Saturday, 20 February 2016

The Mass Extinction of the Fake Geek

Originally written for Superfluous Rex, 14/04/14
(and, as of December 2015, I've actually seen one Star Wars film! ;))

Look at this candid shot of Mr. Superfluous and some of his friends. 
That big guy in the background is a cosplayer, and I see we have a Pokemon fan, a gamer, and a Legend of Zelda fan...
Or do we?

Clearly that girl in the Zelda top is a fake! She just uses her apparent love of geeky stuff to get attention, you know... she wouldn't even be able to tell you anything about Majora's Mask
Oh, and I bet the stegosaurus dude only plays one sort of game and rejects others. He hurls abuse at other players online, too. What a meathead!
As for the so-called Doctor Who "fan"...his favourite Doctor is Tom Baker and he won't even watch any episodes starring the newer Doctors. Such a hipster!
Don't even get me started on the raptor chick. She only collects Pokemon plushies because...they're...CUTE!

...wait, wait, wait. No! This isn't what Superfluous Rex is all about!
It's about being friendly and supportive... and just having fun with our preferred interests and subcultures! 
Why all the sudden hate?

I bet it's all her fault.

Sadly, this is the kind of thing I see online way too often, and it's becoming more and more noticeable in real life, too.
Our submission guidelines here at Superfluous Rex do try and state that we want to shy away from obvious 'fandom' words (to namedrop a few: brony, Gleek, Whovian etc), because that can often breed unwarranted hate or stir up some less-than-positive ideas.
But, the general theme of Superfluous Rex is "geek culture" in that the word geek (as beautifully described by our very own Lucy) pretty much means "somebody who is into something". That's it, really. It doesn't have anything to do with the way somebody looks, or somebody's weight or gender or sexual preference. 
It's just a word. 

This is the kind of thing you'll see if you Google said word.

Yet, for some reason, so much hate exists around the idea of "geek".
I've seen fans from x attack fans from y, or some people insulting other "subcultures" such as 'preps' or 'chavs' or whatever just because they're not into the same things.
Then they claim they're being bullied because these 'chavs' pick on them for liking, say, trading cards instead of playing sports. 
It goes both ways.
If somebody chooses to spend their time watching a football match, or working out at a gym, or getting their hair & nails done - that's their choice.
As long as nobody's harming anyone, then I say people can like whatever the hell they like!

Now, this is painful for me to admit, but I used to be like this too.
I never bullied anybody. I never called on anybody for not liking the same things I did. But I certainly did shy away from people if they weren't into the same things as me, which was pretty dumb, as I ended up quite lonely in my younger years!
As I got older, those things became less important. I know people now from various walks of life who are all into lots of different things. 
If I'm not into something they are, I tell them, sure, but it's like this: "I don't like Harry Potter, sorry, but I'm glad you do!" or something around those lines.

Woah, I know what you're* thinking. I don't like Harry Potter? How is that possible?
I did try to read the books, and I wasn't keen. Not really my thing.
But kudos to all the fans out there who do like it, because I can see it's a fandom full of creative and, on the whole, really awesome people!
I can also appreciate that the books are well-written, and the universe of Harry Potter is vast and I can certainly understand why people do fall in love with it!
So that's great. But really, do I deserve to be attacked because I'm not into it?

Then there's Star Wars. That seems to be the other one which warrants a lot of hate my way.
I've never seen Star Wars.
I don't have any burning desire to watch the films, though I can admire the amount of thought that has gone into creating such a rich sci-fi universe. I probably will watch them, at some point, but right now: I'm a Star Wars virgin.

I googled that term and ended up with this beauty!

Is there anything really bad about me not seeing Star Wars?
I've also not learned yet how to play the violin, nor can I do any sort of martial art. I'm not sure if that's relevant, but while we're talking...
There isn't. I know this, but honestly, you would not believe the amount of hate I've gotten just from telling people I haven't watched them!
I've actually been pushed over at a bar because of this. Seriously.
And the amount of times I've had "GET OUT! JUST LEAVE! GET OUT!" yelled at me because of my abhorrent confession...too many times to count.

Does this make me hate Star Wars? Does it make me hate Star Wars fans?
Actually, no. It really doesn't.
It makes me question why somebody would get so colourful and angry about something, definitely, but I don't hate them. 

(While I'm confessing, I've also not yet played any Zelda games, and hilariously, I wrote "Midora's Mask" up there originally when discussing our blue parasaurolophus girl. Oops.
But in the spirit of honesty...!)

The last thing I'll share about my own personal experiences with this topic:
I was at my local comic book store, browsing the My Little Pony section. There were a group of people behind me, and one of them muttered "I bet she's never even seen the show..." behind me, "Bet she just likes the cute little stickers!"
(To make this more accurate: "cute widdle dickers" was how he pronounced it...)

I didn't say anything, though I kind of regret this now, but I did think about how My Little Pony was one of my favourite things ever when I was a little girl, and wondered if the guy who insulted me for "not really liking it" actually watched it when he was a kid, or if he gave into the gender-based bullying that was inevitable back in the 90s when a boy liked a "girl's" cartoon.

I don't want to think like that. I want everybody to enjoy what they enjoy, and for me to enjoy what I enjoy, without having to think about it too much!

Sundance doesn't approve of all the hate!

Speaking of the whole "boy stuff vs girl stuff"... that isn't right either.
So much emphasis is put on gender when it comes to these things, and it's really silly.
Yes, a girl can love comic books and first-person shooter games. That doesn't mean she's faking it for attention or likes comics because they're "in fashion" now.
Yes, a boy can love cute cartoons and dolls. It doesn't mean the guy is "gay" or any less of a man for liking what he's into. If anything, props to him for being man enough to admit to liking something that isn't 'expected' of him. Oh! And gay isn't an insult. It's never an insult. Stop it.
(, gender isn't as black and white as this post is making out.)

One thing I see a lot is "gamer girls" and how 'fake' they are.
You want to know how to spot a fake gamer girl?
Well, she's not the one who only plays 'cute' games like Animal Crossing or Sonic. She's not the one who is 'terrible' at Street Fighter. She's not the one who only plays Call of Duty and rejects any other game.
A fake gamer girl is...wait. Maybe this term is flawed...
Because if a girl plays a game, then I guess she's a "gamer girl", isn't she?
I'm not fond of the term myself. As I stated above, I think labels can often conjure up unwanted ideas and arguments, but I do see where they're important to some.

Furthermore, this is, in my opinion, the biggest argument against singling somebody out or judging based upon what they're into:
If somebody gets into something you like, isn't that a good thing?
So what if the person in the Superman shirt has only seen Man of Steel? They liked it enough to buy a shirt and I bet they wear that shirt proudly!
Maybe Man of Steel is a gateway for them into other Superman stuff. They might end up watching all the Christopher Reeve films, and reading a bunch of the older comics.
Or, they might decide that they aren't really into Superman, but they thought Man of Steel was a great movie.
Does it really matter either way?
Live and let live, and all that.

So, back to our dinosaurs.
Maybe the prejudices I put upon them up there are true, and maybe they're not.
But they look like a happy bunch, don't they? So, let's leave them to it.

I'll just remind everybody of this:
We post about comics, games, sci-fi, pop culture, tv shows, and we do so in a positive manner. We're not here to make anybody feel alienated for liking the things they do, we're just here to share the joy, love and enthusiasm!
We shy away from the somewhat arrogant ideals of snarkiness or sarcasm that you might find on similar blogs because we don't want our readers to feel bad about the things they enjoy.
There's enough hate and drama in this world already, and Superfluous Rex is a safe, happy place away from all of that.
We want to celebrate things and build them up instead of smashing them down.
(Kind of unexpected from a dinosaur, right?)

Thank you. :)
* - the "you", "you'res" and so-ons in this post are subjective. I'm not intentionally judging anybody. I hope that was obvious!

Cute, but Stupid: Downplaying Intelligence

(Originally commissioned for Women Make Waves, 11/11/14)

I’m not sure if it’s still like this in this day and age, but when I was growing up, a lot of school kids had the mindset similar to characters from The Simpsons: smart children were ‘nerds’ who got bullied, and the underachievers were the funny heroes.

Obviously, The Simpsons is a comedy show and the whole point of that was to show how messed up that situation is, but there is a lot of truth to it.
I remember, one Monday in primary school, taking a book in with me that I had received that weekend. It was a wonderful, full colour book about dinosaurs. However, as some of the other schoolkids reminded me: girls weren’t supposed to like dinosaurs. I’m glad to say, that didn’t stop me from wanting to look up more books about dinosaurs, animals, astronomy and whatever else. Nor did it deter me from getting my dad to take me to the museum most weekends, fascinated by the aquarium and the natural history section. I just loved learning. I still do.

Of course, there were some subjects which alluded me; the prime example being mathematics. I couldn’t get my head around it, and I still find it very confusing. Others, such as science, were a little different. They intrigued me, but often, they were not presented in a way that I found easy to understand, or indeed, engaging. Nowadays, I am very interested in various sciences, because I took the time to take that intrigue and discover ways to explore and digest science which worked for me. However, for most everything else, I was like an academic sponge. Sucking up all the information with zeal and vigour.

My favourite subject was English. Right the way from my earliest days at school to my late entry (I took more than a year out..!) to university.
English gave me a chance to savour some of the world’s greatest literature. To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby remain to this day two of my favourite novels.
It was while I studied To Kill A Mockingbird in my last year of senior school, I was given one of the most honest and brilliant chunks of advice. I loved reading the book. However, some of my peers found it ‘boring’, ‘dull’, and in turn, I was boring and dull for enjoying it. So, naturally, they tried to distract me. Instead of letting them get to me, I simply got up and started to sit on my own for those lessons. Naturally, the teacher was concerned, and he took me aside at the end of a lesson to ask if everything was alright. “Everything’s fine,” I told him, “I just really enjoy the book and don’t want it getting ruined on me.”

That admission somehow turned into a full-blown vent about the school in question, the petty politics that went on there, and how I didn’t actually really get on with 80% of the other students, and far preferred being alone with my books and my creativity. The teacher told me that was absolutely fine, for me to keep my head down and concentrate on the things that I loved – and everything would work out in the end. I thought of his words that summer when I penned my first novel. Nobody would ever get me down about my interests and intelligence ever again.

So, what’s the point of me telling you all of this? Far too often these days, I see people downplaying their own intelligence. I understand, self preservation and all that, if there are still petty, schoolyard-style bullies hanging around wanting to pick on you just because you have a mind for the arts or you enjoy your own science experiments.
However, in hiding what you know, and what you’re interested in, you’re just letting them win. Too many times, I’ve seen people get really colourful and animated in conversation, talking about whatever subject. Then, feeling the searing eyes on them, they quickly cover up their previous points with; “yeah, that’s all stupid” or “oh, I just saw it on TV”. Embarrassment about being knowledgeable or interested in something. In my previous article on the way people demonise food, I mentioned advertisement. The media has a lot to answer for in this regard, too.

Advertisements pretty much try to tell us that if we act all coy and silly, we will become endearing to others. Think about the Malteasers adverts. Not all women are silly, doe-eyed little creatures who get weak at the knees at the mention of chocolate. Similarly, not all men are meatheads who are ruled only by their desire for women, beer and sports. Sadly, I’ve seen people who run with these outdated idea, and though I’ll admit those tactics can work,  is that really the way you want to be noticed?

Take two examples. One from ‘real life’ and one from the world of celebrities.
A friend of mine told me about a coworker who tried to endear herself to the opposite sex by acting ‘cutesy’ in this manner.
Obviously, intelligence is all relative. Just because somebody reads a lot of books doesn’t make them intelligent. Same goes for somebody who watches a lot of TV or plays a lot of videogames – that doesn’t automatically make them ‘stupid’. 
However, from what I’ve been told, this particular girl would state something (example; “Ducks are my favourite amphibian”), get a rousing roar of laughter from her coworkers, and then she’d twiddle her hair and declare “you know me, I’m soooo stupid!” Now, whether or not she believes ducks are amphibians doesn’t really matter. I can see the logic behind that one: ducks swim, but they live on land. So do amphibians. 
To me, though, this reads more as “I’m going to say something really dumb just to make people laugh and like me.” 
I could be wrong in this instance, but I’ve seen a lot of people do it. Men and women alike.

This personality trait was famous in early Hollywood films. Take Marilyn Monroe, for example. The archetypal ‘dumb blonde bombshell’ – kinda dumb, but she’s absolutely gorgeous, so it’s okay. In reality, Monroe was very intelligent, albeit troubled, and used this idea of ‘cute but stupid’ to her advantage. So, it’s true, acting coy and adorable, momentarily forgetting that you have a brain can make you appear cute, endearing and might make members of the opposite sex want to cuddle you, pick you up, look after you – whatever your aim. But there’s a big difference between being tactically ‘coy and cute’ and outright pulling yourself down in the name of being afraid to show your intelligence.

Be proud of who you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve won the Nobel Prize for science, whether you’ve read every Shakespeare play, whether you and Sir David Attenborough would make great partners for a new natural history show. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written several hundred Harry Potter fanfictions, or if you’ve invented your own race of aliens and creatures for your own spin on Star Trek, or if your knowledge of space is all thanks to Professor Brian Cox. Your intellect is yours, and you should do great things with it, instead of hiding it. Don’t be afraid to share what you’re interested in, not ever. 
The people out there who want to drag you down and pick on you for it are tiring, upsetting, and can almost break you down and make you never want to go back to your passions again – but don't let them win.

I vaguely remember a quote from the CGI Tintin film, in which Captain Haddock gives Tintin an excellent piece of advice:
Tintin: We failed.
Haddock: Failed... There are plenty of others willing to call you a failure. A fool. A loser. A hopeless souse. Don’t you ever say it of yourself. You send out the wrong signal, that is what people pick up. Don’t you understand? You care about something, you fight for it. You hit a wall, you push through it. There’s something you need to know about failure, Tintin. You can never let it defeat you.

So there you have it. Listen to the grizzly old sea dog, he has a great point.

Go forth and love what you’re into. Be proud of yourself.
Interested in stars? You learn about every damn star in the sky, and then some.
After all, there’s more stars in the sky still yet to be discovered than there are people on this earth who are going to pull you down about them.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Keeping a Creative Routine (Without Burning Yourself Out)

Recently, I’ve been re-reading the Roald Dahl books.

Dahl is a huge hero of mine, and in each of the editions I have, there are facts about his life & work featured after each story. At the back of The BFG (one of my favourites of Dahl’s), we’re treated to learning about Dahl’s routine. 

It was very strict: first, he would eat breakfast and open his mail.
Then, at 10.30, he would retire to his writing hut and work until noon, when he would go back into the house for lunch.
Dahl would then have a nap (I applaud this – too many people are against the idea of having naps, but I think they’re vital because sometimes you just have to recharge!), then go back into the hut for more writing from 4pm until 6.
Then, he would have dinner with his family.

I find this all really inspiring. Dahl is one of my favourite writers and his creativity seemingly knew no bounds. That said, he was also a family man and spent his time wisely between working and enjoying his life. That sort of balance is often hard to find.

In the past, I used to draw all the time. Not a day went by where I had not drawn something, even if said something was just a simple doodle. However, this meant that I didn’t really do much else.
My relationships weren’t pleasant at the time, and my life was pretty much spread between drawing/writing and being on the internet. It worked in a creative sense, because I was extremely prolific and got a lot of creative things done, but I didn’t really spend any time enjoying myself.
The idea of just sitting, relaxing, watching a film or playing a game was virtually unheard of.

Nowadays, things are different. They’re a lot brighter, and I am finally finding it easy to think of myself as ‘relaxing’ and also being ‘productive’.
I put a lot more emphasis now on actually enjoying life over what I’m doing with it. I guess, as the years have gone on, I realised that being ‘noticed’ for my talents isn’t really a top goal of mine any more.

When I feel inspired to do something creative, if I can at that time, then I’ll do it, without thinking too hard about whether others will like it, or how I might market it later on.
If I’m feeling inspired but physically burnt out, then I store those ideas up in my head for another time, or I write them down.
(Personally, I find it easier to remember stuff, because writing it down can sometimes nullify me wanting to finish off the actual creative idea, but that’s just me. Most people I’ve talked to about this swear by keeping notebooks and sketchbooks, so I’d certainly advise trying it!)

I also try to soak up inspiration from other sources – when I’m relaxing watching a beautiful animated movie, it might make me want to work on my own stuff later on, or if I’m listening to music. Obviously, inspiration is a funny thing and works in mysterious ways for different people, but there’s a lot to be said for immersing yourself in other creative worlds.

I’m saying all this because being creative can be a right pain sometimes, and can cause a lot of stress if you aren’t in control of it. I’ve known several friends & other creative types who feel ‘useless’ or if they’re a ‘failure’ if they aren’t creating work.

You aren’t.

Of course, I might be the only person telling you that, but, if you want to listen, I’ll say it again: you are not a failure if you aren’t creating something 100% of your time. Your time is yours, and you’re free to do with it whatever you please. If you don’t feel like making something or working on something some day and it isn’t completely vital, then, DON’T DO IT.  If you feel like just vegetating on the couch on your day off and watching cartoons or something… do that! You’ve more than likely earned it.

Pinkie promise.

Maintaining the Creative Balance

It can be tough to maintain a creative life, no matter what it is you specialise in – writing, painting, photography – it all involves a great deal of dedication, and it can be exhausting and sometimes downright overwhelming to keep it all up! I’m by no means an expert, as I spent literally years panicking and burning myself out over creative projects, but these days I’ve found I’m able to keep balanced.

Here are just a few personal tips I’d like to share:

Take Notes

I tend to just create when the ideas come to me, but recently, I’ve been keeping a notebook because I’ve noticed that I’m forgetting them more and more these days!
When I studied at university, the emphasis on taking notes was hammered into us, and I know so many others who swear by note taking. It’s a great way to get your ideas out in their raw form, to remember them, and revisit them when you’re ready to tackle them for real!

…but also be spontaneous!

I very rarely plan my art out, if I’m honest. I tend to think of an idea, then I’ll sketch it out quickly and that will become the finished piece. I don’t really pre-plan things. I just go in all gung-ho and leave it up to fate to see how a piece will pan out. The idea’s always there, but it might come out a little differently to how I imagined. It’s very rare for me to do something, then if it’s wrong or doesn’t feel right, for me to do it again. I just accept that it’s how the finished product has ended up. This isn’t for everyone, but it can be quite liberating to just see where your work takes you, instead of relying on your inner perfectionist.

Let Music be your Guide

Music is very inspiring for me when it comes to art ideas, but I’ve found I don’t really listen to it that often when actually making something. I will say, though, that I think it’s helpful to have some sort of background noise (like television) on while you’re just sketching or brainstorming. Some of the best stuff comes out then.

Be a creative sponge!

Suck up inspiration wherever you can find it!

Personally, I love to do illustration work and character/creature design. It’s something I really enjoy, and as I’m a huge animal lover, it can also be a lot of fun to research – getting ideas from nature documentaries or reading mythology and discovering ‘new’ fantasy figures to be inspired by. I also get inspiration from my other interests.
I’m a huge fan of retro video games, and a lot of the older titles had some really unique designs for their characters and monsters. Think of Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario and the Pokemon characters - how deceptively simple their designs are, and yet, so iconic and recognisable!
Obviously, that’s me, and everybody will find inspiration in different places, but that’s the idea. Sometimes it’s best not to look for inspiration, but to let it present itself to you while you’re watching a film or reading a book, or even just talking a walk in the park.

Don’t listen to critics when creating for you.

If you want to do something creative, but it’s not for any particular reason, or you’ve not been asked or commissioned to do anything – just do it. Don’t think about it. Just feel. Just pick up a pen, pencil, keyboard, instrument, whatever, and create with it.
Oh! And don’t think too much about what people will say when they see/hear/read it.
That kills the creative process for so many people. Just do what you do, and later on, if you want to share it, do so. But don’t let negative comments (or no comments at all) hinder what you do.

And try to ignore your inner critic!

If your finished product is, in your eyes, terrible: chances are, it’s not. We are our own worst critics. Somebody else will probably love it and think it’s the best thing in the world (though again, I stress, other peoples’ opinions are not what matter the most), or, most likely: after you’ve come away from the piece, stopped hating on it and looked back at it – you’ll love it yourself, or at least be able to see some good in it, whether it’s the technicalities of it or you remember why you made it in the first place.

Take Breaks

Breaks are so important. You remember that thing I said about burning myself out over projects? We’re talking in a big way. Freaking out, crying into pillows and cursing my creations kind of way! Going on a rampage and throwing away all my artwork and deleting it all from my online galleries too!
It’s really not very classy, and it’s not something I’m proud of, but it might not have happened if I’d just given myself a bit of breathing time between one project and the next.
Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the passion of making something, caring so meticulously about your choice of colour, your particular lyrics, whatever – that you forget to take care of yourself. Don’t wait until you need to take a break, set yourself a routine if you can, and take regular breaks between your work. It will still be there when you come back from your tea or hanging out with your friends – and most likely, you’ll give it better attention than you might have, if you’ve just hunched yourself over it all day, agonising over whether or not it’s going right or wrong!


These are just a few ideas, but there are so many ways to live a creative life without completely letting it take over.

Please feel free to share your own ideas in the comments!
Sunday, 22 November 2015

Way Beyond Football

Scousers here, scousers there, scousers every f-...okay, well, you probably know how that one goes.
It's true, though. We get everywhere, and yesterday, myself and my friend and colleague Pat, ended up on tour with Soccer in the City!

The tour is run by a good friend of Homebaked, Peter Carney. We were picked up at the bakery, then off to the Shankly Hotel to gather together the rest of the tourgoers, a group of fans from Norway.

One of these fans was Trygg Johannsen, who played for a Norwegian team in the 70s.

The tour began in William Brown Street, near the Walker Art Gallery, World Museum, City Library and St. George's Hall, to name but a few iconic Liverpool places. As Peter pointed out, these buildings are Romanesque in their design, particularly St. George's Hall with its columns.

It was here, next to one of the fountains, that Peter got out a bag of old Liverpool scarves, and talked us through their history and what they represented. We also got given some noisemakers, because fan participation is a vital part of LFC. These came into play quite a lot while on the tour, particularly when remembering key moments in LFC's history. Little things like a night in Istanbull, that kind of thing...

This big one's noisy, but it ain't practical.

Back on the bus, we started to go out of the city centre, and learned a little more about Liverpool's history. We were heading for Hope University, but before getting there, Peter told us about another of Liverpool's famous universities, and its founder, John Moore, who also founded Littlewoods Pools

As well as being able to place a bet on the pools, football fans would also enjoy playing "Spot The Ball" - and we all had a little go ourselves while on route.

Then, we were at Shaw Street, near Hope University.
Here, we saw the famous street sign which is the only one in the country to list two premier league clubs ("and in the right order", says Peter).

It was here that Liverpool's fame as being a football city began. At first, there was just one club, "St. Domingo's", later becoming Everton, established in 1878. The fact that we can boast two "great" teams (opinions remain divided on this matter) is one of many reasons why people love this city.

We had to get a group photo - a 'shary stick' even appeared for one or two!

Next on our journey was Everton Park, a park which I love and holds a lot of nostalgic significance personally (though more on that another time).
Here, we heard a little about Everton FC's history, before learning more in depth later on at Goodison. While still on the bus, Peter talked to us about why Everton are nicknamed "the toffees", because of the 'Toffee Lady' who would sell sweets during the games.

Not the actual Toffee Lady, but what she would have looked like.

Everton Park has the best view of Liverpool, and though I've been many times, it's always such a grand sight to see. Not only can you see the whole of Liverpool, but also in the distance, the hills of Wales. 

I'm not scowling, it was just a very windy day.

Up here, we spoke of not only Liverpool as a city's history, and pointed out some historical buildings of note, but also other clubs that are nearby. The short-lived New Brighton football club, Tranmere, Chester and Warrington, to name a few.

As we came down from the park, Peter took us closer to the stadium, and to where the new stand is being built. As this (current) pile of rubble marks the place where the Hillsborough Memorial once stood, Peter told us his own story, as a survivor of the 1989 disaster, and read out a beautiful poem, "Tell Bill Shankly About Your Dad" (can be found here, along with the other poems from the 'Words of Tribute' anthology.)
It was a moving experience, and just goes to show that Hillsborough is something that will never, ever be forgotten by the people of this city (whether they were directly affected by it or not), and the victims will always be remembered.

As we came round to Stanley Park, and Kemp's Bistro/the Isla Gladstone, the tour bus was alive with the sound of football songs. I didn't know the words, but I'd have joined in if I did.
Peter told us his story of the first game he went to alone, as a child, and how he had enough money on him at the time to get an eccles cake to eat during the game.

Old money and (new, fresh!) Eccles cakes were passed out while he told the story, which was probably my favourite part of the tour. As with everything that happened on the tour, I've tried to keep this account fairly spoiler free, as it's really something you should experience for yourself.

We then went over to Goodison Park, to learn a little of Everton's history. It was a little busy there as there was a game on, so we had to put on disguises (dark glasses, and a wig, in Peter's case) in case any of the Blues fans didn't take kindly to us Reds!
(All in good fun, of course, as the rivalry between the teams is both a fierce and friendly one - though I do wish we had some photos of us all in our disguises!)

Then, back round to the Kop again, for a few little last looks and memories (as well as some more songs!) before the tour bus departed again into the city centre to take our Norwegian friends back (they were heading later on to Manchester to watch the game - I bet they enjoyed it, too!).

All in all, the tour was a fantastic experience, and, as it says on the Soccer In The City website, it goes 'way beyond football'. 

From the site:
"Soccer In The City is a unique, new Liverpool  visitor service, developed by Peter Carney (tour manager) to give visitors an enjoyable and interesting insight into the relationship between the City of Liverpool, its citizens and soccer, the beautiful game.

Soccer In The City offers a special perspective for supporters & cynics alike, visits to sites no other tour visits, views of the city not seen on any other visitor service. With live commentary and on board activities the tour brings football to life.

Soccer In The City really is unique, enjoyable and interesting.  If you want to find out the score, get on our tour.

Both tours last at least two hours and include live commentary, on board activities and hands on experience of historical/hysterical*  artefacts/arty facts."

After experiencing it myself, I can say that it's all true, and though this post about it doesn't give absolutely everything away, I can assure you there's a lot more I'd have wanted to speak about, but haven't for fear of ruining the experience for you if you want to go on it yourself.
(Which you really should.)

You don't have to be a football fan (I'm not as such, but I love the history and how football brings this city together with a sense of great pride), but if you are, I'm sure you'll love it even more.

Thank you Soccer in the City for a great morning out.

A Nostalgic City

I love travelling when I get the chance. I've been lucky enough to visit some really beautiful places in the world, and though there are some places I've really fallen in love with, there's one place that I still call home and always will: Liverpool.

I've been here all my life, and I doubt I'd ever really stray - it's that kind of place.

I've seen this city grow, I've even seen parts of it be torn down and replaced, I've seen it change. I'm part of a development team right now to help recreate a 'blighted' part of Liverpool and help revive it back into something lovely again.
Because, that's something the people of Liverpool are really about: what the city means to them and how it feels. The nostalgia it brings being here, no matter how old you are, or what your background is.

(Photo credit: Ronnie Hughes)

It was because of that sense of nostalgia I've found myself where I am today.
There was a little bakery I used to go to as a kid - Mitchell's. My grandad would take me and my mum there after they picked me up from school and I'd get a cat meringue (what it sounds like - a little meringue, in the shape of a cat, with chocolate pointy ears and Smarties for eyes!). I loved it there. 

(Photo credit: The Echo)

During the regeneration of Anfield, sadly, Mitchell's was one of the many places that was up for the chopping block, including my old home in Lothair Road.
A lot of memories, at least in physical form, cleared away.

(Photo credit: The Echo)

It’s very strange to think that it just doesn’t exist any more. Where once stood a proud, lovely home I grew up in is…well, I’d say rubble, but I suppose it’s been cleared up a bit since then.
When it comes down to it, that’s all a house is: bricks and mortar, as they say.
What makes a place ‘home’ is the people in it, and the sense of community, and a place that has a very proud sense of community behind it is Homebaked; a social enterprise and community bakery in the heart of Anfield; and it happens to be what Mitchell's has become.
(You can read a bit of the history here.)

I'm proud to be part of Homebaked.
I work there, and I write the blog and newsletter. It only makes sense, I guess, that I should have my own blog too, which is what this has become. 

It won't all be about what I do at Homebaked, or about Liverpool, though that will be a big part of it!
You can read more about that over at the Homebaked blog, and follow those updates via our Twitter and Facebook.
This blog will also be about the other things I do, such as art and non-blog writing, and things I'm interested in. Photography, travelling, retro videogames, vintage toy collecting...
A lot of nostalgic stuff in itself. But that's okay.
I'm a nostalgic girl in a nostalgic city.

Elenor Rigby and me are bezzies.


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