Monday, 15 July 2013

Every Second Song is OUT OF ACTION

That's right guys. You're going to have to find your Northern rambles somewhere else for the time being.

 I've been MIA for a few weeks, with the occasional post when I've had time, but it's finally official. has been passed back to the domain gods and I'm currently building my new website. I'll be relaunching it when I'm back from Barcelona, and it'll be much snazzier and have a much more relevant name (to be decided...).

I'll make sure the new website is well known, but if you're mega keen to stay updated in the meantime, follow me on twitter (@farrahkelly). If you want to be specifically informed of the new site launch, send me a line on and I'll send out a message when I'm up and running again. It will be, naturally, riveting.

See you on the other side!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Floating over Barcelona...

Having trekked up a cruel amount of dusty steps to get the the peak of Montjuic, Barcelona's home to museums, viewpoints and the old Olympic site, there was no way on earth you could tempt me and Beth to hike back down again.

Montjuic Cable Car- a review!

Thankfully, we didn't have to set up camp there for the indefinite future, as the nice folks at Montjuic provide a handy little cable car service.

There are two cablecar routes; one around the massive Montjuic itself, and one that acts as a courier between the peak of the hill, overlooking the Med, and Barceloneta beach. They depart from different points, so double check you're getting onto the right route. We opted for the Barceloneta route, because otherwise we would have never made it down the hill again.


The views are just gorgeous. As you're hovering over the ports, you're treated to panoramic views of the city. On a clear day (-though is any day unclear in BCN?), you can see for miles. It's such a lovely feeling, swooping (slightly faster than imagined) over the city, spotting the landmarks and pointing out your hotel. What a cool alternative way to see the city.

Depending on your route and whether you want a round trip, tickets cost between 10-17 euro, our one-way to Barceloneta was 11 euro. It's a little steep (no pun intended) if you're on a mega budget, as the whole journey lasts around ten minutes one way, but for the most part I'd say it's worth it. How often do you get to float above a beautiful city, after all?


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Don't talk to strangers- or do...

In London, there are secret rules.

Breaking them ousts you as an outsider, letting everyone in the immediate vicinity know that you're a foolish, flailing tourist. They stir up feelings of mild contempt or pure raging hatred, depending on how serious the crime.

London is in fact designed specifically to identify outsiders- from impossible-to-pronounce towns to those pointless Open Door buttons on all tubes (HINT- none of them work, it's just a sinister TFL ploy to reveal newbies to the entire carriage).

By far the biggest London rule, however, is to NEVER SPEAK TO ANYONE. Ever. Even if you're squished up against their face between King's Cross and Moorgate. Even if their rucksack just smacked you in the face. Especially not if you're in the queue for something. What are you, some sort of sociopath?

**Top London Tip**: It's really fun to break this rule.

So I bought a (toy) lion at the Zoo Late a week or so back, and being the cheapskate I am, refused to pay for a plastic bag to carry him home in. And as it turns out, being on a train full of drunk people while you're carrying a toy lion is a great icebreaker.

We (me and my lion) were being mercilessly stared at. It was getting awkward. I had to break the rule. "I don't just carry him around everywhere" I announced, startling a commuter who had been snoozing. The couple sat across from me caught my eye and started laughing. The man sat next to them, who was almost certainly a drug dealer, asked me what my lion was called. He suggested Tony, a la the Kellogs adverts. I pointed out that Tony was in fact a tiger, but nice try. More people laughed.

I sat quietly for the rest of my trip, feeling really bloody pleased with myself. I must be hilarious, I thought, sauntering down Shepherd's Bush. I'd always secretly known I was a comedic genius, but these Tube strangers confirmed it for me. In two simple quips I'd made at least seven people in laughter. This must be what Peter Kay feels like all the time. I rang my boyfriend to tell him the good news. 

A few days later, after a particularly bad night's sleep, I nipped to the shop to get some milk. Yawning as I passed over my money, the guy commandeering the till asks me "Still in bed?". I reply, "Yeah, and going straight back to it", cue a ripple of laughter from him, the guy stocking the tobacco shelf, and the woman behind me in the queue. Wow, I thought, smiling, that wasn't even that funny. Maybe because no one in London talks to each other, when they do make the slightest joke, it's actually hilarious... I'm coming back here again.

I think London is dangerous for my ego. 

Friday, 28 June 2013

The Exchange- Rooftop Cafe Review

I love a view. I also love good food. Generously, the Rooftop Cafe (Top floor of The Exchange on London Bridge Street) has combined the two so you don't have to cart a three course meal to a city-top point yourself.

Scallops roe

You have to clamber up what looks and feels, essentially, like a fire escape to get there. Not the most atmospheric entrance, but in a way it works because you have zero expectations by the time you breathlessly reach the top, so they're well prepped to immediately blow you away.

We sat in the cosy cubby room, and let the wine flow. I ordered the scallops roe, beef and avocado meatballs, and the hazelnut cake. I'd recommend all of these (perhaps not the cake,a little dry for my liking), though it seems like the menu might change pretty regularly- each menu had the date on it.

In a previous life, the space was a caretaker's flat. Not that you could tell, the place is kitted out with snazzy string chairs and pops of vibrancy, no toolboxes or overalls in sight. Service was smooth and fast, and despite the rain I ventured out onto the terrace to snap a couple of pictures. The atmotphere was so lovely, really chilled out and you cannot argue with the views. It's a shame we were too busy tucking into our mains when the sun was setting, but I'll definitely be heading back on a sunnier evening for cocktails and a city-wide overlook.

Beef meatballs with avocado

Have you been to the Rooftop Cafe? Do you want a meal with a view? Visit Rooftop Cafe's website here.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Selfie Sunday: I'm just plain old 'Northern' now.

I was a busy little blogger yesterday- it's my first London weekend that didn't involve moving house again, so I took full advantage of not having to spend a Saturday packing, and spent it walking instead.

Mostly this just involved getting lost, but I managed to take my mini walking adventure via West End Live (which was okay, just a shame about the techie issues), round the tourist-rammed Portobello Road market, down Notting Hill and back home to Shepherd's Bush. Completely pooped, I was ready to get into bed come 4pm.

But I live in London now. And I think it's technically a legal requirement for 20-somethings in a capital city at a loose end on a Saturday night to find something to do. And who am I to disrespect the law?

So, when my wonderful housemate Georgie invited me to a party in Shoreditch, to a swanky little basement bar called nineteen-twenty, I couldn't possibly say no. I spent the night talking buzz-words, north-south divides and The Shard. The wine was flowing and there were free cupcakes, and what more can a girl honestly want from a party?

I was starting to feel more like a real Londoner. Stopping for a hotdog in Notting Hill, heading off to jaunts in Shoreditch, planning charity shop hauls in Clapham. Then I found myself having to explain, mortally offended, that Manchester is NOT in fact "in Yorkshire". I was horrified. 

This innocent (and wildly misinformed) mis-placing of my hometown was crazy. Being a Manchester girl living in Yorkshire used to be a big deal- i.e. I was mercilessly teased for my pronunciation of "beer", and asked to provide a passport every time I crossed the Pennines by my charming and ever-loving friends. But I guess in a city where the War of the Roses is skimmed over in history lessons, none of that matters now. 

I'm just Farrah From The North, and I can spare people the potted life history now- which is going to save a lot of time.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Room to breathe.

Having had all sorts of bedrooms, from poky student digs to enormous country manor kicks, I've come to really appreciate the importance of having a room you love. I've had my fair share of crap setups, including having to top-and-tail with my little sister, so living in a beautiful room of my own is my idea of heaven.

Being in London, everything is high-energy, no-time, mad-rush. And it can be a bit overwhelming at times for little old me, so retreating to my quiet little corner to read, maybe phone the grandparents, is so relaxing it may as well come with it's own acoustic soundtrack.

Top shelf L-R: Family portrait of the Kelly girls, school portrait miniature, Beth's first day of school pic, a card my family gave to me on the first day of university, me and Miss Bennett, empty picture frame that my boyfriend PROMISED to get a picture of us for, one of those fancy schmancy scent things.

Bottom shelf L-R: My wonderful Holga camera, a pile of books and notepads, "Good friends are like stars, you don't have to see them to know they are there",my mini Geisha, Simon Armitage collection/The Female Eunuch/To Kill A Mockingbird/How To Be A Woman, ikea tealights.

And of course I have my Rosie Riveter postcard as a little reminder to myself walking out of the door every morning, ready to face the big bad Smoke. I've always loved making my stamp on the numerous rooms I've lived in, and this time is no different. London is starting to feel a little bit more like home now!

Friday, 14 June 2013

Welcome to London!

I've been a very absentee blogger of late. This is down to two factors: emotional exhaustion and physical exhaustion. So one factor really. Exhaustion. 

I've been emotionally exhausted because moving is HARD. You'd think as this is something like my fifth move in three years I'd be totally cool with putting my life into a few suitcases and shifting scenery once again. Turns out nope. Moving to London is a whopper, and no amount of previous upheaval-wisdom would have been enough to prepare me.

This makes it sound as though as I encountered a dragon on my way down the M1. I'm afraid the truth is less dangerous and exciting, and more...damp. Saying goodbye to my Northern family as I became the first Kelly girl to venture down south turned into a teary little adventure. Anyone would have thought I was never coming back, and the fact I'm heading home in July did little to comfort anyone.

When you're emotional like that, it can quickly sap the fun out of you. I was in no mood to blog about how much I missed my mum, because it probably would have brought on a spout of wailing. So I just cracked on.
Taken from the offices inside The Shard!

The physical exhaustion was kinda boring. I'd have a fantastic day at work, be full of enthusiasm and peppiness, then completely crash come 6pm. Being on the tube squished under some guy's armpit and being hit in the face with some tourist's backpack isn't really the best way to set yourself up for a fun-filled evening of exploring a capital city.

So I went home each night, Skyped and called and watched TV. Did extra research for work, played with my new shiny tablet, and got early nights. It was boring. Really boring. How could I blog about it?

But, alas, I perked up. All it took was for my colleague Lara to tell me "No good story starts with, 'so, I was doing everything completely right...'", my little sister to visit briefly and for the discovery of a fantastic little Mexican in Covent Garden with Laura, and I'm back.

I've got some really cool things lined up, including my first ever blogger event, moving house (again...) and a Zoo Late (it's a party in a zoo. For real.). Plus I finally got my camera fixed so I'm going to town (literally) with that this weekend!

Welcome to London, Every Second Song!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

I've eaten all of the cake.

In second year, my then-housemates and I were discussing how quickly first year had whizzed by. In terms that we could really understand, we drew the most apt comparison we could think of:

 "If university was a cake, we'd be a third of the way through by now. That's a lot of cake".

Eating a third of a cake seems like a lot, doesn't it? Well that's nothing compared to chomping down on the whole thing, barely coming up for air, being so busy relishing in the chocolatey-goodness that you don't realise that- wait- there's only crumbs left now.

I've gotten through it all, the late night word counting and the early morning hungover note taking. It was a pretty bloody tasty cake, and I might not have enjoyed every morsel (I'm looking at you, second year exams), but it was all worth it. I've had the honour of being taught by experts, of meeting people who have changed my outlook, and of scoring 10% off at Topshop for the last three years. You can't argue with that.
University = a cake. Duh.

I finished my final exam yesterday. That's it. No more lectures, no more assignments, no more cake. Now all I've got remaining of education is that final glass of champagne- ahem, graduation- to wash it all down with!

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Leaving York

I'm throwing myself a leaving party next week (or in other words: making a self-pity curry so huge I have no choice but to invite fifty people round to eat it with). I've packed up my stuff, handed in the final essays, and just have one exam and a one-way ticket to the capital standing in between me and my new London life.

It's been a hellah busy week, and strictly speaking this blogging-time would be better spent revising sociolinguistic theories, so this post is just a teency offering to the internet to say sorry bro, I would blog properly but I've got stuff to do. See you on the other side!

(L-R: Congrats on my new job!; lunch at House of Trembling Madness, York; Revision provisions; packing up; shoe shopping with Jonathan; leaving presents from the LimeHouse; new motivational stationary!)

Monday, 20 May 2013

Out with the old: a nostalgic walk around campus

The walk through campus looks so different since I returned to my final term at York. 

Now when I arrive, walking past the Old Sports Centre, all I see is queues of Freshers eager to see what freebies they can glean from Fresher’s Fair. I walk through James College, past McQ’s filling up for the weekly pub quiz, and post-night-outers tucking into the CU’s free toasties. Past N Block, where I can still hear the geese alarms shirking the first years out of their hangovers, and over Vanbrugh Bridge, under construction still, where I once passed out after an unsuccessful bar crawl.

Across Vanbrugh Paradise, where we sunbathed with revision notes and watched fireworks across the lake. Heading up to the Courtyard, where we devour burgers, and through the hall I sat exams in. Wander through Langwith, dodge students filing out of lectures, up to the Quiet Place, where I cried and told my mum I was homesick in first year. 

Then up, back through Derwent, past the corner with The Charles, where countless quick pints turned into late night Chinese takeaways, or worse, Chinese discos. Walk along University Road, watching a duck cause a traffic jam. Nip into Costcutter for a cursory glance at the reduced section, then off to the library. 

No scaffolding anymore, through the puff of smoke into the Morrell. Discover the book that salvages your essay, then down to the Silent Study area, home of naps.  Retrace my steps to the exit, and over to Alcuin Bridge to see people trudging back from late-night snowball fights. Snaking through the Alcuin blocks, past the room where I was elected onto a committee and where I received my first ever fail.

Cross Derwent Bridge, past the poster advertising the house I lived in during third year. Trot down the stairs, back to the lake, and follow it to the Exhibition Centre. I fainted in there on my first day of lectures, was carried to the health centre by some startled strangers. The countless YSC films I watched in that building flicker, the countless student papers I read waiting for a lecture fade.

Sit on my favourite bench, outside the maths’ rooms, and watch friends graduate across the lake in Central Hall while I throw crumbs at the surrounding ducks. It’s me next. Then it’ll be you. 

Originally published 20/05/13 for The Yorker Nostalgia (print) Issue. 

Thursday, 9 May 2013

The home stretch: finishing my degree

I'm not really the kind of person who gets anxious.

I do panic and stress fine, better than most you might say. You should see me tip a house upside down in less than ten minutes because I can't find a pair of glasses and I'm already late for work. But anxiety? Nah.

I'm more of a last-minute-high-temperature-quickly-oh-god-the-printer's-broken-phone-my-mum kinda gal. Slow bubbling nervousness isn't really my thing. At least it wasn't until the joys of week three, term three, year three rolled around. Oh, and I move to London in just over three weeks. (Who was it who said "three is the magic number"? They can go to hell.)

I don't think I'm suffering from real anxiety. Not as a condition. I've just got this horrible rumbling feeling in the pit of my cookie-filled stomach that what if- what if- I mess this up? What if I blank in my exam, or accidentally plagiarise an entire essay, or just faint in a presentation? I know it's unlikely, but I can't get this fear of failure out of my mind.

Are we all feeling like this? Is this what people warn you about? I've not been sleeping because all I can think about is referencing, and I've been feeling kinda sick whenever I try and settle down to relax. I initially put this down to maybe eating a little too much calamari at my new favourite restaurant Lucia's, but I've not eaten any lightly-dusted Cajun squid in ages, so it can't be that.

There's nineteen days in between me and my final piece of work, and as much as I'm desperately trying to get it over with, it doesn't seem very fair at all. Why should our last days at university, our last days in education at all, be felt feeling sick at the thought of failing? Of dropping one mark in fear of changing grade boundaries? I've loved my time at university, I don't want to remember it as a montage of nervously checking word limits and freaking out when an important book is already on loan.

So, to combat this miserable outlook, I'm making a habit of RELAXING. I've started watching Game of Thrones (though as a means to relaxation I can't say it's particularly helpful, that show is tense), I went along to my wonderful Yorker's lifestyle meeting to catch up with the old gang, I went for a sunny lunch with Joanne and I've more or less decided on booking a hotel for my first few nights in LDN to take the pressure off. As cheesy as it sounds, having a little bit of time to yourself in between JSTOR articles, makes the world of difference.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

London countdown: 5 weeks to go

I guess I'd better go into this snazzy job then, hadn't I?

Last week, I announced/found out that little old me had been offered a job in the big city, and I'd be starting as soon as my exams in York were over. Once I'd been reassured that gravy does indeed exist south of Yorkshire, I accepted the position with relief and enthusiasm.

Relief because I now don't have to worry about life immediately after university; I can focus on my exams and not mix in job applications with essay deadlines. Enthusiasm because the job is way cool.

I'll be interning with the impressive and inspiring GoodPeople- specifically on their newly set up Pop Up Talent Project. Pop Up Talent's aim is to reduce youth unemployment (starting with me...) by giving them the opportunity to develop, show off and apply digital skills. I'll be doing the backstage stuff. And grinning constantly.

It's cool because I get to try out different aspects of the project, it's a pretty small team, and it's a cause I care about. I can't wait to get my teeth into it, which is a good job because I start in little over five weeks.

Still househunting (if anyone knows a room going in South West London, holla at me), and now armed with an employment contract, a load of TED talks/inspiring books/links about creativity and employment and the general yoof, it's all starting to feel real. And exciting.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Northern girl seeks London town

My life is about to take off in a whole new direction. A particularly southern looking direction.

So first things first, congratulations to me for getting myself a snazzy job. I'm allowed to brag about it because it's well documented how unlikely getting a snazzy job would be for me. And it is unbelievably snazzy. Snazzy.

But before I go on to talk about all the snazz (I'll stop saying that now), I kinda need to move. About 150 miles. To The South. And soon- my start date is less than seven weeks away- so now is the perfect time to initiate a life crisis.


It's a lot to come to terms with. Especially when you're the sort of person who deems any place below Sheffield as The South. In fact, looking for a flatshare in the Big City has made me realise how little I actually know about London.

My entire knowledge of the city is based completely on Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, the queen jumping out of a plane into the Olympics, the music video where the girl from Black Eyed Peas sexually assaults the Queen's Guard, and that time I went on an open top tour-bus for my 18th birthday. So narrowing down a place to live in the giant city is proving pretty difficult, but I think I've just about settled on Clapham, Balham, or somewhere else in the Wandsworth area- based entirely on a quiz I did online and what my only Londoner friend, Jaime, told me.

So that's the big news. But never fear, if anything my accent will be stronger and I'll be more determined than ever to call people "love". You can take the girl out of the North, but I'll be damned if you ever try to take the North out of me.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

The best restaurants in York

I LOVE going for meals. It upsets me that society limits us to two "going out for a meal" opportunities a day. I'd quite happily walk from one three course meal to the next day, all day, every day. Here's where I'd do it in York- a city of beauty and glorious, glorious food.

5. Melton's Too
Looking for some proper Yorkshire food? Good, because there's stacks of it in the deceptively massive Melton's Too, on Walmgate. The best thing about this tasty, tasty stuff is it's also got a Yorkshire price tag, with Early Bird Menus at £13 each. Did I mention the real ale? Yup, if you're looking for somewhere to soak in a Yorkshire pub atmostphere with just a touch more chic, then book a table here immediately.

4. Ambiente
On the edges of the city centre, past the Minster and up Goodramgate, Ambiente is the most authentic Spanish experience you could possibly find in York. They have a huge range of delicious- and I mean delicious- tapas. If you don't order their paella, then you're doing it wrong. Reasonably priced, with a wonderful atmostphere and insanely knowledgeable staff. Get yourself a jug of sangria and settle in for the night- with tapas you can just keep on going and going and...

3.The Lime House
CONFESSION: I work here. That doesn't mean I don't love coming to eat here, even if I twitch every time the phone rings in the middle of my meal (!). Come at lunchtime, ask for table three/four, order a large glass of white, the mushroom risotto to start, the duck for main and the sticky toffee pudding for desert, and thank me later. (Plus the service is golden, naturally).

2. Ning
I've already written a pretty extensive review of Ning York here, but it warrants another mentioning in my top five York eateries. Seriously good Malaysian food, I can practically still taste the Beef Rendang and Gado Gado salad. Yum :)

1. Nineteen
Nineteen, tucked away on Grape Lane, is my number one restaurant in York for pretty simple reasons. The food is delicious, the wine servings are generous, the rooms are so quintessentially York- creaky and quirky-, and the service was a charm. Order the trio of lamb and let it melt in your mouth. DO NOT forget to order the triple fried chips, because you will secretly harness a hatred for your boyfriend for denying you them for the rest of your life.

So, that's it. I'd also like to shout out to Siam House, the best Thai food I've ever eaten, who only narrowly missed out on being on this list by inconveniently closing a few months ago. We miss you, Siam House.

Where did I miss off? Where should I go next? There's so many places in York I can't wait to get my jaws around...

Friday, 5 April 2013

Q&A Session: Past and Future

This is the last of three Q&A blogs. This was really fun to do, I was expecting questions like "What's your favourite colour" or ""why are you such a cow", but got really interesting stuff to work with! The only questions I chose to ignore were the creepy ones ("Are you good at sex"...) and the ones from my boyfriend asking me why I insisted on cyberbullying him. I'll be back to normal blogging as of now, but please keep commenting and engaging with me, that way all the time I spend behind my laptop won't look as lame!

If you could undo one mistake in your past what would it be?
I used to stay up every night reading past bedtime using a light from a glowpen. It's totally ruined my eyes and now I can't look into the middle distance without squinting/glasses. Harry Potter would have been there in the morning, I should've just waited.

If you won the lottery what would you do with your winnings?
Buy my mum a house so she can stop bloody moving every year. Buy myself a round the world plane ticket, and spend my time volunteering and writing across the globe. Help out important causes to me, and make sure my family's future was secure happy and fun :)

When you were a little girl what did you want to be when you grew up?
True story, I wanted to be a student.

My mum likes the notion of "show me the girl at seven and I'll show you the woman", so if we're going off that, I was the kid who made and wrote up magazines, forced my sister and friends to buy them. I've always been into forcing people into reading my stuff, apparently.

Who is your best friend and why?
The darling Emma Bennett, ofc. Because she can make me cry laughing, read my mind, we have the same values, she picks me up when I need it, she is honest and funny and inspiring and I couldn't be more grateful for (or cheesy about) her. Also because she pretends not to notice when I steal her clothes. And food.

If you could have any career (not taking wages/talent needed/level of difficulty into consideration), what would you pick? 
I really want a career in communications. I want to write for people, I want to talk to people, I want to make people talk to each other. So I'll work at that, regardless of wages, talent and difficulty!

If you could bring one old friend from the past back, who would it be and why? 
There's so many friendships that kinda fazed out, simply due to being too busy, not making efforts, and moving far away. I couldn't begin to name them, and I couldn't pick one. Needless to say, I'd love for them all to be part of my life still :)

What would be your ideal job? 
Coronation Street's Official Previewer. Bill Bryson's Suitcase. Queen of Blogs.

What's the best and worst thing about York uni?
Best: The quality of some of the work, the opportunities to get involved with so many societies, the
cheesy nightlife, how beautiful it looks on a sunny day, padding around the library at ten at night in slipper socks.
Worst: My syntax lecturer.

What would your last meal be?
Giant plate of salt and pepper prawns to start, duck leg with sweet potato main, giant sticky toffee pudding for dessert with a massive fruity cocktail to wash it all down.

So that's it! I've deleted my now (I have EXAMS to be thinking about) and hopefully you all feel like you've been suitably nosy and I've been suitably compliant in answering you. If you're desperado to find out something else (like, seriously, WHY do you insist on cyberbullying your boyfriend?) then tweet me, email me, or comment on a post! It makes my day.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Q&A Session: My Values

Yesterday I posted the first of three Q&A Sessions, and this is round two! It's loosely themed on my beliefs, values and politics. You guys are so deep.

Which public figure do you admire most, living or dead?
Maybe CatMo. Maybe Beyonce. Farrah Fawcett. I used to have a burning admiration for suffragette Marion Wallace-Dunlop, the first woman to go on hunger strike for the vote.

Favourite book?
I read "Walking Naked" so many times growing up. I will read and treasure anything by Bill Bryson but if I had to pick one of his I'd say... Neither Here Nor There. How To Be A Woman, To Kill a Mockingbird, HP series, A Clockwork Orange, We Need To Talk About Kevin, There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom, White Teeth.

What's more important, being English or being Northern?
I'm aware this is a joke, but genuinely, Northern. Being English is fab and all, but being Northern means proper gravy and walking past Roy Cropper in a train station and having an accent and hills and being able to call complete strangers "love" and "pet" and if you're feeling daring "duck". Being English is having Pimms and being quietly disgruntled and meeting the queen.

Who/what was your biggest political influence (writer, politician, event, book)?
Ooh. I read a lot of Charlie Brooker and David Mitchell when I was a teenager, so I absorbed a lot of "look how ridiculous everything is" from them. On a more personal level, my stepdad Steve Yates taught me a lot about politics, and my own common sense. I probably became most interested in it when the general election was on last, and thanks to the NUS/EMA protests. I don't know anything about the ins and outs of politics, I kinda go with my gut feeling.

Yorkshire or Lancashire?
I know I'm Manchester born and bred, and it took me long time to get out of my Manc Mindset, but I think I'd have to say Yorkshire on this one. I love York, and home is where the heart is. In truth, I'd ideally like a mix of both. Traditional Tudor Rose, me.

How important is personal ambition to you? Though firstly how do you define it, and how much of it do you expect from the people you want to be around?
AAH serious one.
It's very important. I'd define it as a future you see for yourself, and I think it's really important for people to have a positive outlook on their futures. It's nice to have serious things to work towards, and to know that what will be, will be. I'm not overly ambitious, money and power aren't that important to me, and I wouldn't want it to be the main priority for those around me either, it breeds negativity and sucks.

Could you live of £53 a week
For a single week, easy. £53 a week forever, I'd go crazy.
(Incidentally, I wrote a Yorker Comment piece about this)

Factorise 5ab + 10a??
Is this some kind of sick joke?

What has been the strongest affirmation of- and challenge to- your identity with feminism?
In terms of my strongest affirmation, I guess I'd say realising how much work my mum put in to bringing up me and Beth. Sounds a little cheesy, but I took her for granted growing up as a kid, and after a point I began to recognise single mumhood was significant, and she'd had to deal with a lot to give us opportunities. Looking at how she did it all with a smile and without ever doubting herself kinda gave me my first insight into what feminism looks like. Funny, because she never talked of herself as a feminist. That and reading How To Be a Woman- gave me a definition I identified with. Beforehand I thought if you hadn't read Germaine Greer you didn't count.

My biggest challenge has been EITHER coming to university and discovering that people think I'm the wrong kind of feminist, finding out that other women, especially ones close to me, fundamentally disagree with what I see as basic feminism, and accepting mistakes I've made in certain life choices that I saw as reducing my credibility as a "real" feminist.
Good question (Y).

What's on your bucket list? 
I can't really answer this because it'd basically be a list on countries. Travel, as much as I can, helping as many people as I can. Join a protest, buy a cool apartment, go to slam poetry events. There's so much.

Coffee or TV?
Ooh. Coffee keeps me awake but Corrie keeps me Mancunian. That said, I only actively watch Coronation Street, nothing else, and I drink coffee daily to get me out of zombie mode. Tough call. I genuinely don't know, this is causing a real identity crisis here.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Q&A session! Blogging + etc edition

On seeing some friends using, I thought I'd do a little experimental Every Second Song post. I don't really get much chance to interact with the people who read ESS, I don't know what you want to know or what you think about me, really. It's been pretty interesting! This is the first of three answer posts, loosely themed on my blog and a couple of relationship-y ones. The next two will be loosley themed on "values and beliefs" and "Past and Future".

What are your guilty pleasures when browsing the internet?
I am a sucker for Youtubers. DailyGrace, Zoella, Sam Pepper, Jenna Marbles, It's Kingsley Bitch, LLYMLRS, My Drunk Kitchen, Laci Green. I can't help watching them.
Also "failbook" and "facebook fails" etc. And Buzzfeed.

Who have been your biggest supporters for your blog?
Emma Bennett used to proof read them for me, Jonathan Frost designed it for me, my mum gave me ideas for it. There's a few other names who really gave me confidence in embarrassing myself online, be it giving me the idea in the first place, staying up late to talk about post ideas, forcing all their mates to read it and nominating me for awards. (That's you; Laura Reynolds, Dan Williams, Sam Dumigan, Ian Lau) (P.S Thank you all)

Are you as confident as you come off on your blog?
Do I come off as confident? Oh my, I thought I came off as... confused. It depends. I can be shy and quiet and need to take my time around things, but for the most part I'm pretty confident. It's a combination of being Northern, trying to be Beyonce, and practice in handling people. I'll happily talk to strangers, make a complaint, tell jokes to the bus driver, follow my instinct, etc, but I don't mind taking a back seat occasionally :)

If you had to pick one blog post as a personal favourite, which would it be and why?
My first rave; a review
I think this is my favourite blog post because it was such an incredible night. I am the LAST person you'd expect to find at a French rave in the forest, and the experience was so utterly new to me that all my incredulousness, my ridiculousness (who takes a book to a rave, for god's sake?) and my excitement really comes across. It reminds me of a really fun night, and is probably by favourite travel post too.

Why is your blog named "every second song?"
"Are you watching them pair off, and thinking alone? Are you falling in love, are you falling in love, are you falling in love every second song?"- Elbow, Forget Myself.

You know that thing- "nothing says regret like the email you picked as a kid"- it's a little bit like that. It's my all time favourite song, and a beautiful lyric, but I can't deny how Myspace-esque it is. I get a lot of traffic from people looking for music blogs. I did consider changing it to plain ol' or something, but I've kind've fallen in love with ESS now :)

Your blog is really entertaining. Would you ever consider writing for a living?
N'aww thanks. My ideal job involves writing, and writing a lot. I'm looking for a career in communications, however that manifests itself. Maybe one day I can pack a bag and become the female Bill Bryson :)

What made you want to start a blog?
My friends got sick of me retelling the same anecdotes. I had too many opinions to bottle them up, and a pretty website was a good way to publish them. It got me involved with a community of bloggers I'd always read but never been an active part of. It's a public outlet for writing about my feelings, helps me organise them in a way that others can find (hopefully find) funny and relatable. I wanted to talk to people.

I also had an essay due the week I set up ESS. So mostly to procrastinate, honestly.

Who is the best person?
Toss up between my mum and Norris Cole

If you had to go to an island and you could only take one thing with you, what would you take?
ONE thing? I guess a pen. A camera would eventually die, ditto laptop, paper is no use without something to write on, books would run out. Gah, but so would ink! A huge tin of paint. I'd write stuff onto rocks with my fingers, keep me entertained a good long time.

Where is your favourite place in the world?
That I've been to, Rodos Old Town, Rhodes. Or Hebden Bridge, UK. Or Szimpla Bar in Hungary. Or Fethiye Bay.
That I've not been to yet, anywhere in Croatia, Tallinn. They're on the list after extensive researching.

Pirate or Ninja?
Pirates get all the girls, so...

why are you such a bender lol
Charming, lil sis.

Really enjoy your blogs, do you ever feel self-consious about putting yourself out there? and similar question: I really enjoy reading your blog. But do you ever feel uncertain about putting so much of your life onto a public internet site, and the way in which people, who you don't know anything about, could know an awful lot about you? 
It is weird. But everyone gets talked about, and everyone has opinions on others. I'm well aware that there will be people who will look at ESS and think I'm being a show off, or whiny, or stupid, etc. That's fine. It's helped me develop thick skin.

In terms of people knowing a lot about me, that's okay too. Everything I publish I'm happy with. I try to be honest, and I try to let my mood come across, because that's what makes it interesting. What use would a personal blog be if it was only the positive stuff? Would you read a blog about how my student finance loan came in on time? It's not as interesting, and I guess I'm okay with the idea of using my own life to entertain people.

 I know where to draw the line with my posts. I'd never feature someone who I thought was unhappy with it- it wouldn't be fair for me to take their choice away in whether people can find out more about their lives.

I've had to delete posts that I've reread and thought were too personal. While I'm happy for my friends, strangers, employers, anyone to read most things, I'd never make myself vulnerable. I want ESS to be a happy place for me, not somewhere I come to tell my bank details and how hormonal I am.

What is your perfect evening?
A great restaurant, good company, maybe some cocktails, holding hands, York river/Shambles,

Describe your perfect man

Do you have a boyfriend? 
See above picture.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


For a little ESS experiment I'm answering anonymous questions on

Please ask away, I'll be reposting my answers in a blog tomorrow. I'll be getting rid of the afterwards, I don't want to end up addicted (!) and it gives people a chance to find out more about me. Knock yourselves out!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Squeezing ESS in!

Hello hello hello, it's been a good while. I've been pretty busy lately, so I thought I'd do a mega quick update so that ESS didn't start feeling all lonesome and neglected. I'll be back to proper blogging sooooon, right after I've finished codifying morphemes (ugh).

~I'm still in York, but not necessarily by choice. I've been hitting the library daily, and was really looking forward to heading back to Huddersfield for a few days of playing with the dog and having unlimited hot showers, but seeing as everyone in Upperthong (yes- genuine name of the village I live in) is well and truly snowed in, I've ended up back in the library for a few more days. Good because I'm getting more work done, bad because I have to contend with these guys...

~ I interviewed my spoken-poet hero Mark Grist- I've posted it in full here- and to see his show Rogue Teacher thanks to my beloved Yorker! It was pretty cool being able to casually phone up one of my favourite poets for a chat about his opinions on the EBacc and Scroobius Pip and his favourite poets. I got a bit carried away and ended up having a bit of a fangirl moment, but he seemed used to it so it's all okay.

~ In other Yorker news, I reviewed the pretty bizarre "Self Service"- read it here- as part of the TakeOver Festival. It's the first time I've ever been to the theatre by myself, and I secretly enjoyed it. I assumed I'd feel ridiculous sat on my own, but it was quite nice to be able to fully focus on the show and pretend I was a proper luvvie, rather than a student out for free tickets.

~I'm currently helping out the lovely little social enterprise snazzy website full of jobs, internships and volunteering opps. If anyone wants me to put them up as a volunteer, then just holla!

~ To celebrate my boyfriend getting a fancy new job, and me getting a fancy new coat, we went to Meltons Too for a cosy little meal. Such a nice wee restaurant, great atmosphere and good food. I keep meaning to do a "Top Five Restaurants in York"- and I've got a feeling Meltons Too will feature. We also went to Lucias for some cheap cocktails- I'll definitely be taking Emma and Joanne there, what's not to love about half priced cocktails and Usher on repeat?

~ When I'm not interviewing poetry heroes or swanning off to the theatre, I'm doing the usual. Reading fashion blogs, watching Coronation Street, and researching the structure of Polish sound systems (hello, lingusitics degree...). So all fun and games as usual! I'll do a real blog soon!

(And just for luck/because it will piss him off, here's a picture of Jonathan being his usual sexy self)

Thursday, 21 March 2013

This isn't a poem

This isn't a poem, it just looks like it.
It's simply dressing up as 'English Lit',
It's trying to lull you to a sense of security,
out of trust or intelligence or curiosity.

You're sucked in, thanks to stanzas (and perhaps a rhyme),
Now it'll pose as some greater question, or the meaning of life.
It'll trick you into thinking that this cluster of words
Isn't just letters on a screen,
But eloquent verse.

You're scrabbling around for emotional meaning,
Just ignore the panic you're no doubt feeling,
There's got to be significance somewhere on the screen, and
Stop, you've sussed it, now you can breathe again.

This isn't a poem, it's just pretending to be. These are just tarted up words on a computer screen.

Today is World Poetry Day! Enjoy (and please don't laugh).

Monday, 18 March 2013

Interview: Mark Grist

Mark Grist is one of my favourite poets, so when the chance to interview him came up, once I'd stopped leaping around with excitement, I picked up the phone and gave him a ring. He's performing at the TakeOver Festival in York on Friday 22nd, get yourself tickets because it's going to be a great show. Thanks to The Yorker + Katharine Wootton for arranging the interview

Mark Grist is the teacher-poet-rap battler who shot to Reddit-induced fame last year when he out-lyriced cocky youngster Bradley "Blizzard" Green. In his spare time, as well as leading projects in schools, teaching, being half of the double act Dead Poets, spitting lyrics, making TV and radio appearances, Mark manges to find time for a spot of touring. He'll be at the TakeOver Festival in York next week, so Farrah Kelly rang him up for a chat.

His show, "Rogue Teacher" will be part of the annual theatre festival spread over three weeks in March, June and October in York. Performing on Friday 22nd March, "it's the story- the tragic tale- of a secondary school teacher who quits to become a rap-battler. Then he shoots to fame after going viral on the internet, and we find out about all the chaos and fun that comes with that"

Sound familiar? Grist's rap battle with rising rap star Blizzard has rocketed to well over 3 million views- not bad for one of the scenes most unlikely stars. "It's quite a distinct art form, separate from page poetry. With page poets, they seem distant, like they're hiding away. Rap battling is high-stress, you get a great nervous energy.

"I enjoy the restricting elements rap battling enforces on you, creativity comes from being restricted."

Amongst these restrictions, Grist is a big fan of making things that little bit harder for himself. He's written poems and spat bars only using one vowel, and has also vowed not to use sexist or homophobic language in his battles.

"It's surprisingly difficult, it's so widespread in battling that you have to analyse everything. Everyone else asks me '"why are you worried?", but on my journey as a teacher, I punished people for using the same language. I can't then use it myself, because I don't want to be a hypocrite."

Since the video, things have cooled down considerably for Grist; "it's all less intense now. I've got a more regular working week." Is he still recognised? "Yeah, I find it funny, I'll be chatting to someone and tell them I do rap battles. They'll then tell me about this YouTube video they saw with a teacher and a student...Then they go 'that was you, wasn't it?'".

Teaching clearly still has it's hold. He runs workshops in schools with the other half of the Dead Poets duo, Mixy, showing pupils how to tap into their poetic creativity through rap.

"I'm worried about the direction education is going in. It's looking bleak, they're stifling these kid's creativity". Grist is unimpressed with Gove's changes, commenting that the EBacc makes it easier for middle class suburban youngsters, but much harder for others.

"I do miss teaching, I might go back in a few years. It's really amazing that I've got to do these things, it's nice to mix it up a bit."

Grist's softer side resides in his more "standard" poetry. Away from the buzz and aggression of battles, some of his best work is starting to gain appreciation. His "feminist anthem", Girls Who Read also shared a little of the internet fame, making the front page of Reddit.

"There's lots of reasons a rap battle will become big, but that was just a poem being recorded on a mobile phone." Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come. Grist's poetry deserves real recognition- this isn't just your average "down-with-the-kids" teacher.

Grist seems to agree: "I'll do rap battling for another year, but I'd like to produce another piece of work to be remembered by. I won't always be 'that guy from the YouTube video'". Though to be fair, the battle isn't a bad piece of work to be remembered by.

Originally published: TheYorker March 17th 2013. Read my orignial blog post on the viral video here: Rapping Lyrical

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Library Assholes

It's Year Three, Term Two, Week Ten. Or, as I like to think of it: "Oh God Oh God Oh God." Or as my lecturers like to call it: "Let's give you ALL the assignments". Long story short, I spend a lot of time in the library these days.

Once upon a fresherdom, the library was that building full of books I didn't read. I kept it at arms length, well aware that the second and third years with real work to do could spot a fresher hogging a desk from a mile off. Fast forward to second year, where the good people at AP Housing thought we'd be able to write all of our essays on a desk the size of an ironing board, and the library quickly became my second home. This is when I met the Library Assholes.

Library Asshole [lai-brar-ee | ass-hoal] n. sg: A person whose presence and or activities in a library setting are irritating to other library goers. Diet: Key Texts and Facebook. Most active during exam season.

By not conforming to Library Etiquette, these people cement themselves as the worst people ever. There's the obvious Library Assholes, the ones who confuse 'Quiet Zones' for a bloody canteen. Oh, you got your pizza delivered to the Silent Zone? Aren't you just the quirkiest. You'd better Instagram that shit immediately.

As well as the obvious Library Assholes, a species so unforgivable we can only really pity them, there's the subtle ones. The ones that are accidental. The empty desk being scowled at- when the piles of notes on top of it are in use, but the fella has just nipped to the loo. The girl so lost in her research that she doesn't notice her phone frantically buzzing on the corner of the desk. Yesterday, my laptop loudly started playing "No Diggity", and the mute button wouldn't kick in until after the chorus. The shame.

So, this blog isn't simply another passive aggressive release of frustration. It's a plea, really. The world is full of Library Assholes. That's because everyone is one, even you, even me. Sometimes it's an accident, and you can feel the people around you stopping what they're doing to write a Facebook status about you. So, let's all judge less harshly. People make mistakes, sometimes they don't realise they've been singing Taylor Swift out loud. Sometimes they really needed to play that level of Candy Crush.

Let's all just live and let live. Unless you're being one of those ostentatious sods, loudly having your lunch and treating the surrounding students to a rendition of "what happened to me last night". If you're one of them, well, you can just fuck off.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

The problem with porn

Admit it, you watch porn. I know it. Your housemates know it. Your internet history thinks it knows it, but I guess the memory got deleted right around 1am that Tuesday night no one was in last week.

The point is, people watch porn. And yet the only times people admit this truth hands-on is either on the internet, in anonymous capacities, or when they're purposefully being self-deprecating. Oh, and when they're men.

No, I don't think I know a single woman who'd openly and casually talk about porn in a way that wasn't politically fuelled. "Oh, did you see RedTube's newest video? The one with the sailor on leave? Yeah, that really rocked my boat." Yeah right. We're more likely to hand back the vote, as far as I can see. I think there's two reasons for this, and I'm going to solve these problems for you.
  1. Porn is embarrassing.
  2. We should be embarrassed of porn.
1. It's embarrassing because you don't want people to know that you're sexually active on your own, you don't want people to assume they think you're pathetic or weird or a pervert. You don't want to get caught out and you don't want to admit that watching a video of two (or more) people going at it turns you on because ew

Solution: They're totally watching it too, they're just better hypocrites than you are. Also buy some Porn Headphones.

2. We should be embarrassed of porn, because despite it simply being a visual depiction of a natural (mostly, there's some weird stuff out there) sexual act, it's awful

At risk of inciting feminist hatred, I'm going to quote my favourite feminist on this matter.
In a world where you can get a spare kidney, a black-market Picasso, or a ticket to a ride into space, why can’t I see some actual sex? Some actual fucking from people who want to fuck each other? - Caitlin Moran How To Be A Woman
Porn sucks. The music, the heavy eyeliner and fake tan, the creepy set ups. I would ask who actually gets off on that stuff, but it appears to be working well enough to spawn a mutli-billion dollar industry, and hey, who am I to judge your tastes. 

On the darker side, we should be embarrassed because it's intrinsically unethical. Not all of it, and not the act of watching it. But you'd be surprised how much child porn [edit: link to BBC news article on increase of child porn allegations] there is, how damaging "revenge" porn is, and how many people are involved non-consensually- from "upskirt" shots to rape. Links are SFW.

Solution: Buying some special porn headphones isn't going to solve this one. People aren't, unfortunately, going to stop downloading unethical porn just because I've written a blog about it. But a conversation I had on campus with some friends about Lad Mags got me thinking.

What if Lad Mags were able to go the extra mile, and were allowed to publish free porn videos on their website? That way, there'd be editorial control over who was involved and how ethical the scenes are. They could be as explicit as ever- I wouldn't suggest all explicit porn be banned- and would make money the same way other free porn sites do, through advertising and "pro" membership.

Editorial control would ensure consenting partners earned a fair wage and were over eighteen, and could even be in charge of quality control- no unnatural orange tans here thank you. This kind of "healthy" porn would be less embarrassing (sort of) to admit to watching, and would tip the balance of what is ethically acceptable online in our favour. As a consumer of porn, you'd feel slightly less guilty because the site you're watching doesn't link to, or involve any unethical videos/images. Sure, the bad stuff would still exist, but if there were less of an audience for it, there'd be less production of it.

I don't think we should go the full mile and ban violent porn like Iceland, simply because people will want to watch it anyway, and they'll find a way. But if it was regulated- in terms of people involved, not in how explicit it is- then we could potentially be one step closer to a porn industry we wouldn't be ashamed of.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

So, I SUCK at photography

You know when you really wish you were good at something? When you look at someone's hobby and think- wow, I'd really love to be good at that. The things I would do to be good at that.

You dream of picking up the relevant hobby-tool -a guitar/Photoshop/a hammer- and discovering that- wait a minute- you have a real knack for this stuff! This is it! Your natural skill! You were born to be a musician/graphic designer/carpenter(...)!

Well, my thing is photography.

I've always quite secretly thought I've got what I like to call "an eye" for photography, I just lack any training or equipment. But man, let me get hold of a camera and I'll be fronting National Geographic in no time. In no time whatsoever.

So, I got myself a camera. In fact, I got plenty. (Let's just take a quick second to pay our respects to the cameras I have disrespected in my quest to become a semi-decent photographer. The one I lost in Reflex during Pub Golf 2011. The one I got so much sand in, the lens refused to open. The one I lost the charger to in one of my many house moves, and was therefore subject to a slow, painful death. I'm sorry.)

Fast forward several deceased cameras later (RIP), I'm now on my shiny bridge camera. It's an Olympus SP620UZ. Lots of bells and whistles. Lots of megapixels. Pop-up flash. Looks the business. One problem though- I haven't got a clue how to work it.

I was (naively) expecting it to come a lot more naturally than it has done. I'm sure after some real playing around with it, and getting in lots of practice and advice, I'll be fine. I've already seen massive improvements. But in the meantime-

I keep ending up taking pictures like this:

My picture.

Where the slightest movement makes the subject look like something out of Paranormal Activity. It's not the camera's fault, either. On a recent trip to Edinburgh, my boyfriend had hold of my camera for about five minutes before he managed to take this:

Jonathan's picture.
Screw you, Jonathan.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Mrs Carter & Ms Kelly

I met Beyonce once. Technically I met all of Destiny's Child, back when I was eleven, but Michelle basically doesn't count and Kelly Rowlands didn't appeal to me until after she was a judge on X Factor, and it's cooler to say just Beyonce in any case.

She asked my name, to which I dutifully replied. "Farrah? That's a beautiful name." I told her I didn't like it because it was weird. "My name is weird too, but I still think it's beautiful.". We posed for a picture, backstage at the MEN Arena, and I galloped off, happy as could be.

Honestly, that was the first time I'd ever considered my name as anything other than something that couldn't be properly pronounced, even by my sister. (Incidentally, I still occasionally get referred to as "Fa-rerr"). I became proud of my unusual name, as my new best friend Beyonce had taught me. Fast forward ten years, and I'm still happily proud of my name (or "title" as I sometimes like to think of it.)

Beyonce's new tour, the Mrs Carter World Tour, threw up a few problems. As a feminist, was I supposed to be uncomfortable that such an amazing female role-model was announcing herself as Somebody Else's Wife? Well, no. My feelings on this are wonderfully summarised in this Vagneda blog post, which basically said that she can do what she likes, she's Beyonce for goodness' sake. I'm too busy patiently waiting to buy all the tickets for her next Manchester appearance to consider the feminist impact of her show title anyway.

But it did get me thinking about my own name again.

Farrah Kelly, I like to think, has a nice ring to it. There doesn't seem to be any one else with my name- not according to a quick Google-and it's a solid part of my identity. My life's work, however little of it there is, exists under that guise. Most importantly  it cements me as one of the three Kelly girls; Diane Kelly, Bethany Kelly, and me. If, when my mum gets married to Steve, she changes her surname to Yates, I'd be thrilled for her. But I'd always consider her a Kelly girl. Mama Kelly. If Beth ever changes her surname, she'll always be Baby Kelly to me.

If I ever marry, which I think is unlikely given my tendency to demand an entire double bed and to get unnecessarily outraged when Coronation Street isn't a priority for others, I'm keeping my name. there's no real question of it for me. It's my name, always has been, always will be. This doesn't have any direct links to my political beliefs, I've just never been comfortable with the notion of renaming myself. Plus just think of the admin. I have enough trouble remembering which of the eleven potential postcodes I've given as a billing address on Paypal, nevermind having more names to choose from.

My upbringing, as the eldest of a single parent, has had such a resonance with me that I'm wholeheartedly entrenched as a Kelly. It's easily the strongest part of who I am, that little girl on Ashton Road East with a mum and a sister, and it's uncompromisable. I'm not wanting to disregard name-changing as a negative thing, I think it can be romantic and practical and I understand the reasons behind it completely. It's just not for me.  In the same way, I understand why some people might paint their front door yellow, but that's also a life decision I'm going to choose not to follow. As far as I'm concerned, in terms of seriousness these two things are on par.

When Beyonce said to me, all those years ago, that I had a beautiful name, I don't think she understood that she set off a ricochet of identity in me. Maybe I'll tell her so when I'm at her gig in Manchester. I'm sure they'll let me backstage to have a quick pre-show chat about my life choices. We are best friends, after all.