Tuesday, 13 October 2015

36 thoughts I had while binge watching The Following





When I was on holiday I watched one hour of TV. One. ONE. It was an episode of Bake Off (natch).

I read 16 books.

It was amazing.

Since I got back I have watched the entire two seasons of The Following, starring Kevin Bacon and James Purefoy.

It is about a serial killer/cult leader (Purefoy) and his Hannibalesque relationship with the cop who put him away but has unfinished business (Kev Bacon).

Kev has a drinking problem and a very, very predictable story arc.

Purefoy plays for laughs. I think.

I enjoyed binge watching The Following in much the same way I enjoy binge watching anything. I feel a bit dirty. Sticky in the brain. Quite a lot more stupid and a bit confused. Where did the time go? Why did I do that? Did I even enjoy it? It's much like being at university in the mid 90s all over again.

Here are some thoughts I had:

1. Has Kevin Bacon actually aged? At all?
2. No, he hasn't. Look at him.
3. So, he's doing this because he lost all that money in that Ponzi scheme, right?
4. When's he going to bust out a dance move?
5. When does he eat?
6. Or go to the loo?
7. How tortured can one person be? Has he thought about, like, not obsessively chasing this killer?
8. I would not like to be his friend. Every single friend of Kev's gets implausibly killed. Every one. Apart from Clare.
9. Bloody Clare.
10. Just how ridiculous can this plot line be? Seriously? A serial killer busts out of jail and has hundreds of brainwashed acolytes around the world just ready to kill for him? Even though he's kind of a pillock?
11. Christ, Emma's annoying.
12. Why is everyone having sex with anyone? Surely it's the last thing you'd be after if you've been finding dead bodies every five minutes?
13. Kev only has about three lines. "I'm going to kill you." "Kill me instead." "Not Clare. Nooooo."
Clare is the serial killer's ex wife who Kev, just after he put serial killer in jail, started banging. But when the serial killer was safely in jail decided that he couldn't be with her after all because he's part of her past or something so they don't get together. But now that everyone's in danger and JC (the serial killer) has had her (and his) son kidnapped, Kev does want to be with her again. Confused? It's basically all about Clare. And man, she is ANNOYING.
14. Footloose, Footloose, kick off your Sunday shooooeeesss
15. Kyra Sedgewick! That's her name.
16. JC seems particularly bland for someone who's meant to be able to commandeer and control people almost at will.
17. The Edgar Allen Poe thing doesn't really work after the first couple of episodes.
18. Everyone is compromised.
19. Everyone gets over their best friend being killed super fast.
20. The amount of people who have died in order to save Clare is, frankly, ridiculous.
21. Why is Clare so special anyway?
22. Clare must be the queen. She can order the FBI around.
23. Revenge killing is totally fine if Kev wants to do it, if anyone else wants to do it it immediately becomes a moral quandary.
24. Pretty sure Kev has now killed more people than the serial killer.
25. Clare's dead! Yayyy.
26. Oh no she's not. Great.
27. The serial killer's dead! Yayyy.
28. Oh no he's not. Great.
29. Kev is manifestly not dead. And still hasn't eaten or slept.
30. I wonder if this has put Kev back in the black.
31. James Purefoy is really quite a rotten actor.
32. It's finished.
33. I feel the blank nothingness of a serial killer's inner mind.
34. Was that meant to happen?
35. That was a lot of time.
36. I hate Clare.

I need to read a book. Quick. Any book. Doesn't even have to be that smart.



Tuesday, 6 October 2015

And all I could see were Deborah's socks...



You know when you have those moments? The kind of moments that come in the night when you’re trying to sleep… Or maybe you got up for a wee at 3am. You’ve been asleep and your brain is, presumably, at its most vulnerable to random thoughts. You’re feeling pretty relaxed though. Cushioned in the cloud of early morning. It’s dark. You don’t have to do anything. Nobody needs or wants anything from you. You can just exist.

And then.

REMEMBER WHEN YOU WERE EIGHT AND THE ENTIRE CLASS LAUGHED AT YOU? DO YOU REMEMBER? DO YOU? Do you especially remember the first flush of awareness followed swiftly by disbelief as you felt the blush creep painfully up the back of your neck until it covered your whole face? Do you remember the sense of injustice at the fact that it was your goddamn teacher who made them all laugh at you? Do you remember your first awareness of how very fucking unfair the world was? Did you think you’d remember it 32 years later in the middle of the night? COS YOU HAVE.

I was a musical child. And by this I mean that when I was four my parents decided that I should try the violin. I didn’t mix well with other kids. Not for any particular reason. At this point I’d had an insular but stable childhood and was pretty happy with myself in general. I wasn’t particularly suffering from any lack of confidence. True, I didn’t really see the point of a lot of things. Things like other people and school and tracing and playing with sand and shit like that. But it didn’t bother me. I was alright, man.

So I obviously picked up the violin because that’s what you did in 1980. If your parents told you to do something, you just did it. It took me until 1991 to realise that I could actually just, like, not do things. By not doing them.

It turned out that I was alright at the violin. That I had talent.

Ooooh, she’s MUSICAL. She’s not going to be athletic or sociable but she’s going to be MUSICAL.

I had a thing.

I didn’t want it particularly. But then again I was four. Who cares, right?

Fast forward a few years and I realise what being Musical and being better than average means. It means that every school concert and event I’m expected to give a shit. I have to join in. And not only do I have to play the violin, I also have to sing and play the recorder. Today I would probably be hailed as a child genius and deified by my parents. In 1985 this is just what you did as a child of average intelligence. 

Obviously I hated it. We had an insane music teacher who wore thick, bottle bottomed glasses, the like of which you just don’t see anymore. They made her eyes flicker like a myopic toad.She was called Miss Barrett and she really was heinous. And she made us, bearing in mind we ranged from seven to 10 years old, do concerts that lasted three hours. I don’t know who wanted to kill themselves more by the end of it. The exhausted kids or the parents who were clearly contemplating their life choices. I have no idea what this woman thought she was doing. With hindsight it was utterly ludicrous. She ruled with a rod of iron and rehearsals were often tearful affairs. Not for me, because I had Talent. But for the kids who didn’t? It was like me on the sports field. She was merciless and mean.

One of these concerts happened. I had to perform in the choir, do a solo, play the recorder, lead the orchestra and take part in every section of the three section concert. Most of the other kids – the lucky ones – did a bit and then got to play games in a classroom backstage until they were released from this inexplicable hell. Not me though. I got to do it all. How LUCKY.

But I did it. Because anxiety didn’t rule my life back then. So it was no big deal. Just dull. I dutifully performed to the best of my ability. I distinctly remember, 35 years on, smiling through it. Doing my best. Get 'em off my back, I was thinking. Soon it will be Christmas and I will be allowed to sit and read for a week straight. Just do what you gotta do, kid, and the world will reward you by leaving you the fuck alone.

And I was so sure I'd done it. There couldn't be anything I could possibly get in trouble for. I'd played my solos well. I'd sang the endless dirges. I was in the clear. 

The next day I was late into the classroom for some reason. No idea why. I entered to the sounds of my teacher saying: “And all I could see were Deborah’s socks,” in  the manner of a great comedian delivering the world’s cleverest punchline. I stood at the door of the classroom, and I may not be able to remember what I did yesterday, but I remember everything about this moment. Everything. Slow realisation dawning as I looked around the classroom at 30 of my ‘classmates’ howling with derisive laughter. Some pointed. I looked to the teacher, the only adult in the room, to enlighten me. To help me. I didn’t understand why everyone was laughing at me. I racked my brains to think about whether I’d inadvertently messed something up at the concert. No, no I really hadn’t. I had actually performed and achieved something that literally no one else in my class at the time could do.

And yet.

I walked through the sea of laughter when I realised the teacher wasn’t going to help me. She was too busy laughing. DELIGHTED with herself she was.

I sat down.

Someone hissed: “Your SOCKS” at me.

I looked down. My knee length socks were gathered round by my ankles. I was never a vain child and I hadn’t even noticed that my socks were falling down. They must have fallen down during the concert as well.

And that’s when I realised that no matter the talents you have, no matter how hard you work and no matter how hard you try, there will always be a cunt ready to take you down. Particularly if your appearance isn't perfect. Apparently, from the entire THREE hour concert I performed in, this was the only thing the teacher took away. And the only thing worth mentioning. Behind my back. When I wasn't even in the room. 

I maintained a dignified silence until the laughter eventually dried up. But the sense of injustice and scorn for that teacher is still with me today.

Fuck you, Mrs Thingie. With your crap hair and your dull voice and your need to bully children to get a cheap laugh. Fuck you.

Just to spite the bitch I didn't even pull my socks up. 




Sunday, 20 September 2015

The thing about anxiety is...

The thing about anxiety is it makes every single small, tiny, mundane thing extra difficult.

My anxiety/panic disorder means that almost everything I do is fraught with at the very least trepidation and, in some cases, terror.

And when I say almost everything, I mean almost everything.

Depending on my mood, hormones, how I'm feeling, how much sleep I've had and a million other apparently nebulous and indefinable reasons, sometimes I can't even walk into town. I can't walk down a street. I can't go into a shop. And I can't enjoy anything without feeling so terrified that I hyperventilate, heave, gag, shake and want to weep.

Other days I can do things that normal people can do.

All of which is just how it is.

It's been this way, off and on, with varying degrees of severity for many, many years.

It means I either don't go to concerts, gigs, bars, restaurants or social occasions or, if I do commit to them, I spend many, many days, weeks and sometimes months in a form of abject terror before the event.

The last few years, since I was brutally fired from a job in York, have been more difficult. My anxiety became too much for me to deal with. I very nearly gave up entirely and the year I spent living with my mother last year both gave me the chance to start to try and heal (again), pick myself up from an agoraphobic coma (again), work through the panic and terror to live a semblance of a normal life.

To be terrified of bungee jumping, for example, is understandable to most people. To feel trepidation before jumping out of an 'plane, as another example, is something that most people feel completely able to understand.

Take that fear - the fear you get when you think of your personal Room 101 hell, the fear you would have to face to do something that is so terrifying that it instantly makes your mind go blank with terror, your heart beat so fast it's literally painful and the terror course through your veins so fast that you know if you stay in this situation for one more second you will be annihilated. Take that fear and apply to everyday circumstances.

Getting a train.

Going to the supermarket.

Driving.

Eating in public.

Talking in public.

Being in public.

Having an anxiety disorder means being brave every single day, to do the simplest thing.

And it means, when faced with something like, oh, I dunno, a flight to Greece on Wednesday, the fear is off the scale. I haven't slept properly in a couple of weeks. I have intrusive thoughts about the flight. My heart beats so fast it hurts. I am on two anti anxiety drugs. I am desperately trying to do breathing exercises, visualisation, anything at all that might just lessen the terror I feel. And yet, it;s still here.

I know that all there is to do now is to do it.

I just have to get on that plane.

I have a think about myself sometimes and I wonder how it came to this. That I have a life where the worst thing that's happening at the moment is that my adorable fiance has booked me a holiday to Rhodes. And I can't wait. To spend 10 days with him without having to work is, in itself, astoundingly lovely.

But before I can get there I have to fly. And that's all I can think about.

I have flown 14 times in my life so far. I know the statistics. I know how many flights happen every single day without incident and I still, STILL, want to not get on that plane.

I will though,

Even though the thing about anxiety is it tries to get the better of you. Just this once, I'm not going to let it.



Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Off the shelf

Finally.

I'm a Normal Person.

I'm no longer a spinster, a loner, a loser.

Single women in their late 30s have a peculiar place in this life.

There is no shame, of course. I didn't consider myself a spinster, a loner or a loser. At least, not because I didn't have a boyfriend.

I often had the shady impression that some others sorta did though.

She NEVER has a boyfriend. Why is that? What's wrong with her? She's very needy. Low self esteem. Too angry. Swears too much. Too short tempered. Too large. Too moody. Too ill. Too something.

I do think that single women hurtling into middle age are perceived differently to single men of the same age. You start to lose your place at the table as couples begin to only hang out with couples. You start to see friends drop away as they have babies and you're not part of that.

It's often a natural progression in friendships.

You're somehow left behind, although you haven't changed one bit. There is a feeling that you're watching everyone else change and yet here you are. Always the odd one out.

Not all coupled up friends are like this, but I have found that those who became couples after we met are no longer in my social sphere. Those that were already coupled up when we met, nothing has changed. Interesting isn't it? No? You're reading the wrong blog then.

Anyway, it only really occurred to me in the last four or five years that there was something wrong with my relationship history.

At one point, I was all: "Why do I only attract assholes? Why do I always end up with cheating, horrible, selfish bastards? Why meeeeee."

I was very victim-y.

I would look at other people and be jealous. I would wish I had what they had. Bearing in mind, I had no real idea of their relationship really. I just saw the writing on the Facebook wall.

I watched friend after friend get married, meet someone (usually the other way around), have babies and, in some cases, get divorced and do it all over again. Meanwhile I was over in the corner kicking stones sullenly, forever feeling like the 14 year old black sheep who just couldn't catch a man.

And I really couldn't.

Mostly because the ones I was trying to catch were, well, sort of slimy.

And I realised, my relationship history was my fault. Not because I was too fat (as one particular ex used to point out. Over and over). Or because I didn't dress right (ditto). Or because I was too miserable (also that one). Or because I didn't trust him (well, he had, like, accidentally slipped it into other women so I had some  reason). But because I was making Bad Choices.

Every time a bloke sitch presented itself I would make a Bad Choice.

Oh look! He's a womaniser with major obvious commitment issues and has told me with his own voice that he doesn't want a girlfriend. Excuse me while I spend the next couple of years of my precious life lamenting the fact that he won't be miiiiineeee. Even though... well even though, he's not actually very nice. He's selfish and mean. Cruel sometimes. Quite boring other times. He doesn't get me and he thinks that my mental health issues make me too much hassle. He doesn't really even like me. And I don't, if I'm honest, really like him.

This is a sort of catch all for my relationships from around 28 to 36.

That's eight years. Eight years of proving that the law of insanity is a true one - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Somewhere along the line, I woke up.

I thought about the men I have had 'relationships' with and I wondered what the hell I was thinking. Honestly. Without exception. I had wasted SO much time and I had never allowed myself to feel what it's like to truly be alone. Not alone and wishing I was with someone. Or alone and crying because they didn't want me. Or alone because I was too fat, or too ugly, or too loud.

Just alone.

With me.

And something did happen. I decided that I am not getting involved with anyone unless they are very very special. Not ever again. Not even if I reject every man who comes anywhere near me. Not even if I have to attend every wedding alone for the rest of my spinster days. Because being alone is way, way, way better than being anywhere near the kinds of men that I had wasted so much time with.

I clearly didn't know how to pick a good one so I just stopped trying.

Internet dating was sporadic and became something that I carried on because, deep down, I thought the odds were on that I would meet someone at some point. Maybe. I knew I definitely wouldn't if I didn't keep a profile open.

Plus blogs.

And then I met B. I'm not going to mention him much or dissect our relationship on this blog. Obviously. But I met someone who made it all worthwhile. Someone who has shown me why it's worth having a relationship at all. Someone who genuinely thinks I'm awesome, with all my many and varied physical and mental flaws. Someone on my side.

And I find myself staring 40 in the face (seven months to go) and I have this whole other life before me. We are buying a house. We're getting married. We (I) are (am) planning just how many dogs and cats I can adopt. And I'm off the shelf.

But I would happily be on it still if I hadn't met someone so awesome. Being on the shelf is preferable to wasting your life on the undeserving. Plus there's a really good view from up there.


Monday, 7 September 2015

I'm no lady. Apparently

An old lady told me I wasn’t a lady today.

She was a racist nasty bigot  but because I’d said ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ she told me I wasn’t a lady.

I’d argue that being a racist old bitch makes her ‘not a lady’ but that would make me not a lady. Probably.

I lost my endo-weakened temper during my latest ‘discussion’ with the delightful people on this island who want to LOOK AFTER THEIR OWN before helping any Syrian refugees.

Of course, they can barely spell the language of their birth. You’d think if they care SO much about England, they’d learn how to MOTHERFUCKING spell.

A hardcore group of crones were jumping on anyone who said anything vaguely compassionate or supportive about the refugee crisis, sparked by a post about collecting left over tents after Bestival. 

Middle to old aged, ‘full time mummy’ under their profession, say lol and hun every second word, can’t write a sentence without misspelling your, you’re and their, always put kisses on the end, even when they’re spouting the most humungously horrible vitriol. Like “Well, I don’t think we should help anyone who isn’t from here. They’re dirty and they steal from you. I used to live in London and the refugees will steal all your stuff and shit in doorways. Do you want that on the island? They’re disgusting and vile and we need to keep the island for us. Lol. Hun. Xxxx”

I admit I got a leetle ratty and let slip with some fuck words.

Ignoring the fact that their views are only slightly less harsh than Hitler’s, they jumped on the fact I swore.

“Well, you swearing has just showed the kind of person you are. You’re just a bully. Your (sic) vile. Were (sic) only sayin wot peopl (sic,sic,sic) r thinking. Your not a lady.”

Once I’d deciphered this beaten to death remnant of a sentence. Once I’d been able to use my thick chav to English dictionary I realised that they were doggedly ignoring everything to do with refugees in favour of the fact that I said shit and fuck.

Course, I’ve never professed to be a ‘lady’. I don’t know what people even mean by this in the 21st Century.  

All in all, I’d rather be a sweary angry type who doesn’t think all refugees should die in a fire than an ill-educated chav moron who won’t help other human beings in need.

She also tried to insult my age. “How old are you? I bet you haven’t even lived through anything bad. I bet you don’t know anything about suffering.”

Judging by her picture the only suffering she has had to endure is when she was forcefed deep fried lard by someone for FIFTY YEARS.

The fact that we are only a couple of years apart seemed to throw her as she abandoned that argument.

Then: “Have you donated? I bet you haven’t.”

"Yup."

No reply.

A few more jumped on the bandwagon of being SHOCKED and APPALLED because a  woman said FUCK AND SHIT. As if these horrors are paragons of ladylike virtue what with their pretty strong views that no one ever should be helped by them, lest they lose their benefits and places for young Briterney and Cortnee to hang.

I hate these people. I hate them so much that somewhere along the line I realise that I am stepping into their shoes. They hate these refugees. I hate them.

I almost want western civilisation to fall, so that when we’re all scrabbling around in the fiery pits, with nothing left they will see and feel what it’s like to have no one help them. I’d like them to knock on the door of my makeshift bunker, desperate for food and help and I will LAUGH IN THEIR STUPID BOVINE FACES and then roast their offspring over a fire.

Sigh.

I wouldn’t, would I? I’d be all empathetic and try and keep them alive too. Because the human spirit in people who haven’t been lobotomised at birth is an irrepressible thing.

Luckily.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Is anyone else sick of the horrible pictures being shared on Facebook?

For some reason I joined a group on Facebook. It's something something Isle of Wight blah blah. I don't even know why I do it. I always end up in arguments with people. It seems a singularly ridiculous way to spend one's time. But there you are. I'm a self employed writer. I'm basically born to procrastinate. 

On this group people post questions, jokes and all sorts of deeply boring and mundane stuff. None of them seem to have heard of Google and few of them are able to spell. But you know. Whatever. I can be tolerant. What? I CAN. 

Today someone posted about the distressing pictures on Facebook. She said that she was sick of seeing them and that Facebook is her fun place and people are ruining it. Her point was that Facebook is meant to be fun (says who, like? I don't remember anyone specifying what Facebook is 'for', other than to strip us of our personal information while gilding the lily with cat pictures and stupid memes). 

So, yer one says about how icky it is to see pictures of horrible things happening and shouldn't people stop all this nonsense and make sure that all she can see on her feed are pictures of babies and fairies. Or whatever it is that people like to look at. I dunno. 90% of my feed is made up of dog pictures, dog blogs, dog videos, amusing dog anecdotes and friends that like dogs. 

She is talking, I believe, particularly about the recent influx of pictures showing deeply distressed, crying, dying, howling refugees desperately trying to get their families to safety. The picture of the boy, face down in the sand. Dead at 12. Dead for want of asylum. 

I mean, I can totes see how those put a crimp on your day. 

Naturally I got involved. Because I just can never let it lie. Man, I miss Vic and Bob. 

My points are nothing particularly spectacular. If you have a shred of humanity, that is. This appropriation of Facebook as something that 'should' do this or 'shouldn't' do that fascinates me. People talk like they have a say. Like they bought a product. And they're SO indignant. 

That's what I like about Facebook. 

My life is small. My worries are small. I've managed to turn them into a full blown anxiety disorder because I am that special. But I don't have to worry about my safety on a daily basis. I don't have to live in a tent because my home is no longer safe. I don't have to risk my life trying to get my children somewhere where they won't be blown to bits. I will never have to experience being TURNED AWAY for help, because I was born in the wrong place. 

And, while I wake up and dither about my day, with all my worries and stresses about work and clients and money and yada yada, I scroll through Facebook. Like most people I've customised my feed so that I only see what I want to see. 

A metaphor for life innit. 

It's simple in our world, over here, where we're safe, to switch off. Just watch Netflix and eat cake. Concentrate on our own. Breathe in and out. Get through the day. Hope our loved ones remain safe, well and happy for another 24 hours. And then have some wine. 

I scroll through my feed and like what I see. Friends that make me laugh and interesting things and books and author profiles and cat pictures and dog videos. 

And, every now and again BLAM. A dead child. A crying father. 

Like a slap round the face. 

I knew about the Syrian crisis. Of course I did. I'm a sentient human being with eyes and ears. But until I saw the image of the crying father in the boat the other week, it didn't HIT me in the solar plexus. This is happening right now. We are watching a humanitarian crisis unfold on our doorstep. I believe it's going to affect every single one of us in the long term, and we are witnessing the beginning of some profound and uncomfortable changes. 

With no guidance from our own government, with no humanity in the good leaders of our country, what else can we do but band together with the technology on hand and at least TRY. We shouldn't look away and we shouldn't stop sharing images. Because for every person that scrolls past or ignores it, someone somewhere will do something to help. 

I saw a Spectator piece today moaning about how sharing a picture of a dead child does nothing for anyone and it's just narcissistic. His point, I believe, is that many, many people stop at the sharing. But many, many DON'T. They actually do something, no matter how small it feels on a global scale. 

I'm rubbish and self absorbed and full of worries about the day's work, so naturally I didn't get it together to work out a way I could help anyone. Any of these people in the pictures. But Facebook showed me someone who is. Someone local who is collecting and helping. And now I'm donating to that. And yes, maybe it is some way of trying to alleviate Western guilt at the fact that I'm not suffering, but SO WHAT. It's better than turning away. 

And that's why I will never hide these pictures from my Facebook feed and my everyday life. 

As for the girl whose question sparked this train of thought with her question, I explained to her the concept of customising her feed. Genuinely blew her mind. AMAZING. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

How to deal with a British heatwave

I went out today when it was very hot. I left my ivory tower of wind caressed bliss and dipped my reluctant body into the swirling vortex of hot, soupy air. As I trudged on through the sticky heat, I reflected on what it is to be British in summer.

I breathed in the aromas of weed, dogshit and suntan spray thickly permeating the park I chose to walk through. Ahhh, summer I thought.

As it was the middle of the day the only people partaking of summer time pleasures are, of course, the self-employed (HIYAAA), the unemployed, the hugely old (apparently these are literally bussed in to Craggy Island all summer long. Hoards of them. If there actually was a zombie apocalypse there is a more than fair chance I wouldn't even notice for at least a week) and the too-young-to-be-in-school-but-apparently-old-enough-to-be-EVERYWHERE.

So I admit these top tips for surviving summer, as gleaned from those I witnessed on the hottest day of 2015 so far, could be skewed. But here goes:

1. ONLY GO OUT BETWEEN 12-4. This is the hottest part of the day. Experts handily tell you this all over the place. Something about avoiding it but obviously what they mean is to NOT avoid it. Not only not avoid it but make sure that you are standing in the full force of the unforgiving June sun's rabid glare at all times.

2. DON'T WEAR SUNSCREEN. That's for poofs. How are you going to get a good tan if you wear sunscreen? Skin cancer? Nah, mate. Not here. Doesn't happen on the Isle of Wight. We all have Teflon skin here. This is demonstrated by the fact that 78% of the men I saw today, during the hottest part of the day, had their tops off, tits out and sported the very latest in radioactive glow.

3. NO TOPS BETWEEN MARCH AND OCTOBER. It may be actually properly hot today, but it hasn't been for very long. And yet I have been lucky enough to catch long glimpses of all sorts of body types with their tops off. Some of the men I have seen look like prize turkeys, basting ready for Christmas. Proud, red bellies jutting out under their chins, glistening with the sort of rosy hue best seen on a well done roast chicken. It's particularly pleasant for people if you walk into any shop, restaurant, cafe, diner, pub or, well, anywhere you so choose, and wobble your flabby manbits in their faces while they try and eat.

4. WALK YOUR DOG AT ANY TIME OF THE DAY. Even if the tarmac is too hot for you to walk on it, just continue to walk your dog on it. It'll be OK. And who cares if not eh? Oh, and don't forget not to bring water for your dog and to make it run a lot in the heat of the day. Don't forget also that if they get tired you can always leave them in the car.

5. NEVER REMOVE THE FAG. Part of the summer look du jour is the ubiquitous fag. Luckily there is plenty of beach on which to just chuck the ends, so you don't even have to move your fat, lobster coloured ass from the spot you're in before you can light up another.

6. BOOZE ON THE BEACH. It's well known that the best time of day to consume alcohol is between 12 and 2 in the full force of the sun. Best thing to do is camp out on the beach (don't forget to bring endless amounts of beach tat to mark your territory - a few deckchairs, a fridge, a games console, that type of thing), kick back and cane that beer/wine/WKD. Just keep drinking. It has liquid in it so definitely counts towards your two litres of water a day. If you drink enough you won't have to drink ANY water at all. Magic.

7. NEVER WEAR DEODORANT. You know you smell good, right? So everyone else should just deal with it. Even if you smell like a seven day old bottle of piss kept wrapped in a rug for 12 weeks, you do you and avoid washing.

8. GO AU NATURAL. Sweat actually cleans your hair eventually. It's true. I read it on the internet. When it's hot and you sweat you don't need to wash it properly. So just leave it and enjoy that sour earth whiff, particularly when on public transport. Everyone else has to.

9. SHARE THE WEED. Summer isn't summer without the constant whiff of pot. Make sure you share it with all and sundry by openly smoking your spliffs. If you have to smoke inside then all windows should be open for that authentic summer experience.

10. NEVER PICK UP DOG SHIT. If your dog hasn't died yet of heatstroke then it's likely to shit all over the shop. It's definitely not your responsibility and it is biodegradable so just leave it. It's particularly important to do this on very very hot days when lots of people are walking by as the scent is something enjoyed by all.

11. BLAST THAT MUSIC. Any time you travel in the car during the heatwave, you MUST blast out the shittest music known to man and drive slowly through built up areas. Think of it as giving the gift of you to the masses. Everyone's looking - and you know they're wishing they were you right now.

12. LET IT BURN. Remember, it hasn't been a good day if you haven't been left with very very prominent tan lines. Burn lines, really. The idea is to get a very white line against the livid purple of your damaged flesh - people really envy that sort of commitment to your tan.



All in all, I'm pretty glad that our heatwaves last less time than the passable bit of Kanye's Glastonbury set and very soon I will be bathed in the grey, cold and damp of the British Autumn. Ahhhhh, bliss.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Would you like some Cream with that?

When I'm working at home I watch a lot of crap telly. Well, actually, I don't watch it but I do have it on. It means I have channels like Really on a lot. Yes, that is the name of an actual channel, for those who don't frequent the daytime airwaves. It has programmes on that include judges shouting at chavs, Jeremy Kyle shouting at chavs and chavs shouting at chavs.

In among these programmes there are many adverts, and in among those there are many, many, MANY charity adverts. It's as if the charity directors have decided that the people who are most likely to give money spend most of their day with the telly on, just waiting for an advert depicting starving children, orphan kittens or demented monkeys needing money.

My point is this. How do you choose? It's a fact that everywhere you turn people need stuff. They need money, they need help, they need medication, they need compassion. And then animals. They need food and they need shelter and they need protection (usually from humans). And then there's the rainforests and the orang utans. What are we meant to do? Us with our collective middle class middle England guilt?

Find one and stick to it is what I've decided. Even within my own small sphere of compassion (essentially animals) it becomes difficult to choose. I know so many people who work very hard to save animals in different ways. How do I choose who to give money to?

I don't, as it happens, have very much money. Since deciding that the corporate world is just not for me anymore, I've been eking a living using my skills to do all sorts of weird shit. This has meant I get by. I just barely get by. So this means I have to be careful when supporting charities. I have to make sure that my spare cash, such as it is, is going somewhere it's actually going to do some good, and in a way that pleases my blackened heart.

Dogs Trust gave me my Poppy dog in 1985 and have subsequently been the lucky recipient of a monthly donation from me ever since. It may not be much but it must have piled up by now. That's still ongoing. But my new one, the one I have selected is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the charity that gave me the love of my life.

Sushi has made me so happy and I can't quite believe how many things had to happen in order for me to meet her. Someone had to see her on the roadside, all smashed up, take her somewhere safe, keep her alive, make her better and get her details circulated so that someone else could take pity on her and advertise her. I had to see her and be in a position to send money to yet more people. Through a series of fortunate coincidences Sushi came to me.

But without Speranta Pentu Animale Sushi would be dead.

She would be another corpse in a country that has a sanctioned killing policy of strays. She would be another soul completely let down and uncared for by human beings.

But she's not. She's here. And I love these people half way across Europe for giving her love and hope and care when she needed it.

They have dogs in their shelter in Craiova who are so damaged and so fucked up by the treatment they have endured - the abject actual suffering they have undergone - that they can never be rehomed. Yet, in a place where the state actively encourages people to kill animals without compassion, there are people who are giving their lives to help them live.

They have fuck all money, they work all the time, they get nothing for it, and somehow they have to feed and help these dogs.

They need sponsorship - and I know everyone has their own cause and their own reasons. I know people who think I'm batshit mental for giving money to dogs in a different country, or to dogs at all. But I know the money that I'm giving these guys will go directly to help the dogs I see on their Facebook page every day.

It won't get swallowed in admin costs. It won't disappear into a black hole of donations. It will literally keep Cream alive. Oh, this is Cream. She's my sponsor dog now. She may never end up being spoiled within an inch of her life like Sushi but she is safe and loved and with people who understand her fear and pain.



If you want to sponsor a Speranta dog (and there are a lot worse things you can do with your cash), Paypal to sperantapentruanimale@yahoo.com. You don't know who you could save.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Deborah... 25% off Father's Day Cards!!!

Yeah.

Just the one slight problem with that isn't there Funky Pigeon? You shower of bastards. You insensitive dicknoses. You mean, mean card company.

Except they're not mean. No meaner than any other money grabbing corporate entity anyway.

It's just what happens this time of year.

Father's Day when your dad is dead is a bummer. It really is. For about six weeks before the Big Day, shops and websites goad you. The first few years after Dad died, I couldn't even walk around a supermarket at this time of year. It's amazing just how many products are sucked into the gaping maw of tat people are encouraged to buy their dads on Father's Day. Fucking everything.

And it's a little stab. Dad, Dad, Dad, Father, Father, Father, DAD, DAD, DAD.

I admit for the first year after he died it felt like the entire world was CROWING in my FACE about how wonderful it is to have a dad that's, you know, breathing. And how much I miss him. And god it hurts. It hurts enough just to breathe in and out every day without seeing I LOVE MY DADDY emblazoned on every cocking thing you look at.

But it is the way of our advertisement saturated world. It's something that you just don't even notice until someone dies. And then it's taunting you, with its weird nostalgia tinged regret that you'll never need to buy another Father's Day card ever again. Not as long as you live. Isn't that a weird thought? Weirder still is the fact that I still have the one that I made Dad when I was about five.

It's a crappy children's drawing of a heart and it says: I LOVE MY DADDY on it.

And it's true. I did love my daddy. I still love my daddy. And, as I am now into the 15th year of dealing with this shit, I can go shopping at this time of year. And I can receive emails into my inbox suggesting all the things I could and should buy for my father.

And it's sort of OK.

I guess that's progress.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sorry Jawed

Hey bitches. It's been AGES. AGES AND AGES. I just had a look at my last post and it was back in April and was about acceptance.

Fitting.

I feel the time is right to start talking rubbish on the internet again. More than Facebook allows me to. I like it. I had a small break, partly because, well, I'm a lot happier at the moment and that restricts my ability to rant in quite the same way. And partly because I see a lot of people write a lot of shit on the internet and I was all like, do I want to be a part of that? That total shitstorm of banal nonsense filling up our brainboxes to the detriment of actual thinking?

HELLS YES.

So it was lucky that I made a new friend today.

Now that I have found myself in a stable relationship (I know, right? Insanity. He doesn't even want me to be thinner or ANYthing. Or change anything about myself. It's quite the unknown territory. And quite marvellous) I am obviously not on dating sites. First time since about 1871. So I don't get all the weird SHOW ME YOUR VAJAJAY messages I used to get.

But there is always Facebook.

Meet Jawed.



Don't engage. Don't feed the trolls. Don't encourage. But, but, but I'm working really hard and need a break and nothing's on telly and, look, I just did, OK? You wouldn't, I know. But I just wanted to see what Jawed wanted. What COULD JAWED WANT.

Well, he loves me. So there's that.


Jawed breaks my zen like calm here. I know it's pointless to get angry with jerkwads on the internet but I just can't seem to help it. I mean, this is a good 10 mins of my life I'm never getting back. But still it went on. I'm an imperfect human. Stop judging. 



Ohhhh, Jawed wanted pics of my pussy. It's all clear now. Maybe he doesn't love me after all. I am glad that they know about Fatty in India though. He deserves to be a worldwide megastar.  


Not that kind of pussy, apparently. Change of tack. 


I mean, he's a student. I don't really get the whole spelling vagina with an 'e'. It doesn't even sound right. Who calls it a veh-gine-ah. Weird. Time for dick talk. 


Always be polite when talking about your cock on the internet. Sorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry Jawed. 



Yay. I made a new friend. 


It's all you need. Oh wait. Yes, that too. 




I sang. I don't know whether Jawed did. I feel like maybe he didn't. But I blocked him at this point so I guess we'll never know. 

Internet = new friends. 

Beautiful. 



Wednesday, 8 April 2015

What Katy Did - the art of acceptance

When I was a kid I read a lot of American/Canadian 19th century novels aimed at children. I dunno how this happened. But it did. Among the Little Womens and the Anne of Green Gables, was What Katy Did, What Katy Did At School and What Katy Did Next.

These are by Susan Coolidge and focus on a girl called Katy who is all the things I was. Angry and messy and confused and not very nice to people sometimes and impatient and prone to stamping her feet.

Katy breaks her back falling off a swing (which she wasn't supposed to be on) and spends the next couple of years (ish, can't quite remember) lying in bed, paralysed. Fun, huh? Katy stops trying. She cries and she screams and she doesn't brush her hair. She hates her brothers and sisters and she spends all her time railing at the world, how unfair it is and how awful her life is.

At some point in this joyfest Katy meets her cousin Helen. Helen is a frankly unbelievable paragon of virtue and amazingness. She's crippled as well. Can't quite remember how or why, but she's all broken. But instead of being angry and mean, she's all lovely and pious and fun to be around and everyone loves her.

Katy has a revelation and immediately becomes the nicest person on earth. Everyone loves her and, bingo, she can walk again. Falls in love blah blah blah.

I hated Katy after she went all goody two shoes. She was a pain in the ass, I thought. As I grew up and reread it I assumed it was yet another morality tale aimed at convincing children to never complain and to be good.

I read it again recently and it occurs to me it isn't anything of the sort. Katy is practising the art of acceptance. That's all. It's simple. Accept, accept, accept. It's only with acceptance that your brain can clear and learn to live a different way.

I don't know why these obvious truisms hit me at such a late stage in my life. I'm pushing 40 and only just - ONLY just - coming to some conclusions that now seem obvious. In order to work with and live with my anxiety disorder, my periods of depression, my latent grief over my father, my chronic illness - I have to accept them first.

Fully accept them. Not just label myself a depressive. But really feel and accept that I'm not exactly how I want to be. That my brain chemistry doesn't work how I'd like it to. That my womb doesn't work quite right. That my dad died too soon. All of these things are normal life things.

Depression and anxiety are just different sides of life.

The ideas that we need to 'fight', 'battle', 'beat' and 'conquer' parts of ourselves are unhelpful and unrealistic.

No one should strive for a life free of all anxiety, sadness and pain. That wouldn't be living. That would be being a game show host.

Or Kim Kardashian.

Re-calibrating my brain when it comes to dealing with depression and anxiety is something that I have become used to doing over the last five years or so. There has been a seismic change in my view of myself. In my view of my mental health.

I finally don't feel it's 'my fault'. I finally don't feel as if there's some magic remedy (giving up booze, drugs, sugar, taking up exercise, basket weaving, meditation) that will fix all of it. I no longer want or expect to wake up one day 'cured'.

I just want to be like Katy and accept it all, take up needlework and have everyone tell me I'm awesome.

I feel like there is something better on the other side of acceptance. So I'm going to try and get there and see what it is.







Friday, 27 March 2015

The tragedy of Clarkson

I can't believe Jeremy Clarkson has been fired from Top Gear. I just think that a man of his stature - a man who "speaks his mind", an everyman, if you will, deserves to, like, do whatever he wants. You know?

I mean, he wanted steak. We've all been there. You know. Think about the last time (I'm sure it was very recent) that you were at an all expenses paid hotel, while at work. You're only paid, like, £14 million last year, so you're feeling kind of taken advantage of. And someone said there would be steak. You're really hungry and there is no steak.

I just can't imagine putting someone like Jeremy Clarkson through such an awful, tragic experience. And his only reaction was to punch a colleague in the face. I think that's more than fair, under the circumstances. Like I said, we've all been there. Someone said there was no cake in the office once and I took a machete to the lot of them. Right there in the Monday morning meeting. So I completely get Clarkson's pain.

The indignity of not having steak! The horror of being denied something he wanted RIGHT THEN AND THERE IN THAT MOMENT.

Some people say that he acts like a toddler and is perhaps mentally ill. But to those people I say, have you SEEN Top Gear. It's a programme where he drives lots of cars and has 'banter'. Some of the banter is racist. Some of it is misogynist. But it's all absolutely hilarious. And really very very clever. He's striking a blow, you see, against the establishment. He's only saying what we're all thinking, am I right?

The bit where he said nigger in an outtake. We've all done it. Don't be pretending you never use outdated racist epithets as casual asides. I mean, come ON. Oh, and when he said that Britian is a 'nation of bastards'. He's right isn't he? Some people would say that by insulting the massed amoebas of unquestioning laddish culture who elevated him to his rightful position of King of the EVERYMAN, he perhaps might be a bit kinder.

But he just says it how it is, you see. He's brave. And so so entertaining. I've seen all of his interviews with famous and interesting people. In some of them the people are allowed to speak!

I, for one, don't know what I'll do without Top Gear. Watching three middle aged men talking about cars, in between going on hilarious adventures and really really showcasing what it means to be British, has been a delight. A pleasure and a delight.

RIP in peace Jeremy Clarkson. I will never ever forget you.

Monday, 16 March 2015

5116 days

Fourteen years.


5116 days.


I have lived 5116 days without you. 5116 days thinking about you. That you’d like this. That you’d hate that. That I wish I could tell you about this. That I wish I could show you that. How much you’d like my friends. How much you would love my dog. How much fun we could have still had. How much time we should have had. How unfair it is that you died. How angry I am that you died. How guilty I feel that you died. How much I should have done something - anything - to stop you dying.


It turns out that being haunted is nothing to do with ghosts. Or the dead rising from their graves. Being haunted is grief endured.


5116 days.


I didn’t ever know I could be that strong.


Before you died, if someone had told me I would have to live 5116 days without you, I wouldn’t have believed them.


I thought I would curl up and die too.


5116 days on I can feel that moment again. The very split second that the world shattered into shards.


Obviously, I choose not to.


It took strength I didn’t know I had and denial of reality I didn’t know I was capable of to begin to stick those shards back together. Even now, 5116 days on, I’m aware they’re precarious. As if bodged together with that crappy masking tape that is good for nothing but that you end up trying to stick boxes together when you move house. I say you, I mean me.


You would never have done something as lazy and crap as that.


It has crossed my mind over the last 5116 days that grief is not something that ever goes away. Grief is for life. It becomes absorbed into you. And every day you work out another way to breathe in and out and do what you have to do.


It eventually grows and adapts to the fact that, despite the very unnaturalness of it all, I am living while you are dead.




Wednesday, 11 March 2015

The Campaign Against Living Miserably

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST LIVING MISERABLY, or CALM, is a registered charity, which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. In 2013, male suicide accounted for 78% of all suicides and is the single biggest cause of death in men aged 20 – 45 in England and Wales. 

Let that sink in for a bit. 

Two years ago, SUICIDE was the single biggest cause of death in young men in the UK. No cancer. Not heart disease. Not drugs or alcohol or tobacco. Suicide. 

How extraordinary is that statistic? 

The Samaritans gives these stats for 2012 suicides for the UK. 

An overall number of 5981 killed themselves. 

1391 were women. 

4590 were men. 

Any life lost through suicide is a life too many - but why do men outnumber women in such a dramatic way? And why is there so little awareness of it? 

Ahhhh, there's the rub. The 'a' word. Every internet craze, every fashionable charity drive is to raise awareness of something. And it's often something that we're all quite aware of anyway. No one can say they're ignorant of the possibility of cancer killing someone they know. No one can say they haven't heard of anyone having a heart attack or a stroke. Those causes don't need 'awareness' per se - what they need is money. Money for research and medical breakthroughs. Money to make people as comfortable as possible. 

Today, my awareness was raised of male suicide as a friend linked to the charity mentioned above. CALM. He is running a charity race to raise money for the charity in memory of a friend of his who killed himself last year. A man who, by all accounts, gave no indication of the torment he must have been suffering. 

And then I got to thinking of all those I have known in my life (or known of) who have killed themselves. All men. Every single one. Five.  

That has got to be a damning indictment of something rotten at the heart of our community - doesn't it? Or our society? Or something? There has to be a reason why suicide rates in young to middle aged men are rising. 

This charity is relatively new, and it's there to provide support to men who are struggling with anything and need somewhere to go. I don't like to think that we still live in the kind of society that frowns at men talking about stuff, or asking for help. Is there really such a stigma on it still? In 2015? 

I'm a massive advocate of talking about depression, anxiety, mental health problems and the general day to day hardships of being human and alive. I don't subscribe to the thinking that it's better to bury stuff. I don't agree that talking about or labelling something makes it worse. We're all human. We're all here. We're all trying to do our best to get by day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. 

And how sad that thousands of people (not just men, of course) come to the conclusion that there is only one way out. 

And I can't think of a better thing about which raising awareness is actually needed. 

Check them out here: https://www.thecalmzone.net/about-calm/what-is-calm/

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Sushi talks

Hello. This is Sushi. I'd wave but I'd fall over. Only one front paw, see. Sometimes causes me some balancing issues. I only really play on it when I know it'll get me extra treats though. Most times I don't even notice.

Sometimes I forget and try and scratch myself. Then I'll fall over. I just shake it off. No shame here. Pffft. I only have three legs and I can run faster'n most of my furry friends I meet on my walks. I can definitely run faster than she can.

Anyhoo, she's off learning the code of the highway and that so she can finally drive me places. I like to go to different places and I've been waiting ages for her to get on with it. She still only knows that squirrel sign though, so it's not looking that great, between you and me. She asked me to take her place to thank lots of people who clicked like on Facebook or something.

I don't really know what she's on about and it takes me bleedin' ages to type with one paw. On the big day, I spent most of it snoozing. It's what I like to do. I did also play on the beach with my friend Harvey. He showed me how to play with a ball. It was ace. Especially when she panicked cos she thought I was going into the sea and dropped her phone in the sane on the beach. That was funny.

I almost did run into the sea. Harvey made it look like fun. But then I got my foot wet and I was like, shiiiiitttt no. That stuff is cold and wet, man. I ain't going in there.

Yes, I have picked up some English vernacular over the past 14 months. Nice of you to notice. Since I arrived, I've tried hard to fit in with the locals and have found out all the best places to find chips, ice cream and pork chops. It's pretty much a smorgasbord of discarded food, this island. Specially in the summer. I'm looking forward to all those many people coming and dropping all their food so I can hoover it up before she notices.

Anyway, I had a look at that Facebook thing she's always on and saw my picture and that there. I got 1600 votes or somefin. I have no real understanding of why that matters in any way, but she told me that it's MORE than the 300 dogs I used to live with in the shelter in Romania. So that's loads, then. Honestly, I don't care if I win a contest on Facebook, I'm a dog. But she cares and she wanted me to thank everyone who took the time to listen to her pleas, moans, whines and what were most probably quite undignified beggings.

She's really soft inside you see. She may not seem it but she is. And she really really wanted lots of people to see how perfect she thinks I am. Even though I'm just a little dog from the streets. I was anonymous over there. Just another face out of thousands who aren't wanted, are left to die. Some of them are poisoned. Lots of us were kicked around. Loads of us get hit with cars and bikes and things and then they just leave us.

I was just a little nobody dog. Until she saw me. And yeah, she's a bit mad, but she healed me and I heal her.

So it means a lot to her that so many people clicked like on my picture in a silly online competition, so fanks lots and lots from her and me.



I hear Scout won my bit. He only has one eye. That'll be me in an eyepatch next year then... sigh...



Monday, 2 March 2015

Sushi's BIG week - how and when to vote

Well, it had to happen.

At some point the universe was going to wake up and see that I own the Best Dog Ever In The Whole World.

Sushi is a finalist in the RSPCA Ruffs 2015 online competition.

With this picture.


As much as I would like to gush on about her glorious ears, her fabulously hilarious temperament, how much I adore it when she hops along happily, I will merely stick to the facts for this post.

The competition has six categories, with five dogs in each category.

Sushi's category is called Perfectly Imperfect.

Voting for Sushi's category is on THURSDAY 5 MARCH from 10am to 8pm. 

The RSPCA Facebook page will upload an album with one picture of each dog in her category.

Your mission - and please choose to accept it - is to click on Sushi's picture (not the link, not the album, but just her picture) and like it.

The competition is only on the Facebook album but that doesn't mean you can't give it a share on Twitter, Instagram or whatever it is the kids are down with these days. Snapthingie? Something. Grindr? Whatever, I don't mind. Just please vote and share.

That's it.

Job done.

Then you can go about your day and not even give it another thought.

Although... if you could give it a share to your friends/enemies/frenemies/lovers/enemies and whoever else is lurking on your friends list and ask them to do the same, I would say that karma will most likely come and stroke your chest at some point in the near future.

I know not everyone likes animals in the same was as me and many of my buddies, and that's OK. I'm not asking you to worship the ground my three legged beauty hops on, Just give her a wee like. That's all we ask.

We are going to be in the local paper and everything so this shit is going LARGE.