Category Archives: Life

Meetings, Mosaics and Mystery…

I haven’t blogged for a while, but I’ve been quite busy (promise!) doing all sorts of things. Mainly I’ve been preparing for my meeting with the Prince’s trust about becoming self employed. I needn’t have really, the first session is just information, and it seems like they don’t really expect you to do anything until you’ve been on the course about business they run.

I’d been nervous about it all day; google street viewing the building so I didn’t get lost, although the route was quite easy; out the station, left at the first church, right at the second church, opposite the third church! For the first time in my life I didn’t have to run frantically to catch my train, and I got to the meeting quite early, as did another girl. (Little did I know that was because the walk there was on a gentle down hill slope – the way back took me twice as long to walk! Must get fitter!)

They let us in the room, and told us they were expecting another 19! We pointed out there were only 15 chairs in the room, and they said lots of people don’t turn up.  I hoped not, because the room was small, and I didn’t fancy cosying up too much to strangers.

A few more people arrived, and we chatted amongst ourselves. Out of the 5 that turned up (!) there was; A boy with A levels in Physics and Biology who wanted to Tutor Piano and Guitar lessons, a 25 year old married to a tattoo artist (the awesome tattoos all over her body were a pretty good advertisement!) who wanted to open a clothes shop, and an art graduate who wanted to sell Sculptures. It turned out he wasn’t eligible at the moment as his graduation was just 2 months ago. The other girl was very nice, but a bit more tight lipped. Then there was me, with my 6 different business ideas, in a scale based on how much money they would give to/lend to me.  I found out that it’s all really based on what your idea is and how well it will sell.

The one flaw in this system is that you have to wait for an available slot on a 4 day course. There was one in 3 weeks, but it’s possible I’ll have to wait until next January! I’m a bit worried about that. Hopefully I’d get a job before then and then I wouldn’t be eligible for help from the Prince’s Trust! I’m hoping I’ll be able to work something out with them if that happened.

It’s amazing what they offer really – it’s essentially like dragon’s den but you don’t have to give them any of your business.

One of the things that surprised me (or perhaps it didn’t) was that the man running the meeting told us in 13 years he had never seen a group who a)All had a pen with them and b) spoke to each other whilst we were waiting. Apparently it’s usually dead silence! I felt rather proud of our friendly group –  In fact one of the others even brought Blackberries for everyone to share, and another went to get us all water – it was all very lovely and I felt a bit silly for worrying, but then it seems I was lucky!       Anyway – I’m hoping I’ll get onto the course this month, and can get on my way to self employedness!

In other news, I visited the Fishbourne Roman Palace last week. I am lucky enough to have a season ticket, and I think I’ll be visiting very often.

I’m usually very dismissive of Guided Tours, being very much of the stubborn “I’ll do it myself if you don’t mind” sort.

However, I’m so glad I joined on the one at the Palace. Not only were amazing aspects and ‘secrets’ of the mosaics pointed out, but the man who was doing the tour really helped bring the history to life. I have visited the museum probably around 15 times in my life, and I had never noticed some of the things he pointed out, like the burn marks where a wing was burnt to the ground (possibly by Pirate raiders, it’s easy to forget how close you are to the sea in fishbourne) and even the half finished building work, and where the ‘new’ fashionable Mosaics are damaged to show the older, black and white geometric ones beneath. I really do recommend it if you’re in the area. The garden too is brilliant, lots of visitors bypass it, but I had a look round, and even took a few fruits home, after all, they would only go to waste otherwise, like some Onions that had been left to rot in one area – and I’ve never eaten a Quince before!

The last thing I’ll mention is an amusing moment of clarity in my family history research.

I have a Hunton family, the parents seem to die and the children are spread about. One of them, Elizabeth Hunton, is living in a house of women, all living by ‘Independent means.’ I sat, puzzled, thinking – “How could a whole house of women live on Independent means?…. OOOHHHH. RIIIGHT.”

Seems I have some women of the night in my ancestry.

Might explain a few things.

Speak soon!

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Filed under Geneaology, History, jobs, Life, self-employed, Uncategorized, Unemployemnt

Going self employed… EEK! Goodbye Job centre – HURRAH!

I have been job hunting for some months now, too many months, actually. I have come up against so many flaws in the benefits system, most noteably the fact that you do not get to keep any money you make working part time, it gets taken out of your benefits, so what are the (slightly lazier or unskilled or younger) people going to do  – work for free 16 hours a week or not work at all and get the same money?  And secondly the fact that volunteering and work experience is frowned upon unless they organise it for you: The problem with that being that the work experience (2 weeks) I wanted to do was with an Archaeology magazine (my ideal job) and they said I would lose my benefits because of it – and the work experience they said I could do and NOT have my benefits stopped was working in a shop (a job I have already had in the past, and did not ever expect to go back to, especially in an unpaid capacity). What useful experience will I gain working the shop floor YET AGAIN – none. What experience/contacts/useful skills would I have acquired writing articles and editing for an Archaeology magazine – too many to mention.

Add that to the humiliation of being rejected for 1000+ jobs and being told I don’t have the ‘skills required’ for the simplest of Admin jobs and I have just about had enough.

I have fought off depression, stopping myself from going down the same route I did in my last (much shorter) bout of unemployment a year or so ago, by not taking everything so personally.

However I have kind of had enough of the job centre. I have had enough of people looking at me like I don’t want to work then asking why I’m applying for jobs that “aren’t in my agreement”- what, I’m supposed to ONLY apply for admin and secretarial work? I can’t apply for Commis Chef and bar work because it’s not on the bit of paper even though I have 3 years experience?

I have also had enough of sitting next to men who stink so much of alcohol you get drunk just being near them, and people that come in with the minimum 3 job applications a week.

So – I have decided to take an oppurtunity that is now open to me – the Prince’s Trust. I am going – SELF EMPLOYED!!!! At least that’s the theory anyway.

Knowing my luck they will tell me my business idea isn’t viable and I’ll be back where I was before. BUT! I will be optimistic, I will tell the job centre lady at my extra appointment today (in which she will tell me for the 16th time I can look for jobs on the job centre website with the special codes they give you) that soon I will be signing off, I will be my own boss!

I will only have to worry about myself screwing up my finances, instead of them doing it for me!  (Did I mention that they stopped my benefits for a whole month because they thought my boyfriend was getting working tax credits – not only is he not old enough he is a full time student – they then tried to tell me I had applied for them and that was why it happened, when I didn’t even know what they were – and we ended up being one day from having gas and electricity cut off). oh, and our housing benefit doesn’t cover the last 1/4 of our rent because we don’t live in a council house, that comes out the job seekers, what we’re supposed to get for food and bills.

I will also tell her that whilst I am self employed, I will volunteer more than 8 hours a week – I am not allowed any more than that at the moment, because although I would be volunteering in a role that will help me get into the Culture and Heritage sector it “affects the time I spend looking for work”.

I’m guessing you’re sensing a little aggravation – not much, I mean y’know, just a little bit.

Well, all I am going to do now is hope that my business idea IS viable, and that they CAN help me with my Business Model, and then I can work hard and have goals and feel like I’ve acheived something (which hopefully I will), rather than being treated like a dope smoking chav who is only fit for working in McDonalds or on a checkout. Been there done that – I’m 23 now, I need a real job! I need a sense of self worth instead of a crushing sense of disappointment.

Wish me luck, and Good Luck to anyone else embarking on the same path! 🙂

Soon I will be Self-employed, or as my dad reminded me Del-boy says – self-UNemployed…

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Filed under jobs, Life, self-employed, Uncategorized, Unemployemnt, Work

Ghosts!

I’ve been writing a book that has an element of the supernatural in it, and so I’ve been looking into the perception of spirits and ghosts in history.

Whatever you call them, Ghosts, Poltergeists, or “Figments of your imagination” – Ghosts have long been part of human lives. In fact it’s seems as soon as humans had the ability to have the notion of the ‘self’, the afterlife has featured heavily in beliefs and practices across the world.

Many people dismiss the idea and say that it is scientifically impossible.

However, I myself AM a believer, and I’ll tell you why.

First, is the resident ghost we have at my parent’s house.  (Actually make that ghosts, but I’ve only experienced the one).

We started building an extension, and I moved into a different bedroom, across the hall from the one I had been in before. It started off with ‘shadows’ and my light dimming as though someone, a tall someone, had walked past it. I also got the classic Prickles on the back of my neck, feeling like I was being watched, so sometimes I would get changed in the bathroom. I figured it was just me being silly, so I didn’t tell anyone, and ignored it.

 Then I would wake suddenly in the night (I had never been a fitful sleeper, even as a baby) and there would be a white ‘form’ above the bed, initially bright so I would shield my eyes, then I would dive under the covers, asking for whatever it was to go away so I could sleep. This went on for 2 years, still I didn’t tell anybody.

Then, one evening, I was lying in bed reading, and I felt the edge of the bed move down, like someone had sat down on it. I shifted my legs and, sure enough the mattress was dipping down at the edge. I didn’t turn around, but reached up for the light, switched it off, and lay my head down. I waited and about 2 minutes later the mattress came up, and I lay perfectly still for ages afterwards, until eventually I went to sleep. The morning after that, I thought about my ‘ghost’; Who I was sure was a tall man. What I was also sure of was that he was just lonely, or at least not aggressive. I began, when I felt the prickle, or saw the lights dim, to talk to him, to ask him to leave me whilst I got changed, not to wake me up, that sort of thing. Sometimes, when I was reading, (I would say about 8 times after that in total) he sat on the bed, sometimes on my legs, so I couldn’t move them.

I decided I couldn’t be imagining it, or that if I was I should probably get help, and told my sister.

You can imagine my relief when she told me mum had been telling her about a ‘tall man ghost’ she had seen on the landing outside my bedroom almost every night when she went to bed, so she would run down the hall to her bedroom, and another lady ghost downstairs, and how she hadn’t told me because she was afraid I would get scared or have nightmares about it. So I told mum what had been happening. She wasn’t surprised (obviously) and asked if I wanted us to move house! I said no, he had become a very weird sort of friend, we didn’t exactly ‘talk’, but I was used to his presence. I was a teenager at the time, about 10 when it started, and, finally, at about 16, I began to sense him, or feel him, less and less.

There have been studies into people who are at emotionally sensitive points in their lives; for instance teenagers, or sometimes even schizophrenics,  actually causing poltergeist activity, and spiritualists often say that heightened emotion can cause ghosts to appear to those people too – so maybe that’s why I saw him less as I grew older. Mum still lives in the house and very rarely sees him too now, perhaps once every 6 months she’ll catch a glimpse. The lady she only ever saw a few times.

It was almost like he was there when I needed him, but I also wonder if he left because I told him, about aged 15, that I could not help him, that there was nothing I could do.  There have been settlements on that land since the Iron ages, goodness knows when he died.

We also had a ghost cat, we’d think it was out cat meowing and he wasn’t there, or would see him whizz past us, and our cat would have little hissing fits and swipe at thin air. My mum went to a medium after all of this and was told (without any prompting or even knowing my mum’s last name, I listened to the recording) that her cat that she had when she was little had followed her ever since, and was teasing our cat mercilessly. Poor Kracker!

Story number two, is shorter(!):

 I had a boyfriend whose family always joked that they had a ghost. Their dog would get up, tail wagging, run to the door, and then trot back down the hallway and up the stairs, looking up and yapping at absolutely nothing!

My sister picked me up one day in the morning, my boyfriend kissed me goodbye at the door, and then I walked out to the road where my sister was parked.

I got in the car, and my sister said to me “Who was that in the doorway? I just kept thinking ‘Leave them alone they’re trying to say goodbye!’” she rolled her eyes and smiled.

“Wait, who?” I asked. “The woman in the doorway.” She frowned. “What did she look like?” I asked again, thinking that maybe my bf’s mum HAD been home and she’d been in the hallway. “ Quite short, Blond shoulder length hair and glasses, I think.” She said. My bf’s mum had short black hair, no glasses and was about 5’8”, not short. I told my sister this, and she just threw up her hands and said she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. Turned out she’d seen ghosts as a child and it frightened her. I’ve been jealous ever since that she and mum seem to see whole people rather than shadows and indistinct shapes like I do.

Example number three is along a similar vein. My mum and Dad were in Jersey underground hospital. If you’ve been there, you’ll know that at the end, it just stops. To the left is a padlocked gate, to the right is just earth. They were walking down the corridor, and mum saw a man walking ahead, down to the bottom and turning right. My Dad told her it was the end, but she had just seen this man walk there and not come back, so they walked down, thinking there was more to see. Of course there wasn’t.

Another instance is when My sister was at her husband’s parents house, when she was 20 or so, and, at 3 in the afternoon, everything flew off shelves and all the taps in the house came on at once.

Another example is when I was also at a friend’s house, we were in his bedroom, door shut, when we heard a door slam downstairs. No one else was in, so we stood really still, listening. We then heard a rustling sound outside. We’d left shopping bags in the hall, and the sound was them being dragged slowly down the hall floor. He was so scared he farted, which made me laugh, breaking the tension, and I poked my head out the door. Sure enough, no one was in and the bags were at the other end of the hall, but by now I’d heard and seen all of the above – and so was almost blasé about it! He, on the other hand, was not. An old lady had died in the house had died just before they moved in, and one of the girls living there had opened Christmas cards she’d been sent by friends who obviously didn’t know she’d died. When the others in the house started hearing doors slam in the night they made her apologise to ‘the old lady ghost’ and tell the landlord what she’d done. I don’t know if it carried on after or not because my friend moved back home.

So you see, most of these things have happened in broad daylight, at times that shouldn’t have been spooky, and they were physical things. I cannot believe I, and all my family and friends, imagined these things. I have a rational mind, I decided at the age of 5 that Christianity was a bit far- fetched, and am a fan of science, although often the mechanics are beyond me.

Yet I am also not an arrogant person. Science has got it wrong before, and it could again. We cannot imagine a colour we have not seen, because we can only see that colours our biological make up allows us to.

Therefore, who is to say we are not blind to other things, who’s to say that there aren’t other, ‘parallel’ dimensions that we can glimpse but never fully understand until the energy inside us is expelled in death and is in a form that can reach those places?

I have also often wondered if these are actually fractures in time, rather than ghosts. Patrick and I were at the beach once, and I was looking up at him, waiting for him to take a picture. Suddenly there was a plane behind him, flying low; an old green bomber. I pointed, mouth gaping, and he turned, and gaped too. We watched, in silence, as it flew directly over us, descending quickly, barely grazing the roof of the houses on the seafront. We both stood in silence, waiting for the crash, but it didn’t happen. I looked around, but no one else was looking. We scrambled up the beach, looking to see if it had risen again, but the sky was clear, as was the small field with horses in behind it. Afterwards, I remarked to pat how it had made no sound, and he said that he had heard an engine, albeit a quiet one. We looked it up, and it was a Lancaster Bomber.  Also, some of them had been given Rolls Royce engines to make them quiet. I then found out that Bracklesham had been used as an air base of sorts and was an area to practice bombing in the war, and, knowing Goodwood air field was near-by, I thought maybe it belonged to someone in the area. It turns out there are only 2 air-worthy examples left, and the UK one is only used as part of the Battle of Britain Memorial flight.  Perhaps we had witnessed a time fracture – a glimpse into the past? Who knows. All I know is we forgot to take a bloody picture!

I am a cynic, yet I am also a ‘possible until proven otherwise’ sort of person.

I know Christianity is not sensible because I know where it began, a tiny cult in the fringes of the eastern Roman Empire that was actually really quite late in the chronology of religions since humans evolved. I know Christianity only spread because one Roman Emperor decided to convert after winning a battle when he prayed to the Christian God, and it became the state religion. If he had not, or if they had not conquered England, we’d probably all still be worshipping multiple deities, and thinking nothing of it. Buddhism and Hinduism spread through schools on the Silk Road trade route, and even now people join cults because they need a leader, they need to make sense of the world.

I don’t need to make sense of the world, I enjoy the mystery, I enjoy the secrets. I love reading Erich Von Daniken’s books, and, as flawed as they are, who is to say that Aliens have not already visited us – Thousands of years ago? Who is to say that our soul is not actually an alien, an energy form using us, like a shell?

I personally find Wicca the ‘nicest’ of religions (despite what some people, who group them with Satan worshippers – preposterous! – believe). It’s very much about looking after the planet, and each other, being in touch with nature, from which it seems very easy to forget we have only veered away from in the past few hundred years out of a hundred thousand year human history.

I would say I’m a mix of Athiest, Wicca, and Buddhist. Which I suppose = Agnostic. I don’t believe in organised, God-based religion, I believe in something, something to do with having a soul and reincarnation and learning, I just don’t know what yet, and I won’t KNOW until I die.

There ends my ramblings. Some of you will scoff, some of you will say this does not constitute proof of anything at all, but I am not trying to prove anything, I am merely trying to offer the possibility.  J Some of you, I hope, will identify, and hopefully, believe me. I have no reason to make any of it up – don’t worry, I’m not planning any Derek Acorah style books or tv appearances! ;p

Before I forget, I will add a picture I took in Dorchester. I took this picture purely because the house felt so ‘spooky’, and did not use the flash. I’m not usually a fan of ‘Orb’ pictures, especially not when they’re taken near waterfalls or around sofas (water droplets and dust!) but knowing I didn’t use the flash in this, and it going up rather than down like if it were a drop of rain – really spooked me :p

To end, as usual, some ghosts from history (aren’t they all?)

from the Morning Post, 1818:

Haunting at Kennington Cross

Changing Attitudes, disproving Ghosts with Science in 1865:

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Filed under Ghosts, History, Life, Newspapers, Novels, Supernatural, Writing

Writing, writing, research… no writing.

I started a novel, last year. Yes, I really am one of ‘those’ people, as I was once dubbed in an interview for a travel company, by a man in a pink designer shirt and numerous gold rings.

It all started when I found out about NaNowriMo, (National Novel writing Month) I thought, “Yes! This will give me the peer pressured environment I need to actually get something written down!”.

To be fair, it’s not like I haven’t written before. I did (most of) an English and creative writing degree at uni, and even wrote a 289 page novel about vampires when I was 13, which, after reading Stephanie Meyers ‘work’, I could probably have gotten published. Instead I re-read it with embarrassment at 16 and threw it away! all I remember now is the characters had awesome names like Saxifrage and Roux, not boring ones like Edward.

Anyway, NaNoWriMo worked, I got my 67,000 words, but then it ended, and I was bereft. Where was the moral and technical support from thousands of random participants on the internet? Where was NaNoWriYear?

It didn’t help that I changed my plot half way through, so the frst 20,000 words were now irrelevant anyway. Still I have been plodding on, and have now gotten to the stage where I could type it up and it would read like a complete novel, which I have tentatively started doing. Unfortunately I cannot write fiction when typing, I must have pen (black) and paper (thin lines or plain pages).

 The problem I now have, is that I have to research it more thoroughly, to make it historically accurate. Sounds boring, but, actually, it’s too interesting! Every day I start with a plan to research, say, food in the restoration period, and end up reading “The Strange and wonderful history of Mother Shipton with all her famous prophecys, shewing how they have all along been fulfilled to this very year” (1686). Or ‘THE FIRST BOOKE of the Naturall and Morall Historie of the East and West Indies’ (1604).

Interesting, yes, (at least I think so) but not what I was meant to be doing! I’ve started gathering all the interesting bits into various documents; one for names, ones for places, a folder of Newspaper clipping files, a folder of artwork. Now I have this distracting treasure trove of good ‘stuff’, and have been trying my hardest to not get sidetracked by it.

This morning, I decided that I WOULD let myself get sidetracked by it – BUT – only for a couple of hours a day.

So my side-project was born, a group of short stories to which I can turn to in times when my novel is the last thing I want to look at, but I don’t want to not do ANY writing. After all, what time is better for writing a novel than when you are unemployed? Endless days of nowhere to go (and no money to go anywhere), and that melancholy sense of isolation that has leant itself to such good writing in many authors…

Am I the only person who feels like this? Does anyone else get up, stare at their novel and think how much they would do anything NOT to have to re-write chapter 18 AGAIN, and wants to curl up in a ball in the corner for a few weeks every time you realise your plot has a small flaw or something you wanted to use wasn’t available in the time period you’re writing about? (Take Pianos for example, who knew they were such a recent invention?!)

Am I the only one who when telling someone you’ve been busy writing, lets those skeptical eyebrows and the “oh, really? Right.”  – from people who have no idea how difficult writing a (good) novel is, and have never even bothered tot hink about it – get to them? Making me feel as though I should whack 80,000 words out in a month of evenings and get it published right away, or give up?

Ah well, I think I’m in a bit of a mood today. I was so tired last night I had a dream about going to sleep…

To finish, here is a useful recipe I think we could all do with in our lives from 1591;

To Bake a Pig like a Fawne

Sley him when he is in the haire, season it with pepper and salt, cloves and mace, take Claret wine, Clergious, Rosewater, Cinamon, Ginger and Sugar, boyle them togither, laye your Pig flat like a Fawne or a kidde, and pour your soup onto it and swaet butter, and so bake it leisurely.

Erm, maybe next week.

 And here is an account of perhaps the most famous of Mother Shipton’s predictions:

When it was reported that Cardinal Wolesley intended to live at York, she publickly said ‘He should never come thither’ which reaching his ear, and being much offended, he caused three lords to visit her, who came disgused to Ring House near York, where leaving their men,they took a guide, who knocked at mother Shipton’s door. She cried out within ‘Come Mr Beasty’ (their guide) ‘and those other lords with you’. which much surprized them that she should know them, for when the entered she called them by their names and treated them with ale and cakes, where upon one of the lords said ‘if you knew our errand, you would not make so much of us, for you said the Cardinal  would not see York’.

‘No’, says she, ‘I said he might see York, but never come at it.’

‘Well’ sais the lord,’ when he does come you shall be burnt’. Then taking off her linen kerchief from her head she sais ‘if this burns, then I may burn’ and immediately flung it in the fire, and after quarter of an hour, took it out, upon which it was not so much as singed. Upon which one of the Lords asked her what she made of him ‘My Lord’ said she ‘the time is coming when your grace will be as low as I am, and that is a low one indeed.’ Which was true, for shortly after the lord was be-headed.

Nor was her speech of the cardinal less verified, as he coming to Cawood, asked where York was, and it being shewn to him, said ‘there is a witch who said I should never see York’. ‘Nay’ sais one present ‘his eminence is misinformed. She said you may see York, but never come at it.’

the cardinal vowed to burn her when he came there, which was but only 8 miles distant, but was immediately sent back for by the King, and died of a violent Looseness at Leicester.

I think the last bit is my favourite.

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Filed under History, Life, Novels, recipes, Uncategorized, Unemployemnt, Writing

‘First’ post number 978

I have started many blogs in my life, usually in moments of boredom and/or loneliness. When I didn’t immediately have 50 followers after my first post I would invariably become disheartened, and forget all about it.

Now, a few years older, (and a lot more realistic) I am just looking for a place to share the interesting things I find on the wonderous journeys of research I undertake, mostly for my novel and volunteering project at the records office.  As well as the odd post about my life and funny things that happen to me,

If someone somewhere finds them interesting/funny/enlightening/informative/seagull/etc as well then that will be amazing! If not – I guess I’m on my own!

I have also recently started 2 bogs specifically for recipes, and for snippets of history. They are

here: http://snippetsofhistory.posterous.com/

and here: http://pireatesandbeans.posterous.com/

As today is a quick post I will begin with two short ‘stories’.

From a London Newspaper, 1857: “A man named Mr Stark, living in Elm Grove, Torquay, opened a package delivered to him from Reading to find the body of a baby inside. One Ann Norris, who had been living near by earlier in the year, and had been observed to be ‘enciente’, was  accused and taken in for questioning.”  – You can only imagine what sort of relationship they had, I can never decide who I feel more sorry for.

The second thing is something I thought you might find amusing – I put my elbow through the arm hole of my dress instead of my hand, and then my arm got stuck all folded in half, and because it wasn’t a stretchy material I couldn’t pull it back off the other arm! I spent a few minutes flailing before mildly panicking and shouting at my boyfriend “I’M STUUUCK! HEEELP MEEE!” Then had to endure 5 minutes of him laughing (which admittedly led to me crying with laughter) before he pulled it up over my head, and, finally, off of my arm. I’m not sure if the moral I should take away, is that I need to go on a diet – or to ALWAYS buy cotton-elastine blends.

See you tomorrow!

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Filed under Geneaology, History, Life, Newspapers, Uncategorized