2016 review banner

2016 in review

2016 review banner

It’s 31st December 2016, which means that it’s the end of another year. There’s been a lot of talk about the awfulness of the last year, particularly concerning deaths and politics, but I want to look back at the personal positives, month by month.

BBC Broadcasting House at NightJanuary – although it seems like a distant memory, I kicked off 2016 with a tour of the BBC with Media Society, where the people were so bright and cheerful that I knew I wanted to work there. I also wrote a LOT of articles for the Orbital and started doing radio on Thursday mornings. The month ended in Wokingham at the CU Weekend Away, which was a refreshing break.

Louise Jones and Beth Carr, Orbital Magazine award winners
Photo Credit: Laura Denham

February – again, February is very long ago! I used the lack of presenters on Valentine’s Day to do a Valentine’s special of Entertaining History and finished my day off by watching Bridget Jones’ Diary for the first time. However, my ultimate highlight of February, and perhaps my year, was winning Best Journalist for The Orbital at Societies Ball.

March – the month of my 20th birthday and lots of other cool things too! I was in the band for Pirates of Penzance by the Savoy Opera Society and I got elected to the position of Head of Training for Insanity Radio 103.2FM. I also went to my first Student Radio Conference in Cardiff, which was amazing fun, and built a TARDIS out of Lego.

Tim and Beth on Let Them Hear with Lizzy FretwellApril – revision is my main memory of April but I also cut my hair off to raise money for Evelina London and donated the hair to the Little Princess Trust to make wigs for children. Tim and I also successfully applied for a Christian radio show on Insanity Radio 103.2FM called Let Them Hear, which is still going!

May – exams always overshadow May but there were some good points too! Let Them Hear continued and a particular highlight was Tim doing the show solo while I was in an exam. I also gained a position on the editorial board for the Orbital as Deputy Arts Editor, which I had been hoping to achieve for six months.Beth Carr in the Insanity studio

June – so many great things happened this month! I attended the first Interfaith Ball in the Royal Holloway Picture Gallery with lovely friends from CU and amazing tiny bowls of food. I masterminded the pre-recording and summer holiday schedule for Insanity that secured us enough content to cover the whole summer. I started my two regular shows at Coastway Hospital Radio and aired a special show for International Scoliosis Awareness Day on Coastway and Insanity Radio. I also got the chance to cover the EU Referendum for the Argus newspaper, doing my first all-nighter to cover the count in Horsham. Oh, and we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

July – the first full month of a long summer saw a new job unpacking and plugging in computers and my first major work experience at Create Productions as part of the Royal Holloway Placements Scheme. It was also the beginning of being part of the regional SRA Training Day, alongside Smoke Radio from Westminster.

Selfie with Paul Layzell
Credit: Paul Layzell

August – my dad retired and we went on a short holiday to Bournemouth (I ate a three course meal outside of my own house for the first time in years and I was so proud). I did have the slight misfortune of trapping my finger in a car door but that pales into insignificance compared to the amazing week I had as a small part of leading R4@Woolie! I also went back to the Science Museum for the first time in AGES and it was amazing.

The Insanity/Rhubarb team with the QuarterlightsSeptember – I met Paul Layzell and the Quarterlights, celebrated a whole year with Insanity, interviewed Alex Manzi on the eighth floor of BBC Broadcasting House: if there was one month that shows how amazing student media is then this is the one! I also started my third year with courses that I really enjoy.

October – one of the hardest months as I struggled with anxiety and depression but also one of the most amazing. I met rising star Tom Walker, saw #SRADayLondon turn out amazingly, and joined a brand new family: Voices of Holloway! A Night At The Theatre was a great experience and the following week I went to Come In Your Socs (which is the societies club night at the Students’ Union) with three societies (I started at Voices, then Insanity, then actually arrived with the Orbital but mixed around once we arrived)

Credit: Student Radio Association
Credit: Student Radio Association

November – I kicked off the month at home for a well-earned rest, but also went to the wonderful Sorted, which was a spiritual recharge and accidental R4 reunion. The following week was the SRAs, where we didn’t win but had a fun time together as a radio station, and then the rhubarbTV Training Day, which was a fab day learning about all things broadcast and something Jon and Catriona (the organisers) should be very proud of. It ended with another CU Weekend Away too, both productive and restful. I also started my podcast, ‘Doctor Who and the Dissertation’.

Nativity castDecember – the month just gone has been as busy and good as all the others. I’ve had the Voices of Holloway Christmas Concert, multiple Christmas meals, R4 reunion, the Unscene Festival, Create work experience for the second time, chances to see friends from slightly far, the Let Them Hear Christmas Special with added audio drama, work, rest, study, relax, seeing family…

Of course all of the events above don’t count the wonderful friendships I have made and maintained over the year. From those who have been there for years and years to those who I’ve only just had the pleasure to meet, this year has been one I wouldn’t have got through without your love and support. I couldn’t possibly list everyone for fear of accidentally forgetting anyone so I hope you all know who you are!

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Blogmas 10: Harry Potter and the Dilemma of the Spoilers

Back in June, I had the pleasure of attending the second preview of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the hotly anticipated eighth Harry Potter story by J. K. Rowling. At the time of writing, details of the story remain mostly under wraps, only known by those involved in the production and the lucky few thousand people who managed to acquire tickets to the previews. Free badges were even handed out at the end, emblazoned with #KeepTheSecrets as a final reminder for guests not to ruin the surprises of the show.

However, given that I had the unique opportunity to see the show so early in the run, I wanted to review it for The Orbital, but in a spoiler free manner to respect Rowling’s wishes. It was actually a very hard review to write because the play was so good and it is tempting to write praise of each scene in detail, but with time and care I got the review written and published on the website.

Now that the book of the script has been released, it’s a lot easier to talk about the plot of Cursed Child, and similarly with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (a film I still have not seen so no spoilers please!). However, the release of these script books brings up another issue – is the experience really the same between book and play/film? With the original Harry Potter series, the books came first, meaning that they should be read first in my opinion – I’d far rather imagine a world for myself before seeing someone else’s depiction on screen because if you know what it looks like before you lose some of the joy of reading. However, Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts were both written to complement the play and film respectively, and the former certainly cannot recreate what actually goes on within the theatrical experience.

Of course, tickets to the Cursed Child are few and far between, meaning that the book provides a way of hearing the story when there’s no way of seeing it on stage. But your imagination will always create an altered scenario to how a play or film shows events. For instance, my script was performed at the Unscene Festival last Monday: the director, Ellie Cozens, and cast staged it far better than I had imagined, with symbolism alongside the reality, but it did not look as I had initially envisaged. The impatience to devour Rowling’s work could be, in a way, robbing the spectator of their ability to see the story with fresh eyes, having already read the full text.

This is a dilemma too large and too petty to have been fully explored here – it’s a matter of personal opinion and if knowing the full details of Harry and Newt’s stories through page is what you want, then that’s fine. But I continue to maintain my stance that the stories are best explored in their original form, whether that be on screen or on the printed page.

Pasta at Caffe Gondola

Blogmas 8: Caffe Gondola – An unexpected find

Today I took an essay break and headed down to Egham with some of the other media board members (although it basically ended up as an Orbital social with an added Insanity board member). Nevertheless, it was a lovely evening which took an unexpected turn. We had hoped to go to Baja, a great Mexican place which is usually empty, but they couldn’t seat us for almost 2 hours so we headed elsewhere.

We ended up in Caffe Gondola, an Italian restaurant tucked away at the top of the High Street next to Oxfam. With the season of Christmas meals well underway I was not hopeful we’d find somewhere to sit, but the restaurant is HUGE and we got a table easily. Slightly pricey compared to the Italian restaurants I’m used to at home (Donatello’s/Pinocchios in Brighton did a basic pasta/pizza for under a fiver) but there was pretty standard food for under £10 and the portion sizes were sizeable – I also liked the idea of a starter size pasta for £2.50 less than the main course. I got a Fettuccine Carbonara and it completely filled me up plus it was very tasty.

I wouldn’t recommend this as a venue for groups larger than 6 if you want to be able to chat to each other – it’s quite a loud environment so you tend to only talk to the people immediately around you but the staff were lovely. I would definitely return, so I guess our unexpected evening turned out pretty well!

Within a week

This time last week I was in London, most likely staring up at the Shell building and having a surprisingly enjoyable conversation about the Internet of Things. One week on and I’m sat at a laptop, doing some admin and filing the notes I just made from the first chapter of Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska’s text Women in Twentieth-Century Britain.

It’s strange going from non-stop work and work experience to unemployment in the space of a few days. By Tuesday I was going slightly stir crazy and tried to join the gym, yet failed due to an extortionate joining fee. I’ve come to the realisation that the only other people I’ve seen for any length of time all week are my parents, although last week I was in the same position, except with my work colleagues.

However, that is not to say I haven’t been keeping busy: deadline day for the Orbital is looming, the autumn term draws ever closer, and summer camp is in less than a month. Plus, there is always tidying and a need to simply rest (the latter of which is more prevalent that the former!)

In 200 words, I’ve said a lot whilst barely saying anything. Part of me wants to rewrite this, but the more dominant part is keeping it. Ultimately change is unsettling, and perhaps that has inspired the haphazard nature of this, but change doesn’t have to be damaging and often it can be the memories of the good times that push you into making the most of every new situation.

A return to the Orbital Board

Last Monday saw the results of the Orbital Board applications released to the candidates and I am ecstatic to announce that I will be the Deputy Arts Editor for the Orbital Magazine for the next academic year! It’s not been the simplest journey to this position, as you will know if you read my earlier post about last year’s Orbital board, but I am so excited to start afresh and work with my fellow board members, especially Joanne the Arts Editor – coincidentally she is the person I ended up sat next to at the information evening about applying to join the board way back at the beginning of March! Now that exams are out of the way I’m really enthusiastic to get started on making the Arts section the best it can be.

March 2015: Orbital board elections

In March 2015 I was privileged to be elected as Deputy Comment Editor for the Orbital, the official magazine of Royal Holloway’s Students’ Union. It was a decision I had been considering but, according to my blog from the time, was something I had talked myself out of by the time the election came around. However, the position was called for and nobody stood so I wrote a quick speech and when they called again I ran unopposed and was duly elected to the position for the 2015/16 academic year.

This is where the board politics come in. A couple of months later the Editor resigned, which was not unusual with her being the third editor in that academic year alone, and so the Deputy Editor stepped up to the position of Editor temporarily until a bi-election was held in September to confirm her position. Holly Pyne, who had been elected Comment Editor, was co-opted as Deputy Editor, which left me as Acting Comment Editor for the summer, during which we produced five mini issues for Welcome Week to give the new students a taste of the Orbital and what to expect in university life. I dealt with running the section on my own and I was praised for getting a large amount of articles in from my section members.

However, my position was not secure as I had effectively also been co-opted and was required to be officially elected to the role of Comment Editor in an election in October 2015. In doing this, I also forfeited my role as Deputy Comment Editor, which didn’t worry me at the time because of my proven ability in the position. I hadn’t counted on the fact that the newest members of the Orbital had the ambition and ability to match my year’s experience and I was outvoted for both the role of section editor and deputy, the latter position going to the member awarded Best Journalist the previous year.

The period after the election was not a good time for me, but I refused to walk away from the Orbital and set about writing as many articles as possible and show as much commitment as would have been required from a board member. From attending socials to submitting 4 articles a month, I was certainly not slacking in my involvement! Over six months later I can now say that losing the board position is one of the best things that could have happened to me: I won Best Journalist at Societies Ball and had I continued as section editor I would have been far more likely to run for Deputy Editor, meaning that I would not be able to have as much involvement with Insanity Radio.

The moral of the experience is don’t take anything for granted and don’t dwell on failed dreams – make new ones and have fun along the way! But don’t be afraid of the repercussions that come from things not going as you hope: it is completely fine to be angry and sad and never feel like you have to suppress your emotions to be strong or look good for other people. All I can promise you is that things will be okay in the end, and you should always remember that.