Sticky lenses

So it's getting to that time of night when staring at a computer screen is compulsory. My eyes hurt.
Looking psycho.

Was at Wireless this weekend with Sleek MakeUP and it was AWESOMEEEEE
The best "work" I've ever done.
And not having a decent wash for a few days is pretty liberating! It may have been in central London but I couldn't go without that divine festival grime.

Being in the office now seems altogether more fun after it. Like I know Sleek MakeUP are going places and I wanna go too. Lovebox is coming up in 2 weeks and it's my boifday weekend! Not so thrilled about turning 23, but 22 has been a hard slog of a year. Am I an adult now?!

Plus, home this weekend for my brother's 22nd birthday and to watch the British Grand Prix with my Daddy :)

Fantasy League versus Reality

How the most popular fantasy game in the world is contaminating the minds and morals of football fans

Recently, I watched Inception for the first time. Second and third viewings were necessary yet inevitably fruitless in a plea to understand the plot entirely, nevertheless, a question reigns high in my mind: do I know the difference between dreams and reality? Or more prevalently for football fans, the difference between Fantasy Premier League and reality. It appears that I for one am losing my grip on the latter, and just like Leo di Caprio’s on-screen wife, I’m lost, confused, and predominantly very angry.

The basic premise of the official Barclays Fantasy Premier League, the world’s biggest fantasy game, is very simple in theory: pick a squad of 15 players (2 goalkeepers, 5 defenders, 5 midfielders, and 3 strikers), set up or join a league with your friends, select your starting XI before each gameweek deadline, and hope for the best. Players earn points based on performance in real life, and statistically midfielders and forwards are likely to earn more points, through scoring goals and providing assists. Defenders lose points when their team concedes a goal, therefore, the best formation usually involves having as few defenders and as many strikers as possible (3-4-3).

The official website provides a wealth of statistics to help gamers make informed decisions, but trawling through stats can make laborious a pursuit that is designed to be a bit of fun. I’m yet to experience any fun in my Fantasy League career.

There are often weeks when choice attacking players are pitted against favourite defenders, and the contradictions become too much to bear. A gamer can make one free transfer per gameweek, after which point a 4-point penalty is incurred for each additional transfer. This usually results in the defiant acceptance that your players are likely to cancel each other out, rather than take a chance and give up a few hard-earned points. As in reality, it’s better to have the points on the board than games in hand in which you might pick up points. For committed Fantasy League players, only on these unfortunate occasions does languishing in front of Sky Sports not constitute an ideal weekend.

There is a definite moral dilemma to being the manager of a Fantasy League team. If you actively support or have any leanings towards a Premier League team, a manager can often find themselves stuck between remaining loyal and selecting the best players. Despite the fact that I have been an ardent Hartlepool United supporter since childhood, harbouring strong feelings for certain top flight teams means I too face this dilemma.

I, like many other beguiled gamers, take it so seriously that dream has become reality, and I’ll swear allegiance to my fantasy team before any of my real life footballing loyalties. When watching a live game, I cheer for my fantasy players even if they’re involved in defeating a team I actually like. For instance, I have a less than high-regard for Dirk Kuyt, but since I accidentally forgot to take him out of my team after a gameweek in which Liverpool played twice, he’s been my best player, amassing an impressive 69 points from the last 8 gameweeks.

Partly in thanks to Kuyt my team, Borussia Muffingladbach FC, have experienced great success in their inaugural season and currently sit top of the league. It appears that there’s nothing like Fantasy League to develop a ruthless, stats-loving streak in anyone. It’s like being educated at the Robert McNamara School for fantasy sports games. McNamara would undoubtedly tell you that consequences may be dire if reality provides a statistical anomaly, but you’re never wrong to act on the basis of statistical analysis.

Fantasy League is clearly not a healthy hobby for real football fans. It takes dedicated supporters with morals and spits out success-hungry monsters, the online equivalent of fans that leave a match early if their team is losing, or stick around till the end and boo their own players off the field. One thing that can be said for Fantasy League is that it provides an education in management, having to make tough decisions based on probability and within a strict timescale: essential skills for any ambitious graduate.

Since going to press, I have won the league. Hoorah!

Totally addicted to... balm?

About 3 years ago, my lips started getting chapped quite often, especially in cold weather. This, I’m sure, is pretty common. My skin in general does seem to become irritated rather easily, but I took this as being expectedly in line with my personality. I now find myself in a pretty dark place, one dominated by dependence to one substance, and I’m wondering if I’ll ever be able to wean myself off it. Maybe I need an intervention or something. As the song goes, ‘I know you can tell just by looking at my face, a word about my weakness, I’m totally addicted to...’ well, as it turns out, balm. And it’s getting serious.

I have theorised my problem, and am definitely in the used-products-so-much-you’ve-convinced-yourself-you’ll-die-if-there-isn’t-a-coat-of-balm-on-your-lips school of thought. And the symptoms are real. My lips have become so used to being smeared in something greasy that they get withdrawal symptoms after seconds of it wearing off. They rarely look that chapped, but they feel awful.

However, fashion magazines assure me this is normal, and that I should continue to invest in tubes of lippy goodness to ensure I never go without/insane. In every coat, bag, hoodie, and room, is evidence of my addiction. And I must say that for someone who takes ridiculously good care of their lips they’re not noticeably different to anyone else’s. Maybe it’s because the whole world’s hooked. Kinda like the X-factor of self-grooming.

I’ve had a few favourites in the past, but nothing really beats a good-old pot of Vaseline Lip Therapy. I have them in every variation: classic, aloe vera, rosy, cocoa butter, and both big and small sizes. I got particularly excited this Christmas when I spotted this super-sized tin with every variety inside (below). Unfortunately, my family refused to acknowledge this entry on my Christmas list in disgust that I could possibly need more Vaseline. Santa would never be so cruel.

The only thing I would complain about is having to dunk your finger into a pot of goo, especially when you’ve had it on your person all day (rule number one for budding balm addicts) and it has morphed into the consistency of warm wallpaper paste. Luckily I’m not too fussy, but I find myself constantly surrounded by people who are (notably my younger brother who, at the age of 21, still insists that I put it on for him). I often feel disappointed that Vaseline pots last so long too. I just can't supress the urge to buy new and exciting things!

The real beauty of the humble pot of Vas’ is its infinite possibilities. For instance when applying to my lips when I’ve got a cold, I habitually continue northwards, onto my upper lip and nostrils, with little regard for how shiny it makes my face. So for those of you that insist on blowing your nose with super-strong kitchen roll every 2 minutes (no judgement), Vaseline is the perfect antidote to your sore-skin woes.

The balm that first got me hooked was Benefit’s Dr. Feelgood (£21.50, When I first purchased it, it came as a duo pack along with a rather exciting lip exfoliating balm that you applied first to remove dead skin, and the wiped off. This was the reason I bought the product, but I didn’t really rate it and I’m pretty sure the full tube is hidden in my vast reserves of makeup that were surplus to demand (take note, trial and error is the only (expensive) way to find out what products work best for you). But the balm was a god send. And for six months it never left my side. I left my hoodie at work once and came close to tears when I realised I’d have to go an evening without it. I used Dr. Feelgood until it ran out and was so disgustingly tattered you could’ve confused the silver tube for a dead mackerel. And to my great despair, it doesn’t seem available in tube form now, only in a pot. So like Vaseline, if I wanna Feelgood (see what I did there?) I’m gonna have to get my hands dirty.

I’ve tried lots of other things over the years, and most have failed to impress. Too glossy and it's not simple enough to apply regularly, too sticky and it replaces a tight, dry sensation with an equally irritating one. And it needs to be discrete enough to sit nicely under lipstick, for which Vaseline is often too wet and shiny, but Dr. Feelgood does the trick with its relatively thick coverage and matte appearance.

I’m hoping that when the time comes that my bank balance doesn’t make me weep, I’ll be able to treat my lips to some seriously good stuff. Here’s just a few, both affordable and pricey, that I’ve heard really tick all the boxes.

Malin + Goetz Mojito, £10,
Lanolips Lemonaid Lip Aid, £8.99
Crème de la Mer The Lip Balm, £37,

Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm, £3.69,
 Aromatherapy Associates Moisturising Lip Balm, £13.50,
Clinique Superbalm, £10,
Another past-fave, from my days as an Avon rep (I don't judge snotty kitchen-roll blowers so don't you judge me), is Avon's On Everyone's Lips daily lip refiner. I can guarantee that my Gran has a cupboard full of the stuff, so I'll sleep easy at night now that they've discontinued it. As much as my Gran used to force it on me (perhaps we're seeing the cause of the problem: a simple bit of child abuse) I do remember it being a bit on the thin side, and not quite as silky and thick as I like 'em. And as my lips are perennially chapped, maybe it's for the best that this one has been resigned to the history books.

Perhaps I’m not sick after all. I’ll probably never know, because I sure as hell won’t be going clean any time soon. If anything I enjoy my obsession for lip balm as one of my many qualities, as I do my love of trash TV or similar addiction to washing my face. (There’s the perfect fodder for another article; my, my, the wisdom I could impart about facial cleansers.) In the hour it took me to write this article, I’d estimate that I’ve applied my Vaseline 4 times. That’s once every 15 minutes. It’s the first thing I do on a morning, and the last thing before I clamber into bed at night. Sometimes I even sleep with it under my pillow. I know I’m not the only one out there, and I can say that with some certainty having infected my boyfriend with the same addiction. He prefers the aloe vera Vaseline if you were wondering.

Nutter graduate jobhunters, the world's full of 'em

Three weeks ago I quit my job and moved back to London. This was a total no-brainer: stay in York, harbour an ever-growing hatred for my parents (the people that bought a house so small Middle Earth-roaming hobbits would spit on the doorstep before squating therein), work extremely hard at a horrible job in a horrible company for the pitiful wage the government thinks I deserve, OR move to the big city and give myself a chance of happiness.

Shocker isn't it?

So here I am, back in my home-away-from-home in the gorgeous Mile End. The only pickle, if ever there was one, was my thereafter lack of income. Despite the fact that I am lucky enough to be lodging with people who offer me an extremely reasonable rate of rent, as the old saying goes, money don't grow on trees.

Therefore unsurprisingly, I've spent the last few weeks frantically applying for jobs. And it hasn't been all too pleasant. There's nothing like rejection from positions you thought you were perfect for to make your life seem altogether crap. Regardless, I remained my picky self and avoided going for jobs unless I was sure I wanted them. Nobody wants to be stuck in a job they hate, and until I get really desperate neither do I.

Maybe another problem has been the dilemma of having too many interests. Either I'm really arrogant and think I love and know more about everything than everyone else, or I have a genuinely wide range of interests. I mean take this blog for instance, I was certain that I should follow my childhood dream of becoming a sports journalist, after all I do know a lot about most sports and it's a lifelong love of mine, so that's the line the blog took. But I soon realised that in doing that I was leaving behind so many other things I wanted to write about: fashion, music, books, everyday life. Is this where I've been going so wrong with jobhunting? Is my struggle to commit to one area or industry the reason nobody wants me? Is it the classic 'master of one' versus 'jack of all trades' scenario? The old sayings are coming thick and fast today. If only I'd thought about my degrees before I embarked on them, I might be qualified in something I actually want to do. Take note kids.

I was beginning to lose hope this weekend. It may have only been a few weeks since I quit my job, but I've been applying for better things since I finished my masters in September. That's 6 months of rejection.

But today, I got offered a job. And one I was sure I hadn't got. A really great part-time admin job that pays double what my last job did. And not only that, but I secured another two interviews at really interesting places: one an internship at an audio book publisher, and another an actual proper job in online marketing at a cosmetics company. (I'm thinking the latter would be a dream graduate job for me.)

So things are looking up. And the moral of the story is: don't give up. Not until you hit the depths of depression and are considered so mental that you're sectioned and homed in a clinic for no-hoper recession-plagued graduates that is. But I have evaded that fate, at least for the time being.

An Epiphany

I walked past Somerset House today, the penultimate day of A/W LFW.
I was on my way to Covent Garden for an interwiew, and breezed past a few fash pack kids in my just about interview-appropriate outfit. Thankfully I didn't feel too out of place, instead I felt something bordering on a sense of belonging.
I definitely haven't always considered myself well-dressed, but I've finally hit MY style on the head.
So here it is...

My tip for an interview (not that I'm claiming to be a pro!), is always look at least well-groomed, and at most marginally stylish. I'm often vaguely tempted by an outrageous get-up or two, and it simply isn't worth jeopardising your chances at a job. In this case I kept it smart and unfussy, with just a hint of style peeping through. My skirt was knee length, and paired with the buttoned-up shirt gave a nicely secretarial feel.

BOOSH. Rings - family jewels and charity shops.
Skirt - Zara. Shoes - Office. Socks - Topshop.
Belt - vintage.
Shirt - charity shop.

Mirror - is dirrrrty.

I was wearing a vintage leather jacket, but it's downstairs and I'm lazy, so? Yeah.

It's quite clear that I need a new camera. Actually, this bad boy ain't even mine.

Oh and just to spite all of those fashion blogs, packed to the bloody rafters with poser shots INSIDE the security check of Somerset House, here's one of my very own efforts. I happened to pick up a ticket for London Fashion Week(end - vom) in a Mayfair Hotel goodybag. Note that I tried considerably to step-up the fashion this time around!

Silk top - vintage Topshop Boutique. Kimono/cardigan - charity shop. Faux leather trousers - Topshop. Scarf - Topshop. Lipstick - "Ruthless" Topshop.

Snooker’s New Master

Does the all Asian-final of one of the toughest competitions on the calendar predict a future swing to the East?

Sunday evening saw the first all-Asian final in World Snooker. In the prestigious Ladbrokes Mobile Masters, held annually at the Wembley Arena, Ding Junhui of China comprehensively defeated Marco Fu of Hong Kong by 10 frames to 4. The game has since sparked a furore of speculation amongst Snooker insiders and experts on the possible future regularity of all-Asian, or more specifically, all-Chinese finals.

Undoubtedly, this is great news for the game. Despite its tradition in the British Isles and Ireland, it has never truly succeeded in penetrating sporting habits elsewhere in the world. Snooker is a sport that has always seemed destined to centre on the quintessentially British pub culture. But Sunday’s Masters final suggests this is all changing. 

The recent development of the Chinese love for snooker is sparking discussion about the landscape of the game in the future. Seven-time World Champion Stephen Hendry commented on Sunday that it is likely that half of the World’s top 16 players will be Chinese in ten years time, and his colleagues at the BBC displayed optimistic agreement. It is estimated that over 100 million Chinese people tuned in to watch Sunday’s final.

Of course, it is inevitable that as China continues to modernise and match Western nations in terms sporting infrastructure, the nature of the size of its population will undoubtedly produce world-beaters in all sports. Furthermore, the developed nations of the Far East have an admirable tendency for fanatical support, and this has apparently grown to include a sport that has so far failed in its export from the British archipelago. Australian Neil Robertson’s World Championship victory last year made him the first overseas player to win at the Crucible since Cliff Thorburn in 1983, but it is still considered relatively unlikely that the game will take off in any big way in Australasia.

Even before this year’s Masters began in early January, the sport’s biggest star Ronnie O’Sullivan was predicting a Chinese revolution. The Rocket was quoted as saying: “I think it could be takeover one day,” and rightfully predicted the victory of World No. 4 Ding Junhui in this year’s Masters. And O’Sullivan warned his British compatriots that they would have to up their game to continue producing the talent to challenge the unquestionable population advantage of the Chinese: “It’s a numbers game. In China they have 100 million or a billion people, statistically it's in their favour.” The grassroots opportunities for budding, young Chinese cueists is reported to be considerably healthier than those in Britain, so it appears that World Snooker’s Chairman Barry Hearn has a tough job ahead trying to maintain British and Irish influence on the World scene.
After its relatively recent ascendancy in last decade, China already holds three prominent events on the Snooker calendar. The country is host to two ranking events, the Shanghai Masters and the China Open, and the non-ranking Wuxi Classic. And this meteoric rise comes at a time when the game is suffering financially in Britain. World Snooker depends on sponsorships, and the Chinese market has no shortage of corporations wanting to cash in on the sport’s golden popularity. So as Snooker’s popularity in Britain slowly declines, the move to the East provides welcome financial reinforcement to the World Professional Billiards & Snooker Association (WPBSA).

Aside from Sunday’s finalists, Liang Wenbo of China makes up the trio of the Asian contingent in the top 40, ranked at No. 24. The scattering of Asian players further up the rankings remains sparse, with an additional 4 Chinese and 3 Thai players in the top 100, but the weight of popularity suggested by recent viewing figures hints at a new generation of players emerging from the Far East.

Sleepless Suzuka

Well, Suzuka has definitely ruined my sleeping pattern, and wasn't fully enjoyed as my viewing was generally semi-conscious. Attempting to rush away from a grimey York nightclub at 1.30 AM after one-too-many vodkas to catch qualifying was inevitably pointless. I awoke with pretty limited knowledge of the grid positions and an all too throbbing reminder of my consumption patterns from the previous evening.

Luckily, I had remembered to record the race itself before the drinking commenced, accepting the similar inevitability that I'd be deeply unconscious by 6 o'clock. As is always the danger in these situations (a danger I apparently insist on placing myself under with any televised sporting event), I had to guarantee avoiding the result, but only within the narrow confines of my own home. No matter how many times you begin a conversation with "don't mention anything about the F1," things rarely fail to escape your knowledge. It was, on this occasion, a mishap on my behalf; I couldn't resist the sound of an F1 engine from downstairs, and craned my neck to listen only to hear "number one spot for Sebastian Vettel." This piece of information on its own was manageable, as the one thing I could remember from last night's inebriated viewing was that Vettel was on pole. Unfortunately, I couldn't resist shouting at my father to turn it off, only for him to reassure me that he'd finished watching the race himself. So from the outset I knew the name of the winner. But it was always a likely outcome. The beauty of Formula 1 is that there are so many incidents and battles besides those at the front. And the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix proved plentiful.

I'm beginning to think that my analysis of a race is pretty redundant considering: a) the wealth of analysis the BBC provides throughout a racing weekend, and b) my lack of knowledge compared to those on our screens. I must confess that I'm a relative newcomer to the sport, having begun watching religiously from the middle of this season. Nevertheless, it has fast become an obsession of mine, and I long for grand prix weekends as if it were a lifelong love. In fact I find myself becoming increasingly disinterested in football compared to F1, something I could never have predicted. Surely that is testament to the excitement of this season, as my father assures me F1 has been predictable and stale in recent seasons. Although I must qualify that floundering interest as the Premier League and International game; my love of the football league is as strong as ever. To prove my commitment to the lower leagues, I'm currently working on an article in honour of some of my local clubs that are no longer with us. Having recently become a resident of the fine county of North Yorkshire, I'm remembering the history of Scarborough Town and Halifax United, two teams that are present in my memory of the football league as a child, and who sadly cease to exist.

On a more upbeat and promising note for our smaller clubs, my boyfriend, a life-long Manchester United supporting Londoner, has made the conscious and honourable decision to start supporting his local team, Leyton Orient. This I applaud, although I do wish he'd opted for a club with a marginally less obnoxious chairman.

Quick fire fun in Glasgow?

This weekend was a treat for sport lovers, and for me in particular. Obviously nothing can better the glamour and trepidation of Formula 1, but Snooker comes pretty close in my world. This does hold a degree of irony, considering the vast gulf in wealth and image of the two sports.

Whilst I was enjoying the Snooker World Open I was reminded of this gulf, and the social divides these two respective sports provide when juxtaposed so poignantly on the BBC Red Button! The working-class pub game on the one hand, and the frolics of the privileged few on the other.

I like to play up my working-class roots, hence I'm never ashamed to profess my love of staring at the balls on the baize every now and again. But I remain undecided about Barry Hearn's "revolutionary" new 5-frame format for the World Open, and if you love snooker you definitely love the long battles of the World Championship. So, I'm left feeling betrayed, as the sport tries to attract a new, impatient audience and neglects the adoration of its true supporters!

And why revert back to a traditional best of 9 in the final? This seemed to betray a week's worth of ranting about and analysis of the best of 5 frames format, making the finale just like that of any other tournament. I appreciate that the final should've arguably given each player a greater shot than the rest of the tournament provided, but why deny its entirely experimental nature when it matters most?

In reality, little really changed about the way each frame was played. There was just fewer of them. If Hearn really wants to make the game quicker and (allegedly) more exciting, then a time limit on shots seems the only solution. I certainly would welcome this as an experiment to mix things up. The performance of the sloth-paced Peter Ebdon in the World Open is proof enough that the new format doesn't automatically create a more exciting spectacle.