Friends with no Fixed Abode

It’s been six months since we left home for Australia and it has been a wonderful experience. But; it has been challenging in parts. The main stresses have been about work. Firstly finding work and then tying to fit into the new job. 

This isn’t much different from being at home, because let’s face it most of us are stressed out about work, but at home you have your support network of friends. You can talk your stress away by grabbing some chips and a milkshake with a friend on a Tuesday night or a gin too man, straight out of the office, on a Friday night. When you move away from home you leave your friends behind.

At my leaving night my friends and I cried a lot.

 I am grateful that my friends at home are amazing and I speak to most of them every day as if I’m not on another continent. But, I still miss them.

Travelling is a life changing experience  and at no point during our trip have I regretted making the move; but I have had down days. 

There will be days when you miss the simplicity and routine of home. Every traveller feels this way at some point.  The fellow travellers you meet along the way will be your comfort.They understand how you feel: you don’t necessarily want to go home, right now, but you do want to feel relaxed as if you were at home.

Staying at an Air B&B house means we are constantly meeting new people and it’s great.  We have made friends with people from all over the world and as cliche as this is with every person you meet you will learn something and that makes each friendship invaluable. Well, and having somewhere to crash when you visit their hometown.

Halloween was a tough time for me because I love Autumn and I always do something to celebrate with friends. However, I was blessed to be living with a fellow European  who felt the same way about the spooky holiday. We ended up having a nice Halloween of pumpkin carving and scary films. 

Feeling the sand between your toes and watching the sunset in new places is humbling, and will bring a sense of peace, during a time of ever changing backgrounds and new experiences.  Moments like these are the reason we go through the stress of packing all our stuff into bags that are never big enough and why we let Google Maps become as essential as sun protection.

However, the people you will meet enrich your travels in ways money cant.  Seeing all the sights may be the main purpose but some of the most memorable nights are the ones spent getting to know new people. Friends like you that have no fixed abode.

Finding a job in Australia

With so many backpackers heading off to the great and mighty Oz every year, on Working Holiday Visas, I didn’t feel too concerned with finding work. The logical side of me figured that people wouldn’t go if they couldn’t find work and the anxious side of me didn’t want to jump straight to negativity.

However, after a couple of weeks in Oz we discovered that finding work with plentiful hours was going to be difficult for me. Matt is a trained chef and found work, with full time hours, after a week of looking. One of our flatmates, also a chef, got the first job he applied for.  So, if you are a chef I can safely say you will pick up work no problem but if like me you are looking for retail or admin you might struggle a little.

My work experience includes: 3 years of retail, 1 year of admin, bar work,  a degree in journalism and various volunteering jobs.  I got skillz.

I found my skillz weren’t getting me anywhere though unless I wanted to work on a farm, canvass on the street for a charity, or do hardcore sales.  If you are interested in doing any of those jobs you should come across them with ease.  It looks like I’m being picky but I know myself enough to know I wasn’t going to be good at those jobs.

I wanted a basic job with lots of hours and the occasional weekend off so we could travel to the surrounding areas.  It’s a couple of months down the line and I know have three jobs.  My first job I picked up through an agency and it ended up being a sales job.  I found it challenging to start with but with time it became easier.  I sell makeup and skincare for companies like Benefit and Loreal so something I know a little about. Although, doing people’s makeup not so much but I gave it a shot.

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My other two jobs are Christmas casual; since it’s the Christmas season. Unfortunately I’m not getting full time hours every week but I am grateful to have work; which will allow me to save some dollars and see the rest of this beautiful country.

1.  My first piece of advice would be to research what a Australian resume looks like and have your resume up to date before you depart.  Researching the Australian format hadn’t even crossed my mind but I was lucky to have a flatmate who passed on this advice and let me copy his successful format.

2.  Make sure you have a cover letter and say exactly what you are looking for when it comes to hours and your availability.  It’s up to you whether you disclose that you are a backpacker.  I did say I was a backpakcer and I also said how long I was staying in the area.  Due to amount of jobs applied for ,which I had more than enough expeirence for and never heard back from, I would say it deters employers from interviewing you though.

3  Upload said Resume and cover letter to drop box so that they are easy to access and edit – since you will need to add your Australian phone number.  A lot of the job sites allow you to upload from Dropbox also.  We travelled without a laptop so the majority of our job applications were done through mobile phones and tablets.

4.  Set up accounts with Seek, Indeed, and Gumtree – these are the main websites you will use.  If you have a certain skill you can even advertise that skill for hire on Gumtree.  Just remember to post your ad at an optimum time (early morning or after 5) every day so that it is at the top of the listings. Also set up notifications for casual and temp jobs – don’t bother with permanent jobs as you will not be considered.  Casual work will be the main type of work you will come across and if like me you love structure it might stress you out a bit.  It is basically the same as the UK’s  zero hour contract -so you could get lots of hours or you could get none. Matt is casual and gets 40 hours a week and I am casual and it varies for me between 3 hours and 30 hours.  My jobs also mean I am on call for when shifts need filled; I could be down to do 9 hours and end up doing 30.  It’s great getting more hours but it’s hard organising your day if you dont know if you are working or not.  Casual staff do ge paid a little bit more to make up for the lack of holiday entitlement though.

4. Research the surrounding areas you can reach easily by public transport that aren’t the city centre so you can expand your job search.  Google Maps is great for working out how long it takes to get somewhere.

5.  If you have a trade or know what field you want to work in join an agency.  I got my first job through an agency a friend recommended and for a while this was my only job.  Sign up with as many as possible as you won’t hear back from them all.  If you are confident on the phone give them a call and tell them what you are looking for. I plan to do this once we reach Melbourne.

6. Request to join closed groups on Facebook – such as ‘Brisbane Backpackers’ or ‘Poms loving Australia’. Occasionally you will see jobs being advertised on there and people will be able to give you advice.  It’s also a nice way to make new friends.

7.  Start applying for jobs before you leave. I wish I had done this but didn’t since I didn’t have an Australian phone number.  The majority of correspondence I have had regarding jobs has been through e-mail and the process of interview to starting a job can take weeks in Australia. Definitely get the ball rolling before departure.

8. Check you don’t need to get a certificate in order to work. This varies from state to state and mostly concerns the sale of alchol and manual labour.  You can find out if you do here.

9. Research the companies you are applying to work for to see what kind of hours they are usually able to provide.  Sites like Glassdoor are great for this and also very helpful if you want to find out what the interview might be like.

10. Remain optimistic as finding a job might not happen over night but keep on trying as you will find something.  Talk to the people you meet also – they might know somewhere that is looking. Also remember this might be the only stretch in your pre-retirement life that you have this time to yourself. Once your back into the grind you’ll miss those afternoons. Read that book you’ve never got round to reading or try out that recipe you’ve never found the time for.

One of my favourite ways of spending an afternoon is by watching the two possums that live outside my bedroom. I know for sure that there won’t be another phase in my life when I’ll pass the time doing that.

Enjoy living without the constraints of working.

I Hopped off the Plane with a Dream & My Cardigan

Everyone, I know who has travelled, told me that making friends whilst travelling wasn’t something to worry about as you meet new friends all the time. But; being the anxious traveller that I am I had my doubts.

A new country and a new impromptu way of meeting  people to contend with had my flight socks in a twist

Small talk has never been something I excel at – it makes me super uncomfortable and usually leads to me attempting  to be funny. A bit like Bridget Jones at the Law Council Dinner.

Team this ordinary anxiety with the anxiety of having a Scottish accent, and a stereotypical tendency to talk quickly, and I didn’t think I was off to a winning start.

It turns out everyone was right though and my worry had been grately exaggerated.  Making new friends has been a wonderful experience. The best way to meet people is by staying at a hostel or staying at an Air B&B which is more like shared home (for those that don’t know). We opted for the second option after our hostel horror.

It can be a little daunting at first, depending on the size of the place, there can be a lot of people to introduce yourself to and names to remember. Accept that you won’t remember everyone’s  name.

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Helpful tip 1#: if you are too embarrassed to ask the person for their name again you can ask them to repeat how their name is pronounced.  You will meet people from all over the world – so although this might be a weird question at home (e.g. how to pronounce Jim) asking how to pronounce a name like ‘Mahalia’ not so much. This feels slightly less cringey than admitting you have completely forgotten. Although you will also find people don’t expect you to remember their name first time.

Sharing accommodation is a great way to make friends, learn about different cultures and to share travel stories. So if like me you were worried about making friends add this to the top of your list of ways to do it.
Work is another great way to meet people. I had forgotten that Australia is full of travelers and therefore everyone is in the same boat (or on the same plane actually). It’s also a good opportunity to meet Australian’s who will be able give you a heads up on all the best places.

Helpful tip 2#: Look on Facebook for closed traveller groups like ‘Poms in Brisbane’ for example. These groups are full of people happy to meet up for drinks or coffee and are a great source for traveler information.

I have been working for an agency as a brand ambassador and because Australia has a huge number of expats it has been amazing sharing travel stories with some of my customers. I don’t work in the same store all the time so I thought this would make it difficult to make friends through work. But after a shift one day I bumped into some other agency girls, I recognised from the initial interview, and before I knew it we were having lunch together and swapping numbers.

Meeting friends on your travels has a completely different feel to it from being at home. If I had bumped into someone in Glasgow I had met once or twice I would have politely said ‘Hi’ and went on with my day. But at home you aren’t travelling and depending where you live you probably aren’t meeting many travelers.

One of the best parts of travelling is meeting new people. I already feel that my trip has been enriched by the people I have met in the last two months – those whose number’s I have in my phone and those who I have only chatted with in passing. Because these are all people I would never have met had I not travelled.

Packing when you are a Material Girl

Travelling away from home, to another country, is a daunting experience with all the planning, preparing, and packing your life into a bag (that is never going to be big enough to accommodate for all the unnecessary crap you think you need to take with you).

It doesn’t matter how many times you rerrange things or attempt to condense all those precious items  by plonking your arse on top of your bag- material girl that extra pair of shoes are not going to magically squeeze in.

I thought I had everything under control as I had been practically planning what was coming with me for the last year. Since I’m organised to the point of being neurotic I felt this was reasonable – it’s not like I’m Carrie Bradshaw harbouring outfits for a trip that isn’t even planned.

But, even I managed to get completely stressed out packing. The penultimate night before we left I spent hours pacing about my room whilst rearranging my bag over and over again. The night ended with me throwing my clothes about my room in a tantrum before I went to bed defeated.

After a couple of dramatic text messages to my  boyfriend he luckily came over the next day and helped me sort it – mainly by shouting at me for wanting to take so much stuff.  P:S once we arrived I found he had packed more crap than me; so I still won that one.

Packing Tips:

1. Recruit a friend to help you with the task of what to take and more importantly what not to take. I did have help deciding what to take but I decided to pack it all on my own – so when everything I had carefully selected didn’t fit this is when the panic started.  Do not let your friend leave until your bag is closed.

2. Unless you aren’t going to buy anything whilst on your trip you will need to make sure there is room in your case to accommodate for this. I have been in Australia for two months and have bought: 2 dresses , 1 work skirt, 2 work tops, 2 x work shoes,  work jacket, PJ bottoms, 5 tshirt’s & I have acquired a cardigan & two tops that housemates didn’t want anymore. It’s amazing how much stuff you can acquire in a short time. I have absolutely no doubt that I’ll be buying more stuff on my travels – including another case.  Consider what you will buy on your trip when packing.

3. Take your favourite clothes – I left my favourite t-shirt and I’ve regretted it since. Don’t just take the clothes you think you should take – if you don’t ever wear shorts don’t take them – pack that favourite t-shirt instead.

4. Remove those favourite clothes from your wardrobe a couple of months prior to your trip. You will forget about them and be excited to see them again like long lost friends. Remember you’ll have to wear these clothes over and over again.

5. Once you have the favourite clothes sorted you need to think about an interview outfit and potential work clothing.  I got this one completely wrong and packed a pink dress I could wear at a interview or an admin job.  It turns out Australia are into ‘corporate black’ whereas I was desperately trying to avoid packing black clothing; despite my wardrobe being 80% black.  So play it safe if like me you don’t know what field you’ll be working in and pack a black outfit or wait until you have a job before planning outfits. If you have a black suit jacket – bring it as you will probably need it.  Play it safe and pack smart black clothing.

6. The same advice goes for shoes. I almost brought my comfy work shoes but luckily didn’t due to lack of space and it turned out that my new job required me to wear heels. So regardless of whether I had brought them I would still need to buy new shoes. I did bring my boots though as I knew it would be expensive to buy a good pair over here.  Only bring shoes you know you will definitely need.

7. Decant your toiletries into travel friendly bottles. I done this the day before we left after getting into a tizzy about the weight of my bag. If you aren’t particular about your toiletries take mini’s and buy full size ones once you arrive.

8. Get on to Amazon or Ebay and buy packing cubes – these will be your best friend when it comes to locating things in your bottomless pit of a bag.  As the name suggests they are cubes for organising your belongings into sections.  I bought three and found this to be enough but there are lots of other options.

9. Microfibre towels – traditional towels take up so much room whereas microfibre ones are light weight and also dry quickly.  I packed two (an extra large and a large) I could have got away with just taking the one extra large one as they dry so quickly but the large one has come in handy for taking to the beach to sit on.

10.  Get Rollin’, Rollin’, Rollin’, yeah?  Everything that can be packed by rolling it into a sausage do it. You will be surprised at how much you can neatly fit into your packing cubes this way.  It will also eventually become really boring (rolling) packing your clothing this way but it’s worth it.  Plus thanks to me you’ll probably now have Limp Bizkit stuck in your head whilst you do it so that should make it more fun.

 

Hostel Horror

After spending a year in residential accommodation when starting university – A.K.A The Ghetto. Let’s not confuse my ghetto living with the saught after modern student accommodation and clean ensuites with the  block, modelled on a Swedish prison and not refurbished since it opened in the 80’s, that I stayed in. The said block has since been demolished – it probably cost less to demolish it than to clean the kitchens.

I thought a year of not being able to cook, for the fear of definite food poisoning and always wearing flip flops in the shower because the floor was permanently flooded, had prepared me for a measly week in a hostel.

I was wrong though and I might sound a touch precious to some of you but at 25 years of age I want: a clean private room, a clean-ish bathroom and for it to be quiet enough for me to sleep on week nights. I’m not looking for room service – unless it’s available of course.

We booked Base Central hostel in Brisbane through our travel agent as part of a working holiday package as we thought it would be an easy way to make friends. It turns out we did make a ‘friend’ but just not the way we had expected to.

First off we arrived at 7am and we were not permitted to check in until 2pm, that’s  working days worth of wait and after no sleep and one too many miniature fizzy wines on a longhaul flight, you do not want to trek about an unknown city. We struck lucky though as we were given a free breakfast and were allowed to check in around 12.

Slight hitch our room was on the second floor and the lift was broken – I would hazard a guess that it remain out of order for the foreseeable future. Luckily a member of staff helped us with our bags.

At this point I thought it was going to be ok, until we seen our room.

The room really had the bare minimum of a bed and two bar stools for bedside tables. The carpet was dirty and I couldn’t bring myself to properly check the bed for cleanliness as I needed to sleep regardless of whether it was dirty. The door was the worst though as at the top of the frame was  hollow grate – you could hear everything going on and trust me some couples have no shame. There was  also no locker or safe.

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I don’t have too much to say on the bathroom as it was how I expected it – a bit like showering in a public centre bathroom. But, it was clean enough to shower wearing flip flops and I advise to carry a packet of tissues in case there is no loo roll. Pop a packet into your dressing gown for those middle of the night trips.

Our first night sleep was greatly disturbed by the nightclub under the hostel, those returning to their rooms from said nightclub and the unbashful couple. But; we were willing to try stick it out for the week. After all it is a party hostel.

On our second night horror struck: firstly there was a fire alarm at 5am and there was no staff about from what I could see. I had to hover at the door frame in my pj’s and try to work out whether we were to evacuate. Due to my stay in the ghetto I had the throw a bra and shoes on in 2 routine down to a fine art.

Luckily we didn’t need to evacuate but we definitely did need some sleep. So with the aid of our earplugs we did blissfully until around 8am.

At 8am I sprung up screaming at some random girl in our private room. It was like a scene from a horror film.

Let me introduce our main character in this Hostel Horror scenario: ‘Crazy Irish Girl’.  I’ve watched a lot of horror films but them and life had not prepared me for this intense situation.

‘Crazy Irish girl’ attempted to calm me down by saying she worked at the hostel and babbled something about being on a tour.

At first I thought we were meant to be on some sort of tour, as part of the working holiday package, but then she explained that it was her that was on a tour and our room was one of the stops.

Sorry – what? I felt a bit like Louis Theroux during one of his weird quests. The journalist in me definitely kicked in at this point. She just casually sat down on our bed and I continued to interogate her on how she came to be in our room.

The only thing  she said that made sense was that the hostel was weird and she hated it.

She wasn’t at all threatening but the whole thing was utterly odd. I think she was definitely on drugs.

She eventually left and seconds later chapped to see if she had left her handbag – this is how we knew she didn’t have a key to our room. Someone with a key must have let her in. She also didn’t have any shoes on…

We returned to sleep, utterly exhausted, and awoke wondering if we had dreamt it all.This was Promptly followed with a complaint to the front desk.

We asked to speak to a manager, but they must have wanted to finish their morning coffee, so we dealt with another team member.

To our even further horror they did not know who the girl was and they were as shocked as us. However, for our troubles they offered us an upgrade to a full breakfast. I might have actually laughed – having spent three years working in customer service I knew this wasn’t a fitting goodwill gesture.

I wasn’t complaining about something trivial like a cold shower. I was complaining about a stranger being in our room. A stranger who could have stolen all our stuff or even worse been violent.

I’m going to guess she was new to the job and that’s not her fault as we did ask to speak to management. I told her flatly I wanted a refund, which she couldn’t authorise due to us booking through the travel agent. After speaking to the manager, obviously sitting through the back enjoying said coffee, we were offered to move to another of their hostels.

After visiting Base Embassy and inspecting the available rooms we decided to move and our stay there was much better.

But seriously; being palmed off with extra sausages for a stranger breaking into your room is not cool Base.

I am still in correspondence with the travel agent more than 28 days later and will continue to complain until we get some of our money back for our inconvenience.

No sausage; or streaky bacon will appease me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Flying with Prescription Medicine

After all my worries regarding flying to Australia with medication (see  part 1) it turns out there was actually nothing to worry about.

So I packed my prescription and my medication, into my   hand luggage, and all was good. There were no questions asked by customs at Glasgow, Dubai, Singapore or Brisbane.

I decided to declare my non-prescription medication (vitimins etc) to be on the safe side. The customs declaration form you get on the flight before landing in Australia can be a little confusing – e.g. do you have soil on your shoes? You then need to start backtracking where you and your shoes have been. However it does say on the top if unsure say ‘yes’.

The option to declare your medication shares a line with pornography and weapons which I thought was a bit odd.  Since I’m sure more people travel with the former than the latter. But, who knows. After all on some Emirates flights you can travel with a bird of prey…not even kidding.

On joining the ‘goods to declare’ queue on both occasions the guys at customs just waved me through. They weren’t interested at all in  what I had. Maybe if it had been pornography or weapons they would have been.

Hopefully, they would have been.

The general consensus I made is that you should have nothing to worry about when traveling with medication unless you are bringing medication, into the country,that needs a permit or is illegal.

If you unsure though you can always check at customs to cover your back  but remember you should always carry your medication in your hand luggage.

In the next couple of weeks I will need to go to an Australian doctors to get more medication so I will let you all know how that goes.

Travelling to Oz with Prescription Medicine

It became clear, quickly, whilst researching the above topic for my travels,to Australia from the UK,that there isn’t simply just one site that gives you clear concise information on the rules of travelling with prescription medicine.

I have been on UK government websites, Australian Government websites, Yahoo Answers, online forums, and everything else outside this bracket appearing on the esteemed first page of a Google search.

I’ve learnt a lot but bloody hell – I just want a simple yes or not. You can or can’t.  Do this but don’t do that. So,  I thought I would attempt to make it simple for other people who will follow in my footsteps.

The main consensus that I found was that it varies depending on what medication you wish to bring and what country you are travelling to but for the sake of this post I’ll stick to UK to Australia and typical prescription medication.

I need to bring Thyroxine (for under-active thyroid), Inhalers (for asthma), Laxido (AKA Movicol for digestion) & a sense of humour for I am only 25.

The doctor once asked me if I rattled when I walked & I take more medication than my Mum.  I’m sure everyone else with a chronic illness at a young-ish age can relate to this laugh or sit in a dark room and cry attitude.

I need to take the above every day; I can’t go without it.  So it is of utmost importance that I can get it through customs and into Australia.

  • You can take three months worth of prescription medication with you and have three months posted to you:  http://www.tga.gov.au/personal-importation-scheme (I am in the process of researching if Royal Mail let you do this without any hitch ;other than being grilled at the Post Office and holding up the queue of elderly people.
  • The medicine needs to be kept in it’s original packaging and you need to carry a copy of your prescription with you or a letter from your doctor.  I initially thought you needed both but it would seem you need one or the other.
  • To declare or not to declare?  This is where it became vague.  Some people say you need to and others say that customs aren’t interested.  However; the Australian government site says that you don’t need to declare unless you have more than three months worth of typical prescription medication:  http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Ente/Goin/Arrival

 

So I will be travelling with my three months of medication, alongside a copy of my prescriptions, and I will not be declaring my prescription medicine at customs.

However; on further research I have found out that I will need to declare my vitamins/supplements at customs so I will be able to report back on that experience.

Helpful sites:

 

 

Comfortable in the Uncomfortable

When you are 13 your biggest challenge in life is deciding what to wear at the weekend, bickering with ‘friends’, and also finding the time to study for your exams in between all that important drama.

But day dreaming gets you through it and you set your ambitions high.  You’ll be driving by 18, finish university at 21, walk into a wonderful job which will open doors, have a designer handbag and be sipping coffee whilst perusing your e-mails at the Pret a Mange near Liverpool Street Station.

However ten years later this all appears to be a fantasy life created by one with a bold imagination. I am that girl and at 13 I imagined a life not too different from Carrie Bradshaw (she has a lot to answer for).  But I wasn’t so naive to think I could sustain a glamorous lifestyle on a freelance ‘one column’ lifestyle.

I knew it would be hard work and I was ready for that but I had no idea how draining it would be. Graduating during a time where any job is hard to come by is a challenge but graduating with a degree in a creative field is even worse.

I was once asked in an interview for an internship why I deserved the place and I responded with ‘because I am enthusiastic and I feel it is of highest importance to remain enthusiastic’. Being a natural pessimist, a realist, I must have been feeling oddly optimistic that day.  I got the internship though so it’s true optimism does beat pessimism.

Remaining to be enthusiastic and creative though is the biggest challenge of all though – because by your late twenties it becomes personal.

Your life is no longer simply just about getting to your 9am lecture whilst still hungover because of £1 drinks on a Thursday;  it’s about setting up fixed rate ISA accounts and paying off the interest free student overdraft before the interest looms near.   Holding down a job to pay for rent and Netflix, finding a partner, thinking about marriage and children – before you’re 30.  Adult responsibilities sucking the fun out of what used to be used to be your ‘super fun’ life.

Throwing a fleeting goodbye to that short burst of optimism, and reverting back to the brooding corner of pessimism, was the most counter productive thing I could have done.  But after spending countless hours applying for hundreds of media jobs I did give up.  I threw down my pen and thought ‘what’s the point’.

It was surprisingly easy and probably the best decision for my mental health at the time.  There are only so many rejection e-mails one person can read and delete. Sometimes you need to take a break from that for your sanity.

There will be tough days of what essentially a depression, a creative block, a block created by all those rejection e-mails which have became an attack on your creative ability.  But you need to keep going.  Not necessarily the next day or even the same year but you need to keep it in the back of your mind.

I said that I gave up and maybe a part of me felt like I had.  I had given up writing but I never gave up thinking about it or generating ideas to write about.

I was voted ‘most likely to succeed’ at my school prom.  I loved nothing more than working myself to the bones and I thrived on the stress of it all.

As a journalism graduate I loved to write but I soon associated my laptop with applying for jobs and therefore writing became a task which filled me with dread. A very example is that I actually started writing this very post a year ago and there has been no new posts on this very blog for almost two years.

As a graduate not working in your chosen field you need to learn to become comfortable in being uncomfortable.  Accepting the discomfort you feel means you have gave up the challenge.  I say I gave up but at the very core I never.  I have never became comfortable enough to just settle.

The fact that you are uncomfortable shows that you have not given up.

I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason; and even though I am not working in a field related to my degree I have stilled learnt a lot in the years since graduation.  It was crazy to think I had given up for everything I have learnt is transferable.  The reason will come soon enough and when it does it will be wonderful.

But for now; let’s remain optimistic.  Maybe one day I will be able to live in NYC and write about men as socks whilst wearing Manolo’s all off the salary of a weekly column.

 

 

The Libertine – Citizens Theatre – Glasgow

Something a bit different for a Saturday night, eh? I’ve reached that age (old at 23) that I can’t always be bothered getting my glad rags on and staying out to three in the morning at the weekends.

Granted that I work most Saturday’s to 7 o’clock (which leaves six hours between finishing work and leaving the club). Take off an hour for getting ready and ten minutes to munch down a flapjack and a bottle of water and that’s not a whole lot of Saturday fun. Here’s a headline ‘Full-time work the great killer of the pre party drinks’.

So when proposed with the idea of going to the theatre, sitting down for a couple of hours, and not having a hangover I was blissfully happy at the thought. Plus I got to pretend to be cultural; which is something I certainly was not the previous weekend.

The Citizens Theatre from the outside gives the impression of it being a modern theatre; and in my head it was going to be more akin to a town hall than a theatre but I was pleasantly surprised. I have always had a love for all things old – hence why I was going to see The Libertine in the first place (based during the restoration period).  The interior of the theatre is nothing short of charming – to me it is what a theatre should be like.  It isn’t as big as the likes of The Theatre Royal but this adds to the atmosphere and means you get a good view.  We were seated in the front row of the dress circle.

ImagePhoto: Trip Advisor

The Libertine has been one of my favourite films for a long time so when I seen that the play in which the film was adapted from was coming to Glasgow I was quick to book tickets.  In my ignorance I hadn’t realised that the play and screenplay were written by the same person (Stephen Jeffreys); but this would explain why the play was so well executed.  The story follows the downfall of the notorious rake the Earl of Rochester during the splendour and darkness of the restoration period.  Both times taking excess to the extreme.

Rochester: Allow me to be frank at the commencement. You will not like me. The gentlemen will be envious and the ladies will be repelled. You will not like me now and you will like me a good deal less as we go on. Ladies, an announcement: I am up for it, all the time. That is not a boast or an opinion, it is bone hard medical fact. I put it round you know. And you will watch me putting it round and sigh for it. Don’t.” It is a deal of trouble for you and you are better off watching and drawing your conclusions from a distance than you would be if I got my tarse up your petticoats. Gentlemen. Do not despair, I am up for that as well. And the same warning applies. Still your cheesy erections till I have had my say. But later when you shag – and later you will shag, I shall expect it of you and I will know if you have let me down – I wish you to shag with my homuncular image rattling in your gonads. Feel how it was for me, how it is for me and ponder. ‘Was that shudder the same shudder he sensed? Did he know something more profound? Or is there some wall of wretchedness that we all batter with our heads at that shining , livelong moment.’ That is it. That is my prologue, nothing in rhyme, no protestations of modesty, you were not expecting that I hope. I am John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester and I do not want you to like me.

The character may not want you to like him but the most important skill in playing John Wilmot is to intrigue the audience into wanting to get to like him. Martin Hutson took on this task and excelled himself.    I did have my doubts that the play would fall flat when compared to the film; that the protagonist would be tame in comparison and you  do almost feel a little sorry for him as it is easy to draw parallels with modern day alcoholism and drug abuse. But, in general you dislike him and you dislike his friends for encouraging his behaviour.

The cast brought this lengthy romp to it’s climax and any fan of the film or of restoration humour will thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Rochester: So here he lies at the last. The deathbed convert. The pious debauchee. Could not dance a half measure, could I? Give me wine, I drain the dregs and toss the empty bottle at the world. Show me our Lord Jesus in agony and I mount the cross and steal his nails for my own palms. There I go, shuffling from the world. My dribble fresh upon the bible. I look upon a pinhead and I see angels dancing. Well? Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like me now? Do you like me… now?