A Love Letter To Carter USM 1987-2014 – The Final Comedown at Brixton Academy

Carter USM 1987-2014 Brixton Academy

In 1991 at age 12 I was sat on the sofa watching the Smash Hits Poll Winners Party when Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine took to the stage and performed After the Watershed. I immediately realised that I’d been wasting my time on all that boy band nonsense and became a punk. 

Actually that isn’t true, although I wish it was, as it’d be a much better opening to both this blog post and my teenage years. Unfortunately my love of terrible chart music continued for some time (and traces are still noticeable today). Carter USM were obviously an interesting feature of the line up, they stood out, got my attention, my ears pricked up and the lyrics washed right over my head. I didn’t understand it, but I knew it was cool.

Fruitbat’s attack of the Schofield was exciting. I couldn’t wait for the Poll Party to be over so I could stop the VHS tape recording (I taped it every year) to rewind back and analyse what the hell had just happened. Damn those TV cameras panning over the crowd, I wanted to see the action! I remember being really excited to read all about it in the next issue of the magazine. I had a subscription, Smash Hits was my bible back then and I studied it’s silly and snarky teachings and learnt lyrics off by heart. Smash Hits were also responsible for introducing me to Morrissey, Jesus Jones, The Charlatans, Blur and The Farm. I am eternally grateful for this infiltration of indie music. It served me well. When I eventually got bored of the charts, I was aware there was other music out there and I found it. 

A few years later, I finally got it, I understood why Carter were cool. I developed a penchant for bands with socially astute and clever lyrics and good music that made me feel something. I sought out Carter CDs, began to build my collection and with it, my love for the band. I didn’t get to see them before they called it a day in the late nineties, but I did go to see Jim Bob and Fruitbat perform on their other projects. I didn’t experience the phenomenon that is a live Carter gig until their reunion in 2007. It was incredible. 

Carter shows are different from other gigs and not just because I love the band. There is a real sense of camaraderie. The closest thing I have experienced to it is going to a football match, we all wear our team colours, there is much singing/shouting/chanting and a lot of drinking. Of course seeing Carter is much better because (1) their music is more entertaining and less stress-inducing than football, (2) there is a lot more dancing and (3) you always win.  

Last night I saw Carter for the final time. I was excited and nervous. I hadn’t been in a mosh pit for a while – at least not the kind of impassioned and energetic mosh pit created by Carter fans. I wasn’t sure my fragile physical body could handle it, but the spirit was willing. The only time I have ever been headbutted in the boob was in the chaos of a Carter gig. This time I wore a padded bra to protect my girls and my trusty boots to protect my toes from the inevitable trampling. As expected, the excitement and enthusiasm was overflowing and infectious. The crowdsurfing started before the band had even come on stage!  

The whole evening was perfect because we all made it that way. There was a sense of occasion, a fun finality which put everyone on top form. There was none of that waiting for the main act to get the party started, it was well already well under-way before we got inside the venue, and definitely for the support acts, who each had a huge supportive crowd.

The support acts were superb. I loved The Frank and Walters, they sounded great (and get bonus points for their stylish attire – a big yes to orange shirts worn with ties and braces). The Sultans of Ping were fantastic too, I have a new-found appreciation for them now beyond Where’s Me Jumper? (which always makes me think of my lovely punk chum Lex). Then we partied like it was the 1990s, singing along to James, EMF and Nirvana before the band took to the stage.

Photograph by Peter Fry

Photograph by Peter Fry

 

With the sad passing of legendary Jon Beast earlier this year, their intro had to pay tribute in some big fat bastard kinda way. Enter 13 bare-chested Jon Beasts giving it all that, each with a huge letter on his chest spelling out Y-O-U-F-A-T-B-A-S-T-A-R-D which we dutifully and joyfully chanted. When Jim Bob and Fruitbat took to the stage and we started Surfin’ USM, it was marvellous mayhem. 

Every song was sensational – everything is more poignant when it’s the last time ever. It is hard to pick out my highlights because it really was about the whole experience, but there were especially lovely moments. During Rent I witnessed a blossoming bromance between three men. I swayed melodramatically with a lovely lady during A Prince In A Pauper’s Grave, instantly choreographing moves in the way that seems to be genetically coded into most of us girls. As the song ended we hugged happily and then continued with our own mosh pit journeys.

I danced, I got pushed and pulled and generally thrown about, I waved my arms about and threw myself about like I didn’t care what I looked like (I didn’t). The sequence of nine high energy songs that nearly killed me was Billy Smart’s Circus through to Bloodsport For All (which was dedicated to Nigel Farage obvs). Here’s the full set list. Every time I thought that my legs were going to give out, another awesome song carried me through. It helped that the security staff were such supportive stars and kept the crowd hydrated and happy. Bravo Brixton, Bravo! 

The mosh pit mellowed during The Music That Nobody Likes, but I didn’t. It is one of my favourites and I had a bit of space for some seriously bad dancing. Then Impossible Dream, which was magical, the lights, our hands in the air, Jim Bob singing “give me your hands, you’re wonderful”. That moment meant quite a lot. Carter’s music has given me so much hope over the years, it has made me laugh and dance through difficult times, inadvertently teaching me lots of pop culture, and this was the moment I really felt that.  

There were two encores. The first started with a skit between cops and robbers to the theme from the Sweeney – I am hoping this was a scratch piece developing Carter USM The Musical – before the band reemerged to perform Glam Rock Cops. They were joined on stage with some awesome dancing PC ladies in a fittingly TOTP style, which I loved. This encore closed poignantly with The Final Comedown

We all knew there was more as we hadn’t heard Sheriff Fatman (cue more mosh chaos) and GI Blues. A really beautiful ending to an incredible evening. 

Today I can barely move, but I am still so happy to have been there, to feel part of it, to be surrounded by and to have shared it with so many wonderful strangers. Thanks to everyone who made it amazing, and of course to Jim Bob and Fruitbat. I am eternally grateful for Carter USM.

 

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Mind The Emotional Wreckage… Films That Make You Cry

I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.

A while back I read this post on Miss Sue Flay and I thought, I have to write my list of films that make me cry! Then I realised the enormity of the task. You see, I cry easily and often, so it is a long list.  Music and books make me cry too. I’ve cried at the theatre and at football matches. I cry when I am angry as well as when I am sad, I cry when my hormones go all wibbly wobbly (which is often). The only thing I don’t seem to cry at Christmas adverts. 

Sometimes I avoid potential tearjerkers, but other times, I seek them out. Watching a film and having a good cry can be cathartic, a quick win to relieve the emotional pressure. Of course, sometimes it is unpredictable and spontaneous; a great work of art, a piece of moving music or sensitive storytelling can make you feel things that weren’t there before.

As a self-confessed weeper, I have split my unruly long list of tearjerkers into the types of film that make me cry.

Based on a true story…
Examples: Into The Wild, Schindler’s List, The Elephant Man

These are potentially devastating and should be handled with care as you can’t shrug them off as a work of make-believe. When done well, these films are particularly poignant, as they contain real lessons from real people. The truth of their authentic stories will inspire you and haunt you forever. The examples I have given above made me cry so much, that I have only viewed them the once! Of course not all true stories are distressingly sad, but a sad story that is true is a powerful thing indeed. 

Romantic pathos…
Examples: Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Mood Indigo, Brief Encounter/The Passionate Friends

These are my opposite of the true story as I can watch this again and again. I’m a sucker for a romantic film with an ambivalent ending. You can always rely on David Lean for an ending full of longing, which is why two of his films sprung to mind – if you like Brief Encounter, then definitely give The Passionate Friends a watch. 

The bonds of friendship…
Examples: Girl Interrupted, Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Stand By Me, Dead Poets Society, Turner and Hooch

I love a story of solidarity and friendship, hence the longer list of examples. Human connection is often both the cause and the cure of emotional pain. Although you’ll see I’ve included Turner and Hooch, because sometimes the life-changing friendship is with an animal (arguably adorable animal-people relationships could have it’s own category). Like real life, these films will usually make you laugh as much as you cry.

War, huh, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing, except maybe for generating stories that make us cry at the futility of man’s violence…
Examples: Platoon, Regeneration

I will never understand why we continue to wage war on each other, I hate the unnecessary sacrifice, which is probably why I find war films so utterly and inevitably sad. Add classical music or poetry to guarantee some sobs. 

Somebody is terminally ill. It probably won’t end well…
Examples: Love Story, Philadelphia

You know what you’ve signed up for when you watch these films. Actually that makes the tears more containable, I’m likely to let salt water spill quietly from my eye sockets and trace tracks down my cheeks and then move on. Unless it’s a true story, then I’ll be an emotional wreck for the foreseeable future.

Unlikely sci-fi/fantasy/action films…
Examples: The Terminator, Alien 3, The Crow, Highlander

It continues to amuse my friends and family that I shed a few tear drops at unlikely action flicks. These always catch me by surprise as I was expecting to be thrilled, scared or just entertained with cheesy lines, but remember whatever the context, where there is drama, there is potential for tears.  

Animated heartache…
Examples: Up, Dumbo

Bloody Disney do it every time! While most tearjerkers save it up for the end, Disney and Pixar want to squeeze as many salty teardrops as possible. So in Up they hit you with sadness straight at the start, using a montage of all things. It’s still wonderful though. The same goes for the scene in Dumbo when he visits his mum in mad circus elephant prison. It makes me blub big time. Just thinking about it makes me well-up and reach for the bottle… Luckily there isn’t any problem that can’t be solved with champagne and pink elephants. Love this old Guardian article about that!

It’s a Wonderful Life…

This is one of my favourite films of all time so it gets its own heading. I don’t always cry. It’s mostly lovely. But sometimes it gets me. I think it might be getting sadder as I get older, as my own  life (and potential) pales in value to that of George Bailey “the richest man in town”. Alongside that sadness is the happy, life-affirming knowledge, that when you ask people for help, wonderful things happen. 

 

What kind of films make you emotional? Is the saddest movie you’ve seen on my list? I know I’ve missed off a few of the obvious tearjerkers. Let me know if there is any good-sad films worth watching or any epic tear-inducing movies I should avoid for the sake of my emotional sanity! 

Be Bold: Put Yourself And Your Work Forward

Be Brave Be Bold - Putting Yourself Out There

I am officially rubbish at putting myself forward. I know that isn’t the most enticing opening to a blog post, but hey, I’m going to go with it anyway. From the outside, it might look like my life is a series of interesting experiences and you might assume I’m always out there seizing opportunities and chasing my dreams.

While I am full of gratitude for the many wonderful things I have done, I have to admit that most of them have come from saying yes to existing opportunities, and sometimes just because I find it hard to say no. This can be great as I often agree to things that take me out of my comfort zone and surprise me, but it also distracts me from going after the things I really want and putting myself forward for the kind of scary-exciting opportunities that might get me closer to my actual goals. 

I’m still working on the recipe for success, but I think it is a combination of lots of hard work and a little luck, mixed with knowing what success actually looks like for you and the confidence to go out and make it happen. Then not forgetting to pop a cherry on top to celebrate your achievements and show them off to the world. Those ingredients all sound pretty good to me, but much like my actual cooking, I still haven’t mastered the execution and the kitchen is in chaos. 

I have some psychological blocks to get over before I can effectively self-promote and go for the things I really want. I love sharing amazing things others have done and I tell people to share their achievements and awesomeness with pride. I’m less good at following my own advice and being my own cheerleader. So I decided a little while back that I needed to start putting myself forward more. 

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All journeys start with a small step. Back in September, I put myself forward by submitting a short poem to Wise Words Festival. This was a safe way to test my footing because I did it just for fun and was not anxious about the outcome (definitely no secret ambitions of being a poet!) It was just a nice way to get my name out there which combined my love of words with my passion for shopping!  It was also good practise of going for something, rather than waiting for something interesting to come to me.

My poem (about the little love affairs I have while window shopping) was selected and displayed in the Whitefriars Shopping Centre in Canterbury (pictured above). Hooray, yay me! Only I didn’t do so well at the next step of shouting about it, partly because I didn’t find my poem until after the festival, but mostly because I got it a bit shy and self-conscious about it. (I was also a bit distracted and over-excited by my night in the Wise Words Yurt!) 

It strikes the eye
like Cupid’s arrow
footsteps falter, hearts hesitate…
before you walk inside

Reading the poem again now, it seems well suited to this post, outlining three steps to putting yourself out there: (1) spot the exciting opportunity (2) assess the good-scary, do you really want it? (3) be bold, take the next step and go for it. 

Why did no one tell me I should be treating self-promotion, opportunity-seizing and the pursuit of ambitions as if I were shopping?! 

In October, I decided to take my next bolder step and entered my blog into Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2015. I would love to make out I was nominated due to my immense popularity, but as the awards enticed me to ‘be bold’, I am proud to say I went for it and entered myself. I’m still in the process of whipping this blog into shape, but it is never going to perfect, I’ll always be working on something, so why wait? I couldn’t think of any reasons I shouldn’t enter. It felt a bit scary (because I do have not-so-secret ambitions about becoming a super blogger), which confirmed that yes, this is something I should be putting myself forward for. 

The public vote is now open! The votes decide the shortlist to be presented to the judging panel. So in order to get my blog in front of the judges, it is up to me to tell people about it, attempt to charm some votes or maybe just ask nicely for your help. Another thing I am terrible at is reaching out to other people for help, but the good news is that between now and the end of the month, I am going to get a whole lot of practise in asking, starting right now…

I want this blog to get bigger and better. I want to create great content and reach more people. I plan to do this by consistently working hard and also by being my own cheerleader, putting myself forward for opportunities to raise the profile of this blog and my work, but I do need your help too. If you like my blog, I’d love your help and your vote. All you need to do is click on this link and enter your name/email.

If you want to be super helpful, tell someone else about my blog or share my UK Blog Award URL: http://www.blogawardsuk.co.uk/candidates/cassy-fry/

Voting aside, inspiration is always helpful, so let me know what you have done to be bold and put yourself forward. Any advice appreciated!

Lots of love and huge big thank yous!  

Style Shortcut: Stylish Ways To Keep Warm Inside And Out

I’m one of those people that really feels the cold, I have terrible circulation and I spend most of the winter with a purple complexion. Trying to wrap up to stay toasty warm while not looking like an enormous fabric monster is quite the sartorial challenge. I’m always looking for ways I can keep cosy while staying stylish. In some ways, it is easier when you’re going outside, once you’ve completed your quest for the ultimate winter coat, you just need huge knitted scarves, coordinated with woolly hats and cute mittens. As I live and work in beautiful draughty old buildings, I also need stylish ways to keep warm inside. 

Turban from Crown and Glory - Cassy Fry

Heavenly Headwear – This turban from Crown and Glory is a welcome addition to my winter wardrobe, not only does it look super glam, it envelops my head in velvety snugness and is perfect to wear indoors and out. Obviously I had to order it in more colours!

Lovely Layers – My layering essentials include some thermals, but not the frumpy kind. I love the heatgen long-sleeve tops and leggings from M&S, which make me feel more like a dancer than an old lady. They’re not quite as efficient as the old school thermals, but they are super soft, snug and perfect for layering. 

Stylish Scarves - A chunky knit scarf is perfect for Sunday afternoon strolls, but for days indoors, I keep my neck warm with soft cotton scarves with cute and quirky prints. I mostly buy these at craft and vintage markets or from Etsy – as a stylish literary lover, I need this Alice in Wonderland scarf to add to my collection!

Gorgeous Gloves - I am addicted to buying cute gloves! Top of my winter wishlist are some fabulous fingerless gloves. These long black cashmere gloves look gorgeous and this pair inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven, ideal for writing in! 

Stylish Ways To Stay Warm This Winter

Cute Cardigans and Sparkly Sweaters - My search for stylish knitwear is on-going, I don’t think I’ll ever have enough. I love vintage knits, but unfortunately I haven’t mastered knitting yet. Instead I shop second-hand either on line or in charity shops. I’m a sucker for a cute cashmere cardigan to wear over dresses, jumpers with a little sparkle or a cute print (like this one!) and classy knitwear like this pearl detail cross-over knit I found in a charity shop in Margate.

Super Long Socks – My final winter essential is the over-the-knee sock, because they keep my legs warm under my trousers and are super cute.  

The only thing I haven’t yet found a stylish solution for is a cold nose! Let me know if you have ideas for that!

Review: Beached at The Marlowe Theatre

Beached - The Marlowe Theatre

Last week I was invited to see Beached at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury. The play, written by Melissa Bubnic, is the first new writing production created by the Marlowe Studio, so I was suitably intrigued. If that wasn’t enough, there was the promise of darkly funny comedy and loads of cream buns. 

The play is about teenage obesity. A tricky subject matter for a comedy, but it worked, juxtaposing the harshness of the reality television stereotypes with the tenderness of authentic human relationships. There were some seriously funny lines, so plenty of laughs too, but none at the expense of the fat kid. 

Arty (James Dryden), is the world’s fattest teenager, weighing in at 67 stone, he is confined to his room, so his only company and comfort is his over-protective mum (Robin Weaver) and all the junk food she lovingly prepares him.

The play opens with Arty and mum Jo-Jo talking about their life, their games of scrabble and their love of Jessica Fletcher. This is for a reality television show called ‘Shocking Fat Stories’ which is funding and documenting Arty’s weight-loss and gastric by-pass surgery. Weaver gives life to a familiar stereotype, as their charming yet dysfunctional mother-son relationship is put under strain as Arty tries to change. 

Dryden’s performance makes Arty likeable, showing his intelligence, humour and imagination. He sits on a throne of fast food and it is hard to tell where his costume ends and the set begins. The toys and furniture come to life to animate the whimsical daydream sequences about “the life Arty is living in his head”.

Rhoda Ofori-Attah’s portrayal of the reality television Producer was superb, slip-sliding between clinically professional and manipulatively cruel, while coolly delivering lines that make you laugh, then shudder.

While the Producer becomes increasingly callous and exploitative as the story progresses, Pathways to Work Officer, Louise (Alison O’Donnell) softens. She arrives to help prepare Arty for his new life, to get him off disability benefits and joining the workforce. Initially hiding behind a controlled professional persona of cliches and meaningless buzzwords, she is gradually disarmed by Arty’s attentions. Their relationship is endearing, if questionable, but ultimately empowering and bitter-sweet. 

Despite the brash reality show format, there is a subtlety to the play. It is a clever, funny and sensitive piece of writing, which left me with an appetite for more new writing from the Marlowe Studio… and cream buns.

Beached is now playing at the Soho Theatre until 23 November 2014 – get tickets here.

Revelation Review: Schubert’s Quintet and Death’s Cabaret – A Love Story, performed by The Sacconi Quartet and Matthew Sharp

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I must admit I am equally thrilled and daunted to be writing this review of Schubert’s Quintet and Death’s Cabaret – A Love Story. I don’t really know much about classical music and while this wasn’t the first performance I’ve attended, going to hear anything in this genre still feels new and uncertain to me. Of course, that is what makes it exciting.

I have a couple of go-to approaches for when I want to experiment with my cultural intake and try something new.  The first is to see something at a familiar venue or festival that I know and trust, and the second is to select shows or performers to see by recommendation or reputation. As I have heard only wonderful words uttered about the talents of the Sacconi Quartet and cellist Matthew Sharp and I have been reliably delighted by my visits to Revelation St Mary’s, I knew I could expect an enchanting evening.  

When I took my seat, I didn’t know a thing about Franz Schubert other than that he was a composer. So I was glad we had an eloquent introduction to the man and the music from Matthew Sharp. 

Schubert wrote this piece, which is made up of four movements, just two months before he died in 1828 aged 31. Like so many of our creative greats, he was keen for recognition, but it didn’t come until later. Now this is regarded as one of the most important works in the chamber music canon. I listened to the description of the composer, imagined his “unfiltered” character and I prepared for Schubert to take me “over the clifftop with no parachute” with his String Quintet D.956 in C Major.

As the incredible music filled St Mary’s, I decided just to listen and not to worry about how I might capture it in written word; the task seemed too much like trying to catch a butterfly with a frying pan. 

I marveled at the precise execution. The skills of the musicians were a joy to watch as well as to hear. As I haven’t got a trained ear or technical knowledge, when it comes to classic music I consider myself to be an emotional listener. Schubert’s Quintet was certainly a feast of feelings.

I found the piece suspenseful as it slipped seamlessly from light melodies to dark drama. The stirring strings were sublime, sad, beautiful, foreboding, adventurous, exciting and dramatic. The sound was fantastic, it swept through the church with such atmosphere I felt I could breathe it in. 

I’m never sure of the standard etiquette for such concerts, no one applauded between the movements, so I assumed that was usual (I googled it when I got home and it is!). If you worry about etiquette, my top tip for all types of performances is to go with the flow, generally speaking if the audience need a prompt, the ushers or stewards will give them a cue. I really wanted to clap because each movement was superb, but I saved it up for an enormous, enthusiastic and emphatic applause at the end.

Death's Cabaret - A Love Story - Stephen Deazley and Martin Riley

The second part of the evening was quite different from the first, although it started with Matthew Sharp once again addressing the audience, this time in character as the protagonist of a tragic tale. There is nothing quite like a performer stepping off the stage and talking directly to the audience to make the room pay attention. We were prepared for a different kind of listening experience. 

Death’s Cabaret – A Love Story combines dramatic storytelling with an innovative score by Stephen Deazley. The narrative, written by Martin Riley, is a dark, dramatic dance with death that combines modern wit with traditional folklore. It is the story of a talented musician who is precise cellist but does not make an emotional connection with the music or the audience, it seems he lacks soul. He seeks his ‘connection’ through partying, drugs and alcohol, but only finds his childhood nightmares return. 

His search continues with a journey to Brittany to trace his ancestral roots. This is when the European folk tradition fused with the classical and we were treated to the cabaret. Our protagonist finds inspiration and love. While she “looks like a winning lottery ticket”, the romantic heroine has a reputation and a tragic past, immediately alerting us to an inevitable unfortunate end. Yet the love story plays out with a heady hopefulness despite the village folk watching it “like a traffic accident”.

Then enters the Breton myth of the Ankou, a collector of souls and personification of death. To survive a nightmare-ish night, the couple play music and dance for their lives in Death’s Cabaret, the accompanying composition full of grit and theatricality. 

I was enthralled by the tale and how it was told. I found myself leaning forward in my seat, hanging on each word and every note, my shoulders creeping up alongside the tension. Matthew Sharp is a compelling storyteller and a wonderful singer, he performed and moved in character, while seemingly effortlessly playing the cello alongside the Sacconi Quartet.

The emotions the music invoked were similar to those I felt listening to Schubert, but my imagination was given some structure by the story, which created rich images of a musician playing for acclaim, attention, for his loved one to dance to, and for his life.

The music, performance and venue conjured up a seasonal spell. It really was an enchanting evening. 

 

Revelation St Mary’s is an award-winning music and arts venue in Ashford, Kent. Visit http://www.revelationstmarys.co.uk for details of this season’s programme and upcoming events. 

What To Wear On A Zombie Crawl Through Herne Bay

Little Red Zombie Hood

I live in a lovely seaside town called Herne Bay, known for it’s beautiful beach, pretty promenade, amazing amusements, oh, and zombies. There is an incredible Zombie Crawl, organised by the always awesome Bay Promo Team. It has become a huge event in the Hernebaynian calendar and is the largest after dark Zombie Crawl in the UK. This is rather unfortunate for me as I don’t really like zombies, they freak me out a bit, well quite a lot actually. I do try to see the best in everyone, but we’re talking walking cannibal corpses that want to eat your inards, so I don’t think my wariness is too unreasonable. 

Besides I am already terrified by pretty much everything, my imagination runs wild all on it’s own, so feeding it with horror and scary stuff would be like giving an already hyperactive toddler a large quantity of coffee loaded with sugar. While the only Stephen King book I have read is ‘On Writing’, I do have a penchant for the gothic. I just prefer 15 certificate emo-drama to 18 certificate horror. I love gothic fiction, both classic and contemporary, I repeatedly watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I adore 90s cult classics like The Craft and The Crow, and I have an enduring love for Kiefer Sutherland as David in The Lost Boys. The only zombie films I like are Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead. 

However each year I brave the streets of Herne Bay to see the Zombies, because quite frankly, they look amazing. I don’t want to miss out, it’s like a Zombie Apocalypse is happening on the streets and as it is a family friendly event, I can just about handle the fright levels. Herne Bay Zombie Crawl 2014

This year I decided, if you can’t hide from them, join ‘em. So last night I zombied up, made like a groaning, moaning Cassy corpse and dragged my limp broken body round the town in search of brains… luckily I didn’t find any, because I’m not convinced I’d enjoy nomming on grey matter. I did find my way to the Bay of the Dead Zombie Ball at Kings Hall though and partied like I was already dead and therefore impervious to hangovers (I’m not).

Of course, I couldn’t just be any old zombie, I have a stylish reputation to maintain. Taking inspiration from my favourite fairytale and my signature colour, I was a modern day Little Red Riding Hood Zombie.

I actually picked my costume for practical reasons as well as whimsical ones. I wanted to be able to wear something that’d be warm enough or allow me to wear a coat and that would permit me to carry a bag or something to put all my stuff in.

My outfit compromised of the essential red hooded cape, a blood stained blouse, jeans and boots, accessoried with my Whole Lotta Rosie floral headband from Crown and Glory, a basket full of brains for Grandma and my trusty blood-stained axe. I made myself up with temporary tattoos, white face paint, zombie flesh, fake blood and red eyeshadow.  

There were so many disgustingly terrifying zombies and cool characters in Herne Bay last night. Check out the photos here, for an abundance of zombie outfit inspiration.

Link Love – Refuel Your Creativity, Instagram Art And What Literature Is For

Cassy Fry reading

This month I’ve spent a lot of time reading about writing, daydreaming or just generally hanging out on Instagram, and it probably shows in the stylish and creative links I have selected for you. Hope you like them…

10 Ways To Refuel Your Creativity
I love this list of ways to boost creativity and keep your ideas tank full of inspiration fuel! I only have two things I would add: (1) listen to music, and (2) go out, get a change of scene (especially if you’re stuck looking at a blank screen, page or canvas!). 

10 Things You Need To Learn To Start Living The Life Of Your Dreams
Thanks to Shauna at Nubby Twiglet for this bit of link love as I found it though her post. There is so much good advice and amazing photography in this list of life lessons. I need to work on some of these. Note to self: Start learning. Keep dreaming. 

Turning Instagram Into Performance Art
Why of course, Instagram is the perfect place for performance art! Amalia Ulman‘s project ‘Excellences and Perfections’ shows just how captivated we are with depictions of personal dramas and how willing we are to believe all we see on line. 

Selfie Fables: What If Disney Characters Had Instagram Accounts?
I’m a such a sucker for illustrations re-imagining Disney characters and judging by the number of parodies and pastiches on the internet, I’m not alone. This one is fab, not just because the illustrations are great (the evil queen is my favourite, although I also have much appreciation for Peter Pan’s photo bomb), but because the captions are all kinds of insta-hilarious.

Literary Cures For Emotional Crises
I’m a big fan of turning to a book for comfort, wisdom or just distraction, so I love these prescriptions from the super glam Caroline at Sparkle and Crumbs. Definitely some material for my reading list here (but I leave you guessing about which emotional crises I may be in need of treating!)

4 Reasons Why You Should Read
I’m going to end on an animation that continues the literary therapy theme. These quirky cut outs illustrate four benefits of literature. I especially love the idea that reading gives you time, rather than takes it away, that notion alone has added years onto my life and I’ll definitely think differently next time I take an hour or two to curl up with a good book. Plus we really are all weirder than we’re allowed to admit!

What is Literature for? from Marcus Armitage on Vimeo.

Creative Challenge: What #Lovetober Meant To Me

#lovetober 2014 Gala Darling Instagram Challenge - Cassy Fry

This October, I mean #Lovetober, I have been posting photos every day, responding to a creative prompt. I love a monthly creative challenge. Doing something every day for 30 or 31 days in a row is enough time for it to become something meaningful, but not so long that it stops being fun. The Lovetober instagram challenge was set by Gala Darling, so there has been a good dose of self love, appreciation and magic making along the way, as well as lots of like-minded ladies taking part and sharing the experience. 

It’s been kind of wonderful, so I thought I’d share some of my highlights. 

Have you tried any instagram photo challenges? I definitely recommend giving one a go! I know there are loads out there – let me know which ones have inspired you to get creative and improve your photography.

How To Find Fabulous Blogs To Read… because we all need inspiration, information and insight

How to find fabulous blogs to read

I love clicking on a link to a blog post and discovering a blogger who I just click with. When it happens, I’m guaranteed to lose an hour or two, but gain a whole load of insight and ideas. I know we are all utterly overwhelmed with on line information, there is a lot of noise and all that shouting can keep us from hearing the good stuff. Trust that the good stuff is out there and you will find it, but maybe to speed your discovery along, try these ways to find fabulous blogs to read. 

A Good Blog Guide
In case you missed the shiny icon somewhere over on the right, or me getting all excited about it on Twitter,this blog has been featured on New Writing South’s Good Blog Guide. As well as making me super proud, this lovely guide has also led me to discover some seriously good blogs. 

Your Fave Bloggers
Bloggers love reading blogs, when we’re not writing posts, we’re reading them! Then we share them, I post my favourite reads on a Link Love post. Lots of bloggers write these posts or their own version of them. I’ve found so many good reads through Gala Darling’s Carousel posts. I write one every month, but some bloggers do it weekly. Then there is the curated blog post, Daffny at A Vintage Nerd recently penned Everything A Beginner To Vintage Fashion Needs To Know, which features lots of other useful posts and is a great example of how finding one great blog, can lead to another, and another.  

Google
Still the best way the find anything! Ok so the catch is you need to know what you are looking for, but I found most of my favourite vintage bloggers, including Retrochick and Vintage Current, during my quest for the perfect pin curl! 

Social Media
If you find a blog post you love, share it and others will find it. I have found most of my favourite bloggers through retweets (because I’m often found loitering on Twitter). Twitter chats are also a great way to discover new blogs. Instagram is great for finding fashion bloggers or stylish people (check out hashtags like #fblogger fashion blogger #ooto outfit of the day or #wiwt what I wore today). Having fantastic images has become part of being a successful blogger because we are all drawn to a great picture, so Pinterest is another good way of finding great blogs.

News, Magazine or Lifestyle Websites
As well as reading independent blogs, I like reading articles on big media sites, like Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, Guardian Culture Professionals or Hello Giggles and many of their journalists and freelance writers also have their own blogs. 

The Blogcademy
I know I am not the only Blogcademy Grad to have cyber-stalked other participants across the globe! I admit that you will find a certain type of blog – ones written by awesome women, many (but not all) with a penchant for sparkly ears. If you like this kind of blog (and if you’re here there is a fair chance you do!) then you’re in for a treat. It’s like going to the cupboard in search of something sweet and finding a never-ending supply of all your favourite treats spilling out! 

In Real Life!
Whatever industry you’re working in, someone will be blogging about it, so you’re likely to find bloggers, not just by networking on line, but in real life. Whether they call themselves a blogger or just have a blog as part of their business, you’re bound to know some one who writes a great blog.

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