A 'How-Not-To-Style-Your-Life' Guide

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015: A Not-So-Brief Summary

As the curtain falls ever lower on 2015 and the new year begins to beckon, I keep finding myself trawling through my camera roll, looking at all of the 7000+ photos I've taken in the last 12 months. Something I've always found is that bad memories often leave a far stronger taste than the good, and combined with the promise of a 'fresh start' that a new year always seems to boast, I'd all but written off 2015 as yet another crap year. Crappier than most, actually. A true pièce de résistance of crap years.

It wasn't until I started looking through my photos, however, that I became properly reacquainted with all of the wonderful memories I'd pushed to the back of my mind. I realised that the memories worth taking into 2016 are the ones that made me reach for my camera to capture that moment forever. Even if I knew that a photo couldn't do it justice, I would have immortalised it. However self-indulgent this post may come across, I want to use it as a means of celebrating the best bits of 2015 rather than lingering on the worst. I hope you enjoy my life, as it very much were!

January:
As both my memory and my camera roll inform me, the year started with Cat and myself taking perhaps the most iconic photos of our friendship since the gems of us in year 8. The memories of Cat telling me to stop looking like a serial killer and adjust my resting face accordingly are still incredibly vivid.

 Pictured above is an image taken by my father of our home in Surrey covered in snow. Below is the extent of the winter "snowfall" in Exeter. I'm still struggling to register how I felt about this.

February and March:
February began with Amy and myself visiting our friends Tara and Anneli who go to university in Manchester and Leeds, respectively. Incidentally it was also the first time I'd ever gone further north than Oxford and turned out to be one of the most memorable weekends of my life. I'll never forget that time I was in Leeds and got into an argument with a women in McDonald's at 3am. I still maintain the fact that I negotiated my way to the front of the queue.

Going to the 'Wedding Dresses: 1775-2014' exhibit at the V&A on Valentine's Day with Cat was magical, despite the 'no photography' rule that obviously neither of us followed. Nothing brought me greater joy than watching the couples there; the women were staring longingly at the garments whilst the men looked utterly befuddled, presumably thinking that Vera Wang is something you put on your skin when you're sunburnt. 
As far as my camera roll tells me, March was incredibly uneventful. It mainly consisted of assignments and deadlines which tend not to photograph so well. I vividly remember the eclipse, though, and the masses of people that congregated outside the Forum to risk permanent blindness because the Physics Society hugely underestimated the amount of sunglasses they'd need. They did play Total Eclipse of the Heart, though, so every cloud.

April:
In April, I was blessed enough to spend a week with my family in paradise, returning to the Kuramathi Island Resort in The Maldives. Most of the photos in this post have been edited to enhance some of the colours but I decided to leave these four completely untouched. There are no words to describe the beauty I was surrounded by, and I will never take the memories that this island has given me over the years for granted.

May:
May turned out to be one of the hardest months of the year for me for a combination of personal and academic reasons. However, I survived my exams along with my first year of university and managed to achieve a 2:1 for my efforts.
In May I also experienced my first ever Exeter Pride which was something I didn't even know existed until I walked into uni one day and saw the huge rainbow flag hanging from the walls of the Forum. I adore everything about Pride events and it filled my chilly little heart with joy to walk through the streets of Exeter along with hundreds of other people in celebration of being unashamedly themselves.


Also in May was the UCA graduate exhibition that showcased a huge variety of work, including the culmination of Cat's art and fashion foundation year. She'll kill me for saying this but there are no words to describe how proud I was of Cat that night, not only because she was swanning around in a silver jumpsuit like she owned the place (which she basically did) but also because of the mind-blowing pieces she'd created. (Yes, Cat, I said it. Proud. I always have been and I always will be (love oo)). Also that photo of Cat, Polly, Beth and myself is just gold.

June:
In a matter of days I went from having the worst month of the year to having THE BEST. JUNE WAS JUST. URGH. SO BLOODY GOOD.

At the beginning of June, Polly, Cat and myself went away to Center Parcs for what turned out to be the best few days of the entire year. In true 'us' fashion we stayed well away from the conventional rite of passage holidays that most youths go on and instead acted like big kids in our matching dungarees, wreaking havoc in the rapids, on our bikes and even on segways at one point. We went to the Longleat Safari Park as well and despite Polly's disappointment at my reluctance to drive my beloved car through the infamous ASBO monkey enclosure, it was a brilliant end to a perfect trip. That photo us of can't help but make me smile, I just look so happy and I know I'll remember that trip forever.

June also marked my return to the V&A once more, this time with my friend Katrina for the critically acclaimed Alexander McQueen 'Savage Beauty' exhibition. I've never felt so overwhelmed as I did walking around that exhibit. I knew the art I was in the presence of was unlike anything else I would ever experience, and all I could do was cry. I spent half an hour gazing at Plato's Atlantis in sheer disbelief before the realisation of how desperately I needed to wee ultimately dragged me out of the exhibit, metaphorically kicking and screaming.
 Honestly, when I said that June was the best month, I really wasn't lying. A week after Savage Beauty, Katrina and myself reconvened in London once more, this time for London Pride and Taylor Swift's 1989 World Tour. If any of you saw my snapchats of me singing along to every single word, you won't need me to tell you again how amazing she was. You probably heard for yourself.

July:
Cat and myself seem to have a knack for finding obscure and interesting things to go to during our spare time and watching The Shining on top of a car park in Camberley is definitely an example of that. It was all very atmospheric until the heavens opened and the tension was completely undermined by the rustling of rain ponchos and the grumbles of unamused spectators. As you can see, we look dashing in translucent blue. 

Another fond memory from July was the murder mystery party that I went to for my friend Alex's birthday. Not only did I get to wear a suit complete with bowtie, straw boater and cane, but I also got so heinously inebriated that I could barely read my cue cards by the end of the night. Fond, fond memories.

August:
When August came around I was working full time, meaning that most of the month was spent making coffee and dealing with the mercurial British public. At the beginning of the month, myself and Amy went to Brighton Pride and celebrated the only way we knew how; eating chips on the seafront and getting so drunk that I ended up vomiting on the train home (out the window, though (it was an old train)). Oh, Pride. However, after witnessing that, someone still wrote their number on my hand which is an achievement that I still like to remind Amy of and will take to the grave.

Day trips to IKEA and Thorpe Park were also done with Cat which were very fun but after getting stuck on The Swarm for 20 minutes I'd rather not dwell on the latter if that's alright. IKEA was truly wonderful, though. I lost count of how many times I made the 'the sink's broken' joke from (500) Days of Summer.

September:
September was once again the classic 'back to school' month, proving that no matter how old you get, there's still nothing more exciting than buying new stationery. Towards the end of the month I saw Florence and her machine for the second time at Ally Pally; the first time I saw her was at the Royal Albert Hall in 2012 and so it was amazing to see her dance and perform with her trademark unwavering energy. It definitely made the 4 hour train journey from Exeter worth it. (Also shoutout to Conor for sleeping on the floor so that I could have his bed, should you ever find yourself in the west country I'll definitely return the favour.)

October:
If you don't know who this little one is then I suggest you read my last blog post immediately. Actually, finish this one first, there's not much left, I promise.
Halloween this year was definitely my favourite one yet. I opted for two very different looks over the space of two days; the first was worryingly similar to how I look first thing in the morning (minus the blood) and the second was perhaps the most pretentious costume I've ever done. In case you were wondering, making yourself into a Roy Lichtenstein painting can take up to three hours. I had to include that last photo just for the fact that Sam went to a club wearing a nappy. Talk about dedication to a Rugrats costume.

November:
Much like March, November was all deadlines and not much fun. The only saving graces were the Exeter Christmas Markets and visiting Anneli in Leeds, and pictured above is a wild southerner asking why there's a Hyde Park up north. 

December:
Seeing Alt-J for the third time with Cat when they came down to Exeter was a brilliant start to December. Unfortunately getting so ill afterwards to the point where Cat basically became my carer for a few days wasn't quite so fun but we won't dwell on that. Alt-J were incredible and never fail to mesmerise.
Only a matter of days after Alt-J, Cat and I ventured to London to see Marina and her diamonds at the London Palladium. Much like Taylor, Florence and Alt-J, if you had me on snapchat, you basically heard her entire set, featuring me singing along in the background.
Watching Love Actually along with Cat, Beth and Polly in the most enchanting old cinema in Notting Hill was definitely a highlight of the festive season. It was the first time we'd all been reunited properly in months and what with the fake snow and the mulled wine it was a truly magical experience. For Christ sake, we literally entered the room through a bloody wardrobe. It's funny, I started the year by coming out of the closet and ended it that way, too.
My final stand out memory of 2015 happened only a matter of days ago where myself and Ellis went to see the Royal Philharmonic playing orchestral versions of songs from Pokemon games as part of the Symphonic Evolutions tour. This was without a doubt something I will never forget. I've been playing Pokemon throughout my entire life, starting from when I was 3 right up until last night when I couldn't get to sleep. Pokemon was an integral part of my childhood and being in a room surrounded by people who shared this same love was truly beyond words.

*BIG SIGH* And that's it. That was my year. ...The highlights, at least, and I can't thank you enough if you made it right to the very end. Writing this post was incredibly therapeutic for me and it truly reminded me of all of the great stuff that happened in 2015. I'm incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people and to be able to do so many amazing things and I never want to take any of that for granted again.
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2 comments

  1. This is lovely and brilliantly written/photographed! All the best for 2016!

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  2. weve all had our fair share of the good the bad and the ugly this year thanks for sharing your story oliver this would actually make the dissertations services from a pool of options I have read

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