When I Finally Grow Up (Part 2)

This post carries on from Part 1, found here.

I live with a very successful bunch of boys. Two o them have already secured graduate jobs with salaries that make me wonder if that whole ‘recession’ thing we went through was just a bad dream. One is midway through interviews with various oil and gas companies that will probably land him in an air-conditioned office in Sydney or Singapore next year, while another is up in London every other week living his own anglicised Don Draper fantasies in the big bad world of advertising. The final one is currently on a year abroad in Russia, living a comfortable life in a beautiful Moscow flat, furnished and paid for by a very famous legal firm.

Me? Oh, I just sweep up vomit on the weekends.

The weird thing is, I kind of like doing it. Preparing for medical school applications has been one of the best boots I’ve ever had the privilege of getting kicked up my backside. It’s forced me to stray away from the usual haunts of the student (lecture hall, kitchen, club, bed) and go to places and take part in activities I would otherwise have had no idea about.

The aforementioned vomit usually materialises at a night shelter I traipse to weekly in a dodgy part of Bristol where things occur my mother probably wouldn’t like to hear about. Some nights I break up fights, other times I take abuse from those too inebriated or high to know what they’re saying, but by the far the majority of my time is spent chatting and sharing stories with some incredibly interesting people. I’ve met ex-professors and asylum seekers. I’ve met mothers and murderers. I once chatted with a lady who told me she was going to court the next day for ‘detagging’. My face must have looked puzzled as I contemplated what I thought might be Facebook’s latest attempt to enforce privacy settings, because she lifted up her trouser leg to reveal the electronic GPS tag attached to her ankle, which she had tried to pry off with a knife a weeks earlier.

Suffice to say I felt a little bit silly.

Everything I’ve seen so far has been eye opening, and not just things in the shelter. I spend Wednesday afternoons in a charity shop carrying boxes of donations up and down stairs and gossiping over cups of tea with a couple of sixty-ish ladies who spoil me like favourite nephew. You wouldn’t believe it, but theft in these places is pretty common and when I’m at the till I keep one eye firmly pinned on the CDs stacked in the corner, many of which get brought to the counter days later by genuine shoppers who then realise they aren’t holding anything but an empty case. Hey, if we decent human beings are not going to steal from Oxfam then I guess somebody has to, right?

There probably aren’t many things more boring than having someone tell you about how wonderful volunteering is, but really if you don’t already do something for a couple hours a week, you really should try it. If not to get that warm fuzzy feeling inside from helping others (and trust me, it’s become like crack to me) then at least to scoop you out of your comfort zone and put you in situations that scare you a few times a month. I don’t mean you should go out and join your local chapter of the Latin Kings or try your hand at some casual pimping, but that you should do your best to seek out the freedom that comes from walking on the side of life you rarely usually tread.

It’s taken me a committment to a six-year education and a hundred thousand bucks in debt to realise that helping people is really where it’s at. I’m proud of my housemates with the eye-watering salaries but it’ll take more than a six-figure income to make me give up my barfy Saturday nights.


I’ve been a little bit enthusiastic with my folkfinding lately. Right now I’m sitting back in my chair, fingers greasy with acoustica and swaying side to side like the corpulent, overindulged folkseeker that I am. The number of tunes flowing in has meant that it’s been difficult to pick music this week, and it came down to a choice between two fantastic artists, each singing from different sides of the Atlantic. In the end, though, in honor honour of my approaching departure from the British Isles and also as a vigorously enthusiastic nod to the great Folk Radio UK where I first heard of her, I decided that  Elena Tonra would be the obvious choice.

Daughter, as Tonra now likes to be known, is that gorgeous girl you always pass on the street who you know is way too trendy for you to ever consider talking to. She’s the kind of girl who rolls cigarettes in the closing minutes of tutorials and dates guys who grow ironic moustaches.

Luckily for those with less developed hirsute capabilities, Tonra’s beautifully aching voice has been recorded for the world to hear. ‘Peter’ is one of those songs that manages to drop the F-bomb like an A-bomb, making you sit up in your seat, smile and think, “Silly Peter, I bet his moustache looks terrible.”

Tonra has released a 4 song EP, which you can download from her Myspace page here. You know how much I love free music and I know how much you love folk. It’s a match made in heaven and Daughter is holding those Pearly Gates wide open. Get downloading.


Dec 2010

5 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Sam says:

    Hey Luke!

    Do you know how I can listen to Folk Radio UK?

    Keep up the good blogging!


    • Luke says:

      Hey Sam!
      If you go to the website http://www.folkradio.co.uk and click on Listen Now in the right hand corner, a live stream should automatically open up in iTunes.

      If you’re outside of the UK, I’m not totally sure this would work. Email me if it doesn’t and I will try to sort something out for you. It’s a great way to find good music (though don’t forget to keep visiting STFU too!)

      • Karolina says:

        It works in Poland just fine. Thanks for the recomendation, Luke!

        • Foge says:

          Unbelievable how well-written and infortmiave this was.

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