On Lazy Wine Girls

Lately, I have noticed a trend, and I’m sure many of you have too, of girls posting things on social media advertising their love of Netflix, cheap wine and/or lazing around in their pyjamas. I’m sure we’ve all seen the posts along the lines of “5pm on a Sunday, still drinking boxed wine and watching Netflix” and “Wearing pyjamas all day so you don’t have to do laundry… #stayclassy”.

Memes such as the Foul Bachelorette Frog have been around a long time, but other social media seems to be catching on, such as the likes of @betches on Instagram.

What day is it?

A photo posted by BETCHES (@betches) on

Don’t get me wrong, some of it I do find genuinely funny, but on the whole, this whole “I’m just a lazy girl who loves Netflix, wine and pyjamas, haha lol!” persona just kind of seems like a bit of a forced humor. I’m pretty sure all of us at various times enjoys each of these things, but for some, their entire online persona seems to revolve around this.

Recently, I went for coffee with a friend who’s trying out Tinder for the first time, and he was stressing out about what to write on his profile. I don’t really know too much about Tinder or Happn and their ilk, I got into a relationship right before they became a thing, so unfortunately I don’t have any horror stories of my own to share. But this particular friend, he was complaining about how difficult it is to get replies, how difficult it is to know how to describe yourself in just a couple of lines and how difficult it is to find people that seemed normal.

He found there were a lot of girls using the line “I want to be treated like a princess”. These girls he was automatically writing off (or swiping whatever way you swipe when you don’t want to date someone). His reasoning, which he shares with other male friends I’ve since talked to, is that this comes across as demanding, high maintenance and entitled. These guys have no problem bringing a girl on dates and treating them well, but the common theme was that they wanted to do that of their own volition, because they liked the girl, not because she demanded it.

Which brings me back to my original point about this other kind of girl that’s becoming ubiquitous, the Lazy Wine Girl.

To use Carrie Bradshaw’s really annoying phrase, I couldn’t help but wonder, was this new breed of woman on the internet born out of not wanting to lump themselves in with the Princesses and Marilyn Monroe Quote Girls? I have no time for pretentiousness, and I’m all for people being down to earth and just a normal human being, but some of it seems forced, like they’re trying to make a very vocal point, “Look at me, I’m low maintenance!”.

Low maintenance is great. Netflix is great. Pyjamas are great. Wine is particularly great. But each one of these things have their place, and in the same way I wish I could tell some of these Essex Girls to tone down the makeup and wash off those ridiculous eyebrows, I also kind of want to tell the Lazy Wine Girls to stop trying to hard to not try hard.

It’s lovely to lounge around in your jammies and watch Orange is the New Black, I prefer it to going out sometimes. But it’s also okay if you want to spend awhile getting dressed up and going somewhere nice. I often visit my grandmother and I love seeing all her old white gloves and hats from the 50s and 60s, and I actually think its really nice that people used to make such an effort to dress up when they went anywhere.

I know it’s time consuming to dress up every day, and not really viable for most of us, but we do seem to have lost that polished look. I know I personally feel a bit happier if I’ve made some effort to get ready in the morning, than if I’ve just thrown on trackies to run around to Tesco with my hair unbrushed.

I guess what I’m getting at here is that it would be nice to find some sort of happy medium between the Princesses and Lazy Wine Girls… but hey, you do you.

Draughts: Board game cafe in East London

Back home, most social events involve alcohol. Generally, meeting up with friends takes place in the pub or dinner… often followed by the pub. It can be fun, but it definitely gets tedious, and I can remember more than one conversation with friends back home where we tried to think of something else to do.

The odd film/bowling/etc excursion occurred, but more often than not, the pub is the easy, go-to option.

Here in London though, I have quite a few friends who don’t drink, so generally hanging out with them will involve things like cooking dinner together, going to a gallery or finding fun events to go to.

The other night, I stumbled across a board game cafe, Draughts. I mentioned it to the Slav, who got excited about it and suggested we ask along a friend of ours that we hadn’t seen in awhile.

We all went last night, and I must admit this is one of those places that I almost don’t want to tell anyone about. Draughts is LOVELY. It’s in a railway arch in Haggerston, one of those cool exposed brick wall/curved ceiling jobs.

We were served by a really lovely girl, and the rest of the staff seemed awesome too. And the games. Wow. They have literally hundreds of games stacked up in a library down the back.

Draughts started out as a Kickstarter project, and to all of the people who funded them – good call. There’s a £5 per person fee, which lets you stay as long as you like and play as many games as you like. Plus they serve beer too – always a bonus!

I will definitely be back, and anyone looking for something different to do, or somewhere to take a first date – definitely check out Draughts.

Why I do not like recruitment agencies

My very first “proper adult” job was the one that brought me to London in the first place. I was a recruiter. Specifically, I was an IT recruiter. And I had no idea what I was doing.

These days, I know a fair sight more about IT – at least I sure hope so, otherwise the last three years have been a waste! Back then though, all I knew was that the clients were looking for something called “dot net”, which I was also allowed to take to mean “C#”. I would spend forever scouring CV libraries and LinkedIn for candidates, reading through everything very carefully, in the hope I could avoid spending time on the phone. I hated phoning candidates – I knew absolutely nothing about what these people did for a living, what their profession was, what they’d spent years studying. All I knew was that their CV happened to contain the key words I’d thrown into the search bar.

Writing job specs was easier, at least then, I could rely on my pal Google to help me out. I’d pull up a few similar looking adverts, do a bit of Frankenstein work, cobble something vague together and hope the job title and salary were enough to reel in the candidates. Sorted.

Needless to say, recruitment and I did not work out… but IT and I did. I went back to university, where I’m now finishing up a computer science degree.

I’m in my final year, well, final semester actually, and my CV is now one of the ones that the recruiters are pulling up and skimming to find the appropriate keywords.

Today, I spoke with two different recruiters – one who works for a recruitment agency and one who works as an in-house recruiter for a company. Both of these people approached me, but the experiences with each of them was so different. The in-house recruiter was a really pleasant woman, and right on the mark in terms of what I was looking for.

The other one… well, now I can definitely understand the frustration of candidates. Our phone call lasted exactly four minutes, part of which went like this:

Him: Okay, so I’ll put you down for software development and web development

Me: Back end development, yes, definitely, but not web.

Him: Oh well they’re pretty much the same, so I’ll just write down web design.

Me: No, I’m really not interested in any web, it’s actually quite different from back end, please don’t put that down.

Him: Okay. I see you worked in recruitment yourself, so I’ll consider you for any roles with a sales element.

Me: No, please don’t do that, I’m only looking for development, only technical positions.

Him: Okay, well we have some roles that are sales with some development.

Me: No, I really don’t want that. No sales at all, it’s really not one of my strengths. Please don’t do that.

Him: Okay, well, we’ll see. I’ll call you in a few weeks.

 

I find it really frustrating that a person’s chances at a career is often in the hands of someone who knows nothing about it. Please don’t get me wrong, there are some stellar recruiters, who know exactly who to search for and what people would be perfect for the role, but the recruitment industry itself is so flawed. People are products, and while we’d all like to think we’re a special snowflake, sometimes you’re just five minutes on the phone with someone who’s trying to fill up their phone targets for the day.

Often, a job could go “on hold”, which basically just means that the client isn’t responding to emails from the recruiter right now. This is often because the clients might have found someone themselves, which is always going to be cheaper, or the particular project they were hiring for has had its budget tightened.

Whenever I’ve applied directly to a company, the response has been so much different. My CV usually lands on the desk of the actual person who will be doing the hiring, someone who knows the job inside out and can realise that someone who knows that JavaScript is not the same as Java, or that someone who has learned Objective-C isn’t going to be making Android apps. In short, they look past the word “programmer” and can see what this person can actually do.

In addition, the hiring company is often going to be less picky than they would be if going through a recruiter. You’re paying the recruiter top dollar, of course you’re going to give them a grocery list of requirements; if you’re paying for it, you’re going to want the Vitruvian Man of programming.

To those recruiters who really get it, who know what they’re doing and who can be honest with someone and tell them what’s going on – I salute you. It’s not an easy job, but there are some who do it well.

To the others, please stop asking me if I’d like to be a JavaScript developer.

Winters in London

This is my fifth January in London. The first two were spent being miserable about having to get up for work while it was still dark out, the next two were spent studying for exams, with stress levels building year by year.

This January, however, is my last one taking exams, and stress levels are higher than ever. January, in general, isn’t usually a great month for anyone – Christmas is over, it’s dark, its cold, everyone is either broke or doing Dry January so are refusing to go out…

Foggy old London

 

But strange as it may seem, a part of me kind of likes winter in London too. The streets are quieter at night, and when it’s rainy and foggy, the city gets kind of eerily beautiful and makes me think of how London must have looked back in Dickens’ time. As a little kid, I had all these dramatic notions about different European cities – Paris was the place for romance and the place to find some beautiful, bittersweet affair; Rome was loud and vibrant and bustling and where you’d go and meet a crazy Italian family who would adopt you as one of your own and teach you to cook; and London was foggy and mysterious, the place where men still wore trench coats and under every railway bridge, one of these be-trenchcoated men would be lurking, smoking a pipe and waiting for someone.

 

london-fog-1952-16

Now, unfortunately for my childhood self, London is more likely to show you bankers in suits and teenagers in chicken shops than the set of an old black and white detective movie… but every once in awhile, it gets foggy, and you can almost convince yourself that it could happen.

 

But this is why I love London in winter – it’s beautiful. If it’s foggy, you get what I just described. If it’s rainy, you can feel smug and cosy in bed, listening to it patter against your window pane. My favourite of all though, is when it’s cold. That crisp, bitingly cold kind of air that almost hurts your lungs to breathe in.

Back home, in Ireland, the air is a lot cleaner than London. When I go back to visit my parents, I get that sharp feeling to the chest when I take a deep breath. I suppose that’s why when the air is crisp here, it reminds me of home.

 

london-fog-1952-20

 

So I’ll savour our last bits of winter as much as I can, and I suggest you do the same. After all, everyone looks cute wrapped up in hats and scarves. :)

Happy New Year London!

Hello friends,

For awhile there, I kind of fell off the face of the earth. I suppose that’s bound to happen when you’re in final year, especially in a science degree. I kept reading updates of all my favourite blogs though, or seeing cool things around Shoreditch and thinking “I should actually write something”… But the truth is, I actually fell a little out of love with London for awhile and the idea of blogging about my life here was just not something that appealed to me.

London is a big, vibrant, busy city and it’s an incredible city, with so much character and life in it… but every once in awhile, it can actually feel kind of lonely. Coming from Ireland, where everyone almost everyone is friendly to one another, I sometimes find it a little sad that you could quite easily go about your day in London without saying “Hello, how’s your day going?” to another human.

I went home to Ireland for almost two weeks over Christmas, and came back feeling more relaxed and calm than I have in a long time. I spoke to a few dear friends while home about my qualms about London, and a lot of them asked if I was thinking about going home. Dublin has changed a lot since I left, it’s doing really well, people are working, new businesses are opening, the city seems to have come back to life.

I won’t lie, part of me did consider it. The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that it wasn’t really what I want. Going home to visit family and friends is wonderful – I get to catch up with people I haven’t seen in a long time, I go to bars and restaurants that are either new and exciting or old favourites with a lot of memories, I’m rarely stuck for something to do. But if I was to live there, I wouldn’t be seeing friends every night – they have lives. I wouldn’t be going out to bars and restaurants every night – I’m not that rich! The reason going home is so special is because I have it in small doses, and the wonderful friends that I have will always make time to see me because I’m home so rarely.

Coming back to London though, I realised that I don’t have it too bad here either. Yes, my degree is tough and yes, I’m forever poor, but I’ve made some great friends here, I’m studying something I find incredibly interesting, I live smack bang in the centre of one of the biggest cities in the world. Life in London ain’t so bad.

So with that, I made a new year’s resolution. I have no idea what the future holds, and if you ask me again next year, I might be craving something new again.. but for now, I decided I am going to treat the next year as “I’m living in London for a year” and try and get as much out of that year as possible.

I had two Australian friends here, and every other weekend they were off somewhere in England or Europe or doing something cool in London. While the rest of us were eating the salad the local Tesco Express marks down at the end of the night while sitting on the couch moaning about work, these girls were excitedly planning their next day out. I think those two got more out of London in a year than I have in four.

So, with that, let’s be having you London.

I hope you all have a wonderful 2015 and that you take everything life has to offer you this year.

On Gatecrashing

Partying

One of the best parties I ever went to was one I hadn’t been invited to.  When I’m sober, I’m pretty excitable anyway, but throw alcohol into the mix and suddenly everything is an adventure and everything is awesome.

About a year or two ago, I went out for drinks with an old friend from back home, let’s call him R.

R was one of those friends I only ever really saw in the pub. My one attempt at doing something different with him, walking along the South Bank one summer’s night had still ended up with him pouting until I gave in and we went to a pub.

This particular night though, R and I had been on something of a bar crawl through Shoreditch. He was still somewhat new to the area and was still in that Shoreditch honeymoon phase – wanting to go out all the time, excited about all the new bars and restaurants and me, well I love Shoreditch, so I happily went along for the ride.

We’d managed to make our way through about five or six bars and about as many drinks. We weren’t very faithful to any one particular place. Generally, we’d start out in Ziggy’s on Hoxton Square, but we were definitely bar sluts, and as soon as we’d finished a drink in one place, R would be already thinking about the next place to go.

helloGenerally, we’d reach a certain point where we knew it was probably time to call it a night. I’d generally get incredibly giggly and delighted and start spouting nonsense, and he’d start rolling his eyes an awful lot, like a disapproving old man.

This night, R was walking me home, and as we were walking down a side street, we passed by an apartment block. You know those ones that from the outside look horribly concrete and industrial, but you just know are probably incredibly cool and modern inside?

This one had music pumping out onto the street, and R commented “Sounds like a pretty big party”. In some moment of madness, I announced “I’m going to the party”, made a beeline for the door, buzzed the bell and was halfway up the stairs before R had a chance to protest.

Once inside the building, we figured we may as well follow through with it. We ended up just following the noise until it led us to a big metal door which slid open to reveal a gorgeous, spacious apartment with people everywhere, a DJ in one corner and a table of drinks in another.

R set himself up as the barman and started mixing drinks for everyone, I left him to it and went off wandering, talking to all and sundry.

The apartment was so lovely and the people were a totally eclectic mix of people, and a lot of fun to talk to.

The next morning, R and I met for brunch to rehash the night’s events. I’m pretty sure it was one of the highlights of his life in London, because after that, I’d often hear him telling people “And then she just ran up the stairs!”

To be fair, it was a pretty excellent night.

And to whoever’s party we crashed – thanks for a really great party!

Movie Nights

This week isn’t even halfway through, and yet I’ve ended up in the cinema every night so far.

On Monday, I went to my beloved Genesis Cinema with the Slav to see the new Woody Allen movie, and last night I got a couple of free tickets to a preview of What We Did on our Holiday in Millbank, so went along with an old friend from back home.

My first degree, before I went down the computer science route, is in journalism. My journalism curriculum was a complete mixed bag of modules – including three economics modules (that is a year and a half studying economics. Not fun.), critical thinking, shorthand and a few film and literature modules.

While studying, the film modules were fun because we got to sit in darkened lecture halls watching things like Natural Born Killers and Blue Velvet… but at 18 years old, I didn’t pay much attention further than thinking “Brilliant, don’t have to take notes”. (I’m much more studious now, I promise!). To me, film was just a past time and not something I ever really thought about. The cinema was just a place you went when it was raining and there was nothing to do, or where a boy would take you on a first date if you were too young for the pub.

Funnily enough though, over the past couple of years, out of nowhere, I’ve developed an actual real love for film as an art form. I’ve always been a bookworm, and it’s not uncommon for me to go completely incommunicado with a book for hours at a time, but film was never really something I’d given much thought to. Then I discovered a couple of independent films, and loved them. Then started seeking out more. And more. And now, I’m hooked. I hate Hollywood, you can keep your Avengers and Guardians of the Easy Money from Punters type rubbish.

But independent films… there’s something about them. I think it’s the fact that when you watch an independent movie, you’re watching something that has a lot of love put into it. Whoever made it made it because they really wanted to tell the story, not because it follows a formula that’s guaranteed to sell tickets.

Part of this is one of the reasons that I grew to really love Woody Allen’s movies. He’s got a very dry, subtly sarcastic and dark sense of humour, and when you notice little humorous things its like he’s sharing an in-joke with you. Say what you like about his personal life, but the man makes good films.

On Monday, I dragged my boyfriend to see Magic in the Moonlight down in Whitechapel. Parts were typical Woody, and Colin Firth’s character was excellent, but disappointingly, there were quite a few very “Hollywood” parts. It’s quite sad to see this, because it seems more like its driven by the financiers than the director himself. On the whole, it was a really pleasant movie, but definitely felt a little lacking in comparison to some of his other’s.

Last night found me in a cinema in Millbank, in the ground floor of the Millbank tower. It was a bit bizarre, we walked into a cafe in a very bright lobby, asked if we were in the right place, then told “Through the white door. Then through the next white door”. I wasn’t sure if we were being directed to a cinema or it was a very subtle way to get rid of us through a fire exit.

Turns out it was some kind of private cinema, and the only seats left were right in the very front row, meaning we had to throw our heads back to be able to see the screen properly. The movie, What We Did On Our Holiday was completely bizarre. A lot of very dark humour, and an awful lot of “Oh I god I can’t believe I’m watching this”, but on the whole, a surprisingly nice movie.

My favourite part of the night though was the chatting over coffee afterwards, and walking back over Lambeth Bridge to get the bus back to Shoreditch. You get the prettiest view of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye from there.

Even the Thames can look pretty in the dark.