Sunday, 23 November 2014

If You Don’t Throw The Ball, It Won’t Hit The Coconut

Now, the title for this particular post came from a strange place indeed. I had finished writing one of my essays – incidentally one I had been especially stressed about – so decided to mark the end of this feat of endurance by watching something on the Wonder of the World, BBC iPlayer. The choice was difficult. I had already watched Graham Norton and Have I Got News For You so alas my fail safe cheer-up shows were not on the cards for this special moment. My decision, after much thought, was to watch World’s Greatest Food Markets. A lesser known programme, but I triumph from that bastion of entertainment, the BBC. If you haven’t seen this programme then you really need to sort yourself. The premise is basically that the show give this ‘geezer’ who is a fish-seller at Billingsgate market some money and he has to make a profit in different markets around the world. The first programme was in New York, where he tries to sell the Americans jellied eels but mostly ends up eating his profits. Despite my evident love for this television show it isn’t in fact the main subject of the post but it is important to reference the quote (yes I have been doing too many essays – I have referencing on the brain). What I really loved about the programme was his optimism. It’s the philosophy of just having a go and trying something that I really admired in him, as well as his use of the phrase “If You Don’t Throw The Ball, It Won’t Hit The Coconut”…
This got me thinking about something else I had watched. This time on the magnificent site that in Youtube. Not only am I obsessed with James Bond but I do have a rather strange addiction to Masterchef. One very bored evening brought me to watching clips of the American version of the show. The US is the set of nations in the world with the greatest sense of optimism in each and every one of them. This was shown in one contestant on series 3 of Masterchef USA. I watched the audition of Christine Ha with amazement. As she walked into the judging chamber she was accompanied by her husband who was guiding her way to the work surface in the middle of the room because she is blind. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s blind. Now Masterchef has never had a contestant who is blind before. It seems very unlikely that she could be any good at cooking if she couldn’t see what she was doing. If you thought that then you would be 100% wrong. She didn’t let her disability stop her from doing what she was really good at. In fact from the extensive research I did into the Masterchef archives available on Youtube she was the best contestant on the show by far. Her sashimi was amazing. The skill in sashimi is the cutting of the fish which she did perfectly despite not being able to see what she was doing. It really put the rest of the contestants to shame.
Watching all of this got me thinking. You really have to try something so that you know whether you can do it or not. I thought back to myself probably about 2 years ago now when I was sending off my UCAS application and made the decision to apply to come to university in Paris. At that point I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I thought it would be fine in my sweet naivety. I hadn’t even visited my university when I thought to myself that actually Paris was the place I wanted to be. I just had to try living in a different country to know whether I could do it. Sometimes I still don’t think I can do it, whether it’s coping with deadlines or going to the supermarket and trying to work out what half the items on the shelves actually are. But I’m glad that I’m here and doing it. A sense of adventure as well as trial and error are what make you the person you become after the most formative years of your life – the first time you move away from home.
What I’m saying is just go for it, whether you are a fish seller in New York, a contestant on Masterchef or a 19 year-old trying to work out what to do with their life have a go and just try it. You never know. It might just work out for the better.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Desert Island Discs

It has been hard to pin down the inspiration for this post. Is it my love since a relatively young age of one of Radio Four’s greatest programmes? Or is it my love of musically themed lists due to an obsession with the book and film High Fidelity? Anyway whatever reason for the satisfaction I derive from whittling down my favourite songs/albums/films from a huge number to just five happens to be one of my most favoured methods of day-dreaming.
I feel like I day dream a lot. Particularly on the metro. You might be able to tell that most of my blog posts are either dreamt up on a train or on a plane, especially when I’m staring out of the window when we’re in either a tunnel or in the case of flying a humongous cloud. This particular idea sprung to mind as I had had a dream following an intensive session of trawling through the Radio Four archives trying to find Ian Fleming’s Interview on Desert Island Discs – an endeavour which I succeeded in completing you shall be glad to know. I wondered what songs I would choose if I ever was called up by Kirsty Young to come and be on the show to tell her all about my life story. I’m sure it won’t be long until I get the call…..
So in the meantime I may as well let the internet know what songs I would pick if I were ever to go on the show. They are as follows:
1)      We Love The North – The Lancashire Hotpots
Now this is not a well-known number but a truly glorious one. I love a bit of novelty pop and this is top of the genre. Who can’t love a band with songs like Chippy Tea and The Perfect Pint? I first discovered this northern group at the wondrous festival Kendal Calling a few years back but they never fail to cheer me up on homesick days. When the Parisian metro is getting you down how can you not want to listen to a song about Poundland or Kebabs?
2)      In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning – Jamie Cullum
I first truly fell in love with this song when I had to wake up really early to go and catch a flight to go back to dear old Blighty. There is something really different about those early hours in the morning and it depends on whether you have stayed up for them or have to wake up for them. Leaving a club at 4am is quite far removed from sitting on the RER at 6am on your way to the airport! But for either moment I’ve found that this song just makes it that bit more serene and peaceful
3)      Tears Dry On Their Own – Amy Winehouse
When you’re getting bogged down in essays or work or French bureaucracy (all of which have been a right pain for me at some point or another) there is nothing like a proper pick you up song. That’s what this song is for me. I had a week in the summer (commonly known in the family as Misery Week) just before I moved into my current flat. I had no internet. I was missing my family terribly. It wasn’t a pretty sight. But after a phone call home, the arrival of my partner in crime and this song on repeat for at least an hour a day mixed with a chai latte sorted me out.
4)      Skyfall – Adele
Now those who know me well will know that I have a slight obsession with James Bond. Therefore this list wouldn’t be complete without at least one theme song from the world’s greatest film franchise now would it? I’d argue that Bond is the greatest for escapism but I might just be a biased fan. Skyfall isn’t just a Bond theme song though you can actually listen to it as a normal song well I can anyway. It just so happens to feature on my playlist for the shower for those moments when I think I can actually sing so end up belting out the words (apologies to my flatmates for that annoying quirk or mine).
5)      Red Lights Indicate Doors Are Secured –Arctic Monkeys
Now this wouldn’t be a list of songs chosen by someone born in the mid-90s if there wasn’t a song from Arctic Monkeys on there now would it? No, it wouldn’t. That is what you were thinking too, right? Good. There is something just really funny about this particular song. I tried to find a quiz on Buzzfeed (to no avail sadly) to find out what my favourite AM song actually was but decided on this one as I really connect with it at this moment in my life. It tackles those tricky conversations with taxi drivers and the heightened emotions everyone feels at the end of a good night out which could either make it unforgettable or ruin it for everyone. It is perhaps a little cheerier than some of my other choices but nevertheless shows the same kind of wonderful song writing – a skill which I will always be jealous of.
The next task for me was even more difficult. Choosing a luxury and a book. Luckily I don’t have to worry about not having read the complete works of Shakespeare before this point as I will have plenty of time to do that on the island. I think I would choose Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert as my book (I know not a James Bond! But I do know them off by heart…) because without sounding really cheesy it did change my life. I don’t have a very long attention span but this book left me captivated and reminded me that doing what you want for yourself and no one else is sometimes the only way you can be truly happy. My luxury would probably have to be either my electric heater that has changed my life around since living in the Ice Palace or if I have no electricity I might steal the wood-burning stove from home (sorry Mum!) so that I can keep nice and warm in the cold evenings on my island. I am known for my love of all things snuggy and ridiculously hot.  

Thank goodness I have sorted all of that as now I can be superbly ready for when I get the call from the BBC. Hopefully I can stop day-dreaming about interviews I might never have in the near future and get out and do some more things in Paris but so far essays and work have been my focus, well when I say focus I mean devoting all my time too them and not at all thinking up blog ideas in my nutritious snack breaks. Right now where are those biscuits…….