Archive | July 2012

# 102 Creative finances

There is no doubt that potentially running out of cash leads to one searching for ever more creative ways to make money. Ebay of course is probably the first point of call. Anything that isn’t nailed down and is worth a few quid is likely to be on your hit list. And creating space is good, right?

Thankfully, years of hoarding are now paying off for me and as I wanted to clear out anyway this is definitely killing two birds with one stone. I keep turning up all sorts of hidden gems that are keeping my landlord happy and food in my fridge.

Ebay – helping people sell their crap to other people (source)

But there are so many more ways you can make money. I found this on xoJane today which did make me laugh but it also made me think ‘hang on a minute!’

I’ve actually seen these sorts of listings on ebay as well. I don’t know if sellers are making much money but how easy is this???? I am ALMOST tempted to do it. Hell, I WOULD do it. I’ve actually checked out craiglist and it’s loaded with adverts for ‘used underwear for sale’. Clearly this is not an unusual way of making a quick buck.

And then there are lists like this. From barbeques to parking spaces anything goes. People are even renting out their possessions. But hang on, haven’t they been doing that in London for some time now? Yes they have, and here’s the proof. For £12.50 a day you can rent a private drive way in Victoria, London – for example.

Rent a pet – the dog of your dreams for just a day (source)

You can even rent out pets. Surely not. Oh yes, go here to rent a pet. I wonder if there is a site where you can rent a child? For those people that want kids but really don’t have the space or time for them.  I guess that’s called child minding huh? But I did check on Google, just in case…..

Once I have exhausted my stash of saleable items I’m not sure what to try out next. I have a lot of books, but I kind of need them for the foreseeable future and there’s no money to be made in selling my clothes on ebay.

Perhaps I will work as a phone sex chat line operator or start a dog walking service or become a house sitter? Now there’s a good idea. If I could set enough of those up, I might not even need a place to live. The mind boggles…….


# 101 Feet first

If there is one thing I have always been good at it’s jumping in feet first, putting all my eggs into one basket and throwing all caution to the wind. It’s the thing my parents dread, because I have done it often and it always bounces back and bites me hard on the arse. And I have always been the one to pay the price.

But EVENTUALLY you do learn the lessons and subconsciously I can confidently say that I have, although not everyone would agree.

I read this little gem today by xojane ‘Move in Together, But For God’s Sake, Keep Your Couch‘. Optimistic young loves will not understand this article and many people will never have to worry about having to deal with these issues, but it’s been one of the overriding factors of my life and the hardest lesson I’ve had to learn so far.

I’ve always jumped hard and fast into relationships. My self preservation attitude meant keeping costs down by going double dutch on everything and in many respects it made sense since I, and my partners, were never able to financially support ourselves independantly for long. I guess it was just practical at the time. But the fall out was always hard and picking up the pieces miserable.

Despite that I have never shared finances beyond rent and bills. I never had a joint mortgage, bank account or gave up my hard earned savings for anyone (well perhaps once). Now I can honestly say I own not very much of anything. My prize possession is my four poster king size bed. That I won’t be giving up any time soon. Apart from that and the tools of my trade, there isn’t much else for me to sacrifice these days since I live in a part furnished house. Quite an achievement for a reformed hoarder.

Swinging full circle happened unexpectedly, and I think it’s the fear of being alone which is pushing me to take everything in life slower and with more caution, from house moves, to emotional entanglements. I have realised that I have to protect every aspect of my life since, I am sorry to say, nothing is forever and everything in my life currently feels like it sits on a precarious knife edge.

It helps when the people around you give you a dose of reality check every once in a while, even if that makes you sad. Keeping your feet firmly on the ground may be practical but it’s not half as fun. I guess that’s just one of the things you have to learn to love.


# 100 Social media timebomb

I have 699 friends on my Facebook profile. Of those, I know or have actually met 442 of them. Of the remaining 257 I have ‘virtually’ worked with probably about a third (ie lent clothing by post for shoots I didn’t attend). Of the remainder they are generally people I have added through mutual friends and therefore probably have industry things in common with – writers, designers, stylists, makeup artists, photographers and models. Some of these people I will work with, some of them I have talked to on the internet and never quite managed to work with, but one day hopefully will.

Sometimes I allow people I do not know at all to add me, but it’s rare, and every so often I have a ‘friend cull’ and remove those people I either don’t know, or once added realised I had no interest in anything they had to say. 

I know people who have very few friends on their Facebook and even some who rarely use it, like my brother who seems to only pop past once a month or so to say ‘hi I’m still here’. But as I use my Facebook for business as well, the temptation to add people who may one day be useful contacts is hard to avoid and I do add people I would like to work with or who’s work I admire. The cross over is therefore quite high between my business and my personal life, hence the number of friends I have there.

Nev, the star of Catfish (source)

I mentioned in a recent blog a film called ‘Catfish’. If you haven’t seen it, do. It’ll make you think very carefully about what you put online in future and perhaps even who you talk to online. If you’re slightly unhinged, it might even give you some ideas.

I won’t spoil the plot but basically it’s about a family the main character ‘Nev’ meets on Facebook and how the story of their actual meeting evolves. It’s disturbing and if nothing else, a warning.

I don’t know the statistics for fake profiles but I probably have a few on mine. I know that when I was younger I used to make up fake characters on myspace. It’s incredibly easy to do. I have no idea why I did it, I guess I thought they’d be more interesting than my real persona. Those days are long behind me.

If I do meet people from Facebook that I’ve never met it’s always as part of a group or through a personal recommendation ie a photographer to work with or as part of a shoot with a team.

We don’t hear much about those individuals who ran into problems when meeting people for the first time through social media. But it’s a forgone conclusion that murders, rapists and child abusers would find it a useful aid to targeting potential new victims. Cases like this can’t be that rare surely?  A search of Google turns up countless cases of (particularly girls and young women) meeting a sticky end thanks to the joys of Facebook.

How safe are your kids? (source)

But how can you police such a thing? For under 16s it has to come down to the parents but with the internet such an easily accessible part of life, how do you stop anyone from accessing it?

We have an enormous amount of freedom with regards to social media in the UK. Perhaps that’s a bad thing? There are countries where most of the internet is censored or under surveillance and I was surprised to discover that there are no less than 51 countries on some level of censorship or surveillance including Italy and Australia! Most of them are to do with terrorism but there are countries that just don’t want their residents seeing or doing anything that doesn’t fit general social niceties such as social networking, pornography and news. Does this mean they are safer? Probably not and probably they have other things to worry about.

But with Facebook and similar social networks so popular it pays to follow a little social media etiquette to stay safe and keep yourself out of harms way. It’s also interesting how people complain when the Government announces plans to monitor our personal internet traffic etc and yet you’re probably making life easy for them, by posting most of your life on your Facebook wall. Think about it.

# 99 A Not So Scary Movie

I set myself a challenge this week to find the scariest movies I could. I don’t mean blood, gore and violence. There will never be anything better than the Aliens trilogy for me in that respect. No, I was looking for psychologically scary. The kind of films that, even as an adult, have you sleeping with the light on. I love to be genuinely scared, for my mind to play tricks on me. That’s the only thing that really scares me these days. But it rarely happens and it’s getting increasingly hard to find movies which capture my imagination. Perhaps it’s me, perhaps it’s the movie makers. I’m not sure.

I was impressed by productions like the original ‘Amityville Horror’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’. Both these films were billed with ‘real life stories behind them’ hype. Amityville was supposed to be based on a true account and everyone believed that and The Blair Witch Project was cleverly marketed with an online website style build up that gave it an authentic edge and left viewers guessing as to its origins. If a film can convince you that it might actually be true, there’s an added edge that potentially can have you scared out of your wits.

The Blair Witch Project played on its documentary style filming 
to convince its viewers it might not be a made up film (source)

‘The Others’ was a good one for keeping you guessing and ‘The Ring’ was just plain freaky but it did the trick. But what’s out there now to impress? And I wondered whether it was because films just weren’t that good anymore, or that we had become so desensitised to violence, fear and out of the ordinary that the movies just didn’t cut it anymore.

I do have a soft spot for documentary style films where you don’t necessarily see anything leaving your imagination to do most of the work. Blair Witch kind of started it for me, but ‘Catfish’ is another good one. It’s not that scary but it certainly makes you think, and it definitely had an eerie element to it. Both these films went through the ‘were they fake’ style debates because the filming style was ‘POV’.

The stars of ‘Catfish’ who showed us how vulnerable we are when 
we expose ourselves to social media (source)

‘Paranormal Activity’ was another one to to use this style although they used the medium of CCTV footage and camcorder style family shooting to give their film a new perspective. It works well because the CCTV action whilst mostly mundane is the stuff you need to watch. Every time you see it you’re expecting something to happen, and rarely does it, but you are constantly left on edge expecting something to occur. When it does of course, like the family you find reasons to justify what’s happened. Most of the time…..

Paranormal Activity used the medium of home movies and CCTV to create 
a movie. The night time CCTV imagery is a powerful tool

I’ve tried a number of films this week but none of them have really inspired me despite the recommendations. I’m beginning to think there is something rather warped about me. I am not easily impressed! I’ve been advised to watch some Japanese horror. Their films are less violent and far more psychological so I’ll be giving them a go. Hopefully I’ll find what I’m looking for. Watch out for part two of this blog, coming soon…..

# 98 Who wants to be a grown up anyway?

Two articles from popped up in as many minutes on my Facebook this week. This and this.

I may not be as young as I was, but I can still remember how conceited, rebellious and just downright bloody annoying I was. I put myself off wanting kids because I can remember being one! I recollect a time when I was so passionate about certain music or films that I became obsessed by them. Now I just cringe when I come across them.

Our perspectives change. The way you feel now will not be the same way you feel in 5 or 10 years no matter what you might think. It’s just the way it is, because LIFE shapes you. It is inevitable and you cannot stop it, unless you decide to live in a box all your life and that would be just stupid.

I have a saying – ‘I wish I’d listened to my mother’. This, she is rightfully flattered by (oh yes, I did tell her). And I wish I had. I guess a lot of us did. Looking back the advice was quite right. But let’s face it, who’s kids actually listen to their parents and follow their advice voluntarily? I wasn’t the most rebellious child in the village but I certainly wasn’t good as gold, and damn did I pay for those rebellious mistakes.Of course, without them I wouldn’t be where I am now. Make of that what you will.

That, as you get older, you will become more cyncial, wiser, tougher, and perhaps even like me, less caring about the things that riled you as a teen, is a truth. As you enter the real world, after education, after the University bubble has burst, after you discover that standing up on your own two feet sucks, you will be frustrated and bemused by the way public services work, discover that customer services give anything but, that lovers will cheat on you, that grown up friends will behave just the same as when they were at school, that the food you love will make you fat and that life will become a vicious cycle of work and bills strung together by over enthusiastic bouts of shopping – that temporary plaster that always leads to misery.

Ummm, yes it is
Being vegetarian will not change the way the food industry works and refusing to drive will not reduce our carbon footprint. But of course, that won’t stop you giving it a go. If things are going to change, they will just change.
Some of your dreams will inevitably get lost along the way. If you’re lucky you’ll get a second chance on them. You will discover that you cannot change the world by ranting and raving on Facebook or protesting outside some faceless corporate monstrosity. And one day you’ll wake up, hit 30 and think what the f*** happened there?

When I was in my 20s things were much easier. My relationships were a bit hit and miss, but I had work (even if I wasn’t following my dream), I went on holiday abroad twice a year, I found it easy to run a car on my wages, I saw my parents regularly. This has changed and right now there’s not a lot I can do about it. I made my choices, I took risks that may or may not pay off. It’s all a game you see.

There are few philosophies I have followed throughout, except self reliance and that moral code I speak of sometimes. And of course this, because no matter what generation you come from, this always seems strangely relevant.