Kate Tempest is a poet, spoken word artist, rapper and theatre maker. Mostly though, she’s just a brilliant story-teller.
In February I saw Tempest perform her show Brand New Ancients at The North Wall Arts Centre and I’ve become a bit of a fan-girl ever since. Some of her work has taken inspiration from Greek mythology; she mixes myths with the mundane, the powerful with the downtrodden. Of all that I have heard and see from Kate Tempest, her work simply exudes hope. There is misery, there is reality, but there’s also a sense of betterment and as an optimist who will always look for that silver lining, Kate Tempest’s words and works are close to my heart.
Tempest’s poetry is intricately crafted but accessible and engaging. I find it hard to even write about her because what she does with words is so sensitive and inspiring, it’s difficult to explain it or do it justice. Her energy and presence draws you in so you listen so precisely to her speech. Her down-to-earth and shy persona is utterly endearing.
Tempest seems to have hit it big this year. She released her debut solo album, Everybody Down, which was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Prize (a best album award previously won by bands such as Alt-J, the XX and The Arctic Monkeys), and also published her first full collection of poems, Hold Your Own. I had the privilege, and it really does feel like a privilege, to hear Kate read some of her poems on National Poetry Day back in October in Modern Art Oxford’s basement room. She opened with the 24 page long opening poem, Tiresias, the foundation upon which the rest of the collection is built. Kate’s poems speak of big issues, but also capture tiny details and fleeting feelings. She sketches images that your imagination can grasp and flesh out.
Dale was Pete’s Mum’s new boyfriend’s son
He had a mouth that was too small for his toungue
Teeth like a ladder that was missing a rung
Chin looked like it was trying to run
He had a laugh like a car crash
Eyes like… Pot holes in tarmac
Complexion the colour of chewed up bar snacks
Kinda guy spend his whole life getting laughed at
Hammer, on Everybody Down album
As well as hearing some of the Hold Your Own collection just before it was properly released in October, I followed this up by going to the opening night of Tempest’s album tour earlier this month – which just so happened to be in Oxford! To read or hear Kate’s poetry is an intense, captivating experience; add to that addictive beats and the rapping of her poetic thoughts and you’re enraptured.
At the gig most of the album was performed, with three band members and the coolest backing-vocals-cum-backing-dancer ever. There was time for a little chat in between the songs, but it never is just chat with Kate Tempest, even the simplest statement she makes is penetrating.
She is a genuine, friendly, hard-working artist and I have nothing but respect and admiration for her. Her work speaks to all different kinds of people no matter their age, class or education and for a young woman she is incredibly wise. Her message at the gig was essentially that if you have a dream or idea, do it and don’t care what anyone thinks or says.
All he ever wanted to be was good enough
All he ever wanted to say was the right thing
But as long as you live for the way you’re perceived
You will never create, only bite things
All he ever wanted to do was the done thing
All he ever wanted to make was the grade
But as long as you live for other people’s opinions
You’ll never be more than afraid
Chicken, on Everybody Down album
Go and make those ideas you have happen; and if you need more motivating, read of listen to anything made by Kate Tempest.
From Oxford with love,
November 2013 saw the start of a new era on the Fe-line blog with a flurry of posts from the newly recruited Fe-line bloggers, myself being one of them. As it is now November 2014 (a concept I’m still struggling with) and therefore a whole, entire year since my first ever Fe-line post went live, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look back over the awesome women who’ve featured in my posts so far.
Since I wrote this post, Jen has continued to be a bookseller and continued to be brilliant. She’s currently promoting her new title, The Bookshop Book, and has just set up a YouTube channel on which she talks about, you’ve guessed it, books! It’s well worth a visit, as is her facebook page which she regularly updates with all kinds of awesomeness.
I still keep my copy of Is It Just Me? handy as I find it such a massive source of inspiration and a great pick me up if I’m feeling a little glum (such as when receiving the news that there will be no more episodes of Miranda after the planned Christmas specials). If you STILL haven’t read it, then do it. Right now.
Ani is still touring relentlessly and has just released a new album, Allergic To Water with some great tracks on it – go check it out, Fe-liners!
I’m going to get my geek on for a sec here, Fe-liners, feel free to skip ahead if that sounds tedious!
There was a very interesting development in the latest series of Dr Who, not only did we get a new doctor in the shape of the brilliant Peter Capaldi (I’m loving his Doctor, Fe-liners), but we got a new Master in the shape of the amazing Michelle Gomez who you may have seen in Green Wing or Bad Education. Nobody, repeat: NOBODY, does dangerous-crazy like Michelle Gomez – I just thought she was casting perfection in that role.
Ok, geek moment over.
I’ve been trying to channel Dorothy a bit, Fe-liners. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I ask myself what Dorothy would do. I often repeat her phrase “It can’t be helped” when I find myself dwelling on something that, well, can’t be helped. And if I’m facing something scary, it’s often nowhere near as bad as the Wheelers! Nuts? Perhaps. But it works for me.
Re-reading this post has reminded me of how very much I need to take myself off to the Lake District again next summer! But aside from that, her artwork is a constant source of inspiration. It’s so unashamedly adorable – we have the below picture hanging in our living room and it never fails to put a smile on my face.
So, Fe-liners, who’s inspired you to do something, taught you a lesson, or just generally made you feel that little bit more accepting of who you are as you stumble through life?
Inspiration all round,
I’ve never once considered it anything other than absolutely fantastic to be part of the red-headed clan – and, indeed, count myself very lucky. I’ve always valued being different and we certainly are – with approximately just two per cent of the global population born with red hair – incredibly unique. ‘Ginger’ isn’t an insult at all for me – I find it cute when I’ve been called ‘Ginger Nut’ or ‘Ginja Ninja’! In fact, I get insulted when people don’t think I’m part of the copper club – for any doubters here’s some pictures of me as a very orange headed baby.
It’s a damn cool colour but regardless of my love for it, ‘gingerism’ is rife, even amongst gingers themselves – too ashamed to admit they are and/or hiding it under hair dye. Some say gingers don’t have souls, are vampires, have vile tempers – or are even alien-human hybrids. And, the females are often branded wicked temptresses and jezebels. While I might lose my temper sometimes I definitely have a soul and I’m certainly not an alien, harlot or vampire.
Yet, despite all the discrimination there are some very cool reds out there revered for their stunning locks and ethereal skin – and they’ve been littering popular culture and history for years; Elizabeth the first, Rita Hayworth, Vincent Van Gough, Joan Holloway, Michael Fassbender and Jessica Rabbit, to name but a few. When I was younger, my female red-headed heroes were all literary characters, reflecting my love of books – Pippi Longstocking, Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland (Disney got it wrong). But I’ve since discovered music as an adult so I thought I’d celebrate copper-tops – especially as it’s our season, Autumn – by looking at some favourite, famous, feisty & flame-haired female musicians.
A good place to start is with the girls of the 1990s – as you might have realised, by previous posts, I have a slight 90s music obsession. So, who better to kick the list off with than bright haired, Scottish and very rebellious Shirley Manson – lead singer of alternative rock band Garbage. When you think about powerful female singers, Manson is always in the mix; she’s not only extremely talented but also fearless, bold and sultry. After seeing Manson just once, in an angelfish video, Garbage invited Manson to record vocals on a few of their songs – five hit albums and 12 million of record sales followed.
Then there’s red-locked Tori Amos, the kooky US singer/songwriter. Amos is note-worthy as she was one of the first in a series of alternative rock performers to use a piano as their primary instrument. She’s also known for her emotionally intense ballads and frank lyricism; dealing with sexuality, religion, feminism, personal tragedy and rage. She was the youngest person ever to be admitted to the Peabody Institute, at age five, winning a full scholarship. However, Amos was expelled, at age eleven, for insisting on playing by ear and her love of rock music. She, like Manson, went on to achieve over 12 million in album sales.
And, we couldn’t leave out Ginger Spice, regardless of taste. Pop’s not necessarily my kind of music but there was something about her. For a start she named herself ‘ginger’, then there was the feisty personality to match and the sassy, Brit-centric pin up style (in particular THAT union jack dress) – all setting her apart from the other Spice Girls. Copper-nut Geri ultimately left the band but went on to launch a successful career as a solo singer, television personality, writer and actress.
But, of course, it’s not just the 90s, there’s plenty of gingers rocking it right now. Copper-burnt goddess Florence Welch, lead singer of Florence and The Machine has been a darling of the indie rock scene for a few years now. She’s not just one of the most recognisable red-heads in music at the moment, she’s one of the most famous red-heads in the world. With an ethereal style, operatic voice, and eccentric lyrics Florence makes timeless subjects such as love, pain, happiness and despair really stand out.
There’s even a band called red-head (albeit in French) La Roux. Ginger-quiffed singer Elly Jackson, is the face of La Roux; an electro-pop and synth-pop (former) duo, influenced by Depeche Mode, The Human League, and Yazoo. The anthemic “In for the Kill” launched Jackson, and La Roux, into international fame. She gained attention, not only for her metallic vocals, but for her androgynous style, leading to comparisons to another feisty red-head, Annie Lennox.
I also have to make a quick nod to the 80s ladies. Flame-haired Belinda Carlisle was lead singer with The Go-Go’s, the first all-girl band to top the US charts – she went solo in 1985 and had massive hits with songs like “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”, “We Want The Same Thing” and “Leave a Light On”. Then there was bronze-headed nut Carol Decker of T’Pau – their number one hit “China in My Hand” was a classic example of the 80’s power ballad. Sonia and her burnt-orange tresses shot to number one in the UK with her debut single “You’ll Never Stop Me From Loving You” and her debut album sold half a million copies. Finally, we have to mention red-head Tiffany who became a fully-fledged pop princess when she made number one with a cover of The Rubinoos’ “I Think We’re Alone Now”. Her debut album made her the youngest artist in history, at age 16, to have an album at No.1 in the charts.
…Wow, all I can say is well done all you talented red-headed beauties! So if you’re red (natural or not) dating one, related to one or just friends with one make sure you, or they, know just how awesome and lucky it is to be born ginger.
Those of you that have been following my blogs for a few years know that once upon a time I was a really avid runner. Since having my baby, Frankie, 8 months ago I have really really struggled to get back into a regular running routine. I thought after having Frankie I would just bounce back to the way I was before but this didn’t happen and it has been a long 8 months process to feel up to running regularly again. There are a few reasons why I lost my running mojo:
- I had a caesarian which wasn’t in the birthing plan and therefore it took me longer after having Frankie, be able to run again.
- I was really big at the end of my pregnancy and unwell and it was difficult to stay fit and I was a lot unfitter than I thought I would be coming back to running.
- I lost so much body confidence after having Frankie. I really didn’t want to be in running gear.
- I didn’t want to be seen struggling, as someone who used to lead a running group, it was hard to be back at stage 1 again.
So when Caroline Verdon off of Jack FM tweeted at the start of October that she was starting something in October rather than giving something up (she was starting a photography course) I thought that was a great and positive idea. It made me think about what I could start, what did I really want to do and get back to running was at the top of that list. But I needed a goal, I needed something to get my teeth into. I find it hard to run just for running sake, but with Christmas coming and my bank balance not looking too healthy I couldn’t afford to sign up for a race. But determined to get this done, I looked for an alternative, one of my friends on Runkeeper had given herself a distance goal and that was it, that was what I needed, so I set my Runkeeper goal, 50 miles in October.
Having this overall amount to run has been fantastic for me, and has flipped my mental block towards running completely. It’s a bit like a saving pot, it doesn’t matter if I do a small amount, it all goes in the overall pot. This small bite sized approach has meant that I have stopped forcing myself to go out for long gruelling runs, runs that at the moment I am just not fit enough to do and therefore I haven’t been getting demotivated. Also I have just started fitting in a quick run when I can, when I have a spare 20 minutes, after going to Booker, taking Frankie out in the pushchair, a quick nip out at lunch time. And the miles quickly start stacking up.
I am writing this 16 miles into the challenge and there is still a way to go, but getting back to running regularly is having a positive effect on my life as a whole already. Running for just 20-30 minutes a day helps me to:
- Boost my mental health, being outside and taking a step away from daily life gives me time to reflect. This time of reflection usually ends in me feeling incredibly grateful for what I have, even if that wasn’t how I was feeling pre-run.
- Be more organised, running really gives me a buzz, it makes me feel alive. On days that I run I feel like I can rule the world, well rule my world and for me that means keep things orderly in the house, stay on top of paper work, making sure food is prepared for all members of the family.
- Have new ideas, some say I shouldn’t run purely for this reason, but I never have ideas for things sat at a desk trying to think of an amazing idea, they come to me mainly in the shower, whilst running and at night. Again it is all about stepping out of daily life.
- Stay motivated, running is not easy for me so every time I have to push myself, push myself to leave the house, push myself to get past the first mile, push myself to go that little bit further. When you push yourself in one part of your life, you realise it is possible in all parts of your life.
So why not join me this November and give yourself a milage goal? It doesn’t need to be 50 miles, just whatever you think you can achieve. The important thing is to start and if you are thinking: ‘But it’s easy for her because she’s run before’ or any other excuse, read this my first ever blog post.
Also I made this playlist to get me motivated, you’re welcome to give it a try.
Comment below or tweet me to let me know how many miles you’re going to run this month.
Love and running,
P.S. I didn’t quite make it to 50 miles in October, I managed 34 miles but I got started and I am determined to make it to 50 in November.
It’s not easy figuring out what to you with your life. When I was younger I certainly thought by this age I’d have it all figured out – my dream career, a husband, house and maybe even a baby – but I’m inching with an ever-increasing pace towards thirty still rather uncertain as to what’s round the corner.
I chose to do a degree at University I enjoyed and was good at – American Studies and English. Many have looked down their noses at me for this because it’s not a “career-based” degree. So, should I have studied a subject I hated and was not very good at for the sake of securing a job I didn’t really want? Plenty of people have chosen to do that, and I am not going to judge them for it; I can see why they would have – in this current economic climate, you have to make these kind of choices, unfortunately. But I simply wasn’t going to do it – for me, happiness is more important than financial security.
If I hadn’t wanted to go to University at all, I wouldn’t have. Nor should anyone that doesn’t feel the need to just because it’s the “done thing”. But I did want to, and I was lucky enough to have the financial support available to me to be able to, so I wasn’t going to pass on that opportunity. I loved every second of my degree and it gave me the chance to study abroad in Seattle for a year, which was one of the best experiences of my life. Sure, it didn’t secure me my dream job right after graduating – mainly because I still am not entirely sure what that is (well, Carrie Bradshaw-style journalist complete with a lovely New York apartment, but that’s rather unrealistic unfortunately…sigh) but I will never look back and wish I’d not done it.
I know people who have said “by the time I am X years old I will own a house, by X age I will be married, and then two years after that I want kids.” The problem with this is that you end up in relationships you may not have otherwise settled for, for the sake of not wanting to worry about not having fulfilled your life plan by the right age. But really, why is getting married and having kids by a certain age (or at all?) such a big deal? Isn’t it best to wait for the right person, even if you have to wait until you’re in your 40s? I’d rather be fully happy with someone than miserable for the sake of having ticked a box and fulfilled society’s (ridiculous) expectations.
I have reached the age where, according to my Facebook news feed, many of my peers are getting engaged and having babies, whereas I still have no idea where the rest of my life is headed. But you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m taking my time to figure things out before making big decisions I’m unsure about, and that’s the way it should be.
So in conclusion: if you know what you want, great – go for it! But don’t do anything just because you feel you have to; do it because you want to. And if you’re not sure what exactly it is you want, remember that it’s fine – and important – to take the time to figure it out, no matter what pressure you may feel to the contrary.