1. Go to a spoken word event ✓ 24.10.2014
2. Crowdsurf (I wussed out!)
3. See Stonehenge
4. Spend a day bus-ing across London, without planning routes ✓11.8.2014 (ish but I'm counting it)
5. Run a lap of the Colliseum in Rome ✓ 9.7.2014 (felt great and also helped relieve a killer hangover)
6. Go to Kew Gardens with friends ✓ 6.11.2014
7.See a midnight movie
8. Go to a nightclub ✓ technically in Brighton 20.7.2014, properly in Shoreditch 9.8.2014
15. Have a bonfire, marshmallows and beers night at mine
16. Learn how to do a barbecue ✓ 29.7.2014
17. Watch 'Les Parapluies de Cherbourg' with Dad ✓ 10.6.2014
18. Give a tenner to a homeless person ✓ 10.5.2014
19. Drink every day for one week
20. Go to Brighton for a few days with friends ✓✓✓ 17th-21st.7.2014 (neither written nor spoken words could ever properly explain the madness that was Brighton)
21. Pull an all-nighter ✓ 13.6.2014 (obviously I had done this before, just not for a while because of A levels)
33. Get 'bikini body' ✓ (realised I look smoking hot all day, every day, so no date needed)
34. Take Amy to the incredible falafel man ✓ 29.8.2014 (Londoners, I urge you - lunchtimes, Berwick street market, the most unbelievably good falafel stall. Thank me later)
35. Go to the Royal Academy over the summer with friends ✓ 29.8.2014
36. Read at least 36 books this year ✓ 27.11.2014 (3 A MONTH - I'M SO PROUD, I ACTUALLY DID IT!)
37. Have the girls over for wine and that aubergine/pasta bake I do, one night ✓ 30.8.2014
48. Read one of my Dad's books ✓ 21.11.2014 (he has written many, but I read 'Trail of Slime', which is a murder mystery featuring a snail detective called Martin. It's actually really good)
49. Go on a Boris Bike ✓ 22.10.2014
50. Learn to make cocktails ✓ 27.12.2014 (kind of)
51. Try skittles vodka shots ✓ 31.7.2014 (verdict: sickly and leave a nasty, tangy aftertaste)
52. Help my friend Asha throw out 17 years of junk from her room ✓ 20.8.2014 (5 bin bags later...)
9. Buy a round of beers ✓ 13.5.2014 (for my parents, on my eighteenth birthday!)
10. Learn how to play poker ✓ July 2014 (still bloody terrible though)
11. Take one photo every day over the summer holidays - OUTRIGHT FAILED
12. Do standing tickets at the Globe Theatre ✓ 11.8.2014 (but didn't make it through Julius Caesar)
13. Have a scary movie marathon ✓ 30.11.2014 (completely unscary but I'm counting it!)
14. Read all of George Orwell's novels (done 1984, Animal Farm, Keep The Aspidistra Flying)
22. Roast a chicken all by myself ✓ 5.10.2014 (I am ready for the real world now, Mum)
23. Take a night bus ✓ 25.5.2014
24. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
25. Have someone buy me a drink at a bar because I look hot ✓ (date unrecorded)
26. Cook naked ✓ 23.6.2014 (nothing dangerous)
27. Go on someone's shoulders in a pool ✓ 5.8.2014 (sounds lame, but I had never done this)
28. Wear my fur coat out ✓ 22.6.2014 (on the most ridiculous, fantastically drunken beer run to the local offie)
29. Go on a pub crawl
30. Go to a shisha bar
31. Go to one of Joe's gigs ✓ May 2014 (check out my friend's amazing punk band, The Tourettes!)
32. Dye my hair
38. Go to that cool pub next to the ENO, by Trafalgar Square ✓ 3.8.2014 (Chandos, really cute)
39. Go to Waterloo by day ✓ 22.6.2014 (having only ever been there at night time)
40. Order lunch in Italian ✓ 8.7.2014
41. Miss a coach to Kent ✓ 31.10.2014 (my Dad made me add this to the list when I missed my coach and called him in tears. It did make me feel a lot better to tick it off)
42. Have a dinner party/sleepover/something sociable over half term ✓ (reminding myself to do fun things)
43. Look hot at Reading Festival ✓ 22nd-24th.8.2014 (see no.33)
44.Watch all six of the Star Wars films ✓ July 2014
45. See my primary school friend Amna over the holidays ✓ 25.7.2014
46. Watch 'The Last King of Scotland' ✓ 25.9.2014
47. Read 'Jurassic Park' so I can talk about it with my brother ✓ 26.6.2014
53. Survive prom ✓ 25.6.2014 (barely, I hated the whole thing)
54. Have my first Big Mac ✓ 27.7.2014
55. Walk from Potters Bar to Southgate ✓ 27.7.2014 (a 6 mile long country walk)
56. Get hammered on a flight ✓ 10.7.2014 (oh Jesus, I am so sorry, fellow passengers)
57. Go Christmas shopping with Asha ✓ 21.12.2014
58. Go to Greenwich for a day ✓ 3.8.2014
59. See Kaisun and family (Kaisun played my brother in that professional opera I did in Germany)
60. Have a decent conversation with a stranger on the tube ✓ 5.9.2014 (met a man with a pug called Henry - the pug, not the man)
61. Spend a morning making and enjoying a luxurious, indulgent breakfast ✓16.10.2014
62. Learn how to make spaghetti bolognese ✓ 6.10.2014 (I am ashamed that I'm 18 and didn't know to do spag bol)
Early in 2014, I decided to write a huge list of things I wanted to do that year. And then I went and did them.
52/62 ain't half bad, I think! Bring on 2015.
Okay, one more gap year confession. I'm going off to live in Venice!
'Woah, Yolanda, what's with this sudden adventurous streak?' I hear you gasp.
Well, in October I'll be beginning a French and Beginners Italian degree at Oxford, so I'm getting a head start on the Italian by spending a month in Italy!
One month of an intense Italian language course, living with a few local Venetians, eating spaghetti and trying not to fall in a canal (doomed to fail). And apart from knowing that I will almost definitely drop my phone/keys/passport/self off a gondola, I can't wait to get over there.
'But we'll miss you Yolanda! Don't forget about us Yolanda!"
Don't worry, children, I will definitely be blogging throughout my foreign adventures. (Likely future blogs include: 'Shit, Italian's hard', 'Why you should always pack two pairs of wellies', and 'Oh my god if I see one more bloody canal')
If anyone has any recommendations of things I should do or see in Venice, please do make suggestions in the comments, below!
Doing a gap year is hard. As a pretty middle class kid who started this year wanting to do all the usual 'travelling' and 'finding myself' rubbish, I admit that this year has been tougher than I expected. A few gap year confessions are in order, I think.
1. Although I am having a brilliant year on the whole, I am not ashamed to admit that at times I thought this year might kill me.
2. Everyone makes their gap year sound cooler than it actually is. The guy who says he's 'planning on travelling' has no plans at all. The girl who says she's been 'doing loads of gigs and is hoping to tour the country at some point' probably plays a few pubs every now and then. The friend who says they 'can't wait to do voluntary work in Zambia' has probably googled 'gap year ideas' once. My point is, a gap year can be brilliant, but people will tell you all sorts of rubbish about their plans, mostly because they have no clue what they're doing for the next year. (I have done this)
3. Commuting is sodding expensive in London, without a student travel card.
4. A YEAR IS A BLOODY LONG TIME. A month into the gap year, whilst on an agonising job-hunt, I really couldn't see how I could fill a year. I realised that I had to find a TONNE of interesting things to do, work, new social stuff in order to enjoy it. Since that epiphany, the year has gotten way better.
5. I have almost completely lost track of the days. When you're at school, you're on a 5 days working-2 days rest schedule. Not me. Doing shift work at a London theatre means I could be working any day of the week. Totally disorientating.
6. When people come back from uni, they're always terrible at telling you about how it's going. I can't count the number of people who have returned from a whole term at uni with almost nothing interesting to say about their first three months away from home. I understand they're probably just unsure how to cover three months in a discussion, but come on, find something to say!
7. I am way more ready for uni now. Having a few months out of education means I'm genuinely really looking forward to starting again in October, and I actually can't wait to start my course reading! (Yes, I am a nerd)
If you are also on a gap year, I want to hear your gap year confessions. #UNIconfessions also welcome.
When I was a little girl, I loved loved LOVED musicals. And one of my favourites? Annie. As a little girl who also had curly hair, loved singing, and had a bit of a tomboy streak, I thought the character of Annie was just 'swell', as she would say.
Now the movie has been given a modern-day reboot, and the casting of Quvenzhané Wallis (gasp, a black girl!) as the title role has caused a stir. People have insisted that it's not racist, just true to the original, to want Annie to be white. People have said that Annie's just not Annie without her redhead curls and freckles. That if you wouldn't cast a typically black role with a white person, you shouldn't do the reverse.
To these people, I say: get over it. We could do with a little more diversity round here.
The most successful recent film with a large black cast? '12 Years a Slave'. A movie about black enslavement in the 1800s. Others recent hits? 'The Help', about a group of black maids in the 1960s. There are of course examples of films with black casts that don't follow this trend, but if the film industry continues to predominantly cast black actors into roles which are largely about 'blackness', then it seriously risks pigeon-holing them for being black.
So let's cheer together: DIVERSITY IS NOT SOMETHING TO FEAR.
I was lucky, as a child. I had plenty of film and book characters that I could identify with. Annie, Matilda, Hermione, Jesse from Toy Story... For little black girls, there isn't such a wide variety.
Remember the Clark Doll experiment? You know the one. Black children in the 1940s were given black and white dolls, and asked to identify 'the nice doll', 'the bad doll', 'the doll you would like to play with'. The children overwhelmingly wanted the white doll, and were more likely to assign positive traits to the white doll than the black doll. The experiment proved that without proper racial integration, the black children had developed negative connotations about their skin colour and race.
Again I scream to the skies: DIVERSITY IS NOT SOMETHING TO FEAR.
And in a time when black people are being prominently killed, criminalised and dehumanised, particularly in America, I fully support broader representation of black people in fiction and film. Media coverage of Michael Brown has gone to great lengths to paint him as a thug, almost forgetting that the 18 year old boy was just that, an 18 year old, murdered by policeman Darren Wilson. How about Eric Garner, a man killed in broad daylight by the NYPD? Garner's murder was even filmed (video here - WARNING, POTENTIALLY DISTRESSING), and yet the policemen involved are not being indicted, and instead Garner's petty criminal profile has been under intense media speculation. If these men had been white, would their stories have been different? Quite possibly.
Once more for luck: DIVERSITY IS NOT SOMETHING TO FEAR.
How did we get on to this? Oh yeah, Annie's black now. What's this world coming to?
But this video is not spreading awareness. Its message is limply put forward, relying on the cute factor and the share-worthiness with no reference to HOW domestic and sexual violence can be reduced. This video was not made by a charity or women's organisation, but by an oddball sensationalist Naples news website, and is clearly intended as clickbait fodder, much like when companies use viral videos to promote themselves.
Furthermore, this anti-domestic violence video is reaching out to the wrong people. The cute factor, the adorable little boys - even the music is clearly marketed at women. And it's not women who most need to pay attention to the issue of domestic violence. It's men.
The anti-sexism campaigner Jackson Katz makes an excellent point in this Ted Talk, when he says that men often escape the entire conversation about sexual and domestic violence, because abuse is framed by society as a 'women's issue'. We need to turn the conversations towards men, because in the vast majority of cases, men are the perpetrators of violence. Just like female victims, "m
I urge you to watch the entirety of Katz's Ted Talk, and to donate to a domestic abuse charity instead of sharing worthless clickbait rubbish like this. Before writing this blog post, I gave £10 to Refuge, an anti-domestic violence charity based in the UK.
For wider reading, a few relevant sites:
Respect - a charity particularly focused on working with perpetrators of abuse, and preventing abuse
Why domestic violence victims don't 'just leave' - a Ted Talk by abuse victim, Leslie Morgan Steiner
Hi, I'm Yolanda Shamash, a teenager with opinions. And they're not all about boys!