Friday, 30 May 2014

Fancy Things Friday: It's time for us all to watch men suit up... because of the excellent storyline... ahem

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

I have been finding one particular  thing incredibly Fancy this week. There might even be a chance that I've been a little obsessive over it... I know, me get obsessive over something? Bizarre, right? 

My Fancy Thing this week is the TV Show, Suits. I don't know what made me choose to watch it on Netflix... possibly the fact that I had just spent a month of my life watching 9 series of How I Met Your Mother and hearing Barney tell me to 'Suit up' every five minutes. I'd like to think that I'm not that impressionable, but who are we kidding? I think I've fallen for every single subliminal message thrown my way. 

Anywho, I am now up to Season 3 of Suits and I cannot tell you what it is about that show, but I am loving it. Honestly, I just don't know what draws me to it...

Is it the storyline? It does have an excellent plot, but I don't know if that's the main reason...

Maybe it's the setting... it's set in a law firm in New York and provides an insight into the cut-throat world of corporate law... no, that's not it. Ugh, what is my reason??? This is going to bug me now. 

I know! It's the fashionable clothes and the fancy lifestyle, reminding me of how awesome it would be to have money... nah, that just pisses me off more than anything. It'll come to me in a minute...

Maybe it's... nope, I don't know what it is, but I very much enjoy the watching of this show. And for some inexplicable reason I find it the height of fancy. 

It's available on Netflix, should you find yourself at a loss for the next show to watch. It's about two lawyers; Harvey and Mike. Harvey's a qualified senior partner in a law firm and Mike's a genius with a photographic memory who was chucked out of college before he could go to Harvard to get his law degree. However, due to being a genius, he took the bar 'for fun' and aced it. Mike accidentally walks into an interview to be Harvey's associate, confesses all of the above and Harvey hires him anyway. And a TV Show is born. 

All joking aside, it is actually really good and does hold more to it than being head up by two absolutely beautiful men in the most amazing and flattering suits available, although I'd be lying if I didn't say that was a massive factor towards it. (There are also beautiful women as well to those of you that way inclined). 

The whole show is very easy on the eye and, although I'm getting a little bit tired of the constant corporate take over storylines that are just one after the other at the moment, it's still making me come back time and time again for more. Not to mention, it has a whole range of characters that make you want to scratch their eyes out for being so unbelievably irritating... which technically makes it sound like that would be a bad reason to watch it, but it actually isn't. It just makes for freakin' awesome TV. And those annoying characters aren't main characters, they all go away eventually. 

As hinted to above, there is a small amount of repetition happening in the storylines at the mo, which I hope they're not going to continue with, otherwise the above (absolutely integral and awesome) good points might not be enough to keep me watching... argh, who am I kidding? Just look at them.

Peace out my lovelies

Thursday, 29 May 2014

This post contains STUPID amounts of Spoilers about How I Met Your Mother. You have been warned.

Just to let you all know, I have my Fancy Things Friday all lined up for tomorrow... it also works as a Next On Netflix post as my Fancy Thing was discovered on Netflix, but I'm going to favour the Fancy Thing feature as, well, it is damn fancy.

With that in mind, I have no Next On Netflix this week, due to it being taken up with the Fancy Thing... I might cheat and just entitle it as both features tomorrow but at the moment the thought of doing that is making me feel little cheap, so I'm going to sleep on it.

In other news, I have officially finished watching every episode of How I Met Your Mother. If you haven't watched any of it yet, it's a series about a guy called Ted telling his kids, 30 years in the future, the story of how he met their mother... without really mentioning their mother all that much within the story and starting about 7 years before he actually meets her. It's pretty funny and I have generally enjoyed it as a whole. However, there is just one teeny tiny little thing, if there is something I hate more than the incorrect use of the word your, it's when a series gets me invested in them for years of my life and then throws it all away with the worst finale in the world (*cough* Lost *cough*).

How I Met Your Mother did that. Now I want to be clear right now, normally I skirt around the possibility of spoilers, and try to make my reviews and posts as user friendly to everyone as I can, but such is my rage and annoyance over this finale, I'm breaking my rule. I'm not only going to allude to the ending of this series, I'm going to pick it apart and have a little rant about the whole thing. So, if you are not aware of the ending, go away now, because things are about to get real in here. I will add though that the series, on a whole, is pretty entertaining and definitely worth the watch... I think... see now I'm torn. Stupid ending has ruined everything.

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Are they gone? Okay... here goes. 

I shot myself in the foot when it came to preparing for this particular finale. You see, I got to about Season 7 (there are 9 seasons in all) and I found myself, once again, getting stupidly impatient that this sodding 'mother' was nowhere to found... at least not without hiding behind a yellow umbrella and avoiding Ted at all costs. As such, I did what I normally do when I'm binge watching a TV show, I googled the classic question "In what episode does...?" etc and so forth. In this occasion, it was "In what episode does Ted meet his kid's mother." What this led me to was a link to Wikipedia with a little bit of text about the relationship between Ted and this mystery mother? Now, I'm pretty certain that if you're going to be writing a Wikipedia page about a series, it's just bad manners to put the ultimate twist of the entire series within the first sentence of the page. So when I read "Ted meets his late wife..." yeeeaaah, I was pissed. I do NOT read spoilers before hand. I was only checking the episode because I knew that the meeting of this mother was a done deal and I just wanted to know how much longer I was going to have to wait until I could see it (which incidentally was the main reason why I stopped watching the show years ago). 

So, as such, although I added reasoning to this, hoping that Ted actually married someone else before he met their mother who then went ahead and died, I soon realised that, by the end of Season 8, when he meets her for the first time, this was not going to be the case. Due to this, I spent the entire Season 9 watching it and knowing that she was going to die. 

Now, let me be clear, the fact that she dies really isn't all that annoying to me. It kinda makes sense as to why he would be talking about her so much to his kids, and I very much enjoyed the links between the early series and the reasons for how he met their mother. It showed that the writers actually knew how they wanted it to go down from the beginning, thus showing that the storyline had been properly thought out, unlike some other TV shows (*cough* Lost *cough*). 

My real irk is the whole "Robyn" debacle. That was not thought out at all. The whole way through the series, the audience is shown time and time again exactly why Ted and Robyn don't work. They want different things, Robyn is always travelling around the place and Ted likes to nest in one place and have a family, Barney is completely and utterly perfect for her... etc and so forth. I mean, come on guys, it's not like they don't constantly try to make it work. They try all the time. And the series was so hellbent on letting us all know that it would always just fall apart each time. So, the idea that he runs off to find her at the end of it all with his trusty blue french horn was so out of the blue and ridiculous, I got mad. I mean, if the rest of the episodes taught us anything, this means absolutely nothing, because Robyn's going to go off and do her travelling thing and not want to settle down, whilst Ted has a family to look after, thus making the whole romantic gesture redundant because they will just break up a couple of months later. 

I am also mad that it didn't work out between Robyn and Barney. Especially as the entire of Season 9 is based around their wedding and focuses on proving to the audience that Robyn and Barney make far more sense that Robyn and Ted had ever done. It's like they were trying for some form of twist, but in order for a twist like that to work, you need to put in at least a few hints along the way that it might happen, instead of blatantly rejecting the idea, otherwise it's just disjointed and doesn't work. Besides, I liked Barney and Robyn, it made sense. Having said that, I can even get on board with the idea that it wouldn't work out in the long run, that also makes sense. But if it doesn't work out for Barney, then it sure as HELL won't work out for Ted. 

And that's my grind. I also think there should have been more episodes with the actual mother, but I understand that that was never going to be the case and I love the other characters too much to wish for less time with them, so I can forgive that particular issue. 

To leave on a positive note: Lilly and Marshall might actually be my most favourite fictional TV couple of all time. I love that, for once, a series shows you can make entertaining TV by having a couple who would never break up (we're ignoring the spat at the end of season 1). There are so many TV shows out there that I have lost interest in because apparently no one in the fictional world is capable of sustaining a long term relationship without cheating on the other or breaking up with them because sometimes "love just isn't enough" ... please. Relationships are hard and fun and worth working at. That is just as entertaining without adding in constant obstacles the moment the couple seem to be happy. There should be more TV shows that show that. In fact, How I Met Your Mother, The Office USA, and the British show Him and Her are the only three I can think of right now that actually do it. For everything else, I find myself watching a show of two people getting together and immediately begin preparing myself for their inevitable break up further down the line, which always ends up happening. You're making me cynical TV writers, and I don't like it! Don't be afraid to make some changes! I do agree that not all couples need to be happy and strong in your shows because, again, that wouldn't be real, but you can throw in at least one couple in every so often and still make good TV... just give it a try. I dare you. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Salad and a formal apology for the worst thing I have ever done.

I'm eating a lot of salad at the moment... Like a ridiculous amount. It's my lunch Monday to Friday every week. I'm officially sick of the stuff but I'm determined to keep eating it. Why? I have a bridesmaid dress that I need to fit into in a month and a half and I am beginning to panic... It has been my goal dress, and has pushed me in my incentive to lose weight, I'm almost in it, I'm so close. But as I can't afford gym membership and am allergic to outside exercise, I'm stuck with just eating healthy to lose the weight. Plus, you know, no one needs to see me running at them in the street, arms flailing and stomach heaving from the lack of fitness. It would leave the strongest of people with post traumatic stress disorder from that experience.

As a result of no exercise, the salad has become a necessity otherwise there is going to be a serious wardrobe malfunction on the day of Older-Brother-Glyn's wedding... it won't be pretty.

In other news, I have a few grammatical pet peeves in my life. Things that I see in other people's punctuation that evokes a stronger reaction out of me than if I were to be shown live open heart surgery. I get sick, I jerk away from the sentence structure with an involuntary spasm, and then the OCDs kick in, and every part of me wants to fix the text so that it reads correctly. Of all these pet peeves, there is one that stands higher than any other. It is a common one, but an important one... the correct use of your/you're,  and their/there/they're. It makes me want to cry if it's used wrong. I know it sounds pretentious and like I should really find something more substantial to do with my life, but when you're a person who spends their daytime proofing and correcting doctors' letters, and evenings and weekends writing blogs, books and short stories, you begin to become obsessed with certain things. I've also not made a big deal about it in the past because I am fully aware that my grammar in other areas is not entirely perfect. To be honest, I have a tendency to fudge my way through most grammatical rules, guessing and pretending as I go, so I have no leg to stand on. But there are a few (mainly apostrophe based) that I take very seriously indeed.

That being said, you can imagine my surprise when my cousin-in-law, who is currently reading my second book (have I mentioned I've written two books? Utopia and A World Reborn, both available on Amazon? I have mentioned that? Okay.), has made me aware of not one but two occasions where I have not only made the your/you're mistake, but have also managed to miss this your/you're mistake in the 15,000 times I read through that thing... how, how??? There have been a great many things that I have done in my life that has left me ashamed and not proud of myself, all of them pale in significance in the face of this however. This is the worst thing I have ever done, and I offer my sincere apologies for any hurt it may have caused to those who might have already read it. I will be correcting this mistake in the future, you have my word. Citizens of Earth, I will right this wrong. I will make things okay again, I promise this to you. It is unacceptable, I am a fool, and there is no other excuse for it. Please accept my humble apologies and maybe one day you can all learn to trust me again...

Peace out my lovelies

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

One-And-Only Showing of Bad Neighbours

It was a funny week last week... not in the 'ha ha' way, but more the 'it's difficult to describe' way. There were a few not very nice things that came out of it. My weekend  was spent dealing with those things and then yesterday a few more not very nice things were thrown my way. However, as I said on Thursday, sometimes life has this habit of doing that to you. It's full of good things and also bad. Things will let you down, as will people, but I'm happy with the way that I have managed to pick myself up at the end of it. I'm also confident that things will get better once I'm over this hump.

I just wanted to explain for the lack of posts last week, and I know I missed out on a Fancy Things Friday, for which I am utterly ashamed and will ensure it never happens again. I had to make 'real people life' a priority a bit last week, instead of 'internetual life' but I'm back and ready to go this week!

So with all that being said, I went to the cinema with One-And-Only-Daniela yesterday! Huzzah! Twas fun! We went to see Bad Neighbours, which I believe is just being called 'Neighbours' in other countries. My guess for why it had to be changed for Great Britain is to do with the fact that the Australian Soap Neighbours has always been quite popular over here, and so there might be a chance that some of us would have gone to it thinking it was something else? I don't know. If that is the reason, I would like to believe that the British nation should be given a little more credit than that... I mean, as beautiful as some of the Australian actors on Neighbours are, I think we can all work out that Zac Efron has never been on that soap, nor Seth Rogan for that matter, and as they are both on every poster promoting the movie, even without seeing the trailer, I think we, as a nation, would be able to work it out... (PS: Just googled that shizzle and that is totally why they changed the name... I'm not going to lie, I feel a little insulted).

Okay, the movie... I'm a bit of a sucker for a Seth Rogan movie. I tend to laugh a silly amount at his humour. I did so in this movie as well. Don't get me wrong, it's silly and holds no depth whatsoever, but it's meant to be that way. The whole concept being about a frat house moving next door to a young couple with a baby and the hilarity that then ensues as they rival against each other.

I laughed hard at this movie. I will add a disclaimer however that, if you are not a fan of the Seth Rogan movies, then this one probably isn't for you. He follows the same pattern of humour; people getting high, sex jokes, and some absolutely hilarious physical comedy (airbags that had me crying). For me, it works. Also, it doesn't go too much into the whole 'getting high and then funny things happen' routine this time round. The few of his movies that I have lost interest in, are ones where that is all they do (Pineapple express, for example). Although there is an element of that involved, it actually branches out to other humour as well, which I personally prefer.

Also... Zac Efron. He is almost too beautiful. I mean, it's just not right. How does someone look like that? There is a scene where he does a whole conversation with Seth Rogan topless and I swear, I could not tell you a single thing that they discussed.

It's a really good movie for discussing afterwards with friends. You know the conversation I'm talking about... you're all sitting around a table at the pub, someone brings the movie up and suddenly everyone's throwing in the "What about the scene where..." or "I couldn't stop laughing at the bit when..." remarks and you all fall about laughing, even at bits that you didn't really laugh at when watching it. (Best movie for this is Napoleon Dynamite. That movie I did not get the first time I watched it, but when discussing it afterwards with friends, I suddenly found it hilarious, watched it again, and laughed all the way through.)

Also, I got to educate One-And-Only-Daniela again... it turns out that she didn't realise DVDs were only released a couple of months after a movie had finished in the cinema... How do I know this? After coming out of the movie, she wanted to go out and buy the DVD straight away... I know... I don't know how she didn't know. I mean, she watches movies all the time, it's impossible for her not to have worked it out before yesterday, but somehow she had managed to stay completely in the dark. The mind boggles sometimes. If I'm honest, I'm nothing but impressed. That is quite some feat to have lasted this long without knowing that... Some might say she is the One-And-Only person to have done that... See what I did there?

Anywho, if you want to watch something light and fun, Bad Neighbours is definitely a good choice. Also, there is a scene where the frats dress up as different Robert De Niro characters that probably made me laugh the hardest, there was not one bit about that scene that I didn't love. I've just thought about three more scenes that I loved, but I'm not a spoilers type o'gal so I'll just wait until I can talk to someone who has seen it so that we can rinse out all the humour in one overly loud conversation involving a fair amount of cackling like a witch on my part.

Okie doke, I will speak to you lovely people soon.

Peace out my lovelies.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Alas and never mind

So, my Super Exciting Secret Thing turned out to be no go, which was always a possibility. My apologies for not writing yesterday, the Super Exciting Secret Thing had me all a flutter and I couldn't sit still for long enough to write anything.

I've been through all the stages of dealing with this. There have been tears, anger, reasoning and acceptance... not that I'm cliché or anything. I'm at a point now where, although the Super Exciting Secret Thing would have solved so many problems and made my life so much more exciting and super, I think I'm going to be okay with it not happening. At the end of the day, we can't always get what we want and things are going to go wrong along the way. The way we choose to deal with those things is the part that we have control over, however. As such, I've decided that I'm not going to obsess over the benefits I've lost out on, but rather focus on the benefits I already have. Due to this, although I gave myself a month off in between books, I have officially written the prologue to book 3 of the Utopia series, thus starting up the writing process once more. Plus, I have some time tomorrow afternoon so I'm going to take my computer down for my pub lunch/writing session and I'm gonna surround myself with doing the thing I love.

This week has been a mixed week in terms of news and activities. There has been more sad news than happy, but it was just as important a week as any other. If all my weeks were happy, life would start to get boring, and the fact that I'm nearing the end of this week with a smile on my face shows that I'm going to be okay... either that or I'm living in denial (which is the one thing out of the five stages I hadn't listed, so it's entirely likely). But I'm going to roll with it regardless.

I'll chat to you in a more upbeat and happy tone tomorrow, I promise. I mean, I think I'm dealing with this whole thing well, but come on, I'm not perfect.

Speak soon everyone

Peace out my lovelies

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Soapbox post: The danger of payday loans like Wonga

You see the advert, cute little puppets of old ladies looking all adorable and welcoming. It might even remind you of your own grandparents and bring back the fond memories you have of visiting them, being fed large amounts of food and playing with their secret stash of toys. Somewhere subliminally you find yourself having positive feelings towards the advert because nothing bad ever came from those visits to see your grandma... sweet little ladies like that wouldn't hurt a fly. All along, you know in the front of your mind that you'd never actually use the product they're selling, you've heard rumours about how it can get really hard to manage and people have whispered stories in your ears over some poor person who started out with them and got into that thing people are starting to call "The Wonga Cycle." Besides, you budget and, although you're not exactly swimming in money, you have enough to get by. Short term loans are bad. You know that. You've been taught that. You won't make the mistake of using them... although the ads are rather endearing.

A couple of months later, you decide to take up a new job. It was the right decision to make, and you're glad you made it, but then you get that first paycheck and the money that you thought would turn out to be roughly the same amount as you were getting previously, turns out to be demonstrably less. You begin to panic a little. This wasn't what you were expecting. Not to mention Christmas is just around the corner, which means you have a plane ticket to buy so that you can spend it with your parents and even if you buy the cheapest possible present, you can't come empty handed. Then on top of everything, your phone bill comes in and it's almost double the amount you normally pay. You call and find out it had something to do with the previous month not being fully paid. You feel yourself start to slip, and you realise that the tight budget you have created is not designed to allow for any form of wiggle room. It's the second day of the month, all the bills have been direct debited out of your account and you have hardly anything left in there. The month ahead looms over you, threatening you with stresses that range from "Your friend's birthday night out is just around the corner, you can't cancel on her again" to "What are you going to do when you hit the third week and suddenly there's no more money for food?" Suddenly you can't see anything else other than these constant questions and they're bogging you down. You desperately search for some kind of way out, and then there it is... that memory of the cute little old women puppets talking about easy same-day loans...

You know it's a stupid thing to do. Nothing good ever comes from the payday loans. You've heard it from everyone your entire life. But you then begin to reason with yourself; maybe this company Wonga is different. It's too big a company for it to have debt collectors threatening to bust your kneecaps, and it wouldn't get the publicity it has got if it didn't look after its customers at least a little. It must be the exception to the rule, the payday loan company that cares... 

You let that idea settle in for a while, thinking about the possibilities involved in getting through the month if you had the money that they offered. And you wouldn't take a lot, just a tiny amount to get by. Then you can pay it back the following month when there aren't so many things that are demanding money from you. It sounds enticing. It really would solve every one of your current problems, but you put a pin in it, deciding that you will at least sleep on it before entering into anything. That night, you dream about starving to death whilst running around the house, opening every cupboard door and finding no food in there. You wake up with a start and decide that enough is enough. There really is no other way of looking at this, you will not financially last this month without help from somewhere. You sign up to Wonga before you can change your mind, work out the smallest amount that you would need, and apply for it. 

You can't quite believe your luck, 20 minutes later the money is in your account. You can eat again! You're so happy with the immediate high, you temporarily forget that this money will have to be paid back again the following month with an additional large amount of interest. You also forget that this money will need to be paid on the same wage that you received this month. Besides, that's something that future you can work out when the time comes...

You continue on with your month. You hit a few bumps in the road. There are a few expenses that turn out to be more expensive than you initially thought. You realise the one-off loan that you had taken out might not stretch to the next paycheck. You check the online Wonga account and notice that there's an option to add to your funds. Really? They do that for you? You can apply for more than one loan in a month? That seems overly generous. You conclude that Wonga has been given too much bad press in the past, they clearly are a lot kinder than others had thought. You work out another additional funding and apply. By this point, it's feeling almost drug like. The money arrives once more and you realise you don't have to struggle. You revel in the elated feeling that gives you. You last the month unscathed and having had enough food. 

The next paycheck arrives. It's a little larger than the one before, but not by much. This doesn't really matter however as the two loans taken out the previous month, plus the interest they've added on top, leaves a massive hole in your account. Suddenly you realise that you're in a worse state than you were last month. Now, you'd be lucky to pay the bills at all. You realise that the month has barely even started yet and, once the bills were out, you'd be overdrawn... without any form of overdraft facility. You're aware of the reason that you are in this mess. You know that it's because of the loan you took out with Wonga. Therefore you should never touch that company again... however, suddenly you find that you don't really have any other choice. You need far too much money to ask family and friends and, thanks to a mistake with 50p left on an old credit card and a house move which meant you didn't get any of their letters demanding that money, your credit rating is non existent, so no reputable bank or company would consider you for a decent loan. Suddenly you feel like you have no choice. You once again log onto the Wonga website and apply for another month's loan.

You don't fail to notice that, because you've had to apply for this loan a little earlier in the month this time, the interest is quite a bit higher. You panic a little at this as you realise that this really is going to mean you're going to struggle the following month, just the same. Then you begin to come up with a plan. You know that you're not going to be able to last a month at the moment without applying for a Wonga loan, but if you cut down even more of your expenses, stop all social interaction and find even cheaper food than before, perhaps you can start to wean your way off, applying for a little bit less money each month until you don't need it anymore.

You are feeling confident with your plan... especially as it's now officially the December month, so your being paid a little earlier than usual. You make a mental note to keep a hold of the money as long as you can, knowing that you've already bought Christmas presents in the previous month. Christmas comes and goes and you manage to save a little on food because you're back with your parents and they feed you for just over a week. You hit January and realise a flaw in your ultimate plan. January is a five week month... and due to the paycheck arriving earlier in December, the gap between December and January's pay is quite a bit larger. Suddenly you realise that, not only are you not going to be able to keep a strict low loan this month, you're actually going to have to get a bigger one than you had before. You panic slightly, but decide that there really is nothing else you can do and apply for more money. By the time the end of January arrives, your total amount is almost triple what you had used before. You begin to despair.

February hits and, this time, you need to apply for another loan before even your rent comes out. You think back longingly to that point when you first started taking this loan and the money troubles you had had then. They had seemed huge at the time, but now you would kill to have that back again. Somewhere in February you make a decision that enough is enough. You couldn't go on this way. You do a bit of research on the internet and find out about debt management plans. In addition to the Wonga loan, you have an old credit card that you haven't used in years and yet still are struggling to empty, due to the interest they are now charging you and the lack of things that you are able to do about it because of the afore mentioned credit rating. You decide that you really have no choice. The credit rating is never going to improve with both these payments still outstanding so you decide to sort it out once and for all. You call up a charity called Stepchange and feel relief fall over you as they take over your finance issues whilst simultaneously treating you like you're their best friend.

You sort everything out and begin the new plan. It feels amazing to have a manageable budget again. Things are still tight, but now you are back in control of the money and know exactly where it's going. You stop payments going out to both your credit card and Wonga and instead pay in more manageable sizes with Stepchange. You feel relief.

And then one day your bank account is almost empty again. You don't know how this happened. You make enquiries and see that Wonga, despite the fact they were informed you are on a debt management plan and therefore are no longer allowed to take the money out of your account, have gone ahead and done it anyway. You spend days on the phone with your bank asking for the money back. They refund you and begin inquiries with Wonga. You think that it was a low move, but are glad that at least it's over.

The following month another payment is taken out of your account by Wonga. You call your bank and Stepchange, and everything is reversed once more, even more restrictions having been put on your account to prevent any further payment being taken out. You begin to stress, annoyed that they've already been receiving payments via Stepchange and are still trying to take the full amount out of your account. You take solace in the fact that the bank have restricted any further payments from going out to an even further extent than they had the month prior.

Another month goes by and this time Wonga takes two individual payments out consecutively. You call your bank in tears this time, as once again you are completely broke. The bank explains that they had found a way around their restrictions and had taken the money anyway. You ask whether it's better off just cancelling your account and opening a new one, they inform you that it will delay Wonga from taking out a payment, but it won't stop them as they will eventually be able to break through. Thankfully your bank refunds the money for a third time but adds that this is going to be something you will have to do every month from now on. You call Stepchange and they listen as you stress and freak out, with that same awesome personality that makes them feel like your best friend. They get angry for you and explain that this is just the way Wonga works. That they will receive instructions to stop charging bank accounts, as well as receiving a payment each month from debt management programs, but will ignore all that and continue to take your money unlawfully.

You begin to despair of why you ever thought that they were some form of help. You realise that they are nothing but a company that takes delight in making money out of people who struggle with it. They provide  no investigations or support prior to giving money to people who can't afford to pay it back, instead they just reel you in and, once they have you, they show no mercy with any of your circumstances, as long as it means that they get all the money they can.

You send up a silent prayer of thanks that you are a stronger person than you were even a year ago; knowing that if this had happened then, there's no telling what the stress would have done to you. You think of those that aren't as emotionally strong as you are right now who are struggling with this company. You wonder how Wonga live with themselves. You vow to make sure the entire world knows just how ruthless they are and that, no matter how tough things get, it will only get tougher if people begin to apply for loans with them. So you decide to start off with a blog post, knowing that it would mean you were going to be more honest than you're comfortable with about your financial issues, but you also know that it's worth it because people need to know that this cute little company with the old puppet ladies that make them think of their grandmother is not as cute and friendly as they would have them think.

Then you wonder if you need to add your own thoughts about the issue after your story but realise there's no need; Wonga's actions have made the argument for you.

Peace out my lovelies. 

Monday, 19 May 2014

All that was missing was the tight leotard, fake tan, and sparkling sequins... thankfully.

Friday turned into a spontaneous night out that didn't end until around 4am Saturday morning.

Myself, One-And-Only-Daniela and No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso met up after work as it was No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso's birthday. The plan was to go to a nice bar, have a couple of drinks and then head home as No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso had theatre tickets. This didn't quite happen. Instead, we started our night here:

And ended up here:

Ladies and gents, that's not just a normal club, that's a salsa club... full of people who can salsa... professionally... and One-And-Only-Daniela and I.

One-And-Only-Daniela and myself can categorically not salsa professionally. We can look at others and be impressed at their salsa prowess, we can also tap our toes in the rhythm of the music, and we can order wine from the bar, but we definitely do not qualify as salsa dancers.

However, we're up for new experiences and No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso likes to salsa, it was also her birthday so it was her decision on where to go... and so we went.

So how did we get to that place? Well, we decided at the bar (where we had started at for "just a couple of drinks" after work) that we would meet up with No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso after her theatre. We used the time No-Nickname-Yet-Tshepiso spent in the theatre to buy spontaneous outfits that suited 'going out' better, (mine wasn't that complicated, just 'take off the jeans I was wearing with my dress and put on new shoes and tights'), touch up make up, eat something substantial so we lasted the night, and try to forget the fact that (in my case) there had only been a total of four hours of sleep had the night before.

We then were led blindly to the salsa club. The night was awesome. Whilst queueing up, I had a nice chat with a homeless lady who only spoke in high squeals and was telling me how, in the future, we would all be wearing stick on lipsticks and living in spaceships. I agreed with this hypothesis and bid her adieu as I entered the club. Then began the search for a table where both One-And-Only-Daniela and I could suitably hide ourselves from the rest of the crowd, for fear that someone would mistake us for a person who knew what they were doing and try and get us to dance...

If only it had worked... but alas it didn't. Instead, a mere half an hour later, I found myself being pulled onto the dancefloor, despite my protests that I had no clue what I was doing, and suddenly the music took over my partner and I was being thrown all over the place.

I want to say at this point that some form of deeply hidden musicality rose within me, but sadly this was not the case. Instead, I resembled something close to a cat being thrown around a room. My legs and arms flailed around the place in such a style that (in the words of the great Strictly Come Dancing head judge Len) 'only my mother would love...' And I have to say, I'm not too sure if Marmie really would have loved it, if she had seen it. However, I persevered, thinking that we had started halfway through a song, so I only needed to wait out the remainder of the song and then I could laugh it off and run in the opposite direction. The end of the song came and I made a move to leave, but my partner apparently seemed to enjoy dancing with someone who kept on treading on his toes and stumbling over her own, because he simply pulled me further into the dancefloor for the next song.

Guys, if I had been terrified and out of my depth previously, that was nothing compared to not only trying to do what your dance partner is instructing you to do, but also trying to do it whilst navigating yourself around what felt like thousands of other dancing couples. Such was my shame that any time my partner pulled me into a hold with him, I would just repeat over and over, "I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry" in his ear. He would then laugh and spin me out, followed by spinning me in the opposite direction, and then deciding that (as I had handled all of that so elegantly) I could definitely pull off the intricate 'armography' that happens in salsa. He began throwing my arms around his shoulders and my own and suddenly I was scared I would accidentally strangle him... but you'll be pleased to know I did not. I just apologised in his ear... again... I think he got the point that I was apologetic.

Needless to say, I appointed myself as official bar waitress after that, contributing to the night by rehydrating everyone whilst they did it properly. It was a fun night. They had a salsa performance as well halfway through which appealed to the 'Strictly Come Dancing' fan within me, and once again I was struck by the complete joy and gratitude that I have for being lucky enough to live in a city so amazing as London. Guys, I talk about it a lot, but man, I love this place. No matter what you are into, there will be a place for it... who would want to live anywhere else?

Peace out my lovelies.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Fancy Things Friday: The Ultimate Spotify

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

There are a few things in life that I like to think I've been the pioneer of when it comes to becoming a fan. I do like to try things out as soon as I hear about them, because then I get to talk about them incessantly, regardless of whether anyone wants to hear it or not. Although, most of the time, I tend to just get on board once I have heard about it nonstop via internetual means and am beginning to feel left out. 

And then there are those small occasions where I am so far behind in joining the party that it's just embarrassing. This is the case with today's Fancy Thing. Ladies and Gents, up until last Thursday, I had never used Spotify...

I know, chastise me, throw things at me, kick me in the shins, I deserve it all. I can't even tell you why I haven't tried it until now. I just always seemed to be content with buying albums I couldn't afford to clog up my already maxed out memory on my phone instead... for some reason, that always made sense to me in the past. Now, however, I have discovered exactly what Spotify means to my primal needs when I suddenly have an urge to listen to an obscure film score from a movie that was released in the 80s. I mean seriously, I have searched the most bizarre songs and have not once been disappointed... well, actually, I tell a lie. For some reason, it will give you the 'He Sleeps' theme from Pretty Woman (something I have never been able to find anywhere before Spotify) but it doesn't have Emma Bunton's 'Maybe' which I find rather bizarre, but there you go. 

I'm not going to insult all of your intelligence by trying to sell Spotify to you, because I'm sure you all have been using it for years. If any of you are as clueless as me, I will just briefly explain that it's an app/program that you can get for your computer/tablet/phone that holds every song known to man on it (except the afore mentioned Emma Bunton song). It has playlists devoted to decades, moods, genres, the things you are currently doing (such as working out, relaxing etc and so forth) and so much more. It's awesome. 

Instead of selling it to you, I have decided to list the songs that I have been playing non stop this week, in the hopes that you might check them out yourself, because they are awesome for so many different reasons. I will warn you now, however, I have been in a nostalgic place recently and so there might be a large influence from my teen years involved... in other words, expect a lot of tracks from the 90s. Okay, so I'll leave you with them, and perhaps it will inspire you to add a few extra songs to your own playlists. 

PS: I may have highlighted in bold the particular tracks I am currently feeling very passionate about...

1. Dear Darlin': Olly Murs
2. Lose Yourself: Eminem
3. This Love: Maroon 5
4. Everybody Get Up: Five
5. Bye Bye Bye: N Sync
6. Don't Speak: No Doubt
7. Torn: Natalie Imbruglia
8. Bitter Sweet Symphony: The Verve
9: Pretty Fly (for a white guy): The Offspring
10. Jumpin' Jumpin: Destiny's Child
11. Ms Jackson: Outkast
12. How you remind me: Nickelback
13. Truly Madly Deeply: Savage Garden
14: Two Beds and a Coffee Machine: Savage Garden
15. No Scrubs: TLC
16. November Rain: Guns N' Roses
17. Butterfly: Crazy Town
18: Californication: Red Hot Chilli Peppers
19. Say It Ain't So: Weezer
21: Cry Me a River: Justin Timberlake
22. Angel: Shaggy
23. My Boo: Usher and Alicia Keys
24. Ain't It Funny: J Lo and Ja Rule
25. Hella Good: No Doubt
26. Never Had a Dream Come True: S Club 7
27. Stan: Eminem
28: Cleaning Out My Closet: Eminem (funny story, I seem to know every word of this song, I have no recollection of ever learning it...)
29: Colorblind: Counting Crows
30: Rap God: Eminem (I have every intention of learning this one... it is my latest personal challenge)
31: Lose My Breath: Destiny's Child (or just any Destiny's Child... they can do very little wrong)
32: Sweet Child O'Mine: Guns N' Roses
33: Live and Let Die: Guns N' Roses
34: Bang Bang - My Baby Shot Me Down: Nancy Sinatra (Kill Bill version)
35: End Title from Speed (starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock): Mark Mancina
36: He Sleeps (score from Pretty Woman): James Newton Howard

I challenge you not to find at least five songs from that list that completely rock your world. You are welcome. 

Have an awesome weekend

Peace out my lovelies.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Next on Netflix: Fright Night

Next On Netflix: Where I take my guilt from all my Netflix procrastination and turn it into something I can justify.

So I watched me a new movie on Netflix over the weekend. The one that I picked, on account of it having a certain Doctor in it, was Fright Night. 

Now, the advantage of watching movies after they've been out for a while means that you tend to have a general feel of whether you're going to like it before you watch it. For example; with this movie, I hadn't exactly heard bad things about it, but I also knew it wasn't going to be ground breaking. I think it ended up with a fairly low key cult following, in the end...

As such, I started watching the movie with fairly low expectations of what I was letting myself in for. My main reason, as mentioned above, for choosing this particular movie above any of the others was that the lovely David Tennant was in it, and being a whovian I tend to gravitate towards his work, regardless of whether I think it's going to be good or not. 

Having said all of that, I've gotta say that I didn't hate this movie. It was low budget, and nothing amazing, but it flowed well and I can't remember getting bored at any point. It was also short and sweet at only 1 hr and 30mins long. The plot of the movie was your standard 'vampire moves in next door to hero of movie... death ensues' story, and if you're looking for something more substantial than that, then you're probably going to be disappointed. Also, if you're looking for a lovely romantic tale between vampire and human, as is the popular demand these days, then alas you will find it lacking. No sparkling skin here, and whilst the main vampire is Colin Farrell and so very easy on the eye, there is nothing really romantic about him at all. But if you fancy a nice and easy vampire tale with a fair amount of killing, a dash of comedy and just a little bit of romance, then this is the movie for you. 

Plus, you are all welcome to play the game I play whenever I watch anything that the Doctor Who actors star in that isn't Doctor Who. This game is simple, and will certainly make a solo viewing of a movie a whole lot more entertaining. Basically, I like to pretend that any character in a movie played by a Doctor Who actor (in this case David Tennant) is actually secretly still the Doctor but just undercover. For example, if Tennant decided that he was too creeped out by the vampire in the movie and decides to cut and run, instead of stay and fight, you might catch me yelling at the TV (as the hero watches him run away, with disappointment) "Don't worry! He's only joking with you, he's the Doctor, he doesn't run away from anything! He's probably just grabbing something from the TARDIS." Or if you're watching the Tennant play a bad guy, like in a certain Harry Potter movie, and suddenly you're faced with a scene where he seems to be trying to destroy mankind, you can reason with the other characters in the movie by stating the facts, such as "I know it seems bad that he's hellbent on bringing back He Who Must Not be Named, but if you look at it on balance, and take into consideration the amount of times he's saved the world, I think we can allow him this one lapse in judgement. We'll just get that dark mark laser removed and he'll be back kissing Rose before you know it."

Now, this could prove to be annoying (apparently) if you make these comments whilst in a room with other people, especially if they are not of the Whovian variety, but it is nothing but hilarious when you are alone with a glass of wine... yes, I said hilarious and not sad and lonely... deal with it. 

So all in all, if you want a light movie that is entertaining and doesn't require a large amount of thinking involved, then I recommend Fright Night. It's simple, fun and not all that bad... just don't go in expecting Oscar standards and you are golden. 

Until tomorrow. 

Peace out my lovelies

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Busy and busy and busy some more.

Guys, again I am crazy busy today, so it's going to be another short one... I know I promised you a review, but I'm nothing if not unpredictable and an overall let down... I mean that in a happy way of course!!

As such, I'm going to leave you with a video that made me laugh and say have a fantastic Wednesday in all that you do! Also, check out the last day of my book Utopia being free for purchase! Grab it before I get nasty and start charging again!! The links to the book are in the right hand column! Go nuts.

The video below is an oldie but a goodie. It's youtube sensation's Miranda Sings giving a Fancy Thing Friday's recommendation, Pentatonix, some much needed singing advice. If you don't know who Miranda Sings is, go check her out on youtube after you watch this. I love her.

Peace out my lovelies.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Super Exciting Secret Thing.

What is up, my homeboys? Are you getting down with your bad self? You are? That's wonderful news.

It's Tuesday... That's all I've got for you today. No word of a lie. I just sat here and let my fingers hover over the keyboard for about 2 minutes, trying to come up with something else to add to it, and this sentence is the only thing that I could think of. Yup, my go-to topic to talk about when there is nothing to talk about, is how there is nothing to talk about. I do have a Next-On-Netflix review to lay down on your sweet, sweet faces, but I'm saving it for tomorrow because it may take a while and I don't have that much time today... so instead I'm treating you with a topic about itself... get your brains around that bad boy.

There's stuff that I want to say, also, but can't due to it being the super exciting secret thing that I have alluded to in the past. I suck at secrets though, as the purpose of this particular super exciting secret thing being a secret is to not draw attention to it, should it fall through... All I've done is cause more intrigue than is necessary as I've made it sound like it's super exciting and secret, which means even more people are waiting to hear whether I succeed or not, which defeats the object of the whole reason for keeping it secret in the first place.

Also, I'm pretty certain that I've made the super exciting secret thing sound a lot bigger than it actually is, thus setting you all up for disappointment should I succeed in the super exciting secret thing, announce what it is and then see you all collectively sigh and walk away, heads down, because you were certain I was going to announce that I had found the cure for cancer, or world peace, or how to get Nicholas Cage to stop making movies (I am working on that one, people, it's just proving more difficult than I had expected). This particular fear was confirmed as I told a friend earlier in the week about this super exciting secret thing, and she promptly followed this up with "Never mind that, I'm desperate to find out what this secret thing is that you keep on talking about!"


Yeah... there's a chance that this super exciting secret thing is only really super and exciting to me... So, you know, be prepared for that.

I'm off, because I'm short on time and devoid of words in my mind palace... okay, so it's less of a palace, and more like an abandoned shed you might find at the bottom of your garden, but the point is that it has no words in it, so I'm going to stop writing words down because I don't want to go into a brain overdraft. I hate debt.

Peace out my lovelies.

Monday, 12 May 2014

A weekend of clucking and growing feathers...

So this Saturday just gone was my soon to be Sister-In-Law's hen do. It's all very exciting. We're about 11 weeks away from the wedding now and it's safe to say that both family's are getting suitably excited about the whole thing.

Now, I don't have that much experience of hen dos. I've only been to one before this one, and that was about 8 years ago so I was fairly clueless as to what to expect. I knew that it wasn't going to be a messy one, but rather an intricate day of travelling around London. We started at 10:30am and finished around 10:30pm, and all I knew going into it was that it involved a treasure hunt based on the Monopoly board, and a barn dance.

New-To-The-Family-Amy didn't know anything at all about her day. She was simply told to turn up at Liverpool Street Station at 10:30am and her hens would do the rest.

So she turned up, we went for brunch at Giraffe and ate a large amount of food. There were about 13 of us for the majority of the day. We started off with a pass the parcel game in the restaurant, where at each layer, whoever had the parcel had to read out a fact about one of the hens and the rest of us had to guess who it was about. I sucked at this game, given that I knew about 3 people in the group, but never fear, my competitive nature got a bit of a win later in the day when other games came up.

After brunch, we all filed outside the restaurant and gave New-To-The-Family-Amy her first clue. This led her back to Liverpool Street Station, where she had to do her first task, involving masks of famous singer's faces, four hens picked by New-To-The-Family-Amy, and a very heartwarming (and loud) rendition of I Dreamed a Dream which managed to carry pretty much across the entire station. Seriously, the acoustics in that place were immense. I do have a video of this and will be attempting to formulate it into some form of montage video, so stay tuned on that one.

We next went to King's Cross Station (yes, the famous one) and the Hens all left New-To-The-Family-Amy on her own, to go and hide in particular locations, whilst we waited for her to find us (this station is massive and contains various shops and restaurants, as well as trains). New-To-The-Family-Amy then was given a clue and had to work out where we all were. My little team (waiting at starbucks) was first to be found. She reached us and we gave her Clue No.2 as well as a particularly well known scarf that, let's just say, isn't meant to be worn by muggles such as us. New-To-The-Family-Amy, being the rebel that she is, put the scarf on anyway and tried to decipher the next clue. Now, it's worth mentioning at this point that there were two of us waiting for New-To-The-Family-Amy at Starbucks, one of us (not me, but a lovely lady called Anna) knew the answer to the clue, the other one (me) didn't. Therefore, the hints and general help involved in her answering the next clue was varied between the two of us. Anna did an excellent job of steering her in the right direction. I, on the other hand, tried to help with coming up with the answer, but always seemed to be met by the similar comments in all of my suggestions, these comments were "stop helping Lisa" or "you're making it worse" or "nope, that's just going to confuse her" etc and so forth. I've never been very good at clues and general knowledge stuff, not my strong suit.

New-To-The-Family-Amy did eventually get it and we trotted off the the second location, where she was met with the next clue and another item that definitely shouldn't be carried around by anyone slightly muggle like; a wand. Thankfully New-To-The-Family-Amy managed to steer clear of blowing anything up with it, although did use it to channel her knowledge for the last two locations. Location No 3 revealed further Hens with some very fetching round glasses... if you guys haven't worked out the theme of this particular game, then I can't decide whether I'm disappointed that you have missed out on some amazing books, or incredibly impressed that you have managed to live such a sheltered life that these items mean nothing to you. I mean, I know I usually live in a hole, but your hole must be massive and I simply must come and sit in it for a while, so that I can gaze around me in wonder and awe.

The last clue took her to a very special place indeed. The entrance to Platform 9 3/4, AKA the most magical place in the world... Well, not really, because the place where they've labelled it as being 9 3/4 is actually nowhere near platforms 9 or 10, but apparently this is the safer option as it's also nowhere near a place where people are actually trying to board trains to get places. It clearly is the area that muggles go to, to get their fix. All proper witches and wizards however, use the real entrance by the actual platforms.

Anywho, there was a massive queuing area and a submerged trolley in the wall with an opportunity to have your picture taken, disappearing into the wall. Naturally, New-To-The-Family-Amy had her picture taken...

And then she disappeared into the wall... never to be seen again...

The end.


Nah, just kidding. As I said, she was in the wrong place to actually disappear. But you never know, maybe she and Older-Brother-Glyn will go to Hogwarts for their honeymoon... someone should totally create a place so that people can actually do that... immense.

So, after this we went to a few other places on the monopoly board, we did further things such as performing interpretive dance for New-To-The-Family-Amy and a Crystal Maze style competition which involved climbing and blindfolds and spelling of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. (I got one letter out... my competitive side was not happy with me at all).

We then had a brief break at a place in Leicester Square called Muriel's Kitchen. We had cake/scones and tea (because we're British and that's how we do) and I officially deemed the place as my new writing spot. My reasons for this? The food? Twas nice... The atmosphere? Quaint and fun... The layout of the restaurant? Quirky and enjoyable... although what had to tip the scales for me, however, was a particular rule the owners of this place seemed to have in their staff. Everywhere I looked, there was a new and jaw droppingly beautiful man. Seriously... the whole thing became very distracting after a while. With their ice blue eyes and breathtaking smiles... I mean, for me to notice? I'm not really that great at observing that kind of thing, but it was actually everywhere. There was not a bad looking waiter in that place. It got to a point where I really didn't know where to look anymore. Plus, I cannot count the amount of times I suddenly realised that I had been staring at a particular guy for about 5 minutes...

Now, you may think that if this was the case, then it might not be the best place to come to, to actually work. But let's just say this, up until this point, I had every intention of not starting in on my third book for another couple of months... I've now, however, found myself with the overwhelming need to take my lap top down there in a couple of weeks and start work then. And anyway, if I don't get anything done, I'll be ahead of schedule so that's fine... If you're ever in the area... seriously, check it out. I think the fact that the majority of the customers in there were female, speaks volumes about the point I am trying to make...

After that little treat, New-To-The-Family-Amy had just one more task to do before we finished our night with a barn dance. On the train to the evening venue, she was given a white t shirt, told to put it on, and then ask strangers to write marriage advice on there for her. It was awesome, and loads of people agreed to do it! The advice... varied. Some were gems of amazingness, such as "Never go to bed on an argument", other's were not quite as poetic but still equally important, such as "plenty of sex" and then there was my favourite of all. A piece of advice so awesome that I am making plans to cross stitch it and frame it for them to put above their bed as we speak. It was written by a man who we never got to speak to afterwards as we had to run off the train at our stop, so we never received an explanation for it... but in some ways, I think it makes it even more special for that... it was simply "Don't be late, always be the late."

... ahem. That was a talking topic for quite a while, let me tell you that. But I have a feeling that it's important somehow... I just need to figure out why.

We ended the night with a barn dance, lots of food, a couple of games and a lot of yawns. I can't remember the last time I felt that knackered. It was good though. It's also really exciting because as we all said goodbye, we got to utter the words "See you next time at the wedding!" and then there were squeals (mostly from me) and a general influx of dancing (again, mostly me).

And that was my weekend. Guys, Older-Brother-Glyn is actually getting married. It's ridiculously amazing and out of this world and it's happening so soon! July, here we come!!

Peace out my lovelies.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Fancy Things Friday: A Fancy Book and a Fancy Lady

Welcome to Fancy Things Friday, where I talk about things on a Friday that I think are fancy!!

It's happened. I have talked about it to the point where people have threatened to throw things at me if I continued, and now it's finally here. This does mean that, after this particular post, I'm going to shut the crap up about it because I appreciate it can be annoying, but I ask that you bear with me for one last day as this is the day I've been yabbering on about for the past month. 

Yes, ladies and gents, my Fancy Thing this week is, once again, something that I have done, because every so often it's nice to be egocentric and shizzle. Not all the time, of course... just once in a while. My Fancy Thing actually is split between two things today, because it's a special day for two reasons. 

Fancy Thing and Reason No 1. 
A World Reborn: Book 2 in the Utopia Series, is now available on Amazon!!

*Screams manically whilst deciding the most hygienic place to throw up*

I've done it. I've actually committed to something for long enough that I've managed to create not one but two books on a particular storyline. This has officially become the most devoted I've ever been to one thing. Yes, my second book is now available to buy on Amazon. Please be aware that, should you stumble on this blog for the first time today and feel inclined to buy this book, it is book 2 in a series, and you do kinda need to read the first one for it to make any sense. However, I have tried to make this as easy as possible for you as, from tomorrow, Book 1 (Utopia) will be available, once again, for free on Amazon!! Huzzah!! You literally have nothing to lose, not even money. All you need is a kindle and an Amazon account. And if you don't have either, you can download the kindle app onto your smartphone/tablet for free and also sign up to Amazon for free. Yes, that's still zero pennies that you will spend. The freeness of Book 1 is only for 5 days, but after that it's only 77p to purchase, so even if you miss the promotion, you are only losing a tiny amount of money but gaining a whole novel about people dying and getting drunk and being sarcastic towards each other... what more can you ask for? 

You might ask for another book on top of that, well why not? I've got one more now! This was released today, it continues on with the story of the survivors in a post-apocalyptic world and has even more sarcasm and excitement and a years worth of my blood, sweat and tears... I know... sounds intriguing, doesn't it? If you enjoyed the characters from the first book, you'll be pleased to know that they are all back for book 2. 


Christiana: A slightly awkward, fairly cynical mental health nurse who has a weakness for large amounts of alcohol and cares deeply for those around her. 

Daniela: A young, pretty spoilt, genius who is fiercely loyal, stubborn and knows her mind and what she wants. 

Jason: A sensitive and, frankly, bewildered guy who spends most of his life trying to figure out what the hell is going on with it. 

Adam: The gorgeous and talented movie star who makes mistakes like only a movie star could. 

Duncan: Aaaaah, Duncan. There are no words for Duncan. He's just... Duncan. The most laid back person in the universe...

And guys, there are many more... a whole group of survivors who are thrown together and forced to live in a new version of the world they are used to. Book 1 explores the initial reaction to the end of the world as they know it and how they adapt to it, Book 2 looks at the new world they have created. Book 2 also offers new characters to the storyline, such as Edinburgh, Belfast, Alice and Parker, and how they effect the lives of the original characters. It is a world that has taken over my life and I would love it if you knew about it as well. 

If you have read the books, or choose to read them in future, it would be really amazing if I could hear about what you think of it. I welcome all comments, even if you hated it. Feedback is important to me and I always like to hear what people outside of my brain think of it. If you want to give your opinions, then there's the Amazon page for comments (please do write something on there if you've read it, it helps with other people deciding whether or not to read it), there's the comments section on this blog and also you can email me via the white box in the right hand bar. Alternatively there's twitter and instagram, or you can just try shouting really loudly from the top of a rooftop... you never know, I might hear it. 

So the links bit. Once again, the links to buying the book vary, dependant on the country that you are currently living in. If you are in the UK then you can get your copy by clicking here and it is £6.10. If you are in the USA then you can get your copy by clicking here  and it is $10.30. For all other countries, you can find it by going to your own local Amazon site and typing in Lisa J Harries, which will take you to both books. 

Okay, that's enough about that. Thank you for supporting me in my dream, you make me feel all sorts of slightly inappropriate feelings. 

Fancy Thing and Reason No 2
A very Fancy lady who is missed a hell of a lot.

There was a reason that I wanted to publish my book on this day. You see, it's the anniversary of the day a very good friend of mine died. It happened 4 years ago today, and you may have heard me talk about her at this time of year in previous years. Her name was Tammy. She was awesome. I worked with her about three jobs back, when I lived in Essex and before I started writing on this thing. She was massively inappropriate in everything she had to say and had absolutely no filter between her brain and mouth. She also was the best person to dare to do something, as I never once saw her back down from it. She was this amazing 'larger than life' character that was taken far too young (still in her 20s) by cancer. 

Over the years since her death, I've drawn on her for inspiration. If she wanted something, she wasn't afraid to fight for it. She never apologised for who she was and was never afraid to ask for help when she needed it. Her fight against cancer towards the end was amazing. She was strong, even in her weakest moments, and it sucked that somehow the sodding thing beat her anyway. Whenever I do something big that means something to me, like publishing this book, I'm reminded of her. I wrote a post a year after she had died for this blog, and you are more than welcome to read it here

The really sucky thing about it all now however, is that the memories that were once so fresh in my mind have become out of focus and I'm not able to trust the accuracy of them anymore. Although, I will say that her laugh is still as clear in my mind as it was when she was alive... she had the dirtiest laugh of anyone I knew.

Most of my posts on her in the past have been reflective and, quite frankly, sad. However, I wanted this one to be a celebration of who she was. I wanted to take a moment to say on Fancy Things Friday, that she was very Fancy and awesome and everything else in between. She made us all laugh, all the time. She would pull practical jokes and talk about the status of her lady parts to anyone who would want to hear. 

She was this amazing gal, and I wanted to let you all know that she existed. If she had lived up to when I started writing on this thing, no doubt her antics would all be in here. But life sucks sometimes and people are taken away from us for no rhyme or reason. We adapt and move on, but it's so important that we never forget. Luckily for Tams, she had a personality that is forever engraved into the brains of all who knew her, so the likelihood of anyone forgetting her is very small indeed. 

So tonight, when you're out on the town, or sharing a meal with a few people, raise a glass to the beautiful Tammy and everything she represented; strength, humour, confidence and drive. Then go ahead and have a freakin' awesome night, because trust me, that's what she would be doing. 

Have an awesome weekend. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The week of nerves and a formal apology

If last week was my week of happiness, then this week has been my week of "being so full of nerves, I could throw up at any moment."

These are all good nerves... I think. All nerves that have only come into play because I'm trying new things and putting myself out there. My main reasons for these nerves are the super secret thing I'm doing that I'm not telling anyone until I find out if I'm successful (note: if you don't hear me talk about this after a while, you can just take it I was unsuccessful in my attempts, otherwise I will announce my success for everyone to hear), and the not so secret fact that I am publishing my second book on Amazon tomorrow. Ladies and gents, I'm pretty much at the point of cacking myself right now.

Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the book and I'm happy with how it came out, however, I'm now hitting the point that I've finished editing it, but don't trust myself in my editing, so keep on going back to re-read it and make further adjustments. This is why I need to publish this thing tomorrow, otherwise I'm in danger of reaching that moment where I've read it so much that I begin to hate everything about it and resort to deleting it permanently from my computer in a fit of rage. I can't really afford for that to happen, due to the sheer amount of sweat and tears that went into creating it.

My first book, Utopia, was written in the space of just a couple of months. The editing then took the majority of the time. This book however, was written in just under a year. My reasons for this are:

A: The storyline is a little more complex and I've had to constantly check that my timings are right and it doesn't contradict the first book in any way.
B: I have been editing the shizzle out of it as I have been writing it. As opposed to the first one where I just wrote non stop before I attempted to adjust anything.
C: I made a decision for a certain storyline at the beginning of the book that I have kept to, but that has taken some emotional toll in writing... I won't say anything else, no spoilers here. But let's just say that there have been certain moments in the book that I have been fearful of writing. It makes sense for the overall storyline etc and definitely couldn't be any other way, but all the same, there has been some severe avoidance techniques that have been used in this particular writing process.

I've been fairly zen about the whole 'publishing another book' process, until Tuesday night, when I lay in bed for the majority of the night, wide eyed and terrified. You see, it's another one of my babies that I am giving you. It's taken a lot of my insides to create (figuratively of course, I have not been forming my intestines into some kind of pen contraption and writing the words in blood or anything) and now I'm about to present it to anyone in the world who wants to read it.

I've also been working on my zero money budget for advertising and realised I had made a huge mistake in this, this morning. You see, I thought it would be an awesome idea to just go ahead and count down the days until the book is published. However, it would appear that I included the actual day of publication as one of my days, thus meaning that tomorrow would be 'one day to go' rather than 'no days to go.' (You may have noticed that yesterday, I said we had 3 days to go, when it should have been 2.)

As soon as I realised my mistake, I released a video of apology (in true politician form), admitting my mistake, and uploaded it onto all the necessary social networking places. I wanted to mention it here as well, guys I am sorry that I am so 'special', the concept of counting down from 10 is lost on me. Maths has always been my weakest ability... in that I don't have it as an ability at all. As such, my countdown has lost a little bit of credibility now, but please don't hold it against me... or the book... I steer clear of the topic of maths in the book so it shouldn't cause any controversy.

As a plus, I've made Book 1 even more easier to buy! To promote A World Reborn, Book 1 (Utopia) is now available for the bargain price of 77p in the UK and (I think) 99 cents in the USA, and then whatever the equivalent is for all the other currencies, check out your country's Amazon site to see what you have. Basically it's mega cheap now. Like, the same amount you might pay for a chocolate bar or a packet of crisps. Once again, the link to this book is in the right hand bar.

I'm going to go now and throw up a little... or just rock backwards and forwards in an attempt to calm the nerves, but thanks for all your support so far in these books. You are beautiful and lovely and make my world that little bit more perfect for being in it.

Until tomorrow...

Peace out my lovelies

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Next on Netflix: American Horror Story. AKA, my new obsession

Next On Netflix: Where I take my guilt from all my Netflix procrastination and turn it into something I can justify.

I know I said I'd do this weekly, so far I have failed in this. Mainly due to last week being a very productive week in other things and, for the first time since signing up to Netflix, I barely had a chance to watch anything on it. 

However, all of that changed this weekend, due to Friday night's debacle or as I'm now calling it, my body's latest shameless cry for attention. As such, I was holed up in my room for the entire weekend with nothing to keep me company but Netflix. It was then that I decided I would try out the weird series on my home screen that kept popping up. This was American Horror Story. 

Now, apparently this show is pretty popular, so I'm still trying to work out how I had never heard of it prior to seeing it advertised on Netflix, but boy am I glad I found it. Guys, I binge watched the shizzle out of that show. I watched all three available series in three days and in the brief moments where I was unable to watch it, I sat there and thought about it, longing to be back to watching it again. I haven't got this obsessive over a series that wasn't written by Stephen Moffat for years... like every addictive fix, I have been crashing hard since I finished the marathon on Monday afternoon. 

Okay, so what I'm about to do now is going to be very hypocritical of me, so I'm going to put a warning on the following content. On Saturday, I announced that I had begun to watch American Horror Story, and friends of mine proceeded to talk about all three seasons in my comments feed. Now, what they had to say, reading back on it now, was not really very spoiler filled. They gave away the basic premise of the show, but not any of the content, and also discussed their opinions on it... I may have got the teensiest bit irate with them, as I didn't want to know anything, prior to watching it. I also full on stopped reading the comments for fear of them revealing anything that would spoil it for me. What I'm about to discuss now, having watched all three seasons, is pretty much everything they revealed in their comments. Having watched it fully, I've come to accept that they're not spoilers but rather a general premise of the show. My thoughts also are that this particular feature is meant to be set up as a review on recommendations to watch on the show, so therefore I would hope that you would be on here to find out some more about it. However, if you want to go in completely blind and just take my word for it that it will be the best thing you've watched in a while, then stop reading now, go forth and get obsessed. Just know that the title is the title for a reason. Some of that shizzle gets pretty creepy... if you hate that kind of thing, you won't like it. 

Okay, so here's the review. 

The basic concept of the show is that each season it tells a new horror story. This is done to such an extent, that there is no need to watch these series in any form of order. If you want to watch season 3 first, go ahead, no back story is needed, and there is absolutely zero links between the seasons. The only thing that happens to be the same is that they use the same actors. Although these actors play different characters at the start of each season. 

There are weaker seasons than others. For example, their season 1 would probably be their strongest, season 3 close behind, and season 2 not so much. I was suitably warned about season 2 in my announcement of watching it, however I wasn't as disappointed in it as the rest of my friends had appeared to be. 

Season 1 focuses on the storyline of a haunted house. A new family move into a house that has a silly amount of ghosts in it and a storyline is born. Season 2 is based in an asylum in the 60s. The overall concept of this particular season I can get on board with. However, they have a couple of subplots involved that don't really seem to mesh with the rest of the storyline. I think this is where they end up falling short of the standard that they have otherwise held in the other seasons. Season 3 is based around a witches coven. It opens up as a kind of Twilightesque teen melodrama with diary entries written by teenagers, but soon adds its spin on it that takes it away from being anything suitable for the younger generation. 

Certain actors have shown up in only one of the seasons or appear in cameos for multiple seasons, but there are a core set of actors who stay in the forefront and are simply amazing. Also, there have been some pretty big names who have turned up for a one off season; people like Kathy Bates (Season 3), Joseph Fiennes (Season 2),  and Zachary Quinto (Seasons 1 and 2) to name a few. 

My favourite people, and the ones who appear to carry the show, in my humble opinion, are three of the main forefront actors. They are in all three seasons and their performances make me squeal with excitement. These three are Lily Rabe, Jessica Lange and (just wow) Evan Peters. 

People, before you roll your eyes at my mention of Evan Peters, yes I am aware that he is beautiful and does only get more beautiful with every episode, but this isn't the reason for my choosing him in my top three (although it certainly doesn't hurt his case). My reason for adoring him so much is because he knows how to portray perfectly a mix of creepy and loveable, all in one go. It was like he was made for this show. He has played three very different characters in the series and each time he nails it. His performance is simply stunning and I cannot wait to see what he does in Season 4. Lily Rabe and Jessica Lange are pretty much up there for the exact same reason. They just throw themselves into their characters and are the three actors that, at the beginning of each new season, I was waiting impatiently to see who they would be this time. 

I need to be very clear before I leave you with this highly recommended watch on Netflix... if you are easily creeped out and don't like things of a scary nature, please don't watch this show. It is scary. If you, like me, are able to tolerate it, then I would recommend it. The scariness does tend to wear off after a while as you get to know the characters and, actually, by the time I was halfway through Season 2, I realised that the most scary part of the show was the opening credits... I always conveniently found I had something I needed to do on my phone whilst those were on... not nice. If you have zero problems with scary movies then you will probably adore this show, but you probably are also already aware of it...

It is one of the best things that I have watched on Netflix in a while, and I am seriously withdrawing from it at the moment. I'm even tempted just to go back and watch Season 1 again, although I fear that might be a little excessive. I hear rumours that Season 4 is based in a Carnival, which already blows my mind, without having to know anything else... 

Watch it. It's awesome. 

Peace out my lovelies. 

PS: 3 days to go until A World Reborn! I am officially beginning to freak out over this now... nerves are setting in... but do not fear, for I will ensure that no amount of nervous breakdown will stop me from releasing it... no matter how severe. I shall prevail!!

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A night in A&E that showed my true colours...

Okay, so in England this weekend, we've had a 3 day weekend. In the May month, we get the first and last Monday off as a bank holiday, which is awesome and I still have no idea why it's there... but who's complaining?

I had plans this weekend. It mainly involved One-And-Only-Daniela, singing round a piano, followed by a cinema and then a happy hour that we were going to abuse. It was going to be awesome. None of this happened, however, as Friday night my body did that thing it does every so often, which was become an attention seeking idiot.

So, being the hardcore party person that I am, I decided that I was going to go to bed early on Friday night so that I could wake up nice and early, work on the final touches of the editing process of my book, and then head off to One-And-Only-Daniela's house. So, at 8:30pm, I snuggled down deep into my duvet and waited for the sweet, sweet sleep I was dying for to take over. However, as I lay down, something in my lower back started to ache. It wasn't a really bad pain, it felt more uncomfortable than anything else, so I changed position and hoped that would appease it. It didn't. Instead, the uncomfortable feeling just seemed to grow until it started to qualify as an actual pain. By this point, I had discovered that adding a little pressure onto the spot, namely a pillow wedged in between my back and the bed, seemed to help with the weird pain. Not sure what it was that I was experiencing, I tried once again to fall asleep, with this new found alleviation. It worked for about 20 minutes.

After roughly an hour of this pain, I gave up the idea of sleep and tried to distract my mind by opening up my computer and doing some editing instead. I tried, but the pain had begun to grow to a point where my brain didn't want to focus on anything else. Realising that this wasn't the right frame of mind to be in for an editing session, I decided to watch me some TV instead. I got about one episode into The Office USA before all hell broke loose in my back and I shot up and out of my bed, choosing to pace the room instead.

By 10:30, I realised that this pain was not going to get any better, but just get worse. I called The-Father, who is a frequent enjoyer of the kidney stone at least once a year, and listed my symptoms. He confirmed that it sounded like it could be kidney stones and thought it best I headed off to A&E, just to be safe.

So, off I trotted in the middle of the night, to A&E. I arrived via bus, and the apparent kidney/lower back pain had decided to choose this wonderful moment, once in the company of a bunch of strangers, to up the anti and the pain became something that was getting to unbearable. This was the point that I found out who my true self was, and just how far the influences of the British nature around me had warped my personality.

Words cannot describe to you all the pain I began to feel from that point onwards. I had never felt anything like it myself, I wanted to simultaneously cry, scream, punch something and collapse into the nearest strangers' arms. However, due to my intensely suppressed British upbringing, I did none of these things. I arrived at A&E, waited whilst the receptionists all seemed to be deliberately ignoring my presence for about 5 minutes and spoke to them, only when called, as per the sign's instructions next to me. I was at a point where I couldn't stand still, I had to constantly move just to try and find some kind of alleviation, although it barely did any good. But, I realised that there were a large amount of people in A&E, waiting to be seen, and it would do no good to make a fuss. As such, I filled in the form they gave me, giving details about my marital status and religious beliefs, then waited a while longer for the receptionist to deem to acknowledge me again, as she had gone back to refusing to make eye contact, whilst she worked on her computer.

I considered clearing my throat, or saying 'Excuse me' at one point during this moment of being ignored, but figured that she was probably very busy and so there was no reason to rock the boat. So I waited, and she eventually turned her attention back to me, took the form, and told me to take a seat.

I did as I was told... for about 10 minutes, until the act of sitting became far too uncomfortable... well actually it became uncomfortable about 2 minutes in, but I figured all I'd do was draw attention to myself if I got up and started pacing the room, so decided to just wait out the pain. After 10 minutes, I had no choice and my body seemed to force me to stand and walk. People did look, and I could feel myself giving them an apologetic look... again, I don't know why. But apparently I was sorry for having a pain that meant I couldn't sit still like the rest of them...

I waited for another couple of hours and, at about 1am, I was called in to see the nurse. She didn't seem all that convinced that I was in pain and told me to wait to see the Doctor. There was one very real reason why she didn't seemed that concerned, this reason was, I could feel myself actually downplaying the pain. I had no control over my reactions anymore. No matter how much I wanted to just tell her that I had never felt a pain like it, or that I really needed to see a doctor straight away, otherwise I was afraid of passing out if it got any more intense, I just simply smiled at her, told her it was pretty uncomfortable and that I think it would be beneficial for me to see a doctor. She sent me back out to the waiting room to wait for him to see her.

What happened in the waiting period between 1am and 3am, when the doctor eventually saw me, is a bit of blur. The pain continued to grow steadily, I could no longer sit for longer than a minute and I paced that room at least 100 times. I found my head popping up like a meerkat any time a doctor came out and called out a name, and then drop down in despair when that name wasn't mine. However, in amongst all of this, I had only two thoughts...

A: I will not make a fuss and bring any more attention to myself than is necessary.
B: The-Father and Marmie have had one ongoing debate for as long as I have been alive. This debate is, which is more painful? Kidney Stones or Childbirth? Neither could answer this question as The-Father is incapable of having children and Marmie has never experienced kidney stones. Should this turn out to be kidney stones; one day, when I eventually get round to having kids of my own, I will be able to finally answer this question once and for all. I know it sounds strange, but it was the only thing I could think of.

By the end of my wait, my natural impulse to downplay all pain was becoming next to impossible. I was no longer able to stop the tears from running down my face, and so resorted to wiping them away as soon as they emerged. I found myself close to going up to the reception and asking the woman when I would be able to be seen... although, still my desire not to cause any unnecessary fuss won over and I continued to fight the urge. I didn't want to be seen as difficult, after all.

When the doctor came out and actually called my name, I have never sprinted towards him so quickly in my life... seriously Usain Bolt had nothing on me. He guided me to the examination room and the moment I got in there, I turned to him and every part of my suppressed self control exploded... I sobbed like a freakin' baby in front of this man. He looked at me, completely shocked, slowly edged over to the door and called for a nurse to come in and inject me with some pain medication. They came in, did their thing, and within 20 minutes the pain had gone, leaving nothing but a floaty, buzzed feeling in it's wake. I have never been more appreciative for drugs than in that moment. I sat on the bed and let them prod at me with needles, with nothing but a smile on my face.

By 4am, it was all done. He sent me home with painkillers and a shrug as he didn't know what was wrong with me, but asked that I come back for more tests later in the week. I was so spaced out by this point that I didn't argue with him. I was sleep deprived and high on medication. I grabbed a cab and went home, collapsing onto my bed.

It's now four days later and I have spent it predominantly in bed. The pain hasn't come back to the extent that it was before. I still don't really know what it was, but am beginning to suspect that it was the pain in my arm thing that my body put me through, all over again. I'm getting really tired of it's shenanigans, let me tell you that. However, I am grateful that the pain seems to have shifted and now only comes in small twinges. I'm just hoping it stays that way! And if it isn't kidney stones, I'm okay with not being able to settle The-Parents' debate once and for all. I mean, the answer to that debate has been gnawing at our family for decades, but I am not desperate enough to answer it by wishing for my issue to have been stones... that shizzle can stay unanswered for all time if needs be.

Peace out my lovelies.

PS: 4 days to go until A World Reborn is available on Amazon! Book 2 in the Utopia Series. If you haven't read the first book yet, check out the link in the right hand bar! It's exciting! Although, I appreciate that my view might be slightly biased, as I am the one who wrote it...