Top Ten Tunes- 2006

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2006.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005

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A tornado hits London and causes considerable damage.

In 2006, a whale is discovered in the River Thames in London, the football World Cup takes place in Germany, TV presenter Richard Hammond suffers a series brain injury when the jet-powered car he’s driving crashes whilst filming for Top Gear, in London Russian secret service agent Alexander Litvinenko is poisoned and dies, a tornado hits London, a series of murders take place in Ipswich– all the victims are female prostitutes, a man is later arrested and charged for the murders, Hogmanay in Edinburgh and Glasgow are cancelled due to bad weather (I know- I was there in Edinburgh!), Saddam Hussein is charged wth crimes against humanity and is sentenced to death by hanging, over 160 people are killed when seven bombs are detonated on trains in Mumbai, India and Montenegro and Serbia split and gain independence. The films Casino Royale, The Departed, Little Miss Sunshine, Night at the Museum, Volver, This is England and The Queen are all released. I celebrate my 30th Birthday.

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Is this the right time to tell you that in 2006, I did an impromtu audition for Baz Luhrmann. I mean, he didn’t ask me to, but I did anyway. I was in Sydney as my better half was working at the Opera House and there was absolutely no way he was going to have fun without me over there. One night we got invited to the opening night of the Sydney Film Festival. I got verrrrrrr drunk on free champagne and myself and an actress that was in the show my husband was working on, discovered that Baz was at this party. We decided it would be a really good idea to go and audition for him. Yeah. At a party. Whilst very drunk. Uninvited. I don’t quite remember what happened, only that the “audition” involved a song and dance routine. That Baz Luhrmann look embarrassed (WHY?! We were being so cool). That I smashed my champagne glass and continued to drink from it. And that shortly afterwards someone suggested to my husband that it was time to take me home. I am nothing, but classy. ANYWAY. I absolutely love this year. It contains lots of fun pop, a heartbreaking tune and one of my all time favourite songs. So in no particular order, here’s my top ten tunes from 2006. Spotify playlist at the end as per.

1. Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera

2. Sexyback by Justin Timerblake

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3. SOS by Rihanna

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4. Rehab by Amy Winehouse

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5. Standing in the Way of Control by The Gossip

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6. Gold Lion by Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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7. Us by Regina Spektor

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8. Who Knew by Pink

9. I Am Not My Hair by India Arie

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10. Irreplaceable by Beyonce

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It’s been a while since I put a photo of myself up on these posts, here’s me on my 30th Birthday.

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This week my favourite has to be Us by Regina Spector as that’s the song that I walked down the aisle to (but this wasn’t the year I got married). So, please tell me which of these songs you love the most.

See you next week for 2007!

Top Ten Tunes- 2005

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2005.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004

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Ellen MacArthur

In 2005, the IRA issue a statement detailing their withdrawal from their commitment to decommission weapons as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, Ellen MacArthur obtains the solo sailing around the world record, Mark Thatcher is trialed for his involvement in an attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea, The Gender Recognition Act comes into place- allowing transgender people to have their reassigned gender recognised by law, Prince Charles marries Camilla Parker-Bowles– she will be known as the Duchess of Cornwall, the Labour Party wins the General Election again and Tony Blair begins his third term as Prime Minister, Tony Blair assumes the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Live 8 (similar to Live Aid) concerts are held across the world, London is selected for the 2012 Olympic games, the IRA orders an end to their armed campaign and focuses on democratic politics instead, England cricket wins the Ashes, Conservative leader Michael Howard resigns and David Cameron is elected as the new leader, a man from Scotland is proved to have been the first person to be “cured” of HIV, footballer George Best dies, the Civil Partnership act comes into force which grants the same rights to same-sex couples as married heterosexual couples, 70% of the UK now have internet access at home, Hurricane Katrina strikes New Orleans flooding 80% of the city and killing 1,600 people, YouTube is founded, Pope John Paul II dies, an earthquake in Kashmir kills 70,000 people, Michael Jackson is found not guilty of Child Molestation Charges, Bird Flu claims more lives in Indonesia, terrorist attacks in Sharm al-Sheikh kill 90 people.

On 7th July (7/7), a series of co-ordinated terrorist bomb attacks take place across London. Three bombs explode within seconds of each other on three separate underground trains and a fourth explodes on a bus. 52 civilians die in the attacks and 700 are injured. Two weeks later there are four attempts to explode bombs on London transport again. However, nobody is injured, but the failed suicide bombers are on the loose. The next day the metropolitan police accidentally shoot dead Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes mistaking him for a terrorist. 3 out of the 4 bombers are found arrested 5 days later. 7/7 was the deadliest terrorist attack the UK had seen since the Pan Am bombing in 1988.

The films Brokebank Mountain, Walk the Line, Sin City and Wallace & Gromit: the Curse of the Were-Rabbit are released. I turn 29 years old.

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Gang, I really struggled to find 10 favourites for this year. 2005 was not a strong year musically. I personally was never into bands like Franz Ferdinand, the Strokes, the White Stripes et al who seemed to dominate the music scene at the time, so it was slim pickings for me. However, I’m still quite pleased with the playlist that I eventually came up with, so here’s my favourites from 2005 and the good news is, 2006 is musically a much better year.

1. Feel Good Inc. by Gorillaz

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2. Hung Up by Madonna

3. Forever Lost by the Magic Numbers

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4. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree by K T Tunstall

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5. Bloody Fucking Mother Asshole by Martha Wainwright (Best song title ever)

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6. Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out) by Arcade Fire (Probably one of the best performances I have ever seen on Jools Holland- worth watching until the end)

7. Ugly by the Sugababes

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8. Ordinary People by John Legend

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9. King of the Mountain by Kate Bush

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10. Triumph of a Heart by Bjork

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Whilst, Gorillaz is a very close second it’s Dame Madge that’s my favourite this week. Don’t forget to let me know, which one is yours.

See you next week for 2006!

Just Another Book Club- 2018 (part II)

So, for the second half of this year, I’m going to run this book club slightly differently. I’m still providing a list of six books and the months you could read them in. However, I won’t be putting up my review on a monthly basis. Instead at the end of the six months, I’ll put up one post discussing all six books. People can then leave comments as to what they thought of all the books that they read from the list. As before, there is absolutely no pressure to read all six books and you don’t have to read them during the months I suggest. That’s just there for guidance and also because some books might not be published on paperback until a certain date. And as always, one of the six books will be a non-fiction book. I hope you’ll still join me in reading these books. I love to hear what you think about them. I just needed to take a bit of pressure of myself to have books read by a certain date. Oh and also, if you want to discuss any of the books with me before six months time then I’ll be leaving a space to discuss the books on a monthly basis on both my Facebook page HERE and on my Instagram account HERE

So, on with our six books to read for this second half of the year:

  • July: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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  • August: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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  • September: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

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  • October: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

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  • November: The Immortalist: if you knew the date of your death, how would you live? by Chloe Benjamin

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  • December: Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

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This chosen list of books is final. If you don’t fancy reading a particular book one month, just give it a miss that month.

So, my aim is to post my review of all these books around the beginning of January next year. It’ll be here before you know it! In the meanwhile, don’t be afraid to communicate with me as mentioned above if you ever want to discuss these books any earlier. I’ll also post a new list of books for the first half of 2019 in mid-December this year.

For a list of the books we read during the first half of this year, click HERE

For a list of the books we read during the last half of 2017, click HERE

Don’t forget you can leave a review of any of the past books that we have read at any point.

 

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Top Ten Tunes- 2004

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2004.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003

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Just Batman hanging out at Buckingham Palace, nothing to see here.

In 2004, the Daily Mirror publishes the blacked out portion of a letter written by Princess Diana where she claims that someone is trying to kill her, serial killer Dr Harold Shipman is found dead in his prison cell, the Hutton Inquiry into Dr David Kelly’s death is published and condemns the BBC’s handling of the affair and exonerates the government, Chinese cockle pickers in Morecambe are caught up in the nighttime tides, which results in the drowning of 23 pickers, landmark office building The Gherkin is opened in London, children’s animation Peppa Pig debuts on TV, Fathers 4 Justice stage a protest in the House of Commons by throwing purple powder at Tony Blair, the Olympics take place in Athens, a Fathers 4 Justice campaigner breaches security at Buckingham Palace dressed as Batman, British hostage Ken Bigley is beheaded in Iraq, a train is derailed in Berkshire when a car is deliberately left on the train tracks- 7 people are killed, British aid worker Margaret Hassan is taken hostage and killed in Iraq, fox hunting is banned in the UK, the CIA admits that there was no imminent threat from weapons of mass destruction before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a terrorist attack takes place in Madrid as 5 suicide bombers detonate bombs on rush hour trains and kill 190 people, one million people in Sudan flee their homes following ethnic cleansing, 335 people die in a siege in a school in Northern Ossetia and 700 are injured, President George W Bush wins the US election for a second term, Facebook is launched, Hurricane Jeanne kills 3000 people in Haiti, in the Indian Ocean the strongest earthquake in 40 years results in a tsunami that kills over 280,000 people with around 1,500 of them being British.

The films Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shaun of the Dead, Saw, Fahrenheit 9/11, The Aviator and the Incredibles are released and I turn 28 years old.

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2004 is the year that saw me and my better half pack our bags and drive around the US of A for the summer. We started in New Orleans and ended up in San Fransisco. Honestly, the customs officers thought we were mad when we told them our plans on arrival. Musically, 2004 wasn’t a strong year, but there was still a few songs that I absolutely loved and here they are! In no particular order.

1. Ladyflash by The Go Team!

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2. Trick Me by Kelis

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3. Fit But You Know It by The Streets

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4. Thank You by Jamelia

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5. Amazing by George Michael

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6. Call On Me by Eric Prydz

7. Freakin’ Out by Graham Coxon

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8. Mr. Brightside by the Killers

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9. Remember Me by the Zutons

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10.1980 by Estelle (this song isn’t available on Spotify, so the playlist is only 9 songs long this week. Here’s the video for it instead)

The Killers are my favourite this week (obvs), which one is yours?

See you next week for 2005!

Top 10 Prince Songs

In honour of what would have been Prince’s 60th Birthday today, here’s a list of his top 10 songs.

Just Another Blog From a Woman

I’m probably the 10 millionth blogger to write up their favourite Prince songs today, but I couldn’t help but stick my oar in too. So, farewell our Purple Prince. Thank you for leaving us with the most wonderful music.

10. Manic Monday by the Bangles

Album: Different Light

Year: 1986

Chart Position: 2

Whoa, so the first track I choose isn’t actually performed by Prince? It’s a Prince song nonetheless, written under the pseudonym Christopher.

9. Take Me With You

Album: Purple Rain

Year: 1985

Chart Position: 7

8. Diamonds & Pearls

Album: Diamonds & Pearls

Year: 1991

Chart Position: 25

7. 7

Album: Love Symbol Album

Year: 1992

Chart Position: 27

6. Money Don’t Matter 2 Night

Album: Diamonds & Pearls

Year: 1992

Chart Position: 19

5. Sometimes it Snows in April

Album: Parade

Year: 1986

Chart Position: 193 (it didn’t chart in the UK until after his death in…

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Just Another Book Club- May Book

Please leave your comments below or within the appropriate post on my Facebook page. Please feel free to peruse other people’s comments and respond to them.

***Please be aware this is a book club discussion, so there is the possibility that my review or the comments left by others will contain spoilers***

This Is How It Always Is

by

Laurie Frankel

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Synopsis

This book tells the story of Rosie and Penn and their family of 5 boys. One day their youngest, Claude comes downstairs in a dress and wants to take a handbag to kindergarten. He also wants to grow his hair long and play with dolls. While other boys want to be fire officers or astronauts when they grow up, Claude says he wants to be a girl. This book looks at the complexities of parenthood and how it always is a leap into the unknown.

My Quick Review

This Is How It Always Is is a well written book and one that is easy to read. The two aspects of the book that I appreciated the most was how it looked at parenthood. No matter what issue your child has, no matter how big or small it is, the reader if they are a parent can relate to how we try and parent. The book looks into how parenting is incredibly unpredictable and how none of us as parents know what the future holds for our child. While this is somewhat terrifying, it was also a comfort to read this book and know that as parents we are all going through this unpredictability together. The other aspect of the book that I loved, is how this book raises important questions about gender identity. It’s a book that is incredibly well-informed (whilst the book is entirely fictional, the author’s daughter was once a boy) and as Rose and Penn have conflicting opinions on how to approach their situation, this illustrates the antagonising feelings surrounding transgender children.

The main negative side of the book is that I felt the whole trip to Thailand somewhat contrived. I felt it was a unbelievable coincidence that the mother was offered work in Thailand, was able to take her transgender child and that the main person she worked with also happened to be transgender. I felt the enlightenment that both Rosie and Poppy gained from this trip could have been achieved through other more believable circumstances. The other slightly negative side of the book was the use of fairytales to explain the situation. As I’ve mentioned before I’m not a fan of most fantasy, so I was never going to be a big fan of this part of the book. However, as a reader I also found it a tad patronising having things explained to me in the form of a fairytale.

In conclusion, this is a fascinating book that approaches a very difficult subject. It wasn’t the ground breaking, tear inducing novel that I expected, but it is definitely worth a read.

I loved these two quotes from the book:

How did you teach your small human that it’s what’s inside that counts when the truth was everyone was pretty preoccupied with what you put on over the outside too?

You never know. You only guess. This is how it always is. You have to make these huge decisions on behalf of your kid, this tiny human whose fate and future is entirely in your hands, who trusts you to know what’s good and right and then to be able to make that happen. You never have enough information. You don’t get to see the future. And if you screw up, and with your incomplete, contradictory information you make the wrong call,  well, nothing less than your child’s entire future and happiness is at stake. It’s impossible. It’s heartbreaking. It’s maddening. But there’s no alternative. 

Questions to Consider

  1. How authentic do you think the author’s portrayal of a family and family life is? Do you find her depiction of the children and their sibling dynamics true to life?
  2. How are traditional gender roles explored through the characters of Rosie and Penn? Are they portrayed as conforming to, or defying traditional roles?
  3. Explore the use of fairy tales in the novel and the effects of this narrative device.
  4. When Claude first begins to wear dresses and identifies as female, what contrasts are drawn between how other children react to his transformation and how adults react?
  5. When Rosie and Penn discuss what course Poppy should take before puberty, Rosie says: “When a little girl wants to wear jeans and play soccer, her parents are thrilled, but when a little boy wants to wear a dress and play dolls, his parents send him to therapy and enrol him in a study.” Are young boys more constrained by gender stereotypes than young girls?
  6. “Didn’t you know then, the doctors said later? Weren’t you listening?” Discuss how the role of a parent, and the dilemma of what parenting means, is explored in the novel.
  7. Secrets are a central theme in the novel. Do you think that Rosie and Penn made the right decision in keeping Poppy’s past a secret when they moved to Seattle?
  8. Poppy’s transgender identity mean that Rosie and Penn prioritise her needs within the family, and they decide to uproot their life and move across the country. What other family situations can result in parents having to prioritise the needs of one child over their others?
  9. After Jane Doe’s trauma, Rosie thinks, “Head colds should be tolerated.Children should be celebrated.” What is the difference between tolerance and acceptance? Acceptance and celebration?
  10. Towards the end of the novel we travel to Thailand. Why do you think the author chose to take the characters here and what aspects of the Thai culture were explored?
  11. “You think your generation invented kids who are different?” How does the novel make you question your own attitudes to gender identity, difference and the acceptance of others?

(Questions provided by the publisher)

June’s book is Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo. I’ll be starting the conversation for this on Monday 2nd July.

A list of all the books we read for the first half of 2018 can be found here

***I’ll be publishing a new list of books for the second half of the year next Monday 11th June. There will be a slight amendment as to how the Just Another Book Club will run from now on too***

I’ve finally sorted out my Goodreads page, so as a few people have asked, you can view it here

Top Ten Tunes- 2003

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2003.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002

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Anti-Iraq war protests in London

In 2003, over 2 million people (and 6-11 million worldwide) demonstrate against the Iraq war in London, the London congestion charge comes into place, UK land troops join troops from the US, Australia & Poland in the invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein is captured and a statue of him is toppled over in Bagdad, it is announced that Hussein’s rule over Iraq is over, weapons expert Dr David Kelly commits suicide 3 days after he appears in front of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee regarding the information he had on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the Hutton inquiry into Dr David Kelly’s death is launched as there is doubt cast surrounding the suicide verdict, Concorde makes its final commercial flight after flying for over 27 years, Iain-Duncan Smith resigns as leader of the Conservative party, US President George W Bush visits London among mass protests, England win the rugby World Cup, Lady Louise Windsor is born– the first child of Prince Edward, Space Shuttle Colombia disintegrates on re-entry killing all 7 crew members on board, the highly infectious disease SARS spreads across Asia, Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected Governor of California, Michael Jackson is arrested and charged with child abuse, the films Kill Bill, Lost in Translation, School of Rock, Love Actually and Monster are all released and I turn 27 years old.

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2003 sees the return of Blur (minus one band member), Beyonce (minus all band members), the Sugababes (with their interchangeable band members) and our Kylie (who doesn’t need band members). Also, this week sees a Top Ten Tunes first. It is the second appearance for a song that was in a previous list, but this version is so different I thought I could justify sneaking it in again. Here’s the best of 2003, in no particular order. Spotify list at the end as always.

1. Crazy in Love by Beyonce

2. Stronger Than Me by Amy Winehouse

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3. Slow by Kylie Minogue

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4. Out of Time by Blur

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5. Too Lost in You by the Sugababes

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6. Hey Ya! by Outkast

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7. Milkshake by Kelis

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8. Leave Right Now by Will Young

9. Mad World by Michael Andrews feat Gary Jules

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10. Hurt by Johnny Cash

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Some great tunes this week, but Beyonce gets the top prize from me. Which one is your favourite?

See you next week for 2004!

Top Ten Tunes- 2002

Every Friday, I’m publishing my top ten songs from a single year and this week it’s the turn of 2002.

For previous top ten tunes, please click on the year: 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

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The Queen celebrates her Golden Jubilee by having dinner with current British Prime Minister Tony Blair and 4 former British Prime Ministers. I mean….I could probably think of better ways to have a knees up.

In 2002, Princess Margaret- the Queen’s sister- dies, 13yr old Amanda Dowler goes missing on her way home from school- her body is later found in woodlands and a murder investigation is launched, The Queen Mother dies aged 101, Potters Bar rail crash in London kills 7 people, the Commonwealth Games is hosted in Manchester, the Queen celebrates her Golden Jubilee, in Soham, Cambridgeshire 10yr old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman go missing and later their bodies are found– the caretaker at their school Ian Huntley is charged with their murder and his girlfriend Maxine Carr is arrested for perverting the course of justice, two nightclubs in Bali are bombed and kill 202 people (26 of which were British), Moors murderer Myra Hindley dies at 60 of a heart attack, Girls Aloud is formed as five female contestants win TV talent show Popstars the Rivals, over 50% of the UK population now have access to the internet, Chechen rebels take 800 theatregoers hostage in Moscow and threaten to blow up the theatre- 3 days later special forces storm the theatre which results in the deaths of 128 hostages and 41 rebels, two snipers in Washington DC kill 10 people and injure 3, East Timor gains independence from Indonesia, expelled student goes on shooting rampage and kills 13 teachers in Germany, the films The Pianist, Chicago, The Bourne Identity, About Schmidt, Gangs of New York, City of God and 8 Mile are all released and I turn 26 years old.

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2002 was exciting for me as not only did I get to see our Kylie live in concert this year, I also worked very hard in my first professional musical stage show. 10 weeks of 4 hour performances of non-stop dancing and singing 8 times a week plus struggling to eat properly is one way of exhausting yourself in a way that I could never imagine. And I loved every minute of it. Anyway, lots of new faces this as week and a few old (Tori is back). So, here’s my favourite top ten tunes from 2002, in no particular order.

1. Hot in Herre by Nelly

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2. Freak Like Me by Sugababes

3. Just a Little by Liberty X

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4. Just Like a Pill by P!nk

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5. The Zephyr Song by Red Hot Chili Peppers

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6. A Sorta Fairytale by Tori Amos

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7. It Takes More by Ms. Dynamite

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8. Lose Yourself by Eminem

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9. Beautiful by Christina Aguilera

10. Gold by Beverley Knight

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Ms. Dynamite is my favourite this week. What happened to her? She was absolutely fantastic. You know the score by now, tell me your favourite out of that lot now please.

See you next week for 2003!

 

 

 

How To Break Up With Your Phone- week 4

I’m currently following the How To Break Up With Your Phone plan as featured in the book (of the same title) by Catherine Price. You can read about the previous weeks of the plan by clicking these links: WEEK 1  WEEK 2  WEEK 3. Now it’s week 4 and the FINAL WEEK, here’s what I had to do every day this week.

Week Four- Your New Relationship

Day 22- Trial Separation Recap. What did I observe about myself and my behaviour and emotions in the 24hrs? I felt a lot more “in the moment” and I didn’t have that sensation of feeling “rushed” all the time. I felt like my concentration was a lot better too.

What do these observations make me think about? What do I think when I reflect not he experience? That living your life constantly behind a screen, is no life.

How do I feel about my phone now and my relationship with it? My relationship with it has been very unhealthy. I think I still have work to do. I still need to be mindful all the time. However, I weirdly like my phone more now than when I used it all the time. I appreciate the usefulness of it without out letting it suck me in and distract me from everything.

What questions to have about phones and my phone usage now I’ve been through the trial separation? How would I cope without a smartphone and just an old-fashioned flip phone. I think it might be a beautiful thing. I’m also wondering how society might change if we all used our smartphones a lot less. How would the day be different if the whole world turned their phones off for 24hrs?

What was the hardest part of the trial separation? We needed the phone number to order takeaway pizza (a must for watching the Eurovision Song Contest), so we turned the iPad on for a brief minute to look it up then immediately turned it off again. I missed my smart phone’s usefulness, but really not that much. It was only that one occasion. I also also got anxious in the final hour as I knew I’d have a few messages waiting for me from friends and I just wanted to really see them by that point.

What was the best part? I interacted and played with my daughter so much for than I normally would on a Saturday. This was by far the best part. Plus I felt freer. I suddenly had all this free time and I could do whatever I liked with it. That was lovely.

What surprised me? That I really didn’t miss my phone. It was only that final hour that I wanted to use it.

What did I learn from the trial separation that I can use once the break-up plan is over? That I don’t need it anywhere near as much as I think I do. That messages and comments will all be waiting for me when I pick my phone up and that I don’t need to be immediately replying to people all the time. That more fun things happen without my phone. This is the most important thing I learnt.

Day 23- Phast. Catherine suggests that taking short phone “phasts” are as important as a long one. Today, she suggests that at some point in the day I allocate an hour where I’ll turn my phone off again and go without. Full disclosure gang, I completely forgot to check what I was meant to do on the plan today, BUT I didn’t check my phone past 8pm on this day, so you could say I took my mini phast then. Catherine suggests we do mini phasts every day until the end of the plan. The more regularly one phasts, the less likely we’ll be drawn to our phones. She also says it’s important not to punish ourselves. We should never ask “when shall I force myself to go without my phone?”, rather we should ask “when would I like to go without my phone?”. Therefore, leaving your phone behind when you go for a walk or going out for dinner might be a nice idea (I know, if you’re a parent of a young child, this isn’t a reality, but you could always make the conscious decision not to use your phone during those times).

Day 24- Manage Your Invitations. So today isn’t about managing physical invitations. It’s about managing the invitations that our brain sends us. For example, “ooh you’re bored, why don’t you pick up your phone and check social media”. Today, is about revising the Stop, Breathe and Be method. She suggests we also extend this into non-phone activities. Instead of reacting to something immediately (i.e. someone cuts you off in traffic), she suggests stopping, taking a breath, thinking about the possible alternative ways you could react and choose how you’d like to react. You’ll be proud of me in the doctors, instead of playing on my phone whilst in the waiting room. I just sat and let myself be. It was strangely nice. Now to extend that into non-phone activities.

Day 25- Clean Up The Rest of Your Digital Life. Today, I’m looking how to tidy up any other remains parts of digital life. Namely:

  • Unsubscribe from any emails I don’t want to receive anymore. Very soon companies will have to regain your permission to send you these junk emails, so the law may well do this job for me.
  • Use an email plug-in that controls how often I check my email. I don’t think I need to do this as I don’t check my email that often.
  • Create a ‘Needs Response’ folder. This can stop you from feeling overwhelmed when looking at my inbox. I did this one immediately. I also feel like I need to go through my emails and delete all old emails that I no longer need to keep. A general email clean-up is needed.
  • Set up a commerce email account. An email account for when you buy things. This isn’t a bad idea. My inbox will look cleaner and probably not so “large”.
  • Set up a VIP list of people who’s emails you don’t want to miss. Good plan, Stan. On it.
  • Set up an “important” email account for when you’re away on holiday. Set up an automated response that says you’re on holiday, but also that you won’t respond to any emails on your return and leave details of someone else they can contract instead during your absence. If they still really need a response from just you, tell them to send their email to the important email account. Apparently, when you get back you’ll be surprised by how many people don’t bother with your “important” email account. All of this reduces the huge email pile-up you get when you go on holiday. I personally, don’t need to do this though. Would your workplace, allow you to do this?
  • Within social media, unfollow people you no longer care about or whose posts make you feel bad. Create lists of people with regards to how you know them i.e. friends, family, colleagues etc. So you can control who sees which posts of yours. This is a very good idea.
  • Use automatic drive modes that disable your phone whilst driving. I don’t drive, so don’t need to do this. However, I cannot abide people using their phones whilst driving, whatever the excuse is. People should pull in somewhere safely to use their phone if they really need to whilst on a journey.
  • Unlink your social media with other laps. Many sites give you the option to log in using your Facebook account. Apparently, you should never do this and if you have- unlink them. Luckily, I’ve never done this.

All these small digital clean-up tips help alleviate the stress that your digital life can have.

Day 26- Check Your Checking. Every time you go to reach for your phone, ask yourself “What is the best thing that can happen as a result of me checking my phone?”. What’s the best email I could receive? The best piece of news? The best notification? Then ask yourself: what’s the likelihood of any of this happening? Chances are: very low indeed. It’s probably more likely you’ll see something that’ll stress you out. Also, try using other people using their phones as a cue not to use yours. For example, when you’re in a lift and everyone is reaching for their phones. Take a deep breath and ask yourself what it is you want to pay attention right now. It really doesn’t need to be your phone.

Day 27- Digital Sabbath Life Hacks. Catherine encourages us to think about doing a regular digital sabbath. It doesn’t have to be every week. It can be just once a month. Also, you don’t have to turn all devices off. The idea is to personalise your digital sabbath into whatever works for you. I think I might just do a monthly one, but turn everything off. I enjoyed my trial separation and I also liked the challenge to fill my time non-digitally. Here are some life hacks to make the digital sabbath easier:

  • Untangle your devices (buy an alarm clock, think about getting separate music devices etc)
  • Create a “house phone” (instead of chucking an old phone when you upgrade. Keep it purely as a tool. This way you can hide away your actual smartphone, but have the “house phone” on hand to do the useful things)
  • Use your phone’s suspension modes
  • Customise your do not disturb settings
  • Download maps ahead of time
  • Get a landline
  • Downgrade to a dumbphone (I’ve actually thought about this. To go back to life before a smartphone would be pretty amazing, but for now I’ll stick to my smartphone and see how I get on the aftermath of this plan)
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment (it’s all about adopting the habits that work for you. Not everything in this book is going to work for you. See what does and what does not)

***Gang, I have to tell you, I seriously regressed today and the next day. This is probably due to attending the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards and -ahem- winning a prize and dealing with lots of lovely messages. Did I tell you I got the runner-up prize in my category? Did I not mention that? No? Never mind, you can read a bit more about it HERE. Disgusting brag over. Soz***

Day 28- The Seven Phone Habits of Highly Effective People

So now let’s check-in to see if I have healthy phone habits:

  • I have healthy phone routines. I need to answer the following questions to establish these routines and to also continue practising them to ensure that these habits become second nature.

Where do you charge my phone? Downstairs.

At what time do you put it away at night? 9pm. Don’t bother trying to contact me after that time.

When do you check it for the first time after you wake up? An hour after I wake up. However, I think during term time, I need to make that after I drop my daughter off at school as me checking my phone before then still delays me leaving the house.

Where do you keep your phone when you’re at work? On my desk, in sight. I have a young child at school, so that’s never going to change.

Where do you keep your phone when you’re at home? Still in reach, but after 9pm out of reach. I think I need to keep it out of reach at certain times during the day though.

Where do you keep your phone at mealtimes? Not at the table anymore. I can still see it though and reach it if needs be. I should probably move it out of sight.

Where do you carry your phone? In my coat pocket.

What do you use your phone for? Social media, checking my blog, Spotify, shopping, occasionally tools.

What are the situations that you have decided that you don’t use your phone? Waiting in queues, waiting to pick my daughter up from somewhere, in the company of someone.

Which apps are tools that enrich or simplify your life? Sky TV, weather, camera, Google Maps, SecureSafe, Podcasts, Spotify, Health and my calendar.

Which apps do you know are dangerous/the most likely to suck you in? Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but I don’t have them as apps anymore. I only access them via the browser. Also, Wikipedia and IMDb can suck me in too.

Based on the previous question, which apps have you blocked? I haven’t blocked any yet, but like I said, I have deleted Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • I have manners, and I know how to use them. Questions again.

Where do you keep your phone and how do you use it when you are:

Spending time with people? If I’m socialising with friends, it’s away out of sight. I still need to work on this in the presence of my family. I have been keeping my phone in a different room when with my daughter after school.

Watching a movie or TV? Sometimes, it’s in reach and sometimes it’s out of reach. I’m getting much better at not picking it up when watching TV though. I need to still work on this a little bit.

Having a meal? No phones at the table is a hard and fast rule now. I need to probably put it more out of sight still.

Driving a car? I don’t drive.

In classes, lecture or meetings? Out of sight.

  • I cut myself a break. Ok so my old habits reared their ugly head this past weekend, but Catherine advices to forgive yourself quickly if this happens and move on. She also suggests allowing yourself some guilt-free time to aimlessly scroll through the internet to give yourself a break. Allowing yourself some guilt-free time on the phone will actually help avoid bingeing. Catherine suggests thinking of a time in the day for this phone time. It might be a good idea for me to do it when my daughter has first gone to bed.
  • I phast. I need to establish how and when I will phast. I intend to do a 24hrs phast once a month and when I’m on holiday (as much as possible).
  • I have a life. Now, I have to think of constructive ways to spend my time instead of being on the phone. I think I’ve mentioned these before, but they will be reading, walking (when my body allows me to), baking, singing and writing.
  • I practice pausing. Why is it important to practice stillness? I think to allow your brain bit of space and recharge the batteries. What will I do when I find myself with a bit of downtime? If it’s just a few minutes, then I just be and look around my surroundings. Looking up, I have learned is a good thing. If it’s several hours, then I will do any of the above things listed.
  • I exercise my attention. What will I do to rebuild my attention span? Read, always just do one thing at a time and remember to meditate for at least 5 minutes a day (I keep on forgetting- sorry Catherine!)

Day 29- Keep Yourself on Track. Once a month, I have to check in with myself and run through these questions:

What parts of your relationship with your phone are going well?

What things about the relationship with your phone do you want to change? What’s one thing you could do to start?

What are you doing or could do to strengthen your focus?

What are your goals for the next 30 days?

What fun plans could you make to spend time with people you care about?

Have you reinstalled any of the apps that you previously deleted, let your phone back into your bedroom or turned notifications back on? If so, does it feel like the right decision (no judgement)?

What do you want o pay attention in your life?

I have to set a date in my calendar (yes it is fine to use the calendar on your phone) to ensure I go through these questions each month.

Day 30- Congratulations. I’ve done it! I’ve completed the 30 day How To Break Up With Your Phone plan. I am mighty proud of myself. So now, I need to think about my achievements and write a note to myself. I have to say, I still need to work on certain areas. In particular, where I leave my phone during the day, phubbing my family and watching TV, but even those areas are better than what they were. Here’s my note using the prompts that Catherine provides:

  • I used to think my phone…was indispensable and a boredom reliever. Now I think…it’s generally a waste of time and brain power, but it does have its uses at times.
  • I’ve learned that…my phone rarely relieves boredom and it makes me frustrated. That my attention span is diminshing.
  • I’m happy to know that…I actually don’t know what this prompt means. Do you?
  • I’m proud of myself for…easily doing the 24 hours phast, not touching my phone after 9pm, during certain situations and during mealtimes.

The Actions I Took That I think Helped Me Most:

  • Sorting my apps into different folders and organising my homepage
  • Deleting my social media apps
  • Being mindful of the times I always reach for my phone
  • Rules surrounding when my phone is off limits (at mealtimes, after 9pm, the first hour I’m awake)
  • Leaving my phone downstairs at night

How Have I Changed Since Starting This Programme

  • I can sense a slight improvement in my attention span
  • I am less frustrated
  • I am more productive
  • I am interacting with my family much more at home (this is the best thing to come out of completing the plan).

Thank you so much for joining me throughout this plan. Now, if you haven’t already, buy this book. It will change your life.

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Now, is probably the right time to mention that I’ll shortly be taking bit of a blogging break. I’ll still be doing my weekly music posts and the occasional other pre-planned post over the next few months, but it’s a good time in my life to free my time up a bit and concentrate on other projects. I’ll be back though, my friends. Thank you for all of your support so far on this blogging journey.

Annual Bloggers Bash- EXCITING NEWS!

Gang, this morning I am writing a post the I did NOT think I would be writing, but here I am. Some of you may recall that I was nominated for a blogging award in the “Best Pal” category. Well, I had the pleasure of attending the Annual Bloggers Bash on Saturday and can now tell you with great pleasure- Just Another Blog From a Woman got the RUNNER-UP PRIZE. I CAME THIRD!!!!!!! Look how excited I am about this, I’ve put several exclamation marks and everything! I am absolutely overwhelmed that this little blog here managed to rack up enough votes to come third. I do work so very hard, so receiving this recognition is so very special to me.

And I’m mainly here, blathering on, to thank each and everyone of you that voted for me. You have made this little woman very happy indeed. You are all sexy, superstars- THANK YOU.

Also, I want to thank the awards committee who work so hard to put these awards together. I was very lucky to meet them all and I can confirm they are all very lovely (and yes sexy) people.

Lastly, I just want to shout out to my fellow nominees who are all wonderful people and bloggers. It was a very tough category and as much as this sounds like a cliche, you know that we are all winners.

Big love to everyone and a big, fat THANK YOU to you all.

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Cheers!

And for a list of all the winners in all the categories click HERE