Thursday, 27 September 2012

What is love?

When I was 11 years old I read Anne Frank's diary. It had a very big impact on me, I was left with the echo of the book nestled into my memory for a very long time to come. At the time I was reading it Anne's age was not so far from my own and certainly, from the era in which she wrote it, her maturity was at the same level as mine. This allowed me to relate to her in a very powerful way, and she inspired me a great deal. She had written about going through things I was also experiencing at the time, growing up, leaving my little girl self behind and entering a new era of my own existence. What she said was very important to me, especially at that particular time in my life. I felt enormous respect for this girl who had so beautifully captured the essence and momentousness of leaving childhood behind and excepting this new mind and new body that is presented before you. And then anger and sadness that this wonderful, bright young girl had been so wrongly taken when such a future was ahead of her. Such abundance of brilliant life that this young woman had in her path that was cut short so cruelly, and so unjustly it is hard to comprehend.
One thing that was prominent to me in her diary was this wonderful description of what she interpreted love, romantic love, to be. At the time it wasn't particularly relevant to my life but I understood that this piece was so insightful and so beautiful and written by someone of such a young age, I felt compelled to write it down knowing I would want to some day go back to it. That day has not yet arrived, but I want to share with you the small paragraph I copied out from Anne's diary into my own with an element of intrigue as an 11 year old girl discovering who I was going to be.
"Love, what is love? I don't think you can really put it into words. Love is understanding someone, caring for him, sharing his joys and sorrows. This eventually includes physical love. You've shared something, given something away and received something in return. Whether or not you are married, whether or not you have a baby. Losing your virtue doesn't matter, as long as you know that as long as you live you'll have someone at your side who understands you, and who doesn't have to be shared with someone else."
I can't really explain why I felt the need to remember these words. I just know that I had an inkling these would and do mean something to me. And I understand them completely.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The 90s babies.

We, the babies of the 90s, have created a collection of adolescent tastes that one will find difficult to avoid, and if managed to avoid will then wonder why they ducked out of the fast flowing 21st century teenage generation. For, in actual fact, it's quite exciting. We are the children of a new age, born into a world where the internet has always existed and a technological revolution has begun. Although some of us will be lost to conformity and stray from our natural senses, I believe that the rest of us, hopefully the majority, will ride the waves of our time, our new time, with such brilliance we will create an explosion that will force the world into the pristine age of technological wonder. We will break from the dawn of this age by feeding off the past and the present, and grow up into the future carrying the troubles and virtues of now. We will not become a better generation or a better time, but we will create our own way aided by the already laid down path of our parents and grand-parents. Our youth, however, is sitting comfortably and ready for a world that is to come. We wait, in the Western world particularly, with quirky habits and fashions and crazes stealing from the decades before. Here are just some of them.

In this generation of teens we have two kinds of people; those who play video games and those who don't. Those who do despise those who don't, and those who don't look in puzzlement at those who do. Or, of course, you have me who cannot count and we have a third person who does not essentially play video games but can empathise with those who do and sympathise with those who don't.

We also have many different types of music lovers. The mainstream Top 40 and the "I only listen to real music" elite group. Now this causes a confusion for some people, for real music can also slip into the mainstream Top 40, so they then get stuck in this awful trap of Ed Sheeran or Birdy, who are not bad musicians themselves but can drag you into the money processing machine Simon Cowell has appeared to create. Another path you can take on this slippy slope of adolescent musical taste is to become so involved with bands that defy all categories that you lose all sense of any other musicians. If I were you, I would stay far away from a teenage collective opinion on music because either way you will become imprisoned in a sticky sort of genre/category.

Oh, and then we have the notorious hipsters. There is definitely only three types of people that relate to this subject. Those who are hipsters, those who try and be hipsters and those who hate hipsters. Now, you could say that "hipsters" are the equivalent to the New Romantics or punks or hippies even, but no, this new group haven't actually got a purpose. They have nothing to say other than they wish to be "indie" and that they despise anything remotely "mainstream". However, and rather ironically, they somehow accomplish to look identical to every one of their fellow hipsters and have allowed both words "indie" and "mainstream" to become in themselves mainstream. As you can tell, I am one of those who hate hipsters. I find that their lack of thought provoking and questioning of authorities is quite boring. Also, the fact that they all fail to see the absurdity of their fashion/taste/ideas is tedious and becoming very repetitive. They're so gob-smackingly twee that one more bow tie (however cool they may be) or another sprinkling of arrogance and I believe that they will all just spontaneously combust. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attacking individuals here, but as a group of people I think they are the members of our generation that will probably be lost to conformity and not be able to enjoy the wonders we're going to create because they will be too busy buying another pair of oversized glasses that they don't need to look "cool" and nerdy, a term most of them will have been using as a derogatory word before they were converted to hipsterism. Their holier-than-thou attitude will be gladly forgotten by me as we look back on our time as the youth generation.

So there you have it, our generation. We all either hate each other, love each other, or have no opinion of each other because it's far too mainstream. And yet, we're all probably going to change the world. Yeah, we're just that indie.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Completely ridiculous thoughts.

I tell people that I don't care what they think of me, that I can be who I am without any worry. Most of the time I'm lying. I try to believe that who I am concerns me and me only, and for some short bubbles of time I do. Until that bubble bursts when I hear someone say something about me or a second evaluation of what I have just done causes me doubt myself when I hear another's opinion. Obviously, after insisting quite the opposite, I do care. I care a lot. And it's always when I am being watched or assessed by someone whom I fear may judge me that I start to judge myself. It's as if I start to value someone else's opinion about my personal judgement and views above my own. For example, I suddenly cower and become incompetent when asked to perform in front of a group of classmates because I know that I will have to see them everyday and if I mess up or no one laughs at the funny parts I know, or I think, that they will only see that awkward image of me rather than the one before them. However, if I was asked to perform in front of a room full of 300 strangers then I'd probably be perfectly okay with that because I don't know them and we will probably never meet and so, and this is when I'm not lying, I do not care what they think of me.

You could say that I just worry about the people whose opinions mean something to me, like my friends or a crush, but they are usually some of the people who I can actually be myself around. It's the groups of people who I know already have a strong opinion of me and collectively do not like me, that I find myself feeling the most afraid of their judgement. Even though their view of me should be very low on my list of things to care about, I involuntarily do. I suppose that because it is a collection of peers that I find it the most intimidating, because it is not just one person it's a whole bunch of people that are judging me. It's a horrible feeling, and I wish I could just ignore them and carry on with being myself, it's what I tell other to do. But even when I try to ignore them I still know that they will continue to judge me. It's like having the feeling that someone is always watching you.

Now of course I know that in reality those particular people couldn't care less about me and that writing this was pointless because what I perceive isn't the same perception that they have. But I am 14 years old and so self conscious that I feel terrified going to particular places in case I mess up and they laugh or they think less of me. So I am lying, I do care what everyone thinks of me. I even think that they so much as care what I do. It's not vanity, it's pure teenage fear of being judged and until these cliques of people no longer exist in my life and my peers mature around me I don't think I'm going to be any less scared. It may be completely ridiculous, but completely ridiculous thoughts are all that my adolescent brain can manage right now.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

London is bloody great.

Imagine you've just got off the train at, let's say, Embankment station. You travel up the escalators, on the right side if you're walking on the left if you're happy just to stand and enjoy the ride. Adverts for the West End's best posted all the way along the wall, you look at every one as if the second Matilda poster will be any different from the last one you'd seen. Still you're enticed and say to your friend on the step below, "oh I really want to go and see that." though I doubt that you will. Finally the upwards journey ends and you arrive at the barriers. You've got your card your ready to go, pop it in or swipe it, always that moment of panic as you feel a crowd of people swelling up behind you and this machine decides that it doesn't like your card. It's fine, it went through, the gates have opened, you are now free to roam the streets of London. Look behind you, you're friend's right there, together you create a tiny number in the huge bustle that is the people. You can't stop, you'd hold people up, you just have to keep moving. Moving along with the crowd, the flow, whatever you want to call it. You arrive outside, even more noise, cars churning out fumes, people chatting, machines roaring, trains rattling. You turn to your left and start to walk up the stairs. You accidentally touch the railing in a day dream, "urgh!" you exclaim, "Millions of people touch that everyday. Think how many germs are on that!" "Oh stop whining." Your friend says as you continue to ascend. The last steps are here, it's not a long journey but you can hear it, you can smell it. It's here.

You have reached the top of the stairs. You look round and you can see everything. Glorious, beautiful London is right there before your eyes. The river is rushing beneath the bridge, tour boats full to the brim of people waving at you enthusiastically from below. To your right, the Gerkin, the OXO building, and the Festival Hall. To your left, if you ignore the train track then you can imagine the Houses of Parliament standing so majestically on the riverbank. You make your way through the long strand of people. Business people, tourists, families, couples. There's a Rastafarian playing the steel drum as you pass. A sweet melody drifting out into the heavy bass of a city. A train whooshes past on you left, the great rumble of the tracks ridding of all other sound for a few seconds. The wind whirls past, whipped up from the water. The sun is peaking through the mass of grey cloud that makes the city look like a painting. All manner of life is happening in every direction and "this is great" you think. "This is really great." You're coming to the end of the bridge now, and the crowd thins out. Another set of stairs to descend into another new world.

You are now in the artistic, buzzing South Bank. Some new exhibition is placed along the walkway, kids running in and out of huts playing music or an audio description of the meaning behind the work. The sun is fully out now and people sit sunning themselves on the astroturf outside of Foyle's or sit on the stairs eating sandwiches from Eat. You walk along to see the colours of the National Theatre, another crowd buzzing about watching some creative dance performance, a free expression of art for any passerby. You take a peek, it's good so you stay until the end, a quick stop at the theatre unplanned, but brilliant. Now that it has finished you want to visit somewhere else, so you walk back along where you came but instead of climbing the stairs you came down, you walk a bit further to the second lot of stairs, on the other side of the bridge. This time when you ascend you can see the Houses of Parliament and the clock tower that houses Big Ben. The London Eye is there too, spinning round and round full of people gazing at the wonderful sites. Along the bridge you go, another group of people you pass, more lives screaming loudly into the symphony of the city. You come off the bridge and walk up a street full of hotels you could never afford to stay in. "I bet you George Clooney's stayed in that one." Your friend points. "I bet you he has." You reply. Out from the rather quiet street you come into the loud rush that is Trafalgar square. Nelson sits proudly on his column staring at the boasting National Gallery, full of some of the world's wonders on canvas. People are everywhere, climbing on the lions, walking up or down the stairs, sitting on the stairs, taking photographs of friends, staring over the balcony onto the square, just passing by. It's a beautiful chaos. And you know that everywhere in London this chaos continues to happen, every day and every night. A huge and wonderful cacophony of life.

Imagine you're just getting on the train at, let's say, Marylebone station. People are filling up the seats as the train waits patiently for its time to leave. You've had a lovely day in London, you and your friend. Your feet now ache and you're ready for a nap. The warmth of the train is comforting and starts to send you to sleep. You remember what you saw today, and what you heard and smelt and touched and felt. All the people that you saw, all the buildings, all the sights. The music you heard, the chatter, the noise, the life. You remember the city that you visited, just moments before, and a smile spread across your face. "London it great." You think, "Just bloody great."

I wanted to give you a small snippet of what it's like to be in London, and this isn't even near to a quarter of what you see and do. I just adore the city, it makes me proud to be a part of the country, that I can call this city mine. I think it's a real tribute to the people of Britain, the workings of it. But I also think it's a wonderful welcoming to the people who visit. It's a wonderful place to be at any time. It has a magical feel to it, you can't explain what it is exactly but there's just something about it. There's just something wonderful about London.