Thursday, 28 February 2013

Taking the lid off...

This is what happened in York yesterday. Sort of. Without the huge, flat dynamic vista. Sort of like this on a smaller scale, with lots of old buildings interspersed with inexplicably shoddy 60s architecture. But looking up was essentially like this. 





Because, well... you just don't understand what it's been like. You weren't there. Unless you were. And also I do concede that we haven't exactly had the monopoly on shitty weather. But fuck it. My blog. 

For weeks and weeks and weeks, York has been like living in a tupperware box. You look up and it's opaque dirty white. You look around and it's opaque dirty white. You breathe in and it even tastes dirty white. I've never actually felt oppressed by clouds before. And I'm usually used to being able to look into the sky at any time of year and being able to discern something. The outline of clouds maybe. Or a tiny bit of lighter clouds that suggest that there is a sun somewhere. But there's just been nothing. Just waking up to a matte grey block of sky that stays like that until it gets dark. No outlines of anything else. No stars at night. Just... nothing... like the apocalypse had already happened and this actually was a nuclear winter but someone had forgotten to tell York.  

And I like winter. I like dark nights and dark mornings. But the unrelenting greyness and lacerating wind, combined with spending most of the last few weeks standing on the edges of the barren wasteland that is York University's Heslington East campus waiting for a fucking bus that NEVER COMES has scarred me. And you know how I don't like to be overly dramatic. But, really. I'm possibly scarred for life. 

Stepping out of the building I work in [called The Catalyst. Inexplicably grey and lime green. Shaped like what the 1970s thought the future would look like. With an Ikea twist. Hideous.] every day has been like being smacked in the face with a slab of concrete made of icicles and needles. Repeatedly. One memorable evening's journey home took two hours amid conditions that would cause Sir Ranulph to cry a bit as he loses whatever digits he has remaining. 

And then yesterday. Yesterday it was like someone took the lid off the tupperware box and radiance poured out. The transformative effect of sunlight is only really dawning on me now. At my age. It's taken me 37 years to understand why people like sunshine? What the motherflip is wrong with me?

I'm a goth type. I genuinely spent most of the 90s and 00s inside with the curtains closed wondering why people were so fucking nauseating during the summer time. And I still don't like everything that comes with it. The sudden desire to play frisbee and football like we're all living in some awful American frat house comedy film. The stripping off as SOON as is humanly possible to show off one's arse/pecs/endless tattoos. 

So waking up to a world bathed in oranges and yellows and sparkliness and warmth and a fat cat gazing rapturously out of the window while rolling his girth around in an actual sunbeam has been a fucking pleasure. And then it happened again today. And suddenly waiting for a bus is fine. Because I can turn my face to the sun and close my eyes. 





Tuesday, 26 February 2013

OKstupid


It’s no secret I internet date - although the actual dates are few and far between. And it isn’t my intention to blog about many of the interactions I have. That’s not what this blog is. It is not about my quest for lurve. Or my hilarious, hapless dating escapades. It’s only when really special messages land in my inbox or actually hilariously mental men take it upon themselves to hound me, that I feel compelled to share.

Like this one:

Hi Lisa

I hope you had a nice weekend and are enjoying this slightly milder weather...

I am relatively experienced I guess, having had two such relationships, although each was within a regular relationship, so most assumed we were just bf/gf, which for me added to the alure. (sic). I suppose these relationships have left me craving for more, something better, having accepted this is what I seek, lots of secret smiles, exploration, fun and deeper bonding...

Was in (sic) the fetish fair in Clapham you went to? I agree they are fun! I was thinking if you are free maybe this weekend, perhaps embankment, wander to south bank...

Scott x

OK, so he'd clearly sent it to the wrong person. But really? REALLY? I mean, before he sent it he spent a good while checking out my profile - you can see when people look at your profile. So he must have had a fairly good idea my name wasn't Lisa and I hadn't actually spoken to him about my predilection for Clapham's local fetish fairs. 

I hope she enjoyed it though. 

And then, on the same day. This guy. This guy is special. He's one of those muscle bound types who actually think anyone gives a shit about their gym routine. Blonde, spiky hair. Face like a leg of ham. Low cut t-shirt. When did they become a thing by the way? Low cut tops to show off men's chesticles? All of that doesn’t necessarily make him a total and utter prick. But his approach does. Particularly as my profile actually contains these words:

I really really can't deal with bad spelling. I think this might be weirdly shallow but I can't help it. I also have an aversion to being called 'hun' or to textspeak. 

*small update* I am not looking for casual sex, a shag, to talk dirty on Skype, a 'discreet friendship', a roll in the hay, a one night stand, a conversation about how naughty you are or to hear how horny you are. Hope that helps. *end of small update*

So he decides to spam me with these two messages, both within an hour:

Him: "Heya! Just moved to york x how are you"

I don't reply.

Less than an hour later: "Hey hunnie x love your profile. Just bought a house in york x wana chat x

Me: "If you REALLY loved my profile you'd know that I hate being called hunnie. And no, I don't want to chat."

Him: "Huh????????"

I thought it was pretty clear myself.

Next day, he pops up on the chat function:

“Hey you xx how you doin’ hunnie xx  Wana chat?”

I just have so many issues with this I almost don’t know where to start. I have already spelled out to him that I dislike being addressed thus. I have also dissed him pretty thoroughly. And yet, do you note how NONE of that goes in? He is clearly just spamming away, chuck enough messages out there and some dumb ‘hunnis’ will respond, presumably. Although the insistence with which he was messaging me would beg to differ.

I brought up the fact that I didn’t want to talk to him yesterday and I don't want to talk to him today. He then said that I was a ‘stuck up lady’ but he bets he has a better job than me and he's got an amazing job and a car and a house and he's humble and I’m a retard (yes, retard) and that he’s going to report me to Gary and have me removed from the site.

No. I don’t know who Gary is either.

Then there was the American who lives in Nottingham who apparently thinks he is some kind of God among Men. His opening gambit was: “You intrigue me. British women don’t normally intrigue me. Amaze me. Astound me. *grins slyly*”

I threw up a little in my mouth.

I think I was meant to be all flattered and then write a haiku in a British accent to try and get him to please continue to find me fascinating, me what with my ‘umble Britishness and him with his worldly American ways. Fuckin dick.

I know there are some normal guys on these sites because I have spoken to at least one. But man oh man are they outweighed by the creepy contingent.

I also didn’t realise how ubiquitous polyamorous relationships apparently are. I mean I literally had no idea. They’re everywhere. So many guys contacting me and they already have a girlfriend. And that girlfriend is contacting other people too. But they’re committed to each other. But they want to meet other people, not just for one night stands, for a committed relationship. Whut? 

My main thought is: how will you have time? The thought of having one, steady relationship scares the bejesus out of me these days because when then will I find the time to sit on Reddit for four hours straight? What if they don’t like me watching TV in the middle of the night? What about my cat time? And my sleep time? I can barely stomach the thought of fitting in a proper, full time boyfriend. But more than one? Getoutofit. Christmas would be really expensive, man.
Life’s too bloody short.

My magic number is quite high enough as well, I don’t really feel the need to experiment between the sheets with as many people as possible. If anything, I’d like to wipe at least 10 of my past encounters out of history and get to do those numbers over again. OK, 20.

Anyway, this is but the tip of a very, very small iceberg. I actually took a load of screenshots of funny exchanges and then felt mean. Offensive and vile as I find some of these men, I'm going to err on giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are just misguided or clumsy, rather than the horror perves my gut tells me they are.  



Sunday, 17 February 2013

He's just... I don't even...

He's just SUCH an idiot.

People often say to me that I worry too much about Fatman, that I'm obsessed with him. In fact, one charming individual on a dating site said that I'm clearly too attached to my cat and, as I'm single at 36 and own a cat, I must have issues. That was after me answering a question of: "Do you have any pets?" With: "Yes, I have a cat and I love him very much."

So that was pleasant. So. Many. Nice. Men.

I do worry a lot about Fatman, although I'm down to just the two to three anxiety dreams a week now. The ones where he goes missing, or he's hurt and I can't save him, or he's in danger and I can't help him.

He's underestimated you see. People underestimate his energy ("There's no way he'd get over that... oh..."), his stealth ("He wouldn't know what to do... oh...") and, mostly, his fucking stupidity ("Cats aren't stupid, they wouldn't do anything that could hurt themselves... oh... he's fallen off the...)

Just now he decided to climb the tall ladders I put up in order to reach a high cupboard. He got the top, wailing all the way, jumped inside the cupboard, panicked, jumped back onto the ladders, which collapsed under his girth (I hadn't set them up properly as I wasn't intending to use them just yet hadn't considered that Fatman might fancy a bash) smashing into a load of my stuff, with said ladders crashing down and almost landing on his head.

My new place has an extremely high sheer drop between the banisters to the hallway below. It can only end in meows and tears at some point...

Just yesterday he decided the gas hob was where he wanted to be, so I found him in there perched uneasily amidst the gas taps. Because there's nowhere else of any comfort that a cat could possibly go in a two bedroom house spread over three floors.

He became so mesmerised with the water swirling into the bath the other day that he almost fell in. He fell down the stairs yesterday, shortly after nutting the window because he could see birds in the sky.

He basically needs to live in a padded room with one of those safety helmets on.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

What a time to be a woman

February 14 2013:
Olympic athlete and South African hero Oscar Pistorious allegedly shoots his girlfriend four times in the head and chest. Her name is Reeva Steencamp.

February 15 2013:
Reeva's corpse is most likely being sliced open for a post mortem around now. Post mortems are brutal. Her dead body will bear little resemblance to the hot, hot, hot woman she was. She was 30 years old. A man has destroyed her and in doing so has destroyed himself. It's a tragedy beyond description and motive remains unknown. The immediate story had been that he had taken her for a burglar and shot her dead by accident. South African police have denied this. She was shot four times in the head and chest through the bathroom door. Murmurings of domestic violence have leaked out and Oscar Pistorious has been charged with her murder. He denies it in 'the strongest possible terms'.

How does the UK media react? Well, there's a fair chunk about Oscar being a South African hero now fallen, how everything he had achieved is damaged, that everyone is in shock that such a man could do such a thing. There's speculation on why he allegedly killed the girlfriend. Rarely is she actually given her name. She is an extension of him. Half of a power couple. Half of a famous and beautiful couple.

In the UK, The Sun sees fit to print a full colour photo of Reeva in her bikini, breasts centre stage, cheeky pout to the camera. Well, she was a model. And had the audacity to be stunningly beautiful. So, may as well get some use out of those shots eh? Give the miserable assholes who buy this shit something to wank over. Doesn't matter that she is fucking DEAD. As Reeva was a model and a beautiful young woman, it apparently remains fair game to use her body - never mind that her body is now a corpse - to sell a shit newspaper to amoral proles.

Twitter was making actual bile rise in my throat. From the immediate 'jokes' to the unfurling of our revolting tabloid media's reaction to the murder. Bikini shots in the Daily Mail and The Star. A blankness surrounding Reeva as a person because she was beautiful and her job was to pose in lingerie and bikinis. So what, she's rendered a lesser person? What about if it was Oscar himself who had been brutally murdered? Would there be massive pictures of his pecs and would he be referred to as 'the boyfriend'. No he fucking wouldn't.

We are actually going backwards. Lip service is paid to finding violence against women icky but this prevailing, ingrained attitude that women, especially pretty women, are somehow asking for it remains. And that, it's sort of OK. Because people like Rihanna go back to the man who beat the living shit out of her. And all the kids who watch this woman who poses daily by her own choice pretty much naked and uploads pictures to Twitter like some insatiably narcissistic vacuum think it's OK. And they see a media treat a dead woman like an actual piece of meat. And they think it's OK.

And maybe they watch Daybreak on TV. I don't know who would. It's an appalling magaziney type piece of shit. But apparently has an audience. And a Tweet from them caught my attention yesterday I was wrestling with despising people trying to outdo each other with Pistorious 'jokes'.

It said: @daybreak: Controversial question: can women who are drunk and flirty be blamed for being attacked. Some of our viewers think so.

I looked at their feed. It was sandwiched in between lighthearted witterings about films and fashion and the weather and Z list celebs thanking them for letting them come on their shit show. Just sort of light heartedly chucked in there, like they're doing a quick poll on peoples' opinions on the what's happening in Corrie.

Like, oh hey viewers, d'you think if a woman is pissed that it's OK to rape her? Some people do. Huh. Oh look, shiny thing.

What kind of shit is this? What kind of ignorant bastard would not see that treating this subject on a par with what the cast of Loose Women did last night and what's on telly isn't dangerous. Particularly if, apparently, 'some of their viewers' think that a woman who is DRUNK or FLIRTY deserves VIOLENCE? There was no follow up to this. No backtracking. No tweet that said: uh, by the way, violence against women is of course illegal and no woman is responsible for it happening to her because she is drunk.

Fuck you @daybreak and fuck the society that is permeated with casually condoning violence against women. Because that's what is happening here. These comments are not harmless. They are not some opinion poll on a breakfast show. They show an endemic cultural and societal view that, no matter what we witness, no matter how many women are raped, killed, beaten up and emotionally abused, that there is still STILL an underlying patriarchal view that somehow they are asking for it. And if a woman who happens to be beautiful is murdered, it's OK to plaster pictures of her near naked body over the front page of the press the next day.

All women everywhere have the right to walk around stark naked off her face on any substance of her choice and STILL NOT BE ATTACKED, RAPED OR HURT for it. No woman is asking for it ever. EVER. Under ANY circumstances. It doesn't matter if they are a prostitute, a drug addict or an exhibitionist. It makes no difference how they dress, what they wear, how drunk they are. EVER.

I can't believe that in 2013 this is what we are dealing with. It makes me feel so sad. And that it's an almost futile fight.

RIP Reeva Steencamp.



Saturday, 9 February 2013

I want some fish

I am so tired. So weary. So triumphant. But I want some fish.

I really really want to eat some fish. A big seabass on a bed of oriental veg maybe. Or a cod in the lightest of batter. Monkfish on a skewer. I feel like I'm going to start hallucinating various piscine. This is the first time I've actually had a craving following the whole no meat/fish thing. It's a lot harder when you have a craving.

Luckily I'm way too lazy to even try and cook something like that, plus I've just discovered that the cooker in my new flat has a gas oven. I'm scared of gas ovens. I don't want to have to light anything with a match. Plus, what if my innate Plathness takes over one day? Before. with my electric ovens, I would have just looked like an idiot and maybe got some pizza in my hair. Now, it could actually be a thing.

So, I'm in my new place. And it feels HUGE. And WARM. And when you turn the hot tap on, HOT WATER comes out. Hallelujah. A towel rail already fell off the wall and I'm not at all sure about some of the appliances, but I have a bed, the TV set up (oh yeah, I can do stuff I can. Next I'll be putting up shelves and finding out what a rawl plug is. [I won't]) and I am in.

Which means the beginning of my, uh, seventh 'fresh start' in 10 months, counting all the house moves and job moves and move moves. Still, nothing like a FRESH START huh kids? If you're in any way comfortable with your lives I suggest moving somewhere random on a spurious reason. I guarantee you'll never be bored again. You'll also probably never be happy again, but which is the greater evil?

I do have high hopes now. I can actually say with actual truth and not just because everything I write on the internet is being policed in uncomfortable detail, that my job is lovely. The people are just so lovely. I still sometimes think Jeremy Beadle might jump out with his tiny hand and shout that it's all been a joke and make me go back to the Bad Place. But as he's dead, there's probably only a slight chance that could happen.

And the new house is rather marvellous. And I already made friends with Charlie who runs the Army & Navy store next door and Keeley who runs the most amazing vintage shop beneath me. And the river is just round the corner and, as long as I don't look to the left and catch sight of Wetherspoons, the view is of the Walls.

And basically I'm as full of enthusiasm as a very very very very tired person can be.

Happy Saturday everyone, I hope yours was as interesting as mine.

I still want to eat some fish.

Friday, 8 February 2013

She's FUCKING ginger goddammit

I don't have much time. I am in the middle of packing hell. I move house at 8am tomorrow morning. I shouldn't be here doing this. But a friend of mine just sent me something that I can't just not comment on. If I didn't give voice to my apoplectic rage I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight and then the knock on effect would be terrible to behold and may result in dead estate agents. And none of us want that now do we.

Except me. I'd quite like that.

Anyway. This. This. THIS


On the right you will see Megan Follows as Anne Shirley, from the 1980s Canadian TV mini series. This series introduced a generation of people to Anne of Green Gables. NOT ME. By the time this had come out I had already read and reread and REREAD all nine of the books in the series.

I loved Anne. I wanted to be Anne. I frequently pretended I was Anne. I know the plot of every book. I can quote dialogue. These books were my life for a while during a particularly shit time at school.

So I can tell you categorically, with authority that the main thing - the main, DEFINING characteristic of Anne Shirley's appearance, particularly in the first book is that she is GINGER. She is skinny and ginger and 'homely'. Obviously she grows up into a beautiful swan and gets the boy. But at the beginning she she is a child of 11 who is not meant to be a conventional 'looker'. She is also not a pouty, blonde FOOL in a fucking checked shirt. She does not give come hither glances and look like she might just be old enough to have sex with you.

The plot, you see, is her coming of age story. Part of that is coming to terms with who she is. But more importantly, the entire reason that her future husband gets her attention at school is by teasing her about her ginger hair. He calls her carrots. She punches him in the face (kind of), and refuses to speak to him for four years and he is lovestruck from afar. It's the whole damn point. What would Miss Playboy bunny on the left here do? Most likely drop to her knees and service Gilbert Blythe and the rest of the schoolhouse by the looks of her.

Anne Shirley is an iconic heroine for young girls with soul, and I'm assuming there are some left in existence. She's an inspiration for girls who feel wrong, and gawky and like they don't fit in and she gives hope to them that being intelligent and feisty and kind and clever outweighs looks every time. She's a feminist and a wit and changes her world. What she doesn't do is pout at boys and run her hands through her luscious blonde hair.

So why in HELL this US reprint of the books has gone with this image I don't know. But I hate them for it.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Just give it a month...

On December 13 2012 I said I wouldn't eat meat for a month, just to see what it’s like, to see whether I could sustain it, to see whether I wanted to sustain it.

I come from a long line of meat eaters and roast dinner enjoyers. When growing up tea, lunch and breakfast would more than likely include some form of meat.

My favourite meat to eat is beef, of the roast kind, then chicken and then fish. I also would have said that I couldn't be a vegetarian. I would have said that that was categorically something I couldn't do. So don’t ask me, OK? And yes, I know I love animals to the point of insanity and have often spent time hanging out in fields with cows. That’s not the point. I’m totally able to separate those doe-eyed, gentle, trusting beasts from the hunk of flesh on my plate. And the clucky chickens that my friend owns bear absolutely no resemblance to the nice roast bird in my oven.

And besides I need the protein. And, well, we’re meant to be omnivorous aren’t we? And the shelves and restaurants are full of tasty meaty treats. And just NO, OK? I don’t WANT to stop eating meat. But then the crying of the lambs in the night Clarice...

So anyway, my new strategy is to give things a month. Interestingly it has been by far and away the best self help mantra I have ever employed and it’s all my own. So in your face all you mind- mapping, positive thinking, hypnotising, cosmic ordering, willpower encouraging harpies I have been reading for years and years and years. Doesn't work. Any of it.

So I thought I’d let go of all the pressure and the expectation and the declarations of “This is what I am doing now forever and ever,” and I said to myself “Fuck it, give it a month. Just a month. See what happens. See how you feel. If you go back to eating meat no one will give a shit. Any pressure is coming entirely from you. Just do it. Now. A month.”

So I did.

And I’m almost two months down the line and, man, was it easy. And I feel so much better about this tiny bit of myself. I didn't even know how much it bothered me that I couldn't reconcile my feelings with my actions. I didn't even know how much like a toothache it was.

So January 1st I decided to do the same with Facebook. Facebook that had become the main focus of my time spent alone. Yeah, pathetic isn't it? Especially when you’re frequently lonely and you miss people. What could be better than looking at their fun filled lives that are going on without you and how much fun they are having without you. Self esteem bashing stuff I think you’ll agree.

I decided to give it a month. And let me stress I really really REALLY wasn't comfortable with this. I thought it would make me feel so lonely and so lost that I’d run back to it. Well, thought I, let’s just do it for a month, no pressure, no expectations. And what. Do. You. Know. It was easy and I feel so much better without it. So much better. I have been writing and writing and writing. Not blogging but actual creative writing. I have been calmer emotionally and, interestingly, much less lonely.

Next to try in my nice and chilled “Just try it for a month, no one really cares anyway” is giving up sugar. I want to know what it would be like without sugar. But I am far from sure that I’d ever want to give it up forever. So, you know, I’m just going to give it a bash for a month. See how I feel...

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Jesus is my hotrod


Last week sometime a conversation happened in the office. It involved Jesus Christ. I don't remember how it started or how it ended up, but I do remember that within said conversation I just happened to mention that I find many depictions of Jesus Christ extremely hot. 

This includes classical medieval and renaissance art all the way up to films and pop culture depictions. 

A moment of watching the suddenly appearing tumbleweed was followed by hoots of derision and catcalls of surprise by some colleagues. Most probably didn't even notice. At least a few agreed with me secretly I'd imagine. 

Luckily, saying things that I should most likely keep in my head and meeting my peers' bemused stares is something I am extremely used to. 

But I also like to prove my point. I did a post ages ago about depictions of Rochester who are eminently fuckable. And now, it seems a natural next step to move on to the so-called son of god. When I think of the grown up Christ, he's always kind of beardy and swarthy and sinewy and nearly naked and oh so hot. Basically he's Jim Morrison when he was about 24. Not the 27 year old Jim Morrison. All bloaty and alcoholic. But the lean, hooded eyes of a coiled up sexual frenzy preferably naked and on a cross. 

So I had a little searchette on Google and I did find some wondrous ones. I defy you, male or female, not to appreciate the downright shaggableness of some of these bad boys:


















OK, so maybe the scourging one is a bit much. Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. And finding Christian Bale as Christ was a cheeky bonus - pretty much the ideal Jesus right there. Anyone else know he was in some weird bible flick in the late 90s? Might have to watch it. I'd have included Mel Gibson's Jim Whatsisface from The Passion of the Christ if Gibbo wasn't such a raving anti-Semitic knobhead.

And I appreciate that in Dali's version you can't see his face, but oh the muscles and shoulders and thighs. Ooof.

Even the more po-faced ones have got some body hidden under those robes.

Basically, I think, yet again, my point is proven. And for once in my life, I can say: thank Christ for that, with any kind of meaning. Enjoy.




Monday, 4 February 2013

"Welcome to this garden of death..."


I recently spent an extremely pleasurable time in and underneath York Cemetery.

Yeah, yeah, I know. How predictable that I'd want to go and hang out in a cemetery, right? To be fair, the catacombs were substantially warmer than my flat has been since New Year. It's now Day 41 with no hot water and heating. So used to this ridiculous state of affairs have I grown, it just feels like I've always lived like this. Cold, cold, cold. So a wee break in an underground graveyard seemed just the thing to warm myself up. I'll be like some kind of post apocalyptic refugee, eyes wide with wonder, when I move into my new flat this weekend and witness the miracle of a tap turning on and hot water emerging.

Anyway, I'm volunteering there now, which means spending a day a month artfully arranging brambles and clearing ditches and generally making sure the dead have a nice place to hang out. Having a proper nose around seemed an apt way to spend a day.

And it's even more perfect a space than I thought. It's the story of 125,000 people, how they were all but forgotten and, thanks to a group of people who care, brought out of the shadows to their rightful place in a beautiful, wild place of mourning and acknowledgement. Thanks to the Friends of York Cemetery and the Trust that formed in the 80s to drag the graveyard out of the maw of bureaucratic ignorance it had fallen, 125,000 people have been brought back to life. As much as they can, given that they're all dead, of course. But you get the gist.



I wrote an article about it for One&Other, which you can check out if you'd like to know more about some of the logistics of bringing a graveyard back to life, like a black clad phoenix from the flames of indifference that sadly was a marker of much of the late 20th century towards death.

It's the Victorian attitude I'm into. The loud acknowledgement. The clothes, the rituals, the funerals, the ornate burials, the graveyards that were their cities of the dead, the Memento Mori, the locks of hair, the jet jewellery, the steadfast refusal to pretend that the second someone dies it's possible to just get over it.

The attitude that said: "Look! Look at me! She's just died and I need you to know that I am in pain. It hurts. I need you to know how much I love her and miss her. Mourn with me."

The comfort in those rituals I can only imagine, having had a rather different experience with loss and society's attitude towards it. And, I should add, that the Victorian mourning rituals were carefully timed, they did not go on forever (unless you were Queen Victoria who was a bit mental, and let's face it, there was only one of her); mourning dress changed over the months, denoting how long since the loss it had been, eventually to fade into almost the background, allowing people to get remarried should they wish, or move on.

Death was everywhere in Victorian Britain - it was literally in the midst of life. But all the rest of the time people were living and breathing and laughing and fucking and having children and getting on with their lives, whether they were rich or poor or in between. Wars were fought and epidemics happened but nothing could have prepared Britain for the shock of living in a world between 1914-1918 where almost an entire generation of men and boys were killed.

There was no time for mourning customs, no time for publicly acknowledged grief and, more often than not, no body to bury. How that must have changed everything. A brief lull and yet more mass slaughter in World War 2.

It's little wonder that post WWII burying the dead became an entirely different matter altogether, along with society's attitude towards it. But another 50 years on and we're stuck in a hinterland of bizarreness when someone dies.

A sort of embarrassed sidelong look, a quick visit to the local crematorium, pick a coffin out of a book and away you go. Bosh. What the fook was that, you may say, glancing around in bewilderment. That was it, says society, you've got to just get on with it now. Don't mention it much because people will think you're weird. Don't cry about it in public after the first couple of months because people will think you're maudlin. Best just, y'know, get ON with it.

Give me the Victorian attitude any day.

Also, them clothes. Who wouldn't want to mourn in a bustle?