Library Assholes

It’s Year Three, Term Two, Week Ten. Or, as I like to think of it: “Oh God Oh God Oh God.” Or as my lecturers like to call it: “Let’s give you ALL the assignments“. Long story short, I spend a lot of time in the library these days.

Once upon a fresherdom, the library was that building full of books I didn’t read. I kept it at arms length, well aware that the second and third years with real work to do could spot a fresher hogging a desk from a mile off. Fast forward to second year, where the good people at AP Housing thought we’d be able to write all of our essays on a desk the size of an ironing board, and the library quickly became my second home. This is when I met the Library Assholes.

Library Asshole [lai-brar-ee | ass-hoal] n. sg: A person whose presence and or activities in a library setting are irritating to other library goers. Diet: Key Texts and Facebook. Most active during exam season.

By not conforming to Library Etiquette, these people cement themselves as the worst people ever. There’s the obvious Library Assholes, the ones who confuse ‘Quiet Zones’ for a bloody canteen. Oh, you got your pizza delivered to the Silent Zone? Aren’t you just the quirkiest. You’d better Instagram that shit immediately.

As well as the obvious Library Assholes, a species so unforgivable we can only really pity them, there’s the subtle ones. The ones that are accidental. The empty desk being scowled at- when the piles of notes on top of it are in use, but the fella has just nipped to the loo. The girl so lost in her research that she doesn’t notice her phone frantically buzzing on the corner of the desk. Yesterday, my laptop loudly started playing “No Diggity”, and the mute button wouldn’t kick in until after the chorus. The shame.

So, this blog isn’t simply another passive aggressive release of frustration. It’s a plea, really. The world is full of Library Assholes. That’s because everyone is one, even you, even me. Sometimes it’s an accident, and you can feel the people around you stopping what they’re doing to write a Facebook status about you. So, let’s all judge less harshly. People make mistakes, sometimes they don’t realise they’ve been singing Taylor Swift out loud. Sometimes they really needed to play that level of Candy Crush.

Let’s all just live and let live. Unless you’re being one of those ostentatious sods, loudly having your lunch and treating the surrounding students to a rendition of “what happened to me last night”. If you’re one of them, well, you can just fuck off.


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.

The Phone Fear

You know that weird little fear our generation seems to have about using the phone? Where you’d much rather deal with other humans via email than by using your voice, becoming a huge misanthrope every time you can hear the phone ringing, or getting a butterfly sensation right before you start dialling someone’s number? Yeah, that.

Well, I reckon this little bit of nervousness is entirely justified. We’re a generation who are so used to seeing the typed word rather than dealing with anonymous voices over a phone line. It’s more natural for us to deal with strangers online. We’ve been doing it all our lives.

Don’t believe this phenomena actually exists? Case in point: Dominos pizza have developed an app for iPhones. That’s right folks, a company who functions on the basis of people phoning in to order pizza has produced an application to use- on a device originally intended for calling people- that bypasses actual human contact, so people can order pizza. Our phones are no longer being used to phone people. In fact, they’re being explicitly used to not phone people.

So, we can all just accept the only reason people spend hundreds of pounds on smartphones is to play Angry Birds and never vocally speak to each other again- right? No, because the world is designed to intentionally spite us, and the art of phone calls is one that we pretty much have to master.

At my York Press work placement last week, I spent a lot of time on the phone. To primary school teachers, scientists, press offices. I had to get quotes from them for news items, find interesting points to dry stories, and in the case of the scientist, get her to explain her research in a way that even I, with my baffled expression and lost GCSE science certificate, could understand.

Luckily for me, I have a year of working at a restaurant under my belt. There’s the guy who wants to book at table of thirty for a Saturday night and won’t take “We’re fully booked” for an answer, and the little old lady who forgot to turn on her hearing aid before she rang. I’ve fine tuned my phone voice out of pure necessity. You need to be bloody efficient when taking deposits for Christmas parties while you have two burning plates in your hands.

So you’d think with this splash of experience I’d be a bit less of a complete idiot when it came to phone interviews. Well, guess again, because for all my bravado and flourish when taking booking via phonecalls, my phone interview skills aren’t quite up to scratch just yet.

On task to get a quote from two primary schools that were participating in Movemeber (the staff, obviously. Not some crazily developed year threes.), I genuinely asked a school receptionist whether she “liked moustaches”. Her response was brutal. “I couldn’t really care less about them love, do you need anything else?” Cue awkward silence and a mental note to prepare for phone interviews in the future.


Internship: part one- dressing like a schoolkid, annoying the staff & elusive Scout leaders

As part of my growing up phase, I’ve scored some work experience at the local paper. The York Press have kindly let me take a seat on the news desk and pester them for stories for a week- all as part of a placement organised by my beloved Yorker.

First came the clothing panic. I don’t own any shirts or grown-up blazers, as I’m pretty lacking in the chest department and they tend to make me look like a schoolboy in an ill fitting suit. So, emergency trip to H&M and clothes raid on the much more sensible Emma Bennett’s wardrobe, I was set. Come Monday morning, armed with my best pen, best notepad, and best intentions, I walked in the pouring rain to the Press office on Walmgate, dressed like an auditionee for the Young Apprentice. 
After a flying tour of the office, I took my seat and awaited instruction. Looking around, everyone seemed so busy and important. The floods had just hit York again, so that had taken over for the morning. I read a copy of the paper from front to back, then once again in case there was going to be a test, then gingerly asked for something to do. 
The thing with work experience placements is, you don’t want to annoy anyone. Striking the balance between seeming keen and seeming plain irritating is pretty tricky. You don’t want to look like you’re doing nothing, and you don’t want to repetatively ask for something new everytime you finish a task. You can see everyone’s really busy- meaning there’s definitely spare jobs going that they’d happily hand over- but they’re also so busy that they forget to forward you that email or are interrupted mid-explanation by an important phonecall. 
Luckily, it isn’t always much of an issue at the York Press. My request for more stuff to do does fall by the wayside some of the time, but for the most part I’m kept occupied. It’s not boring stuff either; I’ve been writing stories that have appeared in the paper, and I’ve written a couple now that will even include my own byline- practically golddust for students trying to make a name for themselves in journalism.
Probably the most challenging task I’ve been given so far is to provide 150 words on a local Scouts Pack presentation evening. Sound simple? This scout pack just happen to be the only one in Yorkshire without a dedicated website. The hall they’re based at doesn’t seem to own a phone, none of the leaders are online in any shape or form, and the guy I needed to get in touch with turned out to be the most elusive Scout leader on the planet. Forty five unanswered phonecalls to the number I managed to salvage from very limited sources later, part of my soul was dying along with the chance of my first story for the Press ever being published.
Eventually, after two solid days of answering machines, emails, and pleading with any vaguely relevant parties, I managed to get through to a woman who seemed to be aware of the Scout clubs existence. She was as good as a spokeperson in comparison to everyone else I’d managed to get hold of, so I managed to wrangle a quote about how proud she was of the kiddies involved and hung up the phone in a triumphant flourish. I’d got the quote. I was the best investigate journalist in the world. 
Turns out the quote went unpublished, as we had enough information without it. So, two days of soul-destroying answering machines for nothing, essentially. BUT, more importantly, I’d learnt an important journalism lesson- cutting the wheat from the chaff. Also don’t rely on a Scout Leader to ever answer their phone.