Thursday, 28 June 2012

House Hunting Woes and Estate Agent Hoes

T'was the fifth property I've viewed in as many weeks and I'm slowly losing the plot to live. How the times have changed over the past few years thanks to the destruction of the worlds economy by a group of greedy, grubby bankers. Yes, I'm royally effed' off at the state of the property market in these current times as none of us can really afford to sell our homes and none of us are cash ready to buy and begin a lifelong, hopefully worthwhile investment. I've heard gut wrenching claims that the estimated time for the markets to stabilise and improve enough to what it was five years ago could take twenty years. Such a horrible, depressing thought.
So it is now a renters market, with landlords rubbing their cheap hands together with cunning glee and us lot, the tenants. Trying not to be taken advantage of as I do have the appearance of an innocent teenage girl (so I've been told as I look so young), I have been researching my behind off for comparisons and differences for postcode pricing and room values. So far I've discovered that for the price of a four bedroom, standard, small, semi-detached in a rather poor state, I could afford a luxury two bedroom apartment with the plus of a master en-suite, just two streets further out from the city. The age old question when house/flat hunting is, should I be looking for the best house in the worst location, or the worst house in the best location?

Personally, as I'm not in the position of looking for a home to buy and decorate and nurture, I need to be practical. At this moment in time the luxury apartments are looking my best option, as, I don't need all the space of a house, and, I can't afford a house that looks any better than a student squalor squat. So that eliminates one battle, the next being a postcode wars of such with rather farcical price hikes to live as little as two streets closer to the city centre. This is the area in which I'm feeling the strain, as, at times it is infuriating to see corporate greed at work again and making living in comfortable housing an elitist matter. We all have the right to comfortable affordable housing, especially at a time when the rental market is so powerful, you would think there would be more choice. Estate agents are now taking advantage of the potential tenants and charging ridiculous pricing for rents and its nothing but disgusting. Also, is it just me or can anyone see what actual work estate agents do? I would love to hear your suggestions. Viewing unoccupied properties on a selected open house and not even bothering to open the curtains so we can see the property in its best light, along with turning up late, and, either not returning calls or going to the next extreme and calling/emailing/texting you to the point of harassment is just some of the unfortunate situations I've found myself in with these jobsworths. The worst so far? Having to pay an application fee of around forty pounds any time I want to just apply for a property - and thats forty pounds for each potential tenant - with zero guarantee that you will be chosen. As you can imagine, the estate agents will say almost anything to get you to apply, even though they have a pretty good idea of what type of tenant the landlord will want to vacate their property, and that might not necessarily be you.

I had to wait today in the rain for about half an hour for an estate agent to bother to arrive to let me in to view a property. I got wet, then angry as the particular place was as dark as a coven - did the agent even turn the lights on to show me around? Do you really need me to answer that?

Here is a link to use if you are in my position as an almost homeless person and in need of a rental property.
Click here for the information - A Tenant's guide to renting

(image via rose2roses )

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Real-ish Housewives of Orange County

Today is a sad day for me, it was the season ending of Real Housewives of Orange County. I now have to wait about six months for the next collection of hard hitting, quality television. I joke. To be honest, most people I know who in public look down on these types of reality t.v trash are actually franticly looking online for links to the newest episodes as soon as they go live when they are home alone. There is nothing worse in life than those god awful wannabe faux intellectuals who say "I don't watch television", sure you don't.
The fact is these programmes give us a much needed escape from the pressures of our own tortuous, mundane lives and we do all get pleasure from watching a bunch of wealthy, age defying women bitch and fight and throw soiree's and apply copious amounts of MAC bronzer. In that exact order as well.

Well, on tonights finale of RHoOC, we saw what would appear to be the demise of one of the shows longest and strongest friendships - that of Vicky and Tamra. Ever since Vicky split from her husband and shacked up with that poor excuse of a redneck, Brooks, we all knew parts of her life would erupt and I don't mean in the bedroom! You see, Vicky is one of those women who was so in love with her career that she forgot how to love her then husband, Don. I thought Don was such a gentleman who adored his wife and family but he was obviously too vanilla for Vicky. She needed a strapping southern Texan man to look after her and give her some excitement. Problem is, we hear he's been arrested for not paying child maintenance for his four children, who he left back in Texas, so he could come to sunny California and live in Vicky's house and drive Vicky's car and spend Vicky's money and get fed and clothed by Vicky. You can hear the alarm bells now, can't you?
She also has now caused a rift with her own children over her new choice of lover and from what I can gather, she's defiantly putting her love life before that of her children's well deserved concerns.  It's all very "me and my man against the world" syndrome.
Then you have Tamra, good old Tamra, with her feisty, pugnacious ways. Of course she was going to try to protect her friend from this sponger of a man, it was just a shame that Vicky let big sexy Brooks whisper sweet nothings in her ear regarding Tamra giving her the evil eye. Then all Hell breaks loose. It was one of these cringe worthy moments when you witness someone (Vicky) screaming so loudly in someones face (Tamra), you can see actual saliva particles flying out. My fault for having such a large HDTV I guess. This all took place at the marbled mega mansion of fellow cast member Heather Dubrow, who, was having a soiree to celebrate her legally taking her husbands surname - such a hard life. Anyway, this particular conflict of Iraqi proportions ended with a Cruella de Vil dressed Vicky storming out, redneck in tow, only to come back in for a champs' toast and to, yet again, publicly state her love for her man "Im gonna stand by my man". Tamra's a tough cookie though, so I'm sure she will get over it.

Other lesser important scenes of the finale where that of the Paris Hilton meets Mrs Bucket (from Keeping Up Appearances) wannabe, Alexis, and her control freak of a husband Jim (think Patrick Bergin Sleeping With The Enemy) getting into a minor altercation with the soiree hosts husband over a bit of light name calling or something. Both husband and wife stormed out nonetheless. Very predictable. Also, we see Vicky's lovely daughter Brianna who is newly married show off her husband in a much more loving and healthy way - at the end scene we find out she's six months pregnant - Brianna is a clever girl who also had to deal with her mothers neurosis, so only time will tell if the rift can be fixed. Slade and Gretchen seem to be huddling along with their love affair and I actually think those two will make it for the long haul. They are two peas in a pod by being image obsessed, money obsessed, fame obsessed, trying-to-find-any-hidden-talent obsessed - Slade is now doing stand up comedy - so they both gel perfectly. I hope next season we see a completely Swarovski induced, ostentatious wedding of the pair. Fingers crossed! 

Overall, this season had been a stellar one and it bemuses me that this show had been airing for years now and I've been following it every step of the way. 

All I have to say is, bravo to Bravo.

(image via googleimages )

Epic day for Northern Ireland

Well well well, what do we have here? Belfast has been the stage for a momentous occasion which will now go down in history as a landmark step for Britain and Ireland. HRH Queen Elizabeth arrived in Northern Ireland today along with her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh initially to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee with a garden party at Stormont Parliament Buildings. Prior to this, however, came the astonishing meeting of the Queen and none other than that of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, who is also the Deputy First Minister of the country. They shook hands for the first time in which by many can only be seen as a gesture of healing. Healing for all the bloodshed and lives destroyed during The Troubles which lasted for over thirty years.
If you had asked whether this meeting would of occurred even ten years ago, people would of laughed at you. Martin McGuinness was a former IRA commander, who was a major player in the war against the British for the land of Ireland. It went as far and as personal as the terrorist organisation murdering the Queens cousin, Lord Mountbatten in 1979. As the Queen is head of the British armed forces - who were sent into Northern Ireland during The Troubles - many thought it would be too raw a deal for both parties to even be in the same county let alone the same room, shaking hands.

It has happened though, of course there has and will be the inevitable backlash from the republican nationalists who believe that McGuinness is a traitor to 'the cause' and still despise the Monarchy and all  it represents. Yes McGuinness has blood on his hands, even Royal blood, but this can only be taken as a positive step in the future for Northern Ireland. So much more needs to be done to secure a decent, healthy future for the coming generations of the country. What good is it going to do to keep rehashing the same nonsense over and over again? To poison our children's minds with the same toxins that have infiltrated yours? Lets be honest, do we want NI to end up like Israel? Before The Troubles, NI was the third fastest growing economy in Europe. That statistic can only be looked upon with sorrow for what the country could of been.

We need the hatred to stop, we need the bitterness to stop, we need change.

Below is the video of the meeting.

(video via YouTube )

* If you watch the video on YouTube, you will see the comments underneath which do sadden me as people still don't get it. There is far too much hatred in the world.

The ideology of idolisation

*(The first paragraph of this post has miraculously vanished! I will try and fix it soon. Apologies.)

For me, ever since I first heard Baby One More Time I was hooked. And I use the word "hooked" with much literal sense. I'm not talking about simply being a 'fan' of something or someone, but, stepping over that thin line into the category of idolisation. Britney, to me, was everything I thought I should be when I reached young adulthood. She was beautiful, talented, a good dancer, desired by men, popular, rich and famous. I had my room covered in her posters, as a shrine of sorts to what I aspired to be like. I bought all her songs on tapes (CDs weren't even popular then) and listened to them repeatedly. I still to this day know every dance step from of her music videos, especially Oops I Did It Again. By obsessively buying into that persons merchandise, by watching all of an actors movies or buying all the magazines a model is on the cover of, we feel we are connecting with them more so than other people.

Part of me believes that we make ourselves empathise with the particular person we idolise, whether its an important comparison or not. For example, all of the women I have listed above could be described as having 'troubled' periods of their lives, Kate with the substance abuse, Britney with the mental health problems, Marilyn with the failed marriages etc. Everyone has had some trouble in their lives but we see these people in the public eye as beating their demons and coming out the other end, getting endless amounts of attention, just as rich and beautiful as ever. Well it didn't end up so good for Marilyn, however, she has now been immortalised forever as some heroin of her time, a martyr of fame. Another example could be as simple as a person standing up for an issue you feel passionate about and bringing to the spotlight, think Lady Gaga and gay rights, or even just succeeding at a certain niche market genre that you are interested in.
A more troubling aspect of idolisation could be down to our own self esteem issues. We don't feel as beautiful or talented or thin as these people, so we aspire to be clones of them. Believing that working towards the life that someone else has will inevitably make us happy. If I had a pound for every time I heard a pop star say "just follow your dreams" or "never give up on your dreams" I would be a happy girl.

I believe it all comes down to success. Success can come in many forms and can have many different worths. Westerners particularly are drawn to success being based on materialism and beauty. Or how many twitter followers you have. Simple. There comes a time though where you have to stop focusing all your energy outwards towards anyone except yourself. People do eventually grow out of idolisation as they realise that they should be investing their time/money/intellect on themselves rather than an actor. If we don't then we end up seeing that middle aged man with a dozen tattoos of Julia Roberts all over his body and think it's the norm. Many may argue that by having stars who we idolise, a bar is set for what we are hoping to achieve in life. That is true to a certain extent but then why should we let the entertainment industry dictate what the value of achievement is? Or any industry for that matter? Surely it should be individual goals for individual people. Not some subliminal mind screw of marketing and smoke screening conducted by some high-up share holders. Not all of us should be Beliebers!

I still love Britney, just not to the extent where I buy her perfumes or watch all her interviews on YouTube. I'm still a fan, but I'm a fan of many things in life but now I put my own worth forward as the most important thing. As sad as it sounds, we should all be our own no.1 fans.

(image via dreamwallpapers )

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

We need to talk about 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'

Im talking about the movie right now, I have the book sitting untouched on my desk just waiting to disturb my thoughts. It was only recently that I was looking around Xtra-Vision (yes I still rent out DVDs) and that out of sheer I-can't-find-anything-ness picked up We Need to Talk About Kevin. 
Well I'm happy I did as it is one of the most entertaining movies I've seen all year. I can actually genuinely call it "gripping" as usually I have a poor attention span due to a mild psychosis and with this movie I was glued to the screen.

For those of you who don't know, the movie is based on the 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver about a school massacre caused by one of its students. It revolves around the relationship between the boy who commits the atrocity and his mother, following their story throughout his upbringing. It follows the destitute life his mother now has to endure in the aftermath of what her son did, along with flashbacks throughout the movie of their times together in the past. They always had a very strained relationship and it's very intriguing to see how even a childs' behaviour from the youngest of years can show personality problems which will manifest in other ways in later life.

Now I'm no movie critic, I can't really make some sort of brilliantly co-ordinated review on character development or expository dialogue. However, Tilda Swinton (who played the mother) acted impeccably well and had a very convincing on-screen partnership with Ezra Miller (who played teenage Kevin). As all of us know about real-life events mirroring this, such as Columbine, so it makes you sympathise with the mother. She will always punish herself trying to think, why didn't I bond with my child? Is it all my fault? How did I not do more?

Im a person who is transfixed by the human mind and the actions of those who do wrong in the world. What Kevin did was evil. What the Columbine kids did was evil. All these evil people are supposed to be sociopaths and/or psychopaths. So where does the line get drawn between just being 'evil' and having a severe mental disorder which you cannot control?

Makes you wonder...

(image via dvdactive )


As I'm writing this, I'm trying in vain to work out how to use the Blogger design tools properly. I'm failing. You see, I'm actually a bit of a technophobe and usually get bored of the social media networks that everyone (well most people I know) seem to base their central sociological existence on.

Yet here I am, joining the masses on an epic voyage of my narcissistic ramblings and (limited) photography/imagery presentation abilities. Don't ask me yet why I named this blog The Stellar Diaries, I'm as unsure as you are but in time should come up with some pretentious, suave induced dribble for you all to immerse in. I just liked the word 'Stellar'. Also, I am blogging as a way to practice my writing as one day I hope to have a spot on a shelf in the Easons fiction section.
This is a lifestyle blog and will focus not only on fashion but will incorporate all aspects of my life that I have an interest in; literature, music, film, food, art, life, love, sex, politics and 'hipster mentality' to name but a few.

If I had started this blog several years back, it would of been solely a fashion blog as I studied Fashion Design and then Fashion Marketing. No disrespect to the genre but now I feel as though I've matured somewhat and have become slightly disillusioned with the ideology that all trendy girls should primarily love fashion and fashion alone. When I was younger I would of done anything to get past those gates of Somerset House every season. Yes, watching shows is very nice but now I realise they are actual business events which are essential for designers to make a living from. Not necessarily for me to swan around, Vogue cigarette in hand, and pose at. Obviously not all fashion bloggers are blaggers, so many have made a successful name for themselves and have become an invaluable part of the industry. They have no hidden agendas, they work hard at what they love on a freelance basis and many up and coming designers rely on their exposure for advertising/PR purposes. Good on them.

Personally, I want to use this blog like a diary for all the million mile an hour thoughts that run through my mind at any given time. A collection of think pieces even. I want to give my two cents on books that I've recently read, movies I've seen, recipes I'm trying, current popular culture, tactics David Cameron is using to punish the youth of Britain, etc...

Now, back to trying to find out how to make my blog heading nicer (it's all about the aesthetics, no?).

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