Knight-Errant

Having not posted in a long time, I feel that I should clarify my reasons for such silence. Spending time between home and university, a schedule that always seems to be brimming over with engagements that saturate though my education dictates with an iron fist. As such, in between I have been researching the history of my local area.

*YAWN* …A history lesson Eve? How droll.

Yes. Yes it is. And I love it. I should really begin with setting the scene. My father and I have always been interested in the Knights Templar, the Priory of Sion and other such pieces of arcane history. Not that we entertain silly notions of far fetched conspiracy theories, just that we enjoy indulging ourselves in research of that time period. With the recondity of the era comes a certain addiction to unfolding the rest of the story.

Danbury Church

Danbury Church

And so, whilst on my little historical pilgrimage, I inadvertently stumbled all the way back home. I wasn’t drunk on the fumes of vanillin textbook pages; no. I had found my way back to Danbury from all the way eastwards in the holy land. I have lived in my little hill top village in Essex for over ten years (not to be confused with Danebury Hill Fort in Hampshire – *has first year flashbacks of barbarian societies lectures and Cunliffe monologues* though it did used to be a neolithic site) and am very proud of our quaint English hamlet with our duck pond, bowls club, and single tearoom. A large chunk of local history rests in between the pews of our church. Growing up, though, I dropped my religion and visits to church became few and far between, eventually culminating in a walk through the graveyard to pick raspberries at our allotment every now and again.

Which is why all history of the area was swept under the rug, back into some small alcove of my mind, and along with it the information of a pickled knight (yes, PICKLED: in mushroom catchup to be precise) that yielded results of the St. Clere family residing in this area, already well known for it’s Templar activities. In particular interest to me was a book by Andrew Collins, which was out of print. I couldn’t find a copy of this flimsy pamphlet on-line for anything less than an extortionate price. After receiving a call from a local library to inform me they had found two crusty dog-eared copies at the back of a shelf, and encountered a refusal of sale or even borrowing by the library clerk; I inadvertently bumped into a lady and fell into conversation. By sheer luck and happen-stance she turned out to be a Templar seeker, same as I.

A Danbury Knight wooden effigy largely unnoticed by parishioners on a daily basis

A Danbury Knight wooden effigy largely unnoticed by parishioners on a daily basis

Having swapped numbers I was delighted to meet with her, upon which occasion she allowed me to borrow a signed copy of the book with notes from the author, as he was a ‘great friend’. Hopefully soon I will be able to converse with him concerning secrets of Danbury Church where said mysterious Knights were buried; and learn more about this amazing and little known village, quietly sitting on top of a hill, surveying the rest of Essex (and sometimes Kent on a clear day). Secretive and silent, now docile and a tad taciturn; Danbury is the perfect blip of bygone times that has eluded many a 20th century scholar so far, but I am hoping that Danbury Church’s previously impenetrable walls of stone impart some information previously veiled to other voyeuristic pilgrims.

Knights Templar land as it looks today - Cressing Temple Barns famous for storing barley and wheat to finance Templar crusades in the holy land

Knights Templar land as it looks today – Cressing Temple Barns famous for storing barley and wheat to finance Templar crusades in the holy land

From this I have learned how important it is to really understand the history of the place you live in. Walking around Danbury now, it has a different feel in the air, suddenly the ground I’m walking on when on the Village Green fizzes with excitable energy now that I know it’s secrets. It’s true then, that knowledge is power; and I’m loving every minute. I highly recommend it. Whether history is occult or not makes no difference if you appreciate it properly.

Getting To Know You

This post is strange. In that it’s about a total stranger.

It’s a woman. At least, I think it is.

I have no idea who she (or possibly he) is, but I know everything about her. NO, I’m not a stalker.

I had the good fortune to find her iPod.

Three years ago, my brother had a summer job working as security for various festivals (I forget which one) and after such an event, he found an 80GB iPod under a chair in the VIP area.

He followed the right protocols; turned it in to the police, and waited three months (the usual rule is 28 days).

He waited, and when it wasn’t claimed, he gave it to me as a present. I was thankful and a bit down for the poor person that lost it.

So began a three year lesson in someone else’s life, based purely on the 5504 songs they have on their iPod.

And over five thousand songs is a lot of music.

I listen to the songs they listened to when they were down, when they were ecstatic, tired, chilling out, raving, hungry, downcast. It’s a very strange phenomenon to have this little slice of someone else’s life. Some songs I’ve never heard before, some I admire this person’s taste in, some I completely judge them for. But the truth is, before I delete a single song from this iPod, I am determined to listen to every one. A kind of musical education, if you will. I’ve even transferred a few records on to my own iPod, which is considerably smaller. In reality, I own two; but to me, this black 6th generation classic is part of someone else’s life. It doesn’t contain any recent popular music (top 40 stuff).

There’s some classic music, like Vivaldi and Rachmaninoff, a LOT of 80s stuff (which isn’t exactly to my taste) some awesome party mixes of the early 2000s and a fair amount of crap too.

There’s everything from the Verve, to the Prodigy, to a disturbing amount of Kate Bush, and back again to Led Zeppelin and Eurythmics.

I am happy that she has one of my favourite songs of all time ‘Downtown’ by Petula Clark, however. (I can see half of you judging me, and the other half googling it to see what’s what).

Anyway, it’s a lovely thing to have someone else (unwittingly and probably begrudgingly) give me their little slice of life via the medium of music. Whoever you are, you have some amazing playlists. I appreciate them all.

The only sneaking suspicion about this person I have is that she must be a woman; as the entire Bridget Jones Soundtrack is on here, including Chaka Khan. I suspect she must be older than me, as every single Robbie Williams song (before 2011) is on there too. I checked. That’s a lot of Angels.

Despite her penchant for much of Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits, of which there are many, I conclude that this woman must be either a complete maniac, or as totally down to earth as you can get. Maybe I’ve passed her in the street. Maybe she’s someone famous? Is she alive? Is she happy? Is she on the other side of the world or down the road? Is she listening to the very same playlist on her replacement iPod?

I guess I’ll never know. It could be anyone’s. But thank you, mystery person; for three years of awesome music so far. For your Kings of Leon, your Paolo Nutini and Stereophonics that I listen to when I’m down. I’m dubious as to why you need so much Madonna still, but I’m getting there.

Awkward and Awesome

Some fabulously farcical and insanely inept things that can only occur at university.

AWESOME: ‘Your lecture has been cancelled’ email.

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AWKWARD: Your essay isn’t done but you sure are…

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AWESOME: Plagiarism free since 2003

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AWKWARD: Too late in the day to drink coffee, but too early to drink alcohol.

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AWESOME: Your 9am hour lecture finishes twenty minutes early.

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AWKWARD: Finding out someone posted about you on Yik Yak during the society AGM.

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AWESOME: When your parents pick you up at the end of term so you don’t have to get the train like

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AWKWARD: Clinomania strikes. Every. Single. Day.

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AWESOME: When your bank balance is saved by student discount

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AWKWARD: Having crippling doubts every single day about your future after this awesome uni experience

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AWESOME: Sitting back to watch the fireworks when someone in your lecture asks a controversial question

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AWKWARD: Exams go one of three ways…

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AWESOME: Breaking up for summer:

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AWKWARD: Knowing that the next year will be pretty much the same…

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Secret, Stupid Fears

Recently I was asked what my biggest fear was. In my rush for an answer, I replied, ‘Spiders, I guess’.

Spiders? Come on, I said to myself later that night. Were eight legged critters all that I was afraid of? That got me thinking. There are lots of things I have an extreme aversion to, but may not necessarily be ‘fears’ per se.

So here are some secret, stupid perturbing prospects.

  1. The base end/handle of my toothbrush being wet. This sends chills down my spine and makes me want to vomit. I hate hate HATE this for absolutely no apparent reason. I have to leave the bathroom when this occurs.
  2. Peering round corners. This is probably a remnant of being allowed to watch horror movies too early. Be it in a house, down a street, or behind a door that’s ajar, it’s going to freak me out even if it’s painted barbie pink. cat-peeking-out
  3. Wide eyes. my flatmate frequently gets annoyed when I bump into her and scream. She has these wide eyes that when she turns around look scary. I never expect it. I blame Aardman animations.

    Can you say childhood trauma? (nb: my flatamate doesn't actually look like this)

    Can you say childhood trauma? (nb: my flatamate doesn’t actually look like this)

  4. People talking about ghosts. Specifically Poltergeists. I am adamant that ghosts don’t exist, and am grown up enough to be able to reason with myself, but sometimes a door creaking or things that go bump in the night will result in me stocking up on Nytol.

    Caspar can fucking do one.

    Even Casper can fucking do one.

  5. My Shadow/reflection. I make myself jump on a DAILY BASIS. This is so sad that I have to laugh about it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live my life in constant trepidation of corners or haunted houses, but just sometimes they irk me enough to get the jitters.

Do you have any silly phobias? Comment below.

Buyer’s Remorse

It seems quite easy for people my age to become used to the capitalist society in which we live. We’re a throw-away nation; a conglomeration of buyers of shit we don’t need. I am a prime culprit of this. I purchase shit I don’t need all the frickin’ time.

Why then, do I feel so guilty for spending prize money I (we) won in a competition?

It’s strange, we all think about what we’d do with the money if we won the lottery – with a million in the bank, the world would become our oyster, wouldn’t it?

Of course, if I’d have won the lottery, you’d have heard about it by now. I wish I had.

No, I refer to a small competition on my University Campus, run for a day by a pop-up company, #HSFPopUpOnCampus.

My friend Toby and I, who entered only because we were vultures drawn in for the free popcorn, took an innocent jovial photograph involving silly props.

Which is why I feel so guilty for having won. All we did was fuck around and take a photo. Suddenly, we get £100 worth of Amazon vouchers to spend? You can imagine my disbelief at earning something so easily. I’m flattered and honoured to be given something so unexpectedly. As the saying goes, ‘good things come in small packages.’ I’ve never blooming won anything in my life.

Toby, the real winner who entered for us, bless him, didn’t have to share any of it with me – but he did. Thank you. :’)

But as soon as he asked me what I wanted, I stalled. Just like anyone else, I undoubtedly have an Amazon Wishlist as long as my arm, but this situation wasn’t Christmas or my Birthday, I didn’t need anything! Immediately I turned my attention to other things. Did the Classics Society need any other things for the ball in March? Why couldn’t Toby and his squeeze use the money instead? Could we donate it?

I don’t want to sit here and pretend that I’m a humble saint who doesn’t want a thing in the world, but really, I’m genuinely confused about all this. Maybe it’s just positive vibes from the universe? Maybe luck is real? Maybe karma is going to totally fuck me over next week.

Maybe.

But for now, I shall sit here in disbelief, and thank my partner in crime, Toby, for being a total lad and talking me into getting free popcorn – (which incidentally we didn’t actually get in the end) and accept the gift of books and a few DVDs he has sent my way via a few clicks of the mouse.

Thank you, Universe.

The Car In Front

On Saturday 27th December, after a restful christmas up north, it was finally time for my family and I to make our way home. Unfortunately, tragedy struck and we were stuck in our car for almost six hours on the A1. Here is my experience written from the car.

It’s almost as if I had forgotten that motorway traffic existed. Being at uni and not driving means that my mind has never given much regard to the state of our roads during our winter festivities. That is, until I get stuck in a car on the A1 for six hours.

Which is where I’m writing this blog post from; the back of my parents car. It’s dark, it’s boring, and I dearly want to snuggle in my bed instead of being here.

To pass the time there is the laptop, which provides little comfort due to the lack of internet, or the iPod, which is firmly in my ears to block out the dire sound of Radio 2. (I see my parents have not yet taken heed of my previous blog post.)

I have noted that during this duration in what I can only describe as ‘car-hell’, that it is easy to drift away into another world. The world of ‘The Car In Front’. First, it begins with noting the make and model of the car. Easy. The state of it provides some insight into the rest of the drivers’ life. From there, it’s imagination. And so it begins, drawing an entirely fictional timeline of the person in the car in front. This goes on for five minutes, until you are snapped out of your gloriously lethargic reverie by some snippet of bored conversation, or a beep from another car just as pissed off as you but happens to think they have a bigger penis than everybody else, and so displays this to the plethora of cars around him as a beep.

And so you continue to glare out of the front window, or the side window, or the back window if you’re a dog or just hiding from the law, bored out of your mind, wishing you could be catching up on that bumper crop of Xmas shows on your dear telly-box.

It’s lonely, stifling and a bit nippy, which is made worse slightly by the fact that I didn’t order a decaf Costa when we stopped. My cabin fever doesn’t stop there, though. By sheer happenstance it appears that my family has cabin fever too. Who’d have thought it? It well may be that they’re just as disinterested in me as I am in them. In short, we all look out the window so we don’t have to bloody talk to one another, for it’s very difficult to play I-Spy in the darkness of the motorway.

It is very easy to state that falling asleep would cure this long and tumultuous experience, but truthfully it is my belief that anyone who has the capability to fall asleep in the back of a car is either a wizard, or an alien. Nope. An in-flight snooze is not on the cards. And so I sit, bum aching, the remnants of Costa on my lips, and resume my little narrative for the car in front.

I think i’ll kill him off in series two.

10 Misconceptions Essex Has TOWIE To Thank For

This is actually true. I don’t know what this girl is on about. Of course I wear my stilettos to have a pooh! It’s The Only Way.

Confessions of a Sober Essex Girl

1. All men go to the gym topless (and are stunning and ripped).

Now I don’t know if I am going to the right gym or not (jokes, I don’t go to the gym), but all the men in mine seem to be around 40 and wearing very dark t shirts with sweat stains. Not once have I seen an Adonis like Dan from TOWIE rip his shirt off and start doing weights.I did see a man once with quite short shorts on, if that counts?

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2. All of the clubs play shit music and serve drinks in ‘Posh plastic’.

There really are some good nightclubs in Essex, so please don’t tar all of them with the ‘faces’ brush. I’m also baffled at where all these posh wine glasses have popped up from because I swear last time I went to Sugar Hut my drink was in a poundshop plastic…

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Gently Does It

There are days when we are angry. There are days when people treat you and those you love like shit. There are days when you’re so angry you just want to scream.

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Yes, there are those days.

I’ll tolerate those days because they show me who I really do love, really do care for, and who I want in my life. By pure chance, several friends, be it flatmates, friends from Classics Society, from home, and on-line friends have all imparted wisdom to me in passing conversation. Some of this has stuck in my mind and encouraged me to expand on the philosophy I try to live by. To live gently.

My dad gave me this little nugget of wisdom a few years ago, and though I didn’t really get it at the time, it now makes a lot of sense. But like any good philosophy treatise, it is ALWAYS easier said than done, hence, there still exists THOSE DAYS. When you just can’t seem to muster the strength to forgive, but only the strength to stand and fight. But looking back, they are both just as strong. However I believe that forgiveness requires more courage.

“Always forgive, but never forget, else you will be a prisoner of your own hatred, and doomed to repeat your mistakes forever.”

― Wil Zeus, Sun Beyond the Clouds

At this point, I could put my hours of study under the great Gabriele* in Greek and Roman Philosophy to good use and write about my interpretation of Cicero, Suetonius, Plato, Aristotle etc, but at the end of the day, I trust the knowledge given to me by those I love. So back to my friends. This year, a lot of quotes come to mind, and they shall remain uncredited to spare any blushes.

‘Never think badly of your friends until they prove you wrong.’

‘Don’t shit where you eat.’

‘Vir Sursum.’

‘The people that want to be in your life will make the effort to be there.’

To the people that said this to me, thank you, and in return I’m sharing it with other people.

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There will always be awful days, but if you live gently, things will come around and the sun will always come out of the clouds eventually. When that happens, you’ll be too busy being happy to worry.

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*Philosophy Lecturer known for imparting spectacular advice

If you want more quotes or inspiration to make you feel on top of the world, visit my Pinterest Board: Chin Up.

A Dark End to the Week

As some of you may know, I dislike Black Friday. This piece is merely to articulate my disdain towards the large companies taking advantage of the gap in the British market. May I point out that there is a gap there for a reason? As a nation, we never have, and I hope never will, celebrate thanksgiving. It is an American tradition, and though I tolerate some in this country, Black Friday is not one of them. Not only do people lap it up – because, hey, who doesn’t love a sale? – but also it’s just too damn near to Christmas not to take advantage of such jaw-dropping deals. What’s not to love?

Well, everything, as it turns out, as unfortunately, this smarmy little secret sale thing means that when I broke my phone charger this morning, an event which I can state is QUITE stressful, I endeavoured to search for a new replacement quickly on-line within my student budget. This seemed like an easy task, as I have mastered the art of on-line shopping, however on this one fateful Friday, the sycophantic Americans did it again by introducing a silly custom which left EVERY SINGLE ON-LINE STORE I went to unable to let me on to their site, due to the huge influx of customers buying SHIT. Shouldn’t customers that actually NEED something come before customers that just WANT something? (Of course, you can say I don’t need a phone charger if I don’t have a phone, but as a student, it’s my only way of contacting family quickly)

TESCO, AMAZON, ARGOS, ASDA… all these sites were chocka block full of people vying for the best deals. Credit to them, if I needed expensive gifts for people, I’d be a savvy shopper and do it on Cyber Weekend also, however after having seen pictures of people cramming and pushing to clear shelves in shops and supermarkets over in America, I fail to see how this tradition is loved. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about being thankful for what you already have, and then apparently forgetting all of that the day after in order to barge your fellow man out of the way to get the last packet of Oreos or the only tv left in stock. Imagine my disbelief when a friend told me the horror she witnessed at people in TESCO, in the UK, pushing and shoving to get into the store. This is capitalism gone mad. So fucking thanks, America, your disgusting custom is infecting the British people, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Mostly because you little fuckers probably put the Tea and biscuits on sale first. I believe Jessie J had it right the first time… Forget about the price tag.

That One Fucking Raindrop

Isn’t it always the way? I’m half way to campus, and, in the traditional manner of Exeter weather, the heavens decide to open.

It’s okay, I have an umbrella,’ I think nondescriptly. After all, it’s only a smattering of drops.

Actually, I quite like walking in the rain, it makes me even-tempered for a short while. Nothing to fret about…

Until Zeus decides it’s time to literally rain on my parade. Thanks mate.

Because there’s this raindrop, you see. Not just any old raindrop. No, this raindrop is meant for me. It started it’s pitiful little life up there, in the clouds, biding it’s time… waiting.

Waiting for THE person. The person who’ll most likely be abruptly snapped out of their glorious revelry of sauntering through the rain by a herculean gust of wind.

Wind so strong that it enabled THAT ONE FUCKING RAINDROP to land SQUARELY on my nose.

So fuck you, little raindrop.

Fuck. You.