Love, Lies and Eastern Europeans; A Practical Guide to Romance

6 Dec

My first trip to Liverpool

I am still relatively new to the area where I live (2 years and a few weeks) I love this city but I came here by accident really. If you believe in fate then that could be held accountable I suppose. Moving here was potentially the most stupid thing I have ever done.
I met a man in Brighton we became friends and then he moved back home to Liverpool. Within 3 months I had started a long distance relationship, ditched my job and my flat and the life I had made for myself, eventually moving 300 miles to a city I had only visited a handful of times to move in with this person. It all seems impulsive and romantic but in reality it could have blown up in my face and left me jobless and homeless, full of regrets. I would never advise somebody to do it because there are very few success stories in this category. The best advice I would give anyone considering a similar move is so far from romance it is ridiculous. Remain sensible. This is laughable given the context but when it comes to any relationship you have to tell your emotions to just shut up for a second. Being sensible is not sexy or alluring but it is a bloody good way to protect yourself. I had to brush away all the Hollywood ideals I had about love and romance and decide that in reality life can be a lot less shiny. Despite being bombarded by ‘reality’ tv as a western society we are so willing to believe the rubbish we see in books and films. The success of Twilight is a great example of the nonsense we will devour. Why do we do it? Because we are hopeful and because at the moment Great Britain ain’t so great so we throw ourselves into a world where everybody is beautiful and love conquers all. This is preferable it would seem to a world where everybody is poor and depression conquers all.

A year before moving I had been well and truly screwed over by a boyfriend. It wasn’t what he did to me it was what I allowed to happen. I am sorry to tell you this but in relationships we allow a lot of things to happen to us, not necessarily consciously but we let people treat us a certain way based on how we feel about ourselves and the preconceptions we have about relationships. When I look back at the sort of shit I let him get away with I am astonished. He lied, outrageous and unbelievable lies in order to see his ex girlfriend. I once believed that he had been held captive by a group of Eastern Europeans in a house not far from his flat (I KNOW!!!!) He claimed they hadn’t taken his phone or IPod because they were too old and that they had let him go because it was ‘nearly christmas’

I believed that. I also believed that he went to band practice every week despite the fact that he couldn’t sing or play an instrument and that a few condoms went missing every now and again because he carried them on his person just in case he and I got carried away. We never did.

My mind is blown that I was cool and unquestioning of these things, even when he let me borrow his phone and I saw hundreds of messages from one girl I still didn’t twig. The heart is a blind and insanely loyal creature if you allow it to be. Nobody wants to get hurt and we are very good at putting our blinkers on to prevent that.

So when I moved to Liverpool on a whim I left my rose tinted glasses at home and took a practical approach. I paid the deposit on our flat so that if we broke up I had a little financial security, we got two bedrooms in case it didn’t work out we could still live as friends. I made sure I went out and met people so that I would have a support network that didn’t involve his friends. It all seems very morbid and negative but I still do it today. Our finances are combined and he pays the rent whilst I pay the living expenses but anything more long term like credit cards or overdrafts are kept separate because I don’t believe he should be saddled with my debt if we split up and vice versa. Luckily we are very happy and settled. He has been an amazing influence on my life and moving to Liverpool kick started my modelling career again. I haven’t had to use any of the precautions I set up upon my arrival which is great but I have to say that it takes the pressure off. I am secure in the knowledge that we are in it for the long term (we have a dog that will live until we are 40) but I am also aware that if it all goes tits up I have a back up plan. It’s hardly ‘Casablanca’ but I always thought Rick was a bit of knob for letting Elsa mess him about like that anyway.

Body Beautiful

27 Nov

Body image is something that I find mind boggling. Recently a couple of people have told me that I have the perfect figure. This is met with a look I wish I could show you but mainly expresses the fact that the recipient is clearly quite insane. I am tall, with long legs, no bottom or breasts really to speak of, a bit of wobble in the middle and the longest arms I have come across. I do not consider this combination of attributes to be anywhere near perfection. In fact my idea of the perfect woman is a good 3 inches shorter than I am with a flat stomach, big boobies and a bit of junk in the trunk all tied together with taut, tanned flawless skin. Nothing like the soft, creamy complexion I have that led my family to give me the nickname ‘milky pud’. However I would not change anything these days. Believe me I have looked into a tummy tuck or a bit of lypo but it is my belief that once you start messing with your body it is a slippery slope to plastic fantasticville. The other day my mum was debating whether to buy a 17 grand kitchen. Lovely if you have the money and you need a new kitchen but I swiftly alerted her to the fact that if you have a top of the range kitchen then the rest of the house will look, well, shit in comparison. In my opinion the same applies to your body. If you have a top of the range stomach those thighs will start to look a bit shoddy. Once the thighs are state of the art the breasts that looked fine before this renovation will start to look old and worn out…nightmare.

I watched something the other day about young people embarking on plastic surgery and was really gutted to see a girl who had a nose job come out of it looking rather plain and a little too ‘normal’ for my liking. People who know me well know that I am partial to a big konk. I find that there is something regal and handsome, in both men and women, about a roman nose with a bit of a hook. I personally do not have one so perhaps living with it on a daily basis is different but it is your heritage and your legacy. It shows where you have come from and the people that created you. Its is quite a beautiful sentiment.

I look identical to my Mother and my Grandmother (if 50 years younger) as the men in my life love pointing out. I am the same shape facially and physically as they are and that is not longer and issue. We all put on weight around our waists but have very defined cheek bones and shoulders no matter what. We all have tiny wrists, delicate hands and enormous eyes. We all have a slight over bite which braces has failed to correct in any of us and I think that drastic measures to change any of that would be a shame. Believe me I have tried to become more delicate and feminine. I have tried to lose the belly to the extent that I ended up as a patient in an eating disorder unit (bulimia with anorexia nervosa tendencies) but I have come to the conclusion that I look like the women who have loved me and nurtured me. The women who with the help of my grandfather drove from Africa to England when my Mother was 2 to set up a new life, the women who worked in hospitals and schools to make the world a better place, the women who knitted and sewed and cooked and cleaned and gave me life.

The beauty of it is that I don’t actually have to do anything differently to look like these inspirational and clever ladies because I already do so I can stop beating myself up for not looking like Kelly Brook and get on with liking myself.

So pass the cake and the wine and lets have a big old love in. Why would you want to strive to look like Cheryl Cole when you look like you?

A train ride and a pat on the back.

19 Nov

I have been thinking and talking a lot about journeys this week. I come from a background that has been touched by agoraphobia. My great grandmother was terrified of the world for as long as I knew her and refused to leave the house. As a child I had the same issues. I found the unpredictable nature of the outside very scary and refused to go out without parents until quite a late age. This fits into the physical side of journeys. When I was first diagnosed with OCD and phobic anxiety last year I really struggled with even the shortest of journeys. One of the major things that set off crippling panic attacks that occasionally resulted in loss of conciousness was being to far away from home or being in an environment that was too open, too out of my control. After the first horrible panic attack (on a train from Manchester to Liverpool) I really struggled to leave the house for several months. Not ideal at 24 years old with a job that was at least an hours commute each way. Even recently I had a wobble on a ten minute train journey to a catwalk rehearsal. I don’t try to look to deeply into why this happens. I know the causes are a lot to do with my need to be in control of a situation and as we all know public transport can be a real pain in the arse when it comes to reliability, for some reason this rocks my psychological boat.

In my experience, journeys can be fairly traumatic. They can also be really wonderfully, positive. A journey in the literal sense is travelling from one place to another, I have moved from my home town to London then fours years later to Brighton and then all the way up to Liverpool, quite a trek, 300 miles or so I believe. I have also come along way personally. Yes I have had a pretty shitty time overs the last year or so but as things start to look up I can peek back and think wow I have come a really long way.

I think in life we spend our time looking to the future and planning our next step. It isn’t particularly sexy or cool to look back and think well done you, look what you have made for yourself. If life is a struggle at the moment and you have some how wound up in a bit of a mess think about the things you have achieved, no matter how small.

I spent my time beating myself up about not being able to do my lovely, exciting fashion industry job. I beat myself up about not being able to go for a drink and for ending up on the dole and skint. However, I have lost 5 stone since I was 16, become a model and kept it off over 9 years, I have moved 3 times in 7 years and every time I have made new friends and a new life for myself. I have managed to find the marbles that I lost last year and put myself back together. I have an amazing relationship, a fabulous Victorian period flat with super high ceilings, a group of friends that I actually like rather than a vacuous bunch of rich bitches (another story all together) and I did all this, by being myself I can look back over my journey and tip my hat to fate for the little bit of help I was given but most of all I can feel really proud that I have achieved this much so far and if you have managed to build yourself a little life however dull or insignificant it might seem, who knows what you might end up doing in the future!

It sounds ridiculous but even if I end up on the streets in the future nobody will be able to take away what I have already done. That is really bloody comforting.

Are you feeling brave?

9 Nov

I have been thinking about this a lot whilst cleaning the bathroom today. It really is all glamour sometimes. The common saying is that you should do something that scares you everyday. I think regularly people assume this means jumping out of a plane or asking someone to marry you on a daily basis. In my opinion I think that bravery can be a very small and personal action. This next little bit is to be read with caution because often bravery is misconstrued as a negative reaction. I will begin by being brave myself, set a good example and all that.

About a year ago I had to give up a really great job with a huge international company. I was a go-getter I had been noticed by the big bosses and promoted. I had to give up because I had what is known in the psychology world as a nervous breakdown. Believe me when I heard that diagnosis I went all Alan Partridge ‘Stop saying I had a breakdown’ (for all you fans)

I did not feel very brave at all when I walked away from my career in a time when it is so difficult to get a job, let alone a bloody great one. I felt like I had given in, like my anxiety had won. If anything I felt weak and hopeless. However, looking back I now see that stepping away from my job, stepping off the edge of the cliff into unemployment for my own well-being was actually an incredibly brave decision to take. There will be other jobs but I was a horror to live with and the twice daily panic attacks were ruining my life. Something had to give and choosing what it was took guts.

Writing that down and knowing that it will be read by people is scary. As I said a personal act of bravery may be viewed critically by an outsider. I am sure there were many people that couldn’t believe I was choosing to be on benefits rather than earn a wage and saw my decision as being selfish and counterproductive but when it comes to being brave you need to expect a little backlash. When my mum called and said she had been diagnosed with cancer and would be going into hospital that week for an operation, I asked how long she had known and she said a couple of months but hadn’t told anyone as she didn’t want to worry anyone. I was unbelievably angry, I couldn’t forgive her for keeping it to herself and then dropping this bombshell. When I looked at it really honestly a little while after, I understood how much it had taken for her not to tell anyone what was going on. I imagine there were days she wanted to scream but she kept it together because she is a mother, a wife and a teacher. Bravery comes in very different guises.

I walk down a catwalk or stand in front of a camera without a care but last night I walked into the bar for the first time since I had left at short notice and then expressed a fairly negative opinion about the staff on my blog (see ‘A RANT’) I was shaking and felt sick but I needed to do it because the way I had left was fairly cowardly and I care about a lot of the people there, I also needed to show I wasn’t embarrassed of my opinions on the way the member of staff I had spoken about was treated. I came away feeling very proud of myself, I hadn’t apologised but I had built some bridges.

So do it! Take a little chance, I think that life is what you make of it and if you spend your time trying to throw yourself out of a plane or propose to someone in order to face your fears you might just miss those everyday opportunities. Tell the person who pushes into the queue ‘excuse me I think I am next’ or text somebody you miss but are too ashamed to contact because you have left it so long.

In my opinion, in order to be brave in the truest and most positive sense you need to question your motives. If you are doing something because you feel it is right and moral then go for it but if you are using ‘bravery’ as an excuse to act in a way that is detrimental to others without any positive wish or prospective outcome then just hang on a second buddy, you aren’t being brave, you are probably just being a dick.

A Waffle. I think there was a point.

1 Nov

I like to think that I write about things that people have some connection to, that we are all involved in. This week I came up with several ideas but settled on perception, the way we perceive each other and are perceived but also what we do with these perceptions. I can once again only really speak from experiences I have had.

So as a model I spend an awful lot of time being judged on what I look like obviously. Which means I spend an awful lot of time worrying about what I look like, whether I am thin enough, pretty enough and so on. I stand in front of people or I send pictures to people who then judge whether I fit the brief or if I AM thin enough or pretty enough. They decide if my hair is too short or I am too tall, if my breasts are too small or my walk is too relaxed (yep). Basically I become just another element of advertising like the font size, I am reduced to statistics and shoe size. I can be dismissed within 30 seconds because my waist is an inch too big. It is really bloody tricky to maintain a level of identity and to make sure that you don’t take these worries into your everyday life. When I retired briefly I had control over the cut and colour of my hair for the first time in 2 years. Even now as I sit here having shaved part of my head in a moment of madness I am willing it to grow back for a hair modelling job on the 12th.

I judge people too of course. We all judge people. I moved to Toxteth having lived in Chelsea and Brighton. I didn’t really have much contact with hard-knocks and when I moved to Liverpool my Dads first reaction was ‘It’s not very posh round there’ Tocky was a wild choice but I needed to thicken my skin and learn a bit about people who didn’t own second homes and yachts in Italy ‘George Clooney lives just round the corner’ or consider red Ferraris the common Ferrari. Consider that when I came to Liverpool I hadn’t been into an Aldi and had more than once used the term ‘undesirable’ so yes I was by all accounts a bit of an ignorant dick at times.

Liverpool is the home of the working class mentality and I have come to realise that these people who have to scrimp and save to get by are really proud and opinionated people. They stand by what they believe in which is really admirable and to be honest are probably a lot better off than most financially because they don’t spend money they don’t have on Mulberry handbags in order to maintain appearances…ahem. The downfall of anyone brought up in a self titled ‘middle class home’ is that we have developed an innate sense of put up and shut up. It is embarrassing to cause a scene despite the fact that someone has been openly rude to you. A prime example of this is when walking the dog a woman passing by who had no reason to get into conversation with me, my dog was nowhere near her or her kids told me to put him on his lead. People who know my dog know that he is the softest, most ridiculously submissive creature in the world when it comes to the park. He was at that point lying on his back with his legs in the air because a labrador puppy had approached. We had a small interaction where she was very rude and condescending and I said ‘I appreciate your advice but I don’t agree’ a statement that my mum later applauded. What I wish I had said was simply FUCK OFF. I stereotyped the people around me as a certain kind of rough or lower class but I wish I could be more like them at times, I would like to have a bit more self belief. I wish I stood up for myself more (I am learning!) the way a lot of people round here do. Oh believe me there are some baddies and I am not saying that everyone is like that on Merseyside or that I even believe in class definition, it is just an observation.

What gets me through these harrowing days of being told I am not right for a shoot (immediately a little siren goes off in my brain ‘TOO FAT TOO FAT’) is to remember that regardless of upbringing or achievements or financial situation or the size of the competitors thighs we are all people with dignity, humility and morality and should be treated that way and if you don’t have those things then you deserve a good, hard judging!

A Rant!

22 Oct

I was born in the 80’s brought up in the 90’s and now find myself a young adult in 2012. These facts make me part of a troubled generation (the older end of the scale but I am still hanging on in there).  I am sure that every generation had their troubles but it seems that as the economy is struggling and people are very skint we, ‘the youth’ have become a rather sinister cloud hanging around the streets and back alleys. We are vandalising and drinking, drugging,  mugging and reproducing at younger and younger ages. We are unemployed, violent and restless and every week the worlds media laments our lack of ambition and respect. Well that is public perception anyway.

In reality the majority of us are sinking and spluttering in a society that provides no real support, we are awash without any consequences or rules. A lot of us have had very good upbringings, we are educated and provided for. Remember the millionaires daughter arrested for her part in last summers riots? She was not from the rough side of town with parents who would prefer to buy cheap cider than fill the fridge. She was wealthy and wanted for very little yet rubbed shoulders with those who passionately despise the state and the people who run this country. People like…her father say. Equally, several of my friends took part in the marches against government cuts in London last year and were shocked that so many of the so-called Anarchists were from wealthy backgrounds. These were not working class people who felt they were being taken advantage of by the government and had no choice but to turn to violence,  so what were they? Outraged by the injustice in the country or just bored and fancied a taste of danger?

I can’t speak for an entire generation of course but what I can do is give my experience. In recent times I have come up with a theory. It seems to me that this sense of entitlement that much of this yobbish behaviour is attributed to is caused not by the talentless  ‘Made in Chelsea’, ‘TOWIE’ non-celebrities that grace our magazines and televisions but by the lack of discipline we are given. I first began thinking about this recently when modelling. One girl threw her weight around and said she would not wear the make-up that had been planned for the show as she didn’t like it. She was told that her behaviour was unacceptable and she should leave. Within ten minutes she was back in the make up chair having her face changed to her liking. Why is this? She was allowed to return and ultimately her diva like attitude was rewarded. I sat quiet, bit my tongue in spite of the reservations I had about my make up and yet I was now in the a worse position than the girl who had stamped her feet.

This is not a particularly far-reaching or life changing event but I was reminded that at a bar I had once worked in a member of staff was caught on CCTV handing out free drinks to some punters, inviting them behind the bar and overcharging yet she wasn’t sacked. She was reprimanded, however in a time where youth employment was/is so high, she remained employed. This is the landlords prerogative but it breeds resentment amongst those of us who work hard and honestly and takes jobs from those who want to do their best. On a wider scale it raises questions about why we should become respectful and adjusted individuals if someone who has broken the rules and the law is not punished.

Finally, last week I was walking the dog when I came across a group of young lads throwing stones at the windscreen of fast-moving traffic. When I was spotted witnessing their actions the boys turned their attentions and stones at me. I called the police as I headed for cover in a local park.  Firstly I tried the 101 number and was cut off repeatedly. I gave up and as I was a little shaken by this point the boys had met with their friends and the gang had grown to 15/20. I took the decision to dial 999. The operator on the end of the line told me that as I was not injured I shouldn’t have dialled 999. Fair enough I suppose, she continued to TELL ME OFF as  this was anti social behaviour and not an emergency. So all of a sudden I was in trouble for calling the police when I felt I needed protecting.

Of course my peers feel entitled to behave how they want and take whatever their heart desires. There are very few consequences to their actions. So why not? It becomes incredibly difficult to see why  I should remain a decent and hard-working individual as it seems that nice guys really do finish last. The only conclusion I have come to is that I am able to look at myself in the mirror and feel proud that I have treated people how I expect to be treated and that is something that needs to be taught more. We are too easily influenced by our friends, family and the media, what happened to our inner, moral compass? Perhaps somewhere between the Spice Girls and the Millennium it was accidentally erased.

First World Problems Much?

10 Oct

This week has been pretty none descript, very little is going on in my life in the run up to Liverpool Fashion Week except trying not to eat things. I have lost very few pounds, infact thanks to the in laws I have put on a few I reckon. Watch your shins front row, manitee on the catwalk. What I have lost is so many fucking possesions, including my specs which makes me angry and blind! A hilarious combination that results in much cursing and fumbling. I hate losing stuff, I feel like the universe and these inanimate objects are conspiring against me. Like they have had a little meeting (presumably the Milky Way was the chair and Jupiter was taking the minutes) at the beginning of the week and decided a full on game of hide and seek is what I need to keep me out of trouble. So well done, guys you win now can I have the power of sight back please?

Fucking Nightmare!

As a model and general creative (pretentious right?) I have been in a bit of a lull recently so I have started painting again. Some really fucking terrible paintings-I use that term lightly- of women with too many eyelashes and odd lengthed limbs. I tried to sell one of my more abstract pieces on ebay. It was like the first night on the game, sticking my vulnerable bits on the open market. Did it sell? Did it feck. 99p I wanted for this sliver of my mind and the general public are not interested. It was very much how I imagine offering some fella in an anorack a blowie for 2 quid and getting an ‘OH HELL NO!!!’ in response.   

Finally, I have a bloody awful cold. I have that cough that shakes you whole body and causes people to move away from you when you are out and about, especially in restaurants and at deli counters. Excuse those germs all over your Tuna Nicoise/Salami/Walnut Foccacia I am not well!  The only benefit that I can hope to come out of this fucking horrible, hacking mess is the kind of abs that would make Britney Spears circa ‘Slave For You’ jealous. Come on man, I deserve a break!