Have YOU spotted these four omens of the impending Apocalypse?

Check out my exciting click-baity title – I thought I’d try doing a Buzzfeed, just to see if it makes any difference to my stats. Let me know if you found yourself inescapably drawn in by the potent gravitational pull of a *gasp* combined rhetorical question and listicle, with just a dash of hysteria thrown in for good measure. Now hold on to your hats for a quickly-penned, ranty one on the highly original topic of How Everything Has Gone To Sh*t Nowadays. 

Once again, I must apologise for being shockingly absent from your online airwaves for the last month or so. This is, as ever, due to a combination of factors, mainly being pretty busy and coming down with various things, including another bout of writer’s block. I think the latter is partly to do with how depressing the internet has got lately. The moment I open my laptop, I’m bombarded with articles confirming that the universe is literally coming to an end. If it’s not climate change, IS or the mass murder and displacement of millions, it’s dead celebrities, embarrassing politicians or the slightly disappointing new iPhone. Continue reading

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Brexit: Burning our bridges

It’s hard to know where to start on today’s result. Like many, I’m still feeling regular waves of shock, horror and nausea when I think about what we’ve declared as a nation, and what impact it could have on our future and others’. I’ve refrained from blogging on the subject previously, because I’m not as politically informed as the many people whose posts I’ve shared, but now it’s become the only thing I can think about, I’m going to have a stab. Because I’m angry.

I’ve seen a lot of people on my social media requesting that we stop verbally abusing leave voters and tarring them with the ‘bigot’ brush, and that’s fair. There’s already been too much anger and personal hatred in this debate; in fact, that’s probably one of the reasons we’ve made such an insane dangerous ludicrous unprecedented decision. There are various reasons to vote leave, not all of them xenophobia, and I don’t want to continue the harmful scapegoating that’s already far too prevalent, but nonetheless, I’m really, really f*cking angry.

I’m going to do my best to explain who I’m angry with, and why, because I think at this pivotal moment it’s crucial that those of us who feel cheated and disappointed hold accountable those who are responsible for this mess. As I’ve said, my political/economic knowledge isn’t where I’d like it to be, but there are some pretty clear villains in this piece. Here’s who I condemn, and why. Continue reading

The Paris attacks: a personal view

I’ve written this piece quickly, and it’s really a response to what I’ve seen on social media about yesterday’s terrorist attacks in Paris – my alternative to a Facebook status. It is intended not as a journalistic exposé but as a portrayal of my opinion and, while I have carefully considered what I say, I haven’t done a huge deal of research. If you have interesting articles or facts and figures, or just responses to share, I’d appreciate hearing them. 

As many of you will know, just over two years ago I witnessed a fatal car crash. Its effect on me was incalculable, even though I had only just met William, the victim. Had it occurred the previous day, I would probably have felt nothing more than a slight pang of sympathy at the news article announcing the incident. However, because I did briefly meet him, and because of my presence that night, his loss became the single most significant event of my life so far. It still defines aspects of my relationship to myself and others, and my approach to life, that I had never previously thought to question. Because of this chance encounter, too, I subsequently learnt more about William, met his family, and tried to understand and share their much deeper grief. Continue reading

Oxford problems: Why things need to move on from 1096

The rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia have become increasingly opaque since my graduation, but I promised a post about the darker side of Oxford, and with great effort it’s finally emerged. Before I start, please note that I’m abundantly aware that going to Oxford is a massive privilege in a lot of ways (some of which I’ve previously discussed here), but that doesn’t negate the gaping areas for improvement. I’ve thought a lot about how to point these out without falling too far into a dank pit of cynicism and unjustified self-pity, but it will no doubt be impossible to navigate the murky waters of talking about the Oxford university experience without occasionally straying from the invisible/non-existent channel of “reasonable, insightful and entertaining commentary”. It is also, as usual, based on my own experiences and opinions, and is intended as a personal viewpoint, not a factually supported study. So please read generously, and start a friendly discussion if you disagree with me or if I manage to cause hideous offence in some way.

P.S. This post is about course pressure and mental health. For the sake of focus, I’m not addressing social issues such as class; other people are doing that better than I could. For obvious reasons of experience, I’m only discussing Oxford, but I know that plenty of courses at other universities are hideously stressful, and this is not intended as a comparison with those. Continue reading

An open letter to the party leaders

At the moment, the election is the only thing in my life more important than finals* – or at least the only important thing that I feel immediately (if very partially) responsible for, and as such it’s been distracting me from revision to an alarming degree. Along with many others, I’m trying to move on from my impotent fury at the fact that the election results didn’t directly reflect my lefty-liberal-student news feed on facebook, so naturally I spent much longer than I should have done writing a poem about it. Oxford is, as you might expect, pretty hellish at the moment, but at least the end is near and revision is happening slowly but surely. Adoring and encouraging letters, emails or carrier pigeons all appreciated 😉

*I am fully aware that there are a great deal of things going on in the world that are vastly more important than the swathes of blue covering Britain, and whether I get out of here with a degree or not, but the scope of this blog is restricted. 

An open letter to the party leaders

Dear David,
As we turn the page
on this fateful post-election day,
I’ve got a few things I wanted to say…

I hear you went to Oxford, that’s my uni too;
and though I only speak for me, I’ll guess
that most of us are unimpressed,
we’re less than proud of you. Continue reading

The Scottish Post: Thoughts on the Referendum

As the ‘messy divorce’ analogies for the Scottish Referendum pile up around us, I’ve found myself in an embarrassing state of Having Opinions, and it’s come to the point where I feel the need to join the rest of the still-just-about-United Kingdom in sharing them. Given that I already have a convenient platform for spewing my thoughts all over the internet, here are some of the things I’ve ended up repeating to various people over the last couple of weeks.

Continue reading