“Buy it in bulk” – my mother


If you were to ask my mother at 19 what does her future hold? I’m sure her answer would have been that shed hope to become a nurse, have a house by the beach with someone tall dark and handsome and spend her days tending to tomato vines in her green house.

I guess no one knows what the future holds because my mum defiantly didn’t.

Fast forward 23 years later. She’s a Mother of 8 and a Grandmother of 19 and as you guessed it has no time for a green house. My names Jessica and I am 2nd youngest in a family of 10.

Coming from a big family does have its perks, the constant stream of hand me downs over the years and a lot of people to take the focus of you if you wanted to stay out that half hour longer. If anything, it prepared me a lot for the ‘student life’ with its constant noise stream that people are only subjected to in their first shared accommodation and with its bulky buffet style dinners I was able to adjust very quickly.

In fact, whenever I would come home to an empty student house I would miss the echoes of tell-taling and watching my mother take several attempts to remember some of our names.

Coming from a house of so many there are certain things you have to accept, you will never ever have a plate of left overs wrapped in tinfoil waiting in the oven for you waiting. If you want to go on any family activity you to ensure that you’re guaranteed a seat in the car as they gold dust and if you want to talk to your mother you have to schedule her in at least one week in advance.

I should have joined a debate team because I get plenty of practice arguing how just because I went to the kitchen should not mean I lose my seat in the living room, every day. Coming from a big family you have to learn how to fend for your self because your older siblings they can sense weakness.

Being constantly surrounded by nieces and nephews is however refreshing and their innocence’s is something to indulge in. luckily for us Santa and the tooth fairy has never missed a year.  So, it does have its perks, like when it’s your birthday and your flooded with gifts and cards. Unfortunately, it also means that its someone’s birthday every other week and I’ve tasted enough cream and jam sponge cakes to do me a life time.

I do sometimes wonder what the ‘only child’ does with their free time and what it would be like to have full power of the remote control 24/7. All I can hope for is to have half the patience my mother does and half the children.

Yes, if you were to tell her at 19 she wouldn’t become a nurse I’m sure she would be disappointed but only because she wasn’t made to become ‘just a nurse’ but also became a doctor, a teacher, the judge the jury and the driver. Tomato vines are over rated anyway.


Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

First dates from the perspective of your waitress

 It’s Saturday night, clocked in at 5 and the preparation for the night ahead begins. So what keeps me smiling during the grave yard shift? Our bright and shiny new couples!

After being in the game for as long as I have, we servers tend to have picked up a few tell-tale signs on how well your first date is going. So I’m speaking on behalf of most hospitality employees because quite frankly we all do it, while we’re being extra polite serving you your dinner, I’m making a bet with my work BFF on you two splitting the bill. (I’m sorry but we need a little fun too).

season 1 dollar dollar bills yall GIF

So, most people aren’t screaming to their servers that they are on a first date, but a lot of the time we know, typically because the boy arrives in his best shirt and has sprayed too much of that birthday aftershave. I’ll greet you both and take a drink order; he’s going safe and ordering a bottle of Coors. I’ll give him a glass, but hell not use it. She’ll indulge in one of those ‘trendy gins’ with a slimline tonic and a “bit of cucumber” because that just screams girlfriend material.

I’ll fetch those drinks and hit you with “So, folks are you ready to order or do you need another minute?”  If I’m sent away I have a feeling the night is going to go very well, as you simply haven’t had a chance to look at the menu.  I can hear the echoes of small talk on how traffic made you late escalating into a full-blown conversation. I also see you both gazing into one another’s eyes across the candle-lit table that I’m almost naming the kids as I go on to check my other tables.

music video waitress GIF by Lady Gaga

So back I go, and this is when I am 100% certain that you guys swiped right a week ago and tonight is the first night you are meeting. I believe it to be common knowledge that there are some things one just simply cannot order on a first date. Anything garlic, just because. Ribs, Wings anything that requires a “wee finger bowl” is strictly prohibited. I don’t enjoy seeing you with sauce all over your face so I’m sure your date isn’t the biggest fan either and girls if you order the main size chicken ceaser salad, well, I know you’re defiantly wanting to see this gentleman again.

white chicks laughing GIF

Having worked in the hospitality industry for quite a while I’m going to admit it myself that I am nothing short of a delight. I enjoy conversing with the customers so how your date speaks to me is how I know you have found a keeper. As prophecy states if they’re nice to you but rude to the waiter, they’re not a nice person.”  So let me see you help stack those plates using those manners your mother taught you.

Body language is key on a date, so I’m looking out to see if she’s holding her glass of rose too close to his pint that their hands slightly touch, are they placing footsy under the table? (I swear people actually do this) Or are they quite awkward, with little conversation and interested in the other tables.

WARNING if I even see a phone on the table or if he dares asks for the Wi-Fi password, I’ll find it extremely difficult to ask if you would like to see the desert menu because I feel the date was over before it even began.

sad classic film GIF by Film Society of Lincoln Center

After watching the way you sit, judging your food order and waiting on your every need I ask the dreaded question, “Is there anything else I could get you folks or are we ready for the bill?” Off I go to count how many G+Ts you had, and then I think about whether she will lift her purse and if she does, he better act insulted and shun her down or if they’re going to go dutch. Yes, yes we are all millennial’s here but every girl really wants to be wined and dined on their first date and I see her heart-break a bit when he asks her for the £24.50 she owes, and to be fair, mine does too.

sad break up GIF by VH1

Having shared with you the little secrets of the game, please don’t be self-conscious on your next rendezvous that your waitress is judging your every move, as this is the only thing that makes my job a little easier when I’m working weekends. It’s also probably the closest I’ve got to a proper date all year.

Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.

NYE, Magical or Manic

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,and never brought to mind? Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne.”

New Year’s Eve. The one night of the year where everything is going to be different than the previous 364. Why? Because not only does it close a chapter but a new one opens and for that new leaf we girls get dressed up in the most sequenced filled one-piece ASOS had to offer, or we go old school classic with that black little number.

Every year we say ‘it’s going to be our year’ but every year we stand out in the cold with all the squad who have returned home for the holidays & we patiently queue at the club door where we believe prince charming is standing there, waiting, under the mistletoe. But this isn’t Sex and The City and I’m not Sarah Jessica Parker.

For years we have all seen the massive celebrations across the world where the air is nothing short of electric. We expect literal fireworks to go off at the struck of midnight, but is it another over rated holiday or is there something more to it, beside its very bad hangovers.

It gives us a chance to start the year off right, with the gym members flooding in because you couldn’t possibly start a diet in mid-November. It’s a chance to right the wrongs, and as the world gets another year older we feel we are entitled to not entertain the drama of the year passed.

A lot can change in a year, people can grow together and grow apart. As we grow older we can appreciate the little things. Like what use to be draining visits to grannies are cherished and wisdom is passed from generation to generation.

While each culture’s New Year celebration has its own flavor, there are certain common themes. The period leading up to New Year’s Day is a time for setting things straight: a thorough housecleaning, paying off debts, returning borrowed objects, reflecting on one’s shortcomings, mending quarrels, giving alms. In many cultures, people jump into the sea or a local body of water-literally washing the slate clean.

In some towns in Italy, I’ve been told, you have to watch out for falling objects, as people shove their old sofas, chairs and even refrigerators out of their windows on New Year’s Eve. In Ecuador, people make dummies, stuffed with straw, to represent the events of the past year. These are burnt at midnight, thus symbolically getting rid of the past.

So back to our tradition..

‘And surely you’ll buy your pint cup! and surely I’ll buy mine! And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,for auld lang syne’ I thought these lyrics were words mispronounced by the drunk people who were slurring but after googling them I think I’m going to need a few hours of rehearsal before the big day.

However, is the reality of it all that we have concocted another unrealistic plan. January tests will have set in, then its spring, next thing we know those few nights out have put our mantra off course then we’re planning our summer of freedom to come back home for the winter months and pretend to ourselves. Next year, it’ll be different. It’ll be our year.

Image result for kissing under mistletoe


Jessica Phillips is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University.