Category Archives: Inspiration

INTERVIEW: Amelia Fergusson – the teetotal London writer bares all to help women see the power in their flaws

By age 13, Amelia Fergusson was a seasoned liar who tricked her Caribbean school friends into thinking this London rude gyal was having lots of sex.

In actual fact, as an insecure young girl, she just sought comfort in humour, and was terrified of intimacy. As a 32-year-old mother, she still is.

Back in London, by her early twenties she was comatose under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol and cocaine, and depressed. She had survived domestic violence and was on a downwards spiral only fate could have determined would not end in death.

At 24, she launched a high class escorting agency, spending all her profits on booze and had conned people out of thousands of pounds. These are just a few in a series of fuck-ups catalogued in Pretty Girls Can’t Write – an autobiography of comedic drama, candid FYI’s and retrospection.

“I just wanted to get everything off my chest. Some of the things I’d forgotten about and you also forget why you act a certain way later on in life. It’s through writing it down I realised I hadn’t yet processed that information,” she explained.

Although the book took a month to pen down, the copy was abandoned in a box with scriptwriter Amelia’s other drafts – “I purged and felt much better. I wasn’t ready to publish it and then began worrying about other people, and what if a guy I’m dating reads it!”

Fast-forward more than a year later, Amelia was ready to have others learn from her catastrophic mistakes, mentored by humour in what I can confidently say is a book every reader will see themselves in.

Amelia Fergusson

Amelia’s podcast on iTunes is likely to be as unadulterated as her writing so it’s not one to miss

The book covers your teenage years to late twenties. What’s so important about this period, particularly in a girl’s life?

I’ll start by saying this – I’m so glad I’m above 30! Now I’ve come out of those ten years, especially with my drinking and everything else involved with it, I just really know who I am. In your teens and twenties, you’re still trying to decide and set boundaries and keep your self-esteem up. It’s also very easy when you’re not so aware of who you are to get swept away by relationships and have guys affect your self-worth, then it’s a downwards spiral. So for me, those ten years were quite a revelation [laughs]. I feel those are the years you should be learning about yourself and then in your thirties, you become a bit more settled and responsible.

Is this the kind of book you would’ve liked to read back then?

Definitely but I don’t think I would’ve learnt from it. However, I would liked to have known other people were going through the same stuff.

Often people go through life blaming others and feeling like a victim because of whatever has happened to them. Do you believe everything in your life happened for a reason?

My tattoo, I don’t know if you can see it? [I couldn’t on the Skype camera] says ‘Maktub’ which means ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason’ and that is me all over. Also when I started going to Kabbalah, I was taught in every obstacle you need to look for the light. What is this challenge being sent to you to learn from?

It’s a sore subject but the situation you went through with ‘John’ aged 17 – I wondered if you’d ever gotten closure from him, or an explanation? Later in the book, you say you’d spoken to him – what was that interaction like?

It was weird. He got in touch and apologised and I did let it go only because I grew up with him and saw he’d changed. As a young teenager, he was such a talented musician and would be the opening act for artists like Beenie Man when they came to St Vincent. He went from that downhill towards drugs and gangs. Then about five or six years ago, he was murdered. He’d sent me a message over Facebook just before he died saying he’d been trying to get in touch which really affected me…I’m a big believer in karma. Even if you do change your life, something will happen. But I did forgive him.

Taking your experiences with alcoholism, what do you feel people don’t understand about alcohol abuse from the outside looking in?

I have friends who are very aware of drug abuse but when I say I have an alcohol problem, they can’t put the two together. They can understand a cocaine addict but not an alcoholic. Or if they do understand an alcoholic, it’s those they see sitting on a park bench. But these are people who weren’t there when I was locked in my house for days on end and when I did finally emerge, I’d be me again. The days I had to show up for work, I’d show up, but  even though I was there – my mind was foggy, I had constant sweats – I wasn’t my normal self. People also don’t understand a lot of young people have an alcohol addiction. Most people just assume it’s only older men who drink their cans of lager in the park.

So is it really an all or nothing situation for a person with alcohol dependency?

Oh definitely. I know a lady who was sober for 27 or 37 years. She had some issues going on and wasn’t going to AA as much. Then she went back out and within a month had a heart attack, she started drinking so much. Now she’s been back in AA for two years but literally it goes back immediately – there’s no sense of moderating it at all.

What were people’s reactions to the book especially your parents – have they read it?

Oh, God no. Actually my mum keeps asking for the name of the book and I haven’t told her! It’s funny because when I was partying a lot and doing drugs, there were times she’d call me and because of the time difference between here and the Caribbean where they live, it’d be about midnight and I’d already be off my head. I’d say, ‘Mum, I can’t talk right now, I’m doing coke!’ – that’s the relationship I have with my mum. She knows how crazy I can be, but I’ve never really spoken with her seriously about things like what went on with my son’s father. I don’t think she knows how much of an effect it’s had on me.

Would you prefer her not to read it? And what about your dad?

My dad? God, no, he’d probably have a heart attack! My parents are very aware of how I am, but there are certain things I don’t feel they need to know. They know I’m naughty [laughs]. Not all my friends have read it yet but the ones who have, found it funny. People who don’t know me at all have said they really appreciate the honesty and the humour. I just wanted everyone to laugh.

The wisdom in the book starts early on but you were really eager for it not to be taken as a guide on how to live your life – why?

I didn’t want anyone to think I’m this self-help person because I’m far from it. I just wanted to share what I’ve learnt because it’s worked for me, and if you’re going through the same experiences, maybe try doing it this way.

 

Besides Pretty Girls Can’t Write, you have a period drama currently in production [set 15 years after slavery in the Caribbean] – what else are you working on?

I have another script for a period drama and a short film I should be filming next year. I’ve been writing, writing, writing, keeping myself busy and out of trouble. People think I’m so boring now because I’m either at home writing or reading, but they don’t understand I need to do this! I can’t be out and about – it would just all go wrong [laughs].

Find Amelia on Instagram or encouraging other writers with the Pretty Girls Can’t Write podcast coming soon to iTunes.

To buy a copy of the book, click here.

Two months in Manchester and still no friends – a snapshot of being in a new city

When moving away from home, a huge expectation tags along with the experience that it’s going to be life changing.

Sourced from: Weheartit.com

Sourced from: Weheartit.com

A new city offered new surroundings, to be enjoyed without boundaries when I left my parents, friends and everybody who knows me to become a stranger elsewhere.

It’s a liberating thought when you take a minute to reflect on it: being a stranger to every new person you encounter. Having the freedom to create a whole new existence or persona is inspiring. That’s what I felt before making the 86 mile trip in February and last Sunday afternoon, when I really considered the possibilities of what I could get up to, but as the headline suggests, there has been no rebirth, which is a little bit embarrassing.

Since migrating I’m habitually asked the question: “How’s Manchester?” and my response varies depending on who I’m reporting back to and how honest I’m being. Either I deflect the answer onto my course with a false display of overt joy: ‘It’s alright you know!’ or offset my true feelings with lightheartedness: ‘It’s cool thanks but I can’t tell you how Manchester is as I haven’t socialised since I’ve been here!’ – still with exclamation marks.

And it is fine. I get illegal free tram rides to the supermarket and back, have experienced no crime or racial abuse in deprived and all-Caucasian Salford, and there have even been advantages to my temporary poverty, like a diminished sweet tooth, but I exist within a hamster cage.

In fact I just dropped my old hamster cage into a new location. Some of this I anticipated and is necessary to achieve the results I intended. Venturing to Manchester was a purposeful decision, not frivolous, but there’s this niggling feeling of disappointment that I’ve not made more of it here when I’m dying to just initiate myself into some underground subculture or get involved in something that breaks me away from myself.

At the weekend, however, I was told sympathetically to go easy, “You’ve just moved. Everything you need to experience will come in due course,” which is perfectly logical advice. In the meantime though I’m looking for inspiration and content for new blogs with item number one being the London leg of the World Naked Bike Ride on 13 June 2015.

If I can secure an interview with the original founders/ organisers of the event then I plan to follow up with a news article so check back for that.

Cycling around Central London naked should be fun but much better with body paint to mask my clitoria – a flower with an uncanny resemblance to the vagina, but not the only one. (Click it) So on my to-do list is finding a bike, a creative individual who’d like to paint me and possibly a flesh-coloured thong.

Crowdfunding talk on BBC West Midlands’ Chatback show

No selfies with the presenters, I settled with hugs during the break but  the guest room was perfect for a snap.

No selfies with the presenters, I settled with hugs during the break but the guest room was perfect for a snap.

A friend of mine asked on Saturday night if I was weird and practised my interview responses in the mirror like her, to which I replied: “Out loud, yes! You have to!” and I did, hoping that Chatback’s Joe Aldred or Nikki Tapper didn’t open the interview with: “So tell me about the campaign” because that leaves far too much window to trip over my words. Thankfully the veteran presenters have much better style than that and gave me a wonderful introduction which calmed my nerves somewhat.

If you’re unaware, just recently I launched a campaign to raise £1700 remaining course fees for journalism school in Manchester. Utilising my editorial skills I’m approaching contacts old and new for commissions, with all profits going straight to my campaign. Meanwhile I’m crowdfunding so that hopefully with the two combined, I can just focus on my studies.

It was great being able to share what I’m trying to achieve as I don’t tend to often, and while there met another guest on the show, Lenise Harris, founder of the Women’s Reform Organisation. A ‘non profit organisation delivering holistic support to vulnerable women at risk of crime or reoffending upon release from prison’, the charity is in its infancy and born from Lenise’s own experiences of vulnerability as a young female which sparked a desire to help others as she became older. To help grow the West Midlands organisation, Lenise is actively looking for volunteers to support with areas such as mentoring, outreach and marketing so for more on her tune in at 01.07 – 01.11 or go to: www.womensreform.org.

Thank you to everybody who listened live and for any who weren’t able to, you have 28 days starting from now to catch it on BBC iPlayer. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nhr5f#auto (Skip straight to 45.15 – 55.27 for my segment)

Crowdfunding campaign lands me on BBC WM with the Chatback team in Birmingham

It’s been an incredibly busy few months what with relocating to another city, becoming a journalism student again and being thrust into a 37.5 hour course schedule but given my most recent circumstances, I absolutely have to get back into the habit of oversharing and blogging.

Just recently I launched a campaign on crowdfunding website, Go Fund Me on the back of some advice from a friend and my annoyance at always waiting for money rather than getting it myself, to help raise my £1700 outstanding course fees.

Vicky G Course Fees Campaign

From observation the most successful people I know are those who once they’ve amassed enough experience, draw a line at unpaid work, but I’ve never been entirely confident at monetising my skills.

Nonetheless, the reality is that I’m only ever a month away from being evicted if I fail to raise my rent, like a few weeks ago when the desperate Whats App messages for ‘rent contributions’ went out, but it still didn’t amount to enough. Add to that monthly outgoings of more than £700 on a zero hour contract job and an instalment agreement with my course provider, it was time to drop the pride and get clever. Leverage my creativity and find a way to make this financial challenge mutually beneficial, like a transaction.

The idea was born, as a headline, of course: ‘Manchester journalism student sells her skills in a bid to raise £1700 outstanding course fees’, and with a sneaky day off from my school, a Go Fund Me page was created alongside a compelling narrative of my journey to the present day, ready to send to every acquaintance I’ve ever made.

I can’t explain the weight that was lifted once the campaign became active – I haven’t done any crying since which is a good sign (actually that’s a lie I had a meltdown over the bank holiday weekend and closed my blinds midway through the afternoon) but though progress is slow, it’s now a visible scale on my funding page.

Switching sides to be interviewed, I’ll be chatting to BBC WM’s Nikki Tapper and Joe Aldred tonight on Chatback at 8.30pm about the campaign and detailing more of my backstory that I haven’t mentioned above.

Screen Shot 2015-04-12 at 13.03.47

Please support it! All the relevant links are embedded in this post for you to click on and if you do happen to listen live or on BBC iPlayer afterwards, I’d love to hear from you.

P.S. 1. If I have a good voice for radio let me know as I secretly want to add broadcaster to my repertoire and 2. If you have any advice for how I can push my campaign over twitter where most of my followers are strangers, tips are most welcome.

REPOST: Urban Bush Babes – The Swedish ‘Loc Twins’ Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta

Come play with us Danny

A post shared by Elizabeth/Victoria Lejonhjärta (@lejonhjerta) on

Above is a repost from a site I need to spend a lot more time on, Urban Bush Babes: ‘An online publication featuring two friends and passionistas creating the definitive source for natural hair, fashion, health, music, film, lifestyle and arts & culture while living in NYC and Austin.’

Twin sisters Elizabeth and Victoria Lejonhjärta from Sweden/Sápmi are profiled here and not only was I in awe of their hair (obviously), but their message about remaining true to you, simplistic style and honesty about it all resonates with me, so with that said, it was worth a share.

Pure Halal Beauty Review Hits 1k

Before viewing the image below, it’s essential that you focus on the positive – my first beauty vlog reviewing Rose Brown’s line of Halal certified cosmetics under brand, Pure Halal Beauty – was viewed more than a handful of times!

Ignore that said video has received only one thumbs up (you’re all haters) meanwhile my never updated YouTube channel has only three subscribers and this has taken three years to happen! (There’s blurred lines between self-depreciation and sarcasm right now, but all in good blogging fun).

Another positive, this was the first ever vlog to feature on women’s fashion and lifestyle website, Bonafide Supernova when I was part of the team in 2011/12. Following their journey and celebrating their successes – including picking up a Creative award at the 2014 Clothes Show – it’s amazing how much Samantha and Tamara have grown this brand so kudos to you ladies, and kudos to me.

Click here to read: Pure Halal Beauty – Birmingham’s Best Kept Secret, my interview with founder Rose Brown, originally featured on Bonafide Supernova.

Pure Halal Beauty Review TwentysomethingMe