Are You Poorer Than Me?

Writing

I’m so sick of being poor. Yes I may have a roof over my head and food in my fridge but when you can’t decorate your rooms or make meals beyond tins of soup and sweetcorn then what’s the point? I might aswell be living in The Amazon, atleast then I’ll avoid the council tax and eyewateringly long queues at the supermarket checkout. 

 

Yes I may be whinging about a first world problem but I believe this is a key reason for my upheaval in the first place. If I did infact live in a tribe in a forest then I wouldn’t know what I’m missing necessarily. How can I miss the sight of some dope dealer sporting the latest balenciaga’s, or the gluttonous geezer buying the ‘extra special’ range in Sainsbury’s when I wouldn’t have the foggiest what either two of these concepts were? You can’t miss what you’ve never witnessed I guess. I would be comfortable and content with my relationships and my tribal lifestyle. 

 

Perhaps that’s just it, in the society I live in, less emphasis is placed on the value of social relationships, instead these are sidelined for the stars of this farcical pantomime I call life – materialism and capitalism. The terrible twins. They are the children you grimace at and purposely attempt to swap at birth, only to find them crawling and clambering their way into your back pocket as you exit the hospital. 

 

My experience living in London has made me reevaluate my perspectives on numerous things, none moreso that the value I myself place on money. Putting it short and sweetly, I now understand why some people may force themselves to do things others may deem shameful. For example, we can all hold our heads high, point our noses in the air, as we scoff at the single mum shaking what God (or her surgeon)  gave her in a strip club. But you put yourself in her 6 inch stilettos for merely a second and maybe then you would begin to empathise and understand that she may have a young mouth to feed on her own. Why? Because the dad walked out as soon as he found out she was pregnant. And let’s face it city ‘living wages’ need to be rephrased as city ‘suffocating wages’. Unless you are in the finance sector or as old as time itself then I’m afraid for the rest of us, youth and inexperience comes as a pretty big financial burden. 

 

I ask myself – why did I move to this city? A question which is becoming worryingly frequent. I’m from a small town in the middle of Northern Ireland, the rent I pay in London could have me living in two places twice the size back in a rural setting, so why am I here? 

 

The old line of ‘there’s loads more opportunities’ is becoming undone, fraying and feeling further from reality. Yes, there may technically be more ‘opportunities’ but let’s face it, no one’s going to throw me a wad of £50’s to take up the opportunity to soak up a West End show, or meetings with top CEOs. Unless ofcourse I turn to sugarbabying, which is a completely different can of worms I wish not open in this moment. 

 

Today, I’m feeling sorry for myself, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who wards away threatening voices in their mind’s eye, tempting them to smash open their piggy bank into a million little pieces, only to find not much more than a hundred little pennies in the remnants of Mr piggy’s once round stomach. Financial hardship makes itself known to all of us at some stage in our lives, I have no doubt, but I say it has outstayed its welcome. So my question now is, how do I kick them out?

Rid them from my minimalist overpriced matchbox flat, where the walls lay bare out of fear that I may maim it’s clinical appearance with so much as a smudge of a marker, or stain from a sticker. Landlords in cities like London make Sherlock Holmes look like a babbling unobservant buffoon when it comes to hunting down the most miniscule of marks on a tenants leaving day, wouldn’t you agree?

 

And with this thought lingering I wonder whether I should indeed make myself scarce of it’s confinements, escaping the financial restrictions once and for all and bid this city goodbye. 

Happy New Year To You, Not I

Writing

I hope you’re having a pleasant start to the new year, if not then I hope revelling in my misfortunes will have you grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire cat. 

 

Having just about set foot inside my grotty London flat on the 1st Jan after a rather heart-palpitation inducing flight from Northern Ireland to visit the fam over the holidays, I’m greeted by a bold red-fronted letter of pure threat. Who could it be? My stalker’s love letters normally arrive for me on a Friday, it’s several days too early I pondered. Ripping it open in a fashion much similar to the scenes in Alien vs Predator where the Predator thrusts its hand into the victims stomach and then rips his spine out through his……we’ll not go there. Simply put, I open the letter with a hard swallow and what meets my eyes is the unwelcome invitation of a £1,000 fine coming my way if I so choose to abstain from paying for a TV license. Do you think I could get away with saying I don’t watch TV or is that a bit weak? I double blink in the hope that I just had a moment of utter delusion, as if the more I blinked the more zeroes would disappear from the fine. Just to be clear this is a warning – I’m yet to be fined, and have infact bought a TV License to cover my back for my endless bingeing of Botched, Louis Theroux and Sugar Rush (wait this is Netflix)? Anyhow it was just a miscommunication, I’m not keeping tabs on what channels charge me my hard earned money to become transfixed on the latest terrestrially televised topic. Why should I be? I have better things to do, like spend my wads of cash on the important things in life, such as scratchcards and Cuban cigars. 

 

As if this wasn’t enough, I also had a letter grace me from a magistrates court summoning me to appear infront of a judge for……..

 

I shouldn’t be divulging this information, for you’ll probably think I’m some sort of conman, it’s not like I intentionally forget to pay these bills, I just DO forget sometimes. Anyhow it’s all paid up now, besides it’s not like I’m tax evading millions (give it time). 

 

I’m off to buy a shredder for my letters, Happy New Year to you! 

Dido In Concert 2019

Writing

Is it bad that I only know two of her songs? That’s right she’s a singer not a prehistoric bird (Dodo). Although at the age of 47 years old, I wonder is her voice as strong as it use to be? Not being ageist but if Sir Paul McCartney’s croaking at the London 2012 olympics was anything to go by then let’s just say pensioner care home choirs need not audition for the X Factor anytime soon. 

 

47 is certainly by no means old, and nor does it mean you should stop singing, I mean look at Cher! But forgive me for being somewhat skeptical ahead of the hitmaker’s concert last night at The Hammersmith Apollo. Will she deliver or will her support act outshine her?

If Eminem deemed her talented enough to be the chorus belter on ‘Stan’ then she must have talent, right?

*One Moment Later

So What’s The Verdict?:

Dido’s voice is flawless, still as ethereal and controlled as it was recorded in the 90’s. The strength of her voice in addition to it’s quality was sustained throughout the full 2 hour show, it didn’t waver once. I strain my voice shouting down a taxi nevermind belting out hit records for hours on end so she gets a massive thumbs up from me on that.

Her warmth onstage shined through also, with a good sense of humour in her anecdotes coupled with context on what encouraged her to create certain songs made for  engaging stage presence.

Dido proves that women in music don’t have to necessarily perform in their underwear to appeal to the masses, afterall she’s been on a hiatus from music for 15 years and still she can command a crowd across international cities.

The evening restored my faith in the music industry (apologies in advance for the terrible quality photos):

She’s not even in this one thanks to the man’s head in the middle! But I liked the flame effect.

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I told you the quality was bad!

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Odid? My sister et moi.

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What Do You Take For Granted?

Writing

I recently started volunteering at a charity for children with additional needs.  The charity provides free sports and activity sessions to give these children the opportunity to play and have fun as any child should have the right to do. 

 

Having only attended  a moderate number of session so far I can already feel that volunteering is making an impact on me. 

 

I come away from the sessions with so many feelings and questions. 

 

I asked myself on the train heading away from the venue this week – are the children trapped in their own little worlds, or have they escaped the chaos of mine?

 

They won’t experience the world in the way I do, but as my sister rightly said, they may be happy in their life. If born the way they are then they know no other way of living so how can they miss  or be annoyed at not having another way of living? A point I could not disagree with,

 

Volunteering is a humbling experience, I realise how much I may take for granted. If you can read what I’m writing right now then you are privileged as there are still 750 million illiterate adults across the world today. If you can understand these words in English then you are within 20% of the world’s population that can.

 

This is not me trying to play top trumps, I’m not saying that because you and I can read and another person cannot, this makes us better than them, not at all., I simply mean our ability to read is almost taken for granted, we think nothing of it to read signs and books, yet somewhere else in the world a person cannot do this. 

 

We live in a society of ‘I want more, more, more’, we always want more money, more friends, more holidays. And we forget to notice our most fundamental abilities, we take these privileges for granted: talking, listening, reading, writing. All taken for granted. 

 

Being a charity volunteer is a humbling experience, bringing with it an appreciation, a gratitude for many factors of my life which I may have ashamedly overlooked previous to this. Maybe our own lives would be alot happier if we focused on being thankful for the simple things instead of material things.  

What’s Your Biggest Pet Peeve(s)?

Writing

This thought infiltrated my mind with the waft of a ‘ploughman’s lunch’ on the train during my early morning commute to work today. For anyone unfamiliar with this term ‘ploughman’s lunch’, you’ve lived a very sheltered childhood, a very lucky childhood. It’s basically a cheese (sewage) and pickle sandwich, and the scent and sight of it makes my skin crawl. 

 

Today my attention was brought to a rather ravenous commuter munching on his sandwich like he was attending the last supper. Which I found particularly revolting in itself, no hand sanitizer + grotty train = hepatitis by mid-afternoon. But little did I know the levels of grossness this guy would sink to had no limits. Once he finished (thank God), he proceeded to throw the sandwich foil on the ground and started picking his nose rather aggressively. I turned my head away in a knee-jerk reaction to this, but like we all do, when someone is doing something abnormally gross we have to keep peering back. Like, whenever we chop garlic and then can smell it on our fingers for days, we keep checking our fingers daily to see if the smell remains, don’t you do that? I peer down the train carriage at him as he digs for gold, my brow furrows even deeper the more he digs into his flared nostrils. Repulsive! Thank goodness I got off at the next stop, I can only fear what he would’ve done next!

 

It got me thinking, what’s your biggest pet peeve? For me the list is never ending but to save time I’ll have to go with these top 3 in no particular order :

 

  1. Loud talkers
  2. People who smack with their mouths while eating
  3. Queue jumpers

 

Let’s see what some countries voted as their top pet peeves courtesy of Forbes:

 

  • Americans get more irritated than other nationals by co-workers taking others’ food from the office refrigerator.
  • Brazilians are the most annoyed of any national group by excessive gossiping.
  • Germans are annoyed by dirty common areas (the community microwave or refrigerator) more than the rest of the world.
  • Indians react more negatively to irritating mobile phone ringtones.
  • Japanese are more peeved by office pranks than others.

 

Relate to any of the above?

P*ss Off Christmas!

Writing

No sooner has the Grim Reaper even had a chance to pull out his scythe from under his cloak for the Halloween happenings than has every man and his dog cracked open the bottle of eggnog whilst covering outdated Christmas carols in the key of ‘sounds like I’m being choked out in a headlock’.

Christmas comes sooner and sooner with each passing year, and with that, my patience gets thinner and thinner!

Not content with keeping the festivities wrapped up in the comfort of our own homes, as low and behold the shops are at it too! Their plethora of pompous plastic propaganda is quite simply preposterous! Crowing their untimely festive ‘hello’ in the form of silver tinsel, shiny baubles and ofcourse the Christmas cards which you gift to the neighbours you don’t so much as blink an eye at the during the other 364 days of the year.

As the Santa sign with his harem of reindeer in tow swings carelessly above the heads of the unwitting shoppers who stock up like apocalypse preppers below, the shelf stockers are fast replenishing the sold out supply of extra wide aluminum foil and the Christmas crackers that do the toenail clippers. Cheery Christmas jargon is sprawled across the shop floor like your aunt across the king-size during the night of your cousin’s conception. Mid-November really has that festive feel about it, doesn’t it?

Sing along shenanigans, sherries, shandies,
Family fights, half necked-back brandies.

It’s all kicking off in Autumn 2019!

Not that I’m yearning to be the female version of Scrooge this year but is there really anything wrong with wanting the festive cheer to not start early? If Christmas can start early then why can’t the purge?

Can Christmas really start too soon, I hear you squeak? Yes! When it leads to a country’s recession! Starting Christmas that little bit earlier means putting your hand into your pocket that little bit deeper. Which means you’ll be giving up that kidney to the black market that little bit faster. And let’s face it, we all need as many kidneys as we can get our grubby hands on during the later months of the year.

Blowing your pension fund on secret Santa presents is all good if you’ve recently won the lotto or bumped off your wealthy mum and dad to gain access to their will, but for the rest of us unlucky law abiding citizens, Christmas just puts the ‘Christ’ in our mouths everytime we pull out our wallets.

Soon the case will be that Christmas officially ends on the 26th Dec and officially starts again on the 1 January the following year.

I might as well wish you a Merry Christmas now, in advance of Christmas 2020 for the way things are going, so here:

 

Merry Christmas ya filthy animal!

 

Homesickness & Appreciation

Writing

Am I the only person who gained a newfound appreciation for my home country only once moving away from it?

I think the saying is true, we don’t really know how much we miss something until we no longer have it. And this point couldn’t have revealed itself to be more true than during my recent trip back to visit my parents in Northern Ireland.

I use to think that the little town I grew up in had nothing going for it. But actually it has quite the opposite, it holds my most cherished childhood memories, from my first day at primary school to the day I left for university, it was the place I was a child, the place where I was brought into this world. And I will always be thankful for that. Northern Ireland, in such a contrasting way to my parent’s experience due to The Troubles, gave me an overall safe childhood, filled with an eclectic range of memories, from my 12 year old self racing snails on makeshift race tracks I caught in the local park to my awkward yet endearing coming of age self throwing the bizarrest of shapes at school prom nights in cold Decembers.

I used to think I was from a quite a quiet place but with time my perception has changed, I’ve came from quite a peaceful place. That the smell of manure infiltrated my lungs making me wish I didn’t have a nose at some stages, yet now, I see it as a welcome home sign, a pleasant change from more polluted places.

To be clear, I’m not trying to say that I detest city life, if that were the case I wouldn’t be living in a city. Infact I like living in a city because it makes me appreciate the places I visit when I’m not in the city even more if that makes any sense!

Do you have an appreciation for your country of birth?

 

Review: The Aeronaut

Writing

Not to be confused with ‘the astronaut’ this eccentric public house also doubles up as a theatrical extravaganza. From circus to stand up comedy and everything inbetween, why be on the moon when you could be poking somebody in the neck with a pickled frankfurter?

 

Atleast this is what I came to realise on my recent escapade to the Acton based watering house this Friday passed. Voted ‘best pub in west London’ by event ticketing website ‘design my night‘, I thought I’d pay it a visit to see if it really did stand up to this accolade.

 

Strolling up on that dark Friday evening with my lovely friend from university – Leo, we entered with great anticipation. Inside, it appeared to my eyes to be something similar to, if you know the scene, in Harry Potter when Professor Slughorn holds a glorious Christmas party in an outdoor tent. Well, this place, with arguably the same amount of magical enchantment donned a similar decor. With crimson and canary pinstripe material draped  throughout the walls of the main theatre area. And as if the outdoor beer garden wanted to adopt this lively pattern too, a continuation of the vividly coloured striping within each heated little cabin in the garden area took form also.

In the main bar section to the left of the theatre area was a spooktacular salute to all things Halloween. I could see clouds of cobwebs as thick as smog, so dense it put my own home’s to shame. I also spotted pumpkins carved into everything under the sun, from self-portraits to spinal cords. Stumbling further through the zany labyrinth I became aware of the volume of two mens’ voices, they were becoming distinctively louder, also equally alarming to the volume was the words they were saying with such conviction. Something like ‘shoot em’ again, shoot em’ again’ I almost froze in fear, if curiosity hadn’t got the better of me I probably would still be standing there now. With my beady eyes and increasing paranoia I turned the corner of the corridor of the pub expecting to see a crime scene infront of me, yet instead the real crime was done on my eyes as I seen before me the cumbersome movements of two grown men banging into the walls and eachother in such animated fashion. Turns out they were wearing VR (virtual reality) headsets playing what looked like some simulated version of Call of Duty.

With the investigation solved, Leo and I returned to the theatre. No sooner had we entered than were we greeted by a granny named Maggie, conversing with us in a thick brogue straight from the highlands of Scotland.. Little did I know soon Maggie would be taking to the stage to do her comedy act.

Before Maggie was to crack a few knock knock jokes, another lady came round to the table Leo and I claimed as our own for the 2 hour performance about to unfold. She asked us how exactly we were related to Maggie. At first her question bewildered me and then I realised oh it’s an interactive comedy, and that’s when the meatsweats started. Maggie the old bat, was part of the onstage comedy trio who would be performing a sketch inwhich the objective of the storyline was that some of the geriatrics would compete against eachother to be lead event organisers of their carehome, and it was our job their audience, soon to be mock family members , to take part in the ‘competition’ also on behalf of our elderly relative.

Leo naturally piped up saying with great conviction that we were to be Maggie’s grandmother, which is obviously a realistic family member to be to an 80 year old. So no sooner had we taken our seats than had the show began with the aim of the game being Maggie’s family would compete with Arthur’s family (the other old guy) in a range of interactive tasks in a bid to help their elderly relative win the coveted role of event planner.

The interactive activities included seeing who could wrap their partner up in a full roll of cellotape the fastest, guessing whether sausage or a finger poked you in the back of the neck (I had the pleasure of taking part in this one,  getting poked by some stranger’s sausage), putting tights on your partner without them using their hands the fastest and then consequently seeing how many objects you can stuff down those tights on your partner (someone got a chair leg in and suspended the chair in mid air, that must’ve hurt the crotch).

The winning team at the end got a bottle of Prosecco, and the fact that we went away empty handed is evidence that Arthur’s team won.

Would I go back again for a rematch? Definitely!

 

The only thing is, which is both good and bad about The Aeronaut is that their lineup of performance acts can vary so you may not see the same act twice. I guess what they give is a taster, an exhibition of quality talent, that if it impresses you enough you’ll go see them again wherever they perform.

I’ve booked my tickets for their upcoming comedy night, called ‘sketch n scratch’. Reminds of another saying involving scratching……

If you’re ever in Acton give them a chance to make a fool out of you, I’ve no doubt you’ll thank them for it!

 

City life

Writing

Like mice,

Trapped in the rat race.

A maze made for manipulation.

Man against man, race against race. 

 

A breath.

Of fresh air at dawn.

As futile as asking the sun to,

Rise at dusk and set in the morn.

 

Private,

A word less chosen.

Only by those of land un-citied.

Cities keep the term unspoken.

Week 1 – The Menu of A Moron

Writing

So if you’ve been anticipating this update based on the post  I made a few days ago, let’s just take a moment to celebrate that week 1 is almost up, on a scale of 1 – 10 (full to the gills) – (about to turn cannibal) my hunger level is a solid 9.987. If you’ve ever been in this position you’ll know it’s at this stage where you realise things have taken a sudden turn for the worst. When you’re sitting at your desk at work and your stomach is squealing like a pig about to be brought to slaughter. When fellow workmates start looking like personified everyday food items and when you start Googling ‘ways to fill yourself up with air alone?’ And ‘how to copy that Jesus fellow and make that picnic with the fish, bread and wine?’ . 

 

Yes hallucinations and hunger-driven questions are just the tip of my iceberg of misery as I scraped together the pennies to see me through this fortnight. You’ve heard about my public transport shenanigans to save costs. Now let me open your eyes and your mouth to the world of  eating sh*te (trust me, what I made this week I’ve no doubt tastes worse than eating real sh*te (not like I’d no first hand or anything but…..let’s just move on))!

 

If you want recipes which are bordering on inhumane then keep reading:

 

Day one was as filling as it got, with out of date eggs and bread (the cheap white kind that embodies cardboard when toasted) for breakfast.

 

Lunchtime made for a real treat with a baked potato that was indecisive as to whether it wanted to be poisonous or not, it had that green like hue which makes a person with half a brain cell lob it as far from their being as possible so to not ingest it as I did. I cut off the sprouting parts and slathered it in a slab of butter. That really elevated the dish, I must say. 

 

Dinnertime was the other greenish potato, because one a day of those things just isn’t enough.

 

Days 2 and 3 pretty much mirrored each other, unwilling to stomach another expired egg I instead chose to try and choke myself to death on a nibble of some Ryvita biscuits. Absolute deathtraps they are. Coupled with some trail mix, and this combo made for a coughing fit at 9.30am in the office for two consecutive mornings much to the enjoyment of my coworkers.

 

Lunch – I resorted to boiled rice, sweet chilli sauce and a generous scattering of onions for a treat. This  became dinner also as I struggled to east more than a measly few mouthfuls at 1pm that day.

 

Day 4 I figured I can’t take another wholegrain husk, I’ll have to for the first time this week stick my hand very deeply into my pocket for a few coins to spare on cereal. And in doing so made the whole breakfast experience somewhat more pleasant for the remainder of the week. 

 

That was ofcourse the plan if I didn’t feel like I was the host to an unwanted tapeworm. I fearfully theorise that this parasitic pest has perversely made  itself comfortable within the lining of my little intestine. Because the level of hunger I feel some days knows no bounds. Surely it’s a tapeworm, or else I’ve ate my twin in the womb who’s now doing jumping jacks in my duodenum.

 

So with cereal not quite pacifying my aggressive enfamishment, and being now £1.25 down I had to resort to desperate measures. Yes, for lunch it was time to bring out the pasta no sauce recipe. A real one for any bargain hunter out there, simply boil some spaghetti that you find in the back left of your kitchen cupboard under the tin of beans. Boil that, in some salt water, and sprinkle with pepper to serve. You’ll be crying yourself to sleep for weeks after a bowl of this trust me. Lunchtimes for day 4 was truly one of the highlights.

 

Dinner for Day 4 – my saving grace, beans on cardboard  toast.

 

Day 5 –  run of the mill cereal first thing in the morning.

 

Lunch was whatever was in the kid’s lunchbox sitting in the seat infront of me on the bus to work. Kidding, lunch was soup that looked like the declogging of a dishwasher. It was begging for another go in the blender I’ll say that much. 

 

Dinner – Nothing, I went to sleep early to try and preserve energy. 

 

After this week’s ‘meals’, if you can call them that, I truly fear for what lies ahead in week 2. Pray for me.

 

I thought I’d be feeling like this by the end of the week:

4AkiO

When actually je suis:

Just throw me in the damn spaghetti water Peter, willl you!!

voldi

The 24th of August couldn’t come any slower!!!!

I Finally Did It!

Writing

If you’ve been following my quarrels and qualms in my quest to find a new humble abode here, then it may come as a surprise to both you and I that I have done the impossible and actually managed to find a place to live come September this year!

 

But before I bathe in blissful sunlight with a sigh of relief, let me remind you of the moment when I was wallowing in petty self-pity. It was the moment an estate agent tried to do me wrong! Nothing new there, you might say! It was several days ago, I had viewed a property that I’d quite liked the look of, I put in an offer literally the same day. Having heard absolutely nothing for the next two I then decided to ring up the letting agents, to which the blandest voice on the other side of the phone whispered ‘it’s been taken. But if you want you can put in an offer to the landlord.’’Ok, um …what offer did the other bidders put in’. I asked, to which he replied ‘I can’t tell you that information, just that it was higher than yours’. Well no shit Sherlock! I placed an offer higher than my original price out of pure desperation, then I hung up the phone and began sobbing in the toilets at work. Ok so maybe not sobbing but I definitely paced back and forth like a lunatic who badly needed to use the toilet but couldn’t decide which empty cubicle to use. After 5 minutes of pensive pondering I then flushed one of the loo’s randomly (and washed my hands ofcourse), and this was when I had my eureka moment. The estate agent was lying! He just said there’s been a higher offer so that I would push mine up in order for him to make  higher commission!!! 

 

This thought stuck in my mind like minty gum to the underside of a school desk, Mr Bland has tried to steal my money I internalised! I later got an email from him saying that the place was taken, that there was nothing more I could do, my offer wasn’t high enough and that was that! Not taking no for an answer, I proceeded to send him emails as a paper trail, asking for proof of the offer, one thing he did say was that this ‘higher’ offer was made on Friday, I viewed the property on Saturday so why would you show others around a property which has had an offer on it way above the original asking price? Anyway, his answers via email were more than lacklustre so I decided to take the detective measures into my own hands. Goodbye Natasha, hello Charlie! Charlie my other self, makes the odd appearance when I’m doing a bit of undercover work i.e. like when I’m sending emails to dodgy estate agents asking them if a property is still on the market! Charlie was able to get a ‘yes’ from Mr. Bland, yet Natasha somehow got a ‘no’. Conclusion – someone’s been lying! Finding this out made me even more angry but then it hit me, would I really want to have dealings with a lettings agency who lies to people like this just to line their own pockets? The short answer is ‘no’. And with that I gave up on that place I liked the look of and about a week later found, in my opinion, a place twice as good as it, for just that little bit more money. I guess the saying ‘you get what you pay for’ really does ring home in this instance.

 

Speaking of money,  because I was so desperate to get the place, I put down a holding deposit immediately to take it off the market, and now I’m broke af. 

 

Yes, I have a home, and now a new challenge arises! Survive 2 weeks in London on £30 in total! I’m not even joking this is all I have left until payday on the 24th of July. I just picture myself ending up like Voldemort baby in Harry Potter by the end of this week,nevermind the end of next. Either way, it will most certainly be the end of me! I will definitely let you know how this goes!

 

Le Moi:

4AkiO

Day Trip – Woburn Safari park

Writing

Zoos are pretty dichotomous places. Good for their conservation of an endangered breed yet bad  by preventing an animal from living in its natural habitat. Many more pros and cons come into play when determining whether there is a need for a zoo or not.

But I’ll keep that discussion in the pipeline, for today let me share with you the positives of the safari park situated just north of the capital in the quaint little English village of Woburn which means ‘crooked or twisted stream’ according to wikipedia, fun fact of the day:

So here we go,

Not soon into the safari park driveway and I capture the moment a Dwarf Forest Buffalo charges at one of the touring Cars! It’s always the cute ones you have to look out for!

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Which was a surprise as I expected this hench guy  to have a go instead:

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Things seemed to settle down as we passed the grazing herbivores, which seem more adept to roaming the great plains of the African Savannah than the cud of England’s countryside but anyhow.

Here’s a giraffe licking a fence behind the blur of my Dad’s cheek:

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Elephants make an appearance ofcourse on the safari (is the front one male ;p):

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And a few Zebra minding their own business make themselves familiar too:

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Once the boring animals, I mean grazing animals were out of the way it was times for the moment we all go to Safari’s for, the predators! Behind this cage awaits some of the world’s most deadliest species!

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First up the wolves and the Black Bears, both in the same enclosure I may add:

 

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Then it was the tiger, sorry I’ve no photos of it, it was lying down at the furthest point from the road! I don’t blame it!

The Lions weren’t as shy though:

 

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My heart was pounding out of my chest thinking of the following happening:

(credits – Joshua Sutherland)

And with that I think we’ll end this predatory chapter and open one with our friendly cousins the monkeys and Lemurs:

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Look at the little baby on her back! Aw happy families, how adorable!

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Such a poignant moment caught on camera, in some way it symbolises the intrusive behaviour us humans have had towards the planet’s wildlife.

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They were protecting their baby.

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Black and white ruffed lemurs and ring tailed lemurs were next:

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Next a horny goat:

 

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Leave her alone! She’s too young for kids!

This one was cute though:

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Now for the mini dinosaurs aka the birds:

First we have a tiny owl I forgot which breed sorry, look how small it is:

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Next we have two cocks having a stand off, nothing new here:

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Now a rather nimble little creature, quite prehistoric in it’s movements I must say:

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And finally I captured an owl within it’s enclosure, it makes me feel a bit of a mixture of emotions to be honest, not sure they’re all good:

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Overall I feel the park deserves a visit, I think zoos and safari parks are important for conservation and education, do I think we need as many? That’s a different question and ultimately, no.

To check out Woburn Safari Park click here.

 

(cc) Photos taken by Natasha Moore & Claudia Rose Moore

Isle of Wight Festival – The Experience

Writing

Like a herd of African wildebeest, me and what seemed like the whole world and it’s dog made our steady way from our campsite to the main event. As the muffled sounds of electric guitars and pounding drums became clearer and clearer with very step closer, my excitement crescendoed to new climatic heights (ew).

Security checks were over in the blink of an eye (which was slightly worrying) and with that I was just a hop skip and a jump away from the crooning yodels of Rick Astley on the main stage. If his name’s not familiar with you then that’s because you still have your teeth and not a blue rinse. Yes he’s the trench coat loving singer who made dances in the late 80’s the place to be with his hit track – ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.

Soon after he started yodelling the rain began pouring, coincidence? I think not! Just Kidding! He was quite good really:

*No photos of him sorry, although loads down below!

Even if there would’ve been hailstones the size of golfballs which skinned you like a butcher’s knife, I still feel the crowd would’ve sang their hearts out. The atmosphere was just electric the whole day. Rain or shine the crowd stayed energetic.

Speaking of energy the next artist to get my attention was the lovely Anne-Marie, the British beauty has such a sexy voice. Mixing her bubbly personality with upbeat poppy tracks made for an entertaining midday set. Some of her biggest tunes are: ‘Alarm’ and ‘2002’.

*She’s hot and I didn’t get a picture, I’m sorry. 😦
Bastille blew me away, I think I’m in love with their main singer. His raspy voice certainly pulled at my heart strings once or twice. It’s interesting because I asked my parents what they thought of the performances (they watched the festival  on TV) and they said he didn’t have a note in his head. Bearing in mind my mum makes the dog yelp when she tries to hold a note for more than 5 seconds, something tells me she’s not one to judge. Whether you can sing or not, if you jump into the crowd and keep the song banging more props to you. Bastille’s full set was fantastic although ofcourse the big hit ‘Pompeii’ was one of the highlights. They released their new album ‘Doom Days’ on 14th June.

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With each performance passing by, my group of friends and I managed to creep closer and closer to the front, yes I became one of ‘those’, I admit it. I’m sorry I wanted to make out some features on their face! Even while halfway in the crowd I felt like I needed a telescope to make out Astley’s eye colour so no wonder we tip toed ever closer to the front.

By the time George Ezra took to the stage to sit on a stool and serenade us, I can safely say I could make out each string on each his well polished guitar. As his smooth vocals caressed my ears I suddenly had the stark realisation that my bladder was about to explode. WTF! What do I do, just hold it or fight through the hundreds upon hundreds of people back to the minging portaloos? I had to make a decision. Quick! I tried to hold it in, initially that is, with each passing word of his song my mind drifted in and out of consciousness, my eyes crossed, beads of sweat dripped from my bow, by his 3rd song I couldn’t take it any longer!

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*Yes I know I should take up photography.

My knights in shining armour came in the form of 4 ladies, each linking arms, snaking their way through the crowd. This was my moment! Using them as a divider of the red sea of people, they saw me through the first three quarters of the crowd. But with a quarter remaining I found that I’d lost them! Somehow they’d vanished and I was by this stage about to pass out from the pain of my toxic urine filled-bladder. As I made my way towards the beacon of light shining over the portaloo on the horizon, I tripped over what seemed like every foldable seat, beercan and small child in the country. Arguably more challenging to move through than human bodies I found the struggle well and truly real at the final hurdle, prohibiting me momentarily from reaching my final destination of peeing the equivalent of the Niagara Falls in 10 seconds.

 

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64895393_2567011619995803_5399880205927972864_n.jpgAfter 15 minutes of limboing, sashaying and foxtrotting through the crowds, George Ezra was still mumbling some small song called ‘Budapest’ in the background. And finally the waterfall or shall I say Tsunamis was released.

Apologies for diverging from the actual music, and going off on a rant about my bladder almost bursting!

As Ezra finished his set the sun began to set too. And with darkness approaching came the appearance of strobe lighting, lazers and the pounding synths of the megastar DJ Fatboy Slim. From his psychedelic visuals to his heart racing beat drops, he closed the show sensationally:
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**The quality of these photos are something else, you almost feel like you’e there.

Would I go back to the IOW festival – Hell Yes! Even if it meant kipping in a sleeping bag which almost gave me pneumonia. Umm…if I must. 😦

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One lasting image of this one again to finish on ahahha so smart:

 

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Isle of Wight Festival – The Journey

Writing

Getting up at 6 am may be easy for some, but for us mere mortals it’s somewhat of a challenge. Either way, I had to drag myself onto the train to meet my old university mates who were also making the jaunt to the island.

 

Fast forward, skipping a rather boring car journey (of the motorway ofcourse, not the people hehe), and I’m standing on the deck of a modest sized ferry on the brink of contracting a serious bout of pneumonia. For what felt like gail force winds pierced into the very marrow of my bones like tribal spears. Perhaps wearing a jacket would’ve prevented this, but it’s June so even if it’s not warm, I’m still pretending like it is. I refused to go inside the ferry, who wants to watch geriatrics play dominoes to pass the time? Anyhow, after an hour of beautiful coastal views in tornado like conditions we docked the Isle of Wight.

 

I was foolishly expecting to hear the deafening sounds of electric guitars and lung collapsing vibrations of the heaviest of bass beats as my toes touched the terrain, yet instead I was met with the sounds of peace and tranquility which in other means…..not very much. Accompanying this was the blurted out fact that the island despite its tiny population has 3 prisons on it’s land. Getting off to a good start I sarcastically thought to myself. As future me wishes past me knew – the real  fun that was soon to come……..
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Sexual Assault – Should We Be Allowed To Carry Weapons?

Writing

The air is frosty, I’m wearing open-toed heels as I briskly walk towards the direction of my house, it’s the small hours of Sunday morning, and a few seconds earlier I was saying bye to my friends at the bar. I only live 15 minutes away, heels are hard to walk in I tell myself, but, like a newborn lamb I’m determined to put a spring in my step and scurry home as fast as I can.

The darkened narrow road is lit only by the soft amber hues of the lampposts. I’m only ten minutes away now I tell myself. I try to walk with confidence, noone will approach me if I walk with conviction, I thought. I turn the corner of my road, now only minutes away and I hear a branch snap behind me, refusing to turn around out of fear of not wanting to see what was there, I pick up my pace and head straight for my door, as I put the key into the lock, I hear footsteps behind me……

 

This narrative is becoming concerningly more common each year, the number of rapes recorded by police has increased by 40% in the last 4 years. Relating this to the reminder that it is illegal to be in possession of a weapon here in the UK without good reason. It has me wondering where is the legal system going wrong? Is it the victim who should be restricted by the law or the assaulter to take advantage of it? By being in possession of a weapon I  by no means condone the use of a knife or gun, but what permanent damage can really be done by pepper spray? Temporary blindness vs the loss of someone’s esteem, or worse, their life. The possession of mace or pepper spray is illegal in the UK. So what can I use to defend myself? Wear a longer skirt?

 

Women are not the only victims of sexual assault, men are too. Infact it has been reported that men are more likely to be raped than to be falsely accused of rape.

 

With the statistics on sexual assault rising:

 

How can you defend yourself?

 

A Rape Alarm – these can be broken in a heartbeat, one stomp and it’s crushed. Besides, it’s hardly going to help me down a dimly lit alleyway with nobody around.

 

Or how about some ‘criminal identifier self-defense’ spray, what would you prefer maroon or rouge? I understand the premise if this, mocking pepper spray it could act as a deterrent and identifier of the attacker days later with it’s stain but at the same time I don’t have the biggest faith in it.

 

Yes, you could say just go to some martial arts classes, and that thought has crossed my mind, but then again you could be the next karate kid and be absolutely floored by the sheer weight of your attacker if caught offguard. Overall I have faith in the reliability of martial arts as a mechanism for self defense, but I just don’t think martial arts or self defense classes should be the only option I could rely on.

 

You could argue that if you were allowed to carry a weapon to defend yourself with there’s nothing to say the attacker couldn’t overpower you, turning the tables and use it against you. This is a fair point.

 

I’m not asking for a taser gun, knife or gun, just for the legalisation of pepper spray or its equivalent as a fast action measure to temporarily stun the person attacking me so I can at least get a few seconds to run away. As it stands, I hate the idea of leaving places late at night, I’m not paranoid, but if  am then I blame the news for constantly shoving statistics of assault down our throats.

 

I must clarify that I don’t encourage or endorse the use of weapons, I merely want to raise some thoughts on self defense with regards to sexual assault.

 

If you have been sexually abused, do not suffer in silence. Some supportive sources in the UK are:

 

Music To Your Ears

Writing

Although I can’t sing a note in key to save myself, the bottom line is – I.LOVE.MUSIC

From dancing to writing about it in magazines, I just can’t seem to get enough of it!

 

My favourite genres are Hip-Hop and Reggaeton but I do dabble in the odd bit of trance and classics every once in a blue moon. Here are some of the tracks I just can’t stop singing in my head. Hopefully you’ll like them too:

 

Freya Ridings – Unconditional

 

The looks of an angel and the voice to match, Freya Ridings first blew me away when I saw her perform at a music publishing company I use to work at here in London. So hauntingly beautiful was her performance then that I thought she must’ve been miming! But no way, her gorgeous tone and aura shone through then just as much live as it does in this scenic video shot in St Pancras Old Church. Definitely check out her songs, I also really like ‘Lost Without You’.

 

Cardi B – Press

 

This song makes me wanna see a text and leave it on read. Definitely a song for the gym or the club. It’s too short though, she needs a longer version of this song, it’s so good I don’t want it to end! Does Cardi B need more press? Loving the cover art, I want her body (on my body)!

 

Anuel AA – Na’Nuevo

 

I wish I knew what he was saying, but then again the beat is so hard I don’t need to! Anuel makes me love Reggaeton and Reggaeton makes me love the Spanish language evenmore. I’ve listened to this track specifically easily 10 times already today. I think I need help. Are you a fan? Do you need to know what the artist is saying to enjoy a song, what’s more important the lyrics or the beat?

 

Murlo – Ferment

 

This song makes me think of the word ‘cute’ for some reason. Not sure if Murlo was going for this adjective exactly but that’s what it evokes in me. Like if I were chasing Bambi through a little pine forest this would be our backing track. Great song to have on in the background if you’re trying to study or drown out the noisy neighbours.

 

Music says alot about your personality I believe.What type of music are you into? Are any of the above your cup of tea?

 

 

 

Disclaimer – I don not own any of the video content or music shown in this post. Full copyright belongs to the copyright owners.

Silent Disco?

Writing

Always keen to try something atleast once, I thought I’d lend my supple body to a bit of shape throwing in a silent room full of strangers. Yes, the Natural History Museum in South Kensington is home to the type of event suitable for just about anybody, from dancing dads to tameful clubbers, the event I assure you, will enthuse us all.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘silent disco’, as I was weeks prior to the event, in summary it’s like a ‘one man party’ but not in the sad kind of way. On Friday night the set up was that there were 3 DJs, each playing a different genre of music: Hip-Hop, EDM and Cheesy Classics. Every person had their own headphones provided, which had special switches you used to change the song, so for example if you were sick of listening to Snoop Dogg and Pharrell’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ (as if), then you just flick a switch and suddenly you’re listening to Abba’s ‘Take A Chance On Me’.

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So it really was like your own personalised party. But what made it even better was actually when you momentarily removed your headphones, it was such a bizarre experience but basically it was like some weird clashing choir. All I could hear was a mix up of three songs being sung out loud mainly by middle-aged men going gloriously off-key. Plus people were ‘dancing’ to what appeared to be no music.Weirdly enough, more people were dancing at the event than I’ve seen drunk in a club.  Yes, it looked very strange indeed. To say it was entertaining would be an understatement.

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At one stage the DJ’s had us doing the macarena followed by a massive conga line before finishing foff the night with a good ol’ rendition of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. What a fun night out.

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To check out other fun things you could try in London or even in a city near you have a look at my other post.

Try Something Different In London

Writing

In preparation for my night of silent discoing  this weekend I wanted to keep the theme going and share with you some quirky activities you could try while here in the capital:

  1. Dans Le Noir

Fancy eating in a restaurant? Hell Yes! In complete darkness? Um…..? If you don’t fancy your date, or still do, but just don’t fancy them seeing steamed spinach sitting pretty on one of your big buck teeth then this is up our street for sure. With the aim of the night being that you devote all of your attention and senses on the food, and not any visual distractions, this should make you enjoy the act of ‘tasting’ much more. Plus it’s quite a fun experience, start a food fight, noone will ever know it was you!

Dans Le Noir, Farringdon, EC1R 0DU

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Photo by Rakicevic Nenad on Pexels.com

 

  1. The Clink Brixton

Would you eat a meal cooked by convicted criminals at a prison restaurant? The suspicious part of me fears they’ll poison my confit duck but obviously noone has been poisoned yet, nor have any of the diners choked to death on an overly large shard of ‘misplaced’ glass, so I guess the prisoners must be doing something right. Infact so good is the system they’re running at the Brixton joint that it’s been reviewed highly on Tripadvisor. Infact the whole ethos behind the restaurants functioning should be credited. The prison restaurant aims to rehabilitate offenders, giving them a responsibility and a goal to work towards their City & Guilds NVQs, with the aim one day for them to assimilate into society a changed person, a better person. Maybe I’ll give it a visit actually (though stick to ordering a coke, kidding).
The Clink Brixton, HM Prison Brixton, SW2 5XF

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Photo by Donald Tong on Pexels.com

 

  1. House of Dreams Museum

Or shall we say nightmares, yes if you’ve got OCD or a sane bone in your body for that matter this place may leave you scared and scarred. For this guy’s house is like a hoarder on ‘shrooms holy grail. You visit his house and leave with tears of both joy and sadness in your eyes, flabbergasted at the thought that every inch of a house could be covered in everything from dolls heads to clown masks. All I can say is bring your camera and a loved one for some emotional support.
House of Dreams Museum, East Dulwich,  SE22 8RG

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

  1. Silent Disco Tour

You know I had to throw this one in the mix! Why make a fool of yourself in a closed confined space when you could do it in the centre of one of London’s most bustling tourist hotspots  – the West End! Yes, you and a bunch of other fun-lovers will walk in twos on a guided audio tour of theatreland, punctuating the facts and figures about the famous area will be brief yet savoured moments of ‘Simon says’, where you will have to throw some serious shapes as you gallivant past the home of Kinky Boots and Dreamgirls. Move well enough and you may even find yourself on one of their stages (or the asylum).

West End Musical Tour, London’s West End, WC2

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Photo by Ben Herbert on Pexels.com

 

5. Be A Member of The Knitting Kittens Club

Knit Jumpers For Kittens at Battersea Cats & Dogs Home. Knit something your granny would be jealous of, like some little mittens for kittens at the adoption centre. Killing two birds with one stone – you get to learn a new skill and secondly you are putting that skill to good use. Plus you may even get to meet the kitten you knitted something for afterwards! Who doesn’t love animals, who doesn’t love little mittens? Only psychopaths. So don’t be one today and instead help a kitten in need. Remember, the best way to feel better about yourself is by helping others. If you’re ever feeling a bit down maybe give this or something similar a go.

The Knitting Kittens Club, Battersea, SW8 4AA

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Photo by HM hmw on Pexels.com

I hope the above gave you some inspiration to try something a little different here in London!

Prepare To See A Camel Race!

Writing

Standing in a field in the blustering weather on a Monday afternoon in Northaw, you’d forgive me for doing a double take at the sight of a bright-eyed, beige- bodied spitting camel come hurtling down the hill, with the jockey in tow gripping onto the camel’s moulting mound for dear life. Yes, cheltenham eat your heart out, for camels are fast becoming the new stallions of the racing world.

Whether you’re a betting man or not, you can’t resist the urge to stick your hand  into your pocket to help a good cause, of which today’s was raising funds for the Essex and Hertfordshire Air Ambulances. And I guess there’s no better ways to raise funds than to put on a good race. Boy were we in for a treat, from shetland ponies to hunting hounds, it seemed like every animal in the ark had its chance at being the next Usain Bolt of the animal kingdom. It’s safe to say the day did not disappoint.

Shetland pony racing

Adorable! As you can see tiny children jockeyed the mini horses, put even a toothpicked adult on the little things backs and you’ve damned them to a life of osteoporosis.

Look at their little legs go! Aren’t they adorable!

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Hound Racing:

Letting their natural instincts shine through, barking with excitement, prancing back and forth at the starting line, these rowdy canines put on quite the show for the spectators. With the only bait to the finish line being their overly loud whistle-blowing owner you can see why it was no surprise that all of the mutts enthusiastic activity was for nothing for as soon as the race  started 3 of the 6 hunting hounds ran in the opposite direction to the finish line while one stopped to take a wee and two just trotted to the finish line with ease. Poor owner. 😦

**Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the dogs. 😦  I’m a bad person.

Pony racing

Slightly larger than their Shetland cousins but still just as cute, these miniature maestros certainly moved round that track in a motion rivaling any stallion at the Grand National (ok maybe not). But still, to have children riding these little beasts made me think 1) I need to call NSPCC for someone’s parents doesn’t love them, putting the on a horse moving at the speed of light.  2) Give this kid a medal of honor for having the courage to even get on the rambunctious things nevermind race them!

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Camel Racing

But obviously the two-toed mountains of sandy fluff were all of our favourites. It was a bit of a chaotic start for the camel race in all fairness. One camel ran the opposite way as soon as the starting whistle was sounded. So 3 /4 were the automatically in the race for 1st place, then with a sudden turn of events,a jockey falls off her camel (in green shirt below)! The fall looked bad but gladly the lady was fine. Then the camel set to win the race only goes and does a complete u-turn just before the finishing line after galloping down the track like a pro. And as a result  quite literally hands over victory to the other lazy one who I swear stopped to chew grass halfway down the racing track. Sad times! Although I doubt the camels really cared!

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(Please bite his finger hehe)

 

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This one looked  as if it’d seen some things.

 

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What animals would you love to see race?

Never Leave Your Luggage Unattended

Writing

Thieves walk among us! Not just the kind who nab an extra straw at McDonalds, oh no, I’m talking the type who’d steal your laptop and passport as you sit cosy on a coach about to head off to the airport. This is exactly  what I’d feared had happened to some poor soul several weeks back when I was travelling to Northern Ireland for the bank holiday.

 

Sitting in the coach ready to head to Luton airport, my sister next to me pipes up “she’s just taken someone’s bag!” In disbelief I  shake my head and tell Rose not to worry, just as I do this another man warns “I just saw a women take someone’s luggage” and with that my eyes widened as I rushed down the steps of the coach hoping that both my sister and the man were incorrect.

 

As I look into the holding area which opens up to the side of the bus I see that our bags are still there, with the threat of the same potential disaster happening again I grab my bags and sprint back upstairs towards my seat at the front of the coach again. Where was the coach driver all this time you ask? Well it was only at this stage when I’m trying to get my bag upstairs that the driver appears from the front of the bus and threatens me by saying noone is allowed to take their luggage upstairs it’s against the health and safety regulations. I proceed to say to him safety regulations got someone’s bag stolen. The whole time, once letting us on the bus he was having a smoke at the front of the bus watching time pass by, therefore he wasn’t keeping an eye on the luggage held in the side compartment of the coach. He didn’t shut the side of the luggage hold leaving it exposed for anyone to take our cases as we’re none the wiser above in the coach seats.

 

It’s funny how he’s in the wrong a) not keeping an eye on the luggage b) leaving the luggage door wide open, yet threatens me that “this bus is not moving until everyone puts their bags back in the hold.”

 

I reluctantly returned my bags to the hold and demanded he shut the door. The rest of the journey was rather tense as no sooner had he shut the door than was he racing down the motorway. Someone was potentially in for an unfortunate shock once we arrive at the airport I thought to myself.

 

Why I think a bag was in fact stolen:

 

Asking my sister what she saw it appears that the luggage  was indeed stolen as oppose to the situation being where a mistaken traveller who realised last minute that they’d got the wrong bus quickly grabs their case with no hesitation.

 

But that’s exactly my point, if the bag did belong to the person removing it, who may have accidentally got ready to board the wrong bus, would you really be that swift to remove your bag, would you not take a second to make sure you do grab your case and not someone else’s. By all accounts the person had no hesitation when walking passed the bus and grabbing the suitcase.

 

Leading on from this, my second point, if you’d just mistaken the bus wouldn’t you be standing around scratching your head a bit, checking bus timetables, checking your ticket? Not walking briskly towards the train station?

 

Thieves target cases for electronics, and valuable gifts you plan to bring back to loved ones. Taking your bag could mean they take away your chance to visit your friends and family or visit that destination you’ve always wanted to see if your travel documents are inside, as a lot of times they may be.

 

We didn’t stick around once at the airport to see if our worst suspicions were proven true. All I know is never leave your bag unattended. If you do, tell drivers to close the doors to your personal valuable belongings instead of turning their heads the other way.