Is there too much pressure on teenagers?

Recently I’ve started thinking about the pressure put on teenagers, pressure from teachers to do well at school, pressure from parents to do well in life and the age old pressure from their peers. Last night, I was speaking to a family friend’s sons, their ages are all different at 16, 14 and 10. It was fascinating to listen to each of their problems, the 16-year-old was terrified about his GCSE results next week, the 14-year-old was nervous that he wasn’t going to make the right GCSE choices for next year and the 10-year-old just wanted to learn how to play snooker. The latter was the only one I slightly envied.

As we grow the decisions we make become more important and I’ve always wondered why at the age of 16, we are forced to start taking some of the most important exams of our lives and making the most important choices too? Weren’t we always told not to grow up too quickly? At 16 my main focus was boys, my friendships, starting going out and having a good time. These spirits dampen when you have teachers breathing down your neck explaining you will not get into sixth form and therefore will not go to university. At the time I had bigger things to worry about, I had spots, hormones, fights with my mother and I was going to the cinema with a boy on friday night, so where would I fit in my coursework?! By 17 things slightly change, the first serious heartbreak, the first time you get really drunk, the problems worsen and so do the exams. A-levels were the toughest exams I ever did and there’s no half-arsing it, it’s all or nothing. I didn’t work very hard during my a-levels and just scraped it to get into university, but sixth form was probably the best time of my life. The nerves on exam day did however finally kick it into gear for me that I needed to work really hard! If I could go back and speak to my 17-year-old self, I would say to work harder at school, the people who are so important to me that I wouldn’t remember their names and not to worry that boy who broke my heart would get his just desserts. To be honest though, I probably wouldn’t have listened.

The mistakes we make as teenagers make us who we are as they teach us valuable lessons. If I had worked harder at school, I would never have been so nervous on exam days, if I hadn’t crashed my car into a tree, I wouldn’t know the value of wearing a seatbelt and if I hadn’t thrown up in my dad’s car, I would never have learnt I can’t drink tequilla!


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Old friends are the best

From the age of around 18, you learn to deal with friends going away for long periods of time. Gap years and friends off to different universities all around the country becomes the norm. I have a group of eight best friends that I went to school with and we all study or work in different parts of the country. The majority of us have been travelling at some point and we’ve all gotten pretty good at saying goodbye. This however, never makes it any easier and we always all get knocked for six when one of us goes away again. As I write, I am going to see off one of my best friends tonight as she is leaving for the states for six months.

I suppose I never helped myself by not moving away to go to university, I stayed in my hometown and watched my favourite people around me move away. I moved into my own place that was closer to campus but still only ten minutes from my parents. School and sixth form was a blast for me, seeing my best friends every day, messing around in the common room, what wasn’t to enjoy? We all have the most fantastic bond and we all know that friendships that are as close as ours take hard work. We stay in constant contact with the help of social networking sites, groups and phone calls. We grew up together and therefore understand each other perfectly, our flaws, pet hates and exactly how to wind each other up. Arguements with us all are few and never last long as we are all pretty relaxed and can be one hundred percent honest with each other. I consider myself so incredibly lucky with my friends as I know it’s the kind of bond others wish to have. We love each other so much that being apart only makes it that much better when we get back together. There is no hesitation in my mind that we wont be there throughout all the other stages in our lives, marriage, kids, etc. But it’s also a given that they’ll be there throughout the bad times too, they are the best seven shoulders to cry on.  I’ve always said I have the best friends in the whole world, they just aren’t with me. But, when I think about it, they really are, we’d move mountains to see one another if there was a problem and are always on a phone for advice.  I know that although tonight my friend will be leaving with a heavy heart but with us all securely in it.

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Were Vogue wrong to shoot a young girl that way?

A recent spread for french Vogue has stirred up some controversy this week, when they gave a ten-year old model her own shoot. Thylane Lena-Rose Blondeau was shown posing on fur rugs, wearing stilettos, wearing heavy make up and high fashion gowns.


Now, the average Vogue subscriber, I don’t believe would have a problem with this spread as, like me, they would see it as high-end fashion as opposed to adverts for pedophilia. This featured shoot in Vogue has her dressed up to the nines in grown ups outfits. The shoot itself shows a little girl in women’s clothing and has clearly been done to highlight the irony of it all. The multi-million dollar industry that is high-end fashion are always looking for new ways to emphasize the clothes and stir up publicity and what a terrific job they did of getting this little girl noticed. Fashion models have, by tradition always started young, Kate Moss started at fourteen for example and this rule of thumb is stronger than ever with the likes of Haillee Steinfeld and Elle Fanning becoming the new faces of major fashion campaigns by names such as Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs.


Despite this, I do understand why the moral outrage card has been thrust onto this Vogue spread, she does look too provocative and her heavy make up makes her look older than her young ten years. Vogue however, have done this girl a world of favours, little Thylane is now going to be in even higher demand and will probably be set for life when it comes to jobs. It’s no wonder this young girl went into modelling, if my child had facial features that beautiful, it would probably be something I’d encourage, too.With long wavy hair and piercing blue eyes it’s no wonder she’s been compared to the likes of greats such as Brigitte Bardot.  


When it comes to anything in life I’ve always found the French to be far more flippant and laid-back about things whereas the British have a tendency to get their backs up a little bit easier. I think more people need to start seeing this for what it is as just a fashion shoot, with a young girl caught in the middle. People are worried about how this is going to affect Thylane in later life but if everyone keeps harping on about this one shoot, she will be remembered for controversy and with a very impressive modelling resume, that doesn’t seem right. There may well have been an error in judgement by parents, photographers and editors with this spread but personally I can’t see many pedophiles buying French Vogue, anyway!

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Nailed it!

A massive new trend alert that I have noticed has arrived in the form of nail art. The old theory of ‘if you have a steady hand with polish there’s no need to pay for a manicure’ is completely out of the window. You don’t have to pay, but you may as well when they look this good. It’s no longer acceptable to just have acrylic french tips, this is now too dated. Why have white tips when you can have multi-coloured?! The best thing I ever did was put all my nail polishes into a big shoe box, this way I can get creative on my own when I’m bored in the house in front of the TV.

Nail artists are the new hair stylists and names like WAH nails and Sophy Robson are spreading like wildfire and becoming the new Nicky Clarkes of this world. I found Sophy Robson via twitter about four months ago and what an inspiration that woman is! She has just released a line of instructional how to booklets for Sephora in the US, so we can all achieve the professional look at home. Thanks to her, my wallet hurts. I have spent more money on polishes and nail art pens in the last few months trying out her new ideas. I’ve had rhinestones, leopard print, pastels, minx, smiley faces, polka dots, you name it. I’ve never changed my styles so much but there’s something about doing my nails that relaxes me.

This trend is obvious if you look for it, adverts in magazines have started incorporating nails more and nail art’s being used more on the runways, too. For instance, Topshop at London Fashion Week gave their models dalmatian nails to match the seasons dalmatian prints. The nail art trend has always been popular but has become more mainstream with the release of shatter polishes though brands such as O.P.I. and Barry M. With openings of WAH nails in Topshop on Oxford Street, fabulous and quirky nails are now easier than ever to obtain. My suggestion is to get down to Boots, buy some polishes and have a lazy sunday painting and trying new things.

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Shoes, glorious shoes

A shoe store, I have found, is something that has the capacity to start wars. There’s the wife to husband, girlfriend to boyfriend or even daughter to father argument of ‘but I love them, I just can’t afford them, please’. This is the most popular, if any of these men refuse this request, I’m sure we are all familiar with the wrath they will feel along with the silent treatment for at least a few hours.

There’s also the ‘I’m sorry, we don’t have these in your size’ argument, this is usually met with panicking, sweating women asking frantically if they can be ordered online or at least in another store. With size two and a half feet, US size 5 and european 34/35, that woman is usually me. There is one way of avoiding this argument, if the sales assistant comes out with two boxes neither of which are your size, it’s probably a good idea to walk away. Neither will fit and can only lead to disappointment. Women shoe salesman always speak to me so calmly and with such great sympathy in their voice as they politely tell me ‘no’. I feel they understand the loss that’s occurring, you just don’t get that kind of sympathy with male shoe salesmen, you can tell they’re more annoyed about the loss of their commission.

The final shoe argument is the one that can turn friends against friends, mothers against daughters and can lead to full on fights between strangers, this is called the ‘I saw it first’ argument. I inherited my ridiculously small feet from my mother, she has the same size only wider, this means the shoes that are just that too big for me, she could pull off. I’ve also done battle with strangers in sales before now to which I  have seen a pair of shoes, gone to take my shoe off to try it, had someone take the shoe from me and then ran over to where the woman was and stolen them back. The arguments between my mother over 20 years have been catastrophic, we now know when it comes to shoe shopping, she’ll start on one side of the store and I’ll start on the other and whoever sees them first, gets them and that’s tough luck.

Most men don’t understand the fascination that women have with shoes, the rush that women get when the most gorgeous shoes fit perfectly and look beautiful. Yes, they will hurt after ten minutes and yes, if we try to dance we will probably slip and yes, if we attempt to walk on cobble stones we probably will break an ankle. But, what a small price to pay for something that will give us sophistication, elegance and grace and good golly they make my legs looks good!

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Gone but never forgotten

Losing the family pet is never easy and I went through this a few times when I lived at home. We had a few dogs and cats that were so tragically lost and I would always be so upset but probably too young to understand. I would always take comfort from a new puppy or kitten pretty much straight away.

Pets have always been around me, so when I moved into my own apartment and broke up with my ex, being really alone for the first time was tough. So I did what I knew and bought a baby bunny, much to the dismay of my mother who at the time realised I was treating him like a comfort blanket. When I purchased Crawford, I did it for the wrong reasons but that didn’t mean I didn’t instantly fall in love with him. I wanted to give him a cute ‘bunny’ name like Cottontail, but a friend quickly reminded me that wasn’t exactly nice if he was a boy. He had a marking like a beauty spot to the right side of his nose like Cindy Crawford and the rest was history. He lived in the kitchen for a little while and had free rein until we realised he was never going to be litter trained and seemed to hide away from time to time in a small cubby hole. So we bought him a cage to be put in the corner of the living room, he could always see out and seemed so much happier in a space that just belonged to him. We let him out for a run around most nights when we were there but he wanted more, he just wanted to play all the time and would shake the cage constantly. A noise that drove me so insane at the time but would do anything to have back now. I stand by that Crawford was the happiest rabbit I had ever seen, most rabbits I had come across before were usually being man-handled by a small child and were sat in their arms looking miserable. Crawford completely dominated our apartment, if he wanted a fuss, he would let you know with a nose nudge, otherwise he ran around the room going crazy and jumping up and down. He also treated my carpet like grass and over the years many holes appeared, despite hours of chasing him around the room wrestling bits of carpet out his mouth.

Most rabbits have an average age expectancy of 4-8 years so imagine our horror when we found him dead after just a year and a half on Saturday. A perfectly healthy rabbit who showed no signs of deterioration, just gone. Needless to say I have taken losing this pet the hardest, no longer was he the family rabbit, he was only mine for a long period of time until my boyfriend moved in and then we were our own family. I knew he was dead but still felt the need to take him into the PDSA animal hospital, who were brilliant despite my hysterical state. I think I was hoping for some miracle revival or for someone to tell me that this was Crawford just tricking us and he was fine. Obviously this was not the case and even the vet couldn’t work out what had happened other than a heart attack or stroke out of the blue. I couldn’t bear to have done a post-mortem on his little body.

We ended up driving miles with tears in my eyes to find a pet crematorium. I spent pretty much the whole of Sunday and Monday crying, especially when I got his ashes. We buried these in the bottom of a peace lily and put it in the corner where his cage used to be. Having something there helps with the grieving process as it no longer seems as if he never existed which it did over the weekend. Some people have made comments such as ‘It’s only a pet’ these people in my eyes are pure ignorant and I pity them as they have never cared for an animal in the same way as I have. Crawford was a huge part of my family and was so very dear to my heart, he will never be forgotten and I have never missed something so much as the rattling of that cage.

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Filed under Animals, Death, Rabbits

Harry Potter and the end of an era

They say all good things must come to an end, I wish this wasn’t the case. I, like so many others, have grown up with Harry Potter. Every year there has been something new added to the JK Rowling saga, be it a book or a new film, there was always something to be excited about.  I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone when it was first published in 1997, that would have made me six years old. Granted, I was too young to read it really and remember being confused in places, despite this I carried on reading her books. Even at six I was hooked and I read the next book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It wasn’t until the film was released that I was made aware of how ‘Hermione’ was actually pronounced, in my head I referred to her as ‘Her-me-oh-nay.’ As I grew older, I started to appreciate how wonderful and well-written the stories were and as with any beloved tale, I started to fall in love with the characters I knew so well.

The films were cast so fantastically even then and the characters were exactly how I had imagined them which thrilled my ten year old mind. Throughout the years there was always the excitement of a new book or a new film being released. The new books always seemed to arrive in summer and despite being on holiday, my mother and I always managed to find a copy in quaint English bookshops in France or Spain.  So with the release of the final film yesterday, I’ve been feeling nostalgic. I re-watched all the films within the week before I went, therefore allowing myself to touch base with where the story left off. The Deathly Hallows part two did not disappoint eagerly awaiting fans, this was confirmed by the huge round of applause that went up at the credits. I spent around 10 per cent of the film laughing and the other ninety sobbing. Seeing the iconic Hogwarts castle in such a bad state, left me in a similar way.

These massive feelings of emotion will not be felt by others older or younger, they will not understand how significant it is that Neville Longbottom is presented with the sword of Gryffindor or the importance of Professor Snape’s patronas charm being a doe.  For me, the ending of the Harry Potter series marks not just the ending of a good series of films and books, it’s saying gooodbye to friends that have been there my whole life.

This year alone I’ve gone a little potty for Potter as I visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, Orlando. I have myself, drank Butterbeer, played Quidditch and helped Harry defeat the evil Lord Voldemort. Due to this visit, for my twentieth birthday and in the spirit of staying childish, I had a Potter party allowing myself and my guests to dress up as characters.  

Alas, the fun and games really are over and with it my final part of childhood has come to a close. With aspirations of becoming an author, JK Rowling truely is an inspiration, she has touched so many lives with only her imaginative stories and for this, gratitude must be paid. So I thank her for Hogwarts, for Dumbledore’s kind nature, Ron’s sarcastic manner, Hermione’s gentle yet pushy tone, Harry’s courageousness and most importantly the adorable Neville Longbottom. I will forever remain a fan and will read a book or switch on a film the next time I need a little escape from reality.

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Are newspapers trying to prove how dated they are?

I’ve always been a big believer in newspapers and have always preferred to read them in life than online. Ever since I was young my father and I would fight over the newspaper in the morning and they’ve made me want to become a journalist. It’s always interesting to receive people’s reaction when you say this would be your future job of choice.  The reaction has changed somewhat recently as you can imagine, now instead of ‘oh good for you, it’s tough out there but I’m sure you’ll do well’ is now usually met with begrudging looks and tales of friends of friends involved in any form of recent Newscorp scandal.

I’ve found myself in hot water over recent months when speaking about these recent disgraces with friends and stood up for the News of The World. Even though I don’t condone their actions, I have said in the past that the public have been slightly to blame with regards to ‘hackgate’ by not making a bigger fuss when it only involved celebrities but as soon as it slightly crosses a morality line, they can cry moral outrage. I do mainly still believe this as I have to wonder why should any other person’s right to privacy be denied in a pay out whereas another’s right can close down a national newspaper.

Gordon Brown yesterday came out and told about how The Sun immorally used his son’s Cystic Fibrosis to sell newspapers and illegally obtained documents to prove the disease. Finally, a case for both sides! Only a politician could bring the celebrity side and the moral outrage cry together. So what did The Sun do this morning? Printed the most in your face headline imaginable. Newscorp haven’t said one single thing defending their actions until today and this is how it’s done? With not a shred of dignity or class left, the headline simply reads ‘BROWN WRONG’. That the Browns knew they were going to run the story because Rebekah Brooks called the ex-PM and told him they planned to do so, that they were told by a member of the public and not by accessing any medical accounts. Have the newspapers finally lost it? Are they so out of touch that they do not realise that this damning headline has just lead to trending twitter topics such as ‘boycott the sun’? Do they seriously believe that just because they’ve said ‘no, we told him’ that it’s ok?

Rebekah Brooks is quite clearly crazy, this was confirmed after I did a little background reading and remembered her attempted assault on her ex husband, a little known man named Ross Kemp. It never has been or never will be ok to gossip of someone’s illnesses and as a newspaper they went about it so wrong. Why didn’t Brooks just ask him for an interview speaking out about it? It’s easier, the Browns could have had time to prepare what to say, to raise awareness and to get the story out in their own way. Instead The Sun as usual, filled with class, beat him to the punch.

The British newspapers were once my favourite thing of the day, now I find myself cringing at their headlines for a fear of what malicious statement they’re going to make next. My faith in them has been shattered and I have started to question myself for wanting to go into journalism. It’s safe to say that I will never read a News International paper again and have firmly swapped over to The Guardian.

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Early dawning, Sunday morning

Everybody has their own hangover cures, a friend of mine swears by Red Bull and cigarettes, personally I prefer the old two glasses of water before going to bed. But despite the inevitable hangover, my favourite day’s a Sunday, I can wake up late, go up to my parent’s house for a roast and I get a good old bit of gossip from the News of the World. Even if I couldn’t get there that day I always googled the front page, just to see what the whole of the UK would be talking about for the next week.

So imagine my sadness as I drove home from a friend’s house yesterday with a heavy head, leapt out at the nearest petrol station (still wearing my cookie monster pajamas) to retrieve my paper and to realise that I will never again have this enjoyment on a Sunday. One thing is clear, I do not agree with the News of the World’s behaviour and their desperation for stories but my heart goes out to the innocent journalists that lost their jobs because of other’s actions. Maybe there was no way out of the situation for them other than to close, but what about the readers that would have still bought the paper? With a fuzzy head there’s nothing better than cheap gossip, I will not make my head hurt any more by reading a paper with font smaller than any human can read! Yes, maybe I do sound like a philistine but I promise I have my moments of intellect especially ever since my father’s passed his subscription to The New Statesman on.

I did feel slightly out of sorts yesterday and started to wonder, what will be the topic of conversation at Sunday lunch next week? Will we have to talk about work? School? Will silence finally fall at the Shortland’s table? I’m sure somehow we will all pull through but I know an overwhelming sadness will wash over me as I will have nothing to sooth my aching head. So despite their problems over the last month or two, I will remember the News of the World in a positive way, as a paper that always made me feel better, for getting my heart to race and for the copious amounts of conversations started by me asking ‘oooh did you see the NOTW this morning?’ And whilst actors and footballers will now sleep safer in their mistresses beds and will no longer have to look over their shoulder as they snort a line, I on the other hand will never enjoy a hangover as much again.

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No Love’s labour’s lost for Shakespeare?

Growing up half an hour from Stratford-Upon-Avon has been a blessing for me as a Shakespeare fan. I see the most amazing productions of some of the best plays ever written on a regular basis and I enjoy every minute. As a child I took drama lessons and therefore had Shakespeare’s words drilled into me from a very young age and I enjoyed analysing every quote and finding different and hidden meanings in his words.  I was therefore skilled in the art of his rhythm and rhyme very early on and probably understood the meaning of ‘iambic pentameter’ far too early in my life. However, with all credit to my parents who pushed me to go to drama lessons and my teacher, Mrs Jasper for putting up with my childish behaviour during her classes, I learnt an incredible amount. For a young girl of around seven sometimes it got a little confusing but I distinctly remember reading a series of CGP learning books that explained it in easy to understand ways. My love for Shakespeare has lived on throughout the majority of my twenty years and I do believe he single-handedly chose English as my degree.


During my GCSE’s I fell out of love with my dear William for a little while, I started to realise it was no longer fun to analyse his plays when it was every single line for around three hours a day. It also started to dawn on me that I was very reliant of my notes I’d made to find we couldn’t take our books into the exam. It was down to this man and a play I had never read to get me good grades, thankfully A Winter’s Tale was kind to me and I did do well. So when it came to my A-levels and I started reading Chaucer, my love grew back and Mr Shakespeare was a very welcome relief.


To my delight this year, one of my module choices was called ‘Understanding Shakespeare’ and the plays that were to be studied were Macbeth and Richard the third. My father went to the Royal Shakespeare Company the next week and returned with tickets to see Macbeth, three different written versions of Richard the third, including a manga novella and a bright pink t-shirt which read ‘Team Capulet.’ I’m very thankful to have parents that do share the same interests as me and support my love affair with a certain playwright’s words.



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