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2020: whatever I'd expected from it, it wasn't this. It's time to catch up and I have so much to talk about (despite social distancing) and no idea where to start. Hopefully it comes to me in the coming moments whilst I type...
Here in the UK we're in a bit of a halfway house; one foot in strict lockdown, the other trying to move ahead. It's been the strangest couple of months; all the things that would differentiate one day from another have been absence and life seems to have melded into a weird gelatinous gloop of memories that have no real context. However, it seems there's light at the end of the tunnel. Luckily, some restrictions were relaxed in time for my birthday! When my boyfriend said he was taking me somewhere as a surprise, I was honestly expecting no more than a drive to a beauty spot for a nice picnic, just the two of us. However, he actually drove me down to London for a little picnic party in the blissfully-sunny park with my best friends. I honestly had the nicest time and it was overwhelming to see them after such a long time. As we saw further restrictions being lifted, I did go again to see my best friend for her birthday in London, which was so much fun and felt like some much-needed excitement was being injected back into my life. One of the days it hit 30 degrees, my boyfriend drove us to see my mum (who lives in Manchester) about halfway between the two of us at Trentham Gardens. It was a beautiful day and amazing to see my mum, because there's really no substitute for real, in-person human connection. It's really made me realise how much I value the people I'm lucky enough to have in my life and not to ever take being able to see them.
To compound the strangeness of lockdown, we also experienced the Black Lives Matter movement taking off in the mainstream consciousness. Up until now, it's felt like some sort of fringe belief that you have to defend yourself against very confrontational, presumptuous questions over. I'm not sure what combination of factors led to George Floyd's death hitting people on another level (perhaps the lockdown, perhaps the video recording), but I'm having conversations I never thought I'd have with people I never thought I'd have them with and - in many ways - that's been quite refreshing. Perhaps in my life I've been too quick to dismiss certain people as people who didn't 'get it' and were never going to 'get it'. At the same time, I can't and shouldn't have to calmly and succinctly educate every person I come across who expresses problematic views, so maybe I'm being too hard on myself for surface dismissiveness for the sake of self-preservation. It's also felt like quite an emotionally-intense time; the topics that were usually saved for my most honest and intimate conversations with friends were suddenly everywhere, and there was no escape in my usual outlets, such as Instagram. Whilst there has undoubtedly been a degree of performative allyship; I generally want to see the best in people and hope that everyone is learning and growing. I also hope this isn't some passing phase and those who were posting passionately a few weeks back take that same energy forwards. If you're interested to read my reflections on what this all means for my blog - please check out my post on inclusivity and the beauty world.
- LIFESTYLE FAVOURITES -
Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams | I honestly don't think I've read a book that I've related to more in terms of my life experiences and those of my social group. The story follows Queenie; a 20-something Londoner of Jamaican heritage, trying to make it as a journalist on a meagre salary living in a shared house, following the end of her relationship with white boyfriend Tom. It's funny and heartbreaking at the same time, with Queenie navigating uncomfortable sexual encounters, unresolved family trauma and racial microaggressions throughout the book. It's really about her journey towards self-destruction but then self-discovery and hopefully then self-love, however it's also not the sort of novel that will give you a neat and tidy happy ending.
Skincare: the Ultimate No-Nonsense Guide by Caroline Hirons | I'm a good way into this book and it's giving me everything I wanted from a book by straight-talking skincare guru Caroline Hirons. The wit is cutting, the information is clear and concise and it's packed full of skincare advice and information for real life.
The Platform | This is a high-concept Spanish horror film on Netflix that serves as quite a timely political allegory. A man wakes up trapped in a prison of seemingly infinite floors with one companion. At Floor Zero an incredible feast is laid out, however it's all gone by around the 50th floor down and there are hundreds more beneath it where people starve to death or are driven to the edge of their humanity to survive. Each month every pair gets reassigned to a new floor at random, where there could be feast or famine, all due to the self-perpetuating, self-interestedness of those at the top. It's gory and difficult to watch but also serves as an incredibly interesting study of human nature.
Normal People | This TV drama charts the late teens and early adulthood of Marianne and Connell, as their life paths converge and diverge over a number of years, from being one another's first loves to moving onto other people and places. It's an ongoing 'will they / won't they?' on whether they'll ever be emotionally ready to accept love from one other. It's gut-wrenching, heartbreaking and beautifully-shot with a sense of physical and emotional intimacy. Just be warned, if you were planning on watching it with mum and dad: there's lots of sex!
The Last Dance | I feel I have to preface this review by saying that I'm not into sport and knew nothing about basketball before going into this documentary charting the glory days of the Chicago Bulls. However, you don't need to have either to enjoy a great story! This series pairs footage captured during the 90s behind the scenes with the basketball team and interviews in the present day with the stars. The team dynamic, the tactics, the different characters; it's just all so gripping and I think almost anyone would get caught up in the emotional-heightedness of it all.
The Midnight Gospel | Psychedelic imagery with musings on life, love and the meaning of it all isn't a combination I knew I needed in my life until I checked out this animated Netflix series. Clancy lives on some planet in the future and has an illegal word-simulator which he hops into from time to time in order to interview people for his spacecast. What actually insues isn't a crazy adventure (though there's usually something chaotic going on in the background), but a meaningful conversation on the human condition.
I May Destroy You | Michaela Coel's newest series (you might have seen Chewing Gum a few years back) isn't quite like anything I've seen before. It tackles relationships, friendship and sexual assault (so comes with a huge trigger warning) in a way that feels relatable and darkly, yet somehow appropriately, humorous. I love seeing this sort of representation of BAME people in the UK too; the series felt so relatable for this reason (and because of the age group of the characters) to myself and my friends in every way, from the pop culture references to the jokes. It really forces you to examine any internal biases and judgements you may have in relation to sexual assault and its victims, through certain characters being dismissive of the trauma you witness the character in question experience. It makes you uncomfortable in the best possible way and I can't wait to see how it all ends.
Mondragon Chiropractic | I've discovered a genre of YouTube video I never knew existed pre-lockdown and that is chiropractic! There's something so satisfying and quite relaxing about hearing people get their various joints cracked. Some of the stuff the chiropractors actually say can be a little hokey but that's almost part of the fun! I enjoy Mondragon Chiropractic in particular because Brenda has such a sunny, positive disposition.
As lockdown has started to lift; what have you been doing, watching, reading and listening to?