C H A N G E a 24-hour effort from Retrospect
BR AN (SON) a talk with
Editor Deputy Editor Senior Design Editor Design Editor Sub-Editor
Lydia Willgress Oliver Giles Josh Peter Sigrid Schmeisser William Ellis Jenny Munro Emma Dunmore Elizabeth Kitto Sukey Scorer Kayleigh Tanner
@WillgressLydia @OliverGiles @drawjosh @WillAEllis @ecallahand2 @sukeyyy @DailyKayleigh
C O N TR I B U TO RS 02
C ON T E NT S 2 3 5
Contributors Contents Editorâ€™s Note
6 7 8 10
Travel Meeting Her Global Nomads Safari Secrets Five Places to Stay
Design Fit for a Queen
Music Interview: Context MC Interview: Cosmic Birds
Arts Play Right: Ella Hickson
20 22 24 26 30 32 34
Issues The Carbon Kids A Fling Too Far Uncovered: Peter Waterfield Cover Story: Breaking the Taboo, an interview with Sam Branson Suffer for your Art Cream of the Crop: Tropic Skin Care One Day: health
No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the editor. All opinions expressed are those of the writers, and are not necessarily endorsed by the publication. Rights reserved.
I AM N OT P U N N I NG TH AT
Editor’s Note Usually I cherish my sleep and curl up under two duvets, no matter what the season. Why I have found myself volunteering to stay up for another 24 hours is beyond my knowledge. I would undoubtedly become delirious (too much editing), eat too much (flapjacks make 3am seem much nicer) and repeatedly struggle to think of titles for our articles. To do something well twice is a lot easier said than done. Riding on the success of our last magazine, we were determined to make this edition even better. We did a small amount of obligatory preparation (read: spent two months nagging people via email) and our theme ‘Change’ provided us with a large scope to work with. On the day, we were inundated with offers from talented writers and Peter Waterfield’s interview was a late, but crucial, addition to the already full pages. Sigrid, our new designer, was a welcome and needed addition to our core team. Josh Peter, our senior designer who singlehandedly brought our last issue to life, again proceeded to astound me with every page he produced, and I definitely wouldn’t have got through the night without being able to fire questions such as ‘while or whilst,’ ‘hyphen or no hyphen’ and ‘what the hell should I call this piece’ at Oliver Giles, not only a great writer, but a meticulous editor. For now, the sun is coming up and our deadline is approaching. No doubt I will put myself (and a begrudging team) through the moaning, deliberation, and amusement of spending another 24 hours locked in my bedroom at some point in the near future. It’s almost as fun as it sounds . . . Lydia Willgress email@example.com
words by jenny munro
meeting her I met her three times. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she was someone else. The first time, I met her on my own. I was shy, against all expectations. I ran into her whilst wandering around, while trying to get a hold of the situation. I was startled; by her beauty, by the way she managed to lighten up the faces of anyone coming to see her. We met for coffee; I lost count how many times. We discovered a place covered with books from top to bottom; shared a bottle of wine with Hemingway’s disciples; lay lazy in the late-winter sun, warming not only our skin but also my heart. All that time we spent alongside each other, with each other, and still – she remained distant, covered by a veil of her beauty, glamour and perfection, allowing me close while keeping me so far away. I instinctively knew there was more, that she was more, but anytime I got close, we drifted even further apart.
And then came Sam. We met dancing; he was like a magnet, I had to start moving in circles. And so I did, at least for a while. It was Sam who introduced me to her again; not knowing how she and I had almost parted. We met mostly at night, strolling around, restless, not bearing to be in one place for all too long, eating, drinking, laughing. We walked barefoot in the streets, balanced on the edge of rooftops, ran as fast as we could to eventually lift off the ground. We made out, almost everywhere, appropriate or not. She was beautiful as ever, but something had changed.
She was wild, passionate, tumultuous, and much more profound than her initial perfect appearance suggested. I was hooked, butterflies started to have a party in my stomach. And then came the storm that we did not survive. There was silence after, not before. Her face is the last image of that night, framed by the window of the bus as it drove off, leaving me on the side of the road falling to pieces. I had enough of her, wanted to get away, see other people, other places. And so I did. I travelled 2000 miles, saw hundreds of different people, in dozens of different places. But no one like her. And then came Mark. Smiling like a lion proud of his quarry, grinning from ear to ear. When he loves, you are forced to love, and so I came to love her. He showed me her troubled side, revealed her most vulnerable traits, until she lay naked before us. We went through the darkest alleys to end up in a sea of flames; we surrounded ourselves with music until we did not hear the sound of our own thoughts; we climbed our own scaffold to have the world spread out at our feet. We made love; stood so close, not touching, every fabric of our body screaming in anticipation. I saw her truly, saw her, as she really was: messy, complex, with hidden secrets, unfathomable almost and above all - stunningly beautiful. I met her three times and if I didn’t know better, I’d say she was someone else. I met her three times, through three different set of eyes. Three different, no, a thousand different faces, one mind, one soul, one city: Sydney.
At the age of 23, I have already lived in ten different houses. That means if I move one more time I will meet the United States Department of Statistics average of 11 different moves in a single lifetime, however I will have achieved this in only the first few decades of my life. My experience might seem extreme, but it is by no means exceptional: at the table from which I write, the girl on my left has lived in 12 different homes and the one on the right six, so it seems fair to say that by the mid-point of our lives we will have far exceeded the mean of movement for the generation that came before us.
from home. Similarly, the relative lack of stable job opportunities and the inability to purchase a permanent residence makes people mobile - chasing after employment opportunities can also lead to geographic flexibility. The prevalence of a lifestyle where you are regularly relocating has an interesting effect on our culture and communities. There are some negative effects, like the hometowns left behind with a dearth of individuals aged between 18 and 45 – from Dorking to Dollar. On the other hand, university centres are now hives of activity and innovation that benefit
Or conversely, we become more likely to join them in order to meet people, just less likely to be dedicated to their core principles, as we know that we will leave sooner or later. But both travel and a lack of ties allow a freedom which is unimaginable to the generations before us. Opportunity for change is everywhere – change of place, change of religion, change of job and even change of gender – creating a kind of incredible freedom. In transient communities there is often a sense of intimacy and even a great
»the desire to to have seen have travelled the world « words by emma dunmore
Urban life, for the young it seems, involves a vast amount of change. In the USA, census reports cover incidences of transience, but unfortunately the UK census does not cover statistics specific to the number of moves the average person undertakes in a lifetime. If it did, we would probably see a rise in the past few years.
The restlessness of the British itinerant young, it seems, is the result of both cultural and economic influences. The desire to have travelled, to have ‘seen the world’ and gathered unique experiences, leads many folk to move around. This cultural tendency is further reinforced by a university system that encourages people to attend universities far
from a high concentration of motivated young people. The persistent change, and lack of stability, fits into the model of life which is based on fluidity and impermanence; the way of the future.
In 2000, sociologist Robert Putnam published Bowling Alone, a study looking at how people were becoming less likely to be members of societies, religious groups, political parties, sports teams, or any kind of organized group that they were in the decades previously. He looks at a kind of disengagement with society at large, which in some ways is comparable to this kind of itinerant living. Not knowing how long we are going to stay where we are, we become less likely, perhaps, to join groups and societies.
amount of potential for creativity, as individuals bring their knowledge with them and share it with new groups in new situations. I keep thinking of the gypsy travellers I met earlier this year who were so perturbed by the idea of being kept under one roof for years and years. Their commitment to movement and change was easy to feel in the room, but also incredibly difficult for me to understand. Perhaps though, it just clearly illustrated to me that there can be real joy in it – movement, discovery and constant, repetitious change.
Emma Dunmore is an Academic Editor for Retrospect Journal.
SAFARI SECRETS words by lydia willgress photos by torsten cadot
Think of East Africa and you will probably think of the tall peaks of Kilimanjaro. However, as the rocky crags reach into the sky and demand attention from anyone fumbling with a camera, Kilimanjaro’s shadows stretch into vast plains that are only just beginning to be explored. Whilst Kenya has become a renowned tourist destination for many Europeans, parts of the country are regularly ignored when tourists plan their trips. Instead of visiting Tsavo, Mombasa or Amboseli – all of which are stunning, but becoming a regular box on travellers’ checklists – try staying at some of the smaller parks in Kenya, which are still abundant with beautiful animals and inhabited by vibrant individuals. After all, safari means ‘to journey’ in Swahili. I visited Kenya for the first time in August 2012, having been told that my previous trips to Namibia and South Africa did not count as venturing into ‘real Africa.’ In 2009, I went on safari in Etosha National Park, one of the largest game parks in Africa, and ticked off the “Big Five” before breakfast.
In fact, as much as I am ashamed to say it, after three days of travelling through Etosha, elephants became as much a common site as they can be, and lions lost their magic.
Despite this lapse in attention, I still claim that I am a hardened, bona fide, safari fan and jumped at the chance to stay in one of Kenya’s parks in the first week I was there. Instead of going to one of the bigger parks, we travelled to Soysambu; located in Africa’s Great Rift Valley and lying between Lake Elmenteita and Lake Nakuru, the conservancy is made up of 48,000 acres of diverse land. While we were there, we ventured into Lake Nakuru National Park for one day. The two parks run alongside each other, and are so close animals have been known to jump the fence between them (read: I spent three nights terrified on the dark walk to our cottage. If animals can jump fences, the three foot wall was not going to stop them getting in – and I imagine I’m pretty tasty!) In the national park, we were lucky enough to encounter over 20 rhino, giraffe, zebra, monkeys and a remarkable number of birds. Ignoring the glaring heat of the sun, I strained my eyes, enthused with the possibility of seeing more – even the beautiful species of plants became interesting.
However, it wasn’t until we had a quiet Tusker in the recesses of Soysambu that I realised just how beautiful a country could be. As we clambered back into the minibus we had grown to love and turned the corner, a leopard sat in middle the road. Engine off and cameras grabbed (thrown), we expected to look up to see a tail disappearing into a bush. We were wrong. As if she knew we were watching, she climbed the tree to the side of our vehicle, stretched onto a branch and, like any feline, licked her whiskers and looked straight at us. There are times in life when coincidence causes a collection of moments to fall exactly into line; as the sun set in the distance, this was one of them.
SHE KNEW WE WERE WATCHING You see, great moments in life don’t come about by going to the biggest, or most popular, travel destination. You can’t make them happen, but when they do, make sure you have your cameras at the ready. Lydia Willgress writes features, reviews and news reports for international & national print media.
FIVE PLACES TO STAY
words by will ellis
If you are bored of hotels offering the same old rooms, lacking in taste and personality, why not try something new in 2013? Having done all the leg-work for you, here are some of the most exciting hotels in the world right now, for your delectation. View With a Room – Bangkok Tree House Hotel, Thailand Perched seven metres above the mangroves of Phra Pradaeng, an area affectionately known as Bangkok’s ‘Green Lung’, the ‘View With a Room’ offers travellers the unique opportunity to sleep beneath the stars in style. The Tree House Hotel
is environmentally friendly, in the same vein as many popular boutique ‘Eco hotels’. However, the owners take their commitment to the environment one step further, pledging to remove one kilogram of rubbish from the Chao Phraya River for every booking that they take. The ‘View With a Room’ is ideal for anyone wanting to get away from the manic streets of Bangkok, providing an unforgettable open-air sleeping experience. http://www.bangkoktreehouse.com/view-with-aroom.html
THE NEST IS SUSPENDED ABOVE THE FOREST FLOOR
Star Beds – Loisaba Wilderness, Kenya Loisaba Wilderness, a private ranch in Central Kenya, provides visitors with fantastic views and plenty of game to watch. After a long day of lion spotting, horseback riding or exploring Maasai culture, there can be no better retreat than Kenya’s original ‘Star Beds’. These innovatively designed beds are on wheels so that they can be rolled out onto the decking for a night under the stars. Whilst guests can enjoy being close to nature the rooms have all mod-cons close at hand, ensuring a luxurious, liberating stay. http://www.loisaba.com/star_beds.phpt Bird’s Nest – Tree Hotel, Sweden It was difficult to choose just one of the Tree Hotel’s six striking room designs, but the idea of actually sleeping in a nest won out in the end. The nest is suspended above the forest floor and is entered by climbing a ladder. Once inside, this ladder is retractable, ensuring peace and quiet in your stylish abode. Although the exterior is rustic, the accommodation is classically Nordic: simple, but almost painfully stylish. http://www.treehotel.se/?pg=birdsnest
Hôtel de Glace, Canada 2013’s Hôtel de Glace opened its 44 rooms to the public on 18th January 2013. The entire hotel is carved from 500,000 tonnes of ice and is surely one of the most spectacular getaways in the world. Although it is only open for three months per year, weather permitting; the Hotel de Glace is hugely popular with visitors to nearby Quebec. Only the bathrooms are heated, but super-insulated mattresses and luxury blankets ensure that guests enjoy a warm, comfortable night’s sleep. http://www.hoteldeglace-canada.com/
Will Ellis is currently the Editor for Retrospect Journal and is a social media maven.
FIT FOR A QUEEN words by oliver giles
When entrepreneur Amber Atherton launched online jewellery boutique MYFLASHTRASH.COM from her school dormitory, she revolutionized the jewellery world. Now stocking 46 British and international designers, featuring a blog written by Atherton and others, and stocking everything from £5 rings to £600 bracelets, MYFLASHTRASH. COM is emerging as the online hub of the jewellery community. With MYFLASHTRASH.COM-stocked jewellery being spotted on everyone from Kate Middleton to Kate Moss, not to mention all Atherton’s old co-stars of Made In Chelsea, it is clearly the go-to destination for all your jewellery needs. Alongside Atherton’s own debut jewellery line, FLASH TRASH GIRL, here we feature three of the most exciting designers stocked on the website. Catherine Zoraida A favourite of Kate Middleton, who has worn Catherine Zoraida pieces on several state occasions, this young designer has a unique eye for detail. Born in Columbia, and raised in Scotland, Zoraida was mentored by world-renowned jewellers Graham Stewart and Theo Fennell before she went on to design for brands including Vivienne Westwood and Matthew Williamson. Now working on her own collection, Zoraida’s pieces are ageless and fun. Clearly inspired by the natural world, her jewellery is delicate and feminine. As well as her own collection, Zoraida offers a bespoke service if you need something extra special.
FLASH TRASH GIRL FLASH TRASH GIRL is the debut line from MYFLASHTRASH.COM, designed exclusively by jewellery maven Atherton. Talking of the inspiration behind the line, FLASH TRASH GIRL Brand Manager Lily Gatehouse explains: ‘it is based on 90s nostalgia and is filled with neon brights and stacking rings! It is perfect for a girl on a budget who still wants to make a statement with her jewellery.’ After the success of the first line, which was released in time for spring/summer 2013, a follow-up autumn/ winter line has now been promised. Gatehouse explains that the next collection will be slightly toned down; whilst there will be fewer neons, the
jewellery will still have ‘the same themes running through the collection.’ Lestie Lee Like MYFLASHTRASH.COM founder Atherton, jewellery designer Lestie Lee grew up splitting her time between Hong Kong and the UK. She began her career working for luxury jewellery designers such as Adler, Buccellati, and Jimmy Choo Couture, before she launched her own jewellery line in 2011. Her international upbringing, extensive travelling, and love for art all inspire her jewellery designs; her lifelong fascination with gemstones can also be seen in her intricate work. The new kid on the block: Joma Although MYFLASHTRASH.COM only started stocking Joma Jewellery this month, it has already proved a hit with the website’s discerning customers. With feminine hearts and star detailing, combined with freshwater pearls, silver, and crystal, Joma is a designer to keep your eye on. Third year English Literature student Oliver Giles has been published in a variety of international magazines.
words by lydia willgress Context MC describes his music as ‘melodic grit,’ but if you take this at face value it doesn’t do him justice. After being played daily on BBC Radio 1 and MTV Base before being signed, Context won MTV’s Brand New for 2012 early last year and in doing so joined the likes of acclaimed artists Lady Gaga, Tinie Tempah and Wretch 32. ‘Winning the MTV Brand New for 2012 was the maddest thing - I didn’t set out to win it at all,’ explains Context. ‘Two hours before the competition closed, someone entered for me and then it sort of spiralled.’ He’s not wrong.
Despite the accolades and attention, Context is down-to-earth and easy to talk to. Having worked hard for four years to fight his way on to the underground music scene, hearing his music on the radio is still a surprise: ‘I still can’t really believe it, I thought only a small group of people would like my songs but being played on the radio is a bit like taking drugs; when you get it, you want it again and again. You do start getting used to it, although I was being played every day at one point and that was mad.’ It is unsurprising that Context has done so well, as he makes underground music accessible. Heavy base lines are accompanied by harmonies and somehow rap becomes easy-listening. Influenced by Drake, Mike Skinner, and rapper Giggs, Context explains that he wants his music to be able to speak about a group of people: ‘Music can be a bit like ethnography; If you didn’t know anything about some groups of people, you could still listen to it and think “even if I don’t like them, I can still understand what they are on about.”
BEING PLAYED ON THE RADIO IS A BIT
‘The tune is about when we were younger and driving about with my mates – as you do when you are 17. The video centres around a battered old car. I think the most important thing about a video is the concept – I don’t want to do boring videos where I just rap in front of the camera, as I feel like a lemon if I do that. I’m excited to get it going, it’s been a year since I’ve done anything. I can finally press play and get everything out there.’ Context’s new video will be released this month, with his EP following later this year. Lydia Willgress writes features, reviews and news reports for international & national print media.
For a long time in my life, I wished I was someone else. I thought I was a bit of a goon, and wanted to be cool. As I got older, I decided that it is alright to be who you actually are. I make rap for people like me: people who go out raving and go to the pub.’ Context has many other notches on his belt. Having graduated from Cambridge with a degree in Political Science, he is now completing a PhD. ‘Music doesn’t pay me. When I finished university, my options were to get a nine to five job and do music in the evening or do a PhD. Doing a PhD is like being self-employed, as the supervisors pretty much leave you to it. It is a massive luxury to have all the time If this isn’t already enough, Context also films, edits, and directs all his videos. The music video for his latest release is being filmed next week.
» i make rap for people like me. «
Tribal Ceremonies With
words by oliver giles
Going to a Cosmic Birds concert feels vaguely like falling down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. Mario Llana, the lead singer of Cosmic Birds, will likely be dressed in an animal onesie and the stage will invariably be decked out with Native American dream catchers, assorted leaves and branches, and the odd birdcage - just in case the otherworldly scene hadnâ€™t been truly set. Out of context, this description sounds bizarre rather than impressive, but when the intensely visual spectacle is combined with the haunting piano and melodic richness of Marioâ€™s voice, this young Spanish band truly stands out against the beige backdrop of todayâ€™s monotonous indie pop.
Made up of Mario, pianist David, drummer Guille and keyboardist César; Cosmic Birds have been together several years, but only released their first full-length album at the end of 2012. Entitled Chronicles of the Windwar, the album combines the best of Mario’s often funny, but always touching, lyrics with David’s prodigal piano playing. Having released the album independently, Cosmic Birds have just released their first music video for the lead single ‘Failure’: the video is a montage of clips from different films ranging from Pokémon’s Pikachu to Disney’s Snow White to Meliés’ 1902 film Le Voyage dans la Lune. It is perhaps this music video that gives one of the clearest insights into Mario’s creative mind and the band’s partnership. As obsessed with visual imagery as with their musical sound, Mario is inspired by a bewildering mix of popular culture, literature, and film that should not logically work. Yet, somehow, it does. Explaining the concept behind the music video also unwittingly exposes the extreme dedication Mario has for Cosmic Birds and their music. ‘I’ve been thinking about the images since last summer. It’s hard looking back and thinking about all those things that really struck you as a child; then finding the movies, then finding the exact point when something happens and then having to edit it so that they go with the music and with the lyrics.’ However, as always, Mario is quick not to take himself too seriously, and ends his explanation by joking about the crying
» in spanish, you need a lot more syllables to express a very simple idea «
Pikachu: ‘there’s nothing more heart-breaking than a radioactive rodent crying, remember that!’ Although it has drawn even more international attention to the band, the music video for ‘Failure’ is only the latest step in their long process of writing, recording, and producing Chronicles of the Windwar. Interestingly, Mario writes all his songs in his second language: English. He explains: ‘firstly, virtually all the music I listen to is in English. Also, English simply has more monosyllables, so it’s easier to fit ideas into the structure of music. In Spanish, you need a lot more syllables to express a very simple idea.’ The recorded album is brilliant and has a coherence and depth unexpected from independent releases, but it is when they are performing live that Cosmic Birds come into their own. Last year they won a publicly voted competition to be given a slot at one of Spain’s biggest music festivals: Arenal Sound. It was here that the band seem to have got their first real taste of the success they have enjoyed so far. Mario enthuses: ‘the crowd was amazing; we think there were about 3000 people there! It was really cool! Also, you’re on so big a stage that it doesn’t frighten me as much as playing in a tiny venue with people looking at your face up close! When you perform live, it’s sort of like a tribal ceremony. Metronomy played after us!’ Although they remain unsigned, Cosmic Birds are overwhelmed by the worldwide support they have received for Chronicles of the Windwar and are already working on new material. It’s easy to imagine how the eclectic combination of animal costumes, decorated stages, haunting melodies, and Mario’s soaring voice have combined to build up Cosmic Birds’ local and international following. More than anything else, it is his fans’ support that motivates Mario. ‘I like decorating the stage and everything. I think it’s good because when people come to see you live, you’re able to say: “this is what we’re all about”. Come and join us! And it reinforces the music and enhances the musical experience. I like the idea of someone seeing, I don’t know, an art installation full of branches and stars and going: “oh, that’s very Cosmic Birds”. I would like that to happen.’ Third year English Literature student Oliver Giles has been published in a variety of international magazines.
PLAY RIGHT words by oliver giles In 2011 The Independent hailed young playwright Ella Hickson as ‘the theatrical voice of her generation’; yet, even with that indicative title, I would never have guessed that she would be speaking from a branch of Urban Outfitters. As the awardwinning playwright was trying to find a quiet spot amongst the rails of indie clothing, it felt far from the ideal setting for an interview. However, not to be put off, Hickson laughingly succeeds and gamely quips: ‘perfect. Where else would you like to be for an interview?’
Despite the initial surprise, Urban Outfitters is of course a natural setting; Hickson is only 27-years old, although her extensive CV reads as if it should belong to someone much older: sell-out plays in Edinburgh, London, and New York, work in TV
and radio, and a current commission from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Although she is undoubtedly proud of this enormous success, something of the accidental playwright remains about Hickson; after all, she didn’t write her first play with any intention of attracting the international success she has enjoyed. Speaking both eloquently and at a charming breakneck speed, Hickson explains: ‘it was so funny because I did that play just for a bit of a laugh really. I had done my exams and I didn’t know what to do next. So I thought: “Oh, I’ll write a play,” and I did. It was more just to spend time with my friends than it was really to write a play particularly.’ When Hickson wrote this first play, Eight, she had just earned her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh. Most famous for its annual summertime Fringe festival of theatre, comedy, and other assorted performing arts, was it being surrounded by theatre in Edinburgh that inspired Hickson to write? She replies: ‘no, not particularly. It was more because Bedlam Theatre offered a free slot.’ A small, student-run theatre in the centre of Edinburgh, every summer Bedlam runs a competition that allows one student playwright to put on
I THOUGHT, “OH, I’LL WRITE A PLAY,” AND I DID. a play at the Fringe. Almost unbelievably, Hickson exclaims: ‘I just heard about it, and I applied for it, and it happened!’ Despite her own small ambition to spend more time with her friends and have a play at the Edinburgh Fringe, Eight quickly won the Fringe First, Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh, and NSDF Emerging Artist awards; within six months it was showing in New York. Still amazed by and understandably proud of her initial success, Hickson fondly remembers the New York premiere: ‘all of the guys from Bedlam went together; it was such a big adventure. It was wonderful.’
Following her success with Eight, Hickson has gone on to have two more plays on stage in London: Precious Little Talent and Boys. Despite her own success, Hickson’s plays paint a fairly pessimistic portrait of the post-university world. She thoughtfully states: ‘it’s quite hard the big world out there, especially in the current situation. The financial situation means that people have a lot less control over their own lives than they used to; that’s really stressful for a lot of people. I think that puts strain on relationships, it puts strain on professions; there are a lot fewer choices available to you. Especially for young people; you believe that you have choices when you’re young, you believe that if you work hard you’ll get lots of choices; that tends to all come undone a bit when the economy is as it is at the moment. I think that’s difficult.’ Although her plays feel pessimistic, Hickson doesn’t come across as a pessimistic person. When first asked what inspires her about writing, she jokes: ‘Not a lot? Joking! Am I joking? What do I enjoy about writing . . . All the time on my own and earning no money?’ Thankfully, Hickson goes on to clarify: ‘it’s wonderful to be able to have total control over an idea, from the first glimmer of an idea to a fully constructed world that you can really create and control all the parts of that world; to do work that has part of your personality in it, and that is about things that you care about; to be able to feel things whilst at work I think is probably quite rare.’ Hickson candidly admits that Boys was inspired by a group of guys she knew in her Edinburgh University days, but admits that as she gets older her writing is becoming less and less autobiographical. However, she confesses that she’ll probably never be able to remove herself and her own thoughts and feelings from her work: ‘I think you have to have a personal stake in it; I think you have to care enough, and that requires it being a little bit personal. I think.’ Third year English Literature student Oliver Giles has been published in a variety of international magazines.
THE CARBON KIDS words by elizabeth kitto
Ladies and gentlemen, I have come to accept that I am a wholehearted member of the carbon generation. I am a product of internet culture, a bona fide, electrified member of today’s youth. My world is stored in microchips and my writings, music, and most valued photos are publically accessible to anyone with an internet connection. This metallic scene seems ironically natural to me but, there is a seed of doubt; a speck of wonder that forces me to question if I, or rather we, are truly benefiting from our lives lodged in cyberspace. Are we a youth in devolution made lazy by new technology? When I graduate, I would like to dedicate my degree to Wikipedia and Google. Thanks for having my back guys; I couldn’t have done it without you. No really, I am pretty reliant on internet databases to research my essays. I am not sure how I would cope without online tools. Actually, there are a number of life skills which I am pretty sure I lack due to my technological dependence. I can’t find anywhere without Google programmes guiding me with a friendly arrow on a digital map. I admit that I would probably learn to navigate better if I had no internet access, but the fact is, I am quite happy with my screens and GPS. As far as I am concerned, I am not a perfect example of today’s youth in decline, but rather a testament to how our generation use resources to adapt to the modern world. My inabilities are not bred from a lack of desire to learn, but symbolic of a lifestyle which addresses a new set of needs.
WHEN I GRADUATE, I WOULD LIKE TO DEDICATE MY DEGREE TO WIKIPEDIA AND GOOGLE.
Come to think of it, I believe our love for the internet makes us more motivated to learn. If a question crops up mid–conversation and we do not know the answer, we can consult our smartphones or laptops. This is not laziness, but a new ease with which we can access information. I am unconvinced that the generations before us would have halted all social
events in a zealous march to the library to answer trivial questions. Instead, I am pretty sure that such queries would have been left by the wayside and forgotten about. If knowledge is power then surely we have the potential to be the most powerful group yet. The ability to access a world of knowledge from the palm of our hand is a new phenomenon and we have the potential to educate ourselves with more ease than ever before - even if, for the most part, we use the internet to look at funny pictures of cats. In general, I think things have changed for our generation. Whilst I admit that I should switch off the power from time to time to add some old school knowledge to my skill set, I believe that technology and its place in youth culture is pretty positive. We read daily, express our opinions freely and speak to people around the world instantly. We are evidence of cultural evolution and if we use our resources well, we could be the most learned group yet.
A FLING TOO FAR words by lydia willgress
Driving down the coast in East Africa, the sheer number of young, black men walking the beach with older, white women is hard not to notice. At first, it is easy to think that this is a normal site to behold, but as people start shouting at these couples and beeping their horns, it is clear that there is something much darker going on. As we drove the road along the coast in Diani, a coastal town on the east coast of Kenya, one of the members of our group pointed out the infamous club ‘Shakatak’. Situated about ten metres from the road, a shabby remnant of a 70s discotheque with paint peeling off the sign, I was warned not to venture in unless I wanted to spend my time being asked if I needed some “help” for the week. Romance tourism is, and has been for quite some time, sweeping the East African coastline. The term refers the move towards longer flings in the sex trade. Under the shade of the palm trees, and along the potholed roads, African men and women, girls and boys, offer their services for the week (or night) to Europeans. Whether this is helping them shop, sightseeing with them, or sexually submitting themselves, the partnership works as a business; to do, in the most literal meaning of the word, is to create money. A UNICEF report in 2006 stated that up to 15,000 underage girls, 30 per cent of the population, ranging from 12 to 18 years old, in Kenya’s coastal provinces earn their money through casual sex. As shocking as this statistic may be, the trend has diversified and it is now men who are making money from the sex trade by providing European women with “company.” Accurate statistics looking at the number of women travelling to East Africa, and across the globe, for sex, are hard to come by. Some critics have gone as far to estimate that 20 per cent of women over 20 years-old who travel to East Africa are going to
engage in the sexual services provided by African men. Two women, who had taken the men they had picked up in a local club snorkelling, spoke to us about later returning to the hotel to engage in sexual acts. They were both divorced, in their 40s, and would return to their office-jobs in Germany the week after.
MEN MAKING MONEY
Whatever the reaction, whatever the reason, the sex tourism trade is booming. When speaking to Amnesty International on the phone, they admitted that they had completed no research into male prostitution in East Africa and were surprised to learn that more and more European women were taking advantage of the “cheap labour.” This is barely the beginning. Lydia Willgress writes features, reviews and news reports from international & national print media.
BY PROVIDING WOMEN WITH ‘COMPANY’ On another occasion, I watched a mzungu (white) woman, lead a young, well-built, black man round the supermarket by pulling the front of his shirt. Each time they stopped, she would promptly wrap her arms around him and smother him with kisses. Outside the supermarket, she paid him and left. There have been many reactions to this controversial trend. Reports suggest that these services continue, even with the police having full knowledge of the situation, as they do not wish to discourage white tourists from entering the country. In a country where most institutions are corrupt, it is unsurprising that this is the stance they have chosen to take. Other people suggest that older women have to travel abroad, as they are unable to find love in their ir home countries. Previous writers who have touched on the subject often dub the women who travel obese, or ugly, in an attempt to justify what they are doing because of loneliness. Women want to ‘return to a colonial past, where white women are served, serviced, and pampered by black minions,’ one University of Nottingham academic asserts.
words by lydia willgress
At 10am on January 18, news broke that Olympic diving champion, Pete Waterfield, was having crucial funding from British Diving cut.
This isnâ€™t just a surprise to the British public who avidly watched Waterfield at the Beijing 2008 Olympics and, to our delight, at London 2012. It also came as a shock to him, as he found out the information second-hand through his coach.
‘British Diving has gone against their word,’ utters Waterfield, hours after he discovered his funding has been cut. ‘When you are a diver, you get your funding reviewed every year, as it is performance related. Last year, I finished in the top three at the FINA Diving World Cup. Whilst I didn’t get a medal at the Olympics last year, I finished in the top eight and that should have kept me on the same level of funding.’ It didn’t. The £1700 Waterfield took home a month played a crucial role in his life however, it is the way that British Diving informed him of this change that has really packed a punch. ‘The statement that British Diving released following this [news] is, in my eyes, untrue. They have said that they told my coach back in December that my funding would be cut, but they didn’t do this. My coach has only got my interests at heart and would have told me as soon as she knew. She was told yesterday and I was told by her today. ‘The way I’ve been handled by British Diving is wrong. If any other person had lost their job, they wouldn’t want to be told second hand. This is out of respect.
» ALL I HAVE DONE IS TRIED TO PROMOTE THE SPORT «
I have given 20 years to diving; …and with my results I have kept peoples jobs as well,’ added Waterfield. This decision contradicts previous claims made by the organisation. In October, Waterfield’s Performance Director said that he would be diving with Tom Daley, his well-known diving partner, until the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow 2014. This information was posted on the British Diving website and gave Waterfield hope for the future: ‘following this, I said to people that if I am going to go to the Commonwealth, then I would be silly not to try and get to Rio [the Olympic Games in 2016], as it is only two more years away.’ This loss of funding will inevitably lead to the end of diving for the 31 year-old talented competitor. ‘Without the support or funding, my diving career will have to come to an end. The hard thing is, I have been diving since 9 and I don’t know about much else. In this climate it is hard to get a job - I am in between a rock and a hard place, but I have to stay positive for my family. ‘When you buy a house, it is security. In reality, when you lose your money, the bank’s going to want the house back; they don’t care who you are, they want your money. I’ve kept my worry away from my kids because they don’t need to know, but my wife and I are scared.’ Despite this news, Waterfield is still grateful to everyone that has supported him: ‘I want to say massive thank you to UK Sport for funding me over the years, without it I would have never achieved any of my dreams.’ Lydia Willgress writes features, reviews and news reports for international & national print media.
BOY DONE GOOD 26 IS SUES
words by oliver giles “I DEFINITELY FEEL LIKE IT’S THE START OF THE END OF DRUG PROHIBITION”, Sam Branson confidently asserts. Although this sounds unrealistic to some, and scary to others, Branson undoubtedly knows his facts: he has spent two years producing the ground-breaking documentary Breaking The Taboo, which systematically exposes the failures of the international war on drugs. Previously best known as the son of Sir Richard, two years ago he exhibited the famous Branson entrepreneurial flair and founded indie film production company Sundog Pictures. Since then, he has been producing Breaking The Taboo and getting to grips with all aspects of international drugs policy, working with figures including ex-US President Bill Clinton, President of Columbia Juan Manuel Santos, and actor Morgan Freeman, who narrates the film. Six weeks after its New York premiere, Branson is back in London and ready to discuss the enormous impact of Breaking The Taboo, why governments need to change their policies on drugs, and why the future of documentaries lies online.
Speaking to Branson, it is clear he knows the facts surrounding international drugs policy inside and out. Having spent the last two years surrounded by figures such as Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the former Brazilian President and Chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Branson decided that it was only through the medium of film that he could clearly bring this issue to the public’s attention. He explains: ‘I’ve always been passionate about the medium of film. From feature films, fantasy stories, to documentaries. When I was a kid I always used to find myself flicking through the documentary channels. I’ve always felt that documentaries have shaped a lot of my perspectives on the planet.’ However, Breaking The Taboo was not a conventional film release: instead, Branson has been at the forefront of releasing documentaries through
YouTube, and has single-handedly proved its enormous potential. After the success of Breaking The Taboo, Branson is understandably raving about the online platform: ‘online is a huge, huge platform to get out messages, not just for brands, but also for documentaries. It’s shaping the modern world.’ He elaborates: ‘I think one of the best-selling documentaries was The End of The Line and I think between the US and the UK cinematic release it only reached 50,000 people. If you’re going to make programmes that change the world that’s not the numbers that you need. In five weeks we had 800,000 views of the film and 1.5 million video views of the channel. That evidence really proves that you can get really big exposure for an issue that you’re trying to create attention for.’ Undoubtedly part of the success of Breaking The Taboo is that it presents potentially bewildering facts and figures in a clear, concise, and interesting way; all without dumbing them down. One thing that becomes clear when speaking to Branson is his enormous faith in the public, he explains: ‘people always talk about dumbing stuff down on TV these days, but I believe if you make something entertaining and engaging enough that you’ll bring wide audiences to the subject.’ The facts presented by Breaking The Taboo are shocking; the documentary expertly exposes both the failure of the war on drugs but, more importantly, the political fear of discussing any alternatives to the current drugs policy of criminalisation of both possession and dealing. Breaking The Taboo explains that since the war on drugs began over 40 years ago, over a trillion US dollars have been spent, millions of addicts have been imprisoned for possession, and unknown thousands have been killed. As the President of Switzerland, Ruth Dreifuss, touchingly states in the film: ‘you can’t make a war on drugs without making a war on people’. Scarily, the international drugs market continues to grow, remaining concentrated in the hands of major criminal cartels. Nothing is changing, the situation is worsening and yet, as Breaking The Taboo asserts, ‘our governments carry on regardless’. Although Breaking The Taboo does not offer a solution, it does explore the success of the decriminalisation of drugs in countries including Switzerland and Portugal. Decriminalisation is the buzzword of the issue: exciting some, but terrifying others. Branson clarifies: ‘I think when drugs are mentioned most people, especially people who have
never taken drugs in their life, go: “what are you talking about?” The idea of being liberal around drugs means that more people are going to take them. The main argument is that people think that there’s going to be a drug free-for-all. The point is, it’s actually completely the reverse: there is a drugs free-for-all right now. There is no regulation, it’s spiralling out of control, it’s a market run by criminals whose aims are profits, not the wellbeing of their customer.’ Although it marked a huge change in drugs policy, official Portuguese figures show huge success with
THERE IS A DRUGS FREE-FOR-ALL RIGHT NOW.
their policy of decriminalisation: the number of long-term addicts has dropped from over 100,000 to less than half that number; the number of users in prison has also dropped. At the same time, the money flooding into organised crime has slowed. Dealing drugs remains a criminal issue, meaning that criminals are still dealt with by the law, but vulnerable addicts are monitored by commissions made up of doctors, nurses, and counsellors. So what differentiates Portugal’s politicians from other world leaders? ‘Balls’ Branson replies. Interestingly, he also believes that the public are ahead of politicians in terms of understanding and supporting a change in international drugs policy. ‘I think the public are way more advanced than the politicians. I think the politicians probably behind closed doors would admit to believing that we should really change drugs policy but they still don’t have the political confidence. Part of the process of allowing the politicians to have this political confidence to make these decisions is to educate the public on the facts, so [politicians stop thinking that] it’s going to be a vote loser, which is exactly the aim of Breaking The Taboo: it’s to educate the public, so it paves the way for the conversation so that poli-
ticians can get involved in the debate.‘ Surely what the public fears most is violence and the violence associated with drugs. However, as Branson quickly points out: ‘it’s the illegality of the drugs that causes the criminal market; it’s not the drugs themselves.’ Convincingly, he is also quick to shoot down the theory that the war on drugs only affects those who deal or consume the drugs. Using an off-thecuff example he explains: ‘Sally in Bognor Regis may think: “what the hell have drugs got to do with me?” She’s never taken a drug in her life but the majority of the petty crime that is committed in her village is driven by the illegality of drugs. People have to commit crimes to support their habits, whereas they don’t if they’re an alcoholic.’
of his first steps into public life was when he starred alongside Kate Moss in a Burberry campaign in 2007. He candidly admits: ‘Yeah. I think everyone has choices in life about how they’re going to live. Especially in my position, being very lucky, I could quite easily be doing nothing. As I’ve got older, I’ve got a lot more into philanthropy and become quite passionate about using the position I’m in and the knowledge and contacts I’ve got, to try and have a positive impact. And, as well all know, life is much more satisfying when you’re challenging yourself and giving something back.’ Third year English Literature student Oliver Giles has been published in a variety of international magazines.
Yet, although the facts scream for a change in drugs policy, surely Breaking The Taboo is only the first step in a generation-long process to change attitudes to drugs? Branson thoughtfully replies: ‘I think we’re a few years off the majority of the population really understanding the subject, but I definitely feel like it’s the start of the end of drug prohibition. I would like to say that the majority of places in the world will have a decriminalised drug possession market in the next five to ten years.’ Despite the hope for a change in drugs policy, Breaking The Taboo deliberately never offers a solution: instead, it has succeeded as Branson hoped it would, and has become a starting point for debate around the issue. Now that he is back in London, Branson explains: ‘we’re trying to organise a screening at the moment for MPs at the Houses of Parliament, so fingers crossed!’ Whether or not MPs get involved, he has clearly inspired both the public and other international politicians to inspect their attitudes to an issue that has been systematically and deliberately ignored for decades. The enormous success of Breaking The Taboo has clearly inspired him to look at other international social issues, but he is remaining tight-lipped on his future plans with Sundog. ‘There are quite a few topics that I’ve got on the tip of my tongue that I want to tell you but for now I’ll probably just tell you that there are more social and political taboos out there that I’d like to tackle.’ Whatever he goes on to achieve, Branson has already made his own mark on both the production and release of future documentaries and has begun an international debate that has been waiting decades to break. However, it’s very easy to imagine that Branson could have lived a very different life to the philanthropic route he has chosen; after all, one
Suffer For Your Art
words by sukey scorer
Have you ever really let down someone important to you? Had to tell them something that you knew, as you muttered it, unable to meet their eyes, would shatter their understanding of you as a person, like a small stone shot through the stained glass window of your relationship? As I sat back on the chair, these thoughts crossed my mind, but they were tempered by anxiety, anticipation, apprehension. I expected something so permanent to be infinitely more painful, but after the initial sting my eyes wandered to the monochrome flash covering the walls – tigers trapped in eternal snarls; ships forever ploughing through turbulent seas; gypsy women gazing down at me with perpetually enigmatic expressions. Thirty minutes later I walked (or hobbled, because having needles dragged across your ankle bone doesn’t exactly make perambulation a breeze) out of the shop, indelibly altered.
When we talk about changes to the self, we almost exclusively mean spiritual or emotional modifications – even seemingly shallow transformations like losing x kilos or dropping y dress sizes are linked to notions of discipline and control. It is easy to forget how simple it is to physically customise yourself forever. Some people take the process of getting tattooed very lightly – they’ll roll up a shirtsleeve and point to a smudge of letters (‘I was pretty drunk’), or flaming playing cards (‘it was a dare’) – and there’s nothing wrong with that; decorate your temple as you see fit. But being both a control-freak and fairly career-minded, I planned mine out scrupulously, doing my research into placement, size and design. There’s a moment when the artist is setting up – ominously snapping on latex gloves, preparing tiny pots of ink that will soon be injected into your skin – when you think, ‘holy shit, this is never coming off’. I always have a bizarre flash forward to being a wizened octogenarian, golden-haired grandchildren playing at my slippered feet, and if the tattoo seems wildly inappropriate in that context then I’ll have second thoughts. But I never have, because ultimately, momentous as the procedure can seem, it does not fundamentally change who you are. The problems arise when other people refuse to believe that. With my parents, tattoos were the ultimate boundary, the one line you did not cross for fear of incurring apocalyptical wrath. Yet cross it I did (four times now). I still don’t know what they believed would happen to me – would I flee our nice, middle-class life to start a heavy metal band? (I lost interest in squawking out Metallica covers on my electric guitar when I was seventeen.) Would I bring a
scabby, leather-clad, Mohican-sporting boyfriend home and announce the imminent birth of our child? (I’ve no plans for kids till I’m thirty.) Would I end up in a dark Camden alleyway, eyes spinning in their sockets, a bloody needle laced with illicit substances plunged into my pale arm? (My existence has been one hundred per cent heroin-free.) When I eventually plucked up the courage to reveal the transgression, some six months had passed since the actual doing of the deed – for while I knew it would devastate them, that was never the intention; my years of teenage rebellion had passed. There were tears (of course), comments that cut deeper than anger (‘we’re just so disappointed’), and my mother wrote me a letter in which the phrase ‘violation of the flesh’ appeared. And through all of this there was my own frustration, so great it almost seemed ineffable, because within I felt unchanged. Then there’s my own generation: fattened on a diet of overblown reality TV shows in which every tattoo comes with a sob story – a beloved aunt who was dying of cancer until she was killed in a car crash; a blind pet who selflessly dragged its owner from a burning building – you get the picture. This idea of tattoos being cathartic is fairly new; I’m pretty sure that back in the 90s nobody questioned Mel C about the meaning behind the tribal loop on her bicep. Pop culture emphasises the idea of tattoos as a kneejerk reaction to drastic events, but this disregards much of the custom’s past. For a practice so often associated with the recklessness of youth, tattooing actually has a five thousand-year long, continent-spanning history, during which time the place of tattooed people
in society has morphed continuously. Mummies have been excavated bearing enduring images of fish and crosses that date back to 3300 BC. In ancient China and Japan, tattoos were used to brand criminals, whilst in India they designated different tribes and castes, and in Egypt they were found exclusively on women. Captain James Cook is often credited with bringing the art form to the west from Tahiti and New Zealand in the eighteenth century, and it started to gain popularity amongst the British gentry (both King George V and Edward VII were recipients). The first tattoo machine was patented in 1891 in the U.S., and the classic American style (think eagles and pin-up girls) developed between the two world wars. Thanks to hepatitis outbreaks in the 60s, the culture experienced a decline until Norman Keith Collins (more commonly known as Sailor Jerry), reinvented it as a credible practice when he fused sophisticated Japanese styles with updated health regulations. Now, tattoos are no longer a phenomenon to be gawped at in circuses or freak shows – as was the case less than one hundred years ago – a fact best illustrated by Samantha Cameron’s right ankle and its lasting blobby dolphin.
time’. He’s hit the nail on its (fully tattooed) head. Tattoos are, for many, just a visual extension of their personality or a form of beautification, but they do not constitute a fundamental aspect of character alone. An exception to this might be the guy with 15 Miley Cyrus tattoos, who was probably a bit of a creep to begin with (upon further research, it transpires that he does in fact consider the ex-Disney star his wife). But for the rest of us …
» remember that tattoos are only skin deep « French and History student Sukey Scorer is a regular contributor to national music magazine BEAT.
Vladimir Franz is a composer and professor at Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts who is currently polling third in the Czech Republic’s presidential election. He also happens to be completely covered in tattoos – to the extent that his face resembles marbled paper, gentle blue and green whorls swirling into one another. He believes that ‘to rate a human being only according to appearance – no matter if it was given by nature or voluntarily by himself – is a sign of superficiality and arrogance at the same
CREAM OF THE CROP words by lydia willgress
In the last couple of years, the push towards organic food and natural products has gone into over-drive. If you listen to the rumours, you could increase the list of products you canâ€™t use on a daily basis. For me, a budgeting-student, the first thing to have gone out the window when arriving in Edinburgh was the joy of buying free-range eggs. Discovering Tropic Pure Plant Skin Care earlier this year was a great moment. Not only are the products organic, as they are derived from 100 per cent pure plant extracts, they are affordable. I no longer have to scrimp
on food (the first thing to go out the window when saving), in order to fill up my beauty bag. I was particularly keen to test Tropic’s moisturising range, as living in Edinburgh, where the wind buffers you, chills you and (occasionally – if you are unlucky) blows you over, my skin gets really dry. The Body Love Buttercream, one of the Skin Care range that promises to smooth, hydrate and protect your skin, arrived at my flat beautifully packaged, enclosed in a bundle of straw and tissue paper. Using Tropic’s Body Love Buttercream not only keeps my skin soft and smooth, but also stops my hands cracking. The best way I have found to apply the product is after a shower, as it locks in moisture provided by the rich cocoa and shea butter (applying it also makes my room smell gorgeous!) Unlike other products, which often get clumpy or runny as they are stored, the Buttercream maintains its smooth consistency and is easy-to-apply, plus it soaks straight into the skin. After using the product once, it’s safe to say that there is a new addition to my beauty regime. That’s if I can stop my flatmates stealing it for long enough. . . Susan Ma launched Tropic Pure Plant Skin Care in 2007, and became a 50/50 partner with Lord Alan Sugar after competing in popular programme The Apprentice in 2011. Since then, the business has grown rapidly and Susan is looking forward to what the future will bring. The Body Love Buttercream featured in this review is found, alongside the rest of the products Tropic Skin Care provides, at www.tropicskincare.com, or follow Tropic on Twitter @TropicSkinCare Lydia Willgress writes features, reviews and news reports from international & national print media.
» I had no idea quite how much my life had changed in the last few hours. «
words by kayleigh tanner
one day I didn’t remember being rushed to hospital in an ambulance. I didn’t remember giving nonsensical answers to the nurses’ questions in A&E, and I certainly didn’t remember how I had ended up with five different drips sticking out of me. I didn’t realise that my lifestyle when I left hospital would be quite so different. Back in October 2012, I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. This is when the pancreas fails to produce insulin, the hormone which allows glucose from food to enter the body’s cells to provide energy. When there is no insulin, you are left with an excess of sugar in the blood, which, over time, damages the body and can lead to blindness, nerve damage and organ failure. My body had changed a lot in the pre-vious months. I’d lost a lot of weight without trying – in fact, I’d been trying to gain weight back – and I was physically very weak. I could hardly walk up the stairs on the London Underground. I had gone from being healthy and energetic to gaunt and in a constant state of dazed fatigue. Now here I was, bloated after being pumped full of fluids, and unable to comprehend what on earth I was doing in hospital.
I had been admitted with severe diabetic ketoacidosis. This is when the body starts breaking down emergency fat supplies because it can no longer get any energy from food. Your body produces ketones which effectively poison you. Somewhere in between trying to shout for water to help rehydrate my parched body and waking up rigged up to a myriad of machines, everything changed. The main difference between life prediabetes and now is the fact I have to inject insulin a minimum of four times a day, along with pricking my fingers each time to monitor my blood glucose. This isn’t as traumatic as a lot of people think. It’s not even too painful. More than anything it’s an inconvenience. Which brings me to the next big change . . . I can’t be as spontaneous as I would like anymore. It isn’t just a case of ‘well I’ve missed the last bus home, I’ll stay with a friend instead’ these days. I have to think about injection timings, what I’ll be eating, when I can eat - although life doesn’t really work like that. You can’t plan for everything that might possibly happen, and I prefer not to plan if I can help it. I try to cover all bases by carrying round as much of my diabetes kit as I can manage, but it’s not always practical. Fortunately, my diet hasn’t had to change as much as people expect. I don’t have to avoid sugar, as lots of people think. I have to watch the amount of carbohydrate I eat in general – both sugary and starchy carbs affect blood sugar. This isn’t too much of a problem though. I just load up on vegetables, salad and protein. I don’t tend to feel too left out as I don’t generally want ‘bad’ food
anymore. It’s quite a big change in terms of my attitude to food though. I spend lots of time reading food labels and checking menus before I eat anywhere so I can inject a suitable dose of insulin. I don’t want diabetes to take over my life, but it would be a lie to say it hasn’t changed things significantly. I have gone from eating what I like and running a very flexible schedule to always having to think ahead and consider how much exercise I’ll be doing, when during the day I can get food, what that food will probably be and even what the weather might do later in the day.
» it’s not a major catastrophe, but its certainly new territory « Another change that I hadn’t anticipated was the attitude of others. Some people don’t care at all, which is fair enough. Other people turn into the food police: ‘are you sure you’re allowed to eat that?’; ‘I think there is sugar in this so I won’t make you try it.’ Lots of people worry constantly, whereas others are just plain curious. I don’t mind answering questions, and I would rather do that than have people make assumptions about why I have diabetes and what it entails. Of course, I’m very grateful that so many people are concerned, but even in the
three short months since diagnosis, I’ve come to know my symptoms, and I know what to do when there is a problem. As with all major diagnoses, even the diagnosis itself makes you question your identity. A lot of people with diabetes prefer to say ‘I have diabetes’ rather than ‘I am diabetic’, because they don’t want their condition to define them. I can definitely understand this. Suddenly, you go from skipping over the medical section of forms to sitting and considering which of the tick-boxes you now fit into. It makes you think about yourself differently. I was left reeling for days after they first diagnosed me with the d-word. I can’t be diabetic! I’m healthy! I never get ill! Even with a big life change such as this, there are some positives. Aside from the fact my pancreas doesn’t work, I’ve never had a healthier diet. I make the right choices about what I put into my body, and I take more care over my health. Injecting myself so frequently helped me get over my needle phobia. I’ve become educated about a topic that had never previously crossed my mind, and I think it has made me a lot more understanding about the problems people face. OK, so I’m stuck with this for life now. What I’ve learnt is that no change is too big to adapt to, no matter how daunting it might seem when you wake up in intensive care. Kayleigh Tanner regularly blogs about living with diabetes. She tweets @DailyKayleigh