Music – My Guilty Pleasures

What's hiding in your collection?

What’s hiding in your collection?

They are the songs on your iPod you never skip, the artist you purposefully listen to Magic or Smooth FM for in the hope they pop up and once in your head they are there for days, and you love it. We all have them and most of the time we would never, ever let anyone know about them, because frankly, they’re just not cool.
I love music, and growing up in a house where your parents constantly played the likes of Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Clash and Public Image Ltd, I didn’t really have a choice. In turn, I now have a fervent love of music with the likes of Interpol, The Vaccines, Alt-J and of course, Bowie, rating high on my iTunes playlist.
My family is a big, musical influence on me and not one of us can play an instrument. I have a grandfather who knows Johnny Cash’s entire back catalogue, one uncle with a deep-rooted passion for Ultravox and Depeche Mode, and another who has seen Gary Numan so many times it’s turning into triple digits; that’s why it almost pains me to admit there are just some songs I love and have no explanation for as to why.

I hope I can ask for their forgiveness.

You may be wondering why I am even writing about something so darn cringey, but frankly it’s so you can share your guilty, musical pleasures too and make me feel less of a fool; so please comment the most brilliantly, awful songs you cannot live without.

Limp Bizkit – Break stuff
Pretty much the best song to have a freak out to. I know when writing my dissertation I would hit the dreaded writer’s block and end up in a spiral of thinking I would never achieve anything in life, ever. That I would be left writing the blimming thing until I keeled over with notes about parachute journalism and Syria surrounding my body. But this little number would perk me right up; played loud on my headphones I would zone out for a few minutes and instantly feel better after a few choice swear words. It’s also a cracker to get you through the last five minutes of any exercise; I still use it now in the final sprint back to my flat. The maddening mixture of a thousand symbols and a couple of f-bombs sure puts you in the mood to push yourself and the song has even helped me achieve a personal, running best. Cheers Limp.

Phixx – Hold on me
So these guys are so awful, they were the rejects from One True Voice. Don’t remember them? Well they were the guys that were constructed on Popstars:The Rivals and the male equivalent of Girls Aloud; we all know what happened to the latter. Well, in a fine middle-fingered salute to the judges who passed them over, they formed their own band and oddly enough scored more Top 100 hits than OTV.
‘Hold on me’ is your straight-forward pop song; verse, chorus, verse, chorus, a little instrumental bridge bit then followed by a chorus to fade. It’s dire, but it has the catchiest lyrics and high notes that you should really only attempt when alone, like the car. Give it a listen and see how far you get before de-friending me on Facebook.
Also, the video is just as ridiculous. Writhing, oiled up men who despite trying to look sexy, look nothing less than uncomfortable and cold.

Will Young – All time love
I like to think it was my soul hatred of Gareth Gates combined with my new-found knowledge of the redial button on the house phone that allowed Will to win Pop Idol. I could quite easily listen to a Will Young ‘best of…’ album and I’m pretty sure I have borrowed mums from time to time, but it is this song that just makes me well up every time. The opening chords alone give me goosebumps and by the time he actually starts singing a tear has fallen. It’s just plain beautiful and one of the few songs I refuse to sing along to; I slaughter most with my voice, but on this record, I leave it all to Will.
Just don’t listen to it when you’re a little on the low side, if you’re like me, it will destroy you.

One Direction
I need to take a moment to just apologise to everyone on the NCTJ Mag course, for nearly every week in our portfolio lessons I would almost certainly sing something from One Direction. My version of ‘Kiss You’ even got quite violent when I couldn’t physically stop doing the ‘na na na’s.’
In general, we all loved a sing-song and being a small group I felt we managed to harmonise quite well, especially when it came to Conor Maynard and Disclosure. But my love for One Direction, unlike most young teens and cougars, it has nothing to do with what the band look like, just their highly addictive pop songs! Yet, as a side note, Liam’s buzz cut due to breaking up with his missus just isn’t a good look. That just about worked for my Secondary School English teacher who did exactly the same thing and that’s because he was already naturally beautiful, his shaved head just made all us girls think he was even more of a romantic.
But I digress, every song, and I mean every song, they release I will sing for days; earlier this evening I gave a beautiful rendition of their Comic Relief single to no one in particular whilst making a curry. Although the kitchen door was open so cats probably listened in.
They are the one band on this list I actually want to see live and do you know how embarrassing that is for me to admit. Then again it beats dying in one of Limp Bizkits ‘walls of death’ or propping up a couple of mums after a few too many white wine spritzers at Will Young.
Just bear with me on this one, I’m sure I’ll be just as much of a sucker for the next big boy band that come along.

Taylor Swift – I knew you were trouble
Totes awkward coming straight after One D, but have you not heard “I knew you were trouble?”
Again, my total adoration came for this song after one very long day of radio editing, where some fellow NCTJ-ers and I ended up refreshing the YouTube page about 19 times.
It’s the definition of a good pop song, like early Britney Spears stuff, where the bridge builds up into a great shouty chorus that is almost troop-rallyingly brilliant.
It’s the only Swift song that I can sit through, most of the time I have a compulsion to just chop her fringe off, and frankly, it’s so overplayed on Radio One that I won’t be hating on it for some time. Just skip the first few minutes of the video, Taylor bangs on about god knows what whilst playing with a Trilby and I have a hatred for talking in songs. I’m looking at you Usher. Yeah man.

…and not so guilty.

Bastille
I stumbled onto this by accident one YouTube session about two weeks ago and it has stuck ever since. I love a drum roll and choral backing singers so I really was onto a winner with their single, ‘Pompeii.’
So excited for the album release on Monday 4th, it’s unreal.

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Just don’t vom before you get there.

wordpress3Interviews, they can make the most solid, self-assured individual turn into a sweaty wreck. You stutter, pull at your clothes, wring your hands and I can almost guarantee you that special voice you save for teachers, strangers and possibly your local priest, is about to become your interview voice. Mine drops an octave, becomes ever so slightly raspy and on some occasions makes me pronouce ‘yes’ as ‘yar;’ I’m from Essex not Kensington.

This isn’t about to become a list of do’s and don’t’s at interviews, there’s already far too many of them sprawled across the internet, tantilising you with their promises of successful tips and tricks; no, this is more of a first hand account of how my interview went today and what I wish I hadn’t done. With a couple of extras (not tips!) thrown in for good measure.

So, first interview after finishing my NCTJ diploma and I have got to make a good impression, I know, I will arrive early. We have all thought of this! Ten minutes early and we look so eager for the job we practically scream ‘just give it to us here and now.’ Also, travel time. What if trains are late or you think last night’s Google map may just let you down at the last minute and Green Street is completely blocked off by road works, where will you go then? Extra time for yourself to get there and make yourself look good is a must, but not a whole hour. I spent a chilly 55 mins loitering near the offices of my interview. I played Candy Crush, a ludicrously new iPhone game, for a little while until my thumbs gave into frost bite and then just walked up and down past an office window like I was about to take a hit out on it.

I could have gone for a coffee, I did bring my new book with me (American Psycho if you were wondering) but here I met problem two; my new shoes wouldn’t let me move fast or even like a normal person. Interviews usually make us do one of two things: wear our most trusted suit or dress or savagely attack the town centre in the hopes of finding that ‘hire me’ outfit. I opted for the second and bought new shoes; worst decision ever. They were ever so slightly too big on the left foot so I was flapping around before turning my hobble into a limp; I even constructed a story in my head if anyone decided to stop and question me over my Monty Python shuffle, “I recently fell off a horse and knocked my hip out of joint. I’ve just had surgery and would appreciate you not bringing attention to my lop-sided trundle.”

My third problem, which will only relate to some of you with as hideous eye sight as mine, is forgetting your glasses. Arriving at Liverpool Street to have no clue what train to get home was a nightmare. No matter how close I got to those neon, flip boards, I had no clue what train or platform I should head to. So, I just sauntered, or rather flip-flopped past all the platforms until I found one heading to Harlow.

I got home safe and sound, with a fairly decent interview under my belt, and I thought what better way to boost the morale of the young and unemployed then to re-tell my tale of what they shouldn’t do before, and after, an interview.

Also, having chatted to an interview specialist over the phone this evening (my boyfriend) he too had a couple of little extras to impart on you guys.

  • Anti-persperant your hands before an interview – it stops your palms sweating and means you won’t leave your interviewer all drippy and nauseous looking.
  • Don’t lie about your skills on your CV – saying you’re great at excel only to then have to take a test in it there and then will have you heading for the door.
  • Think of the interviewer in their underwear. It’s an oldie but a goodie, just don’t get the giggles at the image of Mr. Smith in his tighty-whities.

And finally, if all fails, and you are shaking with fear and apprehension just keep re-reading that text your friend sent you simply saying, “Just don’t vom before you get there.”

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You better Berlin it!

Walking onto theberleen platform of Augsburger Strasse is like strolling headstrong into a swarm of bees. The noise is incredible, with bodies everywhere; and frankly it’s rather wonderful. It doesn’t have the harsh, angry atmosphere of Liverpool Street; it’s calm, coffee tinted and very European.
I have had a rather unhealthy obsession with Germany, especially Berlin, for as long as I can remember. I love how one place can be the epicentre for some of the most evil atrocities in human kind, but also be the venue for some of the most internationally recognised fairs and festivals; fashion week, the Christopher-Streete Gay Parade and the Berliner Filmfestspiele (festival) to name a few.
Berlin has risen from its swampy heritage to become one of the most profound military centres the world has ever seen; it’s so rich in history that it can be found dripping from every building and every side street. With a penchant for the past dating back to my toddler self, I have held Berlin as the epitome of my perfect foreign destination. Therefore stepping onto the Augsburger Strasse platform on the first day of my German adventure in March last year left me with a gloriously heady feeling.
My arrival in Berlin was only made greater when realising where my boyfriend and I would be staying. The Swissotel, which is located in the middle of Ausberger Strasse, is above an enormous three – floored C&A’s meaning you needed to take two lifts before reaching the reception; our room, was then another five floors up. Whilst our surroundings were rather hedonistic, Jacuzzi bath and free mini bar, it was the view that was the most rewarding.
From the great height you could spy on most of Berlin; the Kaiser-Wilhelm- Gedächtnis-Kirche, a famous, ruined church tower was just to the right of our hotel, and the patisserie – lined street below meant we could pry on what the locals had for breakfast.
Some of it however, was not quite as pleasant. One evening before heading into the fabulous, boho district of Mitte, I discovered you could see straight into the changing rooms of the Fitness First opposite. They were either a very liberal gym or had no idea that 14 floors up, glass walls did not offer the most private surroundings when towel drying.
Another remarkable, Germanic feature of the hotel was that an eccentric piece of art would be placed on each floor; usually bang outside the elevator doors. Coming face to face with three, garishly painted, life size cows when sober was shocking enough, but after a few Pilsners the sight was simply petrifying.
Berlin seemed to house many little eccentricities that the average eye would probably miss; not through lack of trying , there were just such a plethora of fascinating features that some of the lesser quirks could go unnoticed. For starters, a dog was never on its lead; Dobermans to Dachshunds, they would all be seen walking diligently by their owners side, knowing when to stop at traffic lights or to paw their way into their masters hand bags when things got crowded.
Then there were the cycling bars where up to eight people could be seen working in tanked up unison, peddling their garden shed of a pub around Berlin’s hotspots; constantly moving and drinking.
And finally there was the rather unappetising sounding, Currywurst. Frankly put, it’s a bratwurst covered in lashings of spicy, curry sauce which you aim to mop up with a bargain – looking white roll. It looks and smells confusing, it even tastes confusing, but I promise you, realising you actually like it is the most baffling of all. If you fancy testing one out soon, London’s South Bank Christmas Fair (held this year between 16th November and December 24th) has a reputable stall where you can stock up on curried sausage.
At the risk of sounding like I ate and drank my way through the wonders of Berlin, there really were some remarkable attractions that could not be missed, and a great way of seeing them was on a walking tour. We used http://www.berlinwalks.com where prices start from €12.00 and you could choose from ten walking tours that took anything up to ten hours. As first timers we chose the ‘Discover Berlin’ tour and saw nearly everything the city had to offer. The main sights included Hitler’s bunker, the Reichstag, the Brandenburg Tor and Pariser Platz; Checkpoint Charlie, East Berlin and the Berlin Wall; Bebelplatz where the Nazis burnt masses of books in 1933, and the Holocaust Museum where 2711 paving slabs have been poignantly designed to mark the Jewish massacre.
Berlin seemed very open about its past and this could be seen in East Berlin’s Jewish Museum. The spectacular building designed by Daniel Libeskind showcased the tenuous relationship between the German and Jewish cultures, and how Judaism had a profound impact on the Berlin we all love today. Rather harrowingly there was an empty, cold room located in a small corner of the museum where upon entering there was only one square window of light. It was meant to signify the loss of Jewish values due to the Holocaust, but in the back of your mind, you couldn’t help but think of its evocation of the Nazi gas chambers.
Other must see visits included the Nelles Museum where you could see the cast of Nefertiti’s head, and Berlin Zoo which is one of the biggest in the world. The use of moats instead of fencing can be alarming however, especially when the big cats seem to have their grump on and look menacingly at you like you’re lunch.
The Olympic Park is a superb attraction and you must visit it even if there are no scheduled sporting events. Whilst the rest of the 1936 Olympic Park has gone to ruin, the main arena was both astonishing and slightly intimidating. The high seating made you grip onto the railings for dear life, but it was the profound history of the site especially that of the infamous Jesse Owens, that was truly breath taking.
Leaving Berlin was almost painful; I’d fallen in love with a city I’d always longed for. It is a beautiful metropolis that seemed to combine the bohemian with the industrial perfectly and never once was I made to feel like just another tourist. I intend to return because I can’t honestly believe I have seen half of what this amazing city has to offer. I still pine for it every day.

The seasonal items we must all try once…

Christmas and New Ywp2ear signals many things to many people; foods, friends, good cheer and a drunken uncle to name a few. But for many women, it’s all about the fashion. We all know what works for us at this festive time, usually something black and with enough elasticity to allow us to consume a few extra mince pies. Well, I’ve had enough of my little black dress and am on a quest to make you feel the same; be outrageous, be creative and throw on something you would never normally wear. We’re imaginative with our tinsel laden trees but never ourselves; it’s the same novelty jumper year in, year out. So follow these steps, and do something completely different; it could be your best Christmas yet.

A hand muff:
Every woman’s must-have in the 1900s but now it’s something most fashionistas snort at. Not only are they practical but the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana used to rock a hand muff and they were considered some of the most glamorous icons of their time. They ooze of sophistication and when paired with a simple ensemble, they become a fabulous statement piece. Why not wear one carol singing this year or to midnight mass – it will definitely be a conversation starter.

A leather dress:
This may have you running for the hills, but the leather dress is something every woman should try at least once; we’re talking buttery leather (featured in Topshop, Zara and Warehouse) that glides across the skin, not PVC belonging to cat woman. You don’t need to have it super tight; peplum and prom style dresses are far more elegant than skin tight leather, and it will add a modern twist to the somewhat mundane LBD.

A feathered headband:
Christmas is a time to go crazy with accessories, especially head wear. We can all rock a beanie hat and, in some cases, a snood, but headbands are a sure fire way of getting yourself noticed for all the right reasons. Feathers have travelled through the seasons on dresses, capes and even necklaces, so why not add some to your head to liven up a simple everyday outfit. Head to Accessorize to stock up on feathered goods.

Glittering Nail Varnish:
Sparkly nails are the ultimate festive must have. Whether they are the professional acrylic ones or a DIY job from Barry M, they will last well into January. They can brighten up any outfit and if you choose a simple silver or gold hue they will go with anything.

A cape coat:
Without risking the appearance of a Marvel comic character, cape coats can transform your everyday winter wardrobe into something straight out of Paris Vogue. It can be a tricky coat to pull off, but whether you opt for something double breasted or with a kick flare, most body shapes can look stunning. Also, due to their somewhat barrelled appearance they hide all manner of sins; just what you need after your umpteenth turkey sandwich. Cape coats can be found anywhere from Debenhams, to Asos to Chanel; so whatever your bank balance there’s no excuse.

Thigh high boots:
The shorter girl may want to skip this point; as one myself, a knee high boot once reached the top of my leg, with room to spare. If you’re lucky to be over 5ft 6, then get your hands on a pair of these; Topshop offer some well-priced beauties that make you look like you belong in the VIP section of Whiskey Mist, not roaming the street corner outside it. Once again, soft leather is advised as anything tighter could cut off blood circulation.

Rockabilly Shirt:
This is the season to dress up and even casual wear needs to look a little fancier during the holidays. A rockabilly shirt is a casual nod to all things cowboy and can be thrown on over jeans, maxi dresses, leggings, the lot. River Island, Isabel Marant and Proenza Schouler house some beautiful Western pieces.

Psychedelic trousers:
You’ve been eyeing them up for months but are scared to look like a seventies throwback. Yet, with a simple white tee and leather jacket, these trews can look pretty amazing. When set against the dismal, grey backdrop of English weather, they are a sight to behold, and Christmas is all about getting noticed. Zara currently have some beautiful pieces as do Miu Miu and Marc Jacobs.

Sparkling eye make-up:
With Christmas comes New Year’s Eve and the chance to display some creative flare. You can play it safe with a smoky eye, adding some glittery flecks, or go all out with rainbow colours. Bobbi Brown is the only place you should go for such make up; whilst they may be a little pricey, cheaper versions can slide off your face leaving you looking like a crazed, sugar plum fairy.

Brocade Jacket:
The ornate applique jacket will give you more va va voom than any Italian model; slung over a simple, shift dress or layered over a t-shirt and skinnies, it’s a showstopper. If your wallet can stretch any further after all that Christmas shopping, then look to Stella McCartney or Christopher Kane. If not, Asos and Next house some fairly stunning pieces.

I would love to know what you are all sporting this festive season, be you male or female, so please reply which any suggestions or ideas.

Happy New Year!

If you’re not overstuffed…

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A la carte doesn’t seem to cut it anymore; who wants one sense fulfilled when all five could be whipped into a frenzy. Here’s my guide to the restaurants that offer more than your average prawn cocktail; they sit you in darkness, have trapeze artists fly over your head and serve nothing but garlic vodka shots. They push the boundaries and fortunately we get to witness and taste the results. If you’re a foodie thrill seeker or simply want better dinner conversation, these top five unusual eats are sure to get your tongues wagging.

1-      The Supper Club

For The Supper Club, freedom is their key word. They mix all the finer things in life together to create a rather potent cocktail of splendour; and that’s before you have even eaten anything. The Supper Club, based in Notting Hill, boasts a pleasing display of food tied in with music, performances and some rather illustrious – looking king size beds; these you can keep well into the night depending on how many drinks you decide to taste test.

 

The restaurant prides itself on its theatrics, where performers, staff members and DJ’s are all specially selected from famous art schools such as the Rietveld Academy. Creative performance director, Zjef van Bezouw says that every evening holds a difference performance and that visitors are more than welcome to join in the live show.

 

What about the food? This ranges from foie gras, to satay soup; seared tuna loin to beef fillet. Price? A set price of £49.50 covers the carefully selected menu as well as all the evening’s entertainment.

 

2-      Garlic & Shots

The Soho based bar and restaurant prides itself on its casual take on food and drink, earning itself an almost cult following. Nearly 101 vodka – based shots are up for grabs and all meals are heavily laced with garlic, no surprise where their name came from.

 

Garlic & Shots is probably not ideal for a first date or cosy meal out with the family. They play anything from heavy metal to rhythm and blues; the bar is decorated with coffins and candle wax drips from the walls. If you want a night out with friends or a more exciting venue for drinks after work, this is your place. It’s an offbeat bar that promises not a whole lot, but delivers a pretty memorable night out.

What about the food? Comforting food ranging from shrimp and cheese covered nachos to reindeer stew. Price? £20 will set you up with a decent meal and several of their famous ‘Bloodshot’ shots.

3-      Dans le Noir

Dans le Noir is a restaurant that thrives in the darkness; a purely sensorial experience where never once do you see your food and your waiters are blind due to their greater sense of spatial awareness. Restaurant goers are led to a completely blacked out room where a previously chosen menu is presented to them; you can choose from vegetarian, meat eaters, seafood lovers, or the ever popular ‘Chef’s Surprise.’

 

Dans le Noir can be found in Clerkenwell, just off the Faringdon tube stop. They describe themselves as being the home of ‘fun, social and sensory experience,’ and they deliver just that. By sacrificing your eye sight you can really evaluate the taste and texture of the food presented; who knew sight was such a key player! Whilst the novelty of eating in the dark does draw in many customers, the food itself is just a delicious as the setting it is presented in.

 

What about the food? Sadly we can’t give you any exact details due to the secrecy of the menu, but there is rumour is a particularly amazing fillet steak.

Price? A set menu of a starter and main or a main and dessert start from £49; alcohol and tea/coffee is ordered separately.

4-      The Wapping Project

Set in an old hydraulic power station, the modern Euro food on offer juxtaposes beautifully against the industrial environment it is set against. The Wapping Project has created a restaurant out of a unique building, transforming a mass of steel and concrete into a breath-taking art space; original features such as pressure pipes and rusty chains sit alongside murals and local artists’ exhibitions as well as pink neon lights and incandescent chandeliers. The menu may not be all that varied, but the lunch and dinner menus are swapped twice daily so as to provide meals with the freshest of ingredients. At night the lights go down and the candles come out, creating a pretty incredible atmosphere to dine in.

 

What about the food? A very imaginative range that includes a lavender pannacotta and chick peas topped with scallops.

Price? Between £25-£40 per person.

5-      Circus

Circus is wonderful mixture of cocktail bar, restaurant and cabaret all rolled into one, big colourful spectacle.

 

Set in London’s West End, the Pan – Asian restaurant provides not just incredible food and drink, but also a place to escape the sometimes dreary, everyday drawl of London life. Acrobats, fire eaters and other acts synonymous with the circus perform in short bursts throughout the evening therefore keeping the customer on their toes (excuse the pun.) Six packs and gorgeous girls are an added bonus as well as residents DJ’s. It’s an exciting place to be a part of, if only for one evening.

All menus for both food and drink can be downloaded off their website.

What about the food? Tempura soft shell crab and the red pepper lamb chops seem to be a bit of a crowd pleaser.Price? Starting from £25 to anywhere in the three digit margin.

 

These are just some of my suggestions, but I would love to hear about some of the craziest places you have dined.

Get Funky.

For all those who may be wondering where my last morbid post left me, fear not I am alive and well. I must however, mention that I was in the grips of a major “funk” when writing my last blog, and I hope and pray I am finally coming out of it.

Funks are horrible, self-indulgent periods where we like nothing more than to “woe is me” all over the place; nothing seems to be going your way,everyone else has amazing lives and all you do is the same, monotonous routine. Frankly, this isn’t true and it’s taken me a good five weeks to figure that out. I like to put it down to the fact I had severe holiday blues coupled with the sudden and dramamtic loss of my fabulous Nanny Peg; but even in Nan’s last few days she made a point of telling me not to waste my life and in a rather cliched way, not to miss the enjoyment of little things. She herself led quite the illustrated existance, but enjoyed nothing more than walking around the garden centre with my grandad.

The point this post is trying to make is that, yes, other people will do more exciting things than you, but if you let it bother you and you get all “funky” like I have recently, you simply won’t enjoy anything else around you. Find the positive as hard as it can sometimes be, and try to only ever get funky on the dancefloor. Or when no ones looking.

When you don’t quite know what to do with your life.

ImageI finished Uni over two months ago, and still, when people ask me “What I want to do,” I have no legitimate response.

It’s not that I’m lazy or have no ambition, I genuinely don’t know where my life is heading. My 2:1 in Journalism would surely set me up for a decent enough job in a copy room somewhere, but in a mad state of seriously not knowning what to do I signed up for the NCTJ magazine fast track course at my nearby college.

Now this I am excited about. I love magazines and I love writing features, editing videos, working on page layouts. But with my excitement comes an awful dread of “What if I’m terrible at this?” “What if the other students have loads of work experience?” “What if they are all just better than me?”

I go through this rigmarole on a regular basis, and even I’m starting to get sick of hearing the same questions fly out of my mouth.

My problem is that I need to “man up,” I need to find my niche and get on with it. But when every Monday morning flies around and I look forward to another week of part time work, I wonder where I am going with my life.

I hardly think I am alone in this crazy state of mind and would love to hear from other people, possibly post grad students, about how they feel towards their bleak future; or how they intend to attack these dark thoughts of failure.

Always one step behind

Twitter currently seems like one giant, global party and my invitation has been lost in the post.

Try as I may I cannot get to grips with Twitter and have even enrolled a social media pro to teach me the how’s, what’s and when’s of being a professional ‘tweeter.” (@SuffolkSuzi – I’ve so far learnt how to name drop twitter style.)

Sadly this is not the first time I have lagged behind fashionable trends, be it the harem trouser or Pinterest; both give me a headache over what their actual purpose is. But also anything with an “i” in front of it, iPhone, iPad, iPod even, sends me back to cave man grunting and slapping.

Woe betide anyone that dares speak ill of Twitter, but I feel its hashtags have been forced upon me and my response is a subconcious refusal to learn it (@SuffolksSuzi has her work cut out for her.)

The same goes for Kindles and iPhone apps – I love reading books and buying newspapers and despite receiving a brank spanking new kindle (and gorgeous Cath Kidston case) for Christmas, I still find myself perusing the aisles of Waterstones. Nothing feels quite the same as a book, and as a budding writer, I want to see my work in print, not on someone’s “tablet.”

Yet, I will learn Twitter; I will try out the new Swedish method of running – Fartlek; and I will give the new “bra-let” a go. I will enjoy none of these things, but I will no longer be hiding in the shadows of those left one step behind.

Although, on a hypocritical note, I will be forgoing my love of books for toiletrees this Summer holiday – downloading the Fifty Shades of Grey triology rather than dragging them along means I can stock up on minitures.

 

For those also on the journey of discovery – a five minute guide on Twitter for beginners:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fp9fU9znZyw&feature=related

My Review of Mettle Brown Triple Plait Leather and Steel Bracelet

Now addicted to this site for gift ideas

By Sophie the site surfer from London on 3/20/2012

 

4out of 5

Pros: High Quality, Comfortable, Holds Shape

Cons: Difficult To Put On

Best Uses: Casual Wear, Night Out, Everyday

Describe Yourself: Casual Dresser

This was a present for my Dad, he loves natural materials so this product really stood out. It was a gift for his 50th, and he liked that he received something he could keep forever, hopefully this will! Only problem was figuring out how to put it on – it took 10 mins to realise it was a magnetic clasp.

(legalese)

How will magazines remain profitable in the digital age?

The Brits love a good magazine. This isn’t just a statement, but a fact. With over 3200 consumer titles to choose from, the Periodical Publishers Association has estimated that the average UK resident will buy 22 a year spending just over £40 (2009). Does this sounds familiar, or like me, does your intake of glossies seem to double each month? I’ll gladly put my hands up and surrender to the title of a magazine addict; I’ll buy anything with a shocking headline or a beautiful actress on the front cover.

However magazines, be it consumer, customer or Business to Business (B2B) are facing a threat from the dark and mysterious term of the “digital age.” We are continuously swept up in a fury of texting, tweeting, scrolling, tapping and clicking to get our daily fix of news, fashion, gossip and gadgets; and now with the introduction of the iPad and the growing success of the iPhone app, it seems plausible that we could witness the death of the printed word.

With the previous given statistics, it still seems that magazines as a whole are still profitable, but with the ever expanding range of media platforms, will they have to start generating income by means other than print?

This issue had turned many an editors’ head, with Victoria White of women’s monthly magazine Company stating, “the future of magazines means embracing new technology.” In the December edition of Company, White goes on to explain how they will be keeping up with the ever changing needs of their audience, and with little surprise that means looking to the likes of Twitter and Facebook.

The likes of these social networking sites were originally met with ground-breaking applause, with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg  having won multiple awards including Person of the Year by Time and having a movie made about his life. He’s only 27.

Whilst you won’t find many adolescents who aren’t hooked up to the Facebook drip, plenty of other people frown upon social networking  by saying it has taken over from the likes of good journalism. BBC and Sky News long gave in to the temptations of Twitter and now reporters tweet away their daily musings as well as the official sites uploading up to the minute news reporting. One glance over the BBC twitter homepage will set you up with the whole days Media Ethics Inquiry and not once do you have to run out and grab a paper.

It’s fair to say the introduction of the internet has played a big role in steering readers away from magazines and inviting them in to the luxurious world of quick and easy media coverage. Want that new photo of Lady Gaga falling over in an airport? Go to perezhilton.com. Or how about Chanel’s new Spring/Summer collection? Click onto elle.co.uk. With many queries, quibbles and questions a mere click away, what do magazines aim to do to survive, or more precisely, what should they be doing in order to survive?

Patrick Fuller, Group Director of the Motoring Division at Haymarket Publications, offers one solution and that’s by buying up other companies or brands so as to increase their audience mass. Speaking of pistonheads.com, a car based website, “(pistonheads) is quickly heading to be our biggest brand. We bought it with 650,000 views a month, we now hit 1.4 million.”  Also, previously in 2006, Werner Media bought the final 50% of shares to US Weekly which they didn’t already own. Yet, despite this, Fuller is also quick to state that whilst advertisers will, and do, buy into internet sites, “it’s still hard to make money from online.”

Another way is make your magazine a brand. This is hardly a new idea, but more and more magazines now have to pick up on brand extensions in order to keep a steady income. Company has introduced a new look website where readers can upload their “Street Style” and discuss features in that months magazine; FHM and Glamour hold their own awards ceremonies and Vogue offers discount make up and cinema tickets to subscribers. BBC are also more than just a TV and Radio institution; they offer a wide range of titles such as BBC Wildlife and the Radio Times showing that brand extension can work vice versa. If that doesn’t work you also have a couple of back up routes in partnerships, App revenue,  paid for online content such as The Times, advertising networks, auctions and online subscriptions. Knowing you have a steady stream of subscriber’s money dropping into the company’s cash cow each month sure helps the publisher sleep a little easier.

By offering the reader more variety, the magazine can in some ways ensure happy revenue for that month; but just offering a load of “free stuff” doesn’t always bring in the big bucks. Publishers need certainty, and with the threat of a double dip recession mixed in with the rise in broadband instalments, magazines will be hit hard tenfold.

However, recent research carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that even though 25-35 year olds were the biggest media consumers, they were also the highest buyers of hard copy magazines. This may point to a rather more affluent, younger generation, but alternatively, it may suggest that even when times are hard people want to enjoy a little luxury, and that’s where magazines can make their mark.

The beauty of the magazine is that it’s a niche. Each glossy cover, every tightly worded article has been crafted for the eyes of the buyer. Whilst it’s all well and good to open up these new and exciting means of communication between the writer and the reader, all the reader inevitably wants is a good read, a good laugh and a few moments of escapism.

This subject has not been overlooked despite many editors jumping aboard the virtual bandwagon. Julian Reed, Editor of Essex Life, is proud to say they have as of yet not been peer pressured into the world of social networking and that “magazines stand separate, people never go to it for an element of news, they go for the experience.” Fuller also backs this up saying “we have a reputation for quality, the web certainly is not a place for that.”

So, is there a future for magazines in this high speed, super bandwidth, digital age? I would think so. Magazines have a specific and individual voice that makes its readers return week after week, month after month; and with magazines still launching in a poor economic climate i.e. Ian Rankin’s fashion and arts magazines Hunger, it seems that people still like to, and still want to, buy into that voice.

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