Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Lifestyle’

Wow. So, what’s it been? Two and a half, nearly three years? Fairly certain my last blog post was in or around the summer of 2012. Any unfortunate soul that stumbled across, decided that they need some masochistic glorification in their life, and actually read my blog, must’ve thought that had I died; went into a witness protection programme; or just lost faith in my abilities and chose a new walk of life. Well, the latter I can confirm is true. The second point, I’m not allowed to comment more upon. And the first? I’m still working on the whole resurrection thing, but so far, no good.

So what’s happened with me, and what’s going to be happening with my blog? I’ll attempt to mount and divulge those two parts in, I suppose, two parts.

Last I was scribbling my inane ramblings, I was an English literature student in Bristol on line for scraping a pass in my degree, with an ambition for writing for a living in the employment realm of journalism. That genuinely was the plan. It didn’t turn out that way. I actually graduated with a 2:1 (for my American chums: one below the top grade). I’m still mounting enquiries into how that happened. I then started a career in writing and journalism, and sincerely got some stuff published. I worked at one or two institutions (the highlight being Front magazine: an alternative men’s lifestyle magazine in London with perks of meeting my favourite bands and gorgeous women), but it didn’t last long.

There are a couple of reasons for me ceasing my premature ambitions. The main one was, regrettably and predictably, security and money. I met practitioners in the role that I aspired to, earning nowhere near enough to sustain an existence in London and forced to working second and third jobs. There is a higher earning potential, but it involves relinquishing the love of writing, and entering more of the bureaucracy: something that I’m not interested in. Unless you’re highly gifted and get noticed, and I’m not of the view that I had that, that’s the way to survive by what I experienced.

So I needed something safer (so rock ‘n’ roll and boheme – I’m sorry Mr Kerouac! 😦 expect a lot of this post- rebellious lamentation of my succumbing to the ‘man’. It’s been a tough adjustment and I’m wholeheartedly not there yet and quietly still vehemently against it), and something that would still intellectually challenge and stimulate me and that I took enjoyment in.

Boom! Here I am, and somehow nearly a qualified lawyer. I know, right? Ridiculous. And slightly disingenuous to everything I’ve historically preached. But there we go. I had to do a three year law degree in nine months, law school, and somehow secure a two-year training contract (again, for those non-acquainted with the legal profession, an apprentice-esq position, which yields itself to around 1 in every 150 graduates) to qualify. I’m currently on the latter, in my second 6 month ‘seat’ working in Commercial Property and Corporate law, with a commute getting me in the office at 8am and leaving at 7pm. I’m not here to brag or bore anyone, I just wanted you to know how hard I’m working.

The second point is more lifestyle focussed.

I moved home (not cool) as that’s where the job is. I also lost a crazy amount of weight (36″ waist to 28″), did CrossFit, got a six-pack, and stopped CF and put half back on again. It wasn’t sustainable, or enjoyable. And now I’m working to get to a happy medium. I would think I’ll be posting about the odd health issue now and then, but be sured it’ll be anthropologically focussed rather than the generic boring waffle we’re used to across social media.

I also got engaged: mega- boom! Not even that: holy shit! As if someone agreed to put up with me for the rest of our lives? Pity the fuel, that she’ll need to progress. I hope someone gets that.

So here we are. I’ve gone from a porky, disorganised, self-sabotaging renegade (I’m not sure if that’s self-deprecating or insufferably arrogant), to a creatively tattooed, work conscious lawyer (ditto again). I suppose the point of my this post is as follows:

1. I’ve been meaning to get back on here and on track for a while. I currently do legal blog writing, but it’s not quite the same and I don’t intend to do it on here. However, I do think it helps giving me another string to my bow of ponderings.

2. I didn’t think I could just post again after such a long absence without an explanation, despite the glaring fact that I doubt many actually reading this.

3. It’s inevitable that the nature of my posts will change; my contention is that this would happen naturally (and here we are back to essentialism vs social constructivism: I told you my philosophical/English degree related posts weren’t through with – I’m still cool. HONEST!)  in a three year absence, but considering my alteration in life direction, this is even more likely. I anticipate less poems (if they ever qualified as much), and more ponderings. Sure, legal stuff may intrude: it’s my job, and has been my mind-set for nearly three years. However, this is not my ambition with this blog. I want it to continue to and nurture the facet of me that it manifested from. I intend that to continue. It’ll just be, different. And let’s face it: it couldn’t get much worse.

So here I am. If any of my old discipl…ahem, followers, are still out there and read this – comment and say hi! Let’s see what happens with this. I won’t be the prolific poster I was before, thanks to the obsessive job, but I intend to use this space to exorcise my creative demons which, despite being utilised in some areas of my work, perhaps are being ignored. To our mutual benefit I suspect.

So, as the title articulates: my apologies. But, I’m back.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

OK, guys, go easy on this stuff, it’s all in Beta stage! Read the commentary afterwards for this to actually make sense and see what I was on about!

Suffrage Boy

After politely dismissing the persistent landlady who assured her return in an hour with supper, Henry Bentley walked into the inn’s bedroom, shrugging off the black armband that clung to his arm just as he wished to also shrug off the afternoon’s bleak happenings. He was a sentimental man, and he had been thoroughly sobered by the afternoon’s proceedings.

 

His dismal disposition however, was altered, and not for the better as he spotted an unfamiliarly familiar package that had been slipped under his door, he assumed, by the landlady. From sombre sobriety his mood changed to suspicious suspense as he all too familiarly recognised the handwriting on the front of the envelope that read: “Please Read.”

 

Throwing his dog Holly the scraps of his hastily devoured breakfast, he sank into the chair next to the bed and considered the letter. He was reluctant to release its contents upon his already battered centre of emotion but, feeling it was his duty, he thumbed open the roughly clenched fingers of the document’s edges.

 

He expected to find a poorly timed delivery of the article that he had unwittingly stowed upon his journalist. Mr. Bentley was the editor of The Frightful Farthing 1/4d and therefore employed several journalists for his story paper who might attempt to outwit Mr. Harmsworth and his Halfpenny Marvel. His expectations were, however, misplaced.

 

As the package yielded its contents, Mr. Bentley discovered a form of diary, accounting for only a day or so, written by his only female journalist, Ms. Lucy Davison. As Mr Bentley looked at the handwriting he found himself experiencing a mounting sense of unease, as although the script was familiar to him, its progressively erratic and distressed form seemed to him a foreign trait of its caster. Despite his reservations, he poured himself a large glass of the whiskey that sat in the Victorian-esq decanter on the desk, and settled deeper into the chair.

 

‘It is as I sit here, in what could well be my tomb, that I wish to document what has befallen me. This is not so I may point the finger of blame to any, but merely so that others may learn from my folly, from disturbing memories that are best forgotten, and so that by doing so this may be laid to rest.

 

I arrived on Glastonbury at dawn yesterday, (June 4th 1913), to provide a thorough report regarding the tragic and mysterious death of two townsfolk that occurred at the premises of the also recently deceased Ms. Isobel Báthory. Ms. Báthory had been resident of a local manor at the foot of Glastonbury Tor, and a prominent member of the Women’s Social and Political Union, who had been killed during a rally in London.

 

After alighting from the train that had so swiftly carried me from London, I had my luggage sent ahead to the local tavern wherein I would be spending my night’s slumber and pulled my bicycle down from the train (a fusty gentleman had attempted to do this for me, yet I assured him I was able to perform this duty independently) I then proceeded to take the short four mile journey into the ancient town.

 

As I cycled, noticing just how bitter the air was against my skin, I couldn’t help but be slightly perturbed by the weather. Those ominous dark clouds, the lonesome blowing wind and the rain that seemed to cry tears down my own face. This was not the weather I had expected of June, nor the weather I had left in London. It disturbed me significantly, and I approached the town with more trepidation than I would have liked. This was contributed by the overhanging, dominating presence of Glastonbury Tor. It leered over the town, seemed to grow in size and presence even once I arrived and was consistently in my peripheral vision.

 

On arrival into Glastonbury I checked into the tavern that bore the name ‘The Bloody Lady’ on a rickety and rotten wooden sign, which creaked and thumped as the icy wind knocked it against the old building.

 

I could tell you of the nature of the inn, the peculiar and overtly sexist nature of the locals, the queer terror that arose when I mentioned my purpose. I could tell you of the bump in the night that awoke me, and the figure of a small skeletal boy that I had thought I had seen, sat at the end of my bed watching me sleep, but I dare not. It would detract from what I need to say and I do not know how long I have until he returns, or till I lose the ability to process real memories and am left with the echoes of ones that took place here, so many years ago. Therefore I skip to my arrival at the house: my inevitable resting place.

 

The manor was a short cycle ride from the town’s centre, and I swiftly came to the foot of Glastonbury Tor, and the pathway that led to the old mansion.

 

It was a sublime sight, like its surroundings, and filled me with a type of terror and awe that I had yet to feel in the city. It had gargoyles or each corner of the roof; they glared down at me daring me to enter and at the same time pleading my return to The Bloody Lady.

 

I left my bicycle as I reached the doorway, hoisted my suitcase containing my typewriter under my arm. With great effort, I pushed the monstrously tall door which creaked with immense weight and showered me in dust and cobwebs, and stepped into the dark and dank hall.

 

It smelt of damp, and the air was thick with dust and, alike to the door, cobwebs clung to every corner of the majestic room. Despite its obvious age, the time had apparently been taken to install electricity within its ancient walls and as I was able to light the room instantly. It was vast and square, with a staircase in the centre leading above, a doorway that I had been informed led to the kitchen, and a small, oval door behind the staircase, which seemed to be the only part of the house that was clean and seemed to have been in recent use. This sparked my interest: the two men that had been found dead had both been found in a cellar.

 

I set my typewriter on an ancient chaise lounge that expelled copious clouds of dust and headed straight for the door, notebook clutched to my breast. I stooped to open the undersized door and cross through it and was confronted with a pitch black hole with a flight of stairs.

I activated the lights to the cellar and as I did so, I saw him.

 

The boy that had been in my room the night before, stood at the bottom of the steps. Naked, skeletal, with pale skin that barely stretched across his face. He had sunken eye sockets with empty, bottomless black eyes, dried blood around his miniature ears and a mournful expression across his dry, chapped mouth.

 

He screamed, just as I did the same, and his face became contorted with rage. The next thing I knew I was tumbling down the steps towards him and crashed at the bottom. It took me a few minutes to come around and pick myself up from the cold stone floor of the cellar and look around. He was nowhere to be seen. I was, of course, terrified and regardless of my rational way of thinking, strong will and resolve, I turned to run up the stairs and leave this building forever.

 

However, it was then that I noticed a pristine and gleaming table set up in the middle of the room with three piles of documents upon them. They appeared to a mixture of newspaper cuttings and handwritten notes of which the writing was evidently of a child’s hand. I approached the table and began to sift through the papers.

 

It took me well over an hour to read everything, I could not stop myself, and after I had done so I had understood its relevance. The newspaper cuttings showed the rallies and exploits of Isobel Báthory: activist, independent woman and, what the newspapers could not divulge, mother. The notes were written by her son, they did not mention his name. Due to her status as a suffragette (a coinage I had read recently in the Daily Mail) Ms. Báthory had resented, despised and, seemingly, tormented the boy. That was what the paper-trail diary seemed to denote at any rate. The boy wrote that he had been locked in the very cellar I stood in, without food or ventilation for days at a time. Whenever Ms. Báthory went away on a rally or a convention, had acquaintances to visit or simply when the sheer sight of him caused her to remember his existence, he was locked in the cellar. It seemed as though this was where he had died, without anyone’s knowledge, from suffocation and starvation after his mother had been killed and never returned to emancipate him.

 

The notes were painfully distressing to me, and what was more I felt that the air in the cellar was starting to dwindle. I was struggling to breathe, despite the cellar door being wide open and the paper upon the desk rippling from the wind that surely blew in from the hall; air was becoming less and less easily absorbed into my lungs.

 

I staggered up the stairs, gasping, and reached for the doorway but the door snapped shut. I pulled and tugged at it as my mind began to cloud and my vision blur. However, just as I thought I had lost consciousness, I felt a hand upon mine, a small, bony hand with overlong nails that dug painfully into my hand and turned the handle of the door. It flew open and there I lay upon the hall floor, hyperventilating and feeling the sweet cold air flood my lungs and bring me to my senses.

 

I looked down at my hand and noticed, with a jolt in my stomach, that five, finger spaced, nail shaped cuts were upon my hand. Blood was seeping down my wrist like scarlet tears from my knuckles.

 

It was at this same time, as I sobbed on my knees holding my hands, I heard a sound that caused me to jump in fright. It was a bell. But there was no doorbell, I thought, and no one came up to this house, the locals had made that much clear as day. I gazed at the monstrous door.

 

However, as I knelt with the hair beginning to stand up on the back of my neck, the sound of a bell sounded, louder this time, and carried on ringing, over and over again. I suddenly recognised its sound; it was from my bicycle. I sprinted to the door, praying to find one of the strange locals signalling for me, and hauled open the door and ran out onto the porch way where I had left my bicycle. The sound had stopped as I crossed the threshold of the house to the outside and I noticed that my bicycle was not where I had left it. It was several meters away, on the pathway, and looked as though it had been thrown.

 

The chain that worked the wheels from the pedals had slipped off and I bent down and reattached it into its correct place; I was ready to climb upon it and ride back to the town. As soon as it clicked into place the pedals started whirring and spinning, the wheels turning rapidly, whilst my hand was still inside the chain. Its teeth snapped at me and I fell backwards with a scream as ruby red blood scattered across my clothes.

 

As I staggered into the house, attempting to find a tap to run my hand underneath, I noticed my typewriter had moved. It was lying, in pieces on the floor, as if someone had smashed it. The paper that had been inside it, ready for my recordings lay crumpled on the floor, yet I could see the trace of ink upon it. I crossed the room and scooped it off the floor, my heart thumping in my throat, and unfolded the note and realised that it had been typed upon, just two words, before the destruction of the typewriter.  “HELP. ME.”

 

I…’

 

The diary stopped here. Mr. Bentley assumed the worst of what had happened after she had written these final words. The locals had informed him that they had found Lucy’s body in the corner of the cellar of the house, lifeless from asphyxiation.

 

A shiver ventured from the back of his collar and made its way down his spine as he considered just how the landlady could have come across the letter and, more troublingly, how she could had known it was for him. He heard a creak outside his door and glanced up from the paper.

 

Holly growled deeply and retreated into the corner as the door slowly opened.

Read Full Post »

So it’s about that time of the year that those with the funds this summer take a minute and decide on what festival they’re attending. Or is it? With Glastonbury and Oxegen taking a year off and Sonisphere joining the Big Chill in being cancelled, have you decided against festivals this year? Can your purse/wallet not take the punishment? Or (perish the thought) is it your body that cannot hack the 3-5 days or so of absolute annihilation that you put it through? If any of these reasons are ringing any bells then you may be in the population of regular festival-goers that have bowed out this year only to be followed by the festivals themselves.

It appears that Reading and Leeds are going ahead as planned (hopefully at any rate, as I have a weekend ticket for the former) although tickets have not sold out, despite being on sale for over a month now. Am I the only one who can remember these tickets selling out within hours? The days of sitting in front of three screens with five different ticket sites open on each clicking the refresh button over and over? Crashing sites and engaged telephone lines seem to be a thing of the past.

Bestival, Camp Bestival, Download and V festival are among those that are soldiering on and it seems that the former two are some of the very few that are not suffering losses. The independent festivals orchestrated by DJ Rob Da Bank seem to be selling tickets as normal and the independent entrepreneur assures the public that they will not be disappointed and that “we’ll sell out again on both our shows.”

But it seems to be relatively lonely in its confidence of success. Sonisphere and the Big Chill are just some of the bigger festivals that have pulled out due to organisation and ticket sale disasters this year, whilst a host of smaller festivals too have been forced to cancel. Oxegen’s promoters too have stated that, like Glastonbury, they will be taking a year off, despite it being Ireland’s biggest and most popular festival and winning numerous awards. Sources claim that lack of ticket sales are to blame.

It seems that one of the greatest British pastimes for the summer is losing its buzz, and one shouldn’t struggle to fathom why.

The price is obviously a set back; with weekend tickets setting folks back often over £200, the initial intimidation to your bank account is surely something that has put many off. To attempt to combat this, sites such as Ticketmaster have brought in a deposit scheme for Reading and Leeds where customers can pay a 25% deposit for their ticket. Whilst speaking in an interview to NME, Festival Republic boss Melvin Benn stated that:

“It would be lovely to make [tickets] cheaper if it was economically viable but it isn’t… There’s going to be a deposit sale introduced for the March main sale, which will be the first time we’ve done that properly.”

Considering the majority of festival attendees are aged between 16 and 30 this is most certainly a wise move. However, this has not stopped 2012 being one of the worst years for ticket sales.

The spirit of festivals has declined too one could suggest, popstars who do not play instruments and rely on electronics to perform win the heart of the masses who have seen the old five-piece rock band routine all too many times.

Additionally, one of the most prominent factors that ought to be addressed is the tiny event that is being held in Britain this year known as the Olympic Games. An event with the historical magnitude such as this and that none of us will live to see on Britain’s shores again is a convincing diversion from a festival that will be held again a year after. This comes with another 60 events sprouting up to supplement the game; Radio 1 is hosting a weekend in Hackney and is charging a grand total of £0 for 100,000 lucky goers. The versatile line up seems to take Glastonbury’s absence with an appeal to many musical appetites with acts ranging from Rhianna to Enter Shikari and Ed Sheeran to DeadMau5.

Despite these issues, I for one hope that festivals do not die out and hope that they may find the spirit that is dwindling. The magic that was Glastonbury in the 90’s may have gone, where Oasis and Blur fought for control and instead of spending 1/5 of your loan on a ticket one could just climb through a bush, but we as a generation can bring our ingenuity too. And by that I don’t mean Justin Bieber and a rise in unemployment, but bringing something new to the musical table. Music has forever changed and adapted to its society and, therefore, so must its festivals.

Read Full Post »

This is they way of things now, Wolf.” Said Red.

As he tried to clamber to his paws, the wolf glanced up in terror at the two women standing over him. He couldn’t understand.

One was an elderly woman, she was haggard in her face, a hunch in her back, but that did not cause him sympathy. Now this could have been for a few reasons. It could have been due to him being a cruel and heartless wolf, it could be that a wolf’s sympathy is not seduced by such things, perhaps. Or perhaps it could have been due to the heavy spade that the frail old dear was raising, to hit him again across the snout.

One was a girl of the age wherein childhood is but a repressed memory and womanhood a tentative cycle journey away. He felt nothing but pure dread when regarding the girl and her rosy hood. Now this might have been for a few reasons. It might have been due to the fact that despite being where he was, he felt such an affinity for her, it might have been from her long dark hair to that repulsively rapacious rouge robe that seemed to pursue him through the very wood in which he dwelled and through his very soul. It might have been this rebuked compulsion, perhaps. Or perhaps it might have been due to the eight-inch knife that he assumed the girl intended to use to remove his other ear.

This had been waiting to happen he thought. Fate had been hinting a change of play, in the way that it did, the unrelenting, unfeeling director that it was. Girls just weren’t what they used to be. No longer did they marvel at his propensities and their utilities or even fear from straying from the path. Perhaps he was no longer something to fear but a rite to simply conquer before continuing down along the passage.

He wondered why this was happening. It was in his nature to pursue and dominate (the wolf: a strong essentialist) but that didn’t seem possible these days. He even missed the huntsman. As he noted the absence of the third killing entity he noted its presence now obsolete.

As he got to his paws, the wolf looked up in terror at the two women standing over him.

“This is the way of things now, Wolf.” Red said.

He understood.

The End.

I just knocked this together in a few minutes. I’m writing a re-imagining of Little Red Riding Hood and Alice in Wonderland for my dissertation at the moment, investigating the gothic stereotype and female sexuality within the traditional fairytale. Yes, before you ask that is precisely what I ought to be doing right now.

This takes a slightly different route (obviously) in looking at the rise of feminism and the wolf as a symbol of male lust (as is pretty standard within the interpretations of LRRH), the male gaze and, perhaps, misogyny and patriarchy.

From Charles Perrault’s LRRH with its message at the end to girls to keep on the path and beware of wolves of all types makes it quite clear that to stray off the path is to lose your virginity and to keep clear of men who will try to charm you into bed. The story is a rite of passage within many different versions. Other versions take different stands, Angela Carter takes a feminist approach for example, The Brother Grimm another; the wolf usually embodies male lust and killing the wolf either symbolises repressing female lust and sexuality for safety, or setting it free to celebrate it. Nothing new here.

I suppose this represents that times have changed. The wolf speaks the voice of masculinity, intimidated by stronger women, being over-ridden and destroyed and highlights the crisis of masculinity found today. The wolf used to be the one that preyed on Red, she was the damsel in distress and fell prey to his dominance unless she behaved in a very puritan fashion. But now, despite the fact that her entrancing and arousing nature over the wolf has not changed, she is in control and exerting her femininity and sexuality over the wolf that causes him to fear her. He wants what will destroy him. The grandmother takes revenge on the wolf from her days of suffrage and it acts a form of ritual between generations as a rite of passage.

Red doesn’t require the huntsman (or any man) to save her or awaken her sexuality. Homo-social worlds are a thing of the past in this story.

The wolf presents an essentialist view upon gender and sexuality. He is confused as the lust and drive to hunt is something he was born with and therefore he is confused (to begin with) as to why he is being punished for it. Red presents a more social constructionist view upon gender and sexuality, and is performing the role she performs in every pro feminist reading of the original text(s).

Please leave comments on any other interpretations you took from it, it’s packed full of imagery and metaphors so that one and all can have (hopefully) an individual view of it!

Post Script: Sorry for any spelling/grammatical errors and stuff that doesn’t make sense, I’m in a rush and need food.

P.P.S: Thanks to this site for the image: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2010/12/the_10_sexiest_mcfarlane_toys_action_figures.php

Read Full Post »

Morning all, or Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Goodnight to those of not on my island.

I haven’t posted anything for quite sometime I realise and for this, I apologise. I assure you that I’m not dead, not yet at least (each day is a blessing with the type of life I lead) but nearing the end of my three years of University education. Basically, that means I have about a month to do all the work I should have done over the past three years. Remaining are three assignments of around 4000 words, an exam and a dissertation of around 14,000 words. Sounds like fun? I’m literally lactating with joy it’s so much fun.

Anyway, enough of my moaning. That is why I have not posted anything for yonks, poor excuse I know. But, I have something pretty cool brewing (and it’s not the remnants of my breakfast) to put on here, but it is tied in with my degree, so it’ll be finished in a month or so, but watch this space. It’s the most challenging and advanced creative writing I’ve done so far. If you’ve read any Angela Carter (especially The Bloody Chamber that takes fairy tales and warps them beyond recognition) then this will be less shocking. The title of the essay companion that goes with it is: Little Dead Riding Hood: An Exploration into the Gothic Conventions Within the Traditional Fairy Tale. So that is to come. I also have a firework of a ghost story in the works. Just realised how much I’ve built it all up now, mistake. Scratch that, it all sucks OK? So don’t expect much at all (this way when you read them you’ll be pleasantly surprised).

Until then, I shall put up the odd bits and bobs as they stumble through my brain and onto my keyboard but don’t expect too much (not that you ever should really).

For now I shall leave you with this thought, if the duck that doth tell the trout that he serves himself alone, who doth the lilypad serve?

Image

Adieu, Chin Chin and Ta Ta for now,

Dormouse.

Read Full Post »

I’ll never truly know how much this means to her,

She’ll never know how much this is destroying me.

Unless the plants that stemmed were words of a stutter,

In a pestle and mortar crush the seeds of infidelity.

.

Still deemed as casual if within a waxing crescent,

Her smile injects clarity like a chelsea grin.

Stitches of my follies ripped smirking and incessant,

Heart strings across the chalkboard, nails across the violin.

.

This freedom craving hermit, does still crave comfort and company,

Is it unforeseen that Misery accepts without hesitation?

The Thief comes to the Joker for his credibility,

His laughs and colours impregnated with desperation.

.

Her falsities that breathe promise through familiarity,

His propensities that smell hope to be severed.

They’re society that speaks solutions and irregularity,

That scenario provides his way for them to be together.

.

The clock his enemy, the bottle his friend,

It numbs the pain, facilitates requirement for the occasion.

Facilitates the vehicle to reach Its end,

Until the third wheel is introduced to the equation.

.

What a nobel throne is the gutter!

Why shouldn’t the end be the key?

I’ll never know how much that meant to her,

She’ll never know how much it destroyed me.

Read Full Post »

A brief article for the WesternEye Newspaper regarding University accommodation horror stories.

Coming to University is, for many of us, a hybrid of emotions and expectations. There’s the excitement; we’ve heard so much from friends and family, and uni life does seem to be portrayed as partying for a few years with the occasional assignment thrown in (if only!).  Additionally, we have the nerves. Now there are some people who manage to be sufficiently preoccupied with the prior factor that this is not so much of an issue, however, most do have at least some degree of nervous anticipation as they ready themselves to start this new chapter in their lives. Worries are certainly to be expected and are all part of commencing something unknown and novel to us.

Accommodation on the other hand, is one of the contributing factors that we feel is something that worry would be wasted upon. This is something that we have chosen ourselves, been to visit, checked over several times and made an informed decision upon. This is something that should be devoid of worry and give us peace of mind. This is something, which is often rarely the case.

There are few students, I expect, that have not heard at least one horror story from someone about the horrors they faced when moving into new accommodation. Is it as bad as people make it out to be? Do these stories actually have truth behind them? And if so, why is it that letting agencies seem to think that simply because we are students we deserve substandard living conditions?

I’m sure most UWE students will recognise the name of Unite Student Accommodation and will have, perhaps, passed its buildings in the city centre or even been residents of one the many places it has to offer.

Unite boasts a ‘new kind of living experience’ and offers the reassurance that it is ‘with you in mind’. After interviewing a past resident of one their buildings it begs the question: if they have you mind, what do they think of you?

Jason Scott, a previous student at UWE and occupier of a room in what was Waverley House in the centre of Bristol, talks to WesternEye of his experiences.

Jason talks of his expectations of coming to Bristol to study Media and Cultural Studies and tells me that he was eagerly anticipating moving into Waverly House. However, after moving in and attempting to settle, he noticed aspects about the building that did not fully add to his moving in experience.

“There was mould on the ceiling in both bathrooms, and rotted food in the cupboards, sink and fridge/freezer where we found maggots.” He says. “There were lifts, but they never worked, and despite being asked to fill out feedback forms, which we did from day one, there was never any maintenance work and they never once responded to the problems we reported.”

This type of negligence not only comes across as thoughtless, but certainly breaches health and safety regulations, not to mention sanitation.

The pinnacle of this atrocity for Jason, was what happened to the building after he left.

“The building was to accommodate UWE students, however this changed and Bristol University students were to move in. Unite then decided to start work on improving conditions and refurbishing the whole building after we moved out.”

Why is then that Unite believes UWE students do not require the same standard of living as those of Bristol University?

Stephanie Porter, current third year student studying English Literature, speaks to WesternEye about the horrendous living conditions she was subjected to when moving into her flat at the beginning of her second year.

“We’d checked the flat over before we moved in, and everything seemed perfectly fine,” Stephanie says, “it wasn’t until we actually moved in that we saw everything that was wrong.”

The flat that Stephanie moved into was on Baldwin St in the city centre and was owned by Terry Olpin Property Management before she moved in. On the month she moved in, however, the flat was transferred to a private landlord who was unaware of the squalor that lay underneath the face of the flat.

“First of all I noticed that the radiator was hanging off its hinges in my room,” Stephanie says, “and after checking it, it fell off in my hands. The flat smelt awful and it turned out the bin area was just a room in the building that bin bags, some open, were thrown into attracting rats.”

If this type of negligence was not enough, Stephanie went on to divulge elements of the flat that she says she “would not have imagined possible.”

“It was a couple of days in when I noticed water leaking for the cupboard under the sink. It turned out a pipe had burst and to fix it they had simply tied a plastic bag around it. We didn’t think it could get much worse but whilst sitting on the sofa my phone slipped down into the cushion. I reached into it to get it back and I felt all sort of objects within it.”

After questioning Stephanie further on what it was she discovered after pulling back the fabric on the sofa, she was able to produce photographs she took.

“I found what had been smelling so awful,” She says, “There were mounds and mounds of rabbit faeces, cigarette butts and other rubbish in and underneath the sofa. Having being described as a pet free and smoke free flat this was something we did not expect.”

Why it is that companies consider students a gap in the market to exploit when it comes to living conditions, one can only assume. But it certainly is not fair. Simply because students are generally younger, it does not warrant such treatment, or the assumption that we deserve to live in conditions that Jason, Stephanie and many others were subjected to.

We can only hope that conditions improve, and that students do not keep quiet about the treatment they receive. With the thousands of pressures that students encounter throughout their time at university and the anxieties that they have, being treated as sub-standard citizens, unworthy of basic sanitation, is something that is simply unacceptable.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »