Am I ready for T2 Trainspotting?

A friend of mine shared this this morning

She said it was for anyone who had the poster on their wall, obsessively played the soundtrack on their CD player and “lived and breathed this film”. And that was me. I loved the original Trainspotting. It was probably the first film with truly adult themes, that I found and made my own. And I think a lot of my generation felt the same. We were obsessed. At the beauty and the horror. Because after all, what’s more horrifying than real life?

But that was 20 years ago. A long time past. I haven’t watched, or even thought about Trainspotting in years. In fact I think the last time it even crossed my mind, was on hearing that Danny Boyle was directing the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. A fleeting “wasn’t he the guy that directed Trainspotting” moment and I moved on. Because Trainspotting and everything about it lived in the past. My past.

So I was really thrown, when I found they’d made a sequel. A real sequel, with the same cast, playing the same characters dealing with real 21st Century shit, the way the real people do. 20 years on in their lives. I can’t say I was happy or sad or excited or reviled. Thrown really was the best way to describe it. And that surprised me.

Part of me really, really wants to see this film. I watched the trailer and it really does look like it’ll break you and entertain you in equal measure, as much as the first ever did. But part of me really, really doesn’t. That part of me just wants to believe Renton got away and lived happily ever after. I know life doesn’t happen like that, we never truly get to out run our past, but that part of me, that 17 year old, 18 year old part of me, who was innocent and naive and hopeful, she still wants to believe we can break away and start again. This film meant so much to me at the time. It broke my heart and gave me hope. Hope in a time when things were bad in my own life. Not as bad as those depicted in the dirty streets of Glasgow I’ll grant you, but bad enough that I wanted to get away. Far away.

And I almost want to protect her naivety. Let her live in blissful ignorance. That the happy ending is all it was and all it takes. I want to shout at the filmmakers “You pulled me in with my suspension of disbelief long enough to care about these characters. To care that good stuff happened to them. So why are you now trying to show me that actually life happened to them? I don’t want to see Cinderella arguing with Prince Charming or having to take a crap with the door open because the kids are screaming at her. I can see that in real life ‘ta very much!”

Or maybe it’s this quote from Robert Carlyle

“I tell you, this film is going to be quite emotional for people. Because the film sort of tells you to think about yourself. You are going to be thinking: ‘Fuck. What have I done with my life?’”

Robert Carlyle, NME

And maybe I’m just too scared of what the answer might be.

 

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Hotter Shoes – can footwear really be comfy AND cute?

When I was a little girl, shoes were something of an obsession for me. I loved shoes. Looking at shoes, trying on shoes, playing with shoes. I loved everything about them. Except having school shoes fitted. Not because of the experience itself (which obsessive wouldn’t love going to a shop wholly dedicated to their passion?) but because of the shoes that I was invariably made to have. And not because my parents were hell bent on me having strong, supportive shoes (I mean they were, but…) No, I hated the inevitable tears and heartbreak when I couldn’t have a pair I liked because a) my feet were too wide (seriously I was an H fit child) and b) they weren’t supportive enough for my pretty bad pronation. I would have given anything to leave with a pair of  Clark’s delicate, single strap Magic Steps. Remember Magic Steps? With the hidden key in the heel? But no. I would come away every time with a face full of tears and a pair of T-Bar, if not double buckle, T-bar shoes. Double Buckle? Oh the shame!

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Double buckle Tbar shoes – oh the shame! Image courtesy of Pinterest

Now I’m a parent I feel for my poor mum, having to dash her little girl’s dreams every shoe shopping trip. And I also feel for her, because as soon as I was old enough to chose my own shoes, all thoughts of supportive footwear, that fit properly, flew out of the window! Most children grow out of their pronation, but not me. Likewise most children’s wide feet slim down as they grow. And once again, not me. It doesn’t mean my love of beautiful shoes has changed. I still struggle to find shoes I like that fit. I usually have to get my boots and shoes either from plus size retailers such as Evans or I buy cheap shoes that I don’t mind painfully stretching, often beyond recognition. It’s been that way for such a long time that I never really considered that there was an alternative.

Hotter Shoes

When I was invited to Hotter Shoes in Guildford to take a look at their AW16 range I was skeptical. I had heard of Hotter. I was pretty sure I knew the kinds of shoes they stocked and was also sure I wouldn’t be interested in the styles they sold. Turns out I was wrong.

Firstly I didn’t realise they were a British company who make all their shoes here in the UK and have been for over 50 years! The family run company began in the slipper game back in 1959 and gradually moved into the comfortable shoe market, selling via mail order and in garden centres, over the next 50 years.

Hotter Shoes started in 1959 selling Slippers, which still form part of their core stock

Hotter Shoes started selling Slippers in 1959, which still forms part of their core business

It wasn’t until 2010 when they opened their first shop, that they really started to expand into fashionable styles, without compromising their unique construction and quality. Hotter shoes all have air bubble filled soles and use super soft leathers. They also use a special process to create flexible soles that are molded to the upper, meaning there is no sole unit to come away from the upper. Genius! Waterproof and flexible they also have “special grooves that yield and support your feet as you walk and pillows of cushioning create a slipper like feeling underfoot”. Fancy!

The look

OK, so that sounded lovely and all, but what’s the point of having lovely comfy shoes if they look like the very devil? So the lovely ladies at the Guildford store gave us a chance to explore the shoes for ourselves and I can’t tell you how shocked I was.

Yes Hotter have a core stock of exactly the kind of shoes I was expecting to see.

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But they also had a range of the most beautiful boots and dress shoes. I was gob smacked. But the biggest shock for me was the fit. I mentioned to the store manager that I have (and always have had) wide feet and she sympathised. She explained that much of their stock came in three width fittings, but suggested I try on the standard fit, as I might be surprised.

The fit

I chose several pairs of boots and honestly expected to have to also ask for the wider fit in all of them. However, turns out Hotter’s standard fit is wider than most high street stores, and is in fact closer to Clark’s Wide Fit. Every single pair that came out, bar one, fitted first time. Shocked Face!

Surrounded by boots that fit!

Surrounded by boots that fit! I cant tell you how rare an occurrence this was for me!

And even better was that I liked every pair. I loved the high leg “Mystery” boots (although I found they fitted my huge man calves better in the wide fit) and was seriously tempted by the gorgeous “Lotty” boots that I’m wearing above. I couldn’t believe how comfy they were, and yet how good they looked. They actually made my feet look narrower, despite not pinching anywhere. It was a revelation in boot shopping. I tried on so many pairs and except for the beautiful brogue Chelsea Boot “County” (which was just a shade too narrow and doesn’t come in the wider fit) they all fitted so nicely.

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“Mystery” Boots by Hotter Shoes

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“County” boots by Hotter Shoes

But when it came down to choosing a pair, I decided to go with the ones that made me happy. The ones I just adored on sight. The cute ones I would never have bought myself. The impractical suede ones, that make me feel a hundred foot tall. The ones that made me smile the most. I chose my grown up version of my Magic Steps, but without compromising on fit. I chose a black pair of “Vanity“.

"Vanity" Boots by Hotter Shoes

“Vanity” Boots by Hotter Shoes

Thoughts

I love my Vanity boots. They go beautifully with leggings or tights, and just as well with skinny jeans. The heel is probably as high as I can take these days, but it’s chunky and sturdy. That coupled with the cushioned insole, make these some of the most comfortable heeled boots I’ve ever worn. And what with the Christmas season coming up, wear them I will. I tell you now, I’ll be the last one on the dance floor, that’s for sure!

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My grown up version of Magic Steps. I got the ones I wanted!

They completely typify the kind of footwear I had no idea Hotter made. They’re comfortable, but they’re also beautiful. Who knew that could even be a combination? Not me.

I’ve had my eyes opened and I’ll definitely be back. Or maybe I could ask someone else to go back for me?

Now listen Santa, I’ve been very very good this year…. 😉

 

EDIT:

Hotter have very kindly sent me a code for £10 off a pair of shoes or boots, plus FREE delivery. So if you are tempted to try them out then now’s the time to do it!

Code: PQBTPD

T&C’s – £10 off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to £10 off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers. Expires 29/1/17

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Hotter Shoes and the lovely ladies at the Guildford branch for a super evening. I was given a pair of boots for the purpose of this review, but was not paid for this post.

As always all opinions are honest and my own. 

 

Art imitating life

Poor little blog. Like a poor second child. Or actually, at the moment, more like a distant cousin. Twice removed. I want to keep in contact, but I’m just finding it so hard.

What on earth could I possibly write about that people would want to hear?

But I do write. I’m more committed to this blog than any other project I’ve ever had. I write. But blogging isn’t all about the writing. It should be of course but it isn’t. Because what’s the point in writing if there’s no one there to read it? Blogging is huge amounts of publicising. Getting the words out there and in front of people. Those who do this game well aren’t always the best writers with the most original, funny, touching, clever or thought provoking content (although some are of course), no, it’s the ones who push and push and push. The ones who have this social media game figured out. The ones who make the networks and the connections and build the ‘love’ almost to the point that what they say comes second.

And I admire these people so much. These business minded folk who know how to make every possible opportunity work for them.

I’m just not them.

I write something. It’s usually something I want to say, not something people want to hear. And then I send it into the world. Alone. Unsupported. With no one cheering it on. No support team showing it off, pushing it forward. I let it drift. And I move on.

Much as I’ve lived a lot of my life.

I’ve always thrown my energy into the ether and walked away. When things get hard, my instinct is to shrug and change direction. They talk about life imitating art. I’m pretty sure my blog is art imitating life.

Or at least my life before Oscar.

He changed everything. Suddenly here’s this thing, this other life, that I can’t move on from. And I can’t tell you how hard that’s been for me. Some days I’ve been so ready to run. But I don’t. I can’t. But more than that, I choose not to. Against all my judgement I choose to keep going. Even when every fibre of me screams to make the choice to walk away walk, I choose not to.

Because it is a choice. Even on the days when it feels like a choice between a rock and hard place. It’s a choice.

I stay

I push forward

And I keep writing

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Alone

The sun is streaming through my lounge window. The lounge is as tidy as it ever gets. The house is not quiet, its peaceful. And I feel reborn.

Its hard to explain how having my four year old start school has made me feel. Yes it’s been sad and yes it’s been heart wrenching but it’s also been somewhat liberating. In a way I wasn’t expecting.

I have yet to clean the house. I will, I promise, but I’m just taking my time. My time. Time for me. Imagine that!

Hot coffee. Peaceful toilet trips. Sometimes I feel like I’m just sitting in stunned silence.

I have used my new office just once this week. I will use it more, but at the moment I’m getting used to being in the house, my house, alone. I didn’t realise how rarely that had actually happened in the last four years until now. Even the peaceful times when Oscar was younger, were when he was napping. He was here and I was ‘en garde’ so to speak. Now there is no one here. Just me.

I’m listening hard. And hoping to hear myself.

For the first time in a long time.

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The Benefits of Hiring People with Autism

interviewThere are more than 700,000 individuals with Autism in the UK. However, less than 15% of these are in full-time employment. This is a dispiriting figure when you consider the many skills and talents autistic people have, skills which are highly beneficial in the workplace.

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder is not a disease or illness to be ‘cured’. The unique elements of autism are an integral part of the person’s make-up. As it is defined across a spectrum, those with a diagnosis will all experience it in a unique way. However, it often has some effect on how individuals communicate and interact with others. It is often referred to as an ‘invisible’ disability.

In 2010, The Equality Act made it unlawful for any employer to discriminate on the grounds of disability. One would hope this would have encouraged employers reassess their approach to employing those on the spectrum. However, employing those with a disability is not just a matter of filling a quota. Instead, the focus should be on the value each individual can bring to the prospective role. Autistic people have just as much to offer companies as their neurotypical colleagues. Some may be excellent problem solvers; others have outstanding concentration and memory skills; they may be able to pay great attention to detail; and be highly dependable. Surely these are traits any employer should be looking for?

While every applicant should be treated as an individual, there is common ground amongst autistic people that, when recognised by companies, can make the hiring process run much more smoothly. Things to consider:

Communication

Some individuals with autism will find understanding body language and facial expressions difficult. This can sometimes hinder communication. Be patient and clear in your communication.

Repetitive Behaviours

Autistic candidates may need the security of familiarity and routine. This is a positive trait in a working environment, but perhaps offer them an opportunity to visit the building prior to their interview to reduce anxiety.

Interaction

Interaction concerns how individuals with autism behave in the presence of others. For example, when concentrating or anxious about something they may sometimes appear withdrawn or insensitive. This can appear rude, but in reality is the result of misunderstanding, potential on both sides. Do not jump to conclusions and be conscious of potential for misinterpretation.

The Interview Process

People with autism can sometimes develop a keen interest in a particular subject and become hugely knowledgeable about it. If you can discover what this interest is during the interview, and encourage the candidate to talk about it, it can help put them at ease.

Sometimes jokes and sarcasm are not understood well by individuals with autism. Therefore, be straightforward and express yourself clearly. Also, if there are gaps in the conversation don’t rush in to fill the silence. The candidate may just need a little longer to formulate their response.

The Induction Process

Once an autistic individual has been hired, there are a few simple steps that can make their first few days as positive an experience as possible.

  • Send induction material to the new employee early so they can take the time to read through and absorb it before they start. This will help to lessen first day nerves.
  • If possible, try to seat the person away from noise or people passing by regularly, as this can be unsettling. It’s also important to build structure into the day so individuals know what to expect.
  • People with autism can be perfectionists so it’s important to give regular feedback on how things are going and provide reassurance where necessary.

Individuals with autism can have very strong skills in particular areas, often outperforming their peers in these capacities. It’s important therefore to tap into these strengths and allow the employee the freedom to utilise their skill-set within the working environment. When this happens employers are able to increase there understanding of Autism and recognise what a valuable asset the individual is to their business.

For more information click here.