Thursday, 27 December 2012


There shall be a point in the future where no doubt I will write a longer piece on this matter, but for now I give you my opinion in a rather condensed manner. Materialism is to me a particularly odd thing, to care that much about things must be desperately tiring. However, I often find myself in positions where in fact I am inclined to be materialist without really meaning it. For example, Christmas day comes along and I do love dearly the food and the music and the friends and family, but I also care about what I receive. And I am ever grateful for all my gifts this year and was not in the least disappointed, enjoying and thankful for each one. I did not receive presents that would cost my parents an arm and a leg nor would I ever ask to receive such things, I believe it to be greedy to want something so expensive that would not be shared or you would not input financially to get it. So does this mean that I am, if not intentionally, a materialist or that I am not? Does expecting to receive gifts on a festival that is somewhat related to the giving of presents and festival that society expects one to give make me a materialist? Or can I innocently label myself as enjoying giving gifts to loved ones as well as receiving them?

I suppose I must dive deeper into this subject some other day, but for now I leave you with questions to ponder. I'm not going to make myself feel guilty with this topic, but I urge you to also take a look at how you view these gifts and objects that you may receive.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Top 7 family Christmas traditions.

I love Christmas. I love the excitement, the food, the music, the presents, the decoration, the games and the happiness I feel when I celebrate at this time of year. I also love the fact that for every single family there are separate and equally wonderful traditions for Christmas day. I like how some are similar, and some are completely different and unique to that family. And how each one means so much to the individuals. I love how rarely one changes a Christmas tradition, and that many have been carried out the whole of their lives. I love how the magic of Christmas changes through age, but never disappears. These are my family traditions that make Christmas for me, and are part of the magic I get excited for.

7. My gran's mince pies.

Now these are the absolute bomb. Having tried one of these beauties you'll never want to turn back. Nothing is quite a excellent as the squidgy, moist but not too moist pastry that literally makes your mouth water. It really is a unique recipe that has been passed down to my mum so that we get the pleasure of making them, and it wouldn't be Christmas without having at least one homemade mince pie.

6. Elf. 

I don't think there's been a Christmas since the film was made that we haven't watched it. It's one of those movies that never gets boring no matter how many times it's been viewed. My dad's a huge sucker for it, claiming every year that it is definitely one of his favourite films. Elf is a favourite for having the whole family in front of the TV, with the fire on, and feeling very Christmassy. It's a tradition I hope never dies.

5. Calling relatives to sing down the phone. 

Every year we call, or we receive a call, with a verse and a chorus of 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas' on Christmas day. Everyone in the house joins in and the family on the end of the line join in too, it's like our own private carol service. Except much shorter and we aren't quite as bored. And then we discuss what we got, thank each other for the presents we gave and tell the plans for the rest of the day. It's just a nice way of staying in contact with the relatives you couldn't spend the day with. And Christmas wouldn't be the same without mum telling me to say thank you to aunties for presents I have to search for frantically so I can remember what they actually gave me.

4. Charades. 

This is pronounced Charardes in my family because we are not Northern or American. Every Christmas evening there has to be at least several rounds of the game. With the family members most awful at it having the most goes because they're hilarious to watch, and we don't give them much choice. It's particularly brilliant when someone has to mime something impossible, and we all just laugh at them giving them no mercy. Because Christmas is a time for loving.

3. A tin of Roses or Quality Street.

Christmas is essentially a time for binge eating, an excuse to eat everything you absolutely love in enormous quantities. So after we've eaten the gigantic roast dinner, had second helpings of Christmas pudding and mince pies with brandy butter we convince ourselves that there is definitely plenty of room for chocolate. Every year the tin is bought and kept in the cupboard until Christmas day, or Christmas eve if we fail at waiting any longer, and is demolished in less than 24 hours. In my family, the concept of saving things for later rarely exists particularly with sweets and puddings. And so we often lie to ourselves at having 'just four' but in fact eating about ten and losing count because you're too absorbed in the process of eating them. By the time we come to the end of tin and only the unpopular chocolates are left we force ourselves to eat them, in favour of not wasting food. Obviously.

2. Doctor Who Christmas Special. 

Christmas hasn't ever been the same since Doctor Who was reintroduced onto our screens. The most important reason for the Christmas Radio Times is to know when the Doctor Who special is on. In fact, one of the first questions asked on Christmas morning is always "when's Doctor Who on?" because without it we feel Christmas really wouldn't be the same. Even though, as much as I love the show, the Christmas specials are always ridiculous it's a tradition that's popular in the family, and everything stops just for an hour so we can watch it. And any family members that don't watch it normally are forced into it by majority rule. Again, Christmas is a time for loving.

1. Present Piles. 

My sister and I feel that without the organisation of presents into piles for the people they're meant for would make the process of unwrapping them very messy. That and the fact that it's something to keep us entertained until the adults stop messing around and get down to business with the gifts. It also gives us the chance to see who has the biggest pile and whether the average size of the gifts are big or small. I'm honestly not the type of person who values Christmas simply for the presents, nor do I pull a tantrum if my sister's pile is bigger than mine, it's just been our tradition since we believed in Father Christmas. And I hope we still do it as adults, just for old times' sake.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I'm a Barbie girl.

When I was a little girl, I loved to play with Barbies. I loved my Playmobil and baby dolls too, but my Barbies were quite high on the favourite toys list. I had the whole 'shebang' when it came to Barbies; I had the lounge, the bedroom, and I even had the pregnant one with the removable stomach and tiny baby. My only version of Ken was my dad's old Action Man from when he was a boy, so he was obviously very busy in my little Barbie world. But I didn't just brush their hair and put pretty pink dresses on these dolls, I was more interested making realistic scenarios for these girls. I loved making the dolls reenact how I thought adults behaved, and they didn't just go shopping or have sleepovers. They lived gripping story lines as young widows with my Shelly doll and the tiny baby as their young families, and they only had tiny one bedroomed flats to live in because that's all the furniture I had. And the majority of the time they had to earn their own income for this young family because I only had one Ken and sometimes I couldn't find him. But it was okay because a woman doesn't always need a husband in order to survive, she can do perfectly well by herself.

However, despite these heart wrenching stories I contrived with my Barbie dolls whom were all independent, confident women, obviously, I am being told that by now I should have terrible body image because of them. Because whilst I was playing out these lives the ridiculously unrealistic bodies the dolls have were greatly affecting me, and some day I would be upset I didn't have arms that didn't bend properly. Fortunately I am not looking into surgery that will make my hands cease movement and become spatulas at the end of my arms because of the dolls I played with as a child. When I was an 8 year old I did not see the old fashioned misogynist view of how a woman should look in my Barbies, I just saw tiny plastic figurines that would be fantastic to play with. I laughed at the fact that their boobs were like odd looking cones on their chests, and that their feet would in no way be able to stand them up. I was annoyed, in fact, that they could not stand for themselves because it was a great obstacle in the stories as you could guess.

I can understand why some are becoming concerned in this day and age with the image that Barbie dolls portray to young girls, or boys. But I completely dismiss the claim that the toys are the root cause for my bad body image. I hold that blame entirely to the media. Whilst Barbie has the skinny waist, beautiful smile, gorgeous legs and luscious, long blonde hair it is not these features that were the focus in my play with the dolls. As you can see, I was far too busy making soap opera like scenarios with them and the one lone Ken/Action Man doll. I believe that adults have forgotten what it's like to be little, to not have the concerns and damage that the world brings on them. That a little girl playing with her Barbies dolls in the bath is just innocence, and to her it is just a trip to the pool or beach and not the display of 'perfect' female bodies that she will long for at 8 years old.

I agree that the stereotyping nowadays of Barbie dolls has gone a little too far, and I wouldn't have cared less if the box she came in was blue or neon green and not pink. It was the endless stories and games that the doll had the potential for I was excited about. I refuse to be labelled as 'girly' for playing with the dolls, and that cutting their heads off with blunt scissors and flushing them down the loo would have been any more morally sound. At the time I can remember my favourite colour being red, and that if I was given a remote controlled car or something boys were 'supposed' to play with I would have been equally as happy. I don't regret playing with Barbies and it hasn't made me into a 'girly' girl who only functions for the existence of pink fluff and sparkles. The dolls have not made me buy makeup when I go shopping or hair products or nail polish, in fact I usually buy books.

Therefore, I loved to play with my Barbies and I am proud to say I have not been mentally damaged by them. I have grown up sane and with a grasp on reality, almost. And I do not blame my often awful view of my body on the toys I used to play with as a little girl.

Thursday, 6 December 2012


Imagination is the most important, most wonderful thing the human species possesses. I find it so absolutely fascinating, that we can create and visualise literally anything. In our minds we can have/do/say/be/want/see/smell/hear anything we desire. The power that produces is immense, it means that sometimes our own mind is so strong we can sometimes use our own imagination against ourselves, almost force ourselves unwillingly to believe in something that is not real. Without imagination you would not have any of the items you possess today. If someone had not created in their minds an object or system or idea that would suit the problem at hand, then we would all be naked and unsheltered and hungry. And bored. So incredibly bored.

Whilst some of the most basic necessities to life are driven by instinct, like eating, I would not be wearing a scarf this moment if someone had not thought "I know how we can keep our necks warm, I've imagined wrapping a soft material around them." And someone else had also used their imagining power and replied "Yes, what a jolly good idea. We shall call them scarfs although I have no idea why, I only imagined the name, but I believe it suits perfectly." and there of course you have the accurate and heart warming tale of how the scarf was invented. However, without being silly it is true that without imagination there would be many things we as humans would never have, and life would be absurdly dull.

Although, without the practical side of imagination being key in our survival as human beings it is most ardently magnificent in the name of 'recreational' and creative purposes only. Had humans not had the beautiful idea of imagining tiny beings and worlds and creatures outside of the animal kingdom we know to be real, my room would not be full of fairies and fairytales. And I adore my fairies and fairytales. I think it is so wonderful that we create such magical and mysterious stories and myths to either explain and understand our own world and issues or simply to enjoy the thrill of the unknown. As a little girl I can picture so vividly the excitement and wonder I had when I truly and undoubtedly believed in fairies and pixies and elves and Father Christmas and other such things. It was such a happy and innocent and lovely feeling that I only wish I could feel it once more, that I could loyally believe in tiny winged creatures that wrote me letters from the bottom of the garden again. Now I can only smile at the beauty of the imagination of books like The Hobbit, and know that as a child I would have used it like an encyclopaedia for referring to the dwarves and goblins that would have existed in my mind. Although, I am still avid about the idea that Peter Pan could quite possibly be real and that soon he shall arrive at my window and take me to Neverland.

Of course I owe this truly wonderful type of happiness to the authors and creators of the stories. For without artists of any sort we would not have the worlds we can escape to, and the peace with which we find in them. I believe I would like someday to create a story for little girls and boys who are just like me and love to live in the endless world of their imaginations. But it will also be for, again like me, the people who have grown up physically but chosen to leave part of themselves as a child to feel the wonder of imagination forever.

It will always be children who are the true masters of imagination, for they have the real power to believe in something unreal but completely magical. Whilst adults can use imagination for practicality and development, artists and children shall use it to create nonexistent people and creatures and worlds. And forget reality, because their minds are far more interesting places.