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29 July 2017

What Dean Eastmond Has Taught Me

Personal blog posts can be hard. I suppose all blog posts are personal to an extent- they’ve come from my mind and I’m writing about my opinions. But although most of my blog posts are opinionated, you won’t often catch me on here talking about the deep things going on in my life. Despite my blog being my personal space, a lot of the things I write about, apply to a lot of people. That’s the whole appeal of a blog, it’s relatable, chatty, you can picture yourself sat down with a cuppa bonding over the content. 

This blog post isn’t cheerful, it’s probably not the one you want to read on a Saturday night. But the more I was concerned about posting it, the more I was essentially rejecting the whole theme of the blog, and that, is speaking up. Speaking up, being proud and acting for the good of others. You learn a lot of from the people around you, and I wanted to write a blog post about one of the people who has taught me the most, almost definitely unknowing to him.

For the last 5 years, I’ve been friends with someone who is literally a life GOAL. The person I sit back and think, bloody hell, how can I even be this privileged to call him my friend? And that wasn’t a recent thought process, or something which has happened with the more ‘major’ things he’s achieved or gone through. It’s been since Day 1. When at a work party, we both had our first taste of Pimm’s and got far too drunk. And when we walked around the Olympic Village and shared secrets. And when we sat on the beach, years later, hardly getting through our sushi because we just had so much to talk about. And now, 5 years later, when he’s a co-founding Editor of HisKind, an LGBT+ magazine, when he balanced being a journalist with a degree when I can hardly choose which cereal to eat in the morning. When, last year, he was diagnosed with bone cancer and after discovering his boyfriend Adam wouldn’t be able to use his frozen sperm sample if Dean wasn’t to make it, decided to set about changing the policies regarding same-sex couples and fertility treatment. Which, by the way, he succeeded in doing.

So yeah, he’s a pretty big deal. 

I do a lot of reading. Newspaper reading, blog reading, fiction reading, auto-biography reading. Whatever it is, I will read it. And I couldn’t even count on one hand the amount of times I’ve thought ‘yeah, but, how much of this is true? This is all very inspirational but I couldn’t do it myself.’ And then, one of those people, was one of my friends. Someone I knew in real life was making a difference. A world of a difference, to thousands of people. And it just clicked.

So here is, in a nutshell what I've learnt from Dean. 

Whatever you think you’re doing, 9 times out of 10 you can do it better. If you don’t like something, change it. If you want to make a difference, find a way to make your voice heard. If you want something, go and get it. Life is not going to come to you, and life is not going to be easy, but that is not an excuse. It's not a reason to lie down and let opportunity pass you by. It's the opposite.

Maybe we aren’t all going to change the world. But there are plenty of circumstances presented to us in life, where we could make a movement to change somebody else's day. And the reason Dean is so important and special, for all of those other reasons aside, is that he makes me believe every single day that I can do something. That it is, in fact, possible. And this feeling, which he has unknowingly instilled in me, is a result of everything he has done, and is yet to do. 

I wanted to write this blog post, because it emulates for me the light in humanity in a time of complete darkness. I've literally watched my friend change the lives of people across the UK. And seen his Cancer Columns and journalism, reaches across the globe. No matter how dark times are, there’s something to be done. You just have to do it.  And it wasn’t my parents, or my teachers who taught me this critical life lesson. It was Dean.

Love, Alice x


19 July 2017

What Love Island Has Taught Us About Love

Oh Love Island, what have you done.

Once upon a (laughable) time, I thought I was too good for Love Island. I was never a soap girl, or Big Brother girl. And I thought Love Island was absolutely not for me.

How wrong I was.

Luckily, Kem and Chris made me see the light. And with Love Island, Love Island After Sun and the unofficial Love Island de-brief at work every morning, I've come to learn being obsessed with Love Island doesn't make me all that muggy.

Don't Be Afraid to Put All of Your Eggs in One Basket
Contrary to popular belief, putting all of your eggs in one basket is what relationships are all about. Obviously it's natural to keep your guard up until you get to know one another, but when you're both sure about how you feel, it's time to make a go of it. Have the chat, get rid of Tinder and place all of those eggs in the best basket for you.

Get to Know Them, Even if They're Your Type On Paper
Have you ever started talking to someone on Tinder, or walked into a club and spotted someone across the dark sweaty club and thought 'yes, s/he's a piece of me.' Well, I'm here to remind you all of those times when you've done just that, and then started talking to them. Looks are all very well, many of us are in our twenties, our 'prime' years - but let's face it, if they haven't got the personality, you don't really want to couple up with them just because of their face.

Catching Feelings, Doesn't Make You a Mug 
Liv, Liv, Liv. There are many lessons we could learn from Olivia this series (see number 5 for #dicksand) but the biggest one of all, is that falling for somebody does not make you less of a human. In fact, it makes you more human. Because you're capable of feeling big things for someone other than yourself. You should be congratulated for being un-muggy. Catching feelings is gooooood, just make sure you've definitely caught them before telling someone.

It's Okay to be Bothered
This is another one a lot of Islanders could learn from. Let's face it, especially the sweet angel that is Chris. Getting jealous is completely natural, and getting jealous when a guy is cracking on with (putting it on) the girl you like, is going to make you a little bit hot and sweaty, let's face it. Stop pretending you're not bothered, it's okay to like people. And be bothered.

Don't Drown in Dick Sand
There are some pretty big questions in the world today - but luckily, I can let you know exactly what dick sand is. As defined by its (potential) coiner, Liv from Love Island. Basically, it's wanting someone. You don't need to be falling for them necessarily. You could be walking up the street and someone catches your eye and - woah dick sand. Or you're in a club and see a lot of attractive men and - woah dick sand. It's everywhere, it can happen anytime, and usually there's no clambering out. Even though you know it probably won't lead to anything good.

Despite my initial reservations, I have to admit, I'm obsessed with Love Island. If this 10/10 dictionary doesn't make you want to watch it, I'm not entirely sure what will. Here's to just one more week of watching Kem and Chris' love blossom, and falling more in love with Jamie every day.

Love, Alice x


15 July 2017

20 Moments I Will Remember From Three Years At University

We've had years one, two and three, the hat has been thrown into the air, and on Thursday I became officially Alice Dodd, BA (Hons.) with Politics and International Relations. Bloodyhell.

I thought I probably couldn't summarise my time at University in one post, but before I move onto the next chapter of my life, I wanted to write a post reflecting on the highs of the best three years of my life.

1) Meeting my flatmates for the first time ever and thinking how crazy it is we'd be living together for a whole year

2) Living in fear someone would come and recognise our flat mascot, Susan, a doorstop pig who we adopted in Freshers week

3) Climbing into an industrial bin because I'd dropped Lizzie's room card in it when throwing in a black bag

4) Calling Charlotte at 1am to say I was coming up to her room with free sushi from work and we'd be picnicking into the night

5) When Sophie was walking around with thick black painted eyebrows because she'd missed them when washing off her reindeer costume

6)Zandra and Lizzie coming into my bedroom at 3am and the moment Zandra threw a toilet brush at Lizzie because she didn't recognise what it was

7)My friend Josh's face when we surprised him by sneaking to his 21st birthday party at his home

8) Playing netball on the 2012 Olympic Courts in front of England netball team members

9) Zandra's face when she opened her door on my 20th birthday to find Sophie dripping wet from the sea, Lizzie holding 4 kebabs, and me kissing a boy (woops)

10) Moving into our new house and myself, Lizzie and Charlotte attempting to disassemble and carry a wardrobe down a flight of stairs

11) Peaking too early at Sophie's 21st and all 5 of us lying in Zandra's single bed prep-talking ourselves into going out

12) All of the domino's ever

13) Being initiated into women's football after my first match

14) Squeezing 4 of us into a toilet cubicle whilst we all tried to figure out how best to wee

15) Playing Harry Potter trivial pursuit with my favourite people and thinking my heart would burst

16) Seeing Mollie's Slytherin notebook and realising she was going to be one of my best friends

17) Sneaking onto the students union stage and dancing with Charlotte to a crowd of students 

18) Climbing into Saffron's bed crying because I was so full of love for her 

19) Winning an award for my role as Insanity Radio's Head of Marketing

20) Looking around on graduation day at my 7 best friends, who I'd met on the first day, and realising we'd made it.

My time at Royal Holloway has been truly incredible. I feel like I came into my own, and I can't actually remember my life before meeting my university friends. It's hard to limit 3 years into 20 moments, but I wanted to give it a go. Thank you for being with me since the start.

Love, Alice x 

6 July 2017

What the Millennial Experts Fail to Mention

I feel like, wherever I go, there's someone trying to tell me how I'm feeling. Whether it's a newspaper article or a psychiatrist on daytime television.

And it's funny, because no matter how many times I listen to them or read what I have to say, all I can think of, is how they're not a millennial themselves.

When researchers try to diagnose something, 9 times out of 10, it's a something which can't voice itself. From trying to grasp the psychotic behaviour of humans, to studying the songs of whales. There are limits which stop researchers from going to the 'horses mouth', otherwise, the subject would be able to tell you exactly what's going on in their mind.

Yet, somehow, the generation born between 1990 and 2000, have become part of this study. A group which are spoken about and not to. A whole generation of individuals, each with their own unique thought, senses and experiences, being diagnosed as a whole.

And ironically, this 'blame', is never placed upon the generation before us. Apparently, 17 year olds who live at home, who are growing and learning and watching every move of the individuals around them, are the ones to blame for their own behaviour.

Or, the old favourite, it's due to 'video games'.

I read an analogy recently. If you are a point, you see only yourself. If you are a line, you will see one line, to that point. And if you are three dimensional, you will see each line and each point which connects the whole shape. How do you explain the complex three dimensions of millennials, to an individual who can only see one point. A point which is shrouded in negativity. In 'hoodies' and 'chavs' and 'social media influencers.' A point which has no room and no ability, to see the bigger picture. A point which certainly, could not comprehend, listening to the voice of the subject.

We are different.

Not groundbreaking-ly different. And not special snowflakes. But we are different from the generations before us, just as the baby boomers were different to those before them. Except it seems, 50 years ago, everyone had a bit more of a purpose and the pull of daytime television didn't make 40 year old men decide they needed to diagnose the generation after them. Probably, because they had better things to do.

So, I thought I'd save all of those people the trouble of explaining why millennials are different. Why some of us are fucked up. Why some of us are not. And this time, it is actually coming from a millennial.

1) We Think We're Special
We think we're special, because we see extraordinary things happen every single day due to the ridiculous mass of social media. Not because we're brought up with silver spoons in our mouths. The best bit is, we actually are changing the world. We're winning Nobel Prize's and creating billion pound apps. We're writing music in our bedroom and becoming famous from it over night. We're co-founding stem cell research centres and rewriting laws on gay rights. I know all of this, because it's at my finger tips with a little bit of research. But I also know, that the generation before me have done extraordinary things. The only difference is, they weren't told they couldn't.

2) We're Ungrateful
If you define ungrateful as being annoyed when we've payed £40,000 for a degree and land jobs we could've without higher education, then yes, we're ungrateful. If you believe ungrateful is complaining about earning above £25,000 and not being able to afford a deposit on a house, then yes, we're ungrateful. We may be ungrateful, but don't you think you would be too? 

3) We Don't Understand Consequences
This is one of my favourites. Because we probably understand consequences better than anyone ever has. We'll be walking head first into the worst economy in centuries, the highest house prices, and we're some of the highest educated individuals walking into low-paying jobs. We understand consequences because we have instant access to social media, telling us about 15 year old's who are suicidal, and how oil will run out and the icecaps are melting. We have been subjected to terror far beyond that of the IRA or anything which has existed before. Trust me when I say, we understand consequences. 

4) Social Media has Ruined us

To be clear, I understand the failures of social media. But, how do my failings in social media, make me more of a failure than David the 35 year old might decide to quit his job and finally travel the world because he sees his mate Paul doing just that on Facebook. Or Brenda, the 68 year old who gets into arguments over Facebook with strangers about Brexit. Or Jackie, who spends hours scrolling through her friends weightloss progress pictures and decides to start the 5:2 tomorrow. We are ALL susceptible to social media. Only, because we've been brought up with it, it's somehow to blame for only our fuck ups, and not everyone else's.

5) We're Rebels Without a Cause

I couldn't count on all fingers and toes and every fibre of my body the amount of comments I saw, after the UK's General Election, about how we concluded in a hung parliament due to young people voting against tuition fees. But actually, no matter how you voted, here is what we are rebelling against, just in case you weren't sure: Austerity, raising tuition fees (not abolishing them), privatising the NHS, privitising the railways, cuts in the charity sector, cuts to emergency services, cuts to mental health, lack of acknowledgements of LGBTQ+ human rights, raising tax for the poor. I think we have quite a lot to rebel against, to be honest. 

Millennials are a generation of the butterfly effect. We have the ability to see someone making a difference in Australia, and in France, somebody else will make a difference as a reaction to that. We believe we can achieve things, which may be mistaken as being 'owed' things, not because we're spoilt, but because every day, we witness people living their dreams. People who aren't famous, or celebrities, ordinary people who are travelling the world for a career, individuals who have sold websites for millions.

We are different, because we are a different generation with different experiences and influences, just as baby boomers are different to the generation before theirs. 

We are special, because we are currently the most innovative, technologically developed and globalised generation. We are selfies and memes and Love Island. But we are also the most tolerant and empathetic generation to pass through the Earth. Whether in terms of race, gender, animals, we are far more a community than any generation before us. 

What the Millennial experts fail to tell us, is that yes, we are different, but that is not a bad thing.

Love, Alice x 


4 July 2017

Sunday Brunch at Coppa Club

There are fewer things I enjoy more than brunch. Harry Potter, Leonardo DiCaprio, getting into clean sheets with freshly shaved legs. But towering above them all, is brunch, sunny weather, and great company. And this Sunday, I happened upon all three.

Sat on the bank of the River Thames, just a stones throw from the Tower of London, sits Coppa Club. Walking up to it, I think I'm probably forgiven for thinking it must be a private members club. But the atmosphere was alive with girl friends brunching over cocktails and couples laughing at each other over their eggs benedict.
 'Less is more' was definitely the unspoken rule. It was the kind of place everyone looks effortlessly  thrown together, and trainers are styled to look straight off a catwalk. 

We were shown to our table, and had managed to secure one in a 'booth', one of the individual wooden terraces sat on the waterfront, with lavender falling from its roof and flowers wrapped around its structure. 
It took a while, but eventually we were able to tear ourselves away from the surroundings to take in the menu. We were there to eat. 

We both went for their Summer Berry Waffles... ripe strawberries, raspberries and blueberries on a bed of crème fraîche (and by that, they literally mean fresh cream) smothered with honey. To help swallow it down, we ordered mimosas. 
With the sun shining and a flexible day-plan ahead of us, we thought it would be rude to not order some more drinks... this time both of us going for the Peach Sangria. 

It was hard to believe there was any alcohol in it, which could have proved lethal, however we managed to limit ourselves to just one each. 
Due to the beautiful weather, we were extremely lucky to be sitting outside. However, the windows and doors disappear in the sun, so no matter where you're sitting, you're flooded with natural sunlight. 

Why not pick up a book and cosy down onto one of the many armchairs? 
I've already scheduled in my next booking for Coppa Club - it is very popular so make sure to book! 

Thank you so much to Ryan for organising this as my birthday treat, I was ridiculously spoilt AND found my new favourite brunch place - what a dream! 

Love, Alice x

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