Saturday, September 22, 2012

Meeting Caitlin Moran.

It's 9.15am on a Friday morning. Trinity College is in the midst of Freshers' week, and I am on the floor of Trinity Hall, wrapped in a sleeping bag and trying not to move. I have a very bad hangover. I am awake very early. This is not good. However, I have a lecture at 11am, so I suppose I'd better get up...very slowly. I don't feel too bad as long as I don't move too much.
I get up, put on a jumper and make my way to college, sipping a bottle of water and trying very hard not to get sick all over the lower floor of the 140 to Rathmines. By the time I get to college, I feel slightly more alive -- though still not very good. I collapse into my lecture and proceed to stare vacantly into space for the next hour, scarcely taking in a word the lecturer says due to the spiky headache building behind my eyes.

Fast forward six hours, several cups of green tea, some shopping and a hugely welcome bag of Doritos, I am in Easons', waiting to meet Caitlin Moran. Incidentally, Doritos are the best hangover food. Carbs, fat, salt and a lovely flavour I can only describe as blue. Remind me to write a blog about Doritos. Anyway...Moran is a feminist writer and columnist who manages to be a) important and b) funny at the same time. I read her book back in January and I've been (somewhat accidentally) turning into her ever since. We have similar hair, similar eyeliner tendencies (read: we both wear lots) and, joyously, Moran has a big round face. I've said it once and I'll say it again -- what celebrities have round faces? If I google "round face celebrities" I will get Kirsten Dunst, who has a face that is as round oval. Anyway. I like Caitlin Moran, and at the moment my hungover self is clutching three books by her (I have bought two copies of "Moranthology", her new book) and I am very, very excited.

Moran arrives late, but that doesn't spoil anybody's enthusiaism -- especially mine. All squicky hangover feelings are forgotten as she starts speaking. I hate to fangirl, but come on: this is a self-confessed strident feminist. She's funny, she writes, she looks strikingly like me. She used to be fat. Caitlin Moran gives me hope for my future. When she starts speaking, she's like a truck with no brakes: she's all whirling hands, swearwords and giggles. She speaks about celbirites, about her book and about feminism (and how important it is). I am either laughing or nodding in silent agreement for the entire hour she's speaking and then -- wonder of wonders! -- she takes questions from the audience.

I'm lucky that I'm a confident kind of person. When I say hello, Caitlin compliments my eyeliner and then wryly notes my "familiar looking hair". In June, I dyed a blonde-y streak into my dark brown hair, partly because I did it for a Ceilí last summer and partly because "it looks good on Caitlin Moran, thus it will look good on me!". Moran requests that I give her a pound. I'm not sure if she's joking or not. Next,  I ask Caitlin about male feminists -- she's all for them. "Everyone is invited to the feminist party!" Excellent. I have (hopefully) ended an argument with David that has lasted about six months.*

At the end of her talk, we get our books signed. Caitlin writes "you have my face!" on the inside of my battered copy of How To Be A Woman, before defacing the cover of it with an arrow saying "YOU!" pointing to her face.I get my photo taken with Caitlin and we both do "the Muppet face". I also hug her, which is nice.
I've heard on and off that you should never meet your heroes -- that they'll nearly always end up being a disappointment. I'm not one for "role models" myself, tbh, but Moran is as close as I get. Obviously I was terrified that she'd be arrogant, or rude, or much taller than me. Moran is a wonderful, funny, clever, averaged heighted woman with a face just as round as mine.

Worth the hangover? I think so.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Electric Picnic: the five best moments from the best weekend

Those of you who read my twitter will know that I won tickets to Electric Picnic in June, and last weekend I got to swap those lovely lovely tickets for an equally lovely wristband. I had the best weekend of my life, without doubt, and it's really hard to pick five (musical or otherwise) moments from the festival. How am I supposed to pick just five from a festival where naked hott ubs shares space with banter with Ryan Tubridy? How do I choose between some of the coolest bands in the world and free granola? It's difficult, certainly, but after nearly a week of sleeping thinking about it, I've decided on the following...

#5: The Depaul tent
At Electric Picnic, a whole area is dedicated to speakers and learning. It's called Mindfield, and I could have spent the whole weekend there -- yes, I am just that uncool. There were poets, politicians and a "puball Gaeilge" (sorry, I just love alliteration) but by far, my favourite tent in Mindfield was one named "Life's No Picnic On The Streets". Sounds fun, right? Run by Depaul Ireland, a homelessness awareness group that provide help to people who need it. The tent had posters detailing the stories of some homeless men and woman Depaul worked with, which were fascinating and really made me think twice before complaining about my tent. However, I have to say that the best part of this tent were the lovely, smiley volunteers who made hungry, broke punters cups of tea or coffee. Coupled with free bars of chocolate, this tent quickly became my favourite place. The Depaul tent gets a special mention because I saved about a tenner on green tea and Dairy Milk over the weekend, it had a wonderful atmosphere in it and it did a damn good job of raising awareness for life on the street. Also, did I mention the free tea?! Check out Depaul here.

#4: An awful lot of running
The trouble with festivals is that you'll never see it all. No matter how late you stay up or how early you get your tent up, it's next to impossible to experience all Electric Picnic had to offer. For instance, I didn't get near the Spoken Word tent, I missed Heathers and Metronomy and by the end of the day, I was far too tired to even think about raves in the woods. The flipside to this is the adrenaline rush of running between bands, however! It sounds like an odd thing to say, but it makes you terribly appreciative of a band when you've ran to see them. Seeing bits and pieces of sets sounds crap, but when you've run from The Killers to Hot Chip, hearing Ready For The Floor becomes exponentially better! In the space of four hours, I managed to see star-gaze to Elbow, dance to James Murphy, sing along to The Killers and jump around to Hot Chip. Seeing, doing and hearing as much as possible is dizzying: See, kids, sensory overload can be fun (and it makes you appreciate your tent at night)!

A rather shadowy James Murphy. Never in my life have I seen so much dry ice!

#3 Ryan Tubridy
Remember my waxing lyrical about Mindfield earlier? On Sunday morning, I found myself parked in the front row of the Levithan tent waiting for a Breakfast brunch with Ryan Tubridy, Miriam O'Callaghan and several comedians. Not expecting much, I was delighted to take part in a hilarious, silly and informative hour, where topics ranged from 50 Shades of Grey to the Sunday Business Post. My morning was made afterward, when I had a chat with the one and only Ryan Tubridy! I asked him did he want his own "Bishop and the Nightie" incident and he tried on my big, floppy sunhat. I won't lie, I was a little bit starstruck, especially when he called my "look" attractive. As someone who doesn't really have a look, I was delighted with this, as you can probably tell in this photo:

Yeah, I'm lame, I went to Electric Picnic and one of my highlights was meeting the man who presents the Late Late. What can I say, I'm a culchie!

#2 The Cure
There was never really any other reason for me to be at Electric Picnic other than one big-haired, middle aged man who writes songs "about being in love or being depressed. Or both." The magical moment arrived at 9pm on Saturday night, when a sequin-clad Robert Smith strode onstage, accompanied by the smiliest keyboard player on Earth and a greaser-type playing bass. Opening with the gorgeous Plainsong, The Cure proceeded to bang out thirty eight songs, from heartwrenching soundscapes to straight up, glorious pop music. I'm telling you, it was NOT an easy gig -- I had to leave the barrier around halfway through and spent the rest of the gig cocooned in the crowd. The Cure's second encore was one of the happiest moments of the weekend -- after playing a dark, dark "The Same Deep Water As You", the band seemed determined to get Electric Picnic dancing. Between "The Lovecats", "Close To Me" and an absolutely banging "Why Can't I Be You?" , they certianly achieved that. Without doubt, an absolutely life-affirming gig and something I can check off my "things to do before I am boring with a job and children" list.

Would I ever take photos of The Cure in anything but black and white?

#1 The craic
It seems clichéd to say, but I couldn't have had the fun I had at the weekend without the people I was with. Once again, Conor and I took a festival and through him, I discovered The Jezabels, who are absolutely fantastic -- I can't stop listening to them! Paul, pictured above with Tubbs and myself, was a star when Conor and Áine disappeared -- we ate granola together, explored the festical together and quoted The Simpsons...a lot. Áine was my Queen of EP, between her leaf-covered hair and her neon paint and David...well, David bought me chips and waited for The Cure for three hours with me. Could I ask for a better boyfriend? I think not. These four, coupled with some enchanting randomers over the weekend, amde the festival for me. Notably the three guys in yellow raincoats who asked Áine and I for a threesome, people from the internet that I actually got to meet, and the Stereotypical Festival Couple that took pictures of me and David for most of James Murphy. Oh, Electric Picnic. You can't say it doesn't attract a diverse mix of people...

Nudes... ;)

Christy Moore - I'm an official Kildare person now! 

Me and my Dave at James Murphy. <3

Lots of posing took place over the weekend...

... exhibit B! NEON PAINT!

So yeah, in short, I had an amazing weekend. I'm saving up for next year already!