Saturday, 21 February 2009

Jade 'Goody Goody'?

I do not wish to in any way, join in any of the Jade Goody 'bashing' which can be currently found on the internet. Personally I think anyone who can start up websites apparently celebrating the suffering and pain of another person is totally evil and I don't share any of those kinds of ugly views at all. However, I do want to raise a few questions and vent some of my thoughts on the situation which has quickly become one of the most reported on stories of the last few days.

Firstly, one of the coverage's most disturbing aspects is just how much the whole thing smacks with an almost incomprehensible level of unashamed fickleness, albeit largely a construction of the press. Jade Goody has managed to go from wicked witch to a 'princess-of-the-people' type persona in the space of a just few months. Universally abhorred after the comments made to Shilpa Shetty on Celebrity Big Brother, Goody had pretty much exiled herself to escape the media coverage and the nationwide feeling of uneasiness towards her amazingly stupid and blasé attitude to racism when the news broke of her unfortunate diagnosis of cervical cancer.

With the deeply sad news that the cancer had spread to other parts of her body Goody was told she had only weeks to live and so understandably began thinking about her family, especially her young children. At this difficult time came some happiness for Jade when her boyfriend proposed to her - giving her the wedding she had been planning and presumably a more stable financial and custodial situation for the children.

Their marriage brings me to a point I would like to raise after the news broke yesterday, that Jack Straw has lifted Jack Tweed's (Goody's fiancé) curfew tomorrow night so he will able to spend his wedding night with his bride. Tweed has been in prison and is currently electronically tagged after assaulting a man with a golf club last year and has now been allowed to ignore the sentence placed on him so he can marry his sick fiancé. This would all sit a lot easier with me, as I think Goody probably deserves to be allowed to spend one night with her husband, if the same treatment could extended to everyone who also experiencing such exceptional circumstances.

But of course, it does not, nor ever will happen that way. I have a particular problem with this special treatment and the other 'perks' which Goody is receiving in exchange of her openness about her illness because I know of a family who went through a very similar experience to that of Goody's and yet received no perks or government intervention to make one young Mum's battle with cancer any easier. This family grew up knowing that Mum wasn't going to be around for long, and despite being constantly given only months to live this young woman fought on for a couple of years. Although not especially helped by her alcoholic husband, the family planned what the funeral would be like together and Mum picked out suits for her two young boys to wear. When she got very ill she spent as much time as possible as she could with everyone who was close to her and eventually passed away at home in quiet dignity. It really saddens me that Jade will not be doing the same with her family but instead seems to have her sights set on raising more cash.

I have a lot of sympathy for the so-called celebrity and understand that she is planning for her children's futures but why part of this master plan includes the documenting of her probably quick and incredibly painful decline for a television programme I can not even begin to comprehend. She claims she needs the money but I cannot help but question this point and wonder if this is more a case of Goody getting greedy.

Carol McGiffin gave her views earlier in the week, when the topic was being discussed on Loose Women - not a show I would normally look to for a serious insight into anything, but she actually made a very good point. Carol explained how she had to watch her own mother die from cancer and how terribly hard it was for everyone in the family and a process she would not wish to repeat. She was aghast at the thought of anyone wanting to view someone dying and questioned how she would feel if she knew her experience with her Mum had been recorded and the possibility was there of reliving the experience by watching it all on television - a possibility which will be a reality for the Goody children.

I also question who would really want to watch such a programme. Not wishing to seem hypocritical I am a fan of some the more 'gritty' documentaries aired on television, Channel 4's 'body shock' series for example, but I always find these tend to give incredibly powerful insights into humanity as a whole and are often uplifting stories of normal people coming through great adversity. A happy ending is unfortunately, not a possibility for Jade.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Keeping my PMA towards journalism

PMA or 'positive mental attitude' is a mantra which has followed me around since my school years and has often been the only useful bit of advise I can recall when trying to cheer or console a friend with a case of the down-in-the-dumps. It seems a bit of PMA is going to a be especially useful in getting ahead in journalism.

Ben Bryant the editor of gair rhydd organised for some of the paper's 'old boys' to come and chat to us about getting into journalism on Saturday and I have to say thankfully, there are still things to be positive about.

They weren't old at all, of course, but only graduated a couple of years before I began at the University and so it was immensely encouraging to meet three Cardiff graduates, who not so long ago were just a part of another group of journalist hopefuls (a situation which I am soon to be finding myself in) but have gone on to do so well. Greg Cochrane now works for the music section of Radio 1's news service, Newsbeat and previously wrote for NME magazine. Will Dean works at The Guide at The Guardian and Gary Andrews is involved in PR at itv.

In a time when you can't view a news programme or open a newspaper without getting 'recession', 'credit crunch' and 'job cuts' shoved down your throat it was really great to hear how these three guys were getting on.

They painted a refreshingly positive image of the media industry, especially Greg, who without doing any postgraduate studies had gotten so far with hard work and an obvious enthusiasm for writing about and being involved in music.

It is though, as Gary reminded us an especially bad time for any graduate to get a job but I suppose it is useful to have learnt about myself - that even though it is going to be tough I have not lost the enthusiasm or drive to get out there and give it my best shot (PMA, PMA, PMA).

All three spoke a lot about the importance of the Internet and I think were slightly mystified when, upon asking, 'who here writes a blog' it was only mine and my housemate Ellie's arms who went tentatively upwards. It is because of the animated way in which Gary especially talked about such 'new media tools' that you might have noticed the addition of Twitter to my blog. I have to admit at first I thought it utterly pointless, similiar to the 'status updates' on facebook but I think now after a couple of days, I might actually get it! I'm following a range of people, instituitions and services and therefore get news headlines, weather forcasts and gig details mixed in with the ramblings from a couple of friends and hilarious quips from Stephen Fry and Charlie Brooker. Yes, I should probably 'fess up, "my name is Emma Barlow and I'm addicted to Twitter."

All in all it was a really helpful exercise, I am reassured, yet again, that journalism is what I want to be doing and reminded too, that it is going to take an awful lot of work to get there but so long as I keep that in mind as well as my ever trusty PMA, perhaps it won't be as scary as I previously thought it would be.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009


It was great to catch Emmy and her band, if you're in the right sort of aching-heart/life-pondering mood her almost sickly-sweet songs can really hit the spot. The night at Clwb was apparently the first sell-out of the tour, affirming that which I have often thought, that the Welsh are a melancholic lot and, of course, appreciate a pretty tune or two.

The new album First Love seemed to go down a treat and were soaked up by the nodding heads and tapping feet as if they were already firmly planted favourites in the minds of the hushed audience. MIA was a standout tune for me and well worth checking out if you feel so inclined. I mainly knew of her from the work she did with Lightspeed Champion on his very pretty debut album (Falling Off The Lavender Bridge) but she definitely proved she is more than just Dev Hynes' backing singer.

Sunday, 1 February 2009


This is just so fantastic, and was apparently made from 3,225 individual still photos. I could watch this all day, thanks Ed for showing it to us this morning - it made my sore head a little easier to bare! The song by the way, is Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie.

Songbook 5

Furr by Blitzen Trappper, I really like their lyrics and am sure they are heading for big things, especially as they sound quite similar to Fleet Foxes who are going to be huge this summer! They also happen to hail from Portland, as do the Dandys.