Follow at FACT Liverpool Feat. Shia LaBeouf

“LeBeouf, Ronkko and Turner. Can you touch my soul?’

As dinner hours go, standing a mere two feet away from Hollywood superstar Shia LeBeouf, with him taking calls in a make shift call centre, certainly beats the normal routine of agonising over which Tesco meal deal to purchase.

Shia

The lads

The Transformers actor hasn’t opted for a career change into the world of customer services; he’s set up camp at http://indectusa.com/tag/2015-texas-parking-transportation-association-tpta-award-of-excellence/ FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology), with his collective as part of the arts centre’s latest exhibition, Follow. Open to the general public for three days from tomorrow, LeBeouf, Ronkko and Turner will be manning the lines and accepting calls from across the world; asking those ringing in “Can you touch my soul?” So, if you watched Nymphomaniac and always fancied making Shia’s hotline bling, now’s your chance.

To be in with a shot to chat with Shia about his soul (as if it’s 6am and you’re sat in someone’s kitchen after a night out; talking about the universe and that time you thought you saw a UFO), all you have to do is ring 0151 8080771 between the hours of 11am and 6pm GMT. Gutted if you finally get through and Shia isn’t the one who picks up (No offence, Ronkko and Turner).

Channel 4 have spotted the semantic issues regarding the hotline’s script.

In a world where we use Instagram and Twitter ‘likes’ to assess who and what is important, FACT’s latest commission asks what impact the internet is really having on our concept of ‘reality’, and how we think about ourselves, our idols and those around us.

No irony was lost on us as we creepily stalked pottered around LaBeouf with our smart phones barely leaving our hands; making our Snapchat stories obnoxiously long, filtering his socks-tucked-into-trackies look for Instagram and basically live streaming the whole experience.

“Send him that picture, add it to the stream” one of the curators suggested to me as I showed her my Snapchat homage to Shia’s ‘I Am Not Famous Anymore’ outfit. Within seconds, LaBeouf was howling* with laughter at my ‘art’, and I was all ‘RIP me – this is the greatest thing to ever happen to me.’

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*Okay, okay – maybe I’m exaggerating his hearty chuckle a little bit. Let me have this. 

Although the main attraction for visiting FACT’s latest exhibition will undoubtably be that you’re able to stand in the same room as an A list celebrity, for free, it’s worth remembering that other great commissions are running alongside #TouchMySoul.  With work from Cecile B. Evans, Joe Orr, Ant Hamlyn and Aram Bartholl, a whole host of installations, videos and concepts fill the gallery; exploring the idea of self-branding, identity sharing and micro-celebrity within online lives. My personal favourite is Debora Delmar’s Branded for Life. Inspired by Cara Delevingne and Jordan Dunn’s matching ‘Double D’ tattoos, Delmar’s corner of the gallery is filled with Instagram profiles, videos and branded body suits; all looking at how in which commodity culture structures our everyday life and the idea of self-branding and marketing the ‘aspirational lifestyle’. The best bit though? The free temporary tattoos available! I will never have Cara’s figure, or Jordan’s stunning looks, but damn it, I can now have their iconic twin tatts on me for a short while.

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Even when trying to channel my inner art hoe, i can’t resist a good freebie.

The world’s media has been focused on our own little arts centre on Wood St today and it’s the perfect time to reflect on how lucky Liverpool is to have such a fantastic organisation like FACT that we can can call our own. If you want to put some money where you mouth is and give FACT a helping hand, take a look at their kickstarter here and help them continue to bring more world famous artists to the city.

enter Follow exhibition runs at FACT Liverpool, 11 December 2015 – 21 February 2016

See also: If Britney Can Make It Through 2007

#BiteMeDublin A Halloween Weekend in Ireland

Scarlett and I really don’t have the best track record when it comes to European jaunts. As you may have read in previous blogs, our trip to Belgium a couple of months ago proved that while I may have many talents, none of them lie in event organisation. From arriving at the wrong airport, to not having any accommodation booked for the last night, it’s safe to say I won’t be taking the reigns again any time soon when it comes to holiday planning. 

Luckily for us, our recent visit to Dublin was overseen by Ireland’s tourist board who planned absolutely everything for us. Things went a lot smoother this time; a hell of a lot smoother. Well, they couldn’t prevent us from making Horrible Life Decisions ™ but to be fair, no one can.

Here’s our diary from what went down when we did Halloween festivities Ireland style.

source link Friday 23rd October

With a 6.30am flight from John Lennon Airport starting our day off, you’d think we’d be sensible and get our heads down early on Thursday night. But no, this is us; we don’t make choices that actively make our lives better – we make decisions that involve copious amounts of prosecco. When the alarm pierced my ears at 4am, Scarlett had managed a good three hours kip, while I had dozed off for a grand total of zero minutes and conjured up some stupid idea that I would catch up on all my sleep on the half an hour flight. Fast forward a few hours and we’re in a taxi to the hotel, stuck in horrendous traffic, with me sticking my head out the window, like a dog, in order to stay awake. Good start, Zoe.

Severely sleep deprived and ratty, my mood soon picked up the second we arrived at The Morrison. I was already excited to stay at the luxury hotel, just across from the River Liffey and only minutes from the famous Temple Bar quarter, but things really stepped up a notch when I learned we’d been given separate rooms for our stay! I love Scarlett, I really do, but after a week of having friends crash at mine, I was ready for some alone time. I bailed on her in the hotel lobby and ran up to my room where I got excited over the fact the telly had my name splashed across it when turned on and by the complimentary embossed umbrella in the wardrobe. Yep, basic umbrellas with hotel logos embossed on them impress me more than they should.

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One of the gorgeous penthouse rooms at The Morrison

Where We Ate 

After attempting a quick nap, we headed over to The Church to grab some lunch and meet the rest of the press group. Dublin is twinned to the city of Liverpool (as well as Barcelona) and converting old churches into breathtaking social venues is just one of the many similarities the two places share (Alma De Cuba being the Scouse equivalent.) The Church is at the heart of Dublin’s thriving bar and restaurant scene and the history surrounding the building means that you get so much more than a bite to eat when you call in.

We were lucky enough to have a guided tour of the listed grounds, even down to The Burial Crypts; where extensive excavation work had to take place during the conversion of the church in order to remove the skeletal remains. We also learned some interesting facts and anecdotes* along the way; such as the tale that the famous Arthur Guinness’ wife pushed out 21 children during her time on this earth. Yes, you read that correctly – twenty one. She must have spent the majority of her adult life sober and raising kids – every glass of Guinness should be toasted to her, the poor woman.

*Apparently many weren’t that interesting as Scarlett informed me I was boring people with my excessive tweeting of these supposedly ‘fun facts’. Apologies to anyone following me that day. I guess apologies 

What We Did

Kayaking! Yes, I know what you’re thinking – just what one wants on a cold, October afternoon; severely sleep deprived and full from lunch. It’s also an activity in which you should wear something more durable and warm than flimsy leggings and a cardigan. However, even with all the odds stacked against me (those mentioned, and the fact I struggle to walk without falling over on dry land) I was psyched to get on the water and see Dublin from a different perspective. I managed to last the full session without capsizing and making an absolute show of myself  – I am half considering updating my CV to include this fact.

As we sailed under the 18th Century O’Connell Bridge and the iconic Ha’Penny Bridge, I soon learned that, despite my enthusiasm and positivity, I am horrendous at kayaking. I somehow struggled to oar in a straight line and spent half my time stuck against side of the bank; angrily splashing about and trying to catch up with the rest of the group. Special mention to the heckler on the bridge, who when seeing me struggling, decided to yell “This is the spot where all the murderers dump the dead bodies.’ Thanks mate.

 

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On our way to steal your man….

Where We Drank

Okay, spoiler alert for the rest of this piece – we drank a lot. I’m talking even Lindsay Lohan in her prime would deem our drinking a bit excessive lot. From the minute we went for lunch at The Church and got a large wine down our necks, we were pretty much on it until we got on the flight home on Monday. When in Rome do as the Romans do, and when in Ireland, do as the Irish do – drink!

Now on possibly my 38th hour awake, it would same a safe bet to assume I limited myself to a couple of night caps after cocktails and dinner at the gorgeous Woollen Mills. But no, 3am and I’m still going strong with the group in The Temple Bar; downing tequila shots and attempting to dance to the live music. FOMO works better at keeping you awake than any energy drink and pro plus could ever dream of doing.

I stumbled back to my room and proceeded to raid the mini bar. Drunk Me thought she was the height of stealth, carefully placing back the empty tubs and bottles into the fridge; thinking the hotel would be none the wiser. Drunk Me is an absolute idiot.

mini bar

Good on, Zo – I’m sure they won’t notice that those tubs no longer contain any sweets

Saturday 24th October

It’s 9am. I’m trying to ignore the pounding at my door, courtesy of Still hammered from last night Scarlett but that girl is one persistent bitch. Eventually I grab my dressing gown, answered the door (still sporting full smokey eyes and red lips from the night before) and politely declined her offer to join her on a walking tour of Viking Dublin. She may tell you a different tale; one that involves me slamming a door in her face and mumbling “Fuck the Vikings” but she’s lying. She once told me kale cooked in the oven is a great alternative for kettle chips – she can’t be trusted, that one.

Anyway, if you’re at all interested in the history of Ireland and the Vikings then go for a drink with Jen; I’m sure she’ll love to tell you all the knowledge she acquired whilst stumbling around Dublin with a tour guide, still bladdered from the night before.

What We Did (Once My Hangover Disappeared)

After getting a Guinness pie in me at the Norseman Pub, I was a lot keener for the next group activity; a Food and Fashion Walking tour. Guided by The Irish Time’s Fashion Editor, Deirdre McQuillan, we wandered around the city; sampling bagels and exquisite chocolate, learning all about Dublin’s up and coming designers and discovering that my big head can even make a 2 grand Phillip Tracey masterpiece look horrendous.

The evening saw us attend the event I had most been looking forward to since I first scanned the itinerary: ‘Hushed’ at Marsh’s Library. The whole reason we had made the speedy flight over to Ireland the weekend before Halloween was to experience The Bram Stoker festival. Across the city, events took places during the day and night; 4 Days of Living Stories and 4 Nights of Deadly Adventures. 

dubs

Artwork from Oscar winning designer Annie Atkins

Taking place at Marsh’s library, where Dracula author Bram Stoker spent many a night researching ghouls, legends and mythology, ‘Hushed’ was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience of Dublin’s most famous buildings, cloaked in the dark of night. Led by an all singing, and chanting, emsemble, we made our way round with only the candle light to guide us. With no cameras or mobiles allowed, there were certainly no distractions and we got the Heebie Jeebies during our after hours tour.  

Sunday 25th October

You know that kind of hangover where you wake up and the minute raise your head from the pillow you consider calling an ambulance to come save you from the hell you know you’ve got in store for the rest of the day? Well, that’s how I started our last full day in Dublin. Surprise surprise, we had overdone it on the ale yet again the night before. I’d gotten so drunk in the fabulous Liquor Rooms that I managed to lose they key card to my room. Not a problem, the reception kindly provided me a another card which I then proceeded to lose while making my way to my second floor room. Massive respect to the night porter for not even rolling his eyes at me as I sheepishly asked for a second replacement card in less than seven minutes.

What We Did

“The fresh air will do you good, blow away the cobwebs” everyone told me, as I scolled at them.

Yes, in the midst of The Hangover From Hell ® I was about to embark of a light cliff walk to the fishing village of Howth. Turns out, despite my claims at the time, they were indeed correct. As we made our way across the cliffs, towards the restaurant we’d be dining at (That’s how you trick me into physical exertion whilst I’m hungover – the promise of food at the end) my pounding headache and nausea vanished – so much so I decided to order a wine with my oysters at Ivans.

#LifeHack If you have never tried oysters before, and are unsure to whether you will like them, DO NOT, i repeat, DO NOT order them for the first time when you’re starving and hungover. 

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The evening saw explore the weird and wonderful events that have taken place in times gone by; unearthing legends and ghosts from the past on the Gravedigger Ghost Bus Tour of Dublin.

Given the fact my travel sickness once saw me vomit on top of a Barcelona tour bus, the real horror story could have been me transforming into the little girl from The Exorcist but luckily for everyone on board, all was fine. Making our way round the city, we learnt all about phantom pigs, haunted jails and Scarlett and I even got involved as look outs* for the some rogue body snatchers before ending up having a drink at the Gravedigger’s Pub. God bless the Irish for managing to get ale involved with absolutely everything.

*Finally, skills acquired in my misspent youth come in handy.

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We sat at the back of the bus and stole everyone’s dinner money.

We then pottered down to the Project Art Centre for New Blood – a hedonistic vampire party to mark the end of The Bram Stoker Festival. When we’d spoke to the artistic director, Tom Lalor the night before, he had given us the brief for the dress code: “Imagine if FKA Twigs and Rihanna opened a strip club in Vegas.”

We tried, we really did, but our efforts with black eyeliner acting as lipstick looked pathetic in contrast to some of the stunning creations wandering around the place. Had Miley Cyrus had wandered in, wearing one of her most creative outfits, she’d have gone unnoticed – the costume game was strong.

Spread out across four spaces, one minute you’d find yourself immersed in an art installation, the next an electro rave, then on the terrace enjoying b(lo)body tonics at the shot bar. Needless to say, staying true to our form for the whole weekend, we full embraced the bespoke cocktails whilst admiring such a sharp bite of contemporary Irish culture.

New Blood was the perfect way to end our trip; we had learned so much about the history of Ireland over the three days we were there but this was a great insight into Ireland’s bright, modern future.

Dublin, you were an absolute ball and we will undoubtedly be back in the very near future*. Well, as soon as my liver as recovered.
*We really do have to return soon – we didn’t have time to visit the Leprechaun museum and how can I go on in life having not visited such a place now I know it exists.

See also: A Weekend In Birmingham

Medication – The Iconic Liverpool Student Night

Back in 2008, my biggest concern was that I’d be cursed with 9am lecture on a Thursday morning. It should have been the fact that I was penciling my eyebrows in all wrong and wearing some pretty questionable outfits exclusively from Primark, but hey, we’ve all been there.

My fear of on early* start on campus was solely down to the fact Medication, Liverpool’s iconic student night, was held on Wednesday and rising from bed before midday after a night at Nation was never really an option.

* early? Bless my lazy student heart.

A few years on** and Medication is now on Friday nights – much to the relief of universities across the city; campus will no longer be a desert on Thursday mornings while every under graduate across Merseyside is passed out in halls, rather than attending lectures.

**Seven. SEVEN whole years it’s been since I was a Fresher. My God I’m getting on.

With their new night convenient for adult me and her future hangover the next day, I was able to accept an invitation down to Wolstenholme Square for a chance to relive my misspent youth.

Balloon drop at @medicationclub Liverpool last Friday 🎈🎈🎈

A post shared by ZoeYak (@zoeyak) on

 

Uni fees may have trebled, my eyebrows may now be constantly be on fleek, and I look a show in H&M numbers, rather than Primark these days, but one thing that’s managed to stay the same is Medication. Actually no, scratch that – it’s better. We may have been looking enviously at all the teenagers downing luminous alcopops without the fear of heart palpitations* but we still had the time of our lives; the next day wondering if that dodgy bloke from the pub could do me a fake student ID so I can go every week?

My favourite part of the evening was being able to get in the DJ box with the legendary Matt Hibbert on the decks and watch the balloon drop (see the video above!) One of my friends had such a miserable look on his face the whole time we were in there dancing, I couldn’t understand it – he’d been having a ball earlier. When I pulled him up on it the next day he revealed he was absolutely buzzing but deliberately looked moody so anyone looking up would think “God, that guy’s so lucky to be up there but he’s fed up. Ungrateful bastard.” He’s an arsehole but an elaborate, funny one.

*is there anything more mid twenties than learning you can’t have a blag WKD without feeling like you’re going to die?

Last year’s Med

If you’re lucky enough to still be a student, here’s some life advice courtesy of me, a 26 year old who’s kinda got her shit together:

1. Start going to ALL your lectures and seminars because it’s going to hit you like a bus when you enter the real world and you’re used to only churning out three hour weeks, at most. All you have to do is put on sweats, attempt to wash off the previous night’s club stamp and sit at the back smelling – easy.

2. Sleep with whoever you want. Seriously, sleep with your next door neighbour, if you want. Sleep with your ex if you fancy it. Because as soon as you graduate and become a proper grown up, getting laid just isn’t as easy. You can’t sleep with your neighbour as he’s most likely married, and you sure as hell can’t sleep with your ex without opening yourself up to a few days of self loathing about what direction your life is heading in. No, have fun at uni and don’t let anyone judge you.

3. GO TO MEDICATION WHILE YOU CAN. It’s not going to be their forever *sobs* and neither will you be a student forever. Sure, you’ll have a bit more disposable income when you’re older and be sipping elaborate cocktails in fancy bars with names you can’t pronounce, and that’s fun too, but nothing compares to those nights in Medication.

Vodka RedBulls in Plazzy Cups > Any Fancy Cocktail. IDST.

Halloween is always special at Medication so head over there tomorrow in a boss costume and have an absolute ball.

It’s never ticketed (don’t believe any club promotor mings from other venues that say otherwise) so there’s room for 2000 of you to pay on the door but they do lock out so don’t leave it to the last minute to head over.

Here’s Matt Hibbert’s Halloween Med Mix to get you in the mood.

See you there tonight, if Dodgy Gaz from the pub has got my blag Student ID sorted.

See also: Myths About Liverpool

My Big Fat Greek Holiday

My last trip to Europe, if you recall, was to Brussels (Belgium) and was a bit of a disaster, culturally. Not much got done, bar one museum trip, other than excessive drinking, making bad life decisions, and learning all about Iceland’s weird incest problem via a night of boozing with some fellow tourists. In our defence, when a city’s number one attraction is a tiny statue of a boy pissing into a fountain, maybe our decision to basically just get on the ale for two days was for the best.

Manneken Pis

Manneken Pis – Just a 5 minute walk from the Irish bar we were drinking in….and we still didn’t see it.

A few weeks later, towards the end of September, I found myself in Greece for a week with an old Uni friend. You may have thought, given the fact I barely saw any of Belgium other than inside bars, I would perhaps try and see the most of Greece; maybe some ruins, visit a famous lagoon, or even pop over to Athens for the day.

You didn’t really think that of me, did you? Shame on you.

No, we had one aim for the holiday, and it was to spend as much time of it in the sun; reading and eating until our bikini’s became snug. 7 days and 5 books later, I was tanned, full of feta cheese and struggling to put my jeans on for the flight.

Here’s a few things I learnt while basking in the heat:

1. Running for a plane is scary

Before any of you smug sorts start, I am one of you – I have no time for anyone that turns up at an airport without a passport and I judge people who seem to think that being on the last minute is something to be proud of. Hear me out. We arrived at the airport a handsome six hours early – so bloody early that we couldn’t even check in and get through security. We had no choice but to get bladdered in a Wetherspoons and miss our calling hours later. As we ran past 70 gates to catch the plane before it departed without us, I thanked God I’d hammered the gym for the past few weeks.

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It’s not as fun as it looks in the films

2. Raki tastes like paint stripper but is strangely addictive 

We were first introduced to the Greek’s drink of choice via a resident piss head at our hotel bar. It burnt the back of my throat and I wondered why everyone was so keen for it. Fast forwarded seven days, I’m in the local offy buying water bottles filled with the stuff. Apparently the honey flavoured stuff is great for keeping colds at bay *Hiccups as writing*

3.”The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry”

With me being into my politics (aka boring all my friends at 4am after a few drinks and droning on about the impending privatisation of the NHS), I have had a passing interest in Greece’s politics of late. Realising they were to have an election of sorts while we over there, I had some grand ideas; maybe I’d take my dictaphone and do some crowd sourcing of the locals opinions? Perhaps I’d do a live blog of the results as they happened?

The reality? I noted that they were many A for Anarchy signs graffiti around the place and that’s about as deep as I delved into Greek politics. Also, I got out of the pool and toasted Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory with some dirt cheap prosecco with my friend. Champagne Socialism at it’s finest.

Secondly, prior to landing in Greece, I had well voiced my intent of getting at least 20 lengths done in the hotel pool before breakfast (a healthy fruit option, of course) and perhaps a few hikes – coming back with a tanned, toned body.

That was the plan. What actually happened was that I managed 12 laps on the first day and then started having Barcadi Breezers for breakfast….

4. As soon as you’re out of the country, all your taste leaves you

I like to think of myself as a classy drinker; after years of working behind a bar, turning my nose up at anyone ordered a WKD (and pronouncing it Wicked – the worst sort), I’m the kind of girl to order an Old Fashioned on a night out these days.

Get me in the sun with a cheap bar metres away and I’m all about the Orange Bacardi Breezers and a cheap Marlboro Light. Bloody Brits abroad, eh?

Most shameful thing about all this is that our small, quiet apartments had to actually make a run to the local wholesalers to get more Breezers in, solely for us. Don’t worry – I’m writing them a glowing Trip Advisor review as soon as I’m done.

5. I’m an accident waiting to happen

I hurt my knee quite badly one day. Did I fall over drunk? Get too into Greek dancing?

No. On a bus back from the old town, my thunder thighs had become quite sweaty. When I stood to get off, the sweat on my legs caused me to slip and fall, quite dramatically, onto a step.

It’s a shock I’m single.

6. Greece’s economy is great for a tourist

I feel for Greece at the moment but once I learnt I could get basically half a bottle of wine in a glass for 2 euros, I quickly stopped thinking politics and switched my thoughts to just how much food and drink I could get into my system.

We ate like kings for a week and I still spent way less than I had done in Malia nearly 10 years ago.

7. Karaoke is fun

At our local restaurant, where we had dinner every night (it was a choice between three places and one of those had an pissed up owner who would forget to bring you your order), we made friends with the two young girls working there. They begged us to do karaoke, as they’d only ever heard their manager’s rendition of Frank Sinatra’s hits every week for the past six months. We protested, claimed it wasn’t our thing, but then a few wines and rakis later and we were giving one hell of a performance of Alesha Dixon’s ‘classic’ The Boy Does Nothing.

We then hogged the mic for the remainder of the night and argued with Pam and George (The Ex-Pats in charge of the evening) when it was time to wind down. If you happened to be dining there that evening, I can only apologise.

8. Working by a pool is amazing 

I still had work to be done while I was away (don’t feel too sorry for me, I’m cramming a lot of jaunts abroad this year) so I had to take my Mac Book* with me and crack on by the pool a few days. It was amazing – give me some sun and the incentive I can take a dip once I’ve hit 500 words and I’m the most productive woman in the world.

*Apologies I said Mac Book when laptop would have sufficed. I’ve only recently got one and can’t stop showing off.

9. It’s great to switch off

Although I had to work now and again still, it was actually great to switch off. My job requires me to constantly be on my phone and connected to the internet. It was boss to be away with someone who barely checked their phone which rubbed off on me.

While on one my little browses of Twitter (well, I wasn’t going to go cold turkey), I found this great post from Girl Lost In The City about how to handle your time online. I’m still yet to get the correct balance but it was a great blog.

10. Buying actual reputable sun care products is grown up and wise 

I’m normally a girl who gets the cheapest sun cream on the shelf. However, I spent a couple of quid over my normal 99p budget and reaped the benefits. Reaching the end of my twenties (*gulp*), ageing of the skin is a number one concern and these beauties from Nivea and Euceriin were worth every penny. Same goes for splashing out on a decent bikini – as I mention over on my blog about boobs. Big up Bravissimo.

Hotel, Flights & Transfer (which was just a taxi for two of us): £300

Spending Money: £280 changed over into Euros. A couple of presents and duty free treats put on card.

Total: Roughly £600 for a week of non stop eating and drinking in the sun.

Greece, you were an absolute pleasure. Maybe one day I’ll come back and actually explore a bit of you.

Next, Berlin….

Bravissimo And The Problems That Come With Big Boobs

Bravissimo

The Zambia Bikini

The Zambia Bikini

While I may seem bitter towards what God gave me in the post below, and the fashion pitfalls that come with having larger boobs, a recent discovery has made shopping less likely to give me angina: Bravissimo.

Yep, a few months ago, my mum arrived in Liverpool to see me for the day, and before I could even get her sat down with a cup of tea, “Where’s Liverpool’s Bravissimo store? We need to go today” came out of her mouth. While I may have begrudged being dragged out shopping at first, I was soon glad my mum introduced me to the store that stocks lingerie, swimwear and nightwear for D cups and up. Mother knows best, as per. 

With a few holidays around the corner, I had delayed bikini shopping until the last possible minute (See Point 4) and wasn’t particularly in the mood to see my boobs squeezed into unflattering string bikinis, or worse: smothered in some old fashioned contraption that even your nan would deem ‘a bit frumpy’.

But this isn’t the case when you call into Bravissimo; the staff in Liverpool’s store made the whole process a pleasure – for the first time in my life bikini shopping did not end with me a hot sweaty mess; crying in the changing room. The advisors are hand, with no tape measures (they go by the much better method of seeing how different sizes look and feel for the customers, to give you an ‘uplifting’* shopping experience.

(*Sorry)

And guess what? They actually stock designs that are fun, flattering and, best of all – YOUNG! I opted for a staple black number for my top (Deco Swim Bikini Top), in order to mix and match while away, and fabulous zebra print bikini bottoms (Zambia in Blue Print Bikini) – Fierce!

While away, after 26 years of previously spending my days by the pool mainly readjusting my top, it was unbelievable to be able to enjoy the sun while being supported in a flattering designed bikini. 

Bravissimo, the ‘breast’* friend a girl with big boobs can get!

(*Again, sorry)

www.bravissimo.com

“I’d kill for boobs like yours’ – If you’ve heard this phrase before, chances are you’re a gal with a larger chest, and you’re sure to relate to at least a few of the following:

1. Summer is a bitch

Oh sure, in the winter everyone wants your Double – Ds, but come the hot, sticky months (or on holiday) suddenly those with a bee stung chest are less envious. Yes, while they get to swan around, braless, in floaty dresses, vest tops and little strapless numbers, you’re in the corner; mopping up the under boob sweat and remembering to part your chebs now and again so not to get any nasty heat rashes.

Big boobs are for life, not just winter.

2. Running is painful

I’m not just talking about the pain you endure if your new sports bra lets you down. No no – I’m talking about enduring the God awful “jokes” should you be caught in lycra:

“Off for a run? Be careful not to give yourself two black eyes.”

The irony of having to restrain yourself from giving the ‘comedian’ a shiner.

running

3. Gok Wan needs to get over the bloody wrap dress

Look, I love Gok, I really do, but my God, man; not all girls with a bust and curves want to wear a bloody wrap dress. Remember when every solution he had on his shows was to get a fabulous wrap dress; nipping you in at the waist and showing off your assests. That and a few bangles. I’m sure wrap dresses are wonderful Gok, there’s a time and a place for them (my Gran’s 90th birthday meal, perhaps) but when you’re in teens/twenties you really want a few more options of what to wear for a night in town other than dressing like a menopause.

P.S I don’t know where my local haberdashery store is, sorry. I have failed you Gok.

4. Fashion is a minefield

It’s a straight up no to boob tubes, thin spaghetti tops. long necklaces, across the body bags (but does anyone want one of those, really?) and backless numbers. Even the items you can wear come with restrictions – anyone above a C cup will have felt the strain of a button across the chest of a formal shirt. Smart blazers and jackets that actually do up? LOL, that’s cute. And those lovely fitted tee shirts? They can transform you into an aspiring FHM model.

But the worst, without doubt, is the string bikini set. Your bottom half may well be a 10 but the same size top acts at little more than nipple pasties on you. The only way around it is to be stealthy in stores and do a bit of swapping; leaving a girl blessed with a Nicki Minaj booty and Kate Moss tits free to discover a size 18 bottom and 10 top.

5. You’re used to people speaking to your chest

Not many people could confidently say what colour your eyes are because, let’s face it – no one’s ever making eye contact, really. Yes, if you’ve been blessed with more than a handful, people talking to your tits is the norm, and it’s bot a blessing and a curse. If you’re working for tips perves gawping is manageable. But when it’s your mate’s dad, being a bit creepy, not even bothering to be subtle, that’s when it gets a bit annoying. He’s really not taking the divorce well, is he?

tits 2

6. You’ve started taking Victoria Beckham’s advice and sleep in a bra

Remember when we all believed Vicky B’s bazookas were natural? All her talk of push up bras and breastfeeding had us believe that maybe her chest had naturally gone from resembling an ironing board to one that could give easily belong to a porn star’s? She spoke of how she slept in her bra in order to keep Phil & Grant Mitchell perky and, while we may have now had it confirmed Posh’s ample chest was thank to a surgeon, not sleep hacks, you still don’t always undo the bra before getting into bed.

Why? Because you’ve seen the future (your Great Aunt) and it’s saggy. You take no risks.

Great push up bra, Vic

Great push up bra, Vic

7. Your body is fair game and free for discussion, even with strangers

“God, I’d kill for your boobs”

Wow, lovely – how kind. However, I don’t know you, inappropriate stranger I met five minutes ago through a friend – let’s make small talk about the weather and the Great British Bake Off rather than my breasts.

Also, you can buy boobs just like mine at any reputable plastic surgeons – no need to commit any murders just yet.

8. Any outfit can be sexy

While it can be a curse (See point 4), big knockers don’t half come in handy on a fat day. Simply whack on a your classic LBD and no one is looking at the love handles, that’s for sure.

boobs

9. Rants occur in the underwear department of high street stores

“What a lovely bra. Oh, it’s only a tenner in a 38C but if I want it in a 36E then it’s 12 quid. This isn’t fair – who decided this absolute bullshit nonsense?”

“Well, it is more material, I guess” says your friend – already regretting opening her mouth

“If that was the case, why are size 6 knickers the exact same price as size 20 pants? No one is being financially punished for having a big arse. It’s not on.”

If i had a quid for every time I’ve had a conversation like this then I’d have enough money not to worry about an extra two quid on the cost of my bras.

10. A cleavage is a great storing place for food

bra

Forget you quickly shoved down that biscuit earlier when you’re meant to be on a diet? Don’t worry – your cleavage will remind you of your slip up a few hours later when you take off your bra and a sea of crumbs fall out.

Yep, there’s no secretive eating when your tits are ready to hoard your 4pm raid of the treat cupboard. Bloody tits.

See also: 10 Things Girls With Big Boobs Hate About The Summer

Film Review: Straight Outta Compton

Originally published for FACT.

For some millennials, with limited knowledge of hip hop history, Dr Dre will always spring to mind as Eminem’s mentor, first and foremost; the ‘good guy’ sidekick – reigning Marshall Mathers in and moulding him into the global rapper who dominated the noughties.

But long before he was “locked in Em’s basement”, Dre was a founding member of the N.W.A – the late eighties/early nighties collective; credited with popularising West Coast hip hop and sub-genres.Taking its title from NWA’s seminal 1988 debut album, this biographical drama charts the legendary rap group’s meteoric rise and acrimonious fall. In the mid-1980s the streets of Compton were considered some of the most deprived in the USA. Five young men sprang from them to give angry voice to a voiceless part of society, igniting a musical revolution as they shot to global hip-hop domination. Straight Outta Compton, in theatres now, chronicles the group’s rise to fame, their subsequent troubles, and the character development of the group’s three most prominent artists; Dr Dre (played by Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Paul Giamatti) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr – Ice Cube’s son).

Known for their hatred of a corrupt US police system, the N.W.A were never far from controversy (frequently banned from mainstream radio) and their biopic follows suit. Recent weeks has seen many question just why Dr Dre, one of the film’s producers, decided to omit his history of violence towards women from Straight Outta Compton. “Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in my over head with no real structure in my life,” he stated in his apology regarding his omission. While Dre may have deemed his abusive past irrelevant to the film’s narrative, knowing his victims have very different memories of his early years of fame, it plays at the back of the viewer’s mind whilst watching – you can never be fully convinced by Hawkin’s portrayal of an airbrushed young Dre. Perhaps including the rapper’s beatings of a female journalist and former lovers would have disrupted the flow of the film; after all, the focus isn’t just on Dre’s story but on Eazy-E and Ice Cube’s tale too. Maybe. We’ll never know. But you can’t help feeling confused that the only scene involving Dre, violence and women is one in which he is the victim; being struck across the face by his mother early on in the film.

NWA Straight Outta Compton

While Straight Outta Compton may have glossed over certain aspects of Dre’s personal history, it’s a brutally honest portrayal of the race tension of America throughout the late eighties. Twenty-five years on in England, where the loudest cries of ‘Fuck The Police’ can be heard from middle class white kids in suburban nightclubs, it’s sobering to be reminded just what inspired the N.W.A’s hits filled with such hatred towards the police force. Throughout the picture, the characters suffer police brutality and harassment for simply existing, and the most harrowing part of viewing those scenes is realising that little has changed since in America regarding law enforcement and people of colour; if anything, things have gotten worse.

Removing the external issues surrounding the biopic, and judging it solely as a film, Straight Outta Compton is a fast paced, at times humorous, tale of three talented kids, coming from nothing, to become world changing millionaires. Each protagonist has their own personal battle on their hands; Dre is conflicted on how to do what’s best for himself and his family, Ice Cube fights for creative credit and the financial rewards, and Eazy-E struggles with greed, and later, his losing battle with Aids.

The presence of Eazy-E’s widow, Ice Cube and Dr Dre’s involvement in production is evident throughout the film; with all three characters coasting through with few unredeemable flaws to their name; the blame for any dark scenarios being firmly placed on Suge Knight or the group’s manager, Jerry. As a film, Straight Outta Compton is an enjoyable and simple biopic, but you can’t help but wonder that it may not be the most honest retelling of the N.W.A’s formative years.

Straight Outta Compton is out now.

See also: Preview: Trainwreck

From Westeros to Hull: The Text Adventure Continues

Originally published for FACT online

Zoe Yvonne Delaney charts the text adventure unfolding from the fantasty genre into the real world, as the Networked Narrative project gains momentum in Burnley, Hull and Wigan.

FACT
When you think of Game of Thrones, the opening title credits to the fantasy series are the first thing that comes to mind. The award winning sequence is as iconic as the northern British accents; the swooping camera work across the three-dimensional map of the fictional world, sweeping the viewer along with it prepares you for the world you’re about to become enthralled in. Each focal point, be it location, building, or the clockwork mechanisms allowing other structures to emerge from the map, introduce the audience to the continents of Westeros and Essos and their inhabitants – and all in under two minutes.

While the Seven Kingdoms may be fictional, in the real cities of Hull, Wigan and Burnley, young people have set about creating their very own fantasy worlds, based on their hometowns.

With the help of Re-Dock, Network Narrative is aiming to re-capture the art of storytelling in text adventures and introduce them to libraries across England. This debut commission, an online text adventure game, has seen young creatives across Hull, Burnley and Wigan work alongside artists to create three narratives, within three genres (one per location). Each tale based on each of the locations; creating an alternative online world parallel to the real world.

Last Saturday’s workshop in Hull, led by artists Chris Rodenhurts and Neil Winterburn, saw the group set about assembling their maps of the alternative world they had been envisaging over the weeks. A previous balloon mapping meeting had seen a Go Pro go rogue, floating away into the sky, but this week’s workshop saw things stay closer to the ground; with the aim being to create a film narrated flyover of their map, Game of Thrones -style.

There were only four rules:
1. The year is 2065.
2. Robots are stronger and smarter than humans.
3. Bioengineering of plants and animals is common.
4. No aliens – only humans and cyborgs.

Everything else was left to the group’s imagination and the world they would create was entirely in their hands. A morning was spent brainstorming; establishing locations, characters and answering questions like ‘Where do the rich live?’ and ‘What is the main industry?’, before putting the visions to paper.

With huge aerial view maps of Hull to work with, the group brought together an exciting and richly imaginative blend of ideas. From mutated pets, football stadiums that act as Gladiator-esque robot fighting arenas and Tesco car parks transformed into torture camps, the new Hull had been given a rather dystopian aspect. Within a couple of hours the maps had been cut up and manipulated, ready for the Go Pros to soar over.

Hull may not evoke the exotic flavour of Westeros, but their young residents sure are leading us into a story just as interesting….

We’re still looking for participants in Burnley, Wigan and Hull to get involved with the project. If you want to be part of it and get creative find out more here.

See also: FOLLOW at FACT Feat. Shia LeBeouf

Things We Learned in Brussels

Because naturally, when dealing with break ups, me and Scarlett decided to go on a 48 Hour Bender in Brussels.

Iceland has an incest problem

You know the classic tale; one minute you’re taking creep shots of a group of lads, mocking them, and then the next you’re having the time of your life with them; laughing so loud the other tables are looking over and you’re certainly reinforcing the stereotype of English people abroad.
5 minutes after this was taken, we were swapping SnapChat names & having to slyly delete this before they saw it. We're not nice people.

5 minutes after this was taken, we were swapping SnapChat names & having to slyly delete this before they saw it.

Turns out that while they may have had dubious taste in hairstyles, they made up for it for their sense of humour. While we didn’t know much about Belgium, and still don’t, we’re now up to speed about little old Iceland. Mainly that they have an incest problem so bad, an app has been created to help them stop accidentally shagging their cousins. I mean, dating is hard in England but to be fair, none of us ever have to worry that we’ll go round for a roast at our new fella’s house and, when flicking through the family album, learn we actually share a great granddad or something. No, all we have to worry about is maybe our friends matched with them on Tinder too, or necked them on the park when they were 14.

Current Mood: Feeling blessed that the only app required for dating in England is Tinder, not an anti incest register.

French is the local dialect in Brussels

Oh, you already knew that? Turns out it’s just me and Scarlett that are ignorant and mooted whether ‘Belgish’ is a language before we landed.

No one checks your tram tickets

So don’t fret if you haven’t got change, just keep hold of your old ticket and take the risk. Then again, they’re only 2 euros, so unless dodging small transport fares is the only way you can feeling alive, perhaps just buy one and wait for karma to reward your honesty?

You can visit the whole of Europe in less than a few hours

Located at the foot of the Atomium, MINI-EUROPE is the only park where you can have a whistle-stop tour around Europe in a few short hours. And lets face it, your dad is going to absolutely love it.

Leaning Tower of Pisa

“I’ve seen it all now, I don’t need to go anywhere else. Here’s me under the Effiel Tower, me next to the Leaning Tower of Pisa – not as big as it looks, I’m almost as tall as it hahaha. Oooo this one’s a good one, it’s me ‘pushing’ your mum off the gondola. People are daft paying to go all over Europe – Brussels has got it all under one roof and it only takes a couple of hours to do everything.” – Your dad after you booked him and your mum a trip to Brussels for their anniversary. Your mum just stares at you, rewriting her will to cut you out.

Go for your dad. He needs this – he’s had a tough year with Clarkson getting sacked and all that.

(Full disclosure: We didn’t go but I read the pamphlet cover to cover whilst hungover, just thinking ‘What a time to be alive’)

The people of Belgium aren’t that arsed about Jennifer Aniston getting married

Reading that Jen An got hitched, yelling the news to your mate, then fist pumping with joy, just gets you pity smiles from the waiting staff. They must not know that if Jennifer Aniston is happy, you too will be happy.

Making friends with chefs and waiters of the restaurant you eat in is always a good idea

They’ll take you to cool dive bars that have coffins for tables and a job lot of skeletons knocking about. They’ll teach you to swear in Italian and French and you in exchange, introduce them to Scouse dialect. You may have laughed but you’ve never truly laughed until you’ve heard an Italian yelling “Yer ma has a baldy head and collects footy stickers” at his mate.

The above is not a good idea a couple of hours before your flight

Everything seems like an excellent life choice when you’re on your 13th hour of drinking. It’s not when you’re on a airport floor with a school trip screaming around you as you try not to vomit out the result of two days of constant boozing.

Total costs for Tuesday night – Friday morning:

Flights: £40 return

Accommodation: £80 (£40 per person)

Spends: £202 (converted into 280 euros. This covered ridiculous taxis due to me being a moron who can’t pick the right airport and one hell of a lot of ale.)

Cellulite Reduction Cream: £25 Purchased slightly pissed after a day of suffering from chubby rub and catching my refecltion of dimply thighs. An Amazon package upon arriving home, hungover, is always nice… i guess.

Total: £307

Verdict: If there’s a cheap flight and you’re in the mood to booze in a pretty location, go for it. I suspect it’s absolutely gorgeous around Christmas time. But to be honest, there’s not much to do but get on the ale  – not that that’s a bad thing.

Next stop: Greece (Read about that trip here)

48 Hours in Brussels

This is only the first few hours in Brussels because I’m too tired and lazy to write up the rest of the trip yet.

‘What we going to do while we’re in Brussels? Like I know nothing about Belgium –  do you know where we should go etc?”

“Well, I put a Tweet up yesterday asking for suggestions…..”

The Tweet in question implied I had throughly researched the city in Belgium; that I merely wanted some extra pointers on top of my basic Trip Advisor etc Googling. I hadn’t. The follow up Tweet suggested I knew more of what the city had to offer than merely the small statue of a pissing boy. I didn’t. Neither did Scarlett. Embarrassingly, we couldn’t be 100% sure of what language was spoken over there. The replies to Tweet were either well wishes for our travels or suggestions to go to Bruges instead; thanks, internet – helpful. We were going in blind.

Or should that be blind drunk?* At Manchester airport we ensured we were just as intoxicated as we were ignorant. Look, when you’re nervous about flying sometimes you need several vodka tonics on a empty stomach. In fact, I fully endorse this tactic as, having a blood stream 67% full of vodka really helped us cope with the following two problems:

*I’m sorry. That is a truly awful dad joke and I will see myself out. 

20 minutes before the plane was due to land, we were grounded for refuelling for around an hour

Plane 1

Killing time while we were grounded taking selfies. Hate us.

Nightmare. Obviously some obnoxious English girls had made friends with a couple of Welsh lads and were trying to blag the air hostesses to let them off for a ciggie and to get the ale served again. Arseholes.*

*It was us. We took selfies to make it even worse. Apologies if you were on this flight. But if we’re all being honest, we were more entertaining than the screaming toddlers.

Arriving at the wrong city

When we finally got going again and arrived at our destination, it became abundantly clear that some scatter brained bimbo had booked the wrong airport and we had, in fact, landed in Brussels South Charleroi, rather than Brussels. So our accommodation that was merely 15 minutes away via a cheap train was now actually over an hour away in an expensive taxi. The cheap flights suddenly didn’t seem like such a bargain now – well in, dickhead.*

*The dickhead i am talking about is me. Mad respect to Scarlett for not giving me a nasty Chinese Burn once she realised what I had done. 

The accommodation was booked via the crazy new concept, airbnb. I dub it a crazy new concept because, while you and me may have heard for it for a while, The Daily Mail has yet to run an expose on the ‘dangers of holidaying in stranger’s home’ and your mum finds the whole thing ‘a little bit dodgy sounding if I’m being honest, Zoe.’ If you’re unaware of the concept, airbnb simply allows anyone to rent out there space to those travelling through their city; could be an entire flat they own, a spare room, or even just a bed – there’s a price range for everyone and it’s a dream for if you’re ballin’ on a budget (aka ‘doing things on the cheap’ if you want to talk boring.) Even Mariah Carey is making a bit of extra pocket money on there!

Sword

Our host was wonderful considering we were over three hours late and had kept him up past midnight. He showed us to our floor, which featured interesting decor (Do you get a samurai sword in a Holiday Inn? No. You get questionable bed sheets and a feeling of despair in the air), and we got a few hours sleep before we started what can only be described as a two day bender in Belgium where horrible life decisions were made……

More once this hangover has finally checked out!

See also: #BiteMeDublin A Halloween Weekend In Ireland

What the heck is Deliveroo?

I like my food. I also like not moving. So, as you can imagine, JustEat.co.uk appears a lot on my bank statements.

Sometimes though, I just ain’t buying what the takeaways are selling. If you’re not in the mood for Indian or Chinese, what do you go for? 50 quid’s worth* of Domino’s? A kebab from a place you normally only frequent after 3am and after at least 14 vodkas? You’re alright, thanks.

*You have to use the “Spend £50 to get 50% off” code; you’re just wasting money otherwise. You couldn’t just order one pizza at 15 quid – that would be silly.

lunya

This ain’t no ordinary takeaway… (Food from Lunya)

Enter Deliveroo to save the day. The restaurant based delivery service has launched in Liverpool this week and to say I’m excited is an understatement – when I came across their Twitter page I actually woke my boyfriend up to tell him that I can now have Barburrito delivered to my front door (He was on nights and less than impressed with me.) Barburrito, Lucha Libre, Slim’s Pork Chop Express, Bakchich, Raggas, Lunya, Yardbird – they’ve got all my faves. I now live in a city where I can now eat Lucha Libre’s Dirty Fries without even putting pants on – what a time to be alive.

And guess what? You don’t need to remortgage*your house to get the best of Liverpool’s restaurants in your home – it’s only £2.50! Yep, less than three English pounds for them to get on their lecky bike and bring you your scran. Remember that weird few months where anybody with a car set up a fast food delivery service? Promising to get a Maccies or KFC to you when you’re too hungover to move? Then you’d look at the price of delivery and decide against paying 10 quid for a luke warm Big Mac. Deliveroo are cheap and the average delivery time is 32 minutes, so no stale burgers or cold fries on their watch.

**LOL as if any of us have a mortgage in the first place.

They’re having a bit of a launch party at Camp & Furnace tonight so get down there and stuff your beautiful faces silly.

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See also: Restaurants, Pack It In