- Premium reviews
- Express reviews
- Reviews rated
- Ratings received
That, I think, is the only true purpose of a city like Oxford. I have lived here for eighteen months and am very ready to leave (although I can't until 2005!) The only thing I'm getting out of my time here is a professional qualification, and it's costing me dearly. On the plus side, Oxford is a beautiful place. The towns where I went to school and college were, shall we say, "architecturally challenged", except in places where the local council have built some kind of arts centre. The buildings in the city centre are magnificent and the fact that there is so much history steeped within them really makes visiting Oxford a worthwhile trip. In the summer, it's a very green place and it can be enjoyed on foot or by boat. What all this beauty and history translates to is a booming tourist industry which I have to say I saw no sign of being affected by the September 11th Attacks, but last summer was my first here. The streets become crowded to the point of being unbearable, which I feel is all a bit much when I'm only trying to get to work! Thankfully, I haven't been asked "Can you tell me where Oxford University is?" because I don't think I could keep a straight face. Oxford is an expensive place to live. It is a desirable place to live, I would agree as there are nice houses and good schools, but this makes student life here a bit of a struggle. While Oxford is close to London (some 54 miles according to the signs on the M40) it falls outside of the area surrounding London where cost of living bonuses are available. A student in London will recieve extra loan for living in London while a student living in Oxford wont. Hospitals like the John Radcliffe have experienced recruitment problems because nurses can't afford to live here: the location 'bonus' simply isn't enough. I would love to stay here post-qualifying, but I can't afford to. Another factor raising the cost of livin
g is tourists: they bring money to spend and prices are raised accordingly - but what about the rest of us?! The nightlife isn't up to much unless, again, you're a tourist. There are lots of restaurants, however, to cater for all tastes and budgets and that's just in the city centre. Tea at the Randolph or an all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet? In terms of food, Oxford has a lot to offer. Shopping is also mainly tourist orientated - in the summer you can't walk staight for tripping over postcard stands. There are the standard high street shops but the choice isn't vast: River Island, Next and New Look just about cover womenswear. There are some top of the range shops, however, like Whistles and Agnes B. What surprised me was the number of shops selling skate wear or off the wall clothing, DNA and Cult Clothing to name two. My advice: Reading is cheaper to get to than London (although both are possibilities) and the choice is much better. My final dislike for Oxford is the vast majority of the people that I meet here: the rudeness, arroagance and sheer contempt for fellow human beings is mind blowing! So many people that I know who moved into the area have noticed it. I don't feel any real pride in it as a place and could never call it home because of these attitudes - they're not representative of me and I don't wish to be associated with these people that behave so appallingly. Oxford, you're only good for selling postcards to gullible tourists who couldn't find Oxford University. And that's nothing to get sniffy about.
I first heard of Incubus about two years ago when my cousin played "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." to me. "It's stoner," she said. "When you're stoned, the lyrics make more sense." Having recently gotten into stoner, I think that comment is absolute pants. Incubus are a band with talent and a conscience. With all the current nu-metal crap flooding the market, it's about time this band were heard. Once you have heard "Aquaeous Transmission" on "Morning View", you will not turn back... Brandon Boyd, the lead singer, has an absolutely amazing voice which can scream with the best of them on tracks like "Make Yourself", bang out a good tune on tracks such as "Circles" and make you want to draw your loved ones near, an example being "Summer Romance (Anti-Gravity Love Song)". The lyrics that he writes are truly beautiful. When I say they are a band with a conscience, they are neither trying to save the earth or moan about how traumatic their childhood was. When Boyd sings about love, he sings about what love is, not what the marketing men think it should be. "Are you gonna stand around 'til 2012 AD/What are you waiting for?/A certain shade of green?" for example. Nope, not traumas, simply "Get off your ass and do it!". "You do something to me/That I can't explain/So would I be out of line/If I said: I miss you". Over sentimental? Maybe, but it really sums up how I feel, being fifty miles away from the man I love, better than any pop band could sing it. The only criticism I would make is that Boyd's voice seems to be quite strained on "Morning View" but he still manages to sound good. Musically, I can't really fault this band and yes! Thay have a DJ! I'm usually very anti-DJ's in bands because half the time it sounds like an excuse to get the lead-singer's-best-friend into the band. Here, the man
is a genius. "Make Yourself" contains a track which is the Incubus DJ (who, typically, I forget the name of) scratching (his vinyl, fool!) with Jurassic 5. The samples used on "S.C.I.E.N.C.E." are actually worth having "Until the twentieth century, man believed that reality was everything he could smell, see...". Trust me, it has a context within the song and it's better than any radiator beating (Slipknot, come on down...) I haven't yet seen Incubus live as they toured when I had exams but they are touring agin in the New Year so I will catch them then and update. The first Incubus album is Fungus Amongus but the band have reccommended that we don't buy it. The second is "S.C.I.E.N.C.E.", quite rocky with "Summer Romance" being the only let up from the pace of the other songs. This was followed by "Make Yourself", a slightly mellower album but has it's harder moments. The latest release is "Morning View". It is the only album I have ever rushed out to buy on its release date. Check out the cover and you can hear where Incubus are coming from. It's even mellower than the others but rocks here and there. It's pure aural indulgence. So what ARE you waiting for? A certain shade of green?
The Extreme festival took place in three locations: London, Nottingham and Glasgow, during August. I went to the Nottingham one, on August Bank Holiday Monday. It was dubbed "City In The Park" due to some collaboration with Rock City. So, at nine am that morning we got up, showered and departed for Nottingham. This was no mean feat, given that we had been at Leeds Festival all weekend. All things considered, no one was in any mood for driving round Nottingham, trying to follow road signs - or lack of them. The journey took an extra half an hour because the road signs directing us to the car park kept leading us into residential areas and dead ends. Hmm. Tickets were still available when we had been ripped off for parking (£5!) The tickets were priced at £18 when bought 'on the door'. Given that there were so many bands playing, this could be considered good value but when Leeds was £85 with camping... How naive am I? I thought the food would be relatively cheap here but no. You can expect to pay festival prices. eg. £3.50 for a bacon baguette. But they were mighty tasty. The process for buying alcohol was so complex and expensive we didn't bother. As Extreme was held in a field, it was relatively easy to either watch the bands or curl up and go to sleep. I must confess I did the latter. King Prawn opened the proceedings, which were later closed by Less Than Jake. Highlights for me included [spunge] and Pitchshifter. Pitchshifter unfortunately met with some hostility from the crowd but dealt with it very well. They seemed a little out of place on the bill and way too low for my liking. Less Than Jake were, of course, blinding, with the whole crowd skanking along to songs that are so familiar. The day was boiling hot but it was a really nice vibe in the Summer night, seeing so many people enjoying the same thing. Other bands playing included The Ataris and The Voodoo Glow Skulls. The day before, at Leeds (wher
e else), it had been 'The Punk Day' and two days of punk was just too much. The sound quality was pretty awful but it was a good effort and line up on behalf of the organisers. It's just a shame that the memory of Leeds influenced the day so much.
Like most students I like to sit around on a Saturday night and watch DVD's like a sad fool. Actually, this isn't strictly true but given that the alternative was dressing up like a school girl and pretend to enjoy dancing to Steps, I opted to curl up with The Boyfriend and watch The Green Mile. The film opens in modern day America but the main part (the story that the elderly Tom Hanks is telling) is set in 1930's America). The principle character of the film is Paul Edgecombe [Tom Hanks]. He is a prison warden in E block, or Death Row, affectionately called the Green Mile. It is his job to oversee all the executions that take place. His life is altered somewhat by the arrival of a certain John Coffey, an eight foot illiterate black man, found guilty of the murder of two young, twin girls. I can't remember the name of the actor who plays Coffey, but he reappears in Planet Of The Apes as Lead Gorilla. Coffey has a gift in that he can heal. By touching Edgecombe, he cures him of, of all things, a bladder infection, coughing up the disease in the form of black confetti. He brings Mr Jengels (a mouse) back to life after the sadistic warden Percy stamps on him. He cures the Governor's wife of a brain tumour. Using the poison from this, he infects Percy who then shoots and inmate, "Wild Bill". Percy sabotaged the execution of an inmate, causing him to fry rather than be electrocuted. Percy goes into a catatonic state and is institutionalised, in a clever retribution engineered by Coffey. I wont reveal why he got Percy to shoot "Wild Bill" nor will I reveal how the story ends, suffice to say it is a cynical film. The Green Mile is adapted from the book by Stephen King. In my experience, King novels to not translate well onto screen but this is a truly excellent film. I have not read the book but I sense that much of the film has remained true to it, possibly due to King's involvement with the film. Kin
g was also involved with the making of The Shawshank Redemption, another excellent adaptation, and they are both directed by the same director. If you enjoyed one, you'll enjoy the other and vice versa. It is a shame to write King off as a tacky horror novelist because this film is worth every penny. In my mind at least, Hanks will always be a comedy actor. If not that then a romantic comedy actor. Here, however, he is serious and plays his role well. I wouldn't say Oscar winning but he has been pidgeonholed, I feel, and he capable of more than teaming up with Meg Ryan every twenty minutes. The actor who plays Coffey is excellent. He really is a gentle giant and contrasts greatly with the articulate, intelligent, er, gorilla he has played more recently. He was Oscar nominated for this role. The supporting cast is made up almost entirely of "Oh my God, what was he in!" type actors. It will drive you mad, I promise you. An epic in every sense of the word? The Green Mile weighs in at three hours and one minute which is a long time for a film. Don't let that put you off though. In the beginning, I couldn't see the point of half the scenes I was watching but as the film progresses, it becomes clear that everything you see and hear is relevant. And sadly I think it is the only way for a film to stay true to the book, as usually much of what made a book so good ends up on the cutting room floor. This film doesn't require particularly heavy concentration but it is hard not to be drawn into the lives unfolding before you. The scenery is also pretty stunning.
I started reading Sugar when it first came out some five/six years ago. I stopped buying it becuase I went through a "mature" stage but now my whole life is pretty much back at the stage where I want tacky pink freebies and I'm bored of trying to direct my man...no, never mind, go check out the opinions on More! Taking the broad spectrum of magazines pre-Sugar, what was on offer to females went from Bunty to Cosmo. Magazines such as Shout catered for little girls wanting to be teenagers...but what about teenagers who wanted to be more grown up? Sugar magazine filled, in my opinion, a niche market. It was glossy, like "grown up" women's magazines. The content deals with issues that parents rarely touch and schools try and teach you but it ends up being quite frankly embarassing. My boyfriend's mum is a school nurse and the idea of her saying the word "condom"...no. Just, no. Sugar has all the usual "girlie" stuff in: make up tips, hair styles, fashion pages and posters. At a time when having "the look" is all important, Sugar always comes out top with advice on how to dress if you're tall/small/skinny/chubby. It also gives advice on being healthy. I can understand why this may concern some parents but trust me on this: Cosmo may tell you to run twenty miles a week, not eat fish and wholemeal bread on the same day and meditate every night, Sugar is the basics: more fruit and veg, less crisps, play at the playground with your mates to get fit. If only the USA had Sugar... The language makes me cringe a little and even my younger sister laughs: lush lads, anyone? But the magazine isn't for me, who am I to criticise? Where girls magazines come under fire - and I remember seeing this on the news - is the way they deal with sex, drugs and other sensitive issues. That is, exposing children to this sort of thing too soon. How soon is too soon? The playground is one big sex ed. fo
rum! If talking to parents is too embarassing and school is downright impossible, this is the first port of call for many young girls, and a damn good one it is too! Every now and then, Sugar runs "body specials" which are (sometimes) sealed sections in the magazine. It deals with puberty and how to cope, periods and how to cope and also what boys experience during puberty. It really is everything you ever wanted to know and were too embarassed to ask. They also run features on drugs and eating disorders, using real life stories to illustrate their point and always giving out help line numbers. Sex, I think, is the biggie but again this is dealt with in an appropriate manner: the problem pages, real or not, are the first place we all turn to in a magazine (you don't? Liar). Sensible advice from people who don't look like your auntie. I can relate to people who criticise these magazines. I bought Sugar for my sister once and tore out the pages on chlamydia, but that was error on my part. Other magazines, such as Just Seventeen have had to alter their format (now a glossy called J17) in order to compete with Sugar, which says a lot about the Sugar formula and its popularity. I'd recommend it to girls around the 14/15 to seventeen age group, and punk chicks with a fetish for all things pink and plastic.
I am not the world's expert on Pitchshifter and I'm not ashamed to admit I find the one called J S Clayden a little easy on the eye (at a recent gig, he requested that audience members throw their girlfriends onstage. Despite the August weather, the icy look from my boyfriend froze my very core...) I would also place myself firmly in the category of "Music Made by Machines is Pap". But then I heard this band. I bought www.pitchshifter.com in conjuction with Infotainment and Deviant (well, what are student loans for?) and www.pitchshifter.com has not left my CD player. I can't quite remember how I got into them but the fact that they are part of my "local" scene (in the country, anything within 50 miles is local) helped. That's Nottingham, to you, and they do frequent Rock City while in town. Form an orderly queue, ladies. I am not a great believer in listing tracks and giving an opinion on them because, let's face it, who cares about the fillers? While nothing on this album can be described as a filler, some tracks are better than others namely "Genius" and "w.i.s.y.w.i.g". I hope I got my vowels and consonants right there. I personally find the lyrics amazing ("If disfunction is our function/then I must be some kind of genius") the strong riffs and drum/machine/both beats instantly transport you to the mosh pit. Unfortunatley, parts of the album just fade into the background. Or, at least, do as much fading as 162bpm can do. Pitchshifter are a band with feelings and a social conscience, hence the politically, anti-capitalist lyrics which, if I didn't know better, were cribbed from the back of a credit card flier ("Yes sir/they're gonna save us/they're gonna save us/subject to status"). I saw them play at a punk festival (Extreme? Not likely) but have always thought of them as a metal band. Their ideology is punk and I can clearly hear Sid Viscious
in most of J S Clayden's vocals. This was particularly strong on Infotainment but his own style has evolved, although the bleach blonde 'do didn't do much to dispel the Sex Pistols-esque image. Not only do Pitchifter use instruments. They use samples. A lot. Looped, mixed, cut here there and everywhere. And maybe this is why Pitchshifter are so hard to define. They are proving that there are no rules for one genre and we ought to file them under "Unknown" along with Incubus. Accessible to you and me (because they live so near) and as far as I can see a down to earth band with a sense of humour, especially when being harangued by fourteen year olds drinking their first bottle of Diamond White. Not afraid to stand up and say it...I love 'em. Oh, and for all the 'wannabe' Pitchshifters out there: each album contains several samples that you can copy and use in your own music, as long as you credit the band. Free advertising and promotion? How punk is that...
Coming to Oxford Brookes Uni was a bit of a rush job and I didn't have a choice accommodation. Having a car limited my choices even further, so I ended up at Wheatley. Situated about five miles south east of Oxford, Wheatley Campus has both halls of resisence, and the Business School. The first thing you'll see on the approach is The Tower Block which earned the Campus the nickname of the 'projects' or the 'ghetto'. Apparently it sways in the wind but I'm not living there so I couldn't verify that. I have been in though, and it reminds me of a Spanish Hotel. A cheap one. In D building - my home! - in our particular section (J9 to J16) we had no hot water or heating for the first three days. The rooms are a lovely salmon pink, with some rather fetching sick stains on the carpet. Not mine, I hasten to add. Between the eight of us, there are three toilets and two showers, and a small kitchen unit. Communal areas are cleaned three times a week, apparently but I'm usually in bed at that time - heh heh - so I've never seen them. The Campus is catered and houses about 341 people, so you do the math. No, the food is not haute cuisine but it's edible. I'm no chef, so it suits me. Rent is currently about £79 a week. I have been told that the vast majority of the money from rent goes to the university, rather than Campus maintenance. Speaking of which... I have been here three weeks and there is still only one washing machine and dryer between all 341 of us! We are waiting for a new, proper laundrette to open on Campus but that keeps being postopned. The Campus was promised £2 million last year but this was withdrawn two weeks later. Madness! There is a bus, the 77, that runs every half an hour to Brookes Uni. From there, you can catch various buses into the city centre. Word of advice: if you have a 9am lecture, get the 8am bus, the traffic is horrendous! On fridays and saturdays, there are buses tha
t run at 1.30am and 2am. The daytime buses are free but the eary morning buses are not. They are still cheaper than a taxi though: be warned, taxi drivers will rip you off. Negotiate. Or get hold of Malcolm. The Students Union operates a women's safety bus which doesn't go to Wheatley. Durr. If you can't be bothered with Oxford (and, as a punk/metal/stoner fan, I can't) Wheatley has it's own bar and hosts the Wheatley Bop every thursday. Yep, I thought so too. Louder music and some guy throwing hip hop moves on the flo'. All this sounds pretty negative, doesn't it? I have been here three weeks and I'm fed up. Out here, however, there is a real sense of community. Or desperation, however you look at it. I'll update in a few months and at the end of my incarceration so then you'll all be better informed when choosing Uni's and where to sleep when you're there!
"Oh you know..." I said. "Actually, I usually use Marco Pierre White. It's amazing how simple it can be if one goes for a concentration of taste." This is Bridget Jones, telling Mark Darcy of her plans for the dinner party she is throwing. He wisely informs her that guests are there to see her and not the food...but somehow if you can create magnificent meals with apparent ease you have, in fact, Got It Made. Jamie Oliver is living proof of this. While our T.V. channels are choking on the rancid gristle that is T.V./Celebrity chefs, each one is trying to demonstrate how simple it all is and how anyone can create a meal and sit round the table with friends, knocking back the vino because cooking is all so simple. Up to a point, chefs have always been either a) French or b) incredibly posh sounding. Anthony Worall Thompson, par exemple. Jamie's arrival was to change all that. Young, attractive, cockney accent, vague lisp and a proud supporter of his local market. Housewives everywhere practically wetting their pants with anticipation. And I'll admit, I found him vaguely attractive and I'll admit I was quite inspired by his no nonsense approach. However, I'm sat flicking through "The Return of the Naked Chef" and can hear strains of the ad-break on T.V. "Lavley" "Pukka" "Tiger" Doesn't it wear a little thin after a while? "...Naked Chef" cookbook reads more like an autobiography (I know this is a T.V opinion, but I'm talking merchandise and tie-ins). It takes five lines to talk about his "underage drinking" which I believe is a metaphor for smoking too much pot anyway, before he gets on with the recipe. Oh, Lord. Watching The Naked Chef, I feel nauseous. The food's good and all, it's just the "This Life" inspired camera angles. This is not one for pregnant women (although congratualtions, Ju
les xx) and those with a weak heart. The accent grates horribly after a while. I don't have a problem with dialect, accent, whatever, but Mr. Oliver is more Dick Van Dyke than Del Boy. The adverts are horrendous and I get the impression - as do many others - that Jamie would sell his own Grandmother. No, wait, he did. The least he could do is shop there, but oh no! Not our Jamie! Waitrose and the market all the way. And the worse thing about it? It's all been done before. Even though several pages are missing and most of it is detatched from the cover anyway, Delia Smith's Complete Cookery Course is a Bible for anyone who wants to make to toast to serve a four course meal. But having an upper middle class accent and owning vast amounts of Norwich City doesn't qualify you as being hip. Shame.
It was after reading an opinion on dooyoo that I decided I had to read this book somehow. Call it fate when I found my sister curled up on the sofa reading it. It took me about two hours to complete. I'm sure many people are aware of the content of this book but for those who don't: "A Child Called 'It'" is an autobiography by Dave Pelzer, giving an account of his life between the ages of around four to around eleven. This was the time when he was being brutally abused by his alcoholic mother. It is the first part of a trilogy which also includes "The Lost Boy" and "A Man Named Dave". The book opens with the chapter "The Rescue", detailing how he managed to escape life with his mother (through nurses, teachers and social workers which I found pleasantly surprising). If this chapter had been at the end, as you may expect, then the book would merely become a story. In my view, the sense of freedom and escape brought by his rescue is carried with the reader throughout the catalogue of abuse. We, the reader, know that Dave will be taken away and he will be saved but of course Dave as he is in the book doesn't know this and I felt that I shared some of his hopelessness and desperation. What also makes the story difficult to believe (although I do) is the life Dave and his family led before his mother started drinking. 'Perfect' does not in any way exaggerate. Here I would agree that the writing and description is very naive and to borrow a phrase from another dooyoo-er "saccharine sweet". I have to remain on the fence for this because on the one hand it could be the American way of writing and speaking or it could be the naivety of a child. After this, the graphic descriptions of abuse and Dave's feelings and thoughts are described. In any other autobiography, the "and then I did this" approach would not go down very well. I didn't think it
particularly effective but it did serve to remind me that I was reading about a child. The language is simple without being over simplified and sounding like a four year old had written it. This is an autobiography to inform people about a very real issue. If you derived any entertainment value from it, I suggest you seek help. Pelzer tells us that his case of child abuse was the third worse in the state of California. Having read what his mother put him through, I cried at the thought of the poor child who got pole position. And then I wondered how he ranked nationwide, in the Western world and what about England? I am very sure that his case is not the worse people in social services and so on have encountered. I would say, however, that not every victim of child abuse will write a book about it, neither will every Holocaust survivor, say, and to be quite honest I'd rather they didn't. It only takes one, however, to speak out and educate us all.
Excuse the title. I have had too much caffeine today. When my style changed and became a bit more...baggy, shall we say, I needed a pair of skate shoes that would look good and not break the bank. I opted for a pair of Vans "Prone" in tan and blue priced £54.99 from HSC+ I personally do not skate, and my half hearted attempts at doing so have kept everyone entertained. I did, however, wear these shoes every day for several hours from the 25th of December 2000 to the beginning of August this year so I think I may be qualified to comment on durability! The shoe has a low back and very well padded tongue. The sides of the shoe are also quite low. This would give a skater room to flex at the ankles but doesn't reall offer much support if you just happen to be walking around. I went over on my ankle a couple of times, but that may have been the drink. This could be a foot deformity of mine, but the tongue on the right shoe always seemed to slip off to the side. It took several months for the laces to become frayed and a little bit longer for me to wear through the padding at the back of the shoe, exposing the plastic within but by this time I was ready for a new pair anyway. The colour has withstood a lot, the good thing about dark colours being that they don't show up the dirt as much. I tend to drag my feet and all through my life the heel of my shoes has worn away more on the outside, leaving a kind of slope. While this inevitably happened to my Vans, the sole was very durable and my abnormal walking patterns were not immediately visible. These Vans do not have an Ollie guard so if you do plan to use them for skateboarding, they will wear out quicker on the outside of the foot. As a street shoe they are unbeatable for quality and value. The only real downside was that everyone has a pair, either the same as mine or in different colours but the same style. I don't think I could ever
throw these away, if nothing else they can be my festival going shoes. I'm never loyal to a particular brand and have since bought a pair of DC Dash which I will no doubt review once I've knackered them in. --------------------------------------------- Just to add: HSC+ is a skate shop. There is a branch in Middlesex, with its own skatepark, and one on Goose Gate in Nottingham. They have the best selection of skate products I have ever seen by mail order and they are also branching out into snowboarding and BMX. When I locate the phone number again, I'll post it.
I can't quite believe that I am writing about anti-perspirant but, as my nearest and dearest will testify, I have become very passionate over my efforts to keep the dark patches at bay. Nice. I stopped using aerosols a while ago as I didn't find them as effective as roll-ons. I had liked the latest Sure roll-ons so imagine the delight in my sad little life when I saw that Sure had gone one better! The Sure Ultra 24 Hour Intensive Anti-Perspirant Creme comes in a plastic tube which is shaped more like a large bar of soap. Two clicks of the grey button at the bottom, and enough creme is oozed out of the top of the tube to protect one armpit. Simply rub in the creme until it's all absorbed and then go. No sweat. Do not use this product if you are in a rush. If you are anything like me, you leave as little time as possible to get ready in the morning and do not have time to rub in the creme. The result was nasty chalky marks on my clothes. This morning I tried to follow the instructions carefully: after showering, I applied two clicks to each arm and rubbed in the creme until I couldn't see any more. Before getting dressed, I also did some ironing. When I got dressed, about fifteen minutes later, I still ended up with a chalky mark on my black top. One of the selling points for me had been "no messy white marks". The creme can also collect in the creases of your underarm which is a bit of a disaster if you're wearing a vest style top. The marks really are unfortunate, yet major, downsides to the product. This is because it really does work! I was incredibly impressed with the protection from sweat marks that it gave. It says 24 Hour on the package and, although I've never stayed awake that long, I'm quite sure it would withstand that amount of time. You can also apply it to underarms that have just been shaved without having to screw up your face and fan cold air onto the offending nick from shav
ing. If you have upward of fifteen minutes to sit around and wait for the creme to absorb and dry, I would reccommend this product. If you're in a rush or a Goth, look elsewhere.
I am writing in here because a lot of things - including some opinions here - have wound me up to the point of screaming "IT'S SONLY SEX FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE!" This could develop into quite a graphic opinion, so if you're deeply religious or squeamish...turn away now. Teenagers are not going to stop having sex. I think we should blame medieval times, when most females were expecting their second child by the age of fourteen. But if teens are going to have sex, they have to do it responsibly. The whole maxim here is "Prevention is better than cure". I personally have only been on the Pill since Easter and even then it only came about because of an "accident" the night before. Note: the Morning After Pill is effective up to 72 hours after sex but becomes less effective as time goes on. Doctors reccommend that even if it is more than 72 hours but less than five days then you should still go and see them. It is not a form of contrapceptive in itself. But you all knew that, didn't you? Prior to this event, I had asked my boyfriend if he thought I should go on the Pill but he was always "It's up to you...I don't mind". Well, mate, you will mind when you're paying child support. The Pill is free and available from your GP or FPC (although I reccommend going to the GP). It is approximately 99% effective. It doesn't make you fat: sitting on your backside eating crisps makes you fat. It can affect the flow of your period but if you're struggling with any side effects...go back and see your GP to change the brand. Simple. How can we reduce teenage pregnancy in this country? By teaching girls that it's not wrong or shameful to take control of your own sexual health, fertility and life. Another popular method of contraceptive is the condom. Do they stretch over phone boxes? At that price, it'd be a waste to try. Again, condoms are available free of charg
e from a FPC. And they can be bought. Durex are slightly more expensive than, say, Boots own brand but providing they have the kite mark, they're good. Someone I know tried to buy condoms from a vending machine in the mens toilets of a pub but his money got stuck. he had to ask the bar man to retrieve the coins. My advice: stick to the shop. Maybe if they were cheaper more people would buy them and therefore use them. But they're free anyway. Are girls sluts if they carry a condom? I would hope not. If you think they are, then you are part of the problem causing teenage pregnancy. Are blokes expecting sex if they carry a condom? Possibly. But they might also be acting responsibly. Where's the harm in the benefit of the doubt? Condoms have a similar success rate to the Pill. If a couple are using both, it is a personal choice as to whether they stop using condoms. But the Pill alone wont protect you from STI's, STD's or having bodily fluids run down your leg. I warned you... I can't really believe that I felt the need to write this. Only now, in the 21st Century I am still hearing of abortions, pregnancy scares and the like. The information and the means to prevent pregnancy are out there, people just have to bite the bullet and go get it.
If you approach Nottingham via the Mansfield Road, Talbot Street is a turning on the left. Keep an eye out for it, it creeps up on you. There is a multi story car park at the top of Talbot Street which is the best, if not the only place to park. Rock City, due to it being licensed, is for 18's and over. With the exception of regular bag searches, security can be quite lax and I have only known one occaison where anyone has been ID'd. That said, it pays to be nice to the bouncers because I know of a lad who got thrown down the stairs and barred from an OMS gig. I don't remember why. Leave your nice clothes at home - especially trousers - because Rock City Scum will never leave your clothes. I also tend to reek of draw for several days afterwards. "Downstairs" at Rock City is a small room with its own bar. It's good to go and chill out there after a gig and less well-known bands play down there. After a Less Than Jake gig, I saw Orange Goblin. The Rig is a separate club (it does not open when City opens) but entry to City gets you into the Rig. This is where you can find fans of "hair metal". Upstairs is the main stage. There is a food bar there as well but the prices are extortionate. Two sets of stairs lead up to the balcony. There's a bar up there ( I believe there's one to the side of the main stage but I'm always drunk, I can never remember). There are always huge crushes at the bar: be warned. Thursday night is Student Night. Entry is about £2 with an NUS card and the drinks are cheap. The crowd on these nights doesn't tend to be specifically goth/punk/skate etc. so the music is doesn't tend to be specifically metal/punk etc. Gigs take place throughout the week. If you attend a gig on a Saturday night then you don't have to pay any extra to stay on for the club night. If you don't attend the Saturday night gig but want to go to the club night, do
n't bother turning up until about eleven. Which is nice because you can sit in the Old Angel for a bit. The band that plays that night tends to reflect the type of music played at the club night. The rest of the time, it's the DJ's tastes. Just no one mention my attempts at ska-dancing.
Dooyoo requests that only people with a 'direct experience' of depression should write here. I'll say straight away that no one has ever diagnosed me as Clinically Depressed but I have had my moments as I will go into later. In my short, limited life experience what I have come to understand is that few people realise that mental illness touches so many people, not just the sufferer. MIND, the mental health charity, estimate that something like one in three people will encounter mental illness in their lifetime. I am 18 and already I have seen and tried to help three depressed people. I think I may have someone else's quota. The first experience I had of depression was my mother. She tried to kill herself after a particularly bad argument with my dad. We had also fought that day. I had laughed in her face. But then I was sat there hating her, hating myself. I saw her lying in hospital. I hugged her and told her never to do it again, we all love her. She just looked at me and told me she wanted to die. I was fourteen. A few weeks later, I had gone to stay at a friends house. My dad was late collecting me. On his arrival he just said "She's done it again". This time she was admitted to a psychiatric ward. We saw her a couple of times and I wrote letters to her. But now it was like I became my mum. I cooked and cleaned, got my brother and sister ready for school. I was scared to have fun, leave the house, go to school. All this and try to prepare for my GCSE's. But nothing I did then was right. My mother's actions had wound up my dad, and my brother and sister both 'played up' because of the atmosphere within the house. The psychiatrist treated my mum. I never met him. But maybe I was part of the problem? And how would I know if I was, if no one was going to tell me that I was, and maybe how I could help me to help her. As her family, we didn't exist. Las Summer, I decided I wanted to
die. I had been sacked from my waitressing job, dumped by a boy I thought was 'The One'. My parents put pressure on me because I couldn't find work. My parents were making me study an A-Level I didn't want to do. I was a nothing, a nobody, so I OD'd. The psychiatrist didn't say I was depressed and didn't give me any pills. In many respects, I'm glad of that but at the same time I felt like a fraud. Spending three days as a psychiatric in-patient was horrendous. The doctor prescribed counselling but I had to give that up after a few weeks because of my mother. I felt it was up to me to rebuild myself and make myself better. And I really thought I had. My best friend is thin, blonde, intelligent, witty. During our time at college, she had a boyfriend. I was so envious of her but who knows what goes on behind closed doors. Her GP had prescribed anti-depressants but during New Year, she phoned me. She'd done something stupid. At the time I had to keep her talking, keep her alive, but when I put the phone down, as her parents arrived to take her to hospital, I felt so guilty. It was me, me who set the precedent for the overdose that she took. My fault. Another friend of mine: intelligent, a greatly talented musician, drop dead gorgeous. He hates himself and wants to die. He cuts himself open, like I do. Is that my fault too? He's on anti-depressants but is he being counselled? I can listen. I can counsel. But I feel so redundant. These days, I don't fancy waking up. I don't like overhearing what gets said about me and I have "You're a big disappointment" ringing in my ears. Maybe writing this was just cathartic, maybe I need to tell everyone that just because a loved one wants to die, it doesn't make it your fault. Maybe there's more to relieving depression than popping a pill and putting on a brave face. I don't know any more.
All in all, I have eight piercings, which isn't really a lot. Seeing as I wrote a "Tattoo: the truth" type thing, I thought I'd do it for piercing. Taa daa! At the age of eleven, I got my ears pierced for the first time in the local department store. I'm sure everyone knows how the process goes. For me, the woman actually stopped after the first ear and forced my head between my knees, asking if I wanted a drink of water, was I alright. I left that shop knowing that that was the last time anyone would bring needles near my body. Wrong! When I was sixteen I went away to Newquay for the week with my friend. I decided to get my navel pierced (although it took several hours to pluck up the courage). In the piercing studio, I lay down on the couch (all piercings in this area must be done while you are lying down). The woman sterilised my navel, marked the dots, put on the anaesthetic, clamped my navel and pushed the needle through. I didn't feel a thing: honest! The needle that is used is actually hollow and it scoops out a tunnel of flesh, rather than making a hole the way a piercing gun does to your ears. I opted to have a ring put in the piercing as I felt this would be more secure. It was, but rings tend to lie flat which means that the piercing heals with the top hole not aligned with the bottom hole. As a result, barbells don't sit straight. The only real pain was after, when it bruised and bled a little. Cleaning was pretty sore as well. Soon it seemed that all my friends had caught up with the navel piercing thing to so I wanted to be a little different. I went and got the bottom of my navel pierced. The process was exactly the same but the pain was excruciating! On my return to college, my tutor started opening doors and windows because I was so pale. The problem I had with both piercings was clothing. At the time, I was tending to wear trousers that sat quite high around my waist which irritated both pier
cings. As a result they were slow to heal but as my style changed, and my waistband got lower, they healed perfectly. So while cleaning etc. has to be done, I would also recommend wearing low-waisted trousers for a few months. The next thing I did was pierce my own cartilage. I sterilised everything the best I could but infection set in within about forty seconds. Changing the stud to a hoop helped clear the infection up fast (it's that fresh air again) but I left the hoop out once and it healed. The next piercing was my ears again a little higher up and my cartilage. I went and got it done professionally but I wont say where because I managed to get it done while drunk (years of acting sober for my parents, I think). These piercings were something I'd wanted done for a while so it wasn't a totally random thing. Yes, cartilage does hurt more than ear lobes. So I'm told. The Southern Comfort had numbed the pain. And finally my nose. That was done with a needle. It hurt because it's quite difficult to anaesthatise your face. The set up is very similar to getting your navel done, so I don't need to go into detail. Last tuesday, I bought a bar for a navel piercing, it's pink and twisty. I forced it through my cartilage piercing. I am never going to learn. **Update** I've read through a couple of other opinions and their comments and the general consensus seems to be "What about aftercare?" I've updated this opinion to pass on the information that I have gleaned over the years. This is what I have heard, so feel free to comment on what you know. *Don't use TCP or similar on a piercing. It's an open wound and TCP, I believe, dissolves the edge of the wound. Repeated use makes it difficult for the piercing to heal. When using mouthwash on tongue piercings, use an alcohol-free one. *Most piercers recommend using a saline (salt water solution) to clean the
piercing. Many people make this by boiling the kettle and adding salt to the hot water. While I don't dispute their wisdom, it has never worked for me and only succeeded in introducing infection. Places like Claires Accessories and some piercers I have been to sell bottles of sterile saline solution which I have found really effective. Just don't confuse it with contact lense solution after a night on the lash... *The importance of fresh air cannot be underestimated on body piercings. While for some it may be inappropriate to walk round with one's nips out, wear loose clothing. *Be careful about contact with the piercing. Of course, hand washing is essential before touching the piercing to clean it but don't forget food, smoking, make-up, kissing, sex or swimming to name but a few can introduce bacteria into the piercing. *Regulations for body piercers are more lax than they are for tattooists, something which my local council at least is trying to change. Contacting the council is one way of checking on somewhere you are thinking of going, to see if they have joined any council register.