Q is for … Quiz Night

My favourite night of the week is Wednesday. Some people might not like this night. It’s a relatively pointless night. Half way through the week, a school night, a non-drinking night, a busy night at the cinema – nothing special. To me, it’s almost like a holy day.

Wednesday is the day where a group of good friends and I always head to Chandlers, the cocktail bar in Chesterfield, and play the Geek Quiz. The quiz, as it sounds, is a standard pub quiz, with a general format of a set of 25 questions, followed by the winners getting a prize of beer. The only twist to this quiz is that it is a quiz based around geeky ideas. For example, half of the questions are based around movies and comics, where the other half focus on random ideas and things you wouldn’t necessarily know unless you were a geek.

The first two times I played the quiz, I won. Outright. No ties. The next few times we drew and lost in the tie-breaker section. Since then we’ve not come higher than fourth place. It’s because it’s getting more popular, and there are a shit ton of geeks in Chesterfield. This week, however, we managed to get into second place. We were ecstatic, especially because there were fewer of us playing than usual. The most we’ve ever had in a team has been 10 and the fewest has been three.

I’m even thinking about doing my own quiz night. Just once or twice a month at the new flat. It’d be pretty awesome to have a few teams of friends trying out my quizzes and have some drinks. I’ve done it once before and it went pretty well. It was just after Christmas and a few mates came over. I did a picture puzzle quiz and some questions about different subjects. I’ll definitely be doing it again. And more importantly, I won’t stop doing the geek quiz!

R is for … Religion

I would never consider myself to be a religious person. I mean, I have beliefs, but I don’t limit them to a specific belief structure. There are things I think could happen in life, things I wish would happen in life and things that I think maybe already have happened.

Did Jesus exist? Maybe. I don’t have anything smart or witty to say on the subject, but it is possible. There have been lots of people in history, who says a guy called Jesus didn’t exist? And who can say, nowadays and for definite, whether that guy called Jesus wasn’t full of charisma and had a cult of followers? That may very well have happened. Did he turn a few fish and a loaf into a feast for thousands? Unlikely. Did he come back to life in a zombie sort of fashion? Almost definitely not. But, some people need that kind of thing to allow them to believe in a higher power; the possibility of a better life for them post-death.

I don’t think I can force myself, even in a fictional world, to believe in a God with 8 arms, or an elephant God. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s not that I think people who do believe in it are stupid in anyway, but it’s not something I can bring myself to believe in.

The closest I have ever come to considering a religion as viable was with Wicca. In year 11 at school, when I was about 15, a few friends and I watched a film called ‘The Craft’, supernatural rubbish for the most part, but the original point of the plot was the idea that Wicca was a real and valid idea. From the film, we got quite into Wicca and studied it, discussed it in RE classes and even had a bit of an initiation ceremony in the woods near the school. What we did was bless ourselves and each other, while also understanding the rules of Wicca. The basic ideas portray a God, Goddess and Spirit which govern over the world, using Mother Nature as an Earthly outlet which would keep us safe, feed us and so on. Part of the idea of worship was to worship Mother Nature.

Sounds really hippy, I know, but it makes more sense than most religions. Most religions ask you to pray to some sort of invisible man. People fight and start wars depending on which invisible man they worship. It’s ridiculous. At least with Wicca, you can see what you’re worshipping, what you’re thankful for and what is aiding you in your life.

Maybe it doesn’t matter what you have faith in, as long as you have faith. (Kevin Smith, Dogma, 1999)

S is for … Sex

Sex is brilliant, isn’t it? I mean, there are so many reasons why people do it; fun, alcohol, love, procreation… whatever. But under no circumstance is sex rubbish. And if it is, frankly, you’re doing it wrong.

The best thing to do when it comes to sex is experiment. I love to try new things, make it exciting. As Rihanna says, ‘Whips and Chains excite me.’ That’s because it’s a risk. When sex is dangerous or thrilling, that’s when it’s the most exciting. Friends of mine know me as someone who speaks explicitly about sex; I don’t see why that is a bad thing.

Frankly, if you don’t feel comfortable talking about it, you’ll never get what you want. I guess it helps that I teach Sex Ed as well. You learn to discuss the more embarrassing side of sex, as well as answering very straight forward and interesting questions about it.

I urge everyone I know to use http://www.lovehoney.com to make their sex lives more fun. If it’s not as exciting as it should be, this site has pretty much everything you need to spice it up, and at a fraction of the price of Walk-in sex shops.

If you haven’t tried using toys, please do. Nothing gets people steamier, or wetter, faster than using something in sex that you never normally would. Check out the karma sutra for some positioning ideas, as that is a brilliant way of starting new sex games, and you can always change it up to best suit you once you know what you’re doing.

T is for … Tattoo

I was always told by my elders not to have a tattoo. Tattoos have long been seen as some form of defiance, working against the norms of a ‘nice’ society that are all respectable. Tattoos are seen as rebellious. That’s kind of how I saw them, and somewhat why I wanted them.

Then as I got nearer the age when I could go into a tattoo parlour and have one done legally, my mum had one. This seemed to me almost like permission. My mum has a tiny tattoo on the base of her back that she had for her 40th birthday. It’s a little dolphin with a splash of water at its tail. Nothing fancy, but something she wanted and felt that, at 40, she could allow herself to have.

I had my first when I was 18. It wasn’t the most thought through idea, and it certainly wasn’t planned well enough on the day. Where I originally wanted to have it done, in Sheffield, was fully booked for the day. But my old best mate, Kyle, and I had to have it done that day. So we jumped on the train and went to the place my mum had it done in Rotherham. Biggest mistake. I chose a good luck charm, a four-leaf clover, to have on the base of my back. It was a spur of the moment choice which I made based on wanting my University life, which had just started, to go well. Mistake one – i now hate it. My second mistake was the place I had it done. It was a pokey little place in Rotherham town centre, where the person having the tattoo had to go to a tiny room in the attic with the tattooist who then stabbed you with needles in a dirty looking room. I got an infection shortly after and my tattoo was never quite right. It’s healed now, but it’s a little raised above my skin still. It was a bad enough experience to put me off for 3 more years.

When I was 21 I broke up with my partner of almost 5 years. It was a big thing for me to do that. It showed I was strong enough to be alone and it was a mark of a new life. Tough for me, but something I had to do. So I did. When I did that I found a new lease of life and felt like a bit of a risk taker. I did a lot of things that I’d never done before. I experimented. One of the things I experimented with was tattoos. I began to get tattoos with hearts on them.

My first two hearts, a small wrist tattoo and a little heart on my tragus, signified my own heart. One was empty and decorative, the most visible. The other was hollow, a mere outline, which was closest to my brain. It just showed how I felt emotionally. They seem like pretty designs, and they are, but I did have these two for a reason. My hollow, empty heart showed how I felt in my head about being single and alone. The other, full, decorative heart is how I displayed myself to others. I was fine. But I was also not fine.

My others came from this idea. I have since had many hearts tattooed on myself. I have both wrists done, the back of my neck, my left ankle and my right foot. The more heart tattoos I get, the more full I feel. The next heart tattoo I get I want to be the biggest. I’m so happy and comfortable now; I need it to represent that.

Don’t get me wrong, not all my tattoos are symbolic or arty. I have a huge Aerosmith tattoo just below my neck heart. It’s beautiful. The wings of the logo go across the top of my back. The swirly logo writing is difficult to decipher, so it simply looks like a beautiful angel design. Of course, I merely had this tattoo because it was beautiful and I love the band. I can associate with lots of the lyrics and I think Steven Tyler is hot. I also have a Mickey Mouse head tattoo that I had done in Florida on International drive. This symbolised the 10th time I had been to my favourite place on Earth. It seemed appropriate to have this tattoo at this time. It was also one of the best holidays of my life with my best friend, Hannah Byrne. It felt right to have it done.

I am obsessed. I love tattoos and I find them to be a creative outlet, not only to show how I feel, but to express what I want people to think I feel. And of course, they’re beautiful.

U is for … Ukulele

Have you ever thought of the ukulele as an inspirational instrument? What about an instrument that is particularly mainstream? I know I’ve never thought of them as anything other than an amusing and somewhat quirky instrument that is a bit funny to see played in movies or by buskers in town.

Then I discovered ‘The Everley Pregnant Brothers’. This is a band made up of 7 men. The men all play ukuleles. Some of them have ukuleles that are mini-replicas of proper guitars and they sound immense. The band rarely do songs that are completely their own, but always change the songs they are doing to make them original. For example, they do wonderful comedy version of popular song such as ‘No woman, No Cry’ and ‘Losing my Religion’, all on their little guitars. Of course, to make them funny, they change the words a little bit, renaming them ‘No Oven, No Pie’ and ‘Losing my Best Pigeon’ respectively. The new lyrics make you laugh along while you subconsciously learn the words to sing along with the band next time you hear them.

Based in Sheffield and Barnsley, the band includes the comedian Toby Foster, owner of the Lescar and City Hall Comedy Club and one of the many stars of ‘Phoenix Nights’ with Peter Kay. Although he takes a backseat role in the band, you can see his style of comedy in the lyrics they sing.

If you get a chance to see them, and they have done gigs in Chesterfield, Rotherham and Sheffield recently, please do! You won’t regret it. I’ve seen them twice now and can’t wait to see them again. For a little preview, find them on Facebook or look their songs up on youtube.com by just typing in ‘Everley Pregnant Brothers’.

In anticipation… You’re welcome.

V is for … Vocabulary

I hate when people can’t use simple words. Why don’t people get corrected at an early age when they say something wrong? Obviously, it’s cute when you’re learning how to speak and any speech is encouraged, wrong or right. But when you get into primary school, and more importantly, on to secondary school, you should be using the correct words in the correct way.

When is it ever acceptable for people to say ‘somethink’ when they mean something. It’s wrong. There are no multiple ways of saying that word. Even pronounced with different accents, it’s still distinctly a ‘g’ and not a ‘k’. I read kids’ work at school and see this mistake all the time. How has it not been corrected before they reach 11? I always circle it twice with a big exclamation mark, then comment about it at the bottom of the piece of work.

I know it’s something I do to some extent, but it’s something that can be used so offensively if pronounced in different ways, it does annoy people. ‘Right’ to mean ‘Very’. As in, ‘that was right good’. As my boyfriend pointed out, why would ‘right’ be used to mean ‘very’? I can’t really think why that would be. Of course, that’s not the bit the offends me. I use that. What annoys me is when people say ‘rate’. As in, ‘that were rate good’. Making it seem far more common than it needs to.

Fillers are sometime irritating too. Why say ‘erm’ and ‘umm’ during your speech? If you’ve put enough thought into what you’re going to say, you shouldn’t need to say these things. And if you haven’t put enough thought into it, you probably shouldn’t be speaking. I guess, in some respects, this also goes for the use of the word ‘like’. The Americanisation of this word has lead to it being used as a filler which is more common among younger people than older. And it’s annoying. My boyfriend uses it at the end of sentences, almost in a Manchester kind of way, although he says he got it from living in North Allerton near York. He says things such as ‘Do you know, like?’ It’s weird. I’ve heard it used locally as a filler, but never in that way.

I could go on with a list of annoying linguistic and vocabulary based mistakes, but it would only lead to a ridiculous list which may link to accents and dialects that annoy me. And that really is for another time…

W is for … Weather

It’s fun when it’s snowing. I love the snow. I enjoy skiing and sledging and ice skating when it’s really cold. That kind of weather is most fun when it’s the Christmas holidays, winter. Snow-bow days are great too – they’re days where it’s acceptable to drink Strongbow in the snowy outsides all day.

When it comes to getting to work or functioning normally, it’s not so great. It seems that the whole of England comes to a stand –still when it’s snowy. As fun as it is to get snow days off work / school, it’s a complete bugger to try to do anything.

Sun is great too. Nothing makes the summer holidays better than sunshine. It’s awesome to wake up on a week off, as long as you have cash in your pocket, and head to the nearest beer garden for sangria-esque drinks and a soak in the sun. Also, of course, my birthday falls in the Summer holidays, so it’s nice to have a warm few days to pop to the beach or something for it.

Thing is, it’s also quite annoying to have too much sun. When it gets too hot and sticky and most clothes have already been removed, you don’t want to do anything. Anything that takes a little effort is made a million times worse by the effort of moving when you’re so warm. Don’t forget how awesome you look when your face is all red, sticky and puffy – especially after being burned the day before.

So what’s the ideal weather? I like a mild day. Warm enough to not have to wear a jacket, but cool enough to not be all sweaty. I mean, I don’t even mind the rain that much if it’s only light. Apart from on nights out, of course.