Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The future

In the next week, I have three deadlines for assignments that I am determined to make excellent. Naturally, the best move at this point would be to write a blog post about nothing in particular.

You may have noticed that I've changed my theme to something a little prettier, a little daintier, that just makes it a bit more pleasant to read. That was last night, when I was back from the weekly Stammtisch (meet-up for German speakers/students that I organise) at the pub, then stuffing myself with Jammie Dodgers whilst putting together a Powerpoint.

A lot of time in the past few weeks has been spent daydreaming about what I'm going to be doing next year... that is, my first year as a graduate in the big, bad world of unemployment. I don't know if this was just a form of procrastination and getting ahead of myself, but I would like to think that this daydreaming was productive and pro-active - I've been checking out job websites and so on, keeping an open mind and trying not to put all my eggs in one basket, as it were. I have already applied for one dream placement, but I don't want to mention it here yet in case I jinx my chances. What I do realise is that I now have to keep this personal development and acquisition of skills constant, on the side of being committed to getting the best degree I can. It's difficult.

Future-wise, all I know for definite is that I want to spend some time abroad. After spending most of last year away from home, my appetite for the world has only been whetted. Whenever I returned home for a visit, I would look forward to arriving off my cramped Ryanair flight at Stansted, seeing the familiar words UK BORDER AGENCY in front of me and getting my passport checked, spotting my parents in the arrivals area who would take my stuff and already have some homey food for me to eat in the car. I would feel relieved and cosy for a week or two, but then it just got frustrating. The constant cloud of rainy grey that shrouds this island is startlingly accurate pathetic fallacy, most of the time. There are cities here that I really like, where I would certainly not be averse to someday beginning a career. But at this point in my life, it seems right to continue seeing some of the world!

Small note to end on - I've only just discovered an artist called Girlfriends, who released a self-titled album over three years ago! It's excellent - a nice mixture of math-rock, post-hardcore and electronic. It's good motivational music. Don't sleep on it - you can download it for free on Bandcamp here.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

York

I've just spent a nice little weekend away in York! It was mainly to see Alex, one of my best uni mates but who graduated last year, and to participate in activities such as watching Nicolas Cage films. But also, I wanted to fulfil my little resolution of seeing more of my own country - coming back from my year spent in various parts of Europe made me realise how poorly-travelled I was in England, let alone other parts of the UK.

I actually lived in Doncaster (South Yorkshire) until the age of four, but of course I remember basically nothing of it. The last time I went Up North was when I was about 15, on a family trip to Northumberland, as my dad's side of the family originates from there. Everyone seems to make fun of southerners so I want to see what's really going on up there that makes us so silly in comparison.

Actual street name. It is only 2 numbers long, though. York, you so funny.


Vegan hot dog from Goji café - lush!





Poster on the toilet door of Dusk, a really cool bar. They sell cocktails called Britney Spears and Barack Obama amongst others!


We also went on a Ghost Walk at night, which is where you get led around York in a group by a gentleman in a top hat who shows you some sites where there have been paranormal occurences. It was very interesting to learn about some of the more historic places - I had no idea Guy Fawkes was born there, for example - but a couple of the stories were genuinely quite upsetting so watch out.

It was a great weekend and York is truly one of the greatest places in Britain I've visited. Now I am back and I need to get on with writing a literary review for a group presentation I did last week. Final year is not really getting any more enjoyable, but I'm pushing myself more and more to manage my time better because I do find it quite absurd that I find myself having no opportunity at all to just sit down and breathe.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

This Town Needs Guns (30/10/12); Godspeed You! Black Emperor (04/11/12)

This has been a very good week for shows! First, I saw This Town Needs Guns at Firebug, which is probably the nicest and coolest bar in Leicester. It was great, they played a lot of stuff from their upcoming album which should be out in January or February. Something to look forward to!

And of course, something that had had me counting down the days for the past 6 months or so: Godspeed You! Black Emperor. I'd seen them just over a year ago, and honestly had not thought they'd be coming back to the UK so soon.

I met up with a couple of friends in London. As we were walking to HMV Forum from the Tube station, one of them said, 'Haha, it's Efrim [Menuck],' in reference to a hairy man walking past us. Then I looked up, and it actually was him, and some other people from the band! Needless to say, we were gutted.

We got right to the front - I'd been at the front before too, on stage right, but this time we were on stage left, so I got a close-up of some more interesting equipment - including an iPod for playing samples.

None of us were particularly fazed by the support, Dead Rat Orchestra. We were just too excited for Godspeed. At about 9pm, a loud drone started permeating the room, and the band members came on one by one. The drone, with instruments being folded in gradually, led into 'Mladic'. The rest of the show was some older stuff, apart from 'Behemoth', a new, 40-minute... behemoth.

One thing that is remarkable about Godspeed's live shows is the projections that constantly unfurl behind the band, overseen by Karl Lemieux, a prominent figure in Montreal's independent film scene. And it's not one of those overhead projectors you get in classrooms, either - it's proper 16mm film, so no flashes of the Start menu or an arrow cursor because you accidentally leant on a button. My particular favourite images were close-ups of blood bubbling up, eerie travelling shots of the Quebec countryside showing isolated houses and churches, and finally, protests for peace.

All in all, a very foreboding, sombre performance, as you would expect. And inspiring to some degree.

One more thing: HMV Forum, coldest venue ever or what? I actually wished I hadn't left my coat in the cloakroom. What is up with that?