Book No Buy

Going on a no buy is always something that sounds a little terrifying. People say they intend to buy no makeup products, no clothes, books or anything unless they completely run out and it is part of their routine. I could never take it to that level, at least not right now and especially with Christmas and a new pay cheque slowly creeping closer, but there are certain things that I am attempting to not purchase.

Back in September there was a tag on Instagram that focused on reading what you own instead of buying new books or leaning towards new releases. This came at a much needed moment for me as I had gathered quite a few new books during August and already had an extremely overwhelming to be read stack. After September ended though I decided to carry on going with it and, though I might ask for some new books for Christmas, hope to take it all the way through to the end of 2018. There are so many good and fascinating fiction and non-fiction books sitting on the shelves that they deserve to be pulled off and have the spines bent and the pages pawed through.

There is one book that I have already pre-ordered and will be arriving this month but, given I never get excited enough to pre-order things, I don’t want to take that bit of joy away. Browsing in a charity shop I also found the second installment of Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, Hollow City, and as it was already on my list to get at some point it seemed like a missed opportunity to grab it for £1.

If you want a bit of perspective I’m on track to read 1.5 books a week over the course of this year and I have more books on my to be read stack than I started the year with.

There are so many books in the flat that I haven’t read that I could probably go through to 2022 without needing to buy another book but that would be a rather sad thing to try and force myself to do but going forward I do hope to become a bit more aware of the books and number of books that are entering my collection. And before you look at the photos of the bookcases and think surely not, I’ll let you into a little secret; the short bookcase is double rowed and we have three huge boxes of books just sitting around equalling about 200 more books and then there are the books we don’t even have in the flat yet but in storage elsewhere… Not only will it give me a chance to work through my current collection and see if there are any books I am desperately trying to shy away from that it becomes so glaringly obvious that they need to be removed from my shelves but it will also give me a chance to save some money (all those £1 books add up quite quickly!) towards a holiday or something else that I enjoy as well (in fact I have a blog post about financial goals coming in the next couple of weeks and I hope that will help hold myself accountable for the amount that I spend on books in the short to medium term).

And I think this is something that is important for me to do now as I know I can get obsessed with things and have found myself gathering up a huge amount of books before, which is why I have so many still to read, and getting more into bookstagram there is a risk of falling into the habit of seeking things out for nothing more than a haul photo. I have enough books that I can do good looking stacks, such as colour piles, without having to buy more to feel part of the community. Besides bookstagram would not approve of me buying any more books until I can get another bookcase for them and unless I can purchase an actual library I don’t think that’s viable right now!

Despite having spent so much money, having loads of books unread and not always reading as frequently as I want to I’m not going to let any guilt creep in. I do not regret the books that I have purchased over the years, or this year more specifically, and I do not regret the time I have spent soaking specific books up or between books before diving into the next one. Books are something to go through at a personal pace so that you can absorb all the words, it isn’t a race, and this is why I don’t generally get involved with that many book challenges because whilst I find them fun they can also add to a little stress and prevent me from being fully able to take the contents of a book in. In fact I am looking forward to sharing books that aren’t spoken about that much in the book community over here in reviews, on instagram snaps and with my monthly roundups on instagram TV and I am pretty sure that should any guilt or bad feelings start to creep in reminding myself of this aim will snap me out of it!

Have you found yourself overwhelmed by the number of books you have? Do you have to stop yourself going into charity shops or you come out with ten books? Perhaps you give yourself a book budget and if so do you do it by financial amount or by number of books? I’d love to find out more about how you manage your collection in the comments below. If you want to find out what I’m reading right now you can also find me on Goodreads.

Products I Want To Use Up In 2018 #7

As my mental approach to a lot of things, such as food and happiness, has changed over the last couple of months I have found myself thinking differently about using products up. It wasn’t an intentional transition in thought process but on sitting down to share my empties with you I realised that a change had occurred.

In reality the change in attitude probably isn’t as big as I am imagining it to be in my head but all these changes add up to feeling like a completely different person. For a while I felt a huge amount of guilt for having so many products and backups of certain items and just wanted to absolutely rid my drawers and cupboards of it all but, apart from the very odd item going in a declutter, I wanted to make sure I used all the products up and never let my collection get so out of hand again. Quick disclaimer: I am not wanting to suddenly have a collection of products.

Like my change in thoughts with food, I really want to make sure that I cherish each item and appreciate the purpose of using it. I want to soak up the smell of the product, find the perfect amount of product to use rather than getting a splob and hoping for the best and to take a second to acknowledge the impact of it on my body. I found that I was getting into the habit of using products up but just using them without taking any sort of thought or consideration and that lack of care for a product felt, even though I was using the product up, like a huge waste because I was missing the experience that I had bought into in the first place.

Beauty product empties flatlay

I’d usually just talk about a handful of the items that have come to an end since my last post but I’ve not exactly done a lot of dousing myself in body lotions and such recently, plus a lot of products are on the fuller side, so the stack of empties is really rather sad. I think the lack of use of product is certainly linked to spending quite some time away from the flat over the last couple of months and only taking minimum products with me when I was on the go.

  • Avon forest green nail varnish. This is a product that I could no longer enjoy, despite liking how the shade looks on my nails. I probably shouldn’t admit this but this bottle of polish is probably about 8 years old and as a result it just doesn’t have quite the same qualities that it did before and within an hour of me applying a couple of layers of this, which held up colour wise well, it was chipping due to the thin consistency of it.
  • Rimmel French manicure nail varnish. I remember getting this product for subscribing to a teen magazine when I still lived back home. In fact not just when I still lived at home but I remember my dad being the one to deal with the subscription people at one point so we’re talking this is even older than the Avon polish. *gulp*. It’s not something I ever really leaned towards much but I picked it up the other day and whilst the consistency of the product is perfectly okay the colour of the product against my skin and on my own tone of nails just did not look good at all. It has quite a peachy tone and that just doesn’t personally work for me so it’s time to call this one quits and take it out of my collection.
  • Wilko rhubarb and vanilla bath foam. Back at the start of August I mentioned how bath bombs and me were no longer the best of friends and this super cheap bath foam is one of the reasons why. The scent throw of all these products and the way that they foam up is absolutely amazing and really works for me and where I am at right now. I have one of these individual bottles left and then I’ll have nothing left in the supply and need to get on a bus to Bromley to top up on these delights (and if you know me you’ll know I love a Wilko shopping trip).
  • The Body Shop pink grapefruit body butter. I’m not that big a fan of this particular scent of the body butters and that did certainly play a role in how long it took me to work through this tub. I could have finished it at least a month ago if I could pull myself to use it on an almost daily basis but with the scent it just wasn’t possible. This is certainly a note to self to only get the big tubs of the stuff if it’s in a scent that I already know I enjoy having on my skin. There’s still what feels like a never-ending supply of body butter in my drawer of spares so it looks like I’ll be all set to not need to worry about stocking up on any until, at the very earliest, the January sales.
  • Makeup Revolution setting spray. I do need a setting spray in my life but this is not the one I want to reach for in the future. The sprayer was just a little too harsh and after it reached the halfway point it became increasingly random in terms of how much product was dispersed onto each bit of the face. It had a really strong chemical smell as well and certainly did nothing for the dry patches on my skin. This was super cheap and I bought it at a point when I needed a setting spray but couldn’t really afford one but it did last a long time, though given I don’t apply makeup that often that means very little, and for that I was impressed. I’ve got a different high street brand setting spray ready to go that they sent me back last year to review and then once that’s used up I’ll certainly be looking to invest in one that is of better quality.

There are some products on the horizon of coming to an end. A lip balm, especially with the weather changing, that has lasted a good part of the year is finally reaching the stage of the end being in sight. There’s a small bottle of body spray and one of perfume that depending on how I split my uses of them could see at least one, if not both, completed by my next updated. I’ve got a translucent face powder which has some pretty hefty pan showing and it is at the stage of crumbling and being noticeably powdery whenever used so if it survives my heavy hand over the next month or so I will be shocked.

Fingers crossed for a more impressive month next month! What have you managed to use up this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Scrapbook Of An Unfound Songstress by Vicky Nolan*

A little while ago Vicky Nolan, the author of Scrapbook of an Unfound Songstress, reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in giving her book a read. She explained to me that the book is based on her real life experiences of trying to break into the music industry and how it all ended up going a little bit sour because of things completely out of her knowledge and control.

It sounded really interesting as I love memoir books and especially the ones that openly tell of the good, bad and explain the drama along the way but the writing style of them has to be very specific for me to properly get into it. Whilst memoirs are personal if it contains too many “I” sentences it becomes a little dreary and they tend to stifle the flow of the words and make it really difficult to just dive into the contents. And the first few pages contained a lot of seemingly short feeling and disjointed sentences that were very much “I” based with little real build up or description so it took me a little bit of determination to persevere with the book to see where it would lead me.

Book by Vicky Nolan

When I get sent a product to review or to try out in some way, like this book, I’m always desperate to love it and to be able to sing its praises but I’m also the sort of person that will share my honest thoughts on something because the blogging and reviewing world can’t just be all happy perfection. And despite my desires to adore this book I just can’t pretend that I did and it felt like somebody writing an angry diary of their life trying to make sense of everything; the book seemed to be more written for the personal satisfaction of the author to get something out of all the struggles in this chapter of her life rather than to provide a solid read with enjoyable structure for the reader. It’s harsh but true and this book reminds me of that sort of forced personal story we were all asked to write as part of creative writing during English GCSE lessons.

In fact I never finished the book as it really just wasn’t my style at all. I’m sure that the style is something that will work for some people and that perhaps if they grew up dreaming of being a Spice Girl this will help provide them of some comfort as to why the music industry can be bad and not at all as glamorous as people would like to belief. For me it is a story that would be better told in visual format, such as a short series or a film, rather than in the written form as the way it is written, based on such personal experiences and visuals, would come across much better on a screen than with all the “I” sentences throughout the entire book.

There is certainly an audience out there for this book but I don’t think that intended audience is really me as I’m into quite an intense style of writing with a much deeper and cemented view. I’m used to memoirs by older people and find their writing style to be a bit more in tune with the way that I think (I’m very much a granny at heart) and this is just something so very different. In fact there are a couple of people in my life that might be interested in reading this sort of book because it’s similar to their interests and the sort of books that they often read.

It just didn’t grip me, captivate me or grip me in the way that I wanted it to and it didn’t have the substance in style that I was expecting from it. The cover is super pretty though and is a great representation of all of the content and topics covered within the book but this is one of those sad moments of not judging a book by its cover because it only led to disappointment.

To be clear, I have nothing wrong with the author or her sharing of her experiences. In fact I think it’s an incredibly brave thing to do to open up about such a difficult part of her life. But for me it just isn’t written in a style that I can get behind and that really put me off from reading it. This isn’t a bad book in general it’s just a bad book for me and that says much more about me than it does about the book or Vicky in herself.

*This book was sent to me to review. All thoughts are my own and freely published here without consultation or editing from the author.

Revising My Goals And Life

Like so many people, I set myself some goals for 2018. We’re now ten months in and whilst I remember setting them as ‘smart’ targets that’s pretty far as my memory of them goes. Life has changed a lot since the goals were created. I had open heart surgery and have spent a separate chunk of time in hospital, I quit my last job and my entire mental attitude towards a number of things have shifted too. Naturally with so many unexpected curveballs thrown my way the goals need revisiting and tweaking a little but at this point in the year I’m not too fuss about whether I manage to full complete anything or just nudge in the right direction.

Achieved Goals

  1. I put down to read at least one book a season, e.g. four books in the year, and it’s safe to say I have smashed that target with it looking like I’ll be managing over 10 times that amount.
  2. My nails are certainly bare a little bit of the time but, apart from when I have spent time in hospital, on the whole I have started to do my nails a lot more and work my way through which polishes work for me and are still worth keeping around. There’s still room for improvement on this but over the next couple of months I’m pretty sure I can keep it up to nail my target.
  3. My project pan is still going strong and I’ve managed to use a fair few products up over the year. Progress isn’t always as strong as I would like it to be but it has still got me to get into slightly better routines of using things up, though there is still room for improvement, and I’m viewing this as a successful target achieved this year but will be working on smashing it further next year.
  4. I’ve started to receive a few more things for reviewing purposes, mainly books, with a mixture of PR companies, smaller PRs and brands directly getting in touch with me. It’s certainly a start in the right direction and I’m hoping with more regular uploads, more focused social media presence and a constant develop in my style and ability that these opportunities will carry on developing through the rest of this year and into next year.

Goals I’m Progressing With

  1. I mentioned how it would be great to spend more time cooking or baking something a little bit more interesting and sharing the recipe(s) over on this blog. The blog part of it hasn’t really happened but I have turned my instagram more into a foodie haven and I do try to be a little more creative in the kitchen than before. It’s a goal I’ve half succeeded with and whilst I would like to manage the blogging side of it there are so many other great people doing that sort of thing it feels like mine would look very poor in comparison.
  2. Slowly, and I mean slowly, I am getting better at organising my property. I still struggle with getting clothes on hangers all of the time but I’m working towards it and acknowledge when it has crept back into that messy place. We need a new iron but when the opportunity has arisen somewhere along the lines with a better iron I have taken the time to get my clothes sorted out. If I at least manage to go into 2019 with an under control, and hopefully by then ironed, collection of clothes I’ll know that I am on the way to better happens and will be able to call this a success.

Wishful Thinking

  1. Another year, another failed attempt at saving money. I was actually doing fairly well with this before my surgery and quitting my job but taking time to switch jobs obviously means that the reserves a depleted a bit and it takes some time to start building them up. As I will be mentioning in a post later this month though I do now have a plan to tackle my finances to save for both a wedding and a holiday… they were only ever dream targets after all.

The aims, dreams, goals, targets whatever we prefer to call them these days aren’t exactly going badly but they could be going better as well. It disappoints me that I haven’t managed to tick off all the things listed as “100% achievable targets” yet when we are so near to the end of the year but it motivates me to push on and get them ticked off in the upcoming months.

As well as completing the Goals I’m Progressing With there are a few more small targets I want to work towards. These are likely going to come across as really basic things to most people but for me they are things that I want to work on to make me feel that little bit more fulfilled and happy with life. My entire aim with any life based goal is to make my life feel that bit more whole and well-rounded and it’s about abandoning my bad habits, adopting new good habits and just trying to appear a bit more as a normal functioning adult.

Additional Goals

  1. Since September 17th I’ve managed to wake up naturally, or set my alarm to wake up, between 06:00 and 06:30 and to then be out of bed itself by 07:00 on weekday. If it happens on a weekend that’s what I call an accident. I started this when I knew my new job was on the horizon with wanting to get into a new routine and found myself getting so much done. This is something that I want to keep up. Of course in many ways this is something that I need to keep up because of the job but I could technically get up later and spend less time getting ready in the morning but having breakfast, whacking on some mascara and maybe even reading a few pages of book before I step out the door is a much more preferable way to start my day than rushing around with minimum time to spare.
  2. In my previous job I got into a terrible habit of rushing out the door without breakfast, hence needing to adopt goal number one, and would often end up skipping lunch. My food before my evening meal would consist of some 15:00 biscuits and hot chocolate (doesn’t really count does it?) and naturally it was leaving me in a mental and physical slump. I’m hoping to be able to maintain, like I have done between jobs, having three meals a day as well as the odd snack. Doing so helps me to make better choices and not eat a huge plate in the evening which only serves to disrupt my sleeping habits. I’ve got tubs galore available to create a whole world of possibilities for what to take with me for lunch every day and I’m looking forward to making the most of my official lunch breaks to devour my food in joy away from my desk.
  3. This is something I have spent time working on since my surgery but with recovery, getting ill again and not working the progress has been super slow. Eating better food, by trying to manage goal two, has helped a bit but eating better doesn’t burn fat quite that well. I’m aiming to start going to the staff gym after work or walking home after my shift (not before because stinky!) and that those things combined with walking around a hospital and jigging about at my desk will help me to lose a little bit of weight. I’ve got a big goal overall but if I can lose a stone between now and the end of the year that will be an amazing start. There are plenty of clothes in my wardrobe that come under the ‘one day I will fit into you category’.

There are probably a huge number of other things that I am working towards or would like to achieve by the end of the year but these seem to be the most important to me right now as they get me into better habits for starting my day right, not going into a slump through the day or coming home too exhausted to eat well and will hopefully feel more confident about my figure too.

How are your 2018 goals going so far? Have you revisited them or perhaps added anything additional to them? I’d love to find out in the comments below.

The Food Wars by Walden Bello

When I was reading this book I read half the chapter focusing on agrofuels and the next morning there was one of the companies mentioned with a sponsored advert on my twitter feed. Was it there before or did I just notice it because of my awareness around the topic? Or is there some greater capitalist conspiracy of them getting into your mind? I’ll let you decide that answer but what I do know is that at 07:10 on a Tuesday morning it really narked me off.

As well as discussing agrofuel The Food Wars also covers poverty, agrobusiness, imports, exports, the general food industry and the political groups that try to impact on food production and ‘stability’. Walden Bello sprung into action to write this book when the 2008 financial crisis hit and got supported by his employers, colleagues and those that are also in this area of expertise to power ahead and highlight how the food industry and food prices both partly led to the crisis but also how they would be impacted by that financial crisis and any others that would follow. If you haven’t read about these topics before this book is easy enough to get into and understand but if you feel daunted by the concept I’d certainly start with something like Food for Beginners as, whilst it focuses specifically on the issues on the African continent, it mentions several of the topics and policies included in more depth in Bello’s book.

The book is split up into seven chapters that all focus on different topics but are able to reference things and places mentioned in previous chapters as well to allow for integration and further understanding by the reader. Despite this, each chapter could easily be read as a standalone for extra information on a certain area of the food industry or a specific country. Personally, I find non-fiction books that find ways to weave and transition topics from one chapter to another to be the most enjoyable and understandable to read because it really helps for the arguments of certain sections to get into your head instead of you reading it and moving on to something completely different two lines later.

Book by Walden Bello

The first chapter acts as an introduction to the way Bello will be approaching the contents in his book and gives an explanation as to what he will be meaning when referring to peasants and different social and political groups in the food chain. The later chapters focus on different types of production in countries like Mexico, The Philippines and China before discussing agrofuel and concluding with what needs to be done going forward and what may happen if nothing is done to overturn the status quo. It’s a traditional style for a book but the flow from one to the next is beautiful and whilst it allows the reader to easily glide from one to the next the way it is written brings about a level of conscious stirring and challenges too.

Whilst each chapter tells a different story as to what happened to each country the results are the same; restructuring plans and financial plans put in place by external sources has caused them to go from net exporters with surplus food in storage to being overall importers of food and instead exporting things like cut flowers that the farmers and lowest income groups cannot survive on. The plans to make these changes, largely from the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the IMF, were done to ‘help’ the countries to bring down their debt, decrease public spending and agriculture initiatives and wait for the private sector to climb in but in all three cases it ignored the peasants need for food and a countries need for back up supplies. The only people that have benefited from these restructuring methods seems to be big business and multi-millionaires; it is another example of capitalists attacking the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable in society by bullying those that are meant to protect them.

All of this feeds into the sixth chapter, regarding agrofuel, and how countries that are now already starved of resources and reserves are being encouraged to grow things that can be used as a fuel replacement. These products are not food that is going to waste or already being produced where the conversion into fuel wont have an impact on the food consumer of the world; they are having to hack at rainforests, destroy land not usually used for agriculture and are using things like corn to make these ‘better’ fuel alternatives. It is clear that they are not better for the food consumer or for the environment but again to big business with the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson entering the agrofuel sector.

Throughout the book Bello also refers to a number of other academics and professionals that look in depth at certain regions and countries struggling with the food crisis and quotes them to increase the reputability of Bello’s claims and statements. At times though it can feel like he is over-quoting the same people but when you take a careful look at the citations and see where all his facts and statements are coming from you can see that this is far from the case (you need to be the sort of person that has the patience to flick from page to the back of the book to check every single citation though and when there’s a lot of them that involves some dedication).

The final chapter, whilst also looking to the future and figuring out what might happen next, provides three short case studies of people that did something specific for the movement; suicide, time in prison and the creators of powerful movements. It gives the reader a deeper understanding of the level of crisis that people are finding themselves in whilst providing additional information on some countries not mentioned that much throughout the book. by the time you get to the last chapter you feel slightly numb as a reader because of the realisation of just how awful everything is so the case studies don’t quite have the same punch that they might if you read them out of context but they do pump you up to want to read about the next steps in this almighty battle.

As Bello is based in the US and, like most markets, the US is overlord in the food market the book only touches upon the EU and the UK. It shows that there is mild resistance to things like agrofuel in the EU but that they still want to create targets, lease land and get involved in anything that gives them economic and political clout. This attitude has continued to prove to be dangerous and governments have pushed ahead with new initiatives that do little for the environment on a real level, benefit people inside or outside the EU or to help with the financial crisis of the late 2000’s or to prevent the one likely to happen in the upcoming months or years. At the end of the book there is a great sense of need to sit down and think about what the country you live in is doing in terms of food exports and imports, is it fuelling the agribusiness trade, is the energy it really wants to promote clean and what is happening to the workers? It doesn’t take you look to scratch the surface and realise that almost every country is to blame for this food war. But the real food war is the big business vs the rest and that’s exactly how they want it to be.

Whilst this book comes in at less than 200 pages it did take me some time to read, not helped by me being in hospital in the meantime, and it is one of those books where you do need some time to process each sub-section and chapter properly. I found it to be an accessible read, as somebody without a specialism in economics or the global food markets, and a great summary of the topics covered. It has given me enough confidence to pick up a book that goes into the food situation of one specific country more and know that I will have enough knowledge to be able to understand not only the content but some of the organisations, groups and reports that they are likely to refer to.

If you have read this book, I would love to hear your interpretation of it in the comments below. Otherwise you can follow me on Goodreads or Instagram to see what my current reads are.

Africa by Richard Dowden

This book spent so long on my to be read stack, I’m talking maybe five years, and whilst I really wanted to get stuck in and find out everything it had to say I was also a little bit intimidated by it. Over the years I’ve learned to not be so scared by a book and to instead acknowledge that such a feeling means I have something to actually learn from it and struggling over words, concepts, etc doesn’t make it a bad thing but rather shows that it needs to be read in an attempt to be, even just a smidgen, less ignorant than before.

I’d like to say that I’m not ignorant about things like agribusiness in Africa, claims of corruption and how empires have a lot to answer for but compared to people that live through the experiences, properly study countries in Sub-Saharan Africa or have some other claim on being able to look into everything in depth I am ignorant. Like so many people I live in my own bubble, focus on the things that the media easily accessible to me talks about, I follow specific things on social media and everything else that is happening in the world completely falls out of my sphere of knowledge.

In an attempt to be mildly less ignorant, not able to comment on things but to just be more aware when such conversations do arise, I spent a large amount of time gathering up various books on ‘Africa’ from the recent past to the older periods and have finally started to read them. Africa by Richard Dowden seemed like as good a place to start as any though, even with his varying personal experiences over many years, I felt a little uncomfortable with it being yet another tale of the sub-continent told by a white person originating from a colonising nation but with a foreword by writer Chinua Achebe I figured it couldn’t be wholly awful or he wouldn’t have put his name in it.

Paperback cover of Africa

There are things in this book that I already knew or had a rough insight into before I started to read through the chapters but it provided a more careful view with statistics, quotes and all that other good stuff as well as descriptions of what Richard had seen and recollections of conversations whilst on the ground trying to navigate all the complex situations in front of him. Each chapter shows as a reminder that journalists often have to choose one story to focus on and once they go one way, hoping it to be the right path, there is little room for them to be able to see the other side of the story as well and how that can result in having to make assumptions to fill in the gaps or accepting the numbing story you have in your head is the only one available to putting into words.

Having each chapter focus on place, rather than a specific problem such as poverty or corruption, really helped to get an understanding of each of the countries in a more compact and digestible way. Discovering that one issue led to or was caused by another issue helped for there to be a mental timeline in the head rather than you having to pull different chapters together to figure out a coherent path. It did feel like at moments a couple of bits were repetitive but it also allowed for there to be a feeling of connectivity between the places, despite how very different each one is, because of the colonialism, brutal regimes and sudden independence that they have faced for decades and centuries into the past. If you don’t come out of each chapter acknowledging how awful empires are and how horrific capitalism is for long term sustainability and health of millions of people across the globe then I really fear for your soul (or rather the hollow black hole in place of where your soul should be) come judgement day.

The honesty of Dowden throughout the book is sort of refreshing. He acknowledges how uncomfortable he felt entering certain places and them either treating him like a god or with great suspicion (though the later is a far more correct approach by those he visited) and the mixture of bewilderment and disappointment that Coca-Cola seemed to have made its way into every village that he seemed to visit. There is nothing wrong with a drink making its way in as such but rather that the drink comes from sugar bought at an astoundingly low price due to the interference of empire, IMF, World Bank and WTO and then gets imported back in at a eye-popping high price that is marketed as a great gift to the people. These are the people that are being the most exploited by capitalist and poor economic policy whilst also trying to fit into the images they see of other nations with people slurping on Coca-Cola and collecting a bunch of tat. These are the people that capitalists claim will be most hurt under socialism but when they have nothing to lose due to the way agribusiness, the green revolution and existing financial powers continue to pinch them and every part of their livelihoods it seems impossible to imagine how they could be hurt any more than at present.

But as well as focusing on the ‘hard facts’ of the situation Dowden takes some time to look at the people that he meets and tries to become an analyst of emotions, actions and responses to suggest why some of the suggestions coming from external sources cannot work. These interpretations are based on his time spent with people and he does take the time to have an insight, something people imposing plans and restrictions seem to have overlooked doing and it makes for no surprise that their ideas have not integrated with the people or the governments, but when he enters a place or situation as a white journalist from one of the colonising countries it is hard to know whether the people are acting the way that they always would or if they are putting a different face on and reacting in different ways. This is not to say Dowden’s ponderings on attitudes are automatically wrong or that he hasn’t done enough silent observing from a backseat to piece together the puzzle but there are considerations that we need to remember before fully accepting his narrative of attitudes.

Africa is a good starting point as a piece of literature to understand some of the difficulties Sub-Saharan countries, the people, the governments and the economists are facing. It provides a range of angles and helps to broaden the readers considerations from just the typical thoughts and arguments but doesn’t go in as hard against Western society and capitalism as it could. This allows for you to understand the basics before going into the world of reading more news articles, seeking out different media or attempting to read a book that further delves into one particular country. If you have studied colonialism and the impact that it had on now (rightly) independent states you might find some of this to be obvious reading or go “ow yes, I remember reading about that” but it could still be useful as a refresher book to allow you to remember the basics.

Have you read anything on these topics that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments below. Follow my on Goodreads to see what I’m reading right now or like my book Instagram for more book related chat.

This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay

Like so many people, I have a personal appreciation for the NHS. The services, care and dedication that people in the NHS gave to me, and many of my family members and friends, from birth to now shaped me a lot and are amongst the many reasons I wanted to get my current job in the NHS as it feels like a real chance to make a difference in somebody’s life (even when they might not realise it or even realise I exist as a backroom admin person).

But whilst we all have appreciation and stories of joy to tell there are also endless stories that tell of heartbreak, feeling let down and staff members that say they are overwhelmed. Funding isn’t enough, grants for those training have been slashed, people on wards are put into the deep end solo and computer systems can lead to costly delays. Despite all that, people still work round the clock to keep the machine ticking and people go into outrage at the idea of such a valued institution disappearing.

We hear about all the problems and how challenging it can be at times, from third hand sources on TV or in the news, but rarely are we braced with a first hand experience that doesn’t try to sugarcoat the edges or make it out to be a complete nightmare. This Is Going To Hurt by Adam Kay changes that and lets the layman into the real life of doing the hospital rounds as a doctor for years on end. It is a painful account but it is very much needed for people to pause and reflect what needs to be done to make the service work better, more effectively and safely for both patients and employees alike.

Book by Adam Kay

Adam put the book together based on his diary entries whilst working in a hospital, something recommended to go towards development and as a guide in case anything out of the ordinary should happen so it can be referred back to at a later date, and naturally chose the ones that would stand out the most to an audience in terms of amusement or bewilderment. At the start of each chapter, the start of a new placement, he gives a bit of a description as to the environment he was in, the impact on his relationship and where it means he effectively is in the junior doctor ranks before reaching the level of consultant. This little inclusion of extra detail helps to show just how long the journey is to stopping being deemed a ‘junior doctor’ despite the amount of years experience quickly racking up but also helps to remind readers that whilst doctors do hugely lengthy shifts they also have dreams, desires and a life outside of the hospital that often is at risk of being neglected because of the extraordinary work pressures they are under; it provides an insight into the daily life of doctors but also helps to remind the reader to try and cut them some slack when there are delays or they seem to be rushing from one place to another because this isn’t how they would want it to be either.

Since leaving the path of becoming a doctor, after an event that comes to light right at the very end of the book, Adam has entered comedy writing and his name can be found on the credits of a lot of TV shows, including Mrs Brown’s Boys, and joins the ranks of the likes of Jo Brand that left the NHS for something a lot more lighthearted and risk-free. Reading the book and the diary entries it is clear to see why such a transition seemed so natural as the writing style is naturally witty and there are points where you cannot help but laugh at the situations he found himself in; it’s impossible not to laugh at somebody’s misfortune of having a kinder egg plastic shell up their vag when it’s written in such a ‘here we go again’ way. But of course looking at it from the outside it could easily be seen how dealing with such things is really frustrating to a doctor because their workload is already overwhelming and dealing with such a ridiculous, but funny, incident could have an impact on another patient’s life or well-being.

It really is a mixture of funny and heartbreaking, as the title suggests it honestly does hurt, it shows how the lack of reasonable structure and lack of support for people progressing through medical professions is lacking and how we are losing many incredible people from the sector as a result. This book is well worth a read for the content alone but also for the way it will make you reevaluate everything you thought you knew about the NHS.