Category Archives: Life Events

Not Everything Dies In Autumn

I do not believe in fate. I do not believe in a divine plan, or an ordered world but only in constructive chaos – a possible path formed by making every mistake and adjusting, making small leaps forward into the unknown. Chaos can be stressful. When your mind is a marionette doll and your brain is pulling the strings within your body every single direction it is only natural that you might feel overwhelming stress. And yet strangely this hasn’t happened during the plethora of transitions that I have met upon graduation

I know stress. In spring I felt paralysed by the stress and struggle of finishing my final year as a student. Attempting to leave a struggling student newspaper in order (I didn’t), attempting to put together a dissertation that I was proud of (It was alright!), attempting to budget and pay the bills when the money just wasn’t there (multiple bail outs, opps.). However as I moved from the protected and focused world of academia into the wide and chaotic world of work, it has been like a sudden injection of adrenaline experiences in a golden summer of change. I’ve found a possible direction through leaping into the unknown.

Working and waiting in my beloved but slow-paced Portishead, I felt somewhat stagnant and without direction. Whether it was the sedimentation build up in the Portishead Lakegrounds, or Tory inaction over building a railway link. So, moving to Brussels has felt somewhat like an unexpected deus ex machina. The city is buzzing, and walking over 16,000 steps per day on average so am I. It has been an amazing experience to work with so many inspiring and driven people during Britain’s own transitioning relationship with the European Union. For years and years I have fought for the right to live, love, and work abroad as citizens of Europe and now as our generation face these rights and our identity being cut away from us, I have had the opportunity to drink the last of the summer wine in the beating heart of the Europe.

Brussels is rich in public art, inventive busking, and has brought together more cultures and peoples than your fingers, toes, eyes, and ears can fathom. I enjoy walking around the city, day or night, silently observing the city that I must admit I had never really wanted to visit before getting a job in. I felt like I had sacrificed so much in my personal life, and was upset at the prospect of losing friends made at York, and having no work-private life balance when in Brussels. However I’m trying my best not to be a wallflower, and actively trying my best to find my own adventures and forge new friendships during my time here… and at some point I need to sign up for French classes because I feel a small notch of embarrassment with my inability to parse the most basic of french (plus it’s bloody inconvenient when you’re trying to order a haircut restrained by a language barrier).

I most enjoy being able to wake up, buy an orange juice and almond croissant from the boulangerie on my walk to work and be able to sit down on my desk just of Place du Luxembourg and have an espresso to start of my day.

I do not believe in fate, and I do not believe that Britains exit from the European Union is a set deal, nor an ultimatum on our friendship and trade with our closest neighbours. Whilst I live here, I resist our country’s growing isolationism, and every friendship I form I hope builds a more positive opinion of Britain within this Union. In constructive chaos I have found some sort of direction in which I move towards each day, whilst the way forward is a blur – I’m quite enjoying the pastries and beer on the path directly ahead.

Lost Your Card? Don’t Lose Your Head.

I am forgetful and always losing things, and I am forgetful. Some call this a symptom of cognitive impairment, having exceptionally low working memory; others say this is because I am a ditzy clumsy fuck. Either works. I’ve had a rather privileged upbringing. I live alone in pleasant student digs, and my life is financially supported by the government, by my parents, and by my part-time job, 9-to-5 for 3 days a week on holidays. Never before have I been financially insecure, never before have I needed to worry about eating.

So, at some point or another on Tuesday 15th March I must’ve made the mistake of putting both of my debit cards, from two different banks, in my jacket pocket; and I let it fall off my person and into the abyss. Opps. Thinking nothing of it, I just cancelled both of my cards and let my friend pay for my dinner.

IMG_5940“Silly Huw”, I thought.

Come next day I realised that: “oh.” I have literally nothing to eat. Having realised that neither PayPal, Apple Pay, nor any other electronic payment method of my own would work, a friendly receptionist informed me of the University of York Emergency student loan.

Most universities have emergency loans for those in need. This should probably be your first port of call if you ever come into financial difficulties on campus. To start off, I emailed the campus Finance Team. They responded on the hour and invited me to visit them.

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My voyage led to the Student Support Hub on market square, where my appointment was confirmed
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And from the Support hub, I travelled east (ish) to the Student Financial Support Unite, which is next to the careers centre

A Student Financial Support Unit advisor asked me what my problem was, and talked me through the process of getting the emergency loan.The emergency loan is a zero-interest cash loan given by the university for those in immediate need, of up to £50. I promised to pay back the loan in two weeks, or first thing when my card arrived.

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And thus Huw began the process of being a SCROUNGER.
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To get to the payments office, first visit the information centre
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then once you’re in a lobby, look for a buzzer on the door that says payments
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go down the stairs
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down a corridor
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and there it is

I filled in a form, and was then directed to The Payments Office. The Payments Office is located in The University Admin’s great depths – below the information centre, you press the buzzer, get let in, go down a corridor, and there it is.

At The Payments Office, you will get a signature, and be referred to the Cash Office located between the Student Support Hub and Information Centre on Market Square.

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A rather rushed photo of the Cash Office

In the Cash Office I got a stamp, signed the stamp, and then officially became a scrounger of the university.

I used the money to buy myself lunch and dinner for two day, and on the second day, when I didn’t have work, I bought a bus ticket to the bank.

I mostly bank with HSBC, who advise:

If your debit card has been lost or stolen and you need to withdraw your cash before your new card arrives, just visit your local branch with some identification and the branch staff will assist you further following a few security checks.

Annoyingly, Banks are only open between 9am and 5pm, the exact hours I work. I went on the Thursday afternoon but by then they were closed.

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Much Grumble.

However, Fridays are my days off, so I was able to arrive promptly in the morning.


I took out enough money to get a train ticket to London and some spending money because I had a ticket to Harry Potter Studio Tours for that weekend. I went to the station and bought the tickets to London, only to find that my railcard expired the previous week so I had to buy another.

Suddenly, I had no money again, so I had to resort to asking a friend of mine, a handy Jack Worrall, for a cash loan – leaving me feel very guilty, but also less hungry. Loans such as these are informal, require a high degree of trust, and put unnecessary strain on other individuals – avoid this option if at all possible.

I was able to go to London, where I lived relatively expense free round a friend’s house until I went to see Harry Potter Studio Tours, where I met family and was able to get enough cash to allow comfortable living until the card arrived.

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you’re not in the safety of Hogwartz yet.

Or so I thought.

After a week of working, my bank card still had not arrived. I was meant to be travelling home for the four day easter weekend, however came to some trouble because I had expected my card to have arrived by then. Thus once more was rather out of pocket. Please do not roll your eyes at me…

At this point I was referred to the Porters, who were able to give me a £20 loan, which I used to get to Leeds, where there were buses and trains to Bristol

Travelling home without cash or a debit card is rather difficult but there are ways that aren’t hitch hiking. –
Some trains, and all Megabus services use electronic tickets. This means that someone else can pay remotely for you to travel. Unfortunately the only megabus leaft far too close to when my work ended, so I ended up using a late night electronic train ticket, which arrived at the same time. Upon getting to home, I was able to access all my funds, and thus this whole mess was finally over.

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Work, Travel.

There are a few simple ways that you can avoid this whole mess happening to you:

You can either gradually save up emergency cash in case of situations like this, or you can invest in a top-up debit card, which you can store in case of emergency, and can be topped up externally.

This whole experience has been quite the culture shock to me. I’ve never felt quite so unprotected or unsupported, and yet I have had so many support networks that I’ve been privileged enough to be able to rely on.

Other students I’ve spoken to have had to seek funds through, pawning personal possessions, sex work, other informal employment opportunities, Pay Day Loans, through loans from friends, and through Food Banks.
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Having known what an awful having experience it is to have just the littlest bit of safety taken away from my otherwise easy life, I felt compelled to donate some money to The Trussell Trust Food Bank, I know that’s gimmicky, but i feel that if I do this whenever I lose my card it will serve as a deterring punishment to myself, whilst doing others some good. I encourage you to do so to.

I reverted to middle class home comforts that may have been swiped from the table opposite, lifting my mind away from this whole mess.

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Here’s some bullshit x

 

Exam Results Blues

In 2013 I was asked to write an article about music. I didn't have a clue what to write about, or how one approaches writing about music.
I ended up writing this piece. I recently found it and enjoyed it, so decided to edit it and add it to this blog. - Enjoy x

The exams have been sat. The marking is complete, and the results are out. On Thursday 13th and 20th August*, students will be/were awash with a flood of tears and happiness, hopefully mostly happiness. Year 11s and sixth-formers, and college students were a mix of despairing-with-abandoned-life-choices and euphoric-at-their-fully-or-newly-realized-dreams. Those who ‘revised well’ and had ‘positive mindsets’ no doubt got the As and Bs that they aspired to…

If you succeeded in your July exams then congratulations, it’s clear that all your hard work has paid off, however this article is perhaps not for you. This article is for those like myself in 2013 found themselves with worse results than hoped. Those teary-eyed who now have to come to terms with regretful, and perhaps unfamiliar post-results blues… Fear not! Significant events such as the post-results blues, have their own musical compliments. I mean it doesn’t make up for failure, but it’s something… right?

Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now ~ The Smiths

Formed in 1982, The Smiths were an alternative rock band, famed for their gloomy and oh so truthful lyrics, yet upbeat melodies. Dreamy angst-ridden lead singer Morrissey never fails to act as catalyst in the act of self-loathing in the song ‘Heaven knows I’m Miserable know’, which as the title suggests, is indeed adequately sombre in topic. The lyrics themselves are of no academic relevance, however the juxtaposition between the happiness of a drunken hour, and the present tense could be considered quite similar to that of sixth form socials, and the post-results blues. Further Listening: “the world won’t listen” – with song titles including ‘Panic’, ‘Ask’, ‘Half a person’, and (a personal favorite) ‘Unloveable’ 

Boys Don’t Cry~ The Cure

The second song of choice is by The Cure, produced in 1979. Although written about the woes of lost love and war this song is applicable as for our post exam blues. The song captures the scene of the collection of said results; a scene consisting of a few suppressed emotions, and some inwards-vented-dismay. Serving Suggestions – best served with bucket of phish-food ben and jerry’s ice cream (other brands available), alcoholic beverage (18+), and nearby person/squidgable-inanimate-object.

Do It Anyway ~ Ben Folds Five

A song from the present decade? – outrageous. Ben Folds Five brings a more proactive reminder: all is not gone, improvement is possible. The fantastically motivating Ben Folds Five are but a few strokes of a keyboard away. For those in need of reassurance that they are making the right life choices, and forging the correct career paths, Ben and his band send the simple message: Life occasionally sucks, but gets better. *Dates excluding IB and Scottish Students, If they wanted to have been included then they shouldn’t have been different.

Amendment: 
After taking a new course and a year 14 in Sixth Form, I finally found my exam success. If you fail take a break, exclude yourself from your failure, then rise above it, look for an alternative route, then continue.

London, Lib Dem Leader Lulz, and LGBT lacklustre ~ Thursday 16th August 2015

Today was the day we’ve all been waiting for. And by we, I mean overly zealous politicos of liberal persuasion. Today was the results day for the Liberal Democrat Leadership Election. There were two candidates, Norman Lamb, and Tim Farron. Both worthy of leading, but only one could take the job. I travelled to London to meet my friend and comrade in arms Thomas Gravatt.

We met in Regents Park after I successfully misunderstood his directions twice… we wandered down to Embankment and then walked to Westminster in time for a quick gander before going to the leadership rally.

By about 3 O’clock our phones buzzed. We had our leader.

None other than Tim Farron. Thomas was a Normtrooper, but gladly congratulated the victor. Whilst I publically endorsed Tim Farron, I must admit that I never actually cast my ballot after I lost it… I was part of the awful turnout!

After months of a brutal election campaign we were faced with this leadership election. We were so glad for it all to come to an end. We set off to Islington.

At first we were unsure whether the venue we ended up at was the right place. we were in a queue but what for? Then the shining interjection of Hannah Thompson assured us that we had gone to the right place!

There’s something wonderful about a rally. I told Tom that it was really awkward that most terms such as “liberal youth” and “rallies” were introduced to me solely through education on NAZI Germany, he chortled, agreed, and informed me that I broke Godwin’s Law thus am a conversational loser. I submitted defeat. The Hall was a buzz, we schmoozed and got wine before being nabbed by an organiser who asked, “could we be on the stage?” this was a great novelty to us, so we agreed.

We were left in a small room to nervously wait, spectating on what was to happen. We were informed that we were to stand behind Farron and President Sal Brinton for their speeches, with fresh smiles, and warm applause.

Tom, Hannah, and myself were put in the first row right behind the podium. Tom was told to switch places with a girl because there were too many boys in one row for the cameras… this is where it started to go wrong… the organiser failed to note that most of the cameras couldn’t see the first row. Therefore the media ignored the very well organised and representative row, and instead saw only the row of white men behind Farron. The next slight error was that we weren’t told not to look at the Teleprompters, therefore we did. Therefore all footage of Farron had the audience behind staring directly at the cameras, reading… causing some ‘mean’ comments

But the very worst thing was that the Rally had NO AIR CONDITIONING. both us and the leaders were boiling hot and sweating away… unfortunately it all got too much for one activist who collapsed besides myself and Hannah, head-first colliding into a BBC camera man, then getting up bloody headed to did the same again. Farron thankfully told him to sit down. Any one of us could have been him, I would be surprised if the guy didn’t get concussion, and air conditioning should really be essential in all future rallies. (it created lots of jokes about the collapse of the party’s support)

Besides that, being behind Farron was awesome I even got in the papers, although Tom had the perfect view. I was a tad jealous…
Farron delivered one of the best political speeches I’ve ever heard. I’m not sure if it had the same effect for outsiders. But I think it magnificently united a party that had been tired and worn out by two elections this year, whose activists were emotionally wrecked and to be honest needed some tender love and care. Seeing Clegg there, hoping for some last words. It was tear inducing.

After the speech we met some lovely new liberal democrat members and spoke to them and learnt why they joined the party. We also spoke to a lovely Swedish liberal, and talked about the similarities and differences between our two countries, as one always does. It’s always fascinating and a pleasure to speak to liberals. A common-tie that seems to transcend borders

Farron was a pleasure to hear. I hope his leadership is more than just rhetoric. But one led on positive actions, I hope he continues Clegg’s legacy but undoes the mistrust from the electorate caused by the coalition (which I whole-heartedly support, especially after looking at a pure tory government (with dread)).

The next day Farron said some words. He said some words that I resent and made me cry. I’m soft. I support him as leader, but wondered how he could be so selfish as to speak what he saw as the truth. Queer folk have to hide or adapt their sexualities and actions day after day to make the world more comfortable for sexually conservatives. Although Farron probably sees same-sex-sex as merely a peccadillo. Or at least that was the implication. (I did english language everything is about subtext and pragmatics okay. I ANALYSE EVERYTHING) I wish he just kept his views to himself. Just for a day. Just for a week. So the many queer supporters and party members of his didn’t have to hear his regretful slap in their faces. Why could he not just keep those views to himself? Is that too illiberal to ask? I understand it was a long day, an aggressive interview, and words were placed in his mouth. But his words in the context of his leadership of British liberalism still made me cry. Nevertheless. I am sure Farron in practice is an ally of the LGBTQ+ community. In his leadership his actions will speak much louder than those words. I hope. I hope. I hope. I hope. That he will stand up for liberation and work on the progress needed for minorities to thrive. Tim, I’m fricken putting my faith in you. 💕

Act fast.

I took a four hour train and bus journey home. I wouldn’t have been able to reach home that day would getting a taxi with a friendly stranger, who was also a Lib Dem. We debated Tim’s LGBT record, and came to a (bad) conclusion that “it was a generational thing”. Upon that conclusion he paid Tom and my Taxi fare for us. This needlessly kind, and friendly atmosphere of the liberal democrats is one of the things carry on for. It made the hour long bus journey from Bristol bus station at 1:30 in the morning go that little bit more smoothly, and I travelled then on with a smile on my face.