Oh I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside…

This morning I saw Southend-on-Sea mentioned in not one but two legitimate news stories. In the first, Southend made a list of the UK’s most polluted towns and cities. But there’s a coast right there with a strong wind to blow away all the fumes! It’s not even as crowded as most cities! I hear you say. Have you ever sat in a mile of idling traffic on the A127 at rush hour? I respond. If you open a window your snot will turn black. Also, have you noticed the number of housing developments in the borough? There’s about half a cubic foot of air per person in some of those flats. 

The second story was worse: Southend has the lowest rate of pay in the UK. I kind of feel like that might be down to the fact there are only really two main industries, hospitality and public services, and neither of those are famous for paying any more then they are legally forced to. I would have added retail to that sentence, but Southend high street has more closed shops than it does open ones… I saw a link to a spoof article the other day about Southend being closed for good in 2020 and my first thought wasn’t ‘oh, a spoof!’ it was ‘they’re planning on waiting until 2020?’ Walking down the high street for some shopping is like braving a weed-tinged apocalypse.

I can’t find statistics to back this up, but I recently heard a rumour that Southend has the highest number of start ups in the UK, so I suppose there’s that. Obviously as soon as these innovative new enterprises get funding they will move to Hackney or Salford and spend the rest of their days telling people that they’re from ‘just outside London’, by which time Southend’s public parks and cemeteries will have been bulldozed to build luxury flats for commuters who have no other choice but to move to somewhere with high pollution levels and no high street, because every London borough will be full of empty houses registered to owners in Panama.

Has anyone thought of building flats on the end of Southend Pier? It would lessen the need to cross the QEII bridge into Kent everyday… Or perhaps we could apply for a change in housing regulations, so families could live in the beach huts on the seafront. I mean, it’s not as though Millennials need living rooms. Just chuck us in a shed on stilts and we’ll work out the rest…

I’m not generally a fan of Morrissey, but I’m going to leave this here – it’s a reminder of the good old days, when you could take a car into the centre of town without applying for a bank loan:

I Had an MCR Listening Party, Come Join Me

This evening I posted on social media about MCR, which is not unusual, but I guess listening to MCR is becoming less and less everyday for me. This is partly because I have a couple of jobs that require a communal radio and/or relative silence and partly because there are other demands on my ears these days. Troye Sivan. Lorde. The sound of my conscience as it reminds me I haven’t worked on that giant writing project I want to finish drafting by spring. But My Chemical Romance is My Chemical Romance and the world is better with My Chemical Romance in it, so as I wrote this I had a little listening party at my desk. And as a My Chem listening party is a rock ‘n’ roll Wednesday night pursuit, I thought I’d make it into a helpful step-by-step guide so you too can mosh on a weekday!

Step 1: Compile MCR’s discography into Random.org

Hit ‘randomise’!

Step 2: Pick the first 5 songs that appear

  • “Vampires Will Never Hurt You”
  • “The End.”
  • “Sing”
  • “Mama” (featuring Liza Minnelli)
  • “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Deathwish” (listed as “It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish” in the album liner notes)

Step 3: Youtube that shit, even though you have every song legally on a disc somewhere

Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Until I looked for the official Eyeball Records video and couldn’t find it, I hadn’t realised I’d never sat through the entire video for Vampires (although I think I have it on about 3 DVDs, so). Anyway it is here it is courtesy of some kindly soul:

I had never considered what Ray Toro might look like with no hair, and I am discomfited to realise he looks exactly like Ray Toro, except if Ray Toro was in a choir. Frank, man, I am so glad you got rid of those dreads. You remind me of the stoner kids I see in Southend. The Way brothers are, of course, changeless. Musically I have never had a clue what Vampires is about other than vampires – death? Rebirth? Betrayal? Time running out? – but I feel a short story coming on. Also I have a feeling the ‘like ghosts in the snow bit’ is gonna be way more fun if I do this exercise again after a couple of drinks.

The End

Fortunately when I entered the discography into Random.org, I included the track numbers. The End in this case was Track 1, thus the first song on The Black Parade, not to be confused with To The End, track three on Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge. Easy mistake to make though, and I have made it approximately 8000 times in my 11 years as an MCR fan.

Fun fact: the first time I heard this was on an iPod shuffle (look it was 11 years ago) and when it ended abruptly I thought I’d hit a button and went back to play it again. I still love the bleep-bleep-bleep intro, and harbour a dream that if I’m ever unlucky enough to be on a heart monitor, I’ll just think it’s an MCR song and sit back happily while doctors panic over the rate of the bleeps. I also feel fond of the line ‘when I grow up I want to be nothing at all’ because in my old age that has become a comforting thought.

SING

The song that inspired the name for The Webways. The song that infuriated that FOX News man. The pop song that’s kind of a punk song?

Other than the greatly improved haircuts, my favourite thing about this video is the number of Mindless Self Indulgence members who make an appearance. I’d forgotten how rich the storytelling is: the wall projections, the posters, the freedom-fighters-versus-the-powerful narrative. It’s kind of ironic that Danger Days was set in 2019 – nuclear war and brightly coloured kids protesting the government was kind of novel in 2010. Now it’s the news.

Mama

No one in the universe is currently making music as interesting as this song. That is all.

It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish

When I was 16 I did an intricate art project in which I worked MCR lyrics from every song into a giant ‘MCR’. With boarder. I did not photograph it well; the end result did not reflect the work I put in. The lyric I chose for Deathwish was ‘you get what everyone else gets/you get a lifetime’ as those lines are as close as I have come to finding a mantra to live by. How can I feel spiritually enlightened by a song that also makes me want to throw red paint at a church altar?

Ugh, to be 16 again and have the time for leisurely listens and fansites. I love the new music I listen to now, but 5 years ago I did not go near pop because pop was not substantial. MCR was substantial. These days I feel like pop might be one of the only substantial things around. I read an entire article the other day about how Hayley Kiyoko and Troye Sivan kinda-sorta made queer/pop history by releasing their videos on the same day. No one had previously normalised same sex attraction in such a way, apparently (I can hear George Michael’s ghost rolling his eyes though). MCR broke new ground every time they released an album, because every album took what was expected of them and rolled it on its head… I don’t really get those vibes from rock any more, but maybe that’s because I stopped reading Kerrang! when they started comparing MCR’s drummer situation to that of Spinal Tap’s. Or maybe I have responsibilities now and need soft lil pop sounds to ease me into my mid-twenties. Who knows. I might weave some MCR into that project I’m working on. I might spend my next wages on an overpriced MCR shirt. I might go to California in 2019.

Probably can’t afford the shirt and the plane ticket though, ha.

Graceless Nights With Lorde at Alexandra Palace

Afternoon. I feel like I should apologise for not posting on my story blog this week, but since approximately five people read it and at least four of them are direct relations, I think I’ll save the heartfelt messages for when there’s more like six of you. I really did mean to have a story up, but I only wrote it last week because I’ve been busy settling into my new job, and I’ve promised myself that I will get my writing critiqued properly before whacking it online, and I’m still waiting on feedback. BUT NO MATTER. I HAVE CONTENT TODAY.

I saw Lorde at Alexandra Palace last week and I’m still buzzing. I hadn’t been to a live show in three or four years, and my usual brand of live music is, you know, not Lorde. I also went by myself, which is one of those things you read in self help books titled Coming to Terms With Your Own Company (Because You’ll Die Alone), but actually I just didn’t have anyone to go with. I also had work central London the next day, so I stayed up there and learnt how contactless cards work on the underground (spoiler alert: next time I’ll just get an Oyster card). Anyway, the show.

I’d never really seen a pop concert – is Lorde even pop? – so it was quite heartwarming to queue with a group who’d seen Twenty One Pilots perform live and were also wearing Doc Martens (it was kind of more heartwarming to name drop that I once saw MCR at Wembley, because I am a dick). I’d never even heard of the warm up act, Khalid, but a bunch of kids were well into it and as soon as I got home on Thursday I saw him on TV, so when he’s up for a Grammy you’d better believe I’ll be name dropping him, too. During the obligatory wait between doors and warm up and warm up and main act I got chatting to two girls who’d decorated their faces in glitter, which made me wish I’d thought ahead. The atmosphere was actually not that different to one at an MCR show – there was a good mix of people, with parents with their kids and groups of friends and couples, all waiting with baited breath for the lights to go down. It’s quite hard to explain what happened when the lights did go down so here, have a video.

I guess one upside to a pop show versus a rock show is that the act changes clothes along with their set?

Lorde Alexandra Palace London September 2017 Europe Dance Tour

Lorde Alexandra Palace London 2017

Yes, that’s a red sparkly jumpsuit with a pair of trainers.

It’s always hard to describe what it’s like seeing an act you really love play live. The last band I saw that had already fused to my rib cage was MCR when I was 15. My dad took us and we dressed up in our finest Killjoy glamour and it was probably as close to a religious experience as I got during my teens. At 22, with a very different life and in completely different circumstances, I got to have that experience again. There’s nothing like howling a song with a few thousand other people, knowing the person on the stage is having as much fun as you are. I have a cold this week – one of those where you think you’re okay to breathe through your nose and then you sneeze phlegm onto the nearest piece of clothing – and I can’t wait to be fully awake again so I can go and make things as cool as the music Lorde makes. I might also get myself a red sparkly jumpsuit, as clearly they bring good fortune…

Broody BFF Challenge: YA & Music (ft. Maggie Stiefvater, Troye Sivan and… fan fiction)

Okay, so you might have noticed I’m a Maggie Stiefvater fan. I reviewed The Raven Boys way back, I met Maggie at YALC last summer and offered her my dad’s Mustang, I irritated my brother into reading The Raven Cycle and he took The Dream Thieves to Asia with us and now it looks like this:

 

Coincidentally I’ve also been trying to practise my screenwriting, and since I cut my prose teeth on FanFiction.net (yes, you can still find me on there and no, I’m not providing a direct link) I thought I’d do the same with scripts: using a book as a template so I could stop worrying about inventing a story and focus on practising how to tell it. Since The Raven Cycle is one of those books that has found its way into my bloodstream and will never leave, I played around with ideas for a Raven Boys TV show (this was way before the actual TV series was announced). I have index cards and post it notes and tiny little Fade In documents, and it’s safe to say I will look at them again when I want to pull out my eyeballs with embarrassment – think very bad fan fictions, then think of something worse. 

Onto the #BroodyBFF challenge. Last year The Raven King came out and if I love my own books half as much I’ll be pleased. I won’t give anything away but there is a scene that reminded me of a song. Or the song reminded me of a scene, I can’t remember which came first. If I were writing this in a show, I thought to myself, this is how that episode would end. Here is the song:

It would not be a spoiler to say that Bite is not really about anything to do with that scene – it’s about certain clubs with sticky floors and certain men who visit them – but I can’t not think of The Raven King when it comes up on my playlist. Which, once you’ve read the books, is either really appropriate or really inappropriate. Kind of like fan fiction is, now I think about it.

Am I looking forward to the TV show? No. I’ve only ever come across one good book-film adaptation, and that involved the book’s author, who is also a screenwriter and director, doing the screenwriting and directing. As far as I know, Maggie Stiefvater’s long list of talents does not include those things. Also, I’m not writing it. That scene will never end that way with that song. So probably one day I will either write that scene myself into my Fade In documents to satisfy my artistic hunger or I’ll put it in  piece of my own work instead. It’ll be fucking awesome.

I’m at Village Green this Saturday so Read, If You Like... will probably go up Monday. If you’re one of the #BroodyBFFs, link me your blogs! And if you’re involved with the TRB TV show, I am prepared to trade four books worth of script feedback for my firstborn child.

My Thursday is doing well. How is yours?

Today I made five phone calls. Okay, four. Okay, three. Okay, I can’t remember. It felt like five. I also bought insurance for an upcoming event I’m too superstitious to talk about until it’s confirmed and asked my bank for a better deal on their business rates (it turns out that asking them to consider not charging you money in exchange for services doesn’t get you far, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask, so…). What I’m saying is, I adulted today. So I am basically this in a human form:

Admit it, I just made your evening. I have to go and be smug now, so feel free to blast Stayin’ Alive as loud as you can and bask in my glory.

Five phone calls!

Please let me know your favouring adulting memories, and your favourite smug songs. I want to make a playlist for future smug times.

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2016

I’ve been coming up with the annual Indifferent Ignorance awards for long enough that I know to keep ’em cute and to the point. But there’s something about 2016 that’s been so thoroughly appalling that I couldn’t just list a few bits and pieces. So here is the best and absolute worst of 2016.

Book of the Year

The Raven King, because of cars and kissing, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because of cars and kissing. Mostly. Just read them.

Album of the Year

Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, or the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Neither of them were released this year that’s further proof of 2016’s shittiness. (Actually Frank Iero’s Parachutes came out this year and it’s a gem. Whatever.)

The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year

A parent had To Kill a Mockingbird banned from a high school in Virginia, US, for its racist language.

Please kill me soon.

The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year

Tough one. Brexit? US election? The return of Poldark to our screens? Nah man. The only moment my stomach really dropped at the news this year was at maybe 6:15 on a January morning when Nick Robinson interrupted my dozing to inform me, with audible shock, that David Bowie had died. I did not think anything could shock a Today programme presenter, let alone audibly. The return of Jesus couldn’t have redeemed 2016 from that moment on.

Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes

Or an hour, depending on the broadcast.

Nominees:

  • Ed Balls’ Gagnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing It aired the week Trump was elected. Coincidence? Or does a benevolent god exist?
  • When Newsnight listened to their critics and played God Save the Queen Stand up, please.
  • The Twitter users who liveblogged the Rio Olympics and came up with 40 different jokes about green swimming pools
  • The Rio Olympics themselves
  • Whoever started those Joe Biden memes
  • American Idiot (the song, not the people)
  • Planet Earth II

Winner: this song, which someone shared the morning Trump was elected. I really, really felt better and so will you:

Outstanding Social Media Moment

This is another new prize, and the competition was tough.

We have Gary.

(In case you were wondering, Gary came back for more.)

We have when James Blunt dropped some news.

We have Joe Biden existing on camera. (I am genuinely not sure what he did in the Obama administration. I don’t care.)

We have when Sam Smith thought he was the first gay person to win an Oscar and, um, wasn’t.

Coincidentally this is the year I learnt what ‘throwing shade’ means. Oh, I didn’t pick a winner. You guys choose (I assume I can trust you with this more than I did Brexit).

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.


I thought I’d put a line there as a metaphor. Because a line is like a wall, right… seriously though I nearly wrote an essay about how the name I gave my blog aged 14 is coincidentally a term that sums up this year’s election results, but I held off because everyone else was writing the same essay and I am so tired of being tired of all the bullshit I’ve lived through recently. I think in 2017 I might use my outraged liberal millennial viewpoint to make art instead of complaining. And by art I mean small stories and postcards about people who are full of shit.

Anyway that is me done for the year. I wish you all health and happiness in 2017, although at this point it’s probably enough that I wish you make it there. Happy new year!

Proof 2016 Wasn’t One Hundred Per Cent Shite.

Let’s not pretend that 2016 won’t go down in history as utterly awful. But amongst all the death and elections and heartbreak, there were a few shining – or at least weakly glowing – lights. Here’s a few I could remember… help me out and suggest some more to get me through the next few days?

  • Leonardo diCaprio won an Oscar.
  • I decided to go to Asia I am about to pack up my belongings in a rucksack, finish my final shift at my final job and spend three months on a continent I’ve never seen. LET’S DO IT.
  • Beyonce released this:
  • I met Maggie Stiefvater And embarrassed myself, obvs.
  • Gravitational waves got discovered (proven? I am not a science person but I think it means that Albert Einstein was definitely quite clever).
  • I passed my driving test! I started learning to drive in summer 2014, took a ten-ish month break, took it back up about 18 months ago and passed first time. None of that really conveys how terrified of driving I was when I started versus how not-terrified I am now. Maybe one day I will write about it in relation to facing fear or whatever but right now I CAN DRIVE MYSELF PLACES and deal with Southend’s ridiculous car park charges.
  • Science people (seriously, help me out) are making leaps and bounds in cancer treatment research, like this.
  • Prep is coming to the NHS
  • Despite everything, we do still have an NHS.
  • Choreography on Strictly like this and this and, most of all, this.
  • #Parade10 I love MCR, but sometimes I think I might love the MCRmy more.
  • Planet Earth II.

  • Rio 2016 Give the British some green sludge to fall into and they start acing contests what a metaphor. But seriously if there hadn’t been a break in actual news coverage this year I think the year might have lost the plot… also, can we please take a minute to hero worship the Refugee Team and the life guards at the aquatics centre? This year did not deserve you.

  • The Raven King came out Look it might be my favourite book I’ve ever read.
  • I wrote something that got attention in a good way My school is going to fuckin haunt me.
  • MCRX.
  • Joe Biden memes.

I have to go and look at pictures of Carrie Fisher flipping people off now, so I will leave this here. What have your not-completely-shite moments been? TELL ME. SPREAD THE DREGS OF LOVE.

But Which One is the Parody, Actually?

I’m not sure what the electoral college in the US is doing today (or what it does generally) but I am aware that there is a some sort of Trump verification button that needs to be pressed before he can move his gold chandeliers into the White House. As it is 2016, we can assume that the verification people will probably verify him regardless of, well, 2016. But I’m glad this has come of it.

Oh and here’s the original in case you don’t have time to watch Love, Actually. Probably none of us will watch it again because we’ll be running from nuclear war or something.

Happy nearly-Christmas!