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Pink is the new Grey

I'm a freelance writer, caffeine addict and cake whore. This is my blog, where I unleash my inner witch from her gingerbread latte cottage in the woods. Some people just can't play nicely online.

Land of Hope and Fuckwittery.

Here in the Divided Kingdom (formerly known as the UK) we are in the grip of an unprecedented epidemic of Fuckwittery. What started as predominantly a Social Media Disease has now become widespread among the general population, and there has been a huge spike in cases since the Brexit vote last Thursday.

Lets look at one example. A belief has taken hold that it is largely ‘The Older Generation’ who voted Leave. But the statistics may tell a different story: It is estimated that:

Of the 18-24 year olds who voted, about 75% voted Remain

Of those aged 65+ who voted, only about 39% voted Remain, BUT…

not everyone voted. The turnout among 18-24 year olds would be only about 36%, meaning that only 27% of the total age group (voters and non-voters) will actually have voted Remain. Among those aged 65+ the turnout was estimated to be 83%, meaning that the total percentage of the entire age group (voters and non-voters) that opted for Remain would be about 32%. Proportionally more people of ‘The Older Generation’ may actually have voted Remain than young people. But in this ‘post-factual’ era the truth is often less powerful than the things people are prepared to believe. And any politician knows this.

So, who are this ‘Older Generation’ that we are talking about? By and large they are those people born in the two decades immediately post-war, approximately 1946 – 1964 –often referred to as ‘Baby Boomers’. The oldest of this ‘Older Generation’ were born during or just prior to the Second World War, and are now in their seventies and eighties.

Now, I have no doubt that the majority of people, of any age, who voted Leave did so because they believed it was the best thing for the country for ecenomic reasons, or possibly reasons of sovreignty, and not for any racist or xenophobic reason, and could give many intelligently reasoned arguments as to why they did so. But unfortunately their voices have been drowned out by the fuckwits who have chosen to respond to the criticisms and complaints of the Remain camp by posting ill-thought out memes featuring pictures of WW2 soldiers marching into battle, or war cemetaries full of combatants from WW1 captioned with comments like: ‘So the older generation robbed us of our future in Europe? Really?’ or ‘Those who voted Remain weren’t there in ’45’.

Well, neither were the ones who voted Leave, to be honest. The youngest of the generation who fought to liberate Europe from Hitler are now in their nineties. They fought not just to keep the UK free, but to liberate vast swathes of Europe and the world. And crucially, they did not do it alone. They are not the generation who are being criticised for the outcome of the referendum, as I have said above, it is the Baby-Boomers who make up most of ‘The  Older Generation’ now. Their parents are not here to have their say in this referendum, but they were here in 1975 when the last one was held. They made up a substantial proportion of the electorate then (and the outcome then was a vote to remain). So to invoke them in answer to the (unjust – see above) criticism of today’s ‘Older Generation’ is irrelevant and nonsensical.

I have also seen mini-essays posted on Facebook, couched in the scolding tones of an authoritarian parent taking to task an ungrateful child, stating that it was the working classes of  this generation who ‘built your houses, hospitals, roads, grew your food, made your cars , mined your coal, fought your wars, built the welfare state and NHS’.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that generation grow any food for use by themselves? Were they just stockpiling it for the future? Wouldn’t it all be horribly out-of-date by now?

Haven’t all the cars made by the Baby-boomers rusted away now? I don’t know about you, but mine was made by someone of my own generation.

Are you seriously telling me that ‘that’ generation didn’t use any of the coal they mined for themselves, because they needed it at the time? Were they just on yet another stockpiling excercise? Why are the younger generation not mining coal? Because they don’t have enough backbone to get off down t’pit, or because there is NO coal industry. Who destroyed the British mining industry? (Now ask yourselves who voted them in).

As for wars … see above, and all the younger men and women fighting for us now at cost of life and limb.

The Welfare State and the NHS? They weren’t instituted by the baby boomers, but by their parents’ and grandparents’ generation.

So, what is the point of this rant? Well, it’s this — I know what’s done is done, it was a democratic vote, and everyone who voted had what they believed to be sound reasons for voting the way they did. But I’m very worried about what the result means for the future of this country. So, if I challenge  your reasons and opinions, and you feel motivated to respond, please come back to me with a relevant and well-thought-out argument; convince me that you are right, and knew what you were doing when you made this choice. Because this is one instance when I’d be really, really happy to be proved wrong.

 

 

 

The Divided Kingdom.

Yesterday, I posted this on Facebook:

‘I’ve been pretty vocal about my opinion of the referendum result. Now I think it’s time to do that most British of things – no, that’s NOT winning world wars single-handed, armed only with a small fruit knife – but shrug my shoulders, say something like “Oh well, you’ve got to laugh or you’d cry” and just Carry On. I reserve the right to express my opinion, though. After all, this is still a free country. Isn’t it?’

But I find I have not yet been able to shrug my shoulders and let go of my anger. Partly, largely even, this is because I keep being told ‘It’s democracy. Just accept it and stop whingeing.’ Repeatedly I am advised on social media to stop throwing tantrums because I didn’t get what I wanted, as though the fact that it was a democratic vote means that I don’t have the right to disagree, to complain, to be angry with my fellow citizens for doing something which I believe is incredibly foolish and short-sighted, and state this out loud.

Well – that’s democracy. Get over it. I have the democratic right to disagree, to complain and to be angry, and to state my opinion freely, and anyone who does not like it should consider pissing off to some nice little dictatorship where tantrums, public dissent, free speech and opposition parties are outlawed.

I have a democratic right to be angry that the previously stable, powerful and respected country that I lived in has, overnight, been thrown into political turmoil and world isolationism – a vulnerable Billy-No-Mates near the top left hand corner of the map.

I see much to fear in Brexit. One of the things I fear most is the potential rise of the Far Right, whose xenophobic voices I hear whispering behind the debates on immigration and using the money we currently send to the EU to ‘look after our own’. I can see them in the corner of my eye, circling vultures, lurking, ready to swoop into the wounds that will open up in a divided kingdom in the times of polictical and economic instability that lie ahead.

The Far Right, the Fascists, have an intense fear of difference. They blame all their problems, and all the ills of society, on people they perceive as being not like them. They demonise anyone of different race or ethnic background, religion, skin colour, or political ideology, and see the world outside their narrow horizons as full of barbarians and bogeyman. When presented with the truth, or an alternative view, they close their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears and sing ‘laa-laa-laa’ at the tops of their voices.

As the parent of a disabled child there is much for me to dread in their ascendance. They view disability or impairment as a weakness to be rooted out, because (they believe) it cheapens the blood of mankind. Disability is not something that happens to them, they are too strong, but only to ‘others’ who lack their superior genes. To them, disability betrays a lack of moral fibre or some other defect in the blood line of the family. They view disabled people as ‘eaters’: that is, as bodies who comsume resources without contributing anything to society. Try to disabuse them of the notion and they suddenly turn into three brass monkeys, only the third one has taken his hands off his mouth and is singing loudly.

If the fascists ever do start marching through our streets in the aftermath of Brexit, then I am quite prepared go out to meet them with fire and fury and a family-sized box of petrol bombs. I may be rapidly heading towards old bat-dom, but I will be a fierce one. You won’t need to cremate me, you can send me to meet my maker on a burning barricade, and write my epitaph in the blood of my enemies. Because, unlike so many of the British electorate, my vision is clear. I can see who my real enemies are, and they are not in Brussels, or indeed anywhere in the EU.

They are the scaredy-cats in the playground covering up their fear by bullying anyone with a different skin colour.

They are the Facebook warriors posting memes urging me to ‘like if you think the Burka should be banned’ and sharing shit-stirring headlines from the red-top press declaring that use of the phrase ‘Easter eggs,’ and the wearing of England tops and crucifixes are to be banned for fear of offending Muslims.

They are the boorish blokes in the pub swapping stories about the Polish migrants who’ve stolen all the jobs (the ones offering a pay-packet so meagre that our pub pundits declare ‘I wouldn’t get out of bed for that’). The same migrants who only came here to fraudulently screw our benefits system. If they’d heard of Schrodinger’s cat they’d say it was a load of bollocks, but it seems they’re intimately familiar with Schrodinger’s Immigrant.

They are the people of my own country, my home town, my neighbourhood, the ones watching and judging, saying to themselves: ‘She shouldn’t have had that kiddy, he’ll just be a drain on our NHS’; the ones wondering how much we ‘cost’ them in benefits, how much of their tax money pays for us to have a decent house and car. They are also the ones who would question the ancestry of my black-haired, olive-skinned grandmother, but not that of my father — a freckly red-head — although on his side I’m only third generation UK. How many of them have bothered to look into their family history to see how Brit-ish they really are?

For the record , not that it’s anyone else’s business, it is my husband’s wage that supports the family, we cut our cloth accordingly and use what we have carefully. Not all disabled people need or want to claim benefits. Some have no choice because either their condition prevents them gaining employment, or, equally often, the discriminatory attitudes of society prevent it. My youngest son hasn’t been a hospital in-patient since he was six weeks old, and he rarely visits the doctor — he ‘costs’ the NHS less than many ‘healthy’ people.

So, I shall continue to exercise my democratic right to be angry at what has been done to my country, and to disagree with it and to complain. But that’s democracy for you, it’s uncomfortable on both sides. I have to live with the consequences of what others have voted for, and they have to live with my anger, my whingeing, and if necessary, my right to take direct action to change what I don’t like. Welcome to life in the Divided Kingdom.

Welcome to History.

What a historic moment! I’d like to say a big, fat Thank you (sorry, that should read FUCK YOU) to all my fellow citizens who voted to flush Workers rights and Disability rights down the toilet, along with God knows what else, leaving us at the mercy of the 1%. Time travel is possible. Welcome to Dickensian Britain. Hello again 1840s. Somebody resurrect the Chartists, will you. We’re going to need them. In the meantime I’m off out to panic-buy Prosecco before the price shoots up.

The Working-Class i.e “Common” Sense Guide to:

… returning from holiday with ALL your kids.

It’s a worry isn’t it — taking the little ones abroad, exposing them not just to unfamiliar food, strange insects and microbes, the heat and the funny water, but also to untrustworthy ‘foreign types’. It’s all very well packing your suitcase so full of anti-diarrhoea pills, antihistimines, bug-repellant, and sunblock that you can only fit in the tiniest of holiday clothes, but how do you prevent some ‘Filthy Continental Pervert’ from stealing one of your little darlings?

Worry no more — I have the solution; and I am willing to share it with you for free, no need to buy my book. It’s really simple. Just keep them with you, where they’re supposed to be. All the time.

But what if you want to go out for an evening meal? This is YOUR holiday after all, you don’t want to be cooking. Or what if your apartment complex is holding an evening of authentic local cuisine, or a barbecue or some other entertainment that you’d like to take part in? Well, just follow these common-sense steps and all will be well:

  • When you go to the restaurant/barbecue/entertainment, if you don’t want to shell out for the hotel babysitting service, or aren’t comfortable with the idea of the stranger looking after your kids potentially rifling through your things, then just  take the children with you.

You never know, they might even enjoy being allowed to stay up past their bedtime (what a novel idea — a treat that doesn’t involve spending hundreds of pounds on a gadget, just some quality time with your family, on your FAMILY holiday).

  • If there is any danger that they will spoil your night with their whining when they get tired and cranky, then, instead of shouting at them to behave, or telling them they are ruining your evening with their behaviour, try taking them on your knee and soothing them for a few minutes.

 

Even in the warmest countries it can get a little chilly in the evenings, and where hot water bottles are not readily available a warm toddler makes a great substitute. And if you’re worried about looking like a cheapskate, you can always make yourself look better by purchasing a really expensive accessory to do this with.

  • If they get so sleepy that they can barely stick their tongues out to lick an ice-cream, then tuck them up in the buggy or pushchair, or on a comfy seat, with a light cover so they don’t look too untidy.

Now you have the perfect excuse not to get roped in to making a fool of yourself joining in with the dancing, plate smashing, etc. You can sit next to your snoozing children, enjoy your glass of wine in peace, and watch yor partner make a fool of themselves instead. Just don’t forget to gather them up (kids and partner) and take them with you when you head back to your accomodation.

So, there you have it — the “common” sense guide to returning from holiday with ALL your children. Who’d’ve thought it was so simple?

 

Unfit To Be A Brit …

Today I’m changing my Facebook profile picture to one of me with pink hair, in honour of one Mr. Bully Bennett (erratum: for ‘Bully’ read ‘Billy’). 

 
Yesterday (in response to a newspaper article) I posted a comment on the frequency with which one sees people in my neighbourhood out dog-walking clad in their pyjamas – skimpy pyjamas – even on cold winter afternoons. I rounded it off with some tongue-in-cheek speculation on what they might choose to wear when the weather gets warmer. 

     Along comes Mr. Bully. He proceeds to tell me that I am ‘cheap’ and ‘rough’, and goes on to criticise various of my hair colours and items of clothing, having clearly been into my Facebook profile to take notes. He then suggests that I need to ‘see to myself’ (?smarten myself up, or masturbate?) before commenting on other people’s wardrobe choices.

     When I thanked him for taking valuable time out of his day to look at all my photographs, he said he’d only done it to prove to himself that, whilst criticising what he called ‘us British’ for being scruffy, I was in fact a deplorable scruff myself. ‘You’re not fit to be British,’ he wrote. 

     Since when did traipsing down to the shop unwashed, still in your dressing gown and slippers become a core British Value?

     I’m a little confused as to what I need to do next to sort myself out and become fit to be a Brit. Do I embrace the British practice of going out in my sweaty, crumpled nightwear, or do I don a nice Norman Hartnell number, complete with headscarf like our dear British Queen?

     Since I am so clearly in need of sartorial advice perhaps Mr. Bully Bennett would be good enough to tell me exactly where on Saville Row he had his charming hoodie tailored. 

In the hope of finding a more presentable new look, I decided to try out the kind of fashions one frequently sees on the streets these days. Here’s a picture –  I’m sorry, it’s an artists impression only; I looked so damn good in that gear I broke the camera (ha-bloody-ha). 

 

A Nasty Habit.

The other day a bloke in the Tesco cafe asked me quite curtly if I would mind taking my obnoxious, cancer-causing sandwich to a table further away from him, as he did not wish to be exposed to my disgusting habit whilst trying to enjoy his morning cigarette! Was he afraid that that I was going to blow bacon fumes into his face as I went past, or burn his sleeve with a stray blob of hot fat?

I’m joking. Smoking, of course, is not allowed in the cafe, or indeed anywhere inside the shop. My mind has a habit of wandering off if left unsupervised. I only took my eye off it for a few minutes, while I was savouring a late, much needed breakfast on my way into uni, and caught myself pondering whether, in past times, when the link between cigarettes and cancer was suspected but not yet proven, people scoffed at the ‘scaremongering’? Last week I scoffed at a report, widely headlined, which suggested that the consumption of processed meat products could increase your likelihood of developing cancer.

I wonder — in years to come will my children’s children be saying: ‘I can’t understand why anyone starts eating bacon in the first place, when the risks are so well known’?

Get-Real Barbie …

I must confess – I was a Sindy girl. I found it much easier to relate to a doll who looked like she’d just stepped out of the local Women’s Institute, than one who looked like the kind of girl who got found comatose in Hugh Heffner’s mansion.

Back to Barbie – like Dr. Who she has been regenerated many times over  the years: as an astronaut, a surgeon, and a businesswoman, to name but three. 

Bear Grylls Barbie
 
But with each new incarnation, one thing never changes: her appearance. She is always, always a long-legged, wasp-waisted, busty blonde with impossibly atrophied feet (that’s what you get for wearing stilettos in space); because, of course, no woman can expect to be truly successful unless she is good-looking.

Until now.

Mattel have announced that they are extending the Barbie range to include dolls with three new body shapes – curvy, tall, and petite, to reflect reality (she will also come with a range of skin tones and hair colours). 

The “Suing my hairdresser” Barbie

So, Barbie’s ‘getting real’ is she?This raises a few questions:

Will Curvy Barbie get sneered at, or bullied by Original (Smug) Barbie? (Imagine the little girl who unwraps a Curvy Barbie at her birthday party – “Are they saying I’m fat, Mummy?”) 

Will Tall Barbie only come with flat shoes?

Will they charge more for Petite Barbie clothes?

And will they be adding a ‘Fine Figure of a Man’ Ken, complete with beer-belly, a hairy back, and realistic fart sounds, who refuses to date “Who Ate All The Pies’ Barbie, ‘What’s The Weather Like Up There?’ Barbie, or ‘You Could Sit Her On Your Dick And Spin Her Round’ Barbie because they are ‘mingers’?

Barbie and Ken enjoy the perfect sex-life; no clapping fat or pubes between your teeth here.
 

MENSTRUAL CYCLING.

Saturday 5th September

Today, for the first time in twenty-two years, I managed to impress the father of my children. I put it down to the Bodyform Effect.
We were planning to hire bicycles and go for a spin at Carsington Water, in Derbyshire. We did the same once, about fifteen years ago, when our older children were small. The memory of it shines out of the murky, cobwebbed cellar of my mind as a small beacon of post-parenthood fun, so I insisted we try it again with The Little One. We’d had to book in advance because we needed to make sure that the Weehoo would be available for him.
Of course it was a Bad Idea. I knew that. This would be only the second single occasion in the last thirty-five years that I had been anywhere near a bike, and now I’m pushing fifty.
And I was on my period (yes, I still have them). I woke up to find that Mother Nature had decided to foist herself on me a few days early, and the cupboard was still bare after her last visit. I’m usually happy to use supermarket own brands, but today’s emergency trip to the corner shop bought me the privilege of paying twice as much for half as many, because Bodyform is the only brand they stock.
But thank goodness for that. Because without Bodyform I would never have been able to just hop on that bike (after all these years) and cycle eight miles (yes, EIGHT MILES) round a lake, all whilst on the rag and lugging around fifty around fifty years worth of wrinkles, flab, and threadbare cartilage.

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Honestly, I really did do that. Once I’d persuaded the boy in the cycle hire centre to give me the right size machine – it’s really no good insisting I have an adult’s bike because I am an adult when I’m only the same height as most 11/12 –year-old girls.
The upside of being a small, creaky cyclist on a small, squeaky bike if that there was no option but to fix the Weehoo to Daddy’s bigger, more expertly-handled cycle. I could hear The Little One putting him through his paces, urging him to slow down on the downhills, and go fast on the uphills. O.K – so I dismounted and pushed up the steepest hills (but I was far from the only one doing so). And in spite of that I think that Daddy was seriously impressed with how well I did (I was seriously impressed with myself. I would have considered just wobbling a few yards without falling off an achievement). Of course, he insisted that the reason he was so much more out of breath than me was because he had had to pedal twice the distance to make up for the fact that The Little One was pedalling backwards most of the way.
Afterwards we collapsed into the restaurant in a heap of slovenly parenting – giving the Little One my phone to play with while we downed half-a-pint of Pepsi each, followed by a large coffee. The Little One rejected his chicken fillet goujons on the grounds that he couldn’t possibly be expected to chew after all that exercise, but he happily sucked the fluffy innards out of his chips, after first dabbling them in bean juice.

Not bad, eh, for an old bird?
So, next time my doctor asks me: ‘do you still have periods, Mrs. F?’, instead of mourning the demise of the youth-and-femininity-defining question: ‘could you be pregnant?’, I will simply smile to myself and say: ‘yes, I do still cycle.’

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THE INVISIBLE WOMAN.

Today my character woke up and realised that she had become invisible. Her family know she is there because of the things she does, or does not do. But no one sees her anymore.
She had been twenty years in a dreamless sleep on the austere marriage bed of convention and pragmatism. It was not until she awoke that the dreams started: dreams of adventure; of getting to know her travelling companions on the way; of minds meeting in the exclusivity of shared experience; of midnight swims in a lake sequinned with stars, whose reflections are sliced by two bodies as they slip through the black silk water; of a campfire, stargazing that melts into lovemaking, unroofed, naked to the moon’s glare.
Lovemaking. She is 46 and has never made love. Her husband tells her that men do not make love, they fuck — a basic animal drive. This she has done, times without number in the five minutes that have passed between then (gymslip furtively pushed up over hips) and now (tummy control pants hastily pulled to one side). In the back of her mind she still believes in lovemaking, but wishes she did not — because in belief lies also the acknowledgement that it is an experience that only happens to other people.
In all directions she sees a horizon, a thin, red, cauterising line, sealing the limits of her existence. Her shadow is longer than her soul.
The question is not ‘will this character die?’: that is the ultimate end of every character’s story. The question is: ‘what can she do with the time that she has left? Is it worth even trying to acheive something new? Is it too late now to find adventure and love? Or should she learn to be content with the life she has?’
Today I woke up and realised.

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