So, I SUCK at photography

You know when you really wish you were good at something? When you look at someone’s hobby and think- wow, I’d really love to be good at that. The things I would do to be good at that.
Edinburgh! 023
You dream of picking up the relevant hobby-tool -a guitar/Photoshop/a hammer- and discovering that- wait a minute- you have a real knack for this stuff! This is it! Your natural skill! You were born to be a musician/graphic designer/carpenter(…)!

Well, my thing is photography.

I’ve always quite secretly thought I’ve got what I like to call “an eye” for photography, I just lack any training or equipment. But man, let me get hold of a camera and I’ll be fronting National Geographic in no time. In no time whatsoever.

So, I got myself a camera. In fact, I got plenty. (Let’s just take a quick second to pay our respects to the cameras I have disrespected in my quest to become a semi-decent photographer. The one I lost in Reflex during Pub Golf 2011. The one I got so much sand in, the lens refused to open. The one I lost the charger to in one of my many house moves, and was therefore subject to a slow, painful death. I’m sorry.)

Fast forward several deceased cameras later (RIP), I’m now on my shiny bridge camera. It’s an Olympus SP620UZ. Lots of bells and whistles. Lots of megapixels. Pop-up flash. Looks the business. One problem though- I haven’t got a clue how to work it.

I was (naively) expecting it to come a lot more naturally than it has done. I’m sure after some real playing around with it, and getting in lots of practice and advice, I’ll be fine. I’ve already seen massive improvements. But in the meantime-

I keep ending up taking pictures like this:

My picture.

Where the slightest movement makes the subject look like something out of Paranormal Activity. It’s not the camera’s fault, either. On a recent trip to Edinburgh, my boyfriend had hold of my camera for about five minutes before he managed to take this:

Jonathan’s picture. Screw you, Jonathan.


Mrs Carter & Ms Kelly

I met Beyonce once. Technically I met all of Destiny’s Child, back when I was eleven, but Michelle basically doesn’t count and Kelly Rowlands didn’t appeal to me until after she was a judge on X Factor, and it’s cooler to say just Beyonce in any case.

She asked my name, to which I dutifully replied. “Farrah? That’s a beautiful name.” I told her I didn’t like it because it was weird. “My name is weird too, but I still think it’s beautiful.”. We posed for a picture, backstage at the MEN Arena, and I galloped off, happy as could be.

Honestly, that was the first time I’d ever considered my name as anything other than something that couldn’t be properly pronounced, even by my sister. (Incidentally, I still occasionally get referred to as “Fa-rerr”). I became proud of my unusual name, as my new best friend Beyonce had taught me. Fast forward ten years, and I’m still happily proud of my name (or “title” as I sometimes like to think of it.)


Beyonce’s new tour, the Mrs Carter World Tour, threw up a few problems. As a feminist, was I supposed to be uncomfortable that such an amazing female role-model was announcing herself as Somebody Else’s Wife? Well, no. My feelings on this are wonderfully summarised in this Vagneda blog post, which basically said that she can do what she likes, she’s Beyonce for goodness’ sake. I’m too busy patiently waiting to buy all the tickets for her next Manchester appearance to consider the feminist impact of her show title anyway.

But it did get me thinking about my own name again.

Farrah Kelly, I like to think, has a nice ring to it. There doesn’t seem to be any one else with my name- not according to a quick Google-and it’s a solid part of my identity. My life’s work, however little of it there is, exists under that guise. Most importantly  it cements me as one of the three Kelly girls; Diane Kelly, Bethany Kelly, and me. If, when my mum gets married to Steve, she changes her surname to Yates, I’d be thrilled for her. But I’d always consider her a Kelly girl. Mama Kelly. If Beth ever changes her surname, she’ll always be Baby Kelly to me.

If I ever marry, which I think is unlikely given my tendency to demand an entire double bed and to get unnecessarily outraged when Coronation Street isn’t a priority for others, I’m keeping my name. there’s no real question of it for me. It’s my name, always has been, always will be. This doesn’t have any direct links to my political beliefs, I’ve just never been comfortable with the notion of renaming myself. Plus just think of the admin. I have enough trouble remembering which of the eleven potential postcodes I’ve given as a billing address on Paypal, nevermind having more names to choose from.

My upbringing, as the eldest of a single parent, has had such a resonance with me that I’m wholeheartedly entrenched as a Kelly. It’s easily the strongest part of who I am, that little girl on Ashton Road East with a mum and a sister, and it’s uncompromisable. I’m not wanting to disregard name-changing as a negative thing, I think it can be romantic and practical and I understand the reasons behind it completely. It’s just not for me.  In the same way, I understand why some people might paint their front door yellow, but that’s also a life decision I’m going to choose not to follow. As far as I’m concerned, in terms of seriousness these two things are on par.

When Beyonce said to me, all those years ago, that I had a beautiful name, I don’t think she understood that she set off a ricochet of identity in me. Maybe I’ll tell her so when I’m at her gig in Manchester. I’m sure they’ll let me backstage to have a quick pre-show chat about my life choices. We are best friends, after all.


Two Northerners on a London adventure

My London adventure started off with all the usual mishaps and flapping around that generally accompanies me wherever I go. The standard stuff, like running for buses that may as well have “FU” instead of “No.44″ in lights on the front, and having a minor nervous breakdown upon the realisation that I’d forgotten my railcard when I arrived at the train station. This trip, potentially career changing, was off to a good start.

Emma Bennett and I were heading to the Big City for a careers Open Day, run by the Creative Pioneers folk, and I also had an internship interview. This was a massive step in the right direction for me- namely the Taking Active Steps Towards Avoiding Lifelong Unemployment direction. It had to go smoothly, or else I’d sulk for ages afterwards.

Arriving in the capital, we were at a bit of a loss as to what to do with ourselves for the next 15 hours before our little career day. After a little bit of googling “Places in London”, we decided that Leicester Square was as good a place to start as any, so embarked on an unnecessarily troubling tube-trip, found ourselves in the midst of a buzzing city centre, and did what any Northern girl would have done in that situation. We went to the nearest bar.

Ordering a bottle of wine and a sharing platter, we nestled ourselves down and recounted everything we had learnt about London. They used weird teabags here. They run everywhere. The Tube isn’t as complicated as the map makes it look. Leicester Square has a M&Ms world. We even managed to come up with a pretty solid reasoning on geographical cultural differences within the UK.

In the south, they don’t have time to chat to everybody. Think about it, that’s why it’s such a culture shock coming up North. Up North, you’ve got to make best mates with a bus driver, the parking guy, the ticket-checker, the fella at Costa, and the receptionist before you’ve even got to work. Here, everything is a machine and it gets shit done. No faffing about making friends with every bugger you walk past. I’m busy, I don’t want to be your best friend, bus driver.”- Emma Bennet, North/South Philosophiser.

Having solved this great cultural mystery, we proceeded to skip a main meal and go straight to dessert; two slices of pecan pie and four shots of Goldschlager. Next, onto the nearest place that offered us free drinks for a dance with some bad-breathed Australians. I think we must have been quite drunk by the end of it all, because we ended up taking selfies sat waiting for a tube at quarter to twelve.

To sober us up, we bought some toothpaste at a corner shop, trampled around the King’s Cross area trying to find our hotel, and engaged in a little chat with a stranger who rather impolitely, and I daresay aggressively, told us we needed to give him 20p. Luckily, the direction we ran from him in happened to be the way to the hotel, and within minutes we were tucked in bed watching some Superskinny/Supersized pseudo-documentary. All in a night’s work.

Up early the next day, with our 20ps intact, we got dolled up and set off to my interview. It had been arranged for 10.30 and -feeling overlyconfident about the Tube- we set off at 9.30, and immediately got on the wrong train. I was almost twenty minutes late to my interview, and gave myself a whistlestop tour of many back streets of the city centre trying to find the right building. By some small miracle, the woman interviewing me empathised with my Northerner-down-south-distress and all was forgiven and, thankfully, my internship secured.

London is exhausting” we concluded, slumped down on the train home later that night. Then Emma accidentally kicked the armrest of the person in the front, sending their arm flying. We quietly pissed ourselves laughing for the two hour journey home, and I swore to myself that next time I came to the capital, I’d bring Emma. Or a map.


How to make me happy

It’s been a while, mostly because I’m mega busy at the moment, but also because I’ve been pouring my heart and happiness into wearing my blanket-pants. You can have your onesies, world, there’s no beating leopard print jammies made out of the softest material known to man.
This is the happiest a piece of clothing has ever made me, which got me thinking about what else makes me happy. Here’s my list! What’s on yours?
I know books make basically everyone happy, but I’m no exception so they’re going on the list. I love Bill Bryson so much,I’d invest my life savings in paying him to just sit and talk at me for the rest of my life. Money well spent, as far as I’m concerned. I’m also game for being best friends with Caitlin Moran, if she’s okay with me gradually turning into her. And Simon Armitage if he’s cool with me fangirling all over the show.
My new year’s resolution was to have some more quality time with Emma, and we have been delivering. It might take her forty five minutes to leave the house to pick up a bottle of milk, but I can accept that, as long as she can accept me retelling the same anecdote for the fifth time and ending every sentence with #bestfriendever.(…#bestfriendever)

Rap Battles.
Yes, as a weedy girl at university, you might not expect me to be particularly enthusiastic about watching men in baseball caps shout at each other in rhymes. But I so am. I’ve got a particular soft spot for Blizzard, who has insane rhythm and seriously smart lyrics. Watch him destroy Don’t Flop veteran Lego in round three (skip to 10.50 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing)- and if you don’t understand why this is amazing, just try it out yourself. 
There should a compulsory Beyonce night at at least one club every night, in every city. They could do it on rotation, I’m not being unreasonable. All I want is a night out where I don’t have to listen to wil.i.am bullshit and can just have a night where I know all the words/dance routines and spend the night queening IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? Sigh. 
I have a lot of time for food. Nothing pleases me more than going out for a meal, least of all because I get an opportunity to compare the service to my own waitressing skills. I had a bit of a fling with baking not long back, and today I’m making a Sunday roast for my four nearest and dearest, because I’m a damn good friend (and a well meaning chef).
Other things that guarantee a good mood, but require less of a blurb: getting a table seat to yourself on a train, reading strangers’ blogs, poached eggs, driving around with my mum, umbrellas that don’t instantly fuck up, playing with my new fancy camera that I don’t understand yet, and trying to use phrases that don’t suit me, like “dat shit cray”. I’m pretty ease to please, really.