Monday, 30 September 2013

Women and Judo

I was just researching the history of Judo for my article on the Judo Club I go to when I realised that only one woman has ever achieved 10th Dan status - which, for those of you who don't know, is the highest grade that you can achieve. The woman who was awarded the grade was Keiko Fukuda.

The woman herself! Keiko Fukuda

I like to think that, although it is a little bit of an insult that fifteen men have been awarded the grade and only one woman, that this shows Keiko Fukuda was truly exceptional. I have been told a few times (by a man) that women make better judo players because they analyse their opponent more and don't just go in for random techniques. On top of this, as in most male dominated competitive sports, women are normally twice as good as men because they have to not only work hard to achieve a high level of excellence, they also have to prove they're better than the boys. This is why I believe Keiko Fukuda was and is so special in the Judo sphere.

I'd also like to take the opportunity to tell a whole load of teenage males out there who take part in Judo classes to grow up. Yeah, I said it. Although all the guys my age whom I go to Judo with are fine about fighting girls, most during randori sessions (practise fighting) will avoid going against girls entirely. This is what puts many women off. I have a friend who made it to brown belt before deciding to quit because absolutely non of the boys at her club would fight her. This was made even worse by the fact that she was the only girl there.

Women like Keiko Fukuda really fly a flag for females in all areas of sport because they are a living testimony to the fact that we are just as good as the guys. I'm not 'hating' on every male sportsman out there because there are many who are perfectly fine with women competing in the same sports as them, I'm just telling a bunch of sulky, hormonal teenage boys to really think about what they're doing next time they refuse to fight against their opponent simply because she's a girl. So you might get beaten. That's nothing to do with the fact that you aren't 'manly' enough. It's to do with the fact that your opponent is the better player. Learn from them. Don't throw a strop. 


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Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bibi's Bakery

Today I went on a trip to St Andrews Uni (see more on previous post) and at lunchtime my friends and I all headed out in to St Andrews town. Out of a few of our stops - including New Look, H&M, Jack Wills and a little café where I bought the most amazing chicken and mozzarella Panini - we went in to Bibi's Bakery.

The reason I am writing this post is because that little bakery blew my mind hole. You should have seen the cupcakes! You should have smelled the delicious wave of brownie scented air that greeted us as we walked in! Bibi's Bakery is a cake lover's paradise. I kid you not.

I bought a chocolate orange cupcake, which, considering the range that was on offer, was a pretty difficult choice to make. There were banoffee cupcakes, mint chocolate cupcakes, blackberry and elderflower cupcakes, Victoria sponge cupcakes...the list goes on. Not only that, but there was a selection of macaroons and brownies on offer. I'm not sure how I managed to drag myself away with just one morsel. Though, judging by the way I felt slightly sugar sick after eating my chocolate orange cupcake (topped with a Terry's chocolate orange segment!), I don' t think I could have eaten much more.

Even though I did feel a bit sick after eating it, the cupcake was delicious. The icing was thick and creamy and the actual cake itself was spongy and full of chocolaty goodness! They even put the cupcake in a little carrycase!!!

If you are ever in St Andrews you have to go to Bibi's! Or if you are ever anywhere else that has a Bibi's, you have to go in!

The Guilty One

Today I went on a little trip to St Andrews University to listen to a talk by the author Lisa Ballantyne about her debut novel 'The Guilty One'. This is where I have to put my hand up wearing my guilty face because *whispers* I didn't finish reading the book. In fact, I think I got to around chapter ten, and then skipped to the end...


Obviously the English department at St Andrews were interested in getting us interested in them. They very kindly paid to get us all there and sent us free copies of Lisa's book. To be fair, they did put on a good show, not only that but Lisa gave a very interesting talk. I have to admit I did have my doubts before she started speaking, though thankfully I could immediately put them aside. Lisa's talk was not only entertaining; she managed to capture the attention of a bunch of high school students for half an hour. Let me tell you now, that is no easy feat.


To be honest, I feel pretty guilty about not finishing the book, as Lisa had obviously poured so much time and effort in to it. She told us during the question and answer round at the end of the talk that it had taken her 12 months to complete the novel. At one point, about half way through, she hit a brick wall and found she literally couldn't write another word. This was because she had created a main character (Daniel Hunter) whose job she didn't have a clue about. Seeing as Daniel was a criminal solicitor and Lisa was pretty vague at that point on what a criminal solicitor actually did, she went and tracked one down and quizzed him on his job. She even took a trip to London to research the area where the murder (and there is a murder in this book) was committed. 


I realise I'm doing this in a slightly backwards fashion, but I'm going to quote the book's blurb:

'Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy.'

'As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian's troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care - and to Minnie, the woman whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that he cut her out of his life.'

'But what crime did Minnie commit? And will Daniel's identification with a child on trial for murder make him question everything he ever believed in?'


I'd also better tell you what I think of the book so far. Well, in all I think the characters are very believable, with Sebastian's cold nature perfectly mimicking that of a sociopath. Minnie also seems to have the most redeeming features out of all of the characters even though she did wrong Daniel. However, the plot is shaping up to be a little bit predictable and at times the description can be quite clunky. It's also quite a fast and easy read, so probably a good book for the weekend or a short holiday. I would recommend The Guilty One as a summer read.


Anyway, after Lisa's talk all the high schoolers went out to terrorise the (surprisingly clean) streets of St Andrews town for a bite to eat. When we returned we took part in a question and answer exploration of the book and it's themes with a fourth year English student. We were also encouraged to ask question about St Andrews Uni and were told plenty about its many strange traditions. For example, the May dip and third year parents.


All in all it was a very pleasant day out!  

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Tips For Aspiring Journalists

These are the things I've been told. I hope they come in handy for all you other aspiring journalists out there! :)

  • Date all your reporter pads and when you're finished with them and keep them for at least 7 years. This way, if you scoop a story that causes some controversy, you have all the evidence you need to back yourself up.

  • Always write and always take photographs. It doesn't matter what it's about as long as you're improving all the time and showing that you're keen.

  • Get some work experience! This is an important one for getting you in to journalistic university and college courses. Local papers are always ready to lend a helping hand as long as you show you're keen!

  • When writing up press releases and stories, put the most important information in the first five paragraphs of the article - this way, when it gets sent off to the editors important details won't get cut out.

  • The most important information regarding an event is usually when, where and who.

  • Always make sure you read over your articles and correct any mistakes. Although stories do get sent to editors, they can miss your mistakes so it's better to correct them yourself.  

  • When interviewing people always make sure you tell them who you are and what you're going to be using the information for. Make it clear that you are interviewing them and that what they say will be going in to an article.

  • Keep yourself up to date with current affairs by watching the news or reading the papers

I hope you find all of this useful!

A Slightly Pointless Post

I was just musing over the fact that I should probably blog more if I want to grow my audience on lacebirds...then I thought I'd better post on the Guide seeing as time is starting to stretch since the last post I put up. So, rest assured, at some point, when I can muster the will, a new post will appear on my dear old photography blog which is in some serious need of a little TLC. That's tender loving care, not tummy loving care to all you Activia lovers out there.

I have also been debating whether I should buy Santigold's new album Master of my Make-believe. Seeing as I've youtubed the songs on it a like pretty much all of them, I probably will, when I scrape together enough money.

That brings me to another point. I need a job! And it's pretty hard to get one seeing as getting in to the job market seems to be all about who you know and not what you know. Or so I'm told...

And that brings you to the conclusion of my slightly pointless post. Maybe I should try hashtagging this thing when I google + it. Oooh.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Arcade Fire Neon Bible

I bought indie rock band Arcade Fire's album Neon Bible pretty recently. On Saturday actually. Normally, you would head in to a shop like HMV with some kind of idea of what you're out to buy. You'd pick the CD you know will appeal to you. You know you'll like it because you listen to the artist who's put it out.


Well, because this is me we're talking about, I walked in to HMV and picked up the first CD I thought looked good. I've done the same thing before at Groucho's and (unfortunately) come home with two bands I can't stand. Luckily for me, this time was different. it might have been the fact that I've listened to Arcade Fire before. In my defence, it was only one song and I don't even know what album it belongs to.


Let's just say I took a (slightly informed) gamble which paid off very nicely indeed *insert sigh of relief*.


Neon Bible has quite a dark sound to it with all eleven tracks featuring a heavy bass line (which I don't think my speakers were too happy with). Similar to Alt-J, Arcade Fire incorporate a heavy emphasis on the drum-kit, though their style produces a sound that is slightly less sharp and their music slightly less cheerful. I would go as far to say that Neon Bible has a pretty relaxed sound, though the layered textures of the music keep it from sounding entirely sleepy. And like most indie bands, their lyrics are quite poetic - a God send if you're tired of all the pop chart simplicity. I'm aware I'm sounding more and more like a music snob every second, but if you listen to a bit of indie...or most things other than pop, you'll know what I mean. 


I'd have to say that my favourite tracks from Neon Bible are number 7 The well and the lighthouse and 10 No cars Go. So look out for those two if you're just looking to buy a couple of songs from iTunes instead of the whole album. I'm also going to recommend track 11 My body is a cage because of how dramatic it sounds due to the band's use of an organ...which I suppose would link in to the whole bible/church theme you get from the album name.


You can get Neon Bible from HMV for £5.99 which is cheaper than on Amazon where it's £6.29 and on iTunes where it's £8.99. Word to the wise - go to HMV.