Indicating (or My Brush With Death on the M621)

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Dear Dangerous Driver,

RE: Indicating

Signals – The Highway Code (UK)

103

Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians, of your intended actions. You should always

  • give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time
  • use them to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or moving off
  • cancel them after use
  • make sure your signals will not confuse others. If, for instance, you want to stop after a side road, do not signal until you are passing the road. If you signal earlier it may give the impression that you intend to turn into the road. Your brake lights will warn traffic behind you that you are slowing down
  • use an arm signal to emphasise or reinforce your signal if necessary. Remember that signalling does not give you priority.

104

You should also

  • watch out for signals given by other road users and proceed only when you are satisfied that it is safe
  • be aware that an indicator on another vehicle may not have been cancelled.

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My Top 100 Books

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I was asked recently to list my top 100 books to date, and it was such a difficult thing to do that I decided to write it down and publish the finished article. I must ask that you forgive any philistinliness… philistinility… ignorance – I have not read everything, of course, but I still have my favourites and they are thus (and in no particular order, because that’s just too bloody difficult): Continue reading

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A Feminist Odyssey… of Sorts

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Greer on a Bike!

A v.broken attempt to explain my relationship with feminism. It’s all over t’shop – I do apologise…

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Chick Flicks are the Root of All Evil

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Exploring yet more ridiculous relationship propaganda in the media… Continue reading

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Love Is…

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Fickle… Continue reading

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Gay Marriage

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Yes, another marriage rant… Continue reading

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Black & White

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Black and White make Grey

The writer of those tedious erotic novels was correct: there are lots of shades of grey. The number, however, I disagree with: there are not just fifty, but infinite shades of grey; a limitless pallet of sludge. There are shades that are a fraction darker than white, an imperceptible shadow on an otherwise pure hue. There are shades that seem as deep and bottomless as the blackest night, but when examined closely show the smallest glimmer of light. Scratch below the surface of any reactive philosophy and you realise that black and white, as simple and appealing as they may be, just don’t exist. There are only shades of grey.

Thinking is hard work. And I don’t mean visualising what you’re going to have for tea or imagining Lindsey Lohan’s tits and Kate Middleton’s arse at the same time; I mean real thinking. The sort of thinking that involves delving deep into your psyche, questioning your own beliefs, giving yourself a hard time about what you believe, why you believe it, why anyone else would be swayed by your argument, what makes your opinion valid. Philosophical musing can lead to considering the vastness of the universe and our own insignificance, the wonder that is nature from birth to cancer cells, our disinclination to consider the “soul” as a collection of electric impulses in the brain, despite the scientific evidence. It can lead you to places you would never have dreamed of going.

It’s emotionally draining to think so hard and acknowledge just how insignificant we and our ideals are; a lot of the time, people don’t bother to question their own life philosophies. Anyone that has, however, will know how rewarding it can be and, equally, how taxing: knowledge and understanding can be as disappointing as it can be enlightening, and once you realise something about the world or your inner consciousness you cannot unrealise it, as it were.

People generally seem happy to wade in the black and white paddling pool, rather than make their way into the murky deep end. Are they happier people? Probably – ignorance is bliss, after all. Why, then, should anyone attempt to leave the chequerboard mentality behind? Because ignorance can also lead to cruel and excessive behaviour towards others.

Baroness Thatcher, Twitter and I

Unfortunately, the people who are of the black and white persuasion also appear to apply the same logic to others. One of the things that really irritate me, when I find myself in debate, is people arguing on the “opposition” who take a point I’ve disagreed with and automatically assume that I mean the absolute reverse of what they’ve said. Recently, I was involved in a heated argument with a woman on twitter who really did not see that what she’d said in the first place was a) Inflammatory, and b) One dimensional. Of course, everyone is entitled to tweet pretty much whatever they want to; however, the woman’s original comment was excruciatingly black and white and exceptionally offensive.

“Some people begrudge the cost of Baroness Thatcher’s funeral. Most likely the same people who smashed up London.”

Which is basically the same as saying: “None of the people who disagree with the amount of money spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral vote Tory, all non-Tories are in the lower classes and all of the lower classes are violent yobs. Ergo, the people who disagree with the funeral costs must be the same people who smashed up London.”

Flawed logic based on sweeping generalisations.

Now, if that tweet had said: “Most likely some of those people are the same people who smashed up London,” then I would have had to agree, although it seems like a bizarre correlation to me. You could also say that it is most likely that some of the people involved in the smashing up of London are also involved with UKip, or dislike Justine Bieber, or eat Subway sandwiches.

Even if I hadn’t been opposed to the sheer amount of money that is to be spent on Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, I would have taken offence to that statement. The implication being that everyone who doesn’t vote Tory and everyone who was negatively affected, directly or indirectly, by Margaret Thatcher’s policies is the sort of person who resorts to the harmful and violent behaviour displayed in the riots in 2010. If she’d really thought about it, the woman in question could have come full circle and realised that, if what she was saying were true, she would be insinuating that Margaret Thatcher was circuitously responsible for the London riots.

Anyway, the tweeting lady, however ill informed, was entitled to say what she thought and I wouldn’t have it any other way, or this country wouldn’t be so great or free. And I was entitled to disagree with her views, not least for being one of the people she was talking about. What I’ve come to realise is that this woman has probably now stuck me in the box with the people who have engendered the current musical status of the song “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead”, which is as inequitable as being put in the box with the disillusioned youths who were involved with the riots. I have been judged harshly merely for not agreeing with the funeral costs of a woman who ruined the livelihoods and communities of many members of the working classes. I was also referred to as “hard left*” by this woman, because my disagreeing with Margaret Thatcher’s luxury funeral clearly indicated that I wasn’t a conservative and that meant that I must be totally and utterly against anything conservative ever. Which is also not true. I will probably never vote conservative, and a lot of what the conservative party does and/or says p1sses me off, but I don’t consider myself to be “hard left,” and even if I were “hard left,” that still doesn’t make the conservatives “hard right.” But then again, the boundaries of left and right change with the context in which they’re referred to. Within the moderate margins of our largest parties, I guess I would be “hard left”; yet take into account all other parties and political stances, nationally and internationally, and suddenly, our three major players seem to be just stalking around the middle ground. Which is, incidentally, most definitely where they should be if we are ever to combat terrorism.

Returning to the crux of my Margaret Thatcher tweets: I didn’t agree with all of the Baroness’ policies, and she did a lot of harm. Her funeral will cost a huge amount of money and, while I would never deny anyone a decent burial, I do not think that she was so worthy of so much of the tax payers’ cash when it is the tax payers who were affected by her leadership, and when there are people starving in the world, and when our economy is in such disarray. I’m not here solely to discuss my thoughts on Margaret Thatcher; but what I am trying to get at is that, just because I didn’t feel particularly enamoured with the woman, I don’t immediately head for the other end of the spectrum. I don’t think that she was an evil witch and I don’t think the stupid ditty, “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead,” should be at number one in her dishonour (and not just because it is an infantile mindset that has prompted that to happen), because I understand that she was also a human being trying to do what she thought was best, as most of us are. She was a strong leader, I’ll give her that. Some of her policies were unjust, some weren’t. As a woman, she is someone to aspire to in a sense, although she was no feminist – she didn’t hire women, instead choosing to surround herself with men. She was a strong woman, but she didn’t do anything for the feminist cause. She was neither good nor evil. She was a person and, as such, far too complicated to place on a single black or white square.

Most things are too complex to label, although society does its level best to try in pretty much every regard. Case in point: it has come to light that there are not merely three classes of people in the UK anymore, but seven. I guess this shows some progress in terms of diversity, but it’s still utterly pointless; it’s still a way of marginalising the masses. All this study has shown is that our “classes” and their corresponding stereotypes are far more disparate than the government first anticipated; and instead of doing away with the class system entirely when the government made this shocking discovery, it was decided that we desperately had to add more categories.

One Word to Bind them All

At the arse end of last year, a judge, Peter Bowers, made a comment about burglars being brave for choosing their “professions.” He wasn’t saying that burglars were good people**, he wasn’t saying that burglary is something we should all partake in; he simply meant that to break into someone’s house, risking imprisonment and injury from animals or the residents of said properties, is a courageous thing to do. Some may replace the word “brave” with the word “desperate,” but nonetheless, David Cameron’s reaction was disproportionate. He immediately came out with the counterargument that burglars are cowards.

We associate courage with good things. King Arthur was brave, our lads on the front line are brave, firemen are brave, Batman is brave, Jesus was brave. All these people are connected with “good” things – they’re part of the universal belief that good will triumph over evil. So to call someone that our society considers to be bad “brave” really confused everyone. In those simplistic terms, if brave is good and burglars are bad, then for the judge to call burglars brave must mean that a) He believes burglars to be good people, and b) He is, in fact, bad himself. Boo hiss, let’s all go on a witch hunt. David Cameron either knee jerked to the antonym, or he understood the psyche of the general public enough to know that he had to react to it accordingly to avoid association with the “bad” man himself. I like to think it was the latter; much as I hope I’m never driven to vote for the conservatives, I would still like to think that the man who runs this country is intelligent enough to understand the greys and savvy enough to know how to calm the public response.

The Concept of “Good and Evil” is Fallacy

Recently, I’ve managed to get myself into some debates on religion, in particular the Muslim faith (you may have noticed). My argument, in a nutshell, is that everyone has as much right to be on this planet as everyone else, and has the right to believe what they believe. Since Pakistanis (or English, American, French &c. Muslims with Pakistani ties) are the ones under the cosh at the moment, that is who I find myself arguing on behalf of, which isn’t to say that they aren’t capable of doing it themselves, just that there never happens to be a Muslim around when you need one.

The problem here, is that, because of the black and the white misnomer, I am now to be seen as pro-Islam and, therefore, an enemy of anyone who isn’t Muslim. Except that I’m not pro-Islam at all. I’m no Islamophobe, but I don’t like any religion, really. Grappling with my feminist side to argue on behalf of a religion that oppresses its women so v.badly isn’t easy for me – far from it. My argument isn’t in favour of the religion, but in favour of the people – I have no faith, but I v.much believe in humanitarianism, and as human beings, we must accept that not everyone is the same and that this difference is perfectly sufficient so long as all are in favour of humanity; and with the application of a humanitarian philosophy, we are able to see our similarities with seemingly dissimilar people after all. Unfortunately, the Muslim faith seems to spawn some pretty extreme actions from the radical few, I get this and I get that it could put me in danger. But then again, I am equally as scared of the fascists as I am of the Islamic extremists; more so, in fact. Anyone in a disillusioned enough to position to take a concept and run with it to such an extent has to be, on some level, slightly unhinged.

A lady on twitter tweeted almost exactly the same words I have said time and again:

@Yasira Jaan: Muslims view “Islamic” terrorists the same way most Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church.

The problem we have is that some people will automatically associate Muslims with terrorism, whether that’s through general ignorance or a naïve and blind belief in the propaganda that they are exposed to. These people believe that I could not possibly stick up for a group of people without entirely believing in everything they believe, which is preposterous. I would argue wholeheartedly for Catholics, for example, should someone start mouthing off about how they should all go back to Ireland, but I am not Catholic and don’t support the actions of the terrorist group, the IRA. It also doesn’t mean that I agree with Catholicism as a lifestyle, with its inability to grasp the import of pro-abortion laws, or that no sex before marriage jive, or its confessional cleansing.

Funnily enough, one of the many things that I dislike about religion is the way it perpetuates this “good and evil” nonsense. That does not mean that I dislike everyone who has a religion, or anyone who believes in black and white – it just means that I am able to recognise the fact that the black and white doesn’t exist; however dark or light a shade may be. However obvious a solution or the crux of an issue is, I can always see where the lines blur, even if it takes me a while to think about it. And I take solace in knowing that I’m not the only one. The black and white mentality is way too crude a way to view the world, and knowledge and understanding stem from acknowledging the grey roots.

A few months ago, a squash player said to me that some Muslim guys wanted to use the squash club to host a Muslim only squash team. The club refused and the Muslim guys took the matter elsewhere. On hearing this, I said, unthinkingly: “Well, you can’t do that, can you? You can’t expect people to treat you with respect and then refuse to play with people of a different faith.” The man I was talking to then said: “Well, when I asked them why they wanted a Muslim only squash team, they said that it was because squash is a social thing, a hobby that brings people together and they wouldn’t want to all go out to the pub afterwards – they’d want to go for coffee and shisha. It’s as much about the bit after the game as the game itself.” Didn’t I just feel a bit foolish?

Don’t Matter if You’re Black or White (but you can’t be a bit of both)

Another issue that arises, when only considering black and white pieces, is that people are typecast. A person does something “bad” and the bad thing immediately eradicates everything else they’ve ever been.

Harold Shipman will only ever be that bad man who killed old people; the moment he is found out, he is stripped of his lifelong achievements as a doctor; immediately, everyone forgets that his patients absolutely adored him. People start saying things like: “Oh, he seemed like such a nice man. And such a good doctor – we never knew” and they shake their heads as if all that time he was pretending to be a polite GP who was good at his job. Suddenly, he is the devil incarnate. Pure evil. But it’s not true, is it? People don’t like to think of one of the most prolific murderers as anything other than malevolent, but the fact remains that he was actually quite a nice chappy in life. Unfortunately, he also had a side to him that was disturbed enough to create in him relish at the thought of bumping off old ladies merely because he could. He was a murderer, but that’s not all he was.

A single act or belief does not define someone. And acts performed by someone of a particular faith or belief system do not define every member of that faith or belief system.

In 2001, Islamic extremists flew aeroplanes into the twin towers in New York, killing people of various faiths and ethnicities. A terrible act of inhumanity, a dreadful indifference to the sanctity of life – this I am not denying. When people discuss the 9/11 attacks, we refer to the terrorists as “bad” and the victims as “good.” We say things like: “Those poor people” when referring to the victims And, yes, I absolutely believe that nobody should ever die in such a way. But what we never consider is this: of the thousands of people who died that day, how many were paedophiles? How many had stolen something that wasn’t theirs? How many were having affairs? The people who died in the 9/11 attacks were killed unjustly, granted, but just for having been so aren’t necessarily guiltless; in fact you probably couldn’t say that about any of them. Their deaths have become all that they were to the people who didn’t know them.

The acts of the terrorists had wider implications: I’m sure that those people had interests other than blowing up “infidels,” but what they did that day created a butterfly effect. Several crazy Muslims have attacked the western world and in the minds of a lot of people in the western world, that meant that allllll Muslims would at some point want to attack. Fear sees all of us reverting to the basic instincts we try to quell because we know them to be irrational a lot of the time.

But then, it’s hard to not be swept away in the fear when the media uses emotive language (like “terrorism”) and justifies the actions of certain governing bodies. The media has a lot to answer for. Recently I came across a bestselling book on US Amazon – a non-fictional account of Pakistan. Apparently, the Americans loved it – there were five stars flying all round that review page. I checked out the same book on UK Amazon – oh dear. Bad reviews. Suspicious, I dug a little deeper and discovered that the writer of this scathing book had never actually set foot in Pakistan.

When we were at war with Germany, we considered all Germans to be the baddies and when there’s a wall of people advancing on you with heavy artillery and menace driven by a dictator, it’s probably sensible to protect yourself. But that doesn’t stop each individual, soldier of civilian, from also having other characteristics, qualities that we admire. Penelope Lively injected the German soldier in The Darkness Out There with enough individuality to invoke pity in the reader, but not in the character of the WWII survivor.

Nothing but Grey Skies

To say that I believe that a black and white mentality is bad is, in itself, black and white, is it not? Yes, it most certainly is, and if you think, having read the above, that I would ever consider something to be inherently good or bad***, then you have clearly misunderstood my key point. I believe in the greys and I find the greys enlightening. I would defend a black-and-whiter should one be subject to abuse because of their beliefs, but this does not mean that I agree with everything they’re saying. Do you see what I’m saying? I find the inability to find the middle ground, and the inability to gauge the facets of human nature restrictive and one dimensional; I also find it worrying that people could blithely attack others on the premise of good versus evil, which is why I take issue. To believe something is one thing; to act upon it, or allow yourself to be used as a pawn against others in its name is quite another. It’s easier to act on a belief than to question it, but we are, supposedly, an intelligent species. Don’t let the genus down with your inhumanity because you were too lazy to think deeply about your actions.

FOOTNOTES:

*bearing in mind that I absolutely hate extremism, I really don’t think I could ever be “hard” anything

** Although, I am a bit hazy on his reasoning for letting the burglar off.

*** Unless we’re talking wine. Wine = good. Lambrusco = bad. If you ask my tastebuds, that is.

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Irrelevance & Ignorance

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Following on from my rant about the publication that considers itself to report the real news from Dewsbury, I have ended up in several subsequent arguments in the same vein. Which is fine. I want people to voice their opinions – it helps everyone to get it out of their systems and refine their views. But what I find vastly irritating, is that most of the time, the people arguing against me have no reasoning to back up their statements and any information they’re working from has been gleaned from sources exactly like The “Real” Dewsbury News, which tote nothing but anti-Islamic hate propaganda.

Recently, I found myself having debates with people, and not just on the subject of Islam, that have ended with me going: “What the fuck?!” and walking away in sheer frustration. As someone said to me recently: “Even racists should have a voice,” and I concur wholeheartedly. For one thing, voicing racist (or homophobic or misogynistic or transphobic &c.) views will “out” that person as a bigot; it will also allow people to argue on the contrary, which in rare cases may change the mind of said racist; and it poses questions that a non-racist may not have considered, which gives us further understanding of why people feel the need to needlessly hate entire races of people.

And I do want to understand; truly, I do! Most people have reasons for their opinions, and whether that opinion is based on an experience, propaganda, the media or outright fact, it is the product of rational(ish) thought, even if it does belong to someone who is ill informed. And so I don’t just disregard a racist comment – I invite the racist to offer an explanation. And do I ever get one? Do I bollocks! I ask why someone believes what they believe and I get back an entirely new bald statement along similar lines, or I get called a name and sworn at. On the odd occasion that someone has offered further insight, the information I’ve been given has been hazy. I was lucky enough to find myself embroiled in such an argument a few weeks back: what had started as a comment on Facebook about the Lib Dems and had nothing to do with international politics, was suddenly about the EDL – absolutely no reason to bring that up, but the person that did so had obviously been in possession of the irrelevance stick that day. Regardless of how this all came about, I found myself faced with the following:

“There are local councillors in Kirklees who privately support sharia law ffs. If no mainstream politicians will deal with that, then people will turn to those who will.”

To which I said that, if that was the case, then those people (who purportedly support sharia law) should be investigated. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: this country allows freedom of speech: speech – not actions. People are free to believe and say what they like, but they should absolutely not be allowed to fuck with our basic human rights. We have laws that are put in place for our protection and freedom. I’m not suggesting that we allow the Muslim faith to in any way overtake English culture when I say that Muslims should be treated with as much respect as anyone else. Pakistan is practically a police state because of the beliefs of its government and England does not have the same culture – should never have the same culture. In any case, I’ve spoken to people who have left Pakistan to escape its extreme laws, so I find it hard to believe that every Muslim would like to recreate a UK version of Pakistan.

I’m also not saying that there are no Muslims in the UK with extreme views – I’m certain that there are some who would happily stone every non-Muslim – but we allow Muslims to believe what they want to believe, the same way that we allow Christians to believe what they believe, and the way that we allow Jews to believe what Jews believe, and atheists to not believe what they don’t believe, and the white supremacists to believe what they believe. Again, it is one thing to believe something, but it is quite another to use that belief as an excuse to exercise violence. To think about stoning someone is v.v.different from actually stoning them. To want to beat someone up for being of a different race is v.v.different to actually doing it. We have no thought police and we never should have; so until someone acts, or threatens to act, upon an extreme belief, then no, our current politicians will not step in, because those people have done nothing wrong in terms of the law. How could a politician reasonably hound someone on the off chance that they had a bad thought or three?

But, really, where did the information come from that local MPs agree with Sharia law anyway? Damned if I know. Presumably The “Real” Dewsbury News. I’ll probably never know. And if I’d asked the question, the person on the receiving end of the question would no doubt have said something like: “It’s just a fact. Everyone knows it,” which in my book isn’t enough to condemn a whole section of our society.

Anyway – why I came here today was to dissect the screen shots from my previous post a little further. Mainly because the irrelevance of some of the comments amused me… and the hatred in some of the comments scared and saddened me.

1st Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

To be honest, this isn’t an irrelevant comment. It’s not a well informed comment, but it’s one of the more intelligent responses. Personally, I think that any town would reasonably allow a road closure for an hour to celebrate a religious holiday. Until recently, I lived next to Burley, which has a massive Asian community, and have occasionally waltzed into the midst of some festivity or another.

The road that runs off mine* was closed for a secular street party recently. There was no reason for it; it was just a street party. Muslims and non-Muslims alike would have been welcome.

When I attended a Free Palestine march a while ago, the whole of Leeds city centre was closed to make way.

When the women of England take to the streets in their underwear to march for the right to be able to walk down any street dressed however they like and not be molested, the roads are closed then. The slut walk is something that not everyone understands, but we are allowed to march. That is a show of power: it’s a show of female power; not to say that we are better or plan to overtake the men, but just to make the point that we are strong, we are together, we are free, and we should be allowed as much respect as any man.

That’s not to mention the fun runs that take place all over the country and involve road closures.

2nd Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

And the irrelevance kicks in. What in the name of holy crap does that person’s kids have to do with this subject? I mean, really. Aside from the fact that I know full well that this person celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ not long before this post, there is absolutely no correlation between a religious festival and the fruit of this person’s loins. It’s nice that this person loves their kids… nothing to do with international politics, though. Can you imagine if David Cameron was asked to comment on a particular issue and he said: “Oh, I only care about my kids, really. Why are you doing something that isn’t my about my children?”?!

Road closures. Well, they’re annoying, I admit. They’re annoying regardless of the reason. Having researched the traditional ways in which Muslims celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, though, I have discovered that most of them, in fact, don’t celebrate it at all. But those that do mark the occasion with a procession; and, unfortunately, that means that a road was closed for a bit. Read the diversion signs if you need to drive down that particular road and get over it, is all I can say. I suspect that this person didn’t have to drive down that road, in which case it had no bearing on their life.

Show of power? I’m willing to bet that those Muslims couldn’t have given a shit what the non-Muslim community was up to on that particular day. They were celebrating a religious festival in the traditional way. And even if it was a show of power – so what? They closed a street for an hour and it affected next to nobody. Well, that showed you, didn’t it? So did all the millions of articles and photographs that came out of the march. Except that there is nothing about it anywhere (and believe me, I’ve searched). A non-event for non-Muslims – so why all the bloody fuss?

3rd Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Childish and cruel.

4th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Puerile bullshit.

5th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Obviously not. As I have already said: Pakistan is practically a police state. But England allows its people to celebrate whatever they like however they like, as long as they’re breaking no law – pagans, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddists, Clingons and all.

In addition, Christmas is not traditionally celebrated with a procession, so even if a group of Christians was allowed to march down a street in Pakistan at Christmas, that really would be a “show of power”. We celebrate Christmas by gathering our people around us and inebriating ourselves – not by marching.

6th] Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

No, Commenter, it’s a procession! And I’m pretty sure if non-Muslims had shown up at the procession and, in a non-threatening, amicable way, joined in, then the Muslims would have been bemused and confused (possibly initially wary and taken aback), but carried on regardless. And if not, how would this particular commenter have taken it if a Muslim had shown up to join in with carol singing at Christmas? Or if a Muslim had let him/herself in, sat down at the table and started helping him/herself to turkey? Not so well, I’d like to warrant.

7th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

And we’re steaming away with ourselves on the irrelevance front again. I mean what the fuck is this silly bitch on about? Firstly, I’m pretty unclear as to who it is that has disrespected “our troops” (I suspect the Muslims, but I really can’t speculate). Secondly, what would she like to happen to those who “disrespect our troops”? Imprisonment? Castration? Stoning? She is allowed to be disrespectful of others, but believes that nobody should be disrespectful to someone she respects.

In any case those are, again, two completely disparate issues. By troops, I presume she means the British army, and by disrespect, I presume she actually means kill. In which case – it’s a war. You can’t really arrest people for killing people who have come into their country to kill them. Do you see what I’m saying? I don’t like war, but even I understand that!

8th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person has clearly just stubbed their toe or stepped on an upturned plug. I sympathise deeply.

9th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person obviously found a great, steaming turd in their breakfast. Moving on…

10th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Well, that was in response to me saying something about Muslims not giving a crap about non-Muslims on a holy day. Instead of giving me a decent argument, the commenter just thought it best to insult me. I presume that the commenter thought I was going to give up and cry or something. My silly little lady brain sometimes works that way… oh, wait – fuck off! No it doesn’t. If that person genuinely thinks I’m naïve, then that’s fine. But I think it naïve to make an argument with no basis, to believe that every person of any given race is exactly the same, or that every person from any given race only ever thinks about getting rid of people who aren’t of that race. Not every non-Muslim is like you, the same way that not every Muslim is like Osama Bin Laden. The dangerous few spoil it for everyone else and give them a bad name; the beardy-weirdy Islamic extremists spoil it for your average decent Muslim, and the fascist, white supremacist gits spoil it for your average, decent non-Muslim.

11th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Was in response to my saying: “Ooh – there’s a Muslim guy on here. Ask him what it’s all about.”

The words in that paragraph that stand out like a dildo at a tea party are “alleged” and “investigated.” Innocent until proven guilty, my friend.

I’ve already answered this comment in my last post, but what I said was that where there are politics and/or religion, there is corruption. It may not be nice, but there it is.

Rarely do these things pass peacefully? Well, that’s just plain wrong. Not only did that march pass peacefully, there was absolutely no coverage of it and war was not declared on the non-Muslims.

12th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Um… unless there’s something in the Qur’an that I’m missing (I haven’t got round to reading it yet – I’m still working my way through the Bible), I have no idea what this jerk-off is talking about. I suspect that they are pulling the most offensive remark they can think off out of thin air and applying it to the Muslim faith. In which case, the comment is null and void and utterly utterly infantile.

Also, if someone put in an application to have a street party for St. George’s Day, I’m pretty sure it would go through the same channels and wouldn’t be a problem. Like I said: there was a street party on my street recently. For no apparent reason.

13th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

The hate-mongers themselves. If The “Real” Dewsbury News believes that screen shots of what people are saying would be a bad thing, then they know full well that what they publish is there to provoke a bad reaction.

Unfortunately, the majority of the EDL sympathisers appear to be illiterate and uneducated, and the writers of The “Real” Dewsbury News are no more eloquent. So little so, in fact, that any reader is asked to refrain from correcting their English or grammar at risk of being blocked from making further comments. Not education advocates, then.

14th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Aw – commenter sticking up for me. I’ll give that commenter their due – I really appreciated them acknowledging that the censorship was wrong and that it would royally piss me off.

15th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

That person just awoke with a raging erection following a dream in which a bestockinged Nick Griffin tickled his anus with a long, pink feather. I speculate, but that’s the most obvious scenario I can think of.

16th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Presumably, this person is insinuating that everyone wants the Muslims to leave. As a non-Muslim, I can say that I don’t. Aside from the fact that I have Muslim friends here, there are a lot of Muslims who are English. This is their home – how could we justify sending them elsewhere?

There was no reasoning given for wanting these people to leave the country, but I wasn’t allowed to comment, so I couldn’t ask.

17th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Um… wrong! There would have been a police presence at the Muslim procession, just as there is at other marches. The following pictures are marches and processions that go on all the time… oh wait. I typed “March Dewsbury” into Google and guess what came up… no Muslim marches, but a shit load of EDL related ones! There are a couple of other march pictures thrown in there for good measure.

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   – NHS supporters

1280620067-english-national-alliance-feat-edl-march-london_399685

   – EDL member saluting a la Hitler

1289088543-uaf-march-against-racism-and-islamophobia_499229

   – UAF Anti-fascists

1289088549-uaf-march-against-racism-and-islamophobia_499239

   – UAF anti-fascists

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   – EDL march

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   – UAF anti-fascists

EDL March Dewsbury

   – EDL March

this9

   – EDL march

18th Real Dewsbury News Comments

I am a bit baffled. This person appears to be sending a message of love (with fifteen or so kisses) praises the current coalition government and says that “we” (that is to say “us”) are the ones that have it wrong. I don’t actually know whether the “us” is in reference to the people in the conversation or “us” in general… if anyone could shed any light on this, I’d be v.grateful.

19th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Do you know, when I look at that last two march pictures above, when I see people seething with hate like that, people who would harm me for my beliefs and my sexuality (oh yes – they don’t like me for counter-arguing, but they also have something deeper, personal and far more scary against me) I want to attach fucking bayonets and run each and every one through, I really do. But that is a childish knee jerk of mine. Then I calm myself. I think about the fact that a member of my family is, unfortunately, a BNP voter. I think about my cousins and what that person means to them. I realise (because I’m not a fucking nazi wanker) that these people are still just that… people. I calm myself down and I think rationally. I disagree with what they are doing and I have rational thought behind me (which the few of them I’ve spoken to don’t seem to have), but they are entitled, as inhabitants of this country, to voice their opinions too.

What this commenter has failed to do, is get beyond their visceral reaction and question why they feel this way. You know – like a child having a paddy.

20th Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Dude – when did they ever claim to be a religion of peace? When did any religion apart from Buddhism? I’m reading the bible cover to cover and all I’m getting from Christianity is wrath. I will read the Qur’an next. Pretty sure it doesn’t say it in there either.

Will you be able to walk with them? Yes. Will you be able to take a Union Jack? No – because the union jack is now associated with the BNP and ethnic cleansing, unfortunately (the Muslims didn’t spoil that – the BNP/NF/EDL did!). Will you be able to take a parachute banner? Um… probably. It would be like taking a “Happy Birthday” banner to Christmas Day, but ok.

21st Comment Real Dewsbury News Nazis

Muslim people have suffered, in the past, horrific abuse from the UK. The Empire. As has the rest of the world. The UK started with the animosity, years ago. We still think we have that power. We don’t. Then Pakistani immigrants came seeking asylum – they were abused for looking different and for believing different things. The next generation of Muslims was brought up here – when they were under attack, they started to fight back. Racial aggression against non-Muslims by Muslims is not acceptable, but neither is aggression against Muslims, and people who gave them a hard time in the past could hardly have expected the Muslims to sit back and be abused.

If a non-muslim tried to march with them, it would all probably be fine, although that non-muslim would be regarded with suspicion. Would they kill you? Maybe, if they had the chance. How many of their family members have been brutally and verbally attacked by white supremacists? What would you do to them if they showed up Christmas day? You start a war, you get a fight back. I’m not saying it’s right, but what the white supremacists do is also not right.

22nd Real Dewsbury News Comments

A profession of immortality. See – these people are children. Full grown children with no cerebral development at all.

23rd Real Dewsbury News Comments

Do you know – I think I’m done.

What I want to say to these people is this: you think you are the goodies and that they are the baddies. Well, we raped that fucking country when we arrived all those years ago – we abused our position and we took what wasn’t ours. There is no such thing as a “goodie” or a “baddie.” There is no black and white; only shades of grey (I hate that bloody woman who wrote those terrible books. She’s totally spoilt that for me). Perhaps you should do some growing up and learn about the world, learn about different cultures and ethnicities before you stomp around with your indignation and hatred aimed at anyone who isn’t exactly like you. We are a teeny, tiny country in a wonderfully diverse world. The beliefs of fascists appear to be unfounded and the reasoning given is irrelevant. If someone can give me a well-rounded argument in favour of racism, I’d love to hear it.

FOOTNOTES

* Park Mount in Kirkstall, Leeds. I can say this now, because I have just upped sticks and shipped myself off to greener pastures.

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The “Real” Dewsbury News

1341073766-english-defence-league-edl-march-through-dewsbury_1307002

Incidentally, the picture associated with this blog is of an EDL march that took place in Dewsbury in June 2012. When I typed “The Real Dewsbury News” into Google, the first two links Google threw back were the twitter account and facebook page of The Real Dewsbury News… the third was the facebook  page associated with the EDL. The picture used by The “Real” Dewsbury News on the article in question can be found at the bottom of this page.

NOTE: As an aside to the contributors and editors of the aforementioned publication, I could have embedded hyperlinks on the big words, since your grasp of the English language is, at best, around the Primary School level, but I just didn’t have time, so I suggest you take your time and purchase a dictionary before you read this. I also note that you are unable to understand grammar, so you just ignore the squiggly lines that sometimes accompany a word and we can cover that another day, yeah? Amusing, is it not dear readers, that these so called writers of the news cannot get to grips with their mother tongue and yet expect us to be dictated to by them on the subject of international politics?

You may be wondering why I am attacking, and rather rudely at that, such an insignificant independent organisation*. The reason is because I am absolutely fucking livid at the authors. It has taken me a week to calm down, although the break has allowed me some reflection and has given me time to resist the urge to simply blurt out something along the lines of: “Boycott The Real Dewsbury News – for it is misinformed, biased sensationalism put about by ignorant, grammatically incorrect cunts!” I wouldn’t want to make such bold, crude statements without qualifying myself and name-calling isn’t going to get us to the root of the problem, now is it? So I will not call them boorish twats and similar vulgarities, for that is mere opinion; but I will say this as fact: they censored me. And I didn’t like it. Not one bit.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then I shall begin.

The other day, while blundering around facebook**, I came across what I believed to be a something posted by a friend. I was curious; it appeared that the friend was under the impression that a Muslim holy day was somehow about him. In fact, not just about him: about all of the non-Muslim community in Dewsbury. Which struck me as a rather odd point of view. Why on earth would any Muslim on a holy day give a flying fuck what a non-Muslim was up to? So I commented that Muhammad’s Birthday, for that was the holy day in question, was probably just like Christmas except that they were only closing one road in Dewsbury for a couple of hours rather than taking over every bloody shop on the high street for six weeks. I also made the point that it was unlikely the march down said road in Dewsbury was a direct threat, and was more feasibly an excuse to have a bit of a street party and enjoy whatever respite from work Muslims may be awarded for such celebrations. You know, like we (as in the friend and I) would have done a few weeks earlier with our respective families. On Christmas Eve, for example, were we quaffing beer and mumbling and grumbling in the pub about how we would show those pesky Muslim with our bucks fizz and brightly wrapped gifts? Were we bollocks! We couldn’t have given two shits about what the Muslim community was up to as long as it wasn’t about to start trying to convert us or attempting to harm us in any way. Even less dramatic than not caring: we were completely indifferent to it. And I’m willing to bet that the Muslim community was as equally apathetic about us.

My friend saw it as a march against the non-Muslims, but I could honestly see no reason for that assumption, given that the march wasn’t a march of protest, but a march of faith. He had absolutely nothing but a gut feeling to go on, which I wasn’t prepared to trust as gospel. I like my facts to be cold and steely and hard… and maybe a bit minty.

I was called naïve, which seemed a bit superfluous to the argument and gave me no further insight into why my friend (and, it seemed, quite a few others) believed that the celebration of a Muslim holy day was a direct threat to their safety. I conceded that I might be naïve and that he was entitled to that opinion (not that it had ever been expressed about me before), but then endeavoured to get the conversation back on track. I said that I could possibly be wrong of course, but that it was a bit extreme to assume that we were under attack without further information than: a road in Dewsbury will be closed for a couple of hours for a march. In addition to the march, the road was also closing for waterworks and a 10k race, but that wasn’t at all the focus; apparently fun runners and Yorkshire water are less scary than people with different beliefs.

I informed the group that I worked with some Muslims, considered them friends and was pretty sure they didn’t have any desire to do me ill. I also said that if, when the march ended, war was declared against the non-Muslims then I would most definitely reconsider my stance on the issue; but having nothing to go on other than the bare bones of the thing, I wasn’t about to make scare-mongering assumptions about something of which I knew next to nothing.

Then a brown face appeared next to a comment and I thought: “Huzzah! For we have our v.own Muslim right here to ask. Now we’re cooking with gas.” His comment was simply: “Great day :)”

Immediately, that comment was deleted.

I commented: “Um… you deleted the Asian guy’s comment. Couldn’t you just have asked him what it all means to him?”

The next time I checked back to see what the response was, my comments had gone too, and there was a warning from The “Real” Dewsbury News saying that we had to “keep it clean,” because people were going onto the site to take screen shots of our conversation. I’m still not entirely sure why screen shots would be a problem – I was having a conversation in an open forum, after all. They could screen shot away, as far as I was concerned. In fact, here you are (please note that my comments are no longer there).

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Now, as you are probably aware, I swear like a sodding trooper, and if you have a problem with that, then you can sod off! But, at that moment in time, I was v.calm; I had been on my best behaviour because I hadn’t known the friend with whom I was conversing on the matter v.long, he’s one of my partner’s best friends, and I was genuinely not riled until this point. What I didn’t know until yesterday, was that the The “Real” Dewsbury News contacted this friend in a bid to keep me quite, which enraged me all over again.

I was rather taken aback by my censorship at first. I wondered briefly whether some of the longer words had confused the editors and they’d been under the impression that I was insulting them because they’d been unable to understand plain English.

Of course, this wasn’t the case. I had been excised, as in some Orwellian nightmare. Except that this was a public facebook page in the year 2013; we don’t live in a police state or a dystopian future-world where history is rewritten willy nilly and people are punished for speaking out. I was also blocked from making further comments. So, the comments ran as The “Real” Dewsbury News wanted them to – people winding each other into that mob-mentality because there was no room for mediation or debate. With no alternative way of thinking to diffuse situations like this, people can create a buttress for whatever method of ethnic culling they believe is somehow necessary. Whether you’re fighting others for a religion or a race, it’s all the same – it’s pure hatred channelled into a weak excuse to fight, and the opposition could be anyone. If you’re an angry person and you have to blame others for it, then you will – whether that censure is violent, verbal or internal – and it doesn’t matter who is on the receiving end as long as you can bally well hate them. It’s Pakistani Muslims at the minute; it might be the Chinese next decade, or the Sikhs, or whoever is being surreptitiously portrayed as the “baddie” through certain media vents and channelled into our systems by media osmosis. As in the novel, 1984, the masses are controlled by what they see on a screen – one day being told that they are at war with one country, and the next believing themselves to have always been at war with another. They love Big Brother (they have to love him) and hate Goldstein; daily screaming hatred at the image of this man whom they have never met and have been told to hate. The hatred is no less real for being subliminally implanted in their minds. But I digress; the media portrayals are just one aspect of it. Having one-sided reports and articles on your side only makes you blameless, in your eyes. But in reality it doesn’t make you blameless: it makes you blind and obtuse, and your subconscious should keep you awake at night.

Now, I had had an inkling, because I wasn’t born yesterday, that this paper may have a bias towards the white majority. It does, after all, advertise itself as the paper for the English community of Dewsbury (I believe that they specifically meant the white English community, given that we have rather a lot of English Muslims in this day and age). I had also had a hunch that what I was saying wasn’t going to be particularly popular. But, as I said: nothing I wrote was offensive; it was clean, succinct and open minded. I can’t prove it to you because I was deleted, but you can make your own mind up – I’m not the one trying to quash the opinions of others. In addition, nothing that I wrote was pro-Islam. It certainly wasn’t anti-Islam, but all I had actually asked was why the people making comments had seen fit to go into panic mode about something that would be over and done with in a couple of hours and would only affect them if they happened to be driving down that particular street at that particular time and didn’t have the brain capacity to take an alternative route.

The friend went on to say, because funnily enough he hadn’t been blocked, that he wouldn’t have asked the Muslim guy (also blocked) what the holy day meant to him because of all the corruption in the Islamic faith. Which was also a bizarre thing to say, because unless he knew something that I didn’t about the Asian guy who made the comment, then that Asian guy was just an average bloke. And unless you’re someone way up at the crooked top, you are also the victim of corrupt society. We all are. Show me organised religion and / or politics and I’ll show you corruption.

Oh, you want examples? Ok:

1. Catholic Church. The pope covered up the fact that several hundred priests had been tearing little boys’ arseholes apart. Are you going to tar everyone of the Catholic faith with that brush? Vast swathes of the Irish are Catholic, for a start, so if you applied the same logic that these troglodytes apply to Muslims, the implication would be that Ireland is populated by nonces because some sick fuck kept his gob shut instead of doing the decent thing.

2. The Media. Phone hacking.

3. Church of England. Do I even need to start? A religion that was pushed to the forefront so that some fat, horny king could divorce his older wife and fuck a younger one.

4. The Conservative Party. Sir Peter Viggers spent taxpayers’ money on a duck house not so long ago. I’ve never been a fan of the conservatives, but I’m not going to immediately spurn someone just for voting for the right wing prats. I’m pretty sure some of my friends vote conservative; we may be on disparate sides of the middle, but I love my friends all the same.

5. The Labour Party. Received a million pound donation from the Formula One driver, Bernie Eccleston, then the Labour government changed its policy to allow Formula One to continue being sponsored by tobacco producers. The money was sheepishly returned when all this was found out. I know that at least one of my friends is all about Labour, and she’s as straight up as they come. Just because she votes Labour does not make her approve of the sleaze aspect, and it certainly doesn’t make her sleazy herself.

The average person cannot be judged on the scumminess of those who represent the culture in which they live, because that average person hates the corruption as much as the people outside of that society. I’m willing to bet that your average, hard-working, decent Muslim detests the extreme beardy-weirdies giving them a bad name as much as your average, hard-working, decent non-Muslim hates the violent, extreme opinions of the intellectually repressed. Or as much as your average feminist resents the extreme opinions of a woman who calls herself a feminist merely because she hates men (which, incidentally, makes her just as bad as any woman-hating man and makes feminism look like a hate crime). Or your average, hard-working Brit who likes a drink, but abhors the pissed-up groups of hooligans that stalk the city streets at night terrorising others. And just as your average, civilised Catholic finds the acts of the IRA insufferable.

Muslims don’t kill people – extremists do. An extremist in any regard is a scary person, because an extremist believes that there is one way of life and that that way is their way and if you don’t agree, if you are not exactly like them, they will harm you whether you impinge upon their existence or not. The IRA and Al Qaeda are official terrorist groups that would, given the chance, silence everyone who doesn’t hold the same values. The BNP is a terrorist group posing as a political party (believe me: I have known some BNP voters and what they like to do for fun) and if placed in a position of power would happily go to work to create a police state.

Muslims are not just Muslims; they’re people: they are fathers and mothers and artists and comedians and fashion victims and depressives and optimists and so many other things besides. I am an atheist, but I am not just an atheist. I am working class, but I am not just working class. I am a feminist, but I am not just a feminist. Nobody is ever defined by one belief or act.

One of the Muslim girls I work with has the most amazing, dry sense of humour imaginable; she cracks me up whenever I talk to her. She is also exceptionally intelligent, quick-witted and beautiful.

One of my Muslim mates will shag anything in a skirt and has a backlog of anecdotes that could entertain you for hours. Every single time he comes back from visiting family in Pakistan, he is interrogated in the airport and worries because he has to say he’s going to Leeds… “I was like: ‘Ohhhhhh fuck: it’s where the suicide bombers were from’.” He was the one to stand up to a colleague who thrust his face into the breasts of another colleague at the Christmas party and expertly diffuse the situation without causing violence or embarrassment. He is a wicked cricketer and footballer and will do anything for anyone.

Another Muslim colleague of mine will not use his real name and goes by a western one instead. He is the laddiest lad I’ve ever met, which irritates the life out of me, but he’s only young, bless his cottons. He gets wasted, he throws himself around dance floors, he bangs on about which chicks he wants to bone, he does everything he can to fit in with western society. And yet a few months ago, on a night out in London with mates he had his head kicked in by a gang of yobs. He has had extensive corrective surgery on his face and needs to go back for more, and there was a v.strong possibility that he would lose the sight in one eye, which, thankfully, has returned. He is twenty two years old.

I have to mention, having gleaned more info this v.day, that the lad in the above scenario is actually Hindi. I did think it was odd that a guy with Indian parents would be Muslim, but since you do get a few Muslims in India, I didn’t really question it. However, I doubt the fact that he is a Hindu would stop a white supremacist from beating ten shades of shit out of him.

Here’s the rub: I am not pro-Islam. I am not in favour of any religion***. I don’t like the racism that religion breeds, or the misogyny, or the cliques, or the general bigotry and hatred. But I do not think that anyone should be persecuted for having a religion. As long as you’re doing others no harm and not foisting it on me, you can go ahead and believe in your imaginary friends and everything that pertains thereto. Knock yourself out. I won’t be bothering you about your beliefs as long as you don’t bother me with them. You can reiki the shit out of yourself, if you like, just as long as you don’t intend to hurt anyone with it. You just pop your homeopathic cure into your mouth and feel better for it, if it works for you; it doesn’t work for me, but who am I to judge? Confess every time you have a bad thought, if you must, but don’t expect judgement from me. Don’t want to eat bacon because you believe it to be dirty? All the more of the yummy pig-meat for me. I confess that I’m tremendously upset by automatic genital mutilation to male (and particularly female) children, but if you must, do not touch me or mine†.

There are, of course, cultural differences that need to be addressed. As in the case of Adil Rashid, the eighteen year old who was recently allowed a reprieve from a prison sentence because he “didn’t know it was illegal to have sex with a thirteen year old girl.” He had been taught that women had “no more worth than a lollipop dropped on the ground” in a strict Islamic school. Naturally, this gets my goat. I don’t like that it happens in other countries, but I am v.lucky to live in this country, where women are allowed their freedom and basic human rights… now. So when that sort of thing happens here, it enrages me that it was allowed to happen. I absolutely agree that Muslim parents should have the right to bring their kids up as Muslim themselves, but those kids should also be taught to conform to British basic human laws and to understand the worth that the British law places on our women (even if it is severely lacking in some regards). It is the responsibility of our school boards to ensure that our schools teach children appropriately, and it is the responsibility of Muslim parents and Imams to ensure that their children obey the rules of this country if they are to reside here. It is also the responsibility of the immigration officials to make sure that people taught abroad understand our laws and ethics before allowing them into the country. I’m not talking about us being pussies here; I’m not saying that England should be a free-for-all playground for people to use and abuse; I’m just suggesting that we conduct ourselves with decorum and compassion, like the civilised people we should all be.

Currently, the Muslim integration into British society is not without its pitfalls: the frequency of trafficking of white girls by groups of Muslim men, for example, which has recently come to light. I heard a young, English Muslim speaking on Radio 4 recently who said that the opinion amongst some of the older Muslims is that “white women are asking to be raped” where the majority of the younger Muslims don’t believe this at all. This put me in mind of our older generations who verbally persecute someone for being black or gay or female or Asian, and constantly rile the younger generations with their prejudice; like I said, Muslims are just human beings like any other when it boils down to it. To have the discriminatory opinion is intolerant; but it is one thing to believe something and quite another to act upon it. As with the issue of the equality of women: it is not yet ideal, but it is slowly improving all the time, generation upon generation. The traffickers in question should be severely punished. All human traffickers should be severely punished, and now that it has come to light, it is up to the decent members of society, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, to prevent this from ever happening again by teaching children from a young age how to act accordingly.

But back to the spark that conjured my wrath. Editor of The “Real” Dewsbury News facebook page – you silence anyone who questions you wherever you can and I can only assume that your ideology would be a police state run by your most like-minded and blondest friends. But we have freedom of speech and equal rights here, and those are among the many things that make this country great. It goes hand in hand with our ability to adapt, our humanity and our multiculturalism. It’s the backward ignoramuses that slow our cerebral evolution as a society that scare me more than anything. With your childishly simplistic, black and white views on which you will allow no further comment or no room for improvement you are inciting hatred, and that makes you no better than the Islamic extremists who hate you. And dude – Dewsbury is the home of hundreds of Muslims, so to exclude their voices from your articles makes The “Real” Dewsbury News, not really real in any regard.

EPILOGUE

Do you know, I wrote a little song the other day. I feel that song coming on now, although I know it to be clichéd… ahem ahem…

 

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…

… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!

 

Oh, I beg your pardon – that came from out of the blue.

Guys, I implore you to comment on what I’ve written. I appreciate that I may have allowed some grammatical or lexical errors to leak through, in which case please do let me know so that I can learn from, or learn of, the mistake and correct it.

Please do let me know if there is any aspect that you agree or disagree with. In the same vein as my typing skills, my opinions are not complete because I have in no way stopped growing and learning, or honing my views. I hope I never lose the ability to consider a contrary argument, appreciate it and perhaps, after careful consideration, absorb some of its elements. But be aware that simple name-calling will just mean that I ignore the comment… not delete it because I am not a total fucking moronic bell-end.

I hope that I haven’t offended anyone (who isn’t the editor, contributor or writer of The “Real” Dewsbury News) – my comments on religion should be taken with a pinch of salt††. I have no faith, but I appreciate that others do and I appreciate the importance of those beliefs to the faithful.

Did you say encore? Yes, it is a catchy tune, isn’t it? Ok then… ahem ahem…

 

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitleeeeeeerrrrrrr,

Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hitler Hit…

… lerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr was a fascist wanker!

FOOTNOTES

* I may be wrong, but in the short time since being made aware of the existence of The Real Dewsbury News, I have been unable to find a hard copy of the “newspaper.” I believe it to be web-based only, although I do apologise profusely if I am mistaken. I didn’t realise just how insignificant this publication was either until I began to do some digging, but I’ve started now, so I’ll finish.

** Bloody facebook!

*** Except maybe Hindu because if you’re going to make some stories up about some magic people in the sky, they may as well have eight arms! That’s one amazingly imaginative religion. In the Hindu religion, a cow gave birth to the world. A cow! I love it! I honestly love it. I have also adored every single Hindu I’ve ever met, although I haven’t met many, I grant you. Lovely, gentle people, as far as I’m aware. I could be wrong, but I like to think not.

† Or I will rip your fucking heart out!

†† Apart from my comments about the pope, because, as Tim Minchin says: “… the fact remains that if you protect a single kiddie fucker / Then pope or prince or plumber, you’re a fucking motherfucker.” But then that is a comment on the individual, not on every catholic. In the same way that I believe Osama Bin Laden to be (to have been?) a total goddamn cock of the highest order, but don’t believe that of all Muslims.

196348_503907296318649_1895986437_n

The picture that accompanied the article in question. I’m pretty sure that’s not Dewsbury either. I actually couldn’t find any pictures at all of the march in Dewsbury in respect of Muhammad’s birthday.

On the other hand, this is another picture of an EDL march in Dewsbury…

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Oh, and another. Classy…!

1341073792-english-defence-league-edl-march-through-dewsbury_1306944

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Porn & Prejudice

blondes-french-kissing

I don’t care whether you’re a wanker or a liar (because you’re either one or the other), if you’re old enough to be reading this blog, you will at some point have downed trou and flicked the bean, bashed the bishop, beaten the meat, done the five finger shuffle, bludgeoned the beef steak, jacked off, buffed the muffin, milked the cow, burped the worm, or whatever term you choose to use whilst in the throes of abusing yourself. Men and women alike do this and, as has already been proven (and as we already know, if we’re being honest with ourselves), women are as stimulated by erotica as men. So why are there so few female porn flick directors?

I get v.upset by the men in porn. So much so that I haven’t watched a straight porno in going on seven years. Straight porn movies seem to revolve around the amount of aggression that can be poured into the sexual act. The aesthetics of the men in porn don’t do it for me, for a start: lumpy with muscle, greased, hairless, clumsy, with massive cocks that they thrust into the dry, unwelcoming hole on offer. The noises emitted by the false-breasted, orange-skinned, heavily made-up women start the instant they’re penetrated, in whatever sense, and don’t stop until the man has reached his climax. And, let me tell you, if a woman’s making those noises so soon into the act and for so long, you’re either hurting her or she’s faking it.

But, that’s something else: nobody seems to care whether the woman is enjoying herself; you couldn’t even say that anyone’s convinced by the false cries, the: “Oh, yeah, oh baby, oh my gosh* yeah…” It could be that I am a particularly ineloquent lay: I may be able to break concentration enough to manage a garbled: “Gonna come,” but I generally don’t bother, because I’m too busy. I’m too busy thinking about me and what I’m getting from it all to be concerned about how I look or what I sound like. Of course, if my partner intimated that they weren’t enjoying what I was enjoying, I would change tack, because I want them to have as good a time as I. But that’s something else – the people in your average porn film couldn’t give two shits about the person they’re with. I’m not expecting love or gushing romantic declarations, for God’s sake (we’re talking about sex here), but I would like, just for once, for those people to engage with one another. I want an element of respect and enjoyment.

So, let’s say, I’ve found some lesbian porn on Red Tube and I settle myself down in front of my incognito window:-

Step One: I wait for it to load, I hit play, I hear cheesy music, which I’m going to try to ignore, there are two women on the screen… and then I hear a man’s voice. There’s my hardon gone. May as well go and have a piece of toast and watch another episode of Poirot – there’s no way I’m going to be able to get my freak on now. Even if these women were gay, which I seriously doubt, they’re having to perform to a man’s tune. Not sexy.

Step Two: I study the women. They’re sitting on a leather sofa, and they’re both a strange shade of orange with lashings of heavy make-up, dressed in tight mini-skirts, with spiked, clear heels and tube tops. I’m already losing momentum. Girls emulating Jordan, who, bless her silly little cottons, never really did it for me.

Step Three: I manage to get over the first hurdles and the girls undress. Oh dear, holy fuck! One of them has clearly had a breast enlargement that will undoubtedly cause her back problems, and they both sport totally bald frufrus with non-existent labia. I could believe it if just one of them had the mini-lips – it’s not so common in nature, but it does sometimes happen – but the fact that they’re clones of each other down there smacks of vaginal surgery and this makes me seething angry.

Step Four: they haven’t taken the ridiculous shoes off and it doesn’t look like they’re about to.

Step Five: they start kissing… or something. It looks like it’s vastly unpleasant – they flap their lipsticked mouths around each other passionlessly, often missing the mouth and smearing spit on chins and cheeks. It’s probably because they’re not paying attention to each other or connecting – they’re looking at the man behind the camera, and the look on their faces is part sham lust and part enquiry. At what appears to be a remark from the cameraman, the one with the more natural looking breasts shoots out a hand and abrasively pinches one of the silicone mounds attached to her colleague’s chest. I wince in sympathy. A similar thing happened to me once when I was thirteen and snogging behind the drama studio. It was vastly unpleasant, but at least my voluminous checked shirt and baggy black fantasy T-shirt protected me from the full impact of bony fingers.

Step Six: one of them (the one with the falseys) suddenly lies down and whips her legs akimbo to give us the full on impact of the depilated wonder at the top of her thighs. She is not aroused. You would have to be an idiot to not know that – I’m not even sure you’d have ever needed to see an aroused woman to know that. Her bajingo looks like a sad chicken wing.

Step Seven: the other woman moves towards the chicken wing with a look of grim determination; she reaches out and prods it with a long, acrylic nail… whoa whoa whoa. Now, I was starting to suspect (just a teeeeeeeeeeeny weeeeeeeeny bit) that these girls were not actually gay; just a hunch, not that I like to judge on appearance alone. But this just about makes me choke with laughter. There is a reason gay and bisexual women don’t have long nails… and if you don’t know that reason, then you are clearly not a gay or bisexual woman.

Step Eight: on prodding it, the be-taloned one realises that it’s going to be difficult to get the enormous dildo, which is lying conveniently on the coffee table, into the chicken wing because the other party is not even remotely turned on, so she gobs on it and gives it a nice, affectionate slap to boot. If I had managed to get to this point in proceedings in a real situation, which I doubt, I would be now shouting: “Oh come on! Give me a break!”

Step Nine: the gobber reaches out and rubs the chicken wing in a bizarre way that makes me wonder if she thinks a genie is about to pop out of it, at which point, the gobbed on woman starts writhing and moaning loudly. Then with a look of obvious distaste, the gobber stops rubbing and advances on the chicken wing with her shiny, fuchsia mouth. Between the two “acts,” there is no contact at all between the two women, but the woman on her back still moans away (?). There is some funky nonsense with the dildo, which is grotesquely big and, despite spit, the woman doing the work is struggling to insert it into the chicken wing. She even tries to look like she’s enjoying sucking the rubber implement (which she can’t get into her mouth) before trying again (woman on back is still groaning away) and finally manages to get it to look like it’s doing something, although I suspect it’s just balanced.

Step Ten: three forceful and graceless licks later, the woman on her back starts making even louder noises and so does the woman licking (??) before the woman on her back, who is completely unflushed and composed, stares deep into the eyes of the camera, licks her lips, roughly grabs one of her giant breasts and licks that for good measure, then gives a bizarre scream, seizes the head of the gobber, pulls her up towards her and kisses her in a similar fashion to Step.

Then they both stare at the camera licking their lips and the picture fades out.

I do not have enough time to go through what is wrong here – if you don’t know then you need some lessons in sex and the sensuality. I watched from beginning to end with gruesome fascination. This is where the next generation of young men are getting their ideas about sex, women, the human anatomy and lesbianism. And, presumably, that counts for young women too. This is one of the reasons, despite the work of many feminists, that we are still expected to have long, bleached hair and huge tits, why we’re all supposed to have washboard stomachs and small fanny lips and great, big, bleached colonically cleansed arseholes, and no hair anywhere except on our heads (and heaven forbid that a woman may have any hair whatsoever on her face). This is why some men have no concept of how long it takes a woman to actually come, and why they think that lesbians and bisexuals are just doing it for the male attention***. And it’s why women who don’t come in thirty seconds feel like there’s something wrong with them.

Suffice it to say that the above video did absolutely nothing for me, and not just because surrounding the screen were adverts depicting women being raped by men, of women being raped by CGI monsters, and a girl who, apparently, lived in my area was naked, wanted sex and kept calling me “big boy…” although these things were most definitely off-putting.

More women need to get involved with the porn industry. There is no stopping pornography – not that I’d want to – it’s huge and lucrative, and as long as the human race is alive and masturbating there will be a market for it. But it is a man’s business at the minute and that’s not on, if you ask me. Especially when to allow it to be purely a man’s world leads to lack of information, lack of choice and a growing pressure for women to conform, not just in looks but in bed – I hate that we’re all supposed to look a certain way, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let what someone else thinks of me ruin my sex life. We’ve hardly come a long way, us womenfolk, if we’re still expected to make the right noises so that a man feels good about himself in the sack to the detriment of our own pleasure.

I want to watch a video where each party is having as much fun as the other. I also want these images of women effectively being raped to be banned. There’s a difference between a rape fantasy that is a fantasy for each, and the public rape of a woman because she needs to pay the bills and feels she can’t refuse. I have seen some horrific videos – they’re not simulations; we’re talking hardcore pornography here – of women having huge cocks forced into their mouths while they sob, of men thrusting fists** into women’s bleached anuses while they scream. These videos actually make me blanch. And before anyone says it: NO! They are not enjoying it. It’s their job to pretend they’re enjoying it so that you can get off, but it is clearly not the case and you, as the consumer of such videos, know this, but try to justify it to yourself by making out that you’re doing these women a favour by giving them an outlet.

There’s an aggression that goes with the porn industry that I hate. Yes, sex is an animal act, and in being so, somewhat aggressive, but there is a sort of blind hatred towards women in porn. I can’t remember the exact title of the film I’ve mentioned above, but it was something like “Dykes in Heat Suck Dripping Twat.” Nice. And categorically inaccurate. I’ve also come across “Hot Slots,” “Bitches with Fingers in All Holes,” “Hard Clits and Soggy Twats” and “Interracial Sluts Don’t Need Dick.”

I’m sure there is some good stuff out there (occasionally, I find some and breathe a sigh of relief), but there most certainly isn’t enough. I’m not averse to Abbey Winters, and Liz Thomas seems to have done some ok stuff, although I’m not convinced it’s not a man working under a pseudonym. Some of the amateur stuff is ok, but come on people: I want the choice of watching some real sex with real people directed by real women, for God’s sake. You know – women with flaps and normal coloured skin and breasts that jiggle and fall into their armpits when they lie down because that’s what breasts do (and they’re no less beautiful for it). I want those women to direct other women with the same attributes. I want a female director to insist that all parties climax before they stop filming, and actually climax; truly climax; gurn and go pink in the face and say any stupid thing that pops into their heads at that moment in time like people actually do when they orgasm.

What I want, is real gay women who want to have sex in front of a camera and who want everyone involved to be having a good time. I want real straight sex where the women call the shots fifty percent of the time (and not in a fetishist way, which is the only time that ever happens at the minute) and actually orgasm; real orgasms; orgasms you can see as well as hear. There would be far less taboo about the smutty world of porn if women were as equally involved in its creation, and equally as expected to watch.

In addition, I have spoken to some of the men in my life on this subject, and they have all said something similar to me. I mean, they’re hardly going to admit that they regularly fantasise about rape, are they? but they all genuinely seemed to be put off by the falsity of most pornography. In fact, all of them said the same thing at some point in the conversation…

                                                                           … It’s too fake!

FOOTNOTES:

* This is generally your American porn star that chooses to “gosh” rather than “God.” Amusing, is it not, that the next words out of her mouth to the stranger with whom she’s engaging in sexual relations may be: “Fuck me harder,” but that to blaspheme would really not be on?

** And while we’re on the subject of fisting, most men think that it involves punching a woman in the cervix. Boys – don’t do this or it will also involve you being punched in the face.

*** “I think what a woman like you needs, is a man like me to straighten you out…” this was, I think, the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard a man say on the subject of bisexuality. I presume he was expecting a lip pouting in response and some over the top innuendo before he received a blow job for being “clever” enough to crack the Bisexual Code.

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The Shouters

chuggers1

I have developed a technique; it’s brusque* and there is only one situation in which I’m comfortable executing it, but it is effective. It goes like this:

“Hand up, palm out in front of my face as if I’m about to say: “Talk to the hand, bitch!” I yell “NO!”

Now, I suggest that, before you read further, you practice this in front of a mirror – just to get the full impact of what it means.

Do you understand what it means? Good. Then I shall begin.

NO! NO! is what it means. And it is reserved solely for people who interrupt my lunch break. Not just any people, mind you; if someone at work came over to me on my lunch break and asked me something, I would swallow my irritation and answer with gusto; if someone on the street came up to me on my lunch break and asked for directions, I would happily send them packing in the wrong direction**; but if anyone approached me on my lunch break proffering a clipboard, or a religious leaflet, or a flyer, or a bloody collection tin, they would (and often do) most definitely get NO!-ed.

I attempted to shop today. I don’t often; I hate shopping in every regard – the heat, the lights, the smells, the endless racks of identical clothes, the continual stream of ignorant fucks, the soul-sapping ugliness of chain stores – but I wanted a nice, fluffy winter jumper and, although every sinew of my anatomy was screaming in protest at the thought of even going into Debenhams, let alone trying things on and queuing to pay, I decided I would just have a quick sweep of the ladieswear and then peg it back to my desk to read my book for half an hour. There was no sweeping. Pegging? Not a chance. Because en route to Debenhams, I was accosted a sum total of five times. That might not sound like a lot, but then consider that on the way back, trying to avoid the twats who had waylaid me on the way there, I was confronted six more times, and two of those times were by people who had accosted me originally. Re-accosting gits.

The first of these people was a homeless man*** who was sitting by a cash machine. Forgive me, for I have never been homeless and v.much hope that I will never be homeless, but cash machines don’t, have never will never, dispense change. So to ask a person who has just drawn a ten pound note out of a cash machine for coinage, as if by dint of the fact that they’ve just shown the colour of their money in one form will automatically mean that they have other money of a less foldy variety, seems ludicrous. Perhaps it is merely that people have their wallets out at this point, but I still resent being made to feel like a selfish bitch for taking my own money out of a cash machine and not giving it to the homeless when I’m on a lunch break from the job that consumes most of my life (thus preventing me from completing commissions faster), but which I must do to pay the bills. I sympathise if that man is truly homeless. But I am perpetually skint and the £32 I spent on a jumper should really have been spent on whittling down some more of my crippling debt, not on clothing me or feeding the needy. So I said: “No – sorry” and he said: “Have a nice day, love.” in a contemptuous tone that made me momentarily lose any shred of compassion. This man, I didn’t NO! because I had initially thought that it would be cruel, but in my moment of aversion, I fervently wished that I had done.

Accosting the first. Done.

The second of these people was also standing near the cash machine and as I passed she tried to force a flyer into my hand for which I had no use. Said flyer was for the Park Row Brasserie bar and was an advert for BOGOF cocktails. Even if the thought of flinging back two cosmos before going back to the office had appealed to me (and, to be honest, it really did attract me more than the thought of whatever merry hell Debenhams had to offer), I wouldn’t need the flyer to do so – the flyer would have been pointless – the flyer had no bearing on whether I could march into the Park Row Brasserie and order two piña coladas for the price of one – the flyer was merely alerting me to the fact. And I already knew that because I’ve been in that bar and tried to use the flyer as a voucher in the past and been told that I didn’t need it. And even if that hadn’t been the case, I would have managed to glean this information from the discarded flyers that littered the ground around this girl’s feet. I NO!-ed her. She looked a bit shocked, as did I fleetingly, as I realised, arm outstretching to show my palm, that I’d misjudged my distance from her and knew that it was too late to stop it. Luckily, I managed to not make contact, all was well and I grumped off over the road.

Accosting the second. Fini.

The third of these people was someone who seemed to think that a man I’ve never met, called Jesus, still loved me despite my sins. I thought that this was highly presumptuous on the part of both the accoster and this Jesus dude, but I managed to deter him with a well placed NO! and was on my way before he had recovered enough composure to start bellowing at everyone else who was walking past that Jesus passionately loved his flock… polygamy and bestiality are surely sins. No wonder he forgave me mine.

Accosting the third. Bosh.

Next up was a woman with a clip board, a bright red T-shirt and an irritatingly cheery voice who bounded up to me and asked me for money. I declined with a NO! But this time, I was thwarted and, as I walked off, the woman dashed around me to explain that I was mistaken and did want to give her some money after all. Why would I not? It was for a good cause. I bellowed a NO! again and walked away, but she did still insist on prancing after me for a good few metres and her shouts continued to accompany me almost to Debenhams’ glass doors.

Now, I didn’t always roar at the bearers of clipboards. I was never interested in what they had to say, and I was never going to donate to their cause because I am everlastingly brassic and because I donate to charities on a regular basis, but I used to try to explain. I used to say things like: “Oh, but I already give to charity every month” and they would say nonsensical things back like: “Well, that means you’re a nice person – you definitely want to donate to Save the Cows because we’re a similar charity to… what was it you donated to? Oh, yes – I mean, we’re just like the NSPCC, really, if you think about it.” I also tried the: “I really have no money – sorry” to which I often received the response: “But just £3 a month could buy a dyslexia victim five reams of yellow paper… You must be able to spare a measly £3.” Well, no, actually! Not on top of the £3 I give to the NSPCC (which is an organisation that thoroughly fucks me off, incidentally. I’m pretty sure the money I’ve given to the NSPCC over the years has been spent on free pens, cold calling, adverts that make me want to vomit at their triteness and clipboards), the £2 I give to the Brittle Bone Foundation, the £5 I give to CLIC Sargent and the monthly donations I make to whatever charity we’re touting in the office at any given moment. I’d stop those payments too, because I can’t really afford them, but you can’t cancel donations to charity… you just can’t, can you?

Accosting the fourth. Booyah!

Just before I reached the shiny doors of Debenhams, beyond which shimmered potions and lotions that seemed to promise me eternal life, happiness and exquisite beauty for a reasonable sum of my hard earned cash, a man stepped in front of me and whistled like a bird. I frowned at him and attempted to walk around him, but he once more stepped in front of me and whistled like a bird. I stopped and looked up at him with a slightly bemused look on my face (he was v.tall and I was wearing trainers and was thus rather shorter than he.) He wiggled his eyebrows. I harrumphed and was about to try to pass him a third time when he pulled something from his mouth and offered it to me. I looked up at him again, blankly.

“You make the noise, yes?” he said in the ever cheerful accent that is typical of all Nigerians.

“Um… no, no, I’m ok for the moment,” I said, coming over all what-ho. “But thank you v.much for the offer.”

Again, the man thrust his little whistle at me.

“Is wuan pund ant fifty pence,” he said, flashing me a winning smile.

“Yes, yes,” said I. “I’m sure it’s v.reasonable. But I’m not sure that I need one right now, thanks all the same.”

The Nigerian man smiled and wiggled his eyebrows again.

“For pretty girl like you, we make it wuan pund.”

“Oh,” I said, burning inside with discomfit. “That is most awfully kind of you. It is v.jolly, isn’t it? But I’m afraid I just want a jumper at the moment.”

The man, who was beginning to look a little downcast, perked right up.

“You want jomper?”

“I’ve seen one already,” I rushed. “It’s…” I started to move towards the shiny doors of false hope. “It’s in here. Thank you. I’m sure your jumpers are lovely. Thank you. Maybe next time. Thank you. Thank… thank you.”

I pushed passed him and threw myself into the heat of the department store.

Accosting the fifth. Meh. Next time, I will NO! anyone who whistles at me like a bird, but that scenario had never presented itself to me before and my eternal politeness kicked in before I’d had time to think. As an eternally polite person, I once listened to a couple of Jehovah’s witnesses who’d knocked on the door while I was at home recuperating after an operation. I stood, in agony due to nature of said operation, with a polite look on my face, bare-footed and frozen until eventually, I said:

“I say,” slight nervous cough. “It is awfully kind of you to try to save me and it’s been ever so interesting, but you see… well, would you mind if I went back inside now? It just that my feet are rather chilly and I’m pretty sure some of my stitches have come loose.”

So there I was in Debenhams, attempting to unwind from my bizarre bird-whistling experience under harsh electric lighting, jostled around by consumers and unable to breathe. I have always wondered what would happen if someone inadvertently lit up a fag on the ground floor in Debenhams. There appear to be many flammable things on the ground floor in Debenhams, you see. The air, for a start: I swear that the chemical formula for the atmosphere for your average Debenhams is H2O-C2H5OH. Then there are the assistants, who appear to be made of some form of plasticine, or perhaps wax; whatever their physical compound, I’m willing to bet that anything that shade of orange has to be highly combustible. Presumably, these aliens are employed specifically for the ground floor because they are the only creatures who can breathe the atmosphere for hours at a time. And let’s not forget the millions upon millions of sharply pungent perfumes, some of which clearly have a base scent of Sex Panther. No, Debenhams is a ticking time bomb of doom, if you ask me.

“Carrot?” asked an orange assistant with spectacularly messy black hair.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked, trying not to breathe too deeply or stare too intensely at her matted locks.

“Diamonds Black Carat. The new fragrance by Armani,” she held up a bottle, which did look surprisingly like the Sex Panther bottle.

“Oh for God’s sake!” I bellowed, perhaps a little too loudly. “Can’t I just buy a sodding jumper without having to go through all this shit?!”

The girl jumped and moved away, confused, but not upset as far as I could see. Accosting the sixth.

Suffice it to say that I did not get a jumper in Debenhams. I went to the correct floor, I walked around it once, I walked around it twice trying to find the downwards-bearing escalator, I walked around a third time with panic beginning to set in and then I left, livid and rather frightened that I would never breathe the clean air of an inner city again. On the way back, I was accosted by another charity, this time a young man wearing blue; the same charity (same bloody girl); a leaflet giver who wouldn’t take NO! for an answer; a man who wanted me to join Leeds’ cheapest gym and who didn’t believe that I didn’t want to sign up even though I had run eight miles that morning, walked three, would walk another three and would finish the day with some ab’ work and circuit training; a Big Issue man dressed like some sort of zany clown; and the same homeless man, who had moved to a different cash machine.

I ordered a jumper online from the safety of my desk and lamented the moment when I decided that in-the-flesh-shopping sounded like a blast.

This sort of invasion of privacy has now become the norm, it would seem. So, my NO! and accompanying hand movement may seem rude, but is it really as rude as, say, someone trying to foist upon me some outdated religion when they know not a single thing about me? Is it as rude as someone insinuating that I have all the money in the world and have v.selfishly decided to keep it for myself? Is it as rude as someone whistling at me like a bird and then handing me something that they’ve just taken out of their mouth?

Too right, it isn’t. It ain’t rude enough! Maybe one day I’ll evolve to a more eloquent “GET FUCKED MOTHERFUCKER!” but that seems like an awful lot of syllables to waste on someone of such ilk.

FOOTNOTES:

* Downright rude, actually

** Not because I’m mean, but because I have absolutely no sense of direction.

*** Stand by for my tale of how I ran into a homeless man I see regularly when he was on a night out in town one weekend

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Fuckwits

Oh, my blogs have suffered. Suffered, they have! This is because I have been v.v.busy with my novel [yawns nonchalantly], which I have now completed the first draft of and am currently taking a break from before I steam in and edit like a bastard.

So, the blogs, they are back. And now I’m going to repeat myself, as I so often do in the real world. What I want to talk to you about is numpties. Some of you long-standing readers… well, reader*… may remember that, several years ago, I wrote a blog post about numpties and why they get on my tits – I made some good points and offered advice on how one should act when out and about in public. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually seem to get through to a single numpty, and they’re all out there getting right up my nose as usual.

This re-blog has been born of a single incident, which happened earlier this week, and which left me reeling somewhat: I was kicked. I was kicked hard. I was kicked hard by a girl who was walking towards me whilst I was walking in a straight line – I knew that she was there because I could see her out of the corner of my eye. As said girl approached, I also realised, because I have these amazing things called peripherals and I know how to use them (unlike most people, it would seem), that I was walking fast enough for her to safely walk behind me several feet away. So, imagine my surprise when I felt something hard and cold hit the delicate bones across the top of my left foot – I was wearing five inch heels at the time, which meant that my left foot was swept from under me and the stiletto hit the top of my right foot removing a good chunk of skin and laddering my beautiful seamed stockings. I tottered, but managed to keep my balance. There was a pause as I considered what had just happened and quite how. Then I realised that this person had, surely, kicked me on purpose. There was no way around it. I straightened from my stopping-myself-from-falling-but-still-looking-like-a-prat stoop and turned, only to find that the girl in question was eyeballing me with a look of abject hatred plastered across her miserable face. Then she was gone, vanished into the warmth of Pret a Manger on Commercial Street. Feeling slightly stupid to be goggling at a sandwich shop with a “what the fuck” look on my face, I began to walk, slower this time, as thoughts whirled around my head. Why would someone deliberately go out of their way to kick me? The only rational reason I could come up with was that the lady in question was actually the ex-wife of my ex-partner. I had only seen this girl’s face for a second, but she had the same colouring, and I never actually met my ex-partner’s ex-wife, so I only have memories of photos I saw ages ago to go on; she’s not someone who ever crosses my mind any more either, so it really could have been her. The thought rallied me somewhat: at least there was a rationale behind the act, albeit a rather childish and flawed one.

So I e-mailed the ex when I got back to my desk:

From: Emily Dewsnap
Sent: 22 October 2012 13:53
To: The Ex
Subject: Quick Q.

Hello,

How are you?

This may sound like a bizarre question, but is your ex-wife in Leeds?

Emily Dewsnap

Telephone +44 (0)113 123 4567

That Place

On That Road

Leeds

Fax +44 (0)113 123 4567

emily.dewsnap@thatplace.com

http://www.thatplace.com

Please consider the environment before printing this email

__________________________________________________________________________

From: The Ex
Sent: 23 October 2012 14:00
To: Emily Dewsnap
Subject: RE: Quick Q.

All good with me apart from a bloody migraine!

How’s life with you?

I’m not aware of my ex-wife being in Leeds. Have you seen her?

Take care

The Ex

___________________________________________________________________

I may have changed some details, but not the essence. This disturbed me. Chances are that this wasn’t the ex-wife. So, someone in Leeds, who I don’t know, maliciously, and with intent to kill** tripped me in the street for absolutely no reason. We are obviously dealing with a whole new breed of fuckwit!

Now, had I been thinking clearly, I would have stomped into Pret, located the girl and asked: “What in the name of holy shit was that in aid of?” but I didn’t. I went back to my desk and sulked, like every normal twenty nine year old. Shoulda woulda coulda – hindsight’s a bitch.

but this isn’t blog fini – no no; I am just getting started. Because I am so sick and tiredof having to navigate around arseholes and yet still being on the receiving end of so much venom.

Not so long ago, I realised that when someone crashes rudely into me and I apologise, they don’t apologise back. Being English, the word “sorry” can have various meanings in my vocabulary. When someone crashes impolitely into me, my urge to smile and apologise has nothing to do with my lamenting the fact that I was in their way when they were too bone idle to look where they were going, and has everything to do with the fact that this was possibly an accident that everyone has engendered at some point in their lives; the breathy, friendly “sorry” I emit in these circumstances is merely a way of saying: “That was silly, but don’t worry about it – I’m ready to hear your apology and then we can both get on with whatever task it was that caused me to be in the place you wanted to be in and caused you to not check that that place wasn’t occupied before you blundered into it.”

I think it was after I roared: “I think you mean sorry, yes?!” to a random man who had pushed me off the pavement into the path of a speeding bus because he hadn’t been bothered to move over on the otherwise empty pavement to walk around me, that I realised the apology on my part was pointless. From this particular man, I was expecting the reaction I would have given (not that pushing people is the sort of thing I routinely do) had I managed to not notice that I was pushing someone into the road and then not noticed that the person had spoken to me the first time – if it had been me, I’d have blustered a bit, gone pink in the face with shame and said: “Oh, I’m so sorry. Honestly, I was miles away. Are you ok?” What he actually did was turn round, flash me a derisive look and flick me the Vs. Yep – he SWORE at me!

So, I no longer apologise when people crash into me. I just look them dead in the eye*** and wait for my apology. And it never comes. What the hell is wrong with people?

I commute to work on foot. It’s a three mile walk from my door to the office and I do it in thirty to thirty-five minutes, which should give you an idea of how fast I walk. Every single day, I encounter the same problem (sometimes with the same people): I walk down the edge of the pavement so that if anyone wants to get past, they can do, and so that if I need to get past anyone, I’m politely on the outside of them, shielding them from traffic, not slipping up the inside and making them feel like I’m on the verge of launching them into the road. If I spy someone up ahead who is also walking on the outer edge of the pavement, I move to the inside as soon as I see them. The problem with this is that other people don’t seem to look. Ever. I can change from one side of the pavement and back again numerous times as the person zigzags towards me and still not be noticed until the v.last second. In this v.last second, whether the person has weaved around on the pavement on their journey towards me or not, the other walker will, inevitably, decide that they want to be on the side of the pavement that I’m on and then glare at me for being in their way. WHAT is wrong with people?

The other regular occurrence is when a group of people walking towards me notice me and then eyeball me confrontationally until the point where they reach me. I will then be ejected from the pavement whilst members of said group of people glower at me  like I’ve just shat in their breakfasts. Again: what is WRONG with people? They seem to get this right with lampposts, though. In fact, anything that  isn’t me, the fuckwits walk around. In both of those scenarios I have just presented, there is no way those people wouldn’t have moved if I had been a lamppost. Although walking into me is probably less painful than walking into a lamppost on account of all the padding, I am still v.much a solid object. And a solid object that’s going to get rather cross if I’m pushed into the road into oncoming traffic.

Poverty Wagon Fuckwits

Then there are the bus zombies who spill out over the pavement near the bus stops and don’t appear to see you or give a flying fuck that they’ve completely blocked the way for any passersby, simply because they can’t be arsed, or are too bloody thick, to stand in a neat line. Bizarrely, people waiting at bus stops seem to also be stone deaf, which means that issuing a courteous “excuse me” will just get you stared at. Perhaps the mere courteousness itself is what baffles this particular fuckwit. Barging through everyone is the only option, although, woe-betide anyone who encounters a gaggle of fuckwits attempting to board a bus; no matter how obvious it is that
you have no desire to get on their bus, the fuckwits will still think that if they let you through, you will queue jump for the hell of it, and the only option is to wait until every last one has gone before you can even contemplate restarting your journey.

Poverty wagon fuckwits can get you in two ways. The other is when you’re approaching one who’s standing at the back edge of the pavement waiting for a bus. It is a guarantee that if you are running or walking towards them, they will wait until you are almost upon them before they stick their hand out and leap to the edge of the pavement. Even if the bus isn’t actually coming, you can see them shuffling their feet in anticipation. Presumably, they think that the brisk pace you’re keeping will dissipate as soon as you reach them and that you’re goal is to stand directly in from of them, thus preventing them from flagging down their bus.

Supermarket Zombie Fuckwits

I hate food shopping. I thoroughly detest it. I don’t mean nice food shopping; I don’t mean the sort of shopping that involves stalls of handmade cheeses and home cured meats, handcrafted wines and piles of olives, honey made by real beekeepers and fudge so sweet it takes the roof of your mouth off. I’m talking about the mundane supermarket sweep. I never do a weekly shop; I take little trips during the week to the market, which is enjoyable, and Morrisons, which isn’t. There is a special kind of stupid that encompasses Morrisons shoppers. Because I grab bits and pieces here and there, I never need a trolley and just want to dash in and out as quickly as I can. But I can’t dash anywhere in Morrisons, because there are people who have trolleys and clearly haven’t a clue how to drive them, so they temporarily abandon them to lie right across isles whilst they stare blankly at two versions of the same product, bewilderment clouding their already dense-looking faces. If you attempt to move the trolleys to get past, however, they leap at you like you’ve just tried to actively mug them in broad daylight.

The other thing that happens with trolleys is that, if the trolley driver wants to go first, they will just do it without looking to see if there is room, or to check that they aren’t getting in anyone’s way. I have stood, on many an occasion, trapped in an aisle whilst people drift slowly by in a daze, goggling in amazement at the wondrous display of commercialism that adorns the shelves, completely oblivious to my fractious presence. I stand quietly and wait until I can escape, for which I receive no thanks, although I do occasionally get a funny look, which is nice. How do these people cope with each other? The only person they seem to have a problem with is me and all I want to do is get as far away from them and their mind-boggling stupidity as is humanly possible.

Fuckwits with Sproggers

Children are flighty little fuckers. They run and pretend to be aeroplanes and hide in super-small places and slip through the grasp of adults like quicksilver. I tell you what, though – if I had ever behaved the way some of the children I encounter behave, the mater would have had my guts for garters. Well, maybe not quite, but if people were walking towards us on the pavement, she would always bark: “Single file, Em’!” and I’d be thrust in front of her to make way. If I had ever run into an adult’s legs as a child, she would have called me back and made me apologise. She taught me to pay attention to what was going on around me so that I would always be gracious. Why the fuck can’t other parents manage this? The amount of sprogs who have rammed into me, smacked me with light sabres, shut doors on me, sprayed me with fizzy pop, screamed down my ears is unbelievable. I don’t look to the child for an apology – I’m not that sanguine – instead I look at the offending sprogger’s owner. But like all other fuckwits, they look at me with enormous distaste, as if I am clearly just attempting to touch their child, in true Jimmy Saville stylee, by deigning to be in its warpath.

I worked briefly at New Look (which was a thoroughly soul-destroying experience in itself) in Wakefield and was once treated to a loud barrage of swearing by a woman who was attempting to make her three v.bored, screaming children shut the fuck up while she did her shopping. All of them were face down on the floor banging their feet and shrieking like foxes in heat and, eventually, she turned to me and said: “You know, people look at you like you’re shit. They look at you like your kids’ behaviour is your own fault.” After this appalling statement, she whipped the two smaller children off the floor, scooped one under her arm, took the other by the hand and with the free hand grasped the ankle of the remaining child’s leg before flouncing out in a cloud of noise.

Station Fuckwits

The train station at Leeds is the bane of my life. Never has a city centre railway station been so poorly designed. The boards that announce the train times are straight after the barrier onto the platforms, meaning that if I need to run for a train I can’t, because once through the barriers, everyone halts in their tracks to read the board and thus obstruct the path of anyone in a rush.

And that’s another thing! What’s with the barriers at Leeds train station? They are the slowest, most unreliable, most ineffectual barriers I’ve ever come across. People from London who visit must think that those barriers are some sort of practical joke. Can you imagine the outrage if the ticket barriers in London took twenty seconds to creep open? And I don’t even want to think about the resulting bile that would ensue if fifty percent of the time, the barriers regurgitated the ticket that someone had just slotted in and remained steadfastly closed. Of course, it doesn’t help that a frightening amount of people get to the ticket machine, then search for their ticket and, once ticket has been located, stare at it, then at the machine as if wondering what the deuce it’s all about, until with painful sluggishness they attempt to put their ticket into the ticket sized slot, just in case that’s what it’s for. When the doors open, theses types appear to be so surprised that they are frozen to the spot for an inordinate amount of time before exiting the platform.

It’s the pre 9am-ers that really get me, though. I think we can all agree that the majority of people travelling at that time in the morning are heading for work. So why are they all so slow? I wouldn’t mind so much if the train reached the station with plenty of time to spare – I could understand if the train I chose to board in the morning was even just the one before the one I actually catch if, for whatever reason, I choose not to walk in. But I’m not known for my timekeeping and I go for a train that gets me into Leeds for around 8:53am, which means that I need to hotfoot it to get in for 9am on the dot. Except that I can’t. Unless I manage to leap off the train before anyone else and get away, I get stuck behind a huge gaggle of meandering fucks who walk at snail’s pace. Despite the fact that they all adopt the same snail’s pace, they still manage to spread across the entire width of the platform, meaning that I can’t pass them. If I do manage to pass them, I am generally thrown a dirty look. If I try to pass them on the platform edge, I end up being nearly catapulted onto the track (with the customary dirty look, of course). I mean, what are these people doing? They’re going to work and, presumably, they want to be on time. You would have to work at the station to be on time at that pace. But even if these people are unable to walk any faster, must they really occupy the entire platform? They’re wide platforms – you wouldn’t even have to go single file!

And don’t even get me started on the wankers who put their bags on seats on trains so that nobody can sit next to them. Nobody wants to sit next to anyone they don’t know, but, unfortunately, trains aren’t long enough to accommodate a single seat per commuter and I will be damned if I’m standing because you’re a selfish twat!

Numpties at the Lights

Anyone who’s ever been to Leeds and tried to cross the road at the front of the station will know that the green man at the crossing is always a long time coming (he’s a meandering fuck of a green man), and the rush hour traffic is usually coming so thick and fast, and with such aggression, that to dive across before the appearance of the green man is tantamount to suicide. And yet, every morning, there is a group of people who stand at the lights and don’t press the button. Because they’re fucking stupid! There is no other explanation.

Human Traffic

With city centres being as busy as they are, especially at lunchtime during the week, everyone should have their wits about them. I particularly hate it when I’m walking past a shop and someone emerges from it right into me. I really don’t see how this is my fault. This is possibly the reason that there are so many ridiculously bad drivers on the road – if you can’t be bothered looking before you pull out, you are going to crash at some point. The same goes for people changing direction suddenly and people walking towards you. If you can see someone who’s walking in profile to you and the direction that you want to walk in takes you into the side of them… maybe don’t walk into them. And most definitely do not kick them!

It’s manners, awareness and common sense! That’s what really fucks me off. Why can’t people have some sodding manners? And why do people expect someone else to sort everything out? Things like pushing a button, or removing a bag from a seat, or making one’s offspring shut the fuck up, or not walking into people – it’s not difficult. People, really – pay attention to what’s going on around you; you don’t have to engage in conversation with strangers (you don’t have to even smile at strangers, although it would make the world a nicer place) but just think about what you’re doing. Use your peripherals for a start. Being a musician who’s played with orchestras,
I admit that I have an advantage in this regard – but it makes life so much easier that I can see things coming from all angles and move out of the way. So you’ve never used them – that does not mean you can’t start. But most of all: just be polite about things. And never ever kick me in the foot when I’m minding my own business, because the next time it happens, I’m going to approach the perpetrator and tip the potato and baked beans I’m carrying all over them.

FOOTNOTES:

* Hello Mum!

** You should have seen the look on this girl’s face

*** People don’t like being looked at dead in the eye – it unnerves them because they think you’re clearly some sort of pervert who wants to shit on their chests, otherwise why would you be looking at them?

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To Choose or not to Choose ~ My Question is Why?

CHOICE AND MARRIAGE

Banging on about a controversial subject such as marriage, or rather, questioning the reasons for marrying, will place one directly on the receiving end of other people’s righteous anger. Quite why it’s perfectly acceptable to utterly demean me for my views and tell me that I should get married, and then not tolerable for me to so much as to question why I should get married I do not know. In fact, to me, such vehement indignation on the part of those saluting marriage suggests defensiveness, which in turn implies insecurity. The majority of people are uncomfortable with having a belief questioned where they have followed blindly. There is an initial feeling of bewilderment, followed by an inner shame that manifests itself as anger at the person who has brought this belief into question; and, finally, there is the denial that allowed the believer to believe in the face of great odds in the first place, and allows them to blunder on through the logical thought processes with their eyes closed to come out the other side and say: “It’s my choice.”

It’s my choice.

Those words annoy me almost as much: “It’s my right.” I could, in theory, never have said anything remotely contentious on the subject of marriage and, when asked why I wasn’t planning a future of marriage, could just bark: “It’s my choice!” But, if I were to do that, I would never get any answers – I would never be able to get to the root of what causes a person to desire to marry. If I never questioned people or allowed them to question my beliefs, my beliefs would remain resolutely unchanged throughout my life – I would be staunchly narrow-minded forever. I would be ignorant by choice! I may initially oppose something that someone says, but I will still go away and think about it and, perhaps, adjust my views where I see fit. How can anyone be any other way?

Of course, I absolutely believe in and respect people’s right to choose their own paths in life. I’m not disputing the right to choose, per se, I’m just questioning why, when people insist that marriage is what I should be pursuing, they don’t have anything further to add. Some people haven’t even been able to tell me why they got married themselves, or haven’t been able to answer any of my questions. Lots of people, in fact. I am sick to the back teeth of hearing people mumble something nonsensical and then, in aggressive defence of the actions they don’t seem to know why they’ve taken, snap: “It’s my choice. People have a right to choose, you know!” Well, yes I do know, as a matter of fact. I have chosen not to marry… but I can damn well tell you why! I have questioned and honed my anti-marriage tirades. I wish to question and hone my ideas further, but I am unable do that unless people will talk to me about the reasoning behind their choices to marry. I am not questioning the right to choose, I’m questioning why it was chosen.

When I was a child, my mother* would consider every question I asked before giving me an honest, straight answer. Now, there may have been an element of make believe when I was v.young, because I suspect that those letters from Santa Claus hadn’t actually been written and signed by him at all; I think his personal elf sent them, but then I have always been a sceptic. Not once did ma Mum give me the answer: “Because I said so” or “Because I am your mother”. If she wanted me to do something or not do something, she had a bloody good reason for it and she wasn’t afraid to tell me what that reason was. As a consequence, I become incensed when people give orders or make decisions without the faintest idea why they’ve started down that route**.

I am not disputing that to marry or not marry is a choice; what I want to know is why it was chosen. If you feel that it’s none of my business, that’s fine – it is none of my business. But how dare anyone suggest that I should marry and then refuse to tell me why they think so; or, worse, get offended when I ask why I should. I know why I am not married. Do you know why you are?

CHOICE AND POLITICS

Another thing that grates with me is when women announce that they don’t vote because the suffragette movement was just about giving women the choice to vote, not insisting that they vote. I’m telling you what, though – Emily Davidson did not leap in front of a horse to sacrifice herself just so that several years later, having won the vote, you could sit back and watch telly because you couldn’t be bothered to get off your arse and go to the polling station. The suffragettes, and many feminists since, fought (and still fight) for your equal rights as a woman in order to give women the right to learn politics, vote in the politicians that they choose and get women into positions of power. Women did not die so that some women could vote and others could bang on about their choices whilst not even bothering to find out a single thing about the policies of the men who rule the country. We need women in positions of power and your understanding and vote matter. No excuses!

Barbara Castle is probably turning in her grave!

And don’t start on at me about not “doing politics”. I hate it when people say that. If you ring 999 and expect someone to respond, if you send your children to a community school, if you walk on pavements, drive on roads, expect well lit streets, use the NHS and libraries and free condoms and abortion clinics, and if you want your rubbish collecting and your country secure, and if you expect your human rights in society to remain intact no matter who you are, then you “do” politics. Our v.society is built on precarious political structures and to excuse yourself from considering them is tantamount to burying one’s head in the sand and letting other people deal with it.

FOOTNOTES:

* Yes, she’s back. She’s been a huge influence on me (as I’m sure most people’s parents have been and still are)
** I once ended up being dismissed from a lesson for that v.reason. There was a system in my secondary school of putting a pupil’s name on the blackboard if they had misbehaved. That was a warning. If you continued to misbehave, you got a cross, which meant suffering through ten minutes of detention (a lifetime) after school; then came the second cross, which meant twenty minutes of detention; then, the third cross, which meant Room 24 (cue B-movie music). Three crosses meant immediate banishment from the classroom and you would have to spend the rest of the day in detention doing your homework. I’m not sure what happened this particular day, but I ended up with my name on the board. So, I frowned, and v.calmly put my hand in the air. The teacher asked me what I wanted and I said:

“Miss – why have I got my name on the board?”

She immediately stepped up to the blackboard and gave me a cross. Slightly less calmly, I said:

“What was that for? I just want to know what I did.”

She stepped up the blackboard and drew another cross on the board, larger than the first.

“EY?!” by this point I was infuriated.

The last cross she did with a flourish and then she screamed:

“You can work in Room 24 for the rest of the day!”

I still, genuinely, have no idea what I did. Although, I did make it into the “cool kid” category for at least two days after that. I sat and read my book and chatted to Mr Thackeray who was doing his shift of watching the naughty kids. It was rather pleasant, actually. Especially given that you’re not supposed to talk in Room 24.

Running Playlist

It’s been a stoppy-starty sort of year for running. It’s been a particularly odd year in general… are there any other kinds of year? There have been back problems, there has been drunkenness, there’s been a trip to the Big Apple, there has been some house moving, a holiday full of trappist beer and comic books, there have been good times, bad times, a lot of stress and some all round recuperation. Basically, it’s just been like life, but for some reason I’ve managed to let it get in the way of my exercise routine more than usual.

Still, sciatica withstanding, I seem to be managing the odd eight miler. But it isn’t enough. You see, the Hell Run is on, and this year we have a full team again. And I do not want to come last. I was pretty pleased to be one of the first fifteen women to cross the finish line last year, even though there weren’t many women to begin with, and the previous year I was by no means the least fit within the team itself; but this year, I’m running with some proper, full on runners. I need to get back into my daily thirteen milers. I need to get my speed up. I need to learn how to run downhill on unstable ground. My ego is too mahoosive to take the beating of being the one to drive the average team time up.

Pondering this issue whilst v.lazily jogging a nice, little six mile run, I wondered how I was going to get myself motivated enough to actually make it all the way around that incredibly obstacle-filled course, let alone do it in good time. I know what I’m supposed to do to get fitter – I’ve been there before, thank you – but, for some reason, what with one thing and another, I’ve been less enthusiastic about dragging my weary arse out of bed at 5am to leg it around the boring and, in some places, ugly roads of Leeds. Still, at 5am, one can hardly start running through woods and down snickets and along canals if one is a relatively young woman. I mean, I’m more than capable of looking after myself and the rape alarm I carry is loud enough to wake the dead and I do honestly look like a sack of shit at that time in the morning, but I don’t like to deliberately place myself in harm’s way. So, boring roads it is.

As well as running, I also power walk to work and back and for this to happen rather than me, say, going to the pub for a pint of landlord or three after work and wobbling to the train station just to go home on public transport and binge eat everything in the flat, I have to listen to music. It’s great – I actually look forward to sticking my ipod on and blasting it into work and back home again on foot. I don’t have a specific playlist, I just put my top rated tunes on shuffle and enjoy the randomness of listening to Edith Piaf followed by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings followed by Joanna Newsom followed by Muse followed by Tchaikowsky followed by the Wu Tang… you get the idea. But I have noticed that when I’m listening to certain tracks, I walk faster. It got me to thinking (because I’m sharp like that): if some tracks made me walk faster, I could make a note of them when they came on and create a “go-faster” playlist.

I toyed with the idea. I’m never much good when it comes to change and I’ve been running sin music for years and years. Then I googled “best music to run to.” Well, I went to the foot of our stairs! There were playlists galore. It seems there is a whole host of runners who won’t even consider running without listening to music. So I raided the hundreds of playlists for inspiration and built my own… if you don’t believe me, check out the bottom of this post!

So, the other morning, armed with my mother’s ipod shuffle (inherited when I was sleeping badly and decided to buy pillow speakers and a sleep hypnosis CD*) I ventured out into the deluge that has hit England these past few weeks to try out my wild theory of fast music = fast running. Five minutes in and I was smiling smugly to myself. It was working. Running with music, I have discovered, is like running with a completely relentless pacemaker. Having not been for a run for over two weeks, I was amazed to discover, on flying through the door at breakneck speed, that I had shaved 7 minutes off my current time for a six miler. My back was aching, my legs were seizing up and I was v.purple in the face, but I didn’t care; I was chuffed. Hell, I may even go the whole hog and get the “go-faster” stripes to match my “go-faster” playlist.

The only downside to this running with music malarkey, is that the songs that have the greatest impact on your running speed all seem to be dripping with cheese: The Final Countdown, Eye of the Tiger, Holding out for a Hero, anything by Nickelback… If I get mugged whilst running, I shall be ever so embarrassed. Partly by the music and partly because at the end of the run, my tiny iPod came out
of my leggings pocket dripping in my back juice… nice.

Because I stole parts of my playlist from the playlists of some lovely people who had been willing to share theirs on t’interweb, I thought I should return the favour. If anyone thinks that I’m missing a song that is ideal for running, please feel free to make suggestions. And feel free to steal.

EMYROO’S RUNNING PLAYLIST (in no particular order):

  • Maniac Michael ~ Sembello
  • I See You Baby ~ Groove Armada
  • Muscles ~ Diana Ross
  • Work That Body ~ Diana Ross
  • Work It Out [Radio Edit] ~ Beyoncé
  • Cheapskate ~ Supergrass
  • He’s A Dream ~ Shandi
  • Flashdance… What A Feeling ~ Irene Cara
  • Eye Of The Tiger (Rocky Theme) ~ Survivor
  • Sk8er Boi ~ Avril Lavigne
  • Steamy Windows ~ Tina Turner
  • What Do I Have To Do [7′ Mix] ~ Kylie Minogue
  • Crazy In Love ~ Beyoncé Feat. Jay-Z
  • Arbeit Macht Frei ~ The Libertines
  • Elite ~ Deftones
  • Something In Your Mouth ~ Nickelback
  • Burn It To The Ground ~ Nickelback
  • Next Go Round ~ Nickelback
  • Shakin’ Hands ~ Nickelback
  • S.E.X. ~ Nickelback
  • Too Bad ~ Nickelback
  • One of the Boys ~ Katy Perry
  • Harder To Breathe ~ Maroon 5
  • Through With You ~ Maroon 5
  • I’m Outta Love ~ Anastacia
  • Holding Out for a Hero ~ Bonnie Tyler
  • Bring Me To Life ~ Evanescence
  • Going Under ~ Evanescence
  • Hola ~ Evanescence
  • Whisper ~ Evanescence
  • Baby Got Back ~ Sir Mix-A-Lot
  • Mayhem ~ Imelda May
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough ~ Diana Ross
  • You’ve Seen The Butcher ~ Deftones
  • El Tango De Roxanne ~ Ewan McGregor, Jose Feliciano & Jacek Koman
  • Love Is A Battlefield ~ Pat Benatar
  • Livin’ On A Prayer ~ Bon Jovi
  • Fighter ~ Christina Aguilera
  • It’s raining men The weather girl
  • Fat Bottomed Girls ~ Queen
  • Pretty Piece Of Flesh ~ One Inch Punch
  • Time Warp ~ Richard O’Brien, Patricia Quinn, Little Nell, Jonathan Adams & Ensemble
  • Dirrty ~ Christina Aguilera Feat. Redman
  • Lady Marmalade ~ Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Mya & Pink
  • Mustang Sally ~ The Commitments
  • Shake Your Tailfeather ~ The Blues Brothers
  • Strict Machine ~ Goldfrapp
  • Sinnerman ~ Nina Simone
  • Bat Out Of Hell ~ Meat Loaf
  • Fuck You ~ Cee Lo Green
  • Gone Daddy Gone ~ Gnarls Barkley
  • Transformer ~ Gnarls Barkley
  • U Can’t Touch This ~ MC Hammer
  • Mambo No.5 ~ Lou Bega
  • (Mucho Mambo) Sway Radio Edit ~ Shaft
  • Ooh La La ~ Goldfrapp
  • Smells Like Teen Spirit ~ Nirvana
  • Don’t Let Me Get Me ~ Pink
  • Get The Party Started ~ Pink
  • Missundaztood ~ Pink
  • Dog Days Are Over ~ Florence And The Machine
  • Intergalactic ~ Beastie Boys
  • Dancing With Myself ~ Billy Idol
  • White Wedding ~ Billy Idol
  • Rebel Yell ~ Billy Idol
  • Shock To The System ~ Billy Idol
  • Freaks In Uniforms ~ HorrorPops
  • Bring It On! ~ HorrorPops
  • Time Is Running Out ~ Muse
  • Stockholm Syndrome ~ Muse
  • Cmnd/Ctrl ~ Deftones
  • Rocket Skates ~ Deftones
  • RX Queen ~ Deftones
  • Knife Party ~ Deftones
  • Romeo ~ Donna Summer
  • War Machine ~ AC/DC
  • I Love To Boogie ~ T.Rex
  • Born To Run ~ Bruce Springsteen

FOOTNOTES:

* As it happens, the sleep hypnosis did sort of work. But it also meant that I couldn’t remember anything. I left the oven on, I forgot to lock the front door, I didn’t know what day it was, I lost half of my vocabulary and half way through a um… through a… a thingy, I would completely… ooh, nice jacket! Still, for a while there, I walked on a lavender scented cloud of sleepfulness.

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3am Girl

LAST NIGHT

I’m awake. It’s night time. Merely seconds ago I was in a deep, healthy sleep. And bang! My eyes are suddenly open and I’m wide awake. My eyelids aren’t even gritty and groggy – I test by lowering them. I lie still for a few minutes with eyes closed and heart pounding slightly; a sure sign that I have awakened before I am meant to. But even with my eyes squeezed tightly shut, there is no denying that I have been thrown from the land of nod with a great force. I listen for sounds of an intruder. I hear the ticking of my clock and the sighing wind outside, ruffling the leaves in the graveyard. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet and still – but my hackles are on edge, if not fully raised. Holding my breath, I feel gently under the pillow for my mobile with one hand and close the other around the steel bar I sleep with; it’s warm from being next to my legs under the quilt. Both located, I open one eye and peer into the eerie half light, cast by the white streetlamp outside. I see my kitchen door, still closed. I cautiously raise my head and scan the room until I reach the hallway; the door is fastened and the keys are still in the lock. They aren’t even swinging. It feels too still. There seems to be a deliberateness to the inertia. I carefully work the bar out from under the covers and, once it’s free, I sit up. I jolt and a pain shoots through my chest – there is a large, dark figure in a cloak standing next to my wardrobe, which had been obscured from my sweep of the room by the door to my cupboard*. I inhale sharply and clasp my steel bar.

Slowly, I let out my breath and shake my head as a silent laugh bubbles up. It is a sheet, hung over the wardrobe door to dry the night before. If there is someone here, they are in the kitchen or the bathroom. I press the button to light up my ‘phone and wince at the brightness of the screen. It is merely habit – I already know that it is 3:02am and that my eyes snapped open at exactly 3 o’clock. I blink back into semi-darkness with splodges of light marring my vision, slide soundlessly out of bed and pad towards the kitchen, trying not to trip over anything. Turning the handle I kick the door open and brandish the steel bar with both hands… nothing. Kitchen is empty save for a startled spider. We eye each other, momentarily frozen. I turn towards the hallway and make my way into the dark shadows there, where the door key glints securely in its lock. I turn and flick the light switch to the bathroom with the end of my weapon, enter and squint gingerly into the bath and behind the door.

There is nobody there. A part of me knew it too. This happens every night I sleep alone. 3am – on the dot. Sometimes I’m not quite so jumpy and just lie in my warm bed dozing for a couple of hours before my alarm sounds.

TODAY

I am shattered. I have tried to be in bed for a reasonable time for the last couple of nights, because I like to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning and run. I’m a tad out of shape at the moment what with sciatica and a mild chest infection and a house move getting in the way of training, but the Hell Runner Challenge is fast approaching and I really want to get a good time this year. So, last night, I went to bed at 9:45, which wasn’t as early as I was hoping. I was particularly tired yesterday on account of not sleeping v.much at all the night before (including the usual awakening at 3 o’clock) and was aiming to be in bed reading at 8:30pm in an effort to fall asleep naturally and catch up, but I’m one of those people for whom time organisation is not a strong point. Still, I figured going to bed a bit later than planned, despite being dead beat, might mean that I didn’t wake up too often in the night** and it was at least earlier than usual. Now, I do wake up at least once in the night anyway. A few years ago, I ended up with MRSA in my kidneys, which began as a kidney infection, brought about by my not peeing as often as someone with a bladder the size of a pea needs to. I doubt v.much that my kidneys have been damaged by this, but nonetheless, I now can’t sleep the night through without tramping off to the toilet at some point. This generally happens between midnight and 1am and I go, take a sip of water and then crash back into sleep. When I awaken at 3am, I don’t need to go to the loo. I tend to attempt it anyway, but not a right lot happens. I have no idea why I wake up again at this exact time and I have no idea why this only happens when I’m alone. I am not scared of living by myself – the steel bar is present merely on the off chance that some poor, unknowing burglar tries to burgle my bomb site of a flat, in which there is nothing of any value, and instead encounters me. Bring it on, bitch! Besides, my neighbour’s walls are paper thin and his door is right next to mine – he could be woken with a stifled whimper and be in my flat within a second.

Currently, I am not particularly worried or stressed out. The office job is dull, but nowhere near as fraught as it once was; I am slightly behind with commissions, but have nothing with a particularly strict deadline; my finances are the best they’ve looked in years; as far as I’m aware, the people in my life are happy and healthy and treating themselves (and me) well.

As I climbed back into bed, I decided I was going to have a quick look on the internet to see if anyone else suffered from this irritating malady. They do. Lots of them do. Now, I’m used to typing symptoms into Google and being informed that they’re probably a sign that my death is imminent, but I was surprised to discover that after typing in “I wake up…” Google completed “…at 3am” for me. Interesting. So other people did suffer from it. Yes, indeed they did. It turns out that 3am is “dead time” which is when you are most likely to be contacted by a supernatural being. And not a ghost, oh no – an evil demon. You see, Jesus Christ was killed for the sins of man at exactly 3pm and 3am is considered the time directly opposed to this. So just the twelve hours they’re bothered about then… not the thousands of years in between then and now.

I don’t believe in Jesus***. I don’t believe in Satan. I don’t believe in an external God. I don’t believe in ghosts. I don’t believe in demons and I don’t believe that 3am has any religious significance whatsoever. So I did what any normal 28 year old woman would do… with a terrified squeal I pulled the duvet over my head, tucked it around my feet so that nothing could grab my ankles and pressed my eyes tight shut before the witching hour hit which, contrary to previous information of midnight, happens at 3:33am… this forum told me so:

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080207102824AAmoriZ

RELIGION

I was Christened Methodist (which is why I don’t drink… ahem…), my mother is Church of England, my Dad’s Catholic, I briefly attended a Pentecostal youth group before I realised they were all insane, and I was sent to a C. of E. school. Although my parents never enforced religion on me, my primary school and other exposures to religious propaganda have managed to affect me somewhat. I am flooded with misplaced spiritual feeling when I enter a church, I hate films about possession, the thought of stigmata terrifies me, I still want to apologise to an imaginary deity whenever I say “I don’t believe in God” and, until recently, I thought something dreadful would happen if I had a go on a Ouija board. And then there was that bloody haunted stone circle I jumped into the middle of eighteen months ago in Edinburg, which freaked me out for a good couple of weeks. Religion is part of a person’s culture because it is everywhere and, although I am a non-believer, part of my hard-coding has its basis in religion and it’s v.difficult to break a pattern like that.

The other thing I have riding against me is my imagination. If I wasn’t such a wimp, I’d write horror novels, I think. But I have tried and after a couple of chapters, I’m seeing things that aren’t there and jumping at any little noise and sleeping with the light on. Having such an imagination can be quite useful – I am able to imagine many possible outcomes from any given situation in a matter of seconds, no matter how ludicrous it may seem. But it can also bring the ludicrous to life when, in fact, there is nothing but the mundane. The fact that I can look at my current insomniacal problem logically and pick apart the silly obsession with numbers seems to make little difference to how my mind works overtime when something appeals to some deeply-ingrained religion-saturated self I didn’t know existed.

THE NUMBERS

Why is 3am the time for demons? Because it is exactly “opposite” 3pm on a twenty four hour clock and Jesus was said to have died in the name of humanity at 3pm, apparently. Um… even if I did believe in Jesus, I would struggle to understand the logic behind this. Why do demons come out at that time? Are we, then, supposed to get “good” spirits at 3pm? Do they wane as the day goes on to be taken over by demons as their shift comes to an end?

According to the internet, Jesus’ number was 333 – but isn’t that the witching hour? And is he 333 because 666 is the number of The Beast, and beast is man and that’s half?

“Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666”

We are infatuated with numbers. The number 13 is bad luck in western society. So, in blocks of flats and in new office buildings, flat 13 or floor 13 is omitted. This seems bizarre to me – surely the number is purely an indicator of the actual number of the flat or floor. If the floor is the 13th from the ground, it is still floor 13; whether you choose to call it “14” or “Shirley” it is still the 13th floor. It would be denial of the highest order to suggest that you live in house number 15 on and that the house next door to you is number 11. You are still in the 13th house as we count houses on a street. Then there are magpies: 1 magpie is bad luck – 2 is good luck and so on.

NO SUCH THING AS SILICON HEAVEN? BUT WHERE DO ALL THE CALCULATORS GO?

We are all, it seems, fantasists. Even non-religious people believe in ghosts, which strikes me as completely bizarre. In order to believe in spirits, we must first believe in a soul which uses the body as a vessel, rather than a soul that is created by electronic impulses in the body. This soul is the part that the religious believe leaves this earth as we know it and enters the world of the dead where they will either be allowed access to heaven^ or be banished to hell. A ghost is, supposedly, the spirit of a person who has not yet “crossed over” to the world of the dead. I mean what utter hogwash. No, I don’t purport to know what happens when we die, but I’m pretty sure that, once the body is no longer working and the electrical impulses in our brains fizzle out, we return to the state we were in before we were alive, which is, basically, a nothing. Yes, there are things we don’t understand and possibly there are things we will never understand, but we found the God Particle, did we not, which was incredibly exciting and a great breakthrough? Higgs Boson is real! Little by little, we answer the questions previously unanswerable and ascribed to God.

I don’t particularly want to cover too much old ground here – I’m sure anyone who’s read my early posts will be getting irritated with my repetitiveness on the subject of the supernatural. What I want to know is, bearing in mind that I am not religious, have no obsession with numbers and do not believe that a demon is loitering around in my flat just to poke me awake at 3am and watch as I stalk around with a steel bar (although, that is possibly rather an amusing sight, I grant you), why do I keep waking up at 3am on the dot? I’m not sure how long this has been going on for, but could it be the fear that nothing seems to be wrong at the minute that’s panicking me? I am always most suspicious of something that seems to be going too swimmingly… right up until I systematically destroy it in case I find out that it’s not real after all.

Does anyone else suffer with this waking at bang on 3am thing? Has anyone else diagnosed a problem or found a cure? Help would be much appreciated or the Hell Run will be a no go this year.

FOOTNOTES:

* I have a studio flat and the bed pulls out of a cupboard

** Every cloud, ey?

*** Or, at least, if I do believe in Jesus, it’s in the sense that there was some terrorist 2012 years ago who managed to convince everyone that he was magic, but really was just a rather egotistical show off.

^ I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go there – full of straight-laced, self-righteous, judgemental God botherers who only do “good” in the name of the lord… phew, no thank you.

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Childcare & the Stay-At-Home Mother

Fairly recently, the lovely El Kitten and I went for cocktails and, not having seen each other for a couple of months, a lot of chatting. At the time, I was midway through posting my marriage rants and, El being married to the wonderful Mike Infinitum, we conversationally veered in that direction. We don’t necessarily see eye to eye on the subject of marriage, although I have to admit that El’s wedding was a small, intimate, rockabilly affair with the most amazing red 1950s swing dress, and balloons and table spreads by yours truly*. Her relationship with her husband is as fabulous as it was on their wedding day and that’s plain for all to see… so why, I repeat why, does everyone now feel the need to pressurise them for children? Can society not leave them be to enjoy each other and do as they please? If they don’t want kids, they don’t want them. If they do decide that they want kids, what the hell has that to do with anyone else?!

Although I myself am not averse to the idea of sproggers – somewhere in a future so distant I still refer to it as “when I grow up**” – what happens if you are married and are destined to be child free? Obviously, not having succumbed to the marriage palaver myself, questions about when I’m going to have kids are few and far between, so it wasn’t something that had occurred to me until rabbiting away with the kitten over a well made Kajuma***. That society puts people under pressure in any regard is unpleasant enough, and I can’t say that the children thing has ever really bothered me, but on the back of the conversation I had with El, in which she was incensed about the brazen lack of privacy of people, she sent me the following article…

http://m.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/1-wives-are-helping-kill-feminism-and-make-the-war-on-women-possible/258431/

I love it. I love it so much, I tweeted it. Of course, I upset some people. So what else is new? Twitter is a fantastic place to find events, share the love, promote your work and begin debates, but it is not a good forum for holding said debates. 140 characters a well thought out interjection does not make. The thing that enraged one particular lady was the suggestion that a stay at home mum was wrong to not work… a statement I never made and don’t necessarily agree with.

I admit that I am slightly biased in this regard, though. It was drummed into me from an early age that I would get a job and from that moment on would never be out of work, whether I stayed in that same job or found another. Ma Mum worked full time as I was growing up and because of this I feel that I developed a fierce independence and that I appreciate her presence so much more as an adult. So, though I try to fight it, my initial reaction on learning that someone doesn’t work (whether with or without sproggers) is always to pull a scornful face, which is unfortunate and makes me look like a bit of a judgemental twat. I realise that this is my own programming and that it’s not necessarily the correct response, but I do my best to overcome it. Anyway, my parents worked hard and, later on, my mother single-handedly sent me to university, a working-class, single parent. The thing is that, although ma Mum may have wanted to stay at home with me when I was a kid, we just couldn’t afford for her to be out of work. So, immediately, there is the question of cash, which was the other enraged tweeter’s bugbear. If ma Mum hadn’t worked full time for so long, we wouldn’t have been able to afford to move out when my parents split up because she would have lost her independence entirely by being out of work; and I’m sure it goes without saying that ma Mum is as independent, if not more so, than I am. She also wouldn’t have been able to help me through university, though I worked full time in a shop and temped in offices during the Uni holidays for the most part. The thing with becoming dependent upon someone else is that, should it end (and I know nobody wants to think about the end when they’re happy and settled, but it would be naïve not to consider the possibility), you have no way of getting out.

I once lived with a partner myself and, although there was no chance of me becoming a housewife, I had a hard time affording the move to leave anyway. Moving into rented accommodation requires a stupidly expensive admin’ fee, a month and a half’s rent as bond and a month’s rent in advance. You’re talking a sum of at least £1,000 before you’ve ever even really begun (and I’m talking about the cost up north). It kept me trapped in an unhappy relationship for a lot longer than I wanted to be. So much so that the thought of not having had the small amount of money I did have makes me quite panicky to this day. My credit card got a serious bashing that year.

There’s no getting away from the impact that staying at home will have on your finances, your employability and your self-sufficiency. However you look at it, caring for your children and cleaning your house is not a job in the strictest sense of the word. I’m not suggesting that either of these things is easy or pleasurable, but they are chores that anyone with children has to partake of when they’re not working, even if the only time they’re not working is in the evenings. In fact, cleaning your own home is something everyone who can’t afford to hire a cleaner has to do, children or no, although I can see that having children would make the job infinitely more tedious. The stay-at-home Mum simply has more time to do these tasks. I cannot imagine a world where I would have  to ask someone for money when I wanted to buy something, whether a necessity or a treat; to lose my independence, my contribution to the household would make me feel castrated and vulnerable. You are incredibly lucky if your household income is such that you are comfortably able to stop work, but if something should happen way down the line, how would you, personally, be able to cope with the blow without some of your own monetary security behind you? The financial argument is not the only one I wish to make on this subject, but money does, unfortunately, play a vital part in our lives and it affects many things. Money is power and freedom, whether we like it or not.

To subsidise my freelance art business, I have an admin’ job, which until recently was based in the pensions industry. I didn’t much care for it – the position required a high level of numerical accuracy, which for someone who suffers from dyscalculia is rather difficult to achieve. Putting maths aside^, one of the most distasteful elements of the job was processing divorce cases, especially ones where an ex-spouse would end up with half of their ex’s pension. This used to do a proper rage on me. In one particular incident, a well paid man had built up a fantastic nest egg of a final salary pension… after his divorce, he was entitled to only 20% of it while his wife walked away with a whopping 80%. Now, I don’t know what happened in that relationship – the man may have sexually abused his ex-wife and beaten her to a pulp every night, in which case, the bastard should definitely pay… but not with his pension. Your pension should be sacred – it’s possibly the only sensible thing some of us do, not that my pension will be anything to write home about. Your pension is your reward for giving up some of your hard-earned cash in the hope that you will live long enough to see it pay out in the future – it is yours because you earned it yourself and if, when it pays out, you wish to share it with someone, then so be it, but you shouldn’t have to share it before it pays out or give some away under duress. To build up a huge pension is really really tough and comes from years of hard graft, and even then what most people end up with is pitiable. So this couple both decided that one of them would work and the other stay at home and they both knew that there was some risk, however small and unlikely it seemed at the time, that they wouldn’t spend the rest of their lives together. I’m telling you what, though, this man didn’t know that his ex-wife would be able to get her hands on his pension. It was all news to him. Gutted doesn’t quite describe how he was when we broke the news, a faceless administrator on the other end of a telephone call.

Being at home all day is a luxury most people can’t afford; it may not be a constant holiday, but you have a hell of a lot more freedom. You don’t qualify for a pension of any description if you’ve never worked, but then, and this is a biggy: you’ve never had to work! The people you’re looking after are the people you chose to give birth to and be responsible for, and the house you’re cleaning is your own, so you can hardly expect to be paid for it – a lot of people clean their houses and work full time. Of course, I am simply talking about people who can work but choose not to, not people who cannot get a job because of ill health or sheer bad luck. Being out of work is stressful if it isn’t a choice.

A friend of mine recently became a stay at home dad. This friend is a v.unusual creature in that he has no qualms about what people think of him – he has no stupidly macho ideals. He loves and wants to take care of his son and, because of the rising cost of childcare, it made sense for him to give up his job and become a full time parent. It is not more ok for a father to do this than it is for a mother to do this, and it is in no way wrong that my male mate wants to do this, but what is disconcerting is the fact that he is as vastly outnumbered in his new role as women are in positions of power. There are still a large number of women who acknowledge childbirth as the end of their autonomy and their careers and yet don’t see a problem with that. It’s almost as if they’ve been waiting for it to happen and so didn’t think to seriously build a life of their own. As it happens, this friend of mine (I shall forthwith call him Grouse Hunter [GH] for comedic value that none but the friend in question will understand) happens to be married to a woman with a great career. As the cost of the childcare was about what he took home, it made sense for GH to stop working; GH’s son has someone with a vested interest in his overall wellbeing to look after him and the income didn’t change too drastically. This is a rare case scenario. Most men earn more than their spouses and whether that’s to do with unequal pay in the workplace, or whether men are more driven to build a career it is still a feminist issue. Inbuilt attitudes are every bit as powerful as physical actualities and they are something we can change if we work together to instil better principles in the children of today. Before they grow into people who think that men make money and women clean and care for babies.

Most men have the inbuilt attitude (yes still!) that if someone is to give up their career for a life of childcare and housework, it should not be them. In fact, most men won’t even question it. For a start, that’s a bit “gay” isn’t it? Housework and babies are women’s issues, and all that. Regardless of what your average man would say to a woman, there is still a residue of sexism coating their thought processes. A lot of men (please note that I’m not saying “all men”) would be unhappy to earn less than their spouse, let alone allow them complete control of the household finances, as if the v.fact would make their balls shrink. We can’t blame these men entirely for this – it’s the way they’ve been brought up to believe the world works. Admittedly, those who have managed to ignore every feminist rant going must either be v.ignorant or frightfully obtuse, but then a lot of people don’t think too deeply about certain things because they’re still under the illusion that it’s “just the way things are” and it’s never occurred to them that it could be, or should be, any other way.

Most women are given toy dollies as children. Most men aren’t. Women have babies and look after those babies – it’s their raison d’etre, is it not? At least, that’s what we’re brought up to believe. The fact that most stay-at-home parents are mothers means that little boys and little girls learn early on in life that women look after children and men have careers and win the bread. Most nursery nurses are women, so this has the same effect. It’s something that is as ingrained in society as the fairytale wedding. True, if a woman is breastfeeding, she could do with having the babbit in front of her, but then if that is the only reason that so many women are child-looker-after-ers, what are breast pumps for? And breastfeeding doesn’t last forever. If a couple decides to have a baby, both people in that couple should be equally responsible for its upkeep; it shouldn’t be a case of mother looks after the kids because she was the one who gave birth , father brings home the cash and plays with the kids occasionally because fathers are breadwinners.

A savvy employer will look after his staff in order to get the best work out of them and inspire some respect. Mothers get maternity leave to recuperate after pushing something the size of a melon out of something the size of a pencil lead, and these days fathers are granted two weeks paternity leave, which is a start in the bid to encourage men to get more involved with their offspring. But I have overheard my employer say before: “I’m not hiring any more women of child-bearing age – they just get pregnant, get their maternity pay and then leave!” Which both incensed and intrigued me: I am of child-bearing age and even if I were to have a child in the near future^^, I certainly wouldn’t leave because of it. The implication of what my boss had said being that all women will either become full time mothers or drop their hours down to work part time if they have a child… or that all women of child-bearing age clearly want children. But then, given how many women have left the office or dropped their hours down for just such reason, part of me doesn’t blame him. If I was an employer, knowing as I do that society insists on women of a certain age becoming broody and having the urge to give up their own income, I probably would hire more men. More men work full time than women. Men generally earn more than women. Men tend to be the people at the top of the business food-chain, as they are in government. Men are the majority that run the world, and why wouldn’t they be when we women don’t do anything to oppose them? When we happily sit back and allow them to run the show whilst we nurture the next generation of misdirected people? If we want things to ever improve, we need to get some women into positions of power and to change the way people perceive the sexes. We need to get an equal amount of stay-at-home Dads as stay-at-home Mums, if there is to be a parent to stay at home at all. If my employer considers women in their 20s and 30s as a flight risk, then others must consider them so; but if more Dads stayed at home, the position would become equally as risky to hire men, or less risky to hire women; whichever way you look at it, it’s an improvement.

If you don’t believe that men prevail in positions of power, try this: Inga Muscio, in her wonderful book, Cunt, suggested that you walk around your flat/house/caravan/wigwam and pop a gold sticker on everything you own that was invented or created by a woman. Then go out and invest in some things that were invented/created by a woman. When your place of residence has as many gold stickers as not, then we’ve cracked it.

I realise that decent childcare plays a large part of the decision for one parent to stay at home – I was v.lucky in that my Grandmother was willing (for a cost) to take care of me in the school holidays and after school until my mother could collect me. As that was several moons ago, the cost of having your child kept alive whilst you are at work has exploded to ridiculous heights and there should definitely be an overhaul of childcare costs in some way – especially when it’s a necessity that children are looked after and looked after well. Clichéd as it sounds, children are the future and should be taught well and brought up healthily, because when Alzheimer’s beckons us, we want some bright young thing to have made a significant scientific breakthrough in the quest for a cure, even if the end product is nowhere in sight. We want to cark it knowing that the world is in safe hands. And it all starts with those noisy, runny little fuckers that charge about in nappies and put sticky hand prints on everything. Unfortunately, I have no idea what would have to happen in the world for there to be affordable and yet excellent childcare… mainly because I don’t have children and haven’t become involved in the nursery game yet. But if one of the reasons women become stay-at-home mothers is down to childcare costs and poor childcare, when in actual fact they want to work, then I think something needs to be done about it.

But childcare is something of a tangent. The fact remains that far more women choose the stay at home option over men, leaving more men in full time jobs and high positions. And the crux of the matter is that while this is the case, feminism still has cause to burn.

As an aside, I’d be willing to bet that GH’s son will be as well-balanced, successful and beautiful as his parents, with GH and Wife of GH to guide him through the misogynistic pitfalls every step of the way. See, “AC/DC kid” – not even a year old and people are writing about you!

FOOTNOTES:

* We ran out of helium mid-balloon blowing and there was a mad rush before the ceremony as we sent out to Clintons.

** I recently met a great lady who, despite being a successful civil engineer, still refers to the future in the same way. I’m taking this as a sign that I am not alone.

*** A Kajuma is a cocktail served at Browns in Leeds. I fell in love with this little, deep-red drink. So I
googled it and came up with kajuma.wordpress.com… spooky stuff.

^ And aside I’d be happy to leave it for the duration of my life

^^ Don’t panic – I’m being hypothetical!

RECOMMENDED WATCHING:

Mona Lisa Smile

An Education

The Stepford Wives (of course) (the proper one, not that shite with Nicole Kidman)

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The Importance of Being Emyroo

The other day, curious as to the sort of search term that could drive traffic to my blog, after finding the search term “etiquette of handshaking for men and women” in my stats, I typed Emyroo into google. Now, I know that user names get poached and reused and the like, but it still did a proper rage on me to see that there were other people claiming to be Emyroo. Back when I registered my googlemail and twitter accounts, I remember being enraged that I couldn’t be Emyroo then too. I had to settle for my Burlesque name, EmyLaRoux*. There may be more Emily Dewsnaps in the world, although there can’t be so many with a name like that, but how could there POSSIBLY be any more Emyroos? Emyroo was the name my mother gave to me when I was teeny tiny. My mother, to whom I am v.close and hold v.dear, is called Ruth. My middle name is Ruth. Emyroo is a combination of phonetics; of the smushing of those two names together – technically, it should be Emiru, but that’s not what my mother chose as her pet name for me. My mother called me Emyroo… so who are all these other buggers who claim to be Emyroo? Unless their middle names are Ruth and their first names Emily… or Emma… or Emlyn (boys name so unlikely to be Emlyn Ruth) and unless their mothers nicknamed them Emyroo whilst they were toddling around in nappies, then I don’t see how these imposters have come across my personal private personal pet name other than on the web. I’m beginning to regret putting my private personal private moniker out there for all to see and abuse. I feel like my mother gave me a present that I loved so much I showed it to everyone and because somebody else wanted it, they bloody well nicked it! I remember something similar happening in the playground with a stuffed hippo cuddly toy in reception year at primary school. It’s totally not cricket, if you ask me.

No I don’t think I’m sodding well overreacting! How dare you suggest such a thing!

So, fake Emyroos of the world… who the hell do you think you are?! Can’t think up your own virtual names, ey eyyyyy?

FOOTNOTES:

* Next someone will have nicked that one too. EmyLaRoux… Emyroo the Red, as I like to think of it. For being Emyroo and having red hair! Yes, there’s a damn good reason I’m called that, not just because I thought it sounded pretty, nor because I haven’t the imagination to think up my own usernames.

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Pies & Prejudice (In Search of the North) ~ Stuart Maconie

The writing of Pies and Prejudice came to fruition when Stuart Maconie, a northerner of the Wigan persuasion, realised that since living in London he had become distinctly… southern. Once shocked to be asked by a southerner if he would go round to her house in his dressing gown and slippers to watch telly and eat cheese off his knee before retiring to bed (what other possible definition could there be for the word supper?), he found himself becoming a connoisseur of sundried tomatoes and cappuccino makers. Perturbed by this turn of events, the former “Woollyback” grabbed his notebook and headed north to rediscover his roots.

Cities from Chester to Scarborough come to life with a nostalgic thrill in this book. As Maconie visits each metropolis, he paints a picture so vivid it’s as if he’s taken you with him and shown you things you might not necessarily have looked at; as well as taking you to places you know and love, and loving them with you. And he does so with such self-deprecating humour that it’s hard not to laugh out loud at times. This is an easy read, a comically uplifting tale of one man’s trip to his homeland and beyond. From the physicality of each place to the history, through informed descriptions of political and emotional conflicts, I found myself nodding in sage agreement and shaking my head in wonder at discovering something new.

The three main effects that this book induced were sheepishness, homesickness and pride. Wigan, of course, was one of the first places Maconie visits on his northern tour and I have to hang my head in shame – to think that all these years I’ve been taking an entirely “southern” view of the place. My only knowledge of Wigan before reading the book had been The Road to Wigan Pier, which, it would seem, is most people’s skewed view of the place. To me it has always seemed grimy, grotty and deprived, hovering around as it does, almost as an afterthought, on blue motorway signs on the edges of my Manc world in a deeply uninviting fashion. Although I have not yet visited Wigan, having only just discovered my error in judgement, I do v.much feel that I now should. In just a few pages, Maconie has managed to convince me that a place I was born 25 miles from, and never had any urge to drop into, has all the sparkle and pizzazz of any of our other beloved northern cities. This is a book for Northerners to learn more about their neighbours and for ignorant southerners who believe that the world is small, flat and shaped like London.

One of the things I’ve come to realise about this book, on reading the copious reviews available all over the web, is that it makes people want to shout about their roots; my last blog post started out its life as this book review before I realised that it was, quite simply, all about me. Reading this book seems to make people recognise that being from the north is ok (nay, preferable) and once that lid is off, the only possible thing to do is shout about it.

And now I’ll sign off, because I’m on my dinner (which is in the middle of the day!)

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Manchester Eggs Recipe

James Craven's Manchester Eggs

(Serves 2… to the point of bursting)

SOFTWARE

2 pickled eggs (we used large, freshly boiled eggs instead – somehow they came out perfectly mollet so there was enough firmness to peel them, but they were still deliciously runny in the middle, so it’s up to you, but I likes a good gooey yolk, I do)

4 large “rounds” of black pudding

3 thick pork sausages

1 packet of salt and vinegar crisps

5 slices of white bread (in breadcrumbs)

2 eggs (beaten)

A shit load of oil (enough to deep fry, although you don’t necessarily need a deep fat fryer – a deep pan will do.)

HARDWARE

1 deep pan (2 if you’re boiling your eggs)

2 sheets greaseproof paper

1 large spoon with holes in (don’t know what these devices are called, or even if they have a name. It’s for lowering the eggs into the oil)

1 rolling pin

1 blender (for breadcrumbs)

4 bowls (one each for egg yolk, breadcrumbs, crisps and meaty mixture)

1 large pan lid

METHOD

1. I’d start to heat your oil up first, so that you can do it slowly rather than blasting it and causing massive bubbles to form, recreating the Pompeii eruption in your kitchen… not that I was worried… Manchester eggs seem to come out a lot bigger than scotch eggs, so overestimate the quantity – you’ll need enough to cover the eggs and mixture completely. I’d say they had a diameter of approximately 10cm (4 inches, near as damn it).

2. Pull all the sausage meat out of the sausage casing bit and mash it up with the black pudding.

3. Smash the crisps to smithereens (don’t do them too small because you really need the crunch, although I did v.much enjoy going to town with the rolling pin – whaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaya!)

4. Between two sheets of greaseproof paper, roll the meaty mixture out to about half an inch in thickness (you can always roll a bit thinner if you don’t think you’ve got enough for both eggs).

5. Wrap the pickled (or boiled) eggs in equal measures of the mixed sausage meat and black pudding and roll them around to smoothen* them out – make sure they’re pretty much the same thickness all the way around and that you can’t see the egg. If you’re using mollet eggs, be careful not to roll them so hard you smush the yolk out.

6. Dip your meaty balls in the beaten egg (the ones you’ve just made – behave!) and then roll in the crisps until they’re totally encrusted. Dip back into the beaten egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs until covered, and the repeat.

7. Now you’re ready to throw them in the oil. Test to see if it’s hot enough by lobbing a little piece of bread in (if it fizzles, it’s ready, although make sure it’s not too hot or the breadcrumbs will burn and the middle won’t cook). Get someone else to lower the eggs into the oil whilst you hide behind the fridge brandishing a pan lid as a shield. They take about 6 or 7 minutes to cook. Make sure they’re hot all the way through (you need to cook the sausage meat, of course). I can’t remember how we tested if they were ready because my other job, aside from crisp smasher and breadcrumb creator, was wine provider and drinker, and I am v.v.good at that. Use your judgement, I guess. Or a metal skewer.

8. EAT! YUM!

These things were like heaven rolled in heaven. I will definitely be… getting the chef to recreate them (can’t cook… just can’t cook).

Many thanks go to Mr James Craven for the featured picture (and for cooking up and allowing me to share in the consumption) of the Manchester eggs. They were, truly, absolutely delicious. Holy manna of Manchester. However recently they were invented, Bury black pudding has been around a long time and they beat Eccles cakes any day!

FOOTNOTES:

* If “smoothen” be a word

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Pies, Prejudice & Manchester Eggs

Whoever heard of a prologue to a book review…?

I ordered myself a copy of Stuart Maconie’s Pies and Prejudice because my friend Michelle recommended it. A Guildford lass by birth and a Leeds lady by association, she started her life in Yorkshire pronouncing words like dance and bath as “darnce” and “barth” and was as surprised as anyone when, after a relatively short period oop north, words like “bus” came tumbling out of her mouth when it would once have been “bas…” Oh yes, we done the girl proud. A New Yorker at heart, Michelle currently resides in The Big Apple where her accent has never been so frightfully English – not surprising, really, when you consider just how many American men will buy an English girl a drink just for overhearing her accent – but somehow I still think of her as a Northern Britisher as much as she is a Southern Britisher. Not only is she as obsessed with accents as I am, albeit in a slightly different way, she is the reason I ventured south for the v.first time, and she once bought me a book on Yorkshire pronunciation.

Although I confess to being a Northerner, and one who lives in Leeds, no less, I am not from Yorkshire. I am, in fact, from Glossop – a small town at the top tip of the Peak District in Derbyshire. When meeting someone for the first time, I generally tell them I’m from Manchester, what with it being so close, but my accent is not particularly Manc., nor is it Derbyshire. I don’t know what it is, to be honest. Glossop is at the bottom end of the Snake Pass; a twisty, windy, hummocky road… snake-like, if you will… that leads from Sheffield towards Manchester. People tend to pass through Glossop on their way to Manchester, but rarely stop there. It’s unlikely that you’ll have heard of it, but Vivienne Westwood was from Glossop and, if you’re a buff of British telly, you might be familiar with a place called Hadfield, which is where The League of Gentlemen was filmed and which is just over the hill (arguably a suburb of Glossop). Hadfield used to be lumped in with Hyde (Hyde’s claim to fame being Harold Shipman) until they moved the boundaries so that it was in Derbyshire and changed the postcode to match Glossop’s. Incidentally, Glossop and Hadfield have Stockport postcodes.

So you can sort of see why there is confusion in terms of my accent. It’s a bit Cheshire, a bit Lancashire, a bit Yorkshire, a bit Oldham and ever so slightly Manc. Ma Mum’s from Altrincham and sounds ever so slightly Peter Kay*, ma Dad’s from Old Glossop and pronounces the words book and hook with an “oo”** rather than as “buck” and “huck”, and ma stepfather is pure Mancunian. Bizarrely, I in no way sound like I’m from the midlands; and yet in Buxton, which is a stone’s throw away, they are nothing but midlanders, duck. What’s always fascinated me in terms of accents, though, more than the North West areas surrounding Glossop, is Yorkshire. I’ve never been anywhere where the accents are so varied and yet within such close proximity of each other. The Leeds accent is all bizarre, flat vowels and can only be described as a rather washed out version of the Hull accent, which sports vowels so flat, they’re practically bent backwards on themselves. Despite Hull not being in Yorkshire, there is a markedly Yorkshireness to the Hull accent (for example: “Helleurgh,” “neurgh” and “ceurghst,” would be “hello,” “no” and “coast”). But all over Yorkshire, towns and small cities have their own accents. Bingley, to my ears, is sort of a laid-back, croakier Leeds – a stoner’s Leeds accent, if you can accept that without insult. Barnsley (Baarnsleh) is broad and round and can be as toastily warming as it can threatening. Sheffield is Alan Bennett all over, although I’m not even sure that’s where he’s from. Yorkshire being the size of a small country, I can hardly sit here reeling off how I think everyone sounds from Rotherham to Whitby and beyond, but I can highly recommend ringing a branch of ASDA in every Yorkshire town just to listen to how they talk. I’d say something, though – maybe ask for opening times – heavy breathing down the telephone at supermarket staff will only get you a reputation. Of course, Yorkshire being a hotbed of Asian communities, you may get a Yorkshire accent with an Indian or Pakistani twang, especially in Bradford where getting lost in the one way system can have your mouth watering as you pass one gorgeous curry house after another.

The other thing that’s struck me since moving to Leeds is that the sayings and colloquialisms vary slightly from those I was brought up with and sometimes don’t translate once you’re over the Pennines.

Ginnel, for a start. A ginnel in Glossop is the gap between two buildings – sometimes roofed. I believe it is the same here, although I have heard it pronounced “jennel”.

A snicket, however, is not the space between two houses to a Glossopian. A snicket is similar, but it’s a short cut, sort of like a rabbit path. Generally narrow and winding and possibly flanked on one side by a building, but not two… that would be a ginnel, innit.

Skrieking. No bugger I’ve ever come across outside my hometown knows that skrieking is. And I’ve never written it down, so I don’t even know if that’s how it’s spelt. Skrieking, in Glossop, is crying.

Fleeing. I once used this word when I was on the ‘phone to a guy in the IT department who asked me what the weather was like in Belfast (I was on a secondment). I looked outside with a shiver: it was snowing. So I said it was fleeing. He was so taken aback by this, him being from (and based in) Reading, that he asked me to jot down any other words that were Northern. Fleeing means that it’s v.cold, in case you aren’t from Glossop couldn’t guess.

Mek us a brew… everyone knows that one, surely. Make me a cup of tea.

Our kid… my brother/sister.

Owt… something.

Nowt… nothing

Awat?… how are you?

Areet… alright.

Until reading Pies and Prejudice, I had no idea that mithering wasn’t a word. In fact, neither did a load of people. At one point in a conversation I had about this recently, I was ordered to fetch the largest, most comprehensive dictionary I’ve ever seen with writing so small it took four of us with three different pairs of spectacles and a magnifying glass to determine that, no, it really isn’t a word. It wasn’t a word whether it was spelt “mithering” or “mythering.” I didn’t even want to bring up the fact that a lot of people in Glossop actually say “midering.”

One of the above mentioned party being from Surry, we naturally grilled her about other things she’d never heard before entering the north. Tenses came up in conversation. “Yet” to a northerner, can mean “now”. And “while” can mean “until”. My father, who used to work continental shifts in a plastic factory in Middleton (greater Manchester, not South Leeds) would say things like: “I were on while for’t ten” which means that he was working until ten o’clock. Also acceptable would be: “I were on while for’t yet” which means he would have been working until now.

Recently I was chatting with friends and, on observing a rather dark and foreboding horizon, I came out with: “Ooh, it’s a bit black over Bill’s mother’s”. Everyone fell about laughing. Evidently, that one doesn’t translate in Yorkshire.

I’ve actually run out of words and phrases, because it would seem that I’m still under the impression that my vocabulary is compiled of real words. So I cheated and googled, and came up with this little saying: “I’ll go to the foot of our stairs.” It means that something unexpected has just happened or that someone has been told something surprising. I am marginally disturbed to discover that this isn’t universal and so am going to stop before I get thoroughly upset with the country as a whole.

So, all in all, I don’t sound like a Derbyshirean… Derbyan… Derbian(?) I don’t feel like one, either. Although, I do occasionally wipe a single, solitary, glistening tear from my cheek when I drop down into Longdendale on Woodhead Road and see the “Welcome to Derbyshire” sign. Glossop feels like home, but then equally so does Manchester. Whenever I step off the train into Piccadilly and breathe that bizarre, damp air, with its own, unique clammy smell, I can’t help but smile. So, it’s hardly surprising that I perked right up once Mr Maconie reached Manchester.

I was rather surprised to find that the rest of the country considers Manchester to be emotional and arrogant. Of course, there were tears in my eyes as I read about the marvel that is the greatest city in the world…

… OK, maybe I don’t believe that, but I definitely sobbed with longing as Maconie trotted out the tale of the Massacre of Peterloo and tripped down Quay street (where I began my working life), to visit the Opera House (where I discovered Rocky Horror and Grease). Last year, during that horrible night when the riots that had begun in London spread slowly north like a nasty rash and went wild in Manchester, I realised just how much I was attached to the city that I consider home – I swelled with pride as people took to the streets with cricket bats to defend their businesses and then again after tweeters vowed to clean it up the next day. I rage against the southern perception of the north of England, so I positively brimmed to hear such buoyant affirmation of what is often, v.wrongly, considered to be a grim place that nobody wants to go to or live in.

My only disappointment with Pies and Prejudice was the lack of attention to the Manchester Egg. Possibly the latest foodstuff to come out of Manchester. It is truly delicious and sports the nationwide favourite that is Bury black pudding. Recipe to follow!

FOOTNOTES:

* People who don’t know ma Mum often talk down to her because of her accent… she may play up to it a little bit, but it doesn’t take long for people to realise that she is an incredibly intelligent woman with a sharp wit and a great sense of humour.

** I think that if people started talking down to ma Dad, he’d probably just nut the fuckers.

FEATURED IMAGE:

The featured image is a picture of Old Glossop. Those two little boys on the left next to the dog with the black coats and toggles are my uncle Tony and my father, respectively. The taller lad next to them in the lighter coat is my uncle Brian. Uncle Brian got all the height… the other two didn’t grow much more. I’m not sure if the strapping man with the braces behind them is my grandfather and the lady on his shoulder my grandmother, but it v.well could be.

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