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On Tuesday, I quit Instagram. I returned on Saturday… ish. It doesn’t sound like long, but it felt it. On the Sunday night preceding this, I wrote a lengthy piece on a private OneNote about the discontent I’ve been feeling with Instagram for several weeks, just to get it out. I started off writing about my follower count, wanting to have more followers than posts, wanting to get to 1000, feeling the pressure of doing giveaways at milestones like everyone else. I wrote about the ruthless lengths I’ve seen some Instagrammers go to get more followers, hitting 1000 within weeks while following over 2000 accounts themselves (seems a bit hollow, if you ask me). I didn’t want to be associated with a culture of number chasing – begging people to like, follow and so forth – instead wanting my work to speak for itself, letting others decide if they want…

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The Smiler, taken on my secret Alton Towers trip

There’s a story I haven’t told you all, one that I felt I couldn’t at the time. It’s my secret Alton Towers trip, and it happened on 28th May 2019. I’ve had two jobs in the NHS: clinical support worker in Gynaecology Outpatients (GOPD) and support worker in a Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU). On 18th August 2019, I made a post about starting my role in GOPD and what my fears were off the back of my job in the PICU. Those fears weren’t necessary as I enjoyed working in GOPD. What’s not obvious in that post is that I hadn’t been in work for nearly three months. Matt – my fiancĂ© – and I had had an amazing day at Alton Towers on 27th May. We’d played a joke on Dave with a Wicker Man sticker, ridden rollercoasters in the rain and set a new personal record for…

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Closed Season Blues came into being in November 2018. I wrote it after my first season at Alton Towers, full of emotion over Scarefest and Fireworks. In it, I’d tried something different. Instead of briefly referencing the flashback in verse two and then moving back to the present, I kept the memory going into the third verse. The result, in my eyes, was beautiful. The Prose Over the last two weeks, I’ve spent my time reworking the original poem. I knew that the rhythm – or meter, as it’s referred to in poetry – was off. The line length often varied a clumsy amount and the rhyming was inconsistent. I sat down with my project book and got to work. As you can see, I marked out the stressed and unstressed syllables that make the meter with full circles and empty circles, respectively. This is how Stephen Fry does it…

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When I look through these picturesI hear an echo from the pagesAnd if I should close my eyesI feel it firing up inside I’m in the station by the trainsStretching the span of time that remainsBut then I blink and I’m back at homeRemembering it was a while ago But still it plays in my headThe words we said and what we didAnd when I turned to say goodbyeTaking it in, freeing a sigh Now in an album they will be foundA record of colour, a hint of soundThey serve to remind me of the great timesOf the awesome people, the amazing rides I look at them when I feel lowTo get a glimpse of what I’ve come to knowBut it’s a while ’til I feel that powerThe happiness of Alton Towers I miss you Alton, I really doI just can’t wait to get back to youYou mean so much,…

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Walking down a path to choose joy in my recreation of The Smiler uniform

Seems like an odd statement, to dedicate my life to joy with all things considered. Perhaps, though, that’s why it’s actually the perfect thing to do. I made a start on this endeavour on Saturday 25th April 2020. My birthday on the 23rd had been more amazing than I could’ve wished for, considering I wasn’t at Alton Towers; I was at virtual Alton Towers instead. Of course, it makes perfect sense to want to continue that feeling of happiness. I’ve known for nearly eighteen months about my power to make others happy just by being me. I do believe we all have a power, it’s just that some haven’t yet realised what theirs is. I’ve said about using mine in partnership with art for ages. Now, I’m going one step further. I’m not just making people happy through my art anymore: everything I do from now on will be in…

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I can try and drown out my feelings with the sounds of the past,But the second I hit pause they come straight backI try to keep smiling and put on a brave faceBut underneath the surface I’m struggling to keep faith That we’ll get through thisThat we’ll rise againAnd we’ll ride I’d be lying if I said that I was doing okayCos the silence is filled with the thoughts I keep at bayIt’s everything I’ve got to keep my head above waterBut it sometimes feels like my fights don’t matter Who I am compared to thisTo coronavirusAnd all its shit It’s in the darkness my creativity seems to lieWhen I’d much rather be stood in the lightBut the sun mocks me wherever I goCos all it does is highlight my shadows Taunting me with my demonsTwisting my feelingsSkewing my reasons I just want to get on with my lifeOf making…

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At the end of the decade, I said 2020 was a preparatory year for “a decade of realised dreams”. That is not how it’s panned out, because I’ve just left my second job in six months. Back in August, I spoke about my hopes and fears for the job I’ve just left. I’m happy to say that after a rough first couple of weeks, I really liked it! It was a good job to do, and I was surrounded by an amazingly supportive team. The lessons I learned there I am taking forward into my new role, but I knew that staying there wasn’t for me and they all knew it too. One reason why I’m so excited about my next job is because it’s not in care. Ever since I left university, I’ve only worked in care – both private and public. Of my two and a half years’…

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“Get a well-paid job” “Provide for yourself” “You’re too smart for that” I’ll read what’s on the shelf “Pick double science” “Keep your options open” “You should do triple” It’s science I have chosen “Do A-levels” “What do you want to be” “Decide your degree first” At college I’ll be free “It really is a science” “You seem very at home” “But it’s a polytechnic” To uni I will go “We’re proud of you” “You can do this, you know” “Don’t throw it away” My hard work will show “You need to get a job” “We won’t provide forever” “It makes ends meet” Fed up of this pressure “Job, job, job” “Money, money, money” “Science, science, science” Doesn’t sound that funny “Why won’t I decide?” “Why do I always change?” “Why can’t I just choose?” I’m in the wrong game “Get a job in the sciences” “It’s a safe bet”…

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I was in Year 9, being bullied and five months off losing all my friends due to one person’s vindictive actions. Ten years on, the world has changed. I don’t live in the same town, or the same house, and I’m not surrounded by the same people. My ambitions for the future now are something I’d never even thought of ten years ago, and something I didn’t consider for most of the decade. I also have interests now that if you’d have asked me about being into them ten years ago, I probably would have laughed in your face. Simply put, I’m not the same person either. I don’t even have the same name. I do think the things I’ve got into over this decade have definitely shaped who I am now. At one point, I was recording songs and uploading them to YouTube, and now I want to record…

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When I stood in line for The Smiler’s last ride of the 2019 season, I’d just been told the effort and years that go into eventually becoming a ride operator on that ride. Up until this point, I’d been dreaming of a job at Alton Towers as a ride operator, but discovering that I’d have to work my way up the categories of rides before eventually getting to The Smiler made me realise that this isn’t a job, it’s a career choice. While I’d love the experience of it, I thought that it would only be until my art took off, much like my job now. Thus, I decided that night to turn away from it, knowing inside that art was where my heart wanted to go. Until now. I’ve got big plans for 2020. To be honest, I had big plans for 2019 until I realised that there’s stuff…

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