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Consideration’s What You Need

When I was sixteen I went to Athens on a school trip; it was total carnage. Sixty rampant teenagers, eight frazzled teachers, two rickety buses and countless pissed off, Greek hoteliers. That’s not the story I’m going to launch into, (although it’s a good story, even the head-girl gets wasted) but when I was a sweet, young thing in Athens, all those years ago, we stayed in a grotty hotel that was right in the city centre, and I fell in love with the lifestyle.

We were in a back room, and I woke up early one morning, about 04:30. It was already hot, and I decided to sit by the open window and watch Athens awaken. The view from our window was not what one might traditionally refer to as ‘scenic’, it looked directly into about 300 other flats and hotel rooms due to an odd, architectural glitch that left a space of about 10 metres between me and my many neighbours’ intimate details.

Over the next hour, while my roomates, The Two Lauras, turned their snoring into grumpy demands for “not cheese and ham for breakfast” I was enthralled by the most extensive people-watching I had ever been involved in. I loved every moment of it, and right then, I vowed that one day I would make somewhere like this my home, and would wake every morning in the buzzing hive of humanity that is dense city living.

Fast forward twenty years and here I am, on the 7th floor of a block of flats in a large complex of buildings, surrounded (at a comfortable distance) by the humanity I love so dearly. It’s early in the morning, but I did not choose to rise to listen to the sounds of Salford making its breakfast, I was woken up by the massive gob of a deranged and drunken woman who felt the need to shout for one whole hour from 04:00 onward.

There is something about the sound of a drunken Mancunian woman, bouncing relentlessly off 1000 perspex balcony doors that rips a piece from the deepest core of one’s soul. This bitch sounded like an electric saw and a kazoo were talking over eachother into a massive PA system.
The reason for her ear-splitting shouts was that she appeared to have lost her friend, “Owen”.

Now, not being able to find a friend is a terrible thing, but at 04:00 on a Thursday morning, in the middle of a city-centre, in the 21stC, it might be reasonable to assume there are better ways to search for one’s friend. I’m not going to list them, anyone with more than five brain cells will be able to contribute something to that list.

I’m sure this girl wasn’t in peril, her shouts were not panicked, they were lazy. We’ve all done the same shout, you know it, when you want something and someone is upstairs and you could walk upstairs like a considerate human being, but you don’t, you shout it, and then repeat it four times with increasing volume until they come downstairs because now they think they’re missing something, and it turns out what you want is upstairs anyway.

So, we have that tone of shout, in a well projected, nasal, squawking voice, repeating the word “OOOOOOOWWWWWEEEEEEEENNNNN” over and over, for one hour, from 04:00. As I watched the sun rise this morning, I wished for a ramshackle house on an abandoned piece of countryside.

Then I realised that I’d given up on my close, city-living dream too easily. City-centre living is fantastic, with every joy and advantage a single person my age could want on my doorstep. My morning was not ruined by city-centre living, it was ruined by one person being an inconsiderate twat. City-centre living, like anything where humans are required to play closely together, requires everyone to behave as such that they are considerate of others to the level they expect others to be considerate of them.

Not the way The Owen-Hunter thinks, clearly. At any point during that hour, she could have wondered whether she might be adversely affecting one of the 1000 bedroom windows she could see from where she stood. I appreciate that she was drunk, but that shouldn’t be an excuse, if she is that loud and mobile when she’s uncomprehendingly drunk, then it’s not a surprise to me that Owen disappeared.

When I’m pissed off with someone else’s behaviour, I try to size it up against myself. I ask myself “if I was in their exact situation, would I have behaved better?”. Most often, the answer is “no”, so I try to find forgiveness.

In this case, my answer was “yes, I would have behaved better”, I can say with all certainty I wouldn’t wake 1000 people up because I was pissed, not in peril and couldn’t find my friend. I’m not a total cunt.

My flatmate and I met over a coffee in the sitting room at about 06:45 as he prepared to leave for work. He was red-eyed, grumpy and not impressed with Owen-Hunter. His assessment of the situation was similar to mine, there was no way he’d have behaved like that either. We just wouldn’t have considered that us making noise for no reason was more important than 1000 working people getting their last two hours sleep.

We wondered what the difference was. Why do some people fail to consider anyone else, where as others will make decisions that acknowledge other people’s existence?

Is considering others a weakness? Shouldn’t I just try to get my own way all the time, or try to do what I want all the time; surely I’m the biggest winner if I get away with that?

Owen-Hunter wanted to shout, I wanted to sleep. She got what she wanted, and I didn’t. She wins.

So who is to blame for me starting the journey of being a considerate fool? I can’t speak for all considerate saps, but in my case, I blame my mother. She ruined me by making me share things, and not letting me suffocate my little brother and stuff. That evil witch made me care about people.

I am now 34 years old, and if my mother heard me carrying on in the way Owen-Hunter did this morning, I’d be skelped (Scottish term for a sharp whack to the back of one’s head) and roughly told what a state I was.

Why would my mother, who loves me, train me to be considerate about others (it’s not a gender thing, she did it to my brother too) when it seems I lose out as a result? I have to give way, and I don’t always get it back, because sometimes other people are wholly inconsiderate for no apparent reason. My own mother has cheated me; she’s helped create a world where the majority consider others, but the odd individual seems to get away without ever having to do that. This is not fair.

Then I think of the alternative; a world where nobody has any consideration for anybody else, no matter how close, and that place sucks.

The truth about having consideration for others, especially in a dense environment, is that it benefits us all in the long-term. There is nothing “nice” or “friendly” about making choices that benefit as many individuals as possible, because it strengthens the group as a whole which provides direct benefit to the individual making the choice. In addition, sacrificing benefit immediately when the need is not so great can ensure resources are available when the need is desperate, which is a good strategy.

Sometimes, we are all forced to act in a way that means we cannot be considerate of others; times become hard, situations become impossible and emotions run high. However, if we go our whole lives assuming that our situation always outranks someone else’s, and that we always require to be considered first, then eventually, we’ll use up the valuable resource of other people’s consideration for us.

It’s not about being “a good person”, it’s about ensuring the group tolerate us as long as we need them and consider our situation in a time we are desperate.

If I had a crossbow, I’d have been pointing it at Owen-Hunter’s head this morning. Would I have pulled the trigger? No.

I think she deserved it, I was grumpy, but the fall-out of that action is such that I would not be being at all considerate if I did it.

What about Owen-Hunter’s mum and dad? Admittedly, they’re a bit sloppy and they’ve raised a disgrace, but is my getting woken up one morning comparable to their grief if I shoot their daughter? Probably not.

I hope to find a happy medium between being entirely submissive to everyone else’s will and consistently being a domineering bully. I can’t pretend I’ve found this balance, and I’m woman enough to admit I lean on the side of inconsiderate too much of the time.
I am trying to live my life by a single, easy-to-remember motto, and that is: Don’t Be A Total Cunt All Of The Time.

If Owen-Hunter had lived by that rule then 999 people wouldn’t have gone to work in a bad mood this morning and 1 person wouldn’t have spent an hour imagining what her face would look like with an arrow sticking out of the eye socket.

I had a clean shot as well, consideration in fucking action right there.

The Kings of UKIP

I’m a middle-class liberal, so I hate UKIP and everything and everyone to do with UKIP; I must do, it’s in the hand-book.

I hate UKIP so much, I’ve had a moral dilemma over wearing purple clothes at the same time as having blonde hair, lest someone mistake me for a UKIP sympathiser.

UKIP are composed entirely of racist, homophobic and misogynistic morons, aren’t they? That’s what the papers I read write, that’s what the intelligent and educated people I follow on Twitter tweet, that’s what I think; I hate everything to do with all UKIP supporters.

Then I met Paul White, the UKIP Candidate for Fylde, and I didn’t hate him. Oh shit.

Paul runs a BnB in Blackpool, and I went there this week, to get drunk and buy some seaside rock in the shape of a penis. I have a big, important life, you should be intimidated. We booked his venue having no idea that he was a UKIP candidate, there was no mention of this on the website. Had there been, I wouldn’t have booked it, and I probably would have had a prolonged discussion of how terrible it is that people have fascist political leanings and are still allowed to run a business in 21stC Britain. I would have made a clever joke about Hitler running a Gregs, had another glass of Merlot and then gone to bed, having booked a room in a nice, non-genocidal establishment.

Paul greeted us as we arrived, and I was instantly thrilled to see that he was reminiscent of Barry Chuckle. I attempted a ‘to me to you’ moment with my suitcase, but he was having none of it. He’s a friendly guy, warm and welcoming, a perfect hotelier personality, and he showed us his well-stocked bar and clean restaurant.

I’d gone with my sister and my friend, and we’d booked a triple room. On arrival, it transpired that this was not the single and bunk beds we’d hoped for (retro!) but one single and one double bed. None of us wanted to share the double bed, so we started arguing about it, like children, in the bar of the hotel. Paul stepped in and said he had a very small single that was empty and that we could use it at no extra cost. Unaware of his UKIP leanings at this point, enamoured by his Chuckle brother vibe and impressed by his generosity, how could I not like Paul at this exact moment?

He showed us to our rooms (2 for £75 including 3 breakfasts), and they were immaculate. I’ve stayed in a few BnBs in Blackpool and this was the best by a prize-bingo mile. The attention to detail was unbelievable; there were tiny little bottles of all sorts of things, the décor and bedspreads matched, there was a wide range of complementary in-room treats to drink/eat. I made a comment to Paul that his wife was obviously responsible for these details and he was wounded! It was all him.

We mooched out for dinner, had a couple of drinks in off-peak, ghostly Blackpool and then came back to the hotel for a few more drinkies. I have always been partial to a brandy coffee, but I don’t expect to see it on a BnB bar menu at midnight. Paul had dressed up for the evening, and he was wearing a yellow and purple striped tie. I didn’t notice, because I was too busy moaning about how hard it was to get a decent brandy coffee in this town.

Paul disappeared and made two perfect brandy coffees, complete with tiny chocolate shavings on top. I was starting to love this guy a little bit and I asked him how his evening had been, I may have been flirting, it’s hard to tell with me.

He told me he’d been to a meeting as part of his duties as a local candidate for UKIP, and a little bit of cream dribbled out of my nose as I realised that I was having a nightcap with a fascist. He asked me if I’d noticed his tie, which of course, I hadn’t.

We entered into an interesting discussion that lasted some time. I liked his approach as a politician; when I asked him questions, he didn’t always have an answer. At one point, he actually got up and got a copy of the UKIP manifesto to help him clarify his points. He was genuinely passionate about the cause of his party as it had been presented to him.

I would vote for Paul. I can’t, because he’s a UKIP candidate, but I’d vote for him as a politician. I’d love to see a party leader respond to a question with “Hmmm. That’s a good point. Let me think about that and read this before I answer”.

Paul is not racist, homophobic or misogynistic. Paul is not a fascist. He’s been very ill and he genuinely loves and values the NHS. He has a family, with young grandchildren, and he is obsessed with them having the best future possible. Paul is really nice man who works very hard; if every UK citizen (including our top politicians from all parties) had his work ethic, Britain would be in less trouble right now.

When I talked to Paul about the policies of his party, he explained them very differently from the liberal media, of course he did, it’s all a circus. The point is, he was genuine in what he was saying, he was not trying to garner votes with a disingenuous voice, he was 100% sure that his party could make Britain better for working people.

Paul didn’t swing my vote, I won’t be voting UKIP. That’s not just because I’m a liberal, it’s because UKIPs policies have extreme physical and practical consequences for the UK, important beyond even the moral implication of withdrawing aid and amnesty to other non-British humans. I’m quite happy to attempt objectivity when thinking about politics.

Honestly, if we could definitely improve Britain by leaving the EU, closing our borders and shipping out a load of established Polish families, I’d probably vote for it. But UKIP, like every other party, can’t actually explain HOW they will achieve the things they say they will. None of the parties can actually show where money is coming from any more than they can explain where it’s gone.

None of the parties have addressed the issue of lobbying the EU Parliament to make moves to change legislation that allows massive corporations to have a tax-free party in Europe whilst European citizens go hungry and die waiting for hospital treatment, or whilst disabled British citizens are forced to relinquish live-saving benefits.

I had a great time at Paul’s BnB, but I was left feeling doubtful if I should recommend it to anyone, purely because of his UKIP leanings. His hotelier skills are second to none, should I attempt to punish his business because of his political leanings? I may never have even found out that he was a UKIP candidate, I wouldn’t have thought twice about recommending his establishment then.

I don’t think I was rude to Paul during our discussion, but it would have been very obvious that I did not approve of his political views; I directly called him a hypocrite at one point. The next morning, he cooked me a delicious breakfast with a big smile.

Meeting Paul made me double check what ‘liberal’ meant to me. My first response to any mention of UKIP is not a liberal one. If I am to continue describing myself as a person of liberal views, then I need to check that response in myself, and quickly.

Admittedly, it’s election day, and I’m probably just a bit overexcited. Politics never seems so relevant as in the week of a general election, but I need to remember who I am.

I am tolerant. I am balanced. I will not allow an instinct of hate towards another human just because he acts or thinks differently to me.

If I’d arrived at The Kings in Blackpool, and it had been a purple building called “The UKIP Stopover”, I would have turned around and gone home, and would have done myself out of a night in a fantastic establishment as a result.

If I’m going to look at one part of a human being, and based solely on that, make a judgement about who they are or what they deserve in life, without further examination, then I am doing exactly what liberals should denounce in others. Meeting the UKIP candidate reminded me how easy it is to get whipped up in political hyperbole and become hypocritical.

Paul is a nice man, he runs a tight ship, and if you’re ever in Blackpool, I officially recommend his hotel. I do Believe In Britain, I believe her citizens have the right to hold any political beliefs they want, without fear of reprisal in any form outside hearing other opinions on politics.

Meeting Paul may not have affected my vote, but it was a timely reminder of the best reason for a democratically elected government in the first place. I don’t want to see UKIP running the country, but I will always vote for their right to try. I will always be a liberal, and I hope no amount of election media persiflage will ever make me forget that again.

How To Hate Katie Hopkins

There are a lot of things I love about Katie Hopkins. She’s loud, she’s opinionated, she doesn’t give a toss what anyone thinks; she’s not a whiny cry baby who makes out she’s being bullied if you call her rude names. I know not everyone likes people like that, but I do.

She calls men “sweetypeeps” as she emasculates them and tucks their balls into her handbag, and best of all she doesn’t apologise for it. I’m not saying this is how all women should be, or even all people, but men behave like this far more regularly, and it’s nice to see a woman have a go occasionally.

Aggressive men nearly always manage to make women back down, but not Katie. I know too many women who could afford to be a little bit more Katie Hopkins.  That said, whilst I used to think she was a powerful category of woman, I now think she’s a first class cunt and I’m going to tell you why.

There are similarities between Katie and I that extend beyond our names. We look vaguely similar, (she could be my mum), we sound alike and we behave alike. I am aggressive, bullish, rude and unflinching, just like she is, so, unlike some of her legions of loathers, I can’t attack any of these things. Like me, she’s smart and well educated, so I’m not going to call her stupid when it’s not true. She seems to get people’s backs up very easily, I have that skill too (it’s actually surprisingly useful) although I also have the skill of super-charm to smooth it over, I’ve not seen evidence of this from Katie, although that’s not to say it isn’t there.

Katie and I come from similar backgrounds- hardworking, middle-class parents who focused their resources on giving their children a good, strong headstart with a private education. Both Katie and I are very privileged people; the main difference being that I recognise this, and she doesn’t seem to. This is the point that ignites my new found hate for her.

The first time I saw something of her that made me wish I didn’t like her so much was the interview on “This Morning” with Holly Willoughby. I don’t watch much TV, but a friend sent me a link to the video with the attached message “Haha! Turned on the telly and there you were, having a rant as usual!”.

Hopkins was laying into “lower-class” parents for naming their children things like “Apple” and “Brooklyn” (her daughters are called “Poppy” and “India”???) and saying that the name of a child is a clear indication of what ‘class’ their family is, and that working-class children are not suitable playmates for her infants. I defend people’s right to hold their opinions, even if I don’t agree with them, but when someone is educated, I expect them to be better researched, and not just spouting thoughts off the top of their head, especially on a national forum.

I was also uncomfortable with what I found to be a fairly disingenuous stance; I wasn’t convinced by her own belief in what she was saying. I don’t believe that people can help how they feel, which is why I will respect someone’s opinion, even if I hate it, but I didn’t believe it was her opinion. I’ve included the link to the clip so you can examine her body language. She is very measured as she is attacked by both presenters and the other guest, and she is does not display physical defence mechanisms. When our deeply held opinions are attacked, we naturally and uncontrollably do this because we are letting another person see who we really are and that is not easy. Given that she is on television, she is far too relaxed in her defence, and this suggests even she doesn’t care about the vitriol she’s spinning. I didn’t understand why she was saying those incendiary things if she didn’t really believe them.

The moment I worked out the reason, I started to hate her. She just wants to be famous, she wants attention, she wants people to know who she is. Katie Hopkins is a professional devil’s advocate, a rent-a-gob, a mercenary mouth; she is nothing but an intellectual whore. She is the lowest class of person; she is a self-serving liar.

After growing up in a very wealthy town, I have spent the last decade living in one of the roughest council estates in the country, and it has taught me to love humanity. When the world I knew kicked me out because I had no money, a world I was an alien to accepted me without question. Did I deserve it? If my family’s money hadn’t evaporated in the 90s recession, would I now be exactly like Katie Hopkins? Would we have a two woman show? Kat and Katie Piss On The Poor? I reckon someone would commission that, it would probably sell.

That would be enough for Katie, but it would not be enough for me, because I am not a whore. I think back to when I was rich, and even as a child, I was always in trouble for sticking up for what I thought was right. I remember being about 7, at primary school, and a teacher made a girl cry because she couldn’t tie a shoelace. She was really awful, and I weighed in, shouting at a teacher. At seven years old.

As I got older I have been dragged into school offices and work offices and severely bollocked. Once, I thought the company I worked for was syphoning too much into shareholder profit and not enough into the customers/staff, so I wrote a poem about the injustices and posted it on the companywide internet notice board. It denigrated the establishment and got me a disciplinary; the notion of free-speech probably meant I kept my job. Afterwards, many people I didn’t even know quietly told me how much they admired the act. That poem made me microcosmically famous, but did it make me a fame-hungry, intellectual whore? No, because it was my genuine opinion.

I don’t hate Katie because she’s opinionated, I don’t actually think she is. I don’t hate Katie because she uses racially and socially offensive language, many people do this. I hate Katie because she will say or do anything for money and fame, without ever considering the consequences of her own actions. I’d be less enraged by this if she was an idiot, but she’s not, and it makes her so fucking dangerous.

She is smart enough that she must know what’s going on, she just doesn’t care. She will continue to say more and more offensive things, not because she believes in them, but because it makes her famous. She doesn’t care about anything else, not the tax-payers, not the economic situation, not the state of the NHS; she just cares that more and more people know her name.

Katie’s Wiki entry states she is “known for making controversial remarks in the media”, what an accolade, eh? Her notoriety escalates her notoriety and she still fails to do anything approaching research on the huge and important topics that she so publically discusses. She doesn’t need to, incendiary rhetoric is potent, just look at what Hitler made it do.

Everyone’s struggling in the current economic climate, even the middle-classes. They’re having to take less holidays, keep their cars for more than a year and are not able to buy as many extra houses. Of course, the working-classes are standing in food-bank queues, but you know, the middle-class tax-payers that Katie claims to speak for are obviously in greater need of a defender.

Except it’s not the middle-classes that love her, in the main, they think she’s awful, because she apparently has no compassion, lacking the ‘love for humanity’ that the middle class assume they have as they discuss poverty over a biscuity Chardonnay. It’s the working-classes that love her, because they see a posh bitch who seems to be ‘on their side’, who seems to be saying ‘what they think’.

If I’d met a Salford local in a pub who’d said the things to me that Katie wrote in the recent ‘Gunships For Migrants’ article, I’d have been more accepting. He’s had a hard life, and just as I stated at the start of this article, it’s impossible to blame someone who is exactly the same as you, so you have to look for difference. Race and nationality are such obvious differences, that I cannot immediately blame someone for turning to that. If someone is born with low intelligence and not offered educational opportunities, I cannot hate them for not having clever and/or well-educated opinions.

I believe in free-speech, as far as it is a real possibility, which is arguable in itself from a philosophical standpoint, but that’s not the issue here. If we assume free-speech really does exist, then we have to see that Katie Hopkins is abusing it. She does not demonstrate free-speech, she uses monetised words.

There will not be a viral explosion if she writes an article being moderate about migrants, or stating actual statistics, because it’s not controversial. If Katie thought that displaying a modicum of humanity towards men, women and children dying alone in the sea for no other crime than being born at a massive social disadvantage would make her more famous, then she’d have written that article instead.

When you read Katie Hopkins, you are not reading an opinion, you are not enjoying the fruits of the much lauded state of free-speech, you are reading self-promoting propaganda from an ex-PR woman who has branded herself effectively and is now maximising all fiscal and intangible profit streams. She does not care about the issues on which she speaks.

She is engaging because she is clever, she is educated and she is good at speaking and forcing her words into the arena. I hate her, because all these skills could be used for positive development, but, because that is so much harder, she cheats and, disingenuously, takes the easy route, every single time.

Katie Hopkins is lazy, like she claims fat people are; it may be intellectual laziness over physical laziness, but the trait is still prominent. She is an awful example to young women, as she claims tattooed people are. She is exactly what she claims to hate, just in an expensive dress and designer shoes. The reason she doesn’t recognise this is that she doesn’t actually hate these people, she made all that up to get attention, and it worked, as she knew it would, because she’s very clever.

The worst part about Katie is that she doesn’t even care about how this affects her own children. She admitted in an interview that the negative attention in the press affected her family, but she still hasn’t stopped, her own fame is so much more important than her children. How can anyone take life guidance from a parent who puts themselves before their children?

If I had children, I wouldn’t let them play with Katie’s children, because those kids are gonna be royally fucked up; who knows what misery they carry around that might spread to my infants? I feel much sorrier for the Hopkins children than I do a working-class child called Tyler whose fat, unemployed Dad has neck tattoos. Katie’s children have a mum who doesn’t love them as much as she loves public notoriety. I don’t know how a person recovers from that.

The latest article from Katie Hopkins has broken the law, and she needs to be punished. When poor people steal stuff, they are punished. Katie has stolen from the Bank Of Intellect and is somehow being allowed to dance around with her booty and rub it everyone’s face.

She is on track for disembowelment, when the balance tips and she becomes an untenable tool for selling papers and encouraging clicks, she will be dropped. The media monster will extract its hand from up her puppet arse, and she will be left in a lifeless pile of damp, social ridicule. I look forward to the day, and I will not feel pity for her, I will be glad that she drowned in the sea.

Crème Eggs and Christianity: An Easter Dilemma

It is Easter, arguably the most important date in the Christian calender, and certainly my favourite, as I am a lifelong chocoholic.

I remember the glory days of Easter, before shops had no choice but to make sensible purchasing decisions due to the economic implosion, when Easter Monday would mean me leaving Sainsbury’s with luggage comparable to that of a Victorian lady embarking on a transatlantic cruise. When someone says ‘Easter Sales’ to me, unlike other women my age, I don’t think of shoes and handbags, I think of gaudily wrapped chocolate and tiny, sugary eggs, and I salivate.

I was raised as a Christian, and was a girl of Faith for many years. When I believed in God, I happily accepted that Easter was His Foil-Wrapped Festival Of Life, the Easter Bunny his heavenly minion and that Crème Eggs were pearls of his benevolent wisdom made manifest. I never understood the tangible link between God and chocolate, although on a sensual basis, as a person dangerously addicted to chocolate, I could well understand the association.  As an adult atheist, I remain convinced that chocolate is the closest thing I now have to understanding ‘God’.

At the time of being a Christian, like a lot of people of faith (by no means all) I was not in the habit of questioning what appeared to be the ‘Will Of God’ when the ‘Will Of God’ suited me just fine. God wanted me to eat chocolate eggs, I liked eating chocolate eggs; I was at peace with the design of my magnificent maker, even if it included diabetes.

Please, leave us alone together... just for a moment.

Please, leave us alone together… just for a moment.

This blog was prompted by a conversation with a Muslim man I know. He is not an extreme theist, but he is a man of Faith. He is also a man with a penchant for Crème Eggs (frankly, I distrust anyone who doesn’t like them). He showed me a card from his local shop whereby he collected a sticker every time he bought a Crème Egg and when he got 10 stickers, he got a free Crème Egg. He was chuffed as fuck with it. I, being a cynical twat, said:

“Ooh. Buy ten religions icons, and get one free!” It was a gentle gag, at best, but he had a box of six Crème Eggs on him at the time, and a large part of my energy was taken up with constructing a Machiavellian plot to get one of them in my mouth.

He looked at me and frowned.

“I don’t think Crème Eggs really count as religious icons, Kat.” I was torn between entering a discussion that sounded interesting and instant intellectual submission to ensure the Crème Egg/Kat Mouth continuum. I’d already eaten two Crème Eggs that day, so I went for the discussion, with a Crème Egg ninja idea hanging onto the back of my train of thought.

“They probably should. They’re EASTER eggs, and Easter is definitely something to do with Christianity. If you just let me hold them…” He looked at his box of eggs, moving them slightly out of my reach.

“I sort of assumed it was just shops making profit out of Easter. It’s not an icon like a necklace with Jesus on a cross. It’s not like they hand out Crème Eggs in Christian churches. Do they?”

“None I’ve been to, I’m sure some do.” He ran his thumb tantalisingly under the seal on the front of the box and ripped it in twain.

“So not all churches have Crème Eggs, but all churches would probably have a cross with Jesus on?”

“Not always with Jesus, but yeah, probably crosses.” He was opening the box.

“So they’re not religious religious. I don’t like to sound like I’m taking the piss, but seriously, what is the connection between God and chocolate eggs?” He looked at me expectantly, holding the lid of the box open with both thumbs. Six perfectly wrapped delights sparkled at me, I was captivated by their beauty. I stared back at him, dumbfounded.

“I have no idea.”

“Exactly. Sugar Filled Icon?” He offered me the open box, I politely took only one.

This is a photo of some Creme Eggs.

Some Creme Eggs.

As we stood and ate our eggs, I realised that I wanted to know if I was taking part in a religious ceremony, or just munching on chocolate-coated capitalism. As I sit here now, on Easter Sunday, with a bowl of mini-eggs on my lap, I have that question in my mind.

If eating chocolate at Easter is somehow associated with the Christian God, am I currently being a good Christian, by no virtue other than witlessly adhering to a tradition?

The reason for the symbol of eggs seems to be fairly easy to uncover, a logical symbol for fertility and rebirth, to remind Christians of the time Jesus came back to life. If you don’t cling on too hard to Sciency-Wiency, then okay, fine, I suppose the egg thing makes sense in the context of the story. When I asked a Christian friend why eggs were around at Easter, he said it was because the stone at the face of Jesus’s tomb would have been shaped like an egg. I prefer the second, simpler story (a quick Wiki glimpse at the alien nature of avian reproduction puts me right off bird eggs as symbols for human fertility).

The symbolism is also weakened by traditional Easter games, such as rolling them down hills or dancing about with them on the floor and trying not to break any. Any chicken who can survive that gestation period would be a gobsmacking symbol of fertility. Obviously, none of them do.

The tradition didn’t start with chocolate, it started with aesthetics, hand painted or dyed chicken eggs. From austere beginnings as simple red eggs (red like the blood of Christ, obvs) the eggs became gifts as well as symbols, and also became prettier and more colourful, more celebratory than representational. Our Lord And Saviour has died and risen, have a brightly coloured chicken abortion with a bow on it. Amen.

It may sound like I’m taking the piss, and that will be because I am. The most expensive Easter Egg ever made was a $10mil Faberge Egg, and that’s symbolism gone wild. Symbolism’s tits were screen-washing a middle aged guy’s Corvette at a junction the day that Easter Egg got made. If a religion creates something like that via its wide reaching ‘traditions’ then it should be ashamed, and should prepare to have those traditions mocked.

If I try to stay on the right side of objective, I have to conclude that the $10mil Faberge Egg cannot be blamed on Christianity, because the symbol of an avian egg as one for human fertility, cannot be owned by Christianity. It is arguably a Humanist symbol, and the aesthetic point is fair; mammal embryos at that stage look gross, whereas a bird egg is such a neat little package. If something has already been chosen because it’s prettier, why not make it even prettier than that?

When I hold a brightly coloured egg in my hand, I’m connecting with a tradition that far predates Christianity. Decorated eggs have been uncovered by African archaeology that are tens of thousands of years old! As humans we connect with the symbol of an egg for ongoing life, and we always like to make things pretty. Humans invented the idea, Christianity hijacked it.

Ooh! Look! Poison free!

Ooh! Look! Poison free!

This means I can no longer blame the foolishness of the tradition on Christianity, but Christianity cannot lay to claim to me when I shovel chocolate eggs into my face, even on Easter Sunday.  The symbol does not belong to Christianity, and the crossover into my life is due to chocolate, and chocolate is definitely not owned by Christianity.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of chocolate eggs until as recently as the 1800s, but I haven’t done extensive research.  I have had a nice morning reading about early methods of chocolate production, and it would seem that the late appearance of chocolate Easter eggs may have been due to underdeveloped manufacturing techniques.  The fall-out of the Industrial Revolution affected chocolate makers, as well as everybody else, and somebody invented a cost-effective way to mould chocolate. Amen, the glorious birth of ‘religious’ tradition.

I made a cheap joke about a serious issue, and my punishment was considering and writing this blog. I honestly do not want to partake in activities that support religious ideas, or be an advocate of any religious group. If I take part in things that I know are happening purely because of a non-secular holiday, I would be celebrating the God relevant to that holiday, and I don’t think I should do that when I don’t believe in a God.

I don’t believe religion should be automatically approached with reverence, but I do think powerful symbols should be handled with care, and if my level of interaction with a symbol demonstrates an affiliation with a group I don’t want to be associated with, then I should stop doing that.

After some thought, I don’t believe that a Crème Egg is a powerful religious symbol, and I don’t think I am aligning myself with any sect of Christianity or admitting any Faith by consuming my body weight in chocolate eggs on a weekly basis between February and May. As I approach the bottom of my bowl of mini-eggs, and look forward to an evening of reading, napping and secular karaoke, I know that eating chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday does not make me a Christian Missionary.

I’ve been reminded that I should be careful with symbols, and make sure I understand them before I use them, or even dismiss them. If a symbol is representative of something specific, then I believe I should only wear/use/display that symbol if I really have a belief in what it stands for. A powerful symbol cannot just be fashion, or flavour, it means something, even in unwitting hands.  I shouldn’t be making weak gags about religious icons, I should be thinking about the potential impact of an insidious ideological attack.

When my mate asked me, “What is the connection between god and chocolate eggs?” I should have been able to instantly say:

“Absolutely fuck all. Gimme one.” Next time I will, and next time something like this comes up, I’ll keep my mouth shut until I understand at least a little bit of what I’m saying. If I’m talking, but I don’t know what I’m saying, then exactly whose words am I speaking?

Bunny Egg

Somebody Save Our Stunnas

“Who the fuck is Richard Herring?”

“You know, from Lee and Herring.”

“Isn’t that a sauce? The salty one?”

“No. The comedy duo, from the 90s.”

“I was born in 1994.”


I’ve had that conversation a few times over recent days when discussing the disappearance of the Sun’s page three ‘beauties’, ‘lovelies’ and ‘stunnas’, and their associated breasts. Young men know about page three boobs, but not about Richard Herring. Weird.

An (apparently obscure) male comic has been at the centre of my discussion on whether the page three concept is degrading to women and/or their breasts. How did that happen? Well, it happened because, via the medium of Twitter, he put himself there.

He did the same thing at the beginning of last year with a persistence gag based around International Women’s Day. It was a funny gag, and very persistent. I laughed for ages, stopped laughing for a bit, and then laughed again; persistence genius, no-one can say Herring isn’t a quality comedian. Just like his recent explosion into gender debate, he entered the discussion last year in apparent support of women, but ended up single-handedly making the phrase ‘International Men’s Day’ trend on Twitter… on International Women’s Day.

Richard Herring started the ‘sunmannips’ hashtag on Twitter. If you haven’t seen it, don’t look, spare yourself. It is exactly what it sounds like, a collections of furry little man-nips; ain’t nobody got time for that. Ostensibly, the point of this horror show of scruffy man tits is to highlight the sexist nature of the Sun’s page three displaying only feminine mammaries. Or something.

I think these men are being a bit dismissive of their penis-bearing brothers who actually are models. One look in Cosmo or Attitude will show anyone that male models’ bodies are as well maintained, waxed and photoshopped as their female counterparts. The nipples displayed on #sunmannips are not so close-up ready; these men are, like me, not currently qualified to be models. I can see droopy, unwaxed man-chests by looking out my Salford window between May and October; I don’t need to buy a magazine or newspaper to see that sort of body!

If the point of this hashtag was to show that all imperfect bodies can be beautiful, then why not have #imperfectnips? Why would a comedian jump on the gender bangwagon other than to use it as a vehicle for self-publicising? Oh.

So what’s my fat, feminist problem here? Shouldn’t I be happy that something as ‘out of date’ and ‘demeaning to women’ as page three is being obliterated, however that is achieved?

Well, I’m not, and not just because I’m a lifelong fan of a beautiful pair of luscious lady lumps.

Wiping models off the 3rd page of a print newspaper is not a significant victory towards the eradication of the ‘sex-industry’ which has for so long mortally offended feminists. All it achieves is the removal of what I can only imagine was a fairly well paid shoot by industry standards. The Page Three Lovelies will now just have to whap out their baps for a lower fee. Well done, feminists and supporters; next stop, The Internet, good luck with that.

The root of this issue is not the exposure of the breasts of either sex, it’s that we’re all so damn comfortable objectifying each other. We all so quickly objectify another’s body either as one to want to look like, a body to fuck, or a body to use as a symbol for a cause. The other is just a body, where the self is so much more, right?

How can we show young women (or men) images of liberated, owned bodies and talk over that with a narrative that suggests monetising one’s supposedly free-flesh is a negative? An open dialogue on the reality of that lifestyle has got to be far better. Cultural repression is undesirable, wherever it comes from. By this, I mean, somebody obviously wants to look at these tits, how is ever better to pretend that isn’t the case?

Every service in our economy tends to basic needs or fulfils natural desires, and yet somehow the industry that tends to that most basic of needs and glorious of natural desires is a kept as a dirty secret. Get it off the front page.

The change that needs to be affected is that we all need to understand that a person may offer themselves in the service of other-objectification but that this cannot be applied to all people all the time. You go to a supermarket to buy milk and bread, you don’t just hand your food stamps to a random guy on the street and think that’s okay. It is never helpful to deal with the symptoms of an oppression and ignore the root of the problem. The lairy feminists who claim page 3 sexist, or those who call for equality by demanding The Sun display man-boobs too, are doing just this.

The men on #sunmannips aren’t affecting any change, they’re just re-iterating that objectification is ‘normal’ and ‘equalising’. Use your words, not your nipples, lads. I’m very sure they’re all well-meaning chaps, but they are not helping any cause except Richard Herring’s campaign of self-promotion.

Objectifying a male or female model in the pages of a magazine is not wrong, they have given me permission to do that by arriving at the photo shoot, stripping off and rubbing themselves down with glitter oil. Failing to recognise that model as a person behind the images or assuming that all bodies of that gender should or do look like that naturally, is wrong.

Don’t automatically objectify another on your own terms and you are contributing to changing the mentality of society. If you simply jump on an apparently beneficial bandwagon that is fuelled by the old regime, then you are compounding an archaic way of thinking. I’d be happier in a world where the institution of Lee and Herring had greater longevity than bare boobs in a national rag, but that is not how it is. It is not possible to change natural human desires, it is possible to change how we manifest them and increase our own understanding of them; repressing outlets for sexuality can only ever hinder this process, and it’s already a long one.

These are just my opinions, but whatever your opinions, acting in the truth of your beliefs is always more admirable than hijacking an issue in an attempt to breathe life into your career. If Richard Herring becomes a penis-POV spokesperson for ‘feminist issues’ I’m having a species change and becoming an iguana. Watch out for #reptilenips, it’ll drive you wild with sex-feelings you’ll be instantly told to repress.

Celebrity Trash: N-Word Included

A Transcript of Jeremy Clarkson’s Racism Allegations Apology:


Words by: BBC Media Relations Salvage Team, as spoken by Jeremy Clarkson.

Other Words by: Jeremy Clarkson’s brain as written by thebaffer


“Ordinarily I don’t respond to newspaper’s allegations…”

I don’t read newspapers, they are for plebs to sleep in, eat out of and be wrapped in when they die…

“… but on this occasion I feel I must make an exception.”

…I’m busted on video and even I can’t public-schoolboy my way out of this one.

“A couple of years ago I recorded an item for Top Gear in which I quoted the rhyme…”

It was a segment where they asked me to ‘rhyme’ and I’m not in any way gifted …

“… eeney meeny miney moe.”

…I desperately scrabbled at anything to make me more interesting.

“Now, of course, I was well aware that in the best known version of this rhyme…”

I’m actually aware of nothing outside my own bottom…

“…there is a racist expression that I was EXTREMELY keen to avoid.”

…I wasn’t going to avoid it at all. Other people do controversial humour. I wanna play…

“The full rushes show that…”

I’ve watched them 1000 times to try to find an escape from this.

“…I did 3 takes…”

…16 less than for this video, contrition is hard to perfect…

“…in two, I mumbled where the offensive word would normally occur”

… it really took me that long to think of a replacement…

“… and in the third I replaced it all together with the word teacher.”

…I’m not a racist, but I do inexplicably hate public sector workers.

“Now when I viewed this footage several weeks later…”

I was in Italy, busy driving a car made from the overworked skin of Nurses, when HR called me…

“…I realised in one of the mumbled versions, if you listen very carefully…”

…I was talking over the video at the time, telling them all that I’m infallible…

“… with the sound turned up…”

…my voice was still louder…

“…it did appear that I’d actually used the word I was trying to obscure.”

… I said ‘nigger’.

“I was mortified by this, horrified, it is a word I loathe…”

But I can, and will, still say it. I. Am. Jeremy. Fucking. Clarkson.

“… and I did everything in my power  to make sure that that version did not appear…”

….BBC minions actually did it for me…

“…in the programme that was transmitted.”

…in the Press.

“In fact, I have here, the note I wrote, at the time, to the production office…”

It’s definitely the same note, here on this bit of paper, right here, the same note…

“… and it says:  ‘I didn’t use the n-word here…”

…although I did, I said ‘nigger’.

“…but I’ve just listened through my headphones…”

…I tell BBC production staff how I listen to tapes. This is why the production crew hate me so much they leak videos…

“…and it sounds like I did.”

…because I did. I did. I said ‘nigger’.

“… is there another take that we could use?’”

… they didn’t like ‘teacher’ either, FOR FUCK’S SAKE.

“… … … Please be assured…”

… Was that pause long enough? I had a sad face on too  😦 …

“…I did everything in my power to NOT USE THAT WORD…”

…I genuinely have no control over the drivel that leaks out my saggy face hole…


…sigh, this is so dull…

“…as I’m sitting here, begging your forgiveness…”

…I must be looking right at the camera here…

“… for the fact that obviously, my efforts weren’t quite good enough.”

… because ‘nigger’ slipped out, and I could not catch it by its toe.

“Thank you.”

Can I go back to Italy now?




I’m not in the habit of extensively trashing ‘celebrities’. For the most part, I’m not interested enough in them to bother.

Jeremy Clarkson is the exception.

As background, I’ve unreasonably hated him since I was a child. His face made me feel uncomfortable, the monsters in my dreams had his voice, and him being on television during my puberty has probably made me infertile. Just as I cannot help a physical attraction, I cannot help a physical repulsion.

On a normal day, I’d just mute the bits of Top Gear where he’s on and not take it any further, but today, his job hangs in the balance, and I believe he should be sacked, so I’m having a rant.

As an adult, Clarkson is still the voice of my monsters. He is a rich and arrogant man with barely any sense of how most people live.

Clarkson shouldn’t be sacked for saying the ‘n-word’. He’s trying to make it seem like it’s the ‘offensive word’ that’s the problem; he’s clouding a more central issue.

Any word is a cultural word, and no word should be censored entirely from sensible, contextual discussion. Clarkson should be sacked for not being able to say another word, or unimaginatively enjoying the potential shock value, or for not just owning up and admitting he said it; he should be sacked for clearly demonstrating that he is, at best, bloody stupid.

Clarkson should be sacked as a symbol for racism at its most dangerous level, the unconscious one. He should be sacked because he is a long time out of date and no one will ever be able to explain to him why.

Also, he should be sacked because any woman on television his age would be painted up like a Victorian Doll’s House and he gets to go on telly with a face like camel balls.








Portrait From A Hero

I went through a phase in my early twenties, I’m not proud of it. I’m even less proud now I’m telling you about it. I wish it had been a phase of drugs, porn or veganism; all of which would have been less embarrassing. Back then, I fancied myself as a Byronic Urban Mentalist and would exclusively wear pink from head to toe.

I was, in short, a bit of a cunt. At the height of my idiocy, I discovered a performer who I fell in love with immediately, and that hero worship never left me.

I have watched everything I can find that this man has produced and I have read everything he’s written (I’ve not understood all of it). I have gone out of my way to see him perform in venues nationwide and have genuinely thought it was worth every open –mouthed minute.


I love Derren Brown and this is my hero story.


I met Derren Brown on March 5th 2012, it was a cold and windy night. It may sound like a trite way to start a story, but I live in Manchester, and it was March, so I promise you it was cold AND windy, and that this will come into play again later on.

I went to see his show, Svengali, alone, and sat in my seat for ½ an hour before the show started. I usually do this at the theatre; I like reading the programme in peace and noseying at other people as they come in. I did enjoy absorbing this programme; it was a weird, various interest magazine, styled in an attractive Victorian theme.

The show started and was going as unexpected, until he asked for women who could not paint pictures, but wished they could, to stand up.

I’ve always wanted to paint. Well, truth be told, I’ve always wished for some skill in any visual art. If just one thing that my hands created ended up looking like something other than a multi-coloured bovine placenta I would be utterly fucking thrilled.

So I stood up.

I’m not 100% sure what happened next. Something flew at my face, I ducked and the guy behind me caught it and handed it to me. Then Derren Brown started talking to me from the stage.

By this point, I’d been a Derren Brown fan for a decade and now he was talking to me. Well, he was talking to an unpredictable prop that might mess up a great trick at any minute, but in my world, my hero was talking to me.

Sometimes I imagine talking to my heroes in my head, and I am always incisively erudite. In my imagination, Charles Darwin and I have had some fairly drawn out discussions; frankly the man is just stubborn. When Darwin talks to me, I have opinions and we spark intellectually; when Derren Brown talked to me, I was mainly worried about farting in front of the audience at the Lowry.

Derren beckoned, the audience clapped and I walked towards the stage, my fear of trouser wind worsening with every step as my arse was now head height to the stalls audience and Derren was holding out a microphone. When I reached the stage, I shook his hand, fought the urge to lick his face, and he went about his business of magicking.

If you’ve seen the show, you’ll know the trick I mean. If you haven’t, I’m not going to spoil it. The point of mentioning it at all is that, on stage, I noticed that Derren Brown was an imposing figure of a man. His presence was bear-like, impressively dominant, and he was at least four or five inches taller than me; I’m 5”6”.

The trick ended brilliantly, Derren Brown hugged me, I sniffed his ear a little bit, and we called it a night. I left the stage feeling pleasantly smug and let out an unexposed, sly fart when I got back to my seat.

If only I had left it there.

My need to include fart references throws that last sentence into ambiguity. For clarity, I did not shit myself in the auditorium; what I actually did cost me far more than the embarrassment of public bowel release.

I went to Stage Door to autograph-stalk Derren Brown.

As I have previously bored you with, it was cold and windy and I now was standing outside in the slashing rain waiting to see someone who did not know me and was not expecting to see me. There were about 50 people waiting to see Derren and 40 of them were under girls under 18.

Derren Brown came out and walked straight into the mass of girls. He signed stuff, smiled for cameras and was shunted about like a toy doll between groups of excitedly rabbiting females. I was a little bit scared and stepped out of the crowd. I watched my hero talk to his fans; he was quiet, both softly spoken and sparse with words.

I felt embarrassed, I wanted to leave, but suddenly he was next to me. He had a pen in his hand and he took my open programme.

“Shall I sign it there?”

“Yep. Thanks.”

“What’s your name?” I can’t lie, it did hurt a little that the man who instigated a revolution in my understanding of memory couldn’t remember my three letter name from onstage an hour before.


“With a K or a C?” This was a man who worked with names, I was one of many K/Cats who he’d signed an arbitrary bit of paper for.

“A ‘K’, please.” I immediately regretted the ‘please’, it sounded like I was implying he might then write a ‘C’ just to be snide. A half competent ‘Blockbusters’ gag went through my head, but instead, I said “I know you’re not a fan of the C.”

I don’t know why I’d say that to a gay man I’d never met before. It’s childish, cheap and offensive; I instantly wished I hadn’t said it, and physically bit my lip to stop myself speaking again. Derren Brown then compounded the whole situation by laughing.

It wasn’t an out loud, belly laugh, but there was a definite chuckle and a bit of a smirk as he scribbled a very legible K next to a lot of squiggle on my programme. His attention was immediately grasped by a small female next to me, and I stood looking at the top of his cap as he signed her something.

Derren Brown is actually just about an inch taller than me.

Derren Brown on stage is my hero, a master of powerful content and precise stagecraft with a thrilling compulsion for detail and infectious excitement about the brain. For years Derren Brown has stimulated my imagination exclusively on my own terms, because before that cold and windy night he was never actually any closer than Darwin, or Beckett, or Freud.

Derren Brown in person is an unassuming chap who giggles at cheap gags, and I dispute my hero’s right to have a personality not entirely created by my own imagination.

In my imagination, my heroes don’t laugh at my childish jokes, and they don’t pay attention to anyone else. I don’t worry about embarrassing myself in front of them and they don’t eat, sleep or have partners. In my imagination, my heroes are all there as the best bits of me and my brain, not to represent the childish, fart-gag side of me; that’s what my friends are for.

In my imagination, my heroes have the role of confidants and moral barometers; they are seats of deep discussions of my worries, fears and passions. My internal world has been a bit damaged by having a real life moment with Derren, and now my subconscious has him hypnotising Hitler to have to say ‘vagina’ instead of ‘Reich’.

My favourite bit about my heroes is that they are exactly who I want to believe they are. I can believe they are unnaturally unique because the only understanding I have of them is built from the bricks of their best ideas, hard work and effort. I have no minute understanding of them as real people because I have no need of that to continue idolising them.

In my imagination, Darwin may be a stubborn bastard, but at least he doesn’t have the audacity to be a real person. 




Writing On Writers’ Right On Rights

“Might start trying to buy things how people try to hire me. ‘Can I have an apple? I can’t pay for it, but I’ll tell people the apple’s good’”
@Scriblit via Twitter

That is a funny Tweet, succinctly and grammatically containing a great argument within just 140 characters, a testament to the creative brain and technical writing ability of Scriblit.
Scriblit is a working writer, and when she works, she wants paying; that is, unequivocally, fair.


It’s bloody hard to make money out of writing. Writing itself is not hard, I’m doing it now, but making money out of it… tough gig. There are many reasons for this, ranging from ‘because you’re shit’ through to ‘millions of people write stuff and try to make money out of it’.

Nearly everybody can actually write, and many people are very competent at it. If you added up the minutes in your day/week/year that you are on the clock and writing something, you could say in that time, you were a ‘working writer’. I estimate mine conservatively as 125.5 hours a year, which is just over three weeks full time work as a writer. Hooray! I’m so glad I stayed in school.

Perhaps if brick laying or engine tuning had been aggressively encouraged by parents and schools instead of writing, then it would be builders and mechanics plying their trade for exposure and credibility whilst writers laid out massive invoices for doing something almost anyone can learn to do.

That absurdity exposes that writers don’t actually want to be paid for the physical act of writing; they want to be paid for a natural ability to have brilliant ideas and the tenacity to couple that with the hard earned craft of turning those ideas into something I can understand. The limit of a builder or mechanic is to keep your house up, or your car running; a well-communicated idea is limitless.

I like to think we know that in our society; there is great work published all the time by respected houses across multiple mediums and the writers are justly compensated for their time and effort. From local newspapers to online blogs, I see the evidence of clever, witty and erudite people who sometimes communicate ideas that shape my mind, and I am pleased they have been paid for that.

Equally, I have encountered some total tosswaffle. Floppy, weakly constructed sentences bouncing aimlessly around ill-considered points and bumping into distorted facts and opinions. It comes from people who think that they are writers and consider their own efforts worthy of monetary payment, when, in fact, fair compensation would be that they get beaten with Sharpies until the offensive, badly punctuated nonsense jiggles out of their densely inflated heads.

It’s not that I want to agree with what I read; I just want to read considered and researched ideas that are explained in a way that respects and develops my language. Good writers do this, and I regularly pay to devour their words. Bad writers muddy issues and damage the way a language I love is written and spoken and read.

I write my tiny blog for pleasure, and because I now know that if someone reads one of my little pieces, it’s not the absolute worst thing out there. I can at least thank the crass thinking, belletristic terrorists lurking with their keyboards and drivel for giving me confidence to squirt my nonsense into text, because I do enjoy it.
I would write a piece for free for anyone who asked me, but the view count of my blog doubles when my mum logs on. I might not be such a typing whore if I was already a featured writer on a website with 2m+ monthly views; I’d want more too.

Our whole economy is based on the principle of me giving you something I’ve got for something else I need.
I don’t need any more exposure, what else have you got? If I refuse exposure and demand money, will you create a paid role, or will you find someone else who will scribble it for free?

Writing can never be exclusive to the monetary economy, so I beg the really good writers not to disappear forever from the unpaid corners of the cultural economy. If there are new websites that have an ethos you support, please drop them a paragraph or five. If there’s a struggling, quality print publication that would benefit from the attention of your current followers, write them a story once or twice. If you really can’t, then do you know a quality writer that will work for the exposure on your recommendation?

I believe it is hard work to consistently produce excellent writing, and that hard work should be paid for. I also believe that good writers have an intangible gift, a natural way of working the language so it changes what you think and who you are. That gift is an incredible stroke of luck.
Getting that lucky gives you a duty to the cultural economy that may not be rewarded at all, let alone with money; your duty is to protect the readers.

The best writers should be moderators we can trust, at the very least.

As a reader, I can’t promise to give up reading work I know is unpaid because I will never lose the fear that paid for written opinions on important topics are those of the commissioner, and not the writer, however paranoid I am told that is.
I can promise to work hard to avoid websites and publications that distribute badly written script and shoddily constructed ideas, but please push back a bit too. It’s a numbers game for readers and the more places that excellent writing appears, the more likely it is we will stumble across it.

If you don’t help, sometimes for free, then the cultural economy will become even more flooded with self-important, fastidiously opinionated, linguistically clumsy waffle from amateur scribes like me. Please be there, because, as a reader, I am genuinely terrified by how far even my own brand of tosswaffle is from the worst kind of writing I find.

Weird and/or Wonderful

This week I had an unusual encounter with a girl named Devine*.

The encounter started on a dating site when I began talking to a boy named Hugh*.  I liked his profile; he was funny, wordy and self-deprecating so I messaged him.  After a few texts we arranged to meet, a meeting I then cancelled, rudely, at short notice, because I’m a dick.

Hugh was not a dick and accepted my apology in good humour and we arranged to meet another time. Bog standard, flaky internet dating action thus far.

Then, two days later, he rang me at 4am and when I answered, was silent and then hung up. As I was half way through the initial thought of “…oh good, a raging nutter has my phone number and I have no one to blame bu..” he rung again and repeated the silence then hang up trick. I know it well; I’ve done it myself.

I texted him. I wanted to text obscenities and suggest he commit improper acts with his mobile, but I didn’t, I texted the very neutral:

That was pretty random!

The response was out of character; dismissive, and poorly punctuated. This guy was either pissed, bi-polar, or his disgruntled girlfriend had the phone. I asked him which it was.

His missus had the phone.

If you were to ask me why I didn’t leave it there, I’d have to say… I just don’t know. I should have typed “WHY ARE ON HIS PHONE YOU FREAK?” and switched mine off.

I didn’t do that, because I don’t know this boy, but I know this girl. Not personally, but I know the feeling she had when she dialled that number and called my phone. I know that sick sense of not knowing what you might find out about someone you love or have loved; that dark little window into their private, separate life that used to be a shared existence.

So I texted back pleasantries, and offered her a friendly ear if she needed a chat, which as it turned out, she did, and she called me.

She was a little bit tipsy and had post-crying sniffles, but she was such an honest and positive person that we were soon chatting and laughing. Devine and Hugh had had a fight that night and she still avoided the temptation of slagging him off, which is a fine example of niceness.

She knew Hugh was chatting to girls, they were both dating other people, but she was worried that using his phone like that made her ‘a weirdo’. I had to tell her that I’ve done what she did, taken a partner’s phone and had a good old root through. I speculated that a lot of people have done it, will do it in the future and are probably doing it right now.

I’m not sure Devine was convinced.

We gabbed for about ½ an hour, about relationships, about our jobs, about ourselves. The conversation was relaxed and comfortable; she’s definitely someone I’d be friends with, but after the conversation I was left with the feeling that we probably won’t actually meet and become friends.

From my point of view, I’ve had a lovely encounter with a sweet and funny woman who resettled in my mind the truth that ‘everybody does those weirdo things I do which makes them not so weirdo after all’. If I were to now meet Devine and it transpired that she’s batshit crazy, ‘Hugh’ is her alter ego and she likes live frog earrings, my faith in that truth would be shaken. I don’t want that to happen; I don’t want to be a ‘weirdo’ too.

From Devine’s side, she might feel embarrassed for letting her emotions show to a stranger. We’re not supposed to do that, and she might feel that any connection between us would be too unbalanced because I’ve already seen her at her ‘weirdest’.

Any time we perform an action that leaks out our true emotions, we are ‘a weirdo’ and that’s not fair. Longing, regret and anger are potent emotions, it is likely the reaction will be extreme and suppression of them detrimental.  I’m prepared for other people’s weirdness, especially when it’s the same as mine. I’m not going to turn my back on someone who seems to be acting a little weird, because I’d be screwed if other people did it to me!

In my experience, people who are a little unusual on the surface are most usually brilliant underneath, so maybe I should text Devine and suggest we have a coffee. Then again, she might think I’m weird…



*Names have now been changed to protect identities, because the people involved asked me to. I’m not sure they realise that they have very common first names and nobody reads this anyway.


Tram Random 3

The best thing about mobile technology is that it affords me another excuse for looking like a total prick in public. I have many excuses for this, but the simple pleasure of enjoying a one woman silent disco on a tram stop is my current favourite.

On a recent occasion I noticed a very smartly dressed, middle aged woman smiling at me whilst I was bopping along. I saw her lips move, unplugged my ears, and asked her what was up.

“You look like you’re having fun, what are you listening to?” This lady was very, very posh. Her teeth were perfect, sparkly, mouth diamonds.

“Erm… a mix of dubstep that my friend made.” I felt a bit uncomfortable, as if I’d been caught smoking in the grounds of a hospital.

“Oh, yes, the dubstep. My son listens to that, he’s 19.” I cringed. I’m 31 and am becoming more and more aware of the need to grow up.

“Would you like an ear?” I offered my earphone, quite confident she’d say no.

A brief look of contemplation crossed her face. She had the expression of a woman who had recently resolved to try new things and was now faced with the dilemma of living that decision in a very minute and achievable way.

She took the ear phone and looked at it. “I just push it right in my ear?”

“Yes. Not too hard.” And she did.

If you’ve ever shared headphones with anyone, you’ll be aware than you have to stand very close to them. If you’ve ever shared headphones with a stranger, you’ll be aware it’s very weird.

In her designer, heeled boots she was a good four inches taller than stumpy little me and she smelled of wonderful, unaffordable perfume. She blinked and looked confused as the music set to work killing her aural cilia. I felt embarrassed; I wanted to tell her that I am university educated, that I read books, that I watch documentaries and only get involved with dubstep when I think nobody is listening.

The tram came and we shuffled on, still technologically joined by the ear.

“I’m not sure I like it very much.” She said apologetically and a little bit loudly. I laughed and pressed the skip button on my iPod. The next tune up was Perfect Day, sung by Lou Reed. “Oh! I love this one!” She said with genuine joy.

We both stared out the window and listened to Lou Reed, I felt like I was unwittingly putting the moves on a posh lady. I love talking to strangers, but listening to romantic songs whilst sitting with heads tilted together like teenagers… not so much.

Then she started singing along.

At this point, I felt like I had two options. Option one: retract my earphone and move seats. Option two: join in.

I joined in.

A guy reading a Kindle looked at us with annoyance, and we both burst out laughing. It was one of those silly, human moments that you cannot plan and you never forget. As the song finished we approached my stop.

“This is me.” I said, removing my half of the ear phones. She removed hers.

“I enjoyed that, I think I’ll get an iPod for Christmas. I might get some dubsteps on there!” I laughed and extended my hand.

“I’m Kat. Nice to have shared an ear with you!” She shook my hand and told me her name was Louise. I waved at her as the tram pulled away and she waved back enthusiastically.

On Christmas morning, surrounded by my family, I thought about Louise and wondered whether she did actually get an iPod with her son’s music on it.

I expect I’ll never know.