Wednesday, 21 March 2012

A Bad Hair Day

This is the unfortunate story of how I lost my afro.

And I wish that was a joke with some witty punchline, but it really isn't.

Yesterday I woke up and realised my hair was going to that awful place where it droops and needs to be reshaped and trimmed and such, which for like the tail end of second year/beginning of third year I decided to just leave rather than deal with leaving me with awful droopy hair, but this time I decided to sort it out so it would grow perfectly for the end of the university year. Good idea right Stu?


Very wrong.

Last time I got my hair cut I went to this random little male barber place I found in Bath so I thought if they did it alright last time then they'd be fine. So I walk in and the guy recognises me, although it was 5 months ago, and says that last time his friend cut my hair. I responded by saying I'd be willing to come back later when his friend was around but he was insistent that he knew what he was doing. So, me being naive, decided to trust the random man with scissors. At first it was ok, but before I knew it he had cut so much out of my hair it was unreal. Not even evenly! It was wonky and disproportionate and just generally awful. He had no clue. But it was too late. My hair was ruined.

I ran to the bus stop and jumped on the bus home, hoping no one would see me, then I ran into Ceri my housemate and I put my hood up to avoid her seeing my awful new do. I got home, washed, dried, combed it but no good. It was a shit haircut. Ceri, being wonderfully blunt and my saving grace this day, agreed and the more time we spent looking at it the worse and worse it got. At this point I'm almost in tears, manly tears obviously, over the thought of my ruined hair. She came up with three solutions: 1) leave it (not an option!), 2) salvage it, 3) cut it all off. Number two seemed the most appealing. Especially as now I had already missed the length window for my June nice looking afro plan and it meant that it would not grow long enough for me to shave it for charity in the summer like I had wanted to do for years. So now that these two things were missed opportunities I guess the length didn't matter to me too much, as long as it was even.

So anyway we book an appointment for Toni And Guy and I tell the lovely woman what happened, she looks concerned and warns me that I may have to go really short to get it to be remotely even. Luckily, Ceri had already prepared me for this via previous coaching on the walk over. Due to the awful proportions I received in that awful first haircut the only way for it to be proportionate, was, indeed to go really short. So at the end I'm left with the hair I have now and I kind of like it. Mainly when I compare it to the awful haircut that only Ceri saw and just how awful it was. And on the walk home a drunk tramp came up to me and shouted 'you used to have an afro!' and then said he liked my new haircut. So I'm getting positive feedback already. It'll take some getting used to and now I won't get 'you're that afro guy ! I see you allllll the time!' and I won't have it as the constant icebreaker in conversations, or I won't be able to play with it in lectures when I'm bored. However, I can wear hats! I haven't been able to wear hats since secondary school. I think I'll be able to cope. Plus it'll grow back. I don't know if I'll ever manage to grow it long again, depends what career I end up getting into and their hair rules I guess, but hopefully by the end of the university year I'll have some sort of small fro-like thing, even if its just for the pictures.

Yesterday I had to come to terms with the inevitable. I knew this was going to have to happen someday. Like if I want a big fancy job I can't have a massive afro, let's be honest. I just think it was unfortunate (and distressing for me) that it had to happen not of my own free will, more like I was forced into this new haircut by some man who has no idea what he is doing. Thank you to the woman in Toni And Guy who saved my life (well not really, but you know what I mean) and Ceri for being much needed emotional support throughout the long day (I'm so dramatic). But either way you live, you learn and you do the best you can with what you've got and that's exactly what I'm going to do.

I guess I now need to think up a new blog title...

Monday, 12 March 2012

We Are The Sparks That Never Fade

(The title is a reference to a Gabrielle Aplin song, just so I can now be considered so super cheesy.)

This is Gabrielle Aplin.

She's 19 and she's a self taught guitar playing singer songwriter from the Bath/Bristol area. She is very much a player of acoustic music. I was gutted last year when I missed her gig at Moles, so when tickets became available for her newest stint of shows I decided to buy one for the Bristol date at Thelka. While dragging along my housemate for company, despite her not really knowing anything about her.

I first discovered her a couple of years ago (maybe two?) through iTunes suggestions, which usually I'm a bit wary of as sometimes it can lead you onto the sort of music you wouldn't want to listen to in about 100 years. But she was a proper little gem hidden away amongst all the other millions of young people trying to make it big. At this time she had just recently released an EP, the Never Fade EP and had released one other EP a few years prior, the Acoustic EP. I liked what I heard, a lot, so I purchased both and decided to keep tabs on her. Then last year she announced her third EP to be released on January 9th 2012, so I preordered it and waited for months. Then eventually it was released and it was incredible, 5 brilliant tracks for a fair and modest price. It reaffirmed my love for Miss Gabrielle Aplin and I knew that she had to make it big. 

Since I first found her EPs her career has had an incredible push, with many high profile supporting slots of bigger artists (Goyte, Matt Cardle, Charlie Simpson), her music featuring on famous TV shows and some TV appearances. She is in my eyes a bit of a refreshing personality in the music scene, as she genuinely works hard, tours extensively and even spends time responding to the influx of facebook/formspring/social media messages she receives on a constant basis (updated: she totally responded to my wall post haha, absolute babe!). Her lyrics are also incredible, they carry with them a certain sense of maturity that seems beyond that of someone so young, and they are instilled with a personal realness that brings them to life. It looks like things will only get better for her and she deserves every second of this success, and then some.

So anyway, enough background, I guess I should start talking about the gig itself. It was in Thekla in Bristol, which is on a boat, which turned into a night club later on. It was a short gig overall, her set being about 9 songs and roughly 50 minutes, but with a fairly unknown singer songwriter I didn't expect it to be long. The supporting act were two guys called Hudson Taylor, they were energetic and confident and put on quite a show. I'm definitely planning to check out them in the future, and so should anyone reading this. They were kind of folky, kind of acousticy. Very much like Gabrielle herself.

Gabrielle then came on, she was quite quiet at first. Reserved. But very humble, friendly and pleasant. She mastered each song with her guitar or piano and her sublime voice. She performed two songs from her second EP (Never Fade, Panic Cord), four songs from her newest EP (Home which she performed with Hudson Taylor, Keep Pushing Me, Out On My Own, Let Me In), a new song (Please Don't Say You Love Me) and two covers (an absolutely stunning rendition of Lana Del Rey's Video Games and a duet of It Ain't Me, Babe by Bob Dylan with the lead singer of Hudson Taylor).  So overall a good set, although a personal favourite of mine and the only song she didn't perform from her new EP (Romeo Must Die) was sadly left out. But a small, fairly insignificant, qualm to be honest. At the end she stuck around to sell physical copies of her latest EP (as it was previously only available on iTunes), sign autographs, take photos or just have general chit chat with people. I bought a copy of the EP and, rather nervously, asked her to sign it. She responded with a smile and said 'only if you let me touch your hair' and then she said 'that's so awesome'. But me, being rather nervous and dorky, started to ramble on stupidly about how good I though the show was and how brilliant I think she is. At least she could tell I was a fan I guess. The lead singer of Hudson Taylor and I also had a conversation about my hair, and he let me touch his quiff in return.

Overall, it was a brilliant gig. I've totally got to see her again sometime and I hope she achieves the phenomenal success she deserves.

Monday, 5 March 2012

The Immaturity Of Social Media Users

Hello everyone!

I wish this second ever blog post could be something positive, but I need to vent. Really badly.

 This is the angriest picture of me I could find. It does kind of summarise my feelings right now.

In my life recently I can’t help but notice an increase in the existence of bitchy tweets, facebook statuses and such. Maybe it's because I'm procrastinating so I'm using social media more but whatever. Some of these aimed at me, some aimed at people I know, some aimed at people I’ve never met. Let’s be honest, we’ve all probably done it at some point within our existence. But to be honest I don’t think I have for a good few years, because I’ve learnt how to be a mature, responsible and civil human being who likes to sort things out, shock horror, face to face. I know this concept may bypass some people in the world, but I like to think that if someone has a problem with me they’ll come up to me and give me the decency of talking about their issue to my face.

What is that bitchy status, tweet, wallpost or what have you, going to do? Make me feel bad? Why would it? Why would I feel bad about you being annoyed with me but not being brave enough to tell me? It’s the warped belief that I’ll actually feel guilty for allegedly doing something wrong to someone who doesn’t even have the guts to tell me to my face is actually pretty hilarious. Anyone who knows me knows I’m not an unreasonable guy, but this whole immaturity really annoys me. What are we fourteen year olds? Rather than being immature or bitchy, just talk to them! Whether they’re your co-worker, friend, family, fellow student, just turn to them and say ‘you’re annoying me’, ‘you’ve upset me’, ‘can you please move your pet hippo as it is currently inconveniently crushing my foot’ and so forth.

So this rant may be hypocritical as I’m insulting people for being bitchy on social media, while doing that very thing in the process, but seriously I’m doing this to prove how ridiculous it is! Please, people who do this (and you know who you are) just get over yourselves! Facebook, Twitter and such are not valid methods of expressing your dissatisfaction with your peers/friends/family/classmates. Sure, if you’re upset because you missed the bus or because it’s raining and that ruined your picnic or whatever, then feel free to post  and whine about your problems, because I know I do. But if you have a problem with someone, say it to their face. If you want someone to shut up on a lecture, turn to them and politely ask them to be quiet. If you’re unhappy with your friend, tell them you are in a mature way, rather than running to the nearest attention seeking immature route so they’ll see it and feel bad. And then in hope it has a knock on effect and other people see it and feel bad for you and the ‘horrible’ situation you’re currently in. Quite frankly when someone writes a status obviously about me, I find it funny. It’s funny that they’re so pathetic or scared or sad or immature that they can’t talk to me face to face. Like a grown up. Like a decent human being. Not to mention, it’s embarrassing. Other people will see it and be like ‘Oh, did you see their status? How immature/bitchy/hilarious’. So, it’s immature, it doesn’t look good and it doesn’t solve anything. Will you writing that status repair your friendship? Or solve your issue? No, but talking with them might. So what is the point? What does it achieve? Oh yeah, nothing, it just makes you out to be an whiny immature spineless person who can’t stand up for themselves or solve issues that occur in their lives themselves.

So to summarise, just get over yourself. If you have a problem, actually put the work in and sort it out. Find a way to solve it. And if they’re really your friend then they deserve your honesty and for you to talk to them, not your bitchy social media messages.

Thank you all for reading and apols for the rant.

Much love.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

An Obligatory Introduction

Hello beautiful blog-reading people.

I'm Stu Hillman and this is my brand spanking new blog. 

Yeah that's a picture of me. Just because I thought I should put a picture of myself. A little self indulgent maybe? But then it is my blog. Just to be clear I don’t think anything I have to say is overly important, nor particularly original or insightful or inspiring. But this is mostly just for me, as something interesting to do on the side. You know? But if people find it enjoyable or interesting or take something away from this blog then that would just be the best thing.

I guess I should say it’s called Fro Blogging, because I couldn't think of a better name and I think it sounds kinda funny. The word ‘blogging’ just sounds really alien and funny to me. The fro part is because I have an afro, which often is the first thing people say about me, so I figured I couldn’t do a blog without having it in the title somewhere.

I guess I should kick this whole blog thing off with a bit about me, but I imagine only people who know me will read this so maybe that’s a waste of time? But then who here can put their hands up and say they’ve never wasted time? So like I said, I’m Stu Hillman. Short for Stuart, and I have no middle name. Though just call me Stu. Only my parents and professional people in jobs or whatever call me Stuart. It just sounds too formal. Stu just sounds so nice, casual and laid back. So yeah, let's stick with that. At the time of writing I’m 20 years old. I currently attend Bath Spa University, studying Study Of Religion and Philosophy. Just to stress, I don’t want to be a monk or a priest, because most people tend to wonder or ask. Or they think I'm some massive over zealous religious person, which I'm not either. I guess I'm agnostic, because I don't really know. But I find the idea of religions so interesting. I’m in my third and final year meaning I have to leave and find a job soon. The thought of the future scares me, but I guess it is exciting at the same time. Who knows where I’ll be in a year’s time? Or in ten? Freaky stuff. 

I grew up in a town called Colchester, in Essex, and it’s a lovely place. Despite what a particular TV show would convince people otherwise. My parents recently put my childhood home on the market, very sad times. All part of growing up I guess. I will miss that place though. Just like how I'll miss Bath when I leave here and enter 'the real world'. Oh man, I'm getting all deep and sentimental on my first blog post.

I deeply apologise for the boring obligatory first entry though! I hope you all enjoy my blog and the future entries I’ll do about stuff that’s hopefully actually interesting to read.

Stu, over and out for now. But keep reading! Thank you so much!