareness Week approaching in the UK (between 13-19th May) there is no more appropriate a time to delve into the twisted labyrinth of Shutter Island.

The simple plot-line and solitary setting lend themselves to a movie translation and veteran legend, film maker Martin Scorsese creates a superb thriller with a stellar cast. Leonardo DiCaprio takes the role of protagonist Teddy Daniels, Mark Ruffalo as Chuck, Michelle Williams as DiCaprio’s wife, Dolores and Sir Ben Kingsley rounding off the talent bomb, in the role of Dr Cawley. Let it never be said that the man does things by halves. This film would not be the same without the quality of acting talent, plucked from around the globe that he has assembled, with the depth and subtlety necessary to pull off such an emotive piece.

shutter-island-dicaprio

Such a stellar cast of course delivers sterling results, with DiCaprio in particular delivering audiences with an unparalleled representation of a man on the very edge of reason. Bridget Jones move over; such disquiet is not to be mocked. The audience is interred into DiCaprio’s depiction of LeHane’s tortured hero and gripped unrelentingly through 138 minutes of mind bending suspense.

Daniels is a tormented character, in both the book and the movie being plagued with guilt and unrest regarding the death of his wife and children. Haunted by her memory he lived his life in a perpetual state of grief and vengefulness. He displays a man on the very peripheries of right and wrong, truth, fallacy and justice. His inner turbulence is reflected in the wild fervor of the vicious island weather. Despite his apparent resolve, despite all hateful suspicion of the medical staff in residence, his pity, even disgust towards its patients, the mind and past of Teddy Daniels is clearly a most turbulent place to have been. For a federal Marshall and man of the law, his mind is as much in disarray as the patients, his story as much as puzzle as the one he is trying to solve.

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Thematically, Shutter Island, as a thriller/mystery, explores the tragedy of grief and morality, namely a moral fission within ones self. The premature death of ones children is a travesty and the early death of a young spouse, tragic. No parent should have to bury their child, let alone do so beside the love of their life. Without spoiling any of the even more dramatic features of such events, this horror worsens and it becomes clear exactly what events tied in with this to so badly damage Daniels and forever tie him to the island. As is the case with most things in this tale, nothing is ever simple, nor ever as it first appears…

With a strong focus on mental health, the film and book draw near exact parallels. Keeping close to the original story, Scorsese creates an atmospheric, character driven haze in which the lingering effects of deep emotional trauma are investigated. Grief and irrationality can cause shock waves through a life and blame assignment can be both detrimental and the only cure. We are not meant to like any of these characters. We are put on edge, made distrustful, tempered and conditioned to be suspicious of everything, even our own eyes. Both the book and movie have a lingering effect and give a fearful yearning for more.

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Psychiatry is as interesting as it is terrifying. To involve yourself so deeply into the mind of another is a scary thing, and the persons shown here often already have more than one voice occupying the fuzzy space between their ears.

The greatest part of this movie is it’s chilling end line, delivered by DiCaprio; “Is it better to live as a monster, or die as a good man?”

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Read, watch, do both. But rest assured that so long as you experience this, your attitude towards mental health will change. The brains powers of self preservation are extraordinary, and the creation of an entirely new reality is not unheard of. Prepare to be terrified and amazed.

9/10

 

SSDD

Today, The Tyranny of Thatcher Is Truly Burried

Today, the tyranny of Margaret Thatcher was finally laid to rest. Literally.

Great Britain’s longest serving and only female Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, was granted a funeral at St Paul’s Cathedral, London.

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More than 2,000 guest were present in the cathedral, which has served as the funeral location for some of the nations most famous leaders, including Winston Churchill, Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Lady Thatcher’s coffin was carried from the cathedral and returned to a hearse which took it to the Royal Hospital Chelsea. From there is was taken to Mortlake Crematorium in south west London for a private cremation.

The streets of the capital were lined with thousands, the crowds containing both of mourners and critics. Celebrations were held across the country, some in commemoration of her life and rich political history, others in jubilation at her death, aged 87.

Famous in this country for all the wrong reasons, haters of this prominent figure of British political history seemed to grossly outnumber her supporters. Not only was she the first and only female Prime Minister we have ever seen, she was the longest serving. During her 11 year rule her decisions inspired much hate and controversy, implementing policies which became known as “Thatcherisms“. Despite her strong leadership in difficult times, to say she was popular now would be wildly inaccurate.

_67056105_67056104Without a doubt she was not the working mans candidate, favouring business over labour, privitisation over Trade Unions. She had several names. The Iron Lady, for one. Know as “The Milk Snatcher”, she took free milk from schools in 1970 as a result of educational budget cuts.

Her name will forever be synonymous with some of the darkest times of Great Britain’s history, but the public reaction to her death has been something utterly unprecedented. Instead of laying to rest a political figure who divided a nation, she has died as she lived – in a haze of controversy and antagonism.

Upon word of her death from a stroke, parties were held in the streets, including one in George Square in Glasgow, a practice that was quick to be condemned by the local police force. Protesters today were in uproar at the fact that, despite these times of austerity, the taxpayer was still obliged to fork out an estimated £10m for the pleasure of seeing her burried with honours similar to those of the late, and much loved, Princess Diana.

Margaret_Thatcher

Yet despite her many adversaries, final respects were payed to her with cheers as her body was taken to be cremated. Few deserve to be jeered and spat at, purely in spite, in anger, in disgust at their audacity to die. While her policies may have been unpopular, many of those disrespecting her memory were not even born during her reign. Such barbarism is deplorable, especially from those who are uneducated and had no experience of her a leader. This behaviour is an example of inherited prejudice. Perhaps now that she is gone, such anger will finally dissipate and this country can rid itself of Thatcherites and move on to hating David Cameron for his failing efforts at “New Conservatism”.

No politician gets it right for long, as the Baroness so acutely demonstrated. Yet it cannot be said that her career was a failure, It id certain that she has left an indelible mark on our country. Whether that mark is a light or a smear, is for the individual to decide.

 

MARGARET THATCHER, 1925-2013

BBC News Gallery of Margaret Thatchers Funeral

SSDD