In Defence of Media Studies

Heads up: this is not an April Fool. Thought I’d better add a disclaimer in case of people thinking I’d spend 500 words taking the piss…

I only got two A*s at GCSE, and I say ‘only’ because I went to a grammar school, and as far as senior management were concerned I was too low on the food chain to bother with after my year nine end of year exams. I’m quite proud of them, though, because I worked hard for them… mostly. One was for English Literature and generally required candidates to read stuff, which was, you know, really tough. The other was for Media Studies.

Don’t look at me like that, subject snobs. I also took three whole humanities and I wanted to take something colourful for balance. It turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did, because now I use what I learnt in my job. How many of you use your entire Maths GCSE every day? Thought not. (Incidentally I have a tax return to file soon and I regularly calculate how much money I haven’t earned, so I do use snippets of Maths Unit Whatever. But now’s not the time for Francesca’s Thoughts on What Children Should Learn About Money.)

I’m writing this now because last week it was announced that the eduction official people have cut a load of subjects from the curriculum, but left in the ‘often-maligned’ Media Studies. I never thought I’d say this, but good for you, Ofqual.

If I hadn’t taken Media, I would have no idea how to use Photoshop. I wouldn’t know what a press release or Google Docs or a sans serif font is, I wouldn’t have such an interest in the media, this blog wouldn’t have continued in the vein it has and I wouldn’t have my internships/commissions/shop. I might actually have gone to university to study a humanity – or, God forbid, English Lit – instead of setting up as a freelancer. When I was in school I got to take a break from essays and learn how to make things – and I still did pretty well in my other subjects (A*-C all the way, thank you very much). Of the four grammar schools in my area, mine was the only to offer Media, and a lot of teachers, students and parents looked down on it.

Joke’s on them, though, innit, because if our school system’s going to make everyone in it a miserable grade-obsessive, it might as well show kids that at the end of the misery their skills are still relevant. And if that’s not academic enough… I don’t care. I really enjoy my job and I didn’t even build a massive debt to get it. Plus, writing this counts as part of my working day.

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A Poem About Leaving School

I have graced the hallways of my school for seven entire years, roughly the equivalent of the time it takes to get to the front of a queue in the post office. Typically students bring in notebooks into which other students write farewell messages of good luck and sappy happiness. I forgot to get a notebook so I’m writing this instead, which is way more impressive because it’s in the public domain forever.

So, what was happening seven years ago?

  • Gordon Brown was prime minister and students could attend university without first selling their organs
  • Jimmy Saville was an okay dude
  • North Africa was full of peaceful, dictatorial regimes
  • Benedict Cumberbatch could go out in public
  • People used MySpace
  • Leonardo DiCaprio was waiting to win an Oscar

Well, I never said the world had changed beyond all recognition.

But still. Seven years. Part of me thinks about leaving school and is like this:

from lisce.tumblr.com
from lisce.tumblr.com

Part of me feels like this:

Found... somewhere on Tumblr
Found… somewhere on Tumblr

Since I’m a writer, blah blah blah, I thought I’d write a poem about my time in school.

  • A is for ageing, which we have all done
  • B is for bonkers, which we have all become
  • C stands for lots of coffee… enough said!
  • D is Sunday night and that sudden feeling of dread
  • E stands for examinations, which make us want to cry
  • F are the fuckin’ idiots we’ve all had to put up with in class at least once who make us want to die
  • G is General Studies, ironically my best subject
  • H stands for homework, which you shouldn’t try in public
  • “I is not in ‘team’!” which we learnt in PE
  • J are the in-jokes that make strangers want to flee
  • K finishes ‘okay’ which some days you are not
  • L is in ‘lower school’ when you thought sixth formers were hot
  • M is Monday assemblies, the only thing the entire year thinks is shit
  • N are the notices which make the assemblies such a hit
  • O is organisation which… wait, I’ve lost my notes
  • P is for school pond, where there really should be boats
  • Q is in ‘quiet’ which the quiet study room never has been
  • R is in ‘year seven’ when we were really keen
  • S starts off ‘sleep’ which we very rarely do
  • T are the teachers who are actually humans too
  • U are the uniform rules that have haunted us for years
  • V is the vast amount of bullshit we’ve sometimes put up with from peers
  • W is for websites used to hastily gather information
  • X is in the phrase “surely that doesn’t need another explanation?”
  • Y is for “WHY ME, GOD?” a frequently-asked school-based question
  • Z is for zoo, the place to which we might actually return with begrudging joy when it’s time for a reunion.

And by zoo I mean secondary school. Please never accuse me of lacking in appreciation for the poetic arts, ladies and gentlemen. It rhymed.

Anyway, happy end-of-school! (Unless it isn’t the end of school for you, in which case happy Thursday.)

Popcorn Versus Pumpkins

So it’s November, and we’ve got men growing creepy moustaches and writers attempting to put together an entire novel together in thirty days and I’m pretty sure the Stoptober failures victims not-quit-people have bought their weight in tobacco in the last few days. The last of the Hallowe’en sweets are being eaten/discarded and Strictly‘s getting sparklier.

I don’t have a moustache (hopefully), my novels are never, ever going to be done in a month (I’m not that dude from that Bradley Cooper film) and I don’t smoke. I think we threw out the gross popcorn. Eh.

Anyway, the second half term of the year started today – which means lots more essays, woolly gloves and crawling home to read a nice book in bed, nursing my arthritic joints like the old lady I will someday be. Ahh, hot chocolate. Mist. Christmas shopping. MSI show really soon. Here is a video of a porcupine eating a pumpkin to help with the “Brr, it’s getting cold” blues. The porcupine’s name is Ted.

The Six O’Clock News: Back to School

Since this is most readers’ first week back at school (shout if you’re in another country though, or not a student!) I thought I’d do something on school, new terms, starting afresh etcetera.

Back to work: 10 Worst Things About Post-Holiday Blues

I love how sarcastic this Sean Coughlan guy is. One of my favourite least-favourite things about coming home from abroad is how strange the locals seem. I kind of forget what a smartphone is and think that it’s totally normal to wander around in the equivalent of my underwear, waving to people I only know vaguely. Not in Essex. (Well, maybe the first one for some people.)

Back to Reality

This essay was written for the girls’ online magazine Rookie in January, but I’ve always thought it useful for general ‘starting over’ so I’ve included it.

Welcome Back to School, Girls. And Mind Those Breasts!

I sometimes struggle with The Guardian, because it sometimes comes out with some bullshit, but this piece about an LA school’s uniform code is interesting. One student’s mother noticed that the new rules were completely based around what girls were wearing (or weren’t wearing) and wasn’t impressed about how they might impact girls’ self confidence. I spent five years wearing a uniform – more three-quarter blouses and tartan than “uncomfortable Harry Potteresque” – that basically didn’t suit everyone equally, so we all looked okay. There wasn’t really much to objectify even when woolly tights became knee-highs (I never wore knee-highs, for the record. They tend to suit people with long legs, but those of us who did wear them didn’t have particularly visible legs because of the hemline thing). Now I’m in the sixth form, the rules are pretty much “don’t dress like you’re going to the beach and/or clubbing.” It’s okay, actually, because I can tell people apart without getting the motts.

Anyway, this parent is irritated that teachers are spending more time telling off pupils for their clothing and reckons that all uniform codes should be abolished. Hmm.

‘Sexy Mandarin’ School Recruits Semi-Naked Models To Teach Foreigners Chinese (PICTURES)

I’m not sure what the LA school would think about SexyMandarin, an online school whose teachers all wear lingerie. It’s quite successful apparently – surprise! – but this has upset a few feminists. I’d be quite distracted by hot models talking to me actually, but if it works…

How has your first week back been? Any funny school stories to share?

Motivational Poster Time!

Today is the last day of the summer holidays so I thought I’d come and say hey before it’s too late I’m too tired to lift a finger I have essays to slave over.

The last academic year was tough, and Indifferent Ignorance suffered a bit because if I wasn’t working or doing physio, I was propped in front of some Original British Drama, drowning my sorrows in whichever chocolaty dessert I could find… I fully intend on enjoying some OBD this year, but the plan is that I’ll do it while I’m ironing, so I’ll miss out on E4/Comedy Central adverts…Adverts ruin the soul.

Come to think of it, most E4/Comedy Central shows probably do too.

Anyway, I found this on the Interwebz the other day and I think it’s far better than the usual Hallmark-y crap that’s usually supposed to inspire and motivate you to climb Mount Everest or whatever:

From bcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net (Pinterest)
From bcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net (Pinterest)

These days, you know, people appreciate realism, not sunsets and nature stuff.

(Okay I was going to upload a photograph of a sunset that I took in Zante this year but it’s taking ages so here’s one from last year.)

Right, I’m off to find portable coffee cups and refills for my pencil-case.

Occasional Tea and Rarely-Spotted Cake

Lately I’ve been having a bit of a problem with starting posts and not finishing them so I’ve made a cup of tea to help with the old creative juices. I’ve consumed more today than I usually do in a month (tea is for socialising and coffee is for work; I have at least one coffee at least six days a week) although I was drinking it in a Politics lesson under the guise of working… Although to be honest, Friday Week A last period has always been a bit of a guise, especially when we did voting systems and had to count.

Today was a tea and cake lesson, because it is correct, when one reads a newspaper, to drink tea – especially if one is in a class with twenty other people and international relations needs to be taught. It was also my teacher’s last ever lesson in my school because it’s more fun/intellectually stimulating for him to finish his PhD and work in Malaysia instead of sitting in a classroom in deepest Essex explaining the history of the Liberal Democrats to seventeen-year-olds. Can’t think why. So instead of discussing international relations we gave him presents. Ah, summer.

This hot drink thing really is conducive to work… When I said tea is for socialising, I temporarily ignored my reasonably frequent coffee shop stops with Ellen and/or Isobel when we huddle in a corner of Costa and discuss everyone we’ve ever met in great detail. I do think, however, that if there were a tea shop in our high street we’d go to that instead. Actually there is a tea shop and I’ve been there once. Well, Ellen doesn’t like hot drinks anyway; maybe we should spread our custom around a bit.

Eeyore in Costa

There’s actually a great building just off the main shops that part of me wants to buy, do up and convert into a bookshop and tea and coffee place. I think it’d specialise in second-hand books, and there would be a ‘bring a book, take a book’ system for people with cash flow problems (which is everyone). The teas and coffees would also be suitable for those with special dietary needs (which isn’t everyone but I flipping miss eating those almond biscuits you sometimes get on your saucer). There would maybe be a space for art shows and one for people to just sit and read for as long as they want as long as they purchase a beverage.

I think I may have just invented the library.

Fuckin’ Idiots Setting the Tone.

I’ve been thinking these past few days, “what should I write for my first Indifferent Ignorance post of the year? Should I go straight into last year’s round-up or ignore it completely and just do videos? I shouldn’t just do videos, I miss talking.”

But the talking from me can wait.

I’ve decided this one’s funnier (but maybe needs headphones).

Back to school tomorrow. Have fun dealing with your own fuckin’ idiots and remembering how to apostrophise!

NB: I mentioned apostrophising because I couldn’t in a couple of words, spelt ‘apostrophise’ wrong, made ‘The Qur’an’ a category and deleted half the post before finishing it. 2013’s going to be great.

‘The Morocco Diary’, Days 4, 5 and 6

The Internet on my laptop is currently not working, so I’m using my parents’ giant TV-screen-computer to post. So enjoy, in high definition.

Day 4

8th April, 2012

Yesterday was not good – except for teaching the kids the Macarena, it was very long and dry.

Today, we only have to walk 18km. It’s not great, great being under one km, but it’s a hell of a lot better than before. Apparently yesterdays 20km was the equivalent of a D. of E. weekend, but way under the time. My legs still ache.

But, today seems hotter. Mr Dell just looked up the temperature on the thermometer heat thingy, and it was 26°C. Should I mention that it’s only 7am?

I’ll tell you how the day goes later. Yusef is calling us at the mo. We’ve learnt that “alle” is Berber for “come”. Well, he told us that. It’s pronounced in a kind of all-ay way. I’m off now.

LUNCH TIME!!

We’re currently eating lunch in the second half of the Dades gorge, next to the river that we are always following. We have done god knows how many river crossings, meaning my boots and socks are soaking wet, because we can’t wear sandals or have bare feet for “safety reasons,” which to me, is a pile of bullshit. The fact that wet boots give everyone bad blisters ALL OVER THEIR FREAKING FEET is more the safety issue, but Dandruff Dave thinks a cut would be a lot more painful. Well, somebody needs to tell Dave that once you’ve cut yourself, you don’t really feel it, because you put pressure on it, and the pain goes. But a blister, a blister doesn’t stop hurting when there is pressure on it. No, instead, it bursts after a few hours of agony, and then pus goes everywhere if you’re lucky, and it will probably get infected. Joy.

Sorry. Rant over.

Anyway, the gorge is quite pretty, and it has shade, which I am thankful for. We saw what looked like a suicide note graffitied on a wall of the rocky edge cliffy thing. I would’ve taken a photo if I hadn’t been wading through water. It said though: “IF YOU EVER SAW ME SMILING, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT I ACTUALLY FELT SICK INSIDE”

2010 – 2 -12

Soo…after that depressing note, I leave to enjoy the food (salad and pan). 

Back. It was all good. So was food. The highlight of my day has to be the oranges. Oh, and Mr Dell’s and Franki’s farting competition was pretty funny. They’re the Fart Patrol now. We spent dinner in a Berber tent discussing boyfriends, boys, and Mr Irvine’s Butt.2 Mr Irvine was my Irish Year 8 English teacher, the one that said “porn” instead of “poem”. Because of his accent. And “Cher” instead of “shower.”

Anyway, he is also sharing a house with Mr Dell, and Mr Dells’ brother. But he has a huge butt. It’s very noticeable. And now Mr Dell is going to take a look. Euurrrggghh, I’m really tired though, so I’m gonna sleep.3

Day 5

 

9th April 20124

HALF WAY THROUGH!!!!

Yaayyy!!! Half way through our trip. I am enjoying it so much, but I can’t wait to see a proper bed, let alone sleep in it. And the luxury of being woken up by an alarm clock at 6:30, rather than the prayer call at 4:30. Still, when I’m home, it’ll be hard not to speak French, and I won’t be able to stop calling bread “pan”. Can’t wait to see everyone though. Especially to show off this non-existent tan. No, wait, I lie. I have a watch-strap mark, – and god is it sexy.

I forgot to mention the campsite yesterday. We got there, and there was two guys, sitting in the middle of east Jesus nowhere, selling fizzy drinks. I got a coke, and it was the best coke ever5. However, when we looked at it, it had 4 e-numbers and way more sugar than your standard English bottle. It had 64% of the Daily Recommended Allowance for sugar in. Think that’s bad? Rhianna got the last Fanta orange, and it was a radioactive fluorescent orange colour. It really was neon, and had 8 E nos. in, and even worse, was 72% of the RDA for sugar. It probably made her hyper, and then everyone wanted one. But, well, she got the last one.

Franki also had some Dextrex, so she was hyper over dinner. She did the same tonight.

Back to today’s news. We only walked 12km, but it was worse than the other days. It was mainly all uphill, on a rocky, crumbly surface. Loads of people fell over (strangely enough, I haven’t yet, which is unusual for me), but no one is dead yet. Thankfully, as we ascended (posh, I know), it got a bit cooler, and there was a hint of a breeze. The view was good, and I like the atmosphere up here, despite it being overly colourful. Not. Everything, and I really do mean everything, is the same colour as the rock, orange. It all blends in. Have these people not heard of paint??

As I write this, I can hear the mules sneezing. It is very funny. The best bit of today, was definitely the food.

For lunch, we had pasta, bread, lentils (carbs, carbs, carbs!), sardines and, OMG, CHIPS!!!!! We went crazy, and possibly scared the guides. But then, it gets better, because when we got to camp, which was an empty house thing in a small village, with land around it, they had food for us, that wasn’t mint tea and biscuits. They had this sweet bread stuff, with a cream and hazelnut spread – which really is to die for. It was better than Nutella, and completely different. The bread, I need to make and eat back home. It was made from flour, water, milk and sugar I think. I got Rhianna to ask in French. It is the best.

Thinking about it, there is loads of stuff I have forgotten to mention.

Firstly, on Day One at the airport, I was responsible for the random drug search Laura and I got.7 We were waiting for Rhianna’s bag to get searched, and I was saying something like “It’s not like we’re child drug smugglers or anything.” And then at the same moment, a security dude was passing by, and Laura saw him speak into his radio thing, saying “These two on the end.” We were sitting on the end of the end bench, so er, yeah, it’s us. Then, alas, as we were walking away, some woman was standing at the exit staring at us, and as we got there, she was like “Excuse me, we’d just like to do a random drug search on your hand luggage.”

BAM – we were screwed. Obviously not, because as I said in the first place, we are not child drug smugglers. Tip for you all: never mention drugs at an airport. Anyway, we were all clear, except for the hand sanitiser Rhianna left in her bag.

Okay, next thing, on Day 4, our campsite was near the river. So, Laura, Rhianna, Ridhi, Katie, Natalie C and I all went down to wash hair, or as it turned out, each other’s’ hair, because we used bowls, as we didn’t want to make people’s water supply soapy. It was SO good! Pretty refreshing. Freezing cold, but nice. And we had to do a lot of back bending. What made me feel better is that everyone else had greasy hair.

Thirdly (is that a word? My sense of English has gone. Lost forever. I think it’s a word though), on Day 4, we also played football with the locals. The outnumbered us, and were about 6-8 years old. The Arabic guides though, who I believe go by the names of Yusef, Hassan, Husain and Syed joined our team, as well as the one Arabic girl. We lost. But then again, we were in sandals/flip-flops. Actually, that’s not really a valid excuse, because they were in bare feet.

That’s it for then really.

Tonight we were in the mud hut bit of the campsite for dinner, and camping in tent in the “garden”.  We also played a game of “Duck Duck Shoe” with the little girls from the village. It was only girls, and for some reason unknown to most of us, the boys were kind of forbidden to play. Maybe religion, or maybe typically violent male children. It was like Duck Duck Goose, but you dropped a shoe behind a person, and they had to run at you and touch you with it.

Overall, a good night. Off now. I crave a proper bed. And a mattress to go with. And normal milk instead of powdered. That’s all.

X

Day 6

10th April 2012, 10:38pm

Thank the Bloody Lord!

Today we completed our trek, finishing with a spiffing 20km again.  I had huge sweat patches (don’t worry, no bigger than everyone else’s), a dodgy non-tanned patch, and a need for jelly beans.

Leaving the campsite, we spotted two sheep skulls, five hooves/legs, three jaws, and a strange furry lumpy thing. The sheep round here look really healthy though, so god knows when the sheep massacre happened.

No river crossings today, which is good, but instead lots of rock climbing.

*Insert unpublishable paragraph of bitching about certain people here*8

Tonight, we are in a hostel, all in one big room. The guides leave us now, and I will be sad to see them go. It’s like losing your map in the middle of the desert. To finish our journey with them, we danced and sang English and Berber stuff.

Apparently I went a bit hyper when we got back to the room. I appear to have created a dance for losers of the Tarzan game. It’s really good. And then I went around I did some Russian Rasputin Dancing, and Just Dance dances including Ring My Bell. Now everyone thinks I am crazy. Especially as after my hyper fiasco, I sat in the corner, half crying, half hysterically laughing, and then stared at Laura for a while. Yeah…… It was probably the jelly beans. They still contained lots of sugar. And maybe I ate too many…..

As I write this, It’s just me and Caffa up, and Katie is deep breathing. I also have toothpaste on my spots, as does Laura and Franki, because according to Sophie and Sarah, it actually works. We will see.

I’ve got to say, the sun and Vitamin D is clearly getting to our heads. The debate on double dipping continued today, as well as creating and solving scenarios where we are faced with a pride of lions in the middle of nowhere – this is a serious question – Who will be eaten first, who will be allocated what role in our survival mission etc.

Katie has moved on and is talking now too. I keep hearing “I don’t know” and “Olive”, and occasionally “Hmmmm….No”.

The conversation over dinner tonight was generally about Hana’s love life, and how she calculates whether a boy likes her or not. Not very is well is the answer. She said because this guy she knows, also called Yusef, passed her the bread, he is deeply in love with her. The scary thing, is that she is serious. Mr Dell is worried now, seeing as he just passed her the tea…

Washed hair again today too – we had a mass shower of 5 people. I know it sounds extremely wrong, but the room was huge, we didn’t have a lot of time, and we were in bikinis/swim stuff. We went first, and it was me, Laura, Rhianna, Franki, Sophie and I. However, the shower was freezing cold, but we told all the other groups it warmed up nicely. It was funny to see their faces when they emerged, shivering and wanting to kill us…

What else today?

I don’t know right now. My legs ache a bit after 70 odd kilometres of walking, but if I think of anything, I’ll add it in.

Nighty night, as Agnes would say.

X

1. So this bloke, as well as being suicidal, can fly. Or owns a bloody big ladder. Both things are profitable, so someone will have talked him down. Hopefully.

2. I’m not sure whether ‘Mr Irvine’s Butt’ is supposed to be all capitalised, but it can stay there. ‘But’. Haha.

3. If Mr Dell, Mr Dell’s brother or Mr Irvine would like me to edit that out, do let me know.

4. Gerard Way’s birthday. Yout thought I couldn’t squeeze an MCR reference into a diary about Morocco? Never underestimate the power of the MCR fan.

5. I’m not sure if ‘coke’ should be capitalised, but that can stay there too. ‘Coke’. Haha.

6. Not falling over is unusual, as anyone in last week’s karate lesson can attest.

7. Actually, I’m responsible. So’s my dad. Because we are dark, and therefore not trusted in airports. Isobel knew this and talked about it. You’re welcome, Laura.

8. I’m supposed to decide what is and isn’t publishable. Let’s pretend I edited that out.