Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Recruitment in a Recession

I have recently begun a job working within the Human Resources department for one of the largest retail chains in the UK. My role is focused mainly within recruitment and I have to sift through applications to decide who is suitable and legally acceptable for each job. I speak with applicants on a daily basis and I cannot believe how many applicants we have come to us who used to be senior management or even CEOs applying for a 12 hour a week role as a shelf stacker or a trolley collector. It is so eye opening to the problems in this country today.

It is so sad and yet on the other hand I have so much admiration for these people who are willing to start at the bottom all over again, rather than claiming benefits which so many happily abuse.

I have to give bad news on a daily basis, informing people they haven't made the cut because they either were not within legal requirements to fulfill the job or were unsuitable; the despair in their voices is heartbreaking at times. Thankfully my job also provides good news on a daily basis. I give hope and opportunity to people and the joy within the applicant is overwhelming; at these times I feel I am doing a good thing.

More than anything I am thankful I am within a job, at the beginning of a career I do want to pursue and one that I am very much enjoying; one which I appreciate more and more everyday after hearing the stories and struggles of our applicants.

Monday, August 22, 2011

V Festival: VIP Style

After his hard work over the last several months in his job, Angus received two complimentary tickets for a VIP experience at V Festival, and very kindly took me along with him. Unfortunately the show we had to attend was in Chelmsford, which (with traffic and several accidents on the way down) took us seven hours to get to! However once we were there, we were delighted with the set up. The campsite held a quiet tranquillity, unlike the over crowded campsites I had previously experienced; however there was still enough people for a good party on a Saturday night! The campsite was mainly filled with people like us, who belonged with companies from Nokia, Virgin Media and various other promoters.

The best part about the campsite had to be how little we had to walk anywhere. It took us no more than five minutes to walk from the car, to the campsite and then onto the main stage within the arena, which made it so easy to move our heavy belongings between the two; not that we needed to struggle, as golfing buggys were on hand to shuffle our belongings around! It was also helpful to have real toilets and access to warm showers.

The next day we got our first taste of the Louder Lounge VIP experience. We entered and the decorative flowers, fountains and hippyish garden party themed tents made it a haven. I began to call the area ‘Happy Land’. We had lunch and dinner everyday within the place for free and all drinks were free throughout the weekend, which we were allowed to take into the arena with us. To get in and out of the area we had to walk through a highly secured gap in the fencing which seemed quite ominous, but the very friendly staff began to know who we are and before long they didn’t even bother to ask for our passes.

Louder Lounge is famous for its celebrity guests and across the weekend we bumped into Ralph Little (2 pints, Royale Family), Matt Smith (Dr Who) who happened to go to the same school as Angus, Sam Pepper (Big Brother), Robert Sheehan (Nathan from Misfits), Rupert Grint (Harry Potter) and the only way is essex crew. What was rather shocking was that every entrance of V festival has police dogs and sniffer dogs.... every entrance, that is, except the VIP section and it was quite clear why. The VIP section was rifled with drugs, with some people openly snorting cocaine in the bar without any subtlety at all. It does seem sometimes that there is one rule for one, and a different rule for another.

On Saturday the bands we went to see were Fun Lovin Criminals, Kids in Glass Houses, Bruno Mars, Lost Prophets, Kaiser Chiefs, Razorlight and Gomez. We had many, many cocktails and spent the evening dancing the evening away in the Louder Lounge bar and singing on the Sing Star stage. Afterwards a sing-song around a grand piano in the camp site went on into the early hours.

On Sunday we packed up our things in the morning so that we could leave after the show. That day we went to see Wolfgang, Fitz and the Tantrums, Mummies, Ellie Goulding, Manic Street Preachers, Hard Fi (who made a surprise appearance) and Rihanna. We left after Rihanna’s set as we wanted to get back and half way through the four-hour trip home, I really appreciated it as I was shattered and couldn’t wait to curl up on a comfy bed which I had been deprived of since Thursday. We finally got in after 1am, burnt to a crisp and ready for a shower!

The best acts amongst the weekend had to be Rihanna, Manic Street Preachers and Kaiser Chiefs. The most surprisingly good performance was Bruno Mars, who are such fun guys and got everyone dancing and enjoying themselves (it was also nice to see new talent appreciate having an audience so big). We had the most amazing time at the festival, unfortunately I think it has broken us for all future festivals as we now expect a certain standard, which sucks for Angus who is going to Leeds Festival on Wednesday, where there wont be any VIP treatment.

As for now, it is back to work, away from the ‘Happy Land’ which is Louder Lounge, which was sad to leave, but it doesn’t even compare to the comfort of my own bed.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Concerns Over Michael Jackson Tribute Concert

Last month, the Jackson Estate announced plans of a tribute to the late King of Pop. The concert planned to bring some of the world's biggest selling artists together to celebrate the music and life of Michael Jackson. Details of who was performing were supposed to be announced leading up to the day of the ticket release, and on the day of the ticket release, earlier this month, no bands had been announced and the website distributing tickets had little else but a 'Coming Soon' sign. Meanwhile the Jackson Brothers discussed their disgust at the concert being planned at the same time as the trial of the Doctor accused of killing Jackson.

Now the tickets are out and the artists are released, and whom were these great artists we were all eagerly awaiting for? Alexander Burke, Cee Lo Green, Craig David, JLS, Leona Lewis and Pixie Lott. Now I am not here to critisize these name's music or their success, but are these the caliber of musicians we want playing to remember Jackson's life? I think not.

Where are the people who Jackson befriended and performed with? Where are the people from Motwown? Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin? Where are those who Jackson has inspired? Justin Timberlake? Usher? Not that I'm a fan of the latter, but at least they are remembered for their association with Jackson. The others had little to no connection and it is a disgrace that the promoters have found such a poor line up.

Maybe those close to him have turned it down due to personal reasons, or like his brothers have disliked the timing. We have to remember that a tribute concert has been canceled before due to the lack of sign ups. It is quite sad that we can't get a decent line up to celebrate a musical legend.

What has been most disturbing has been the announcement of the most recent line up, KISS. Now I am a fan of KISS, but Gene Simmons has publicly criticized Jackson and in his words is ''in doubt a pedophile''.

This show is clearly not a a tribute to Michael Jackson, but a way for promoters to get as much money as possible, rather than the charitable causes they at first claimed they were setting out to do. This show is a mockery of Michael Jackson's successes and I, like many fans, will not be attending. Hopefully, his brothers, who have Jackson and his fans' concerns at heart will eventually bring out an appropriate tribute to a man who made music what it is today.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Raging About Riots

I’m not often angry within my blogs, if anything I’m often attempting to be comical (whether that comes across can be left to you to judge), but today I am angry. Angry at the people across this country who are destroying cities and lives.

This is not a political movement. This has nothing to do even with the policeman who shot a member of the public. There will be no ‘liberation’ for anyone at the end of this. This is nothing more than a few 17-18 year old chavs with no political agenda, who are doing nothing more than causing disruption and looting. Pure criminals.

Martin Luther King said that riots are caused by the unheard. Well tonight the BBC asked those rioting why they were doing it, providing them a stage to be heard, and did they have a response? Did they bollocks.

If for whatever reason people are out there with a political agenda, nothing justifies this mess. We are not in poverty. We are not having are human rights removed or being persecuted. Your actions are sickening and only hurting the general public, who do not deserve this.

I had to quickly run out of the city centre and luckily managed to catch a taxi home; if it had been a few minutes later I wouldn’t have been able to get home.

I am now sat at home in fear of the coming days or whether it will spread to my local area. Nobody should have to be in fear leaving work or being at home.

These people are scum. Nothing more, nothing less.

Monday, August 8, 2011

BeatleMania 50 Years On

My avid Beatle fan friend, Janet, approached me about going to Liverpool to see the sites and sounds of The Beatles. As someone who isn’t a big fan, but who is a tourism student who has just completed a dissertation in celebrity and music tourism, I couldn’t resist.

We arrived in Liverpool at 11am on a Sunny North Western Day (for a change), unfortunately we arrived in a Northern Rail train, one of the worst transport providers in the UK. It took over an hour to arrive on a slow shack of a carriage, which stopped at nearly every station available between Preston and Liverpool.

Upon arrival, we realized we had no idea where to go to get to the Beatles Story Museum; after asking the Travel Office, we were told it would take us over half an hour to get to the Albert Dock from the station; it took us no more than 15 minutes.

It was magnificent walking through Liverpool, a city that has had such regeneration over the years; much of this has been down to being nominated Capital of Culture. Liverpool has transformed into a modern city but still hosts some magnificent historic architecture; Albert Dock (home to The Beatles Story) is a prime example of development.

Upon arriving at the museum, I was surprised at the £12.50 entry fee to the museum (especially since most museums today have no entry fee) but I’m glad to say that it is worth every penny. From birth to death, along with the continued living legacy of The Beatles, the museum covered everything. With some amazing artifacts, such as original recording contracts, awards and birth certificates. There was also an Elvis exhibition, which held artifacts such as his clothing and shoes that have been let out of Graceland for the first time.

With inspiration for their hit songs and the details of how the Beatles made it to such high levels of success, the museum truly covered the story of The Beatles; they also featured many of the artists they have inspired over the years.

My only criticism was that there was no mention of Michael Jackson within the museum; this is not just because I am an avid Jackson fan, but more for the fact that he had a huge musical relationship with The Beatles, especially Paul McCartney, who wrote many hits together such as The Girl Is Mine and Say, Say, Say. Michael Jackson even owned some of the back catalog of Beatles tracks up until his death in 2009, when he returned the music to Paul. Now his name may have not been mentioned to overshadow the legacy of The Beatles or it could have been down to his turbulent friendship with Sir Paul in the final decades of Jackson’s life, but some mention should surely have been noted.

I will say this, however, The Beatles Story Museum is there for everyone. You do not have to be a fan of The Beatles to enjoy this museum. It is significant within the history of music and is a must see for any music fan. They have inspired musicians world wide, some of whom you may not have even considered.

The museum ended with a beautiful tribute to John Lennon with an Imagine area with his famous grand white piano, glasses and lyrics displayed across the museum. It was an elegant and moving tribute to a man who before going to the museum, I knew little about.

After leaving the museum, we traveled over to St Mathew Street to The Cavern Club, which is described as The Most Famous Club in the World. The Beatles were the first performers at The Cavern and led to the club becoming one of the most popular choices for the world's greatest artists to perform. Outside is a very subtle statue of Lennon resting casually against the Wall Of Fame, which lists the many artists who have played over the years from Elton John and Stevie Wonder, to Oasis and Arctic Monkeys; it was hard to find anyone who hadn't played there!

We entered The Cavern and walked down into the club, which is still open today. The bar is propped open and ready to serve and bands still continue to play day and night for punters. It was unbelievable how tiny the club was compared to today’s extensive arenas and stadiums, which host our most famous artists. The lack of security surrounding the stage was the most interesting; it would be doubtful that such famous acts could play there today with fan hysteria. It must have been amazing for the performers who play there today to be on a stage which has held some of the world’s greatest musical performers.

What I liked the most was how this famous club, which boasts so much musical history, is hidden in a tiny back street in Liverpool city centre. Liverpool quite rightly got the Capital of Culture because it has an amazing history of culture, not only from The Beatles but other musical legends and a whole host of British comedians and writers whom have come from this great city.

I am so glad that I chose to go to Liverpool and would suggest it to any music fan. It is certainly fitting for many of my American friends, whom I would gladly escort there to be entertained with the North West’s musical legacy; many Americans certainly filled the museum on the day of our arrival. Many people slate celebrity culture, but in terms of The Beatles and Liverpool’s musical history, I say Let It Be.

‘’I don’t think anyone comes close to The Beatles, including Oasis’’ – Brian May