I can’t even…

On Monday morning, one of my friends died of cancer. I spent the day crying and wondering what kind of a messed up universe allows people in their mid-twenties to die.

Then Monday night happened.

It’s been a couple of days now since I watched the news coming in on Monday night. I was about ready for bed when reports of an explosion at Manchester Arena at an Ariana Grande concert were suddenly coming up in the news. Manchester is about an hour’s drive, and it’s the main concert venue for the north of England. I’ve been there to concerts many times for my bands bucket list, as it’s almost always the second tour date (beside London) in England.

I slept fitfully through the night. When I awoke on Tuesday, my heart was in my throat. I was scouring the news reports and praying that the people I knew who had gone to the concert were going to be okay.

As the week has rolled on, more deaths have been confirmed. We’re now up to 22. I knew three of those people.

My heart breaks for all the children who have been hurt, the parents whose children haven’t come home, all the parents whose children are in hospital, who don’t know yet if their children are going to make it, and for all the children whose parents have died, who are going home to an empty house. I am devastated, for all the people who can’t find their loved ones, for all the friends and aunts and uncles lost and left behind.

I have my final exam for university tomorrow. It seems so ridiculous, to be even trying to prepare for something as normal as a test when this has happened.

I can’t even. Anything.

Manchester ribbon

It doesn’t matter how you vote, you’re fucked anyway.

I’m going to discuss the UK General Election, because someone has to put a stop to all the nonsense about it.

So Theresa May, the UK “Prime Minister” (that gets inverted commas because she’s had the job for 5 minutes and she was never voted in), has stated there is going to be a general election in June. We only had one last year, but since she wasn’t voted in, you’d think this was a good thing. In reality, that means that all the other political parties have under two months to campaign. Current polls show that Conservatives (sort of our version of the US Rebublicans… maybe) have a lot more support than any other party: 45%, compared to 27% for Labour (sort of our version of the US Liberals… ish) who are the next nearest party (we have about 5 main parties and a load of others, besides).

The news of this election has filled the 18-30 demographic (my age group) with lots of false hope that they might be able to prevent Brexit, despite the fact that it’s irreversible at this point. It’s sort of like someone trying to stop a car crash while the car is flying through the air at 90 miles per hour, claiming it’s going to be fine because the vehicle hasn’t hit anything yet. I mean, there are a crazy amount of things this past year that our age group has clung to and gone “Brexit can’t happen because of X, Y or Z” and it’s still happening.

Now, the thing is, everyone’s spreading around this “Here’s how to vote to stop Brexit” spreadsheet, where someone’s basically checked what political party is voted in, for every given area of the UK. If the party in your area is Labour, you are supposed to vote for them. If it’s Liberal Democrat (also sort of liberals), vote them, green party (kinda liberals too)… and so on. It’s not very clever or revolutionary, and to be perfectly honest it’s not going to help.

See, there’s this glaring issue with this plan. Labour are NOT GOING TO STOP BREXIT. Nor are they going to be better placed to get us a better deal. That’s like saying that one pimp is going to get us more money for being assfucked than another pimp, because the other one talks to the common people occasionally.

A lot of people believe in Labour because They Supported the Trade Unions in The 1970s and 1980s (also sometimes explained as, “My Dad Was A Coal Miner/Steelworker/Factory Worker…”). The trouble is, most of those politicians are dead and the party has changed immeasurably since then. This is the political party that took us to Iraq then pretended it was all Tony Blair’s idea and was never properly held accountable. Nobody ever gets held accountable in politics, and they never will, despite all the posturing of the 18-30 year olds on Facebook. We don’t live in a world of justice, good doesn’t triumph over evil, and democracy isn’t automatically better than a benevolent dictatorship. Sorry.

The other issue with the Labour party is that, since Jeremy Corbyn got made party leader, they have NEVER STOPPED INFIGHTING. I mean, seriously, they are the most unstable and argumentative party, so at this point they stand for literally nothing. Look at what happened when they called a leadership election barely 6 months ago (because some people in the Labour party with positions of power don’t like Corbyn) and, when the polls revealed that Corbyn would be voted leader again, someone in the Labour party decided to get rid of 300,000 members — or more, the true extent of this was never proven — because those people had all joined in support of Corbyn. The whole thing made no sense and went against their own rules. They also excluded those people from party meetings and then increased the cost to join the Labour party so only people with a particular amount of money could cast a vote. I don’t know who has decided to do all this, but it has culminated in the suggestion that the Labour party will demand ANOTHER leadership contest either at the same time or immediately after the general election. Don’t delude yourselves. A VOTE FOR LABOUR IS NOT A VOTE FOR CORBYN. It’s a vote for some catty, bitchy little girls who will not lead Britain into stability, and are not interested in reforming welfare or social care or life prospects for all us 18-30s who have been systematically fucked over by two consecutive political parties. Don’t forget that they started it.

Also, voting Labour is a vote for racism. I remember, when I was a child, the shit put through my door on a regular basis by Margaret Moran Labour MP (I think that’s our version of a senator) and the Lib Dem opposition when I lived on a gypsy site, and I remember all the shit both those parties used to say about us in the local newspaper, blaming us for everything that ever went wrong in their constituency because it was illegal to blame any other races any more and they needed some fabricated enemy to make up drama about. They have been cashing in on Anti-European sentiment ever since Brexit and, given that I’m married to a European, I can clearly see a vote for Labour is a vote against my own husband. He has found it nearly impossible to find a job since Brexit because of our surname, because of the assumptions people make about him being Eastern European. Labour won’t fix that, because they’re the party of the imaginary Common Working Man (and The Common Working Man voted for Brexit, remember? Because The Common Working Man reads the Daily Mail). Actually, Labour only WANT you to think they’re on your side. They’re actually the Petit Bourgeoisie CLAIMING to be For The Common People because they’re scared of being up against the wall come the revolution* and they all read The Guardian really. Anyway, in the unlikely event that Labour gain power and ride into Parliament on unicorns and try to stop Brexit, the country will degenerate into civil unrest and disorder due to the loud outspoken hooligans and yobs being all the ones who voted Brexit. Think this through: You REALLY don’t want them to stop it now that it’s been started. It’s the same reason that Trump cannot be removed from office by legal means. People will take to the streets and riot, which nobody wants. The situation is completely impossible.

*Which got canceled.

I cannot support a disorganized party, who have been locked in an unwarranted power grab since they got rid of Milliband. I cannot support a party filled with institutional racism. I cannot support a party who is outspoken against the SNP in Scotland, and if I was still in Scotland, I would not hesitate to vote SNP. But I am currently in England, which means I don’t have that choice. I feel really bad, but I physically cannot support Labour, I genuinely don’t think they will fix the mess in this country. A vote for Labour is a vote for everything to carry on the same as it currently is, only there’ll be a smiling face to sugarcoat it all for you.

So what about the Liberal Democrats? Um… that would be like voting for a vampire to run a bloodbank. They can make all sorts of claims and promises in their manifesto, because they are completely safe in the knowledge that they will never have to fulfil ANY of it. The closest they’ve ever come to running things was when they were in the coalition government, where the Conservatives ran things really and the Lib Dems could say they didn’t fulfil their promises because of the Conservatives. Just like Labour, they stand for nothing.

The Green Party are just confused and make more wild promises than the Lib Dems. It’s hard to take them seriously when they never even TRY to consider how they’re going to pay for all the things they claim they’ll do.

And the Conservatives and UKIP are evil bastards.

This leaves me in a quandary. I want to vote to change things, and I have never before been unsure about which way to vote, but no party is worth voting for this time. I know the danger of “protest votes” or not voting. I once skipped out of work on my lunch break to vote, because I wasn’t going to finish work until the polls closed (we only get one day to vote over here), it has always been important to me as a woman and as a member of the lowest social class in the UK, because of how hard men and women had to fight for people like me to be able to vote. But this time, I’m honestly not sure I can vote for anyone. Anyway, if I don’t vote for the prevailing party in my city, the ridiculous nature of the UK voting system means my vote will have been wasted anyway (it’s impossible for us to have a Liberal majority in Parliament, unless we also have a Liberal Prime Minister). So it’s with a heavy heart that I stare at the impossible situation and wish they’d called this election for 2 months later, so I’d be living abroad and therefore wouldn’t have to get involved in all this nonsense.

I’d like to reiterate that the adverts below this article are nothing to do with me. WordPress wants me to pay them to make the adverts go away for you all, but I can’t really afford it, so they keep putting more adverts here and making them more annoying and objectionable. Sorry.

New Year’s Resolutions

This year I thought I’d make some New Year’s resolutions, so here they are:

  1. Use perfume more often. I went through a phase in late 2013 and early 2014 of buying perfume. Then I stopped wearing it. So now I have a heap of bottles, containing Avon Perceive, Avon Pur Blanca, Avon Far Away, Avon Romance, Charlie Red and J-Lo Glow (I’m dead classy, natch. Actually I went through a phase of only wearing expensive designer perfumes… it got expensive and most of them aren’t good for day-to-day wear) knocking around, and I never wear any of them. This year, that’s going to change. I need to use them all up before I emigrate.
  2. Read more books. I have SO MANY BOOKS that I haven’t read, and yet I find myself either re-reading old favourites or buying new e-books (they’re guilt free because I don’t have to store them anywhere) and reading them instead! Worse still is the fact that there’s so many books I want to read but haven’t even bought yet because I have such a backlog.
  3. Write more books. This year I’ve published 3 books but I have written 7. One of those is coming out on 6th January, but I go through 3 month periods where I don’t write anything! An example of this is the last 3 months, while I’ve been working hard at my MSc in Obscure Science. I want to get 6 books out in 2017; that’s one every 2 months.
  4. Wear my nicest clothes more often. I have some decent items but I tend to slouch around the house in my dressing gown (robe) or nightie, and when I have to go out, I throw on a pair of black trousers and any old top. Since writing is a work-from-home job, and since I no longer have a car and my unemployed husband doesn’t need driving to work, that means there are entire weeks where I don’t get dressed!!! I want to make more of an effort to dress nicely more of the time, just for myself, because I have so many things that don’t get worn enough.
  5. Wear my nicest shoes more often. I own 9 pairs of shoes (excluding roller skates and ice skates); some of them are truly pieces of art, but I tend to gravitate towards my rainbow-soled sneakers or my one pair of Vivienne Westwood pumps, so my pair of Doc Martens, all the jelly shoes, and my Irregular Choice ones get left in their boxes most of the time. I’m probably going to have to get rid of a lot of them when I emigrate, so I should wear them more now so that I feel less heartbroken. Maybe I should start wearing shoes in the house?? Nope, it’s just too weird, I can’t do that!
  6. Go skating more. Last week, I went ice skating for the first time in 6 years. Aside from my ankles being weaker, I was as good as I was last time I went, mostly because in 2016 I took up roller skating since I don’t live within 30 miles of an ice rink. At one point I was roller skating 6 miles a day. However, the last few months I’ve stopped roller skating too, because my bipolar medication made me exhausted all the time and I lost interest in any kind of physical activity. I plan to go skating (roller or ice) at least once a week next year, let’s see if I can’t do that Biellman spin again.
  7. Eat more new stuff. I have a list of foods I’ve never eaten. I need to get back onto that. I bought a tin of smoked oysters this week, and I’m going to try them tonight, to get 2016 finished with ticking one last thing off my to-experience list.
  8. Drink more alcohol. It’s usually found in social situations, and I shy away from them sometimes, and other times I’m just working too hard (I tend to put in 12-16 hours a day, because I really love what I do; people who know me IRL will remember that I used to ice skate 16 hours a day when I worked as an ice skating instructor; I’m also still trying to achieve a level of financial independence that’s bipolar-proof), so I plan to play harder and that starts with drinking more alcohol. The occasional day off won’t lead to financial ruin (says the girl who is, right now, sitting at home editing a manuscript to send in, rather than going out to any of the 4 New Year’s parties she was invited to, because she wants to get that next book in a better place before 2016 is through).

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Vegan £5 notes and internet snooping laws: bait and switch and switch again.

vegan money £5 scandal meme petitionSo there is a petition going around the UK right now, where vegans and vegetarians are complaining that the new £5 have tallow in them. They want them to be withdrawn. Of course, destroying lots of notes containing unwanted animal slaughter byproducts at the cost to the UK of millions of pounds:

a) will ensure those animals really did die in vain

and

b) is utterly trivial.

If people don’t want their £5 notes, if they’re too much of a special snowflake to touch common people’s money, because they’ve got animal slaughter byproducts in them, they should stop driving cars or using LCD screens immediately, too. I wonder how many vegans would throw out their iPhone or MacBook on the basis that its LCD screen is probably also made from dead animals (source here)? They could, of course, just pass on any £5 notes to the poor people who are all suffering from disability cuts in this country, but that would be an act of genuine altruism that might actually benefit a living organism.

I have always been supportive of vegans and I have been vegan myself, and I have plenty of vegan recipes on this site, but there are limits, and really, this shit about the £5 note is the epitome of trivial bollox. Additionally, the black ink in all the other denominations means £10, £20 and £50 notes are also potentially not vegan.

I wonder what laws the British government are going to sneak past us while everyone’s distracted with this ridiculous news story? They’ve already gotten the new digital snooping bill past us under the guise of an anti-porn law (that’s the previous version but is mostly the same as the one that’s being passed, which is totally different to last year’s proposal that all the newspapers are quoting from; the newest version has mysteriously disappeared off the Internet since it was published last week, and it ran to 170 pages). They’ve totally rewritten that law since the big protests in 2015, and nobody is even protesting it any more, and it is a completely different law to the super-concerning investigatory powers bill which is being passed almost concurrently (which people are also protesting), in a double bait and switch effort (so the governments must REALLY want to spy on and control our Internets). So every educated and conscientious person who might have something to say to stop these surveillance and anti-free-speech laws are all being distracted with whether £5 notes have more tallow than the average candle. Great job, everyone!

All adverts below this line are nothing to do with me, I found out today that WordPress displays them and seems uncomfortable to be as honest as they might be in their “about these ads” page. I am ineligible to make money from WordPress adverts because I swear too much.

Turning 30

At 8pm this evening, I will turn 30. People are already wishing me a Happy Birthday, of course, but for now, I’m letting it wait until the evening before I have to acknowledge the whole thing. Some of my readers are quite a bit over 30, and I know that my thoughts on this probably don’t reflect yours, but it’s ok for us to have differing points of view on stuff without feeling invalidated by one another’s opinions, and so this is my opinion on my own 30th birthday (and why I feel this way).

I’ve been dreading this day since I turned 28, when I realized I’d wasted most of my twenties trying to get a stable income (and stable health), both hangovers from my really shit parents not doing their jobs properly (that’s not the subjective viewpoint it looks like), and suddenly I was filled with the urge to do everything left on my 30 list (the things I wanted to do before I turned 30). I didn’t have the time or money due to the aforementioned problems. Given that last year was a bit of a write off, and I basically have spent at least 5 years this decade just trying to get an education in something I could get a job in, I decided to give myself an extension, to get things done by 31.

But why is it bothering me so much that I’m turning 30? Age is just a number right? My now-husband was over 30 when we first met, and it never bothered me in the slightest.

But part of me knows that it’s different for women. It’s different for me.
I come from a place where most people got pregnant between the ages of 16 and 18, most people my age who I went to school with now have teenage children. And it’s only in the last few months that I’ve worked out what I want to do with my life (I want a job in publishing and I want to continue writing books, too) and finally had the free agency to make that happen.

Beyond that, and maybe it’s my PTSD talking, but I sorta thought I’d be dead by now. I’ve done a lot of pretty stupid stuff in the past decade (and the one before that). I don’t honestly know why I’m still here.

I’ve tried to kill myself on at least two occasions. I’ve walked away from bad situations, taking pretty much nothing with me, more than once. I’ve been electrocuted across the heart at work. I mis-landed a jump on ice skates and landed on the top of my head at high speed. I tried to stand up through a rock and hit my head so bad that, a year later, my pupils are still different sizes. I’ve driven my car through someone else’s because they parked me in. I have eaten a lot of things I shouldn’t, and been hospitalized for alcohol poisoning twice. I fell off a cliff far enough that I was certain I was going to die, and I survived because I landed in a tree. I’ve started fights with people twice my size over things most people take lying down. I skinnydipped in water with heavy metal toxicity (which I had no idea about until afterwards). I once kayaked 2 miles out to sea, to an island, with the tide going out, no lifejacket/buoyancy aid and I can barely swim one length of the pool. I have driven my car so fast that I completely burned its brakes out once on an emergency stop, and I only came to a halt half an inch from the back of an obstruction on the motorway. I nearly drowned as a small child when the priest that was supposed to be watching me went chasing after boys in swimwear and I went straight for the deep end. I climbed a snow covered Munroe (a high Scottish mountain) in January with no equipment or map. When I was sent back to school to finish my A-levels, I used to make a challenge out of running the level crossing — when the warning lights came on to signal that a train was coming, I would start running and see how far I could get before the barriers came down. If the first barrier wasn’t down, I would always keep going. Twice I had to vault over the second barrier to avoid being hit by a train.

None of that was even the stupidest stuff I’ve done (some of which I won’t ever post on here), just some of the most deadly (there’s other stuff, but again, not gonna post it because it’s really bad), but it’s illustrative of why I’m slightly surprised and a little disappointed that I’m 30 and I’m still here. In the words of Terry Pratchett’s Cohen the Barbarian, “You’re upright, you’re breathing; you’re fine.” That was what I lived my life by, and why I didn’t acknowledge or seek help for mental health problems until last year when everything really went to shit.

Before I got my bipolar meds, I was not only a chronic doer of really stupid shit, but I reveled in it. Facing death made me feel more alive, in a way nothing else ever will, and part of me (the part that is heavily medicated and occasionally slurs half-coherent demands for bottles of neat vodka) enjoyed doing all that stupid shit. My psychotherapist says repressing it just makes it come out worse and repeat itself more, so I just accept it. I’ve said it before, but bipolar almost always only makes me do things I wanted to do in the first place.

My parents were both chronic doers of stupid things too, and they both died when I was 27, within 5 months of one another; both were in their early fifties. As a result of their deaths, I simply cannot believe in religion (but I respect other people’s right to). I tried, but I just can’t believe it. I believe that when we die we stop existing. This life is everything. If I have the same lifespan as my parents, I’m already more than half-way through it, and what have I done with my life?

I’m not afraid of death. Sudden death is how I’d prefer to go, not a lingering, clinging one, with plenty of time for the full horror of the situation to sink in. Death doesn’t scare me. I’m afraid of getting old. Enduring. Having to keep living, day after day, fading away and getting more and more decrepit and old until one day, with a whisper or a sigh, I finally breathe my last; old and lonely.

Turning 30 was always going to be hard for me because it’s a sign that I haven’t lived hard enough, and don’t have as much time left as I’d like.

But looking into the mirror, I was pleased to see that I’m not looking so bad. All the cigarettes, alcohol, bad food, sleepless nights, 90 hour work weeks, abusive shit that happened to me, psych meds, prescription opiates, nights of homelessness and sleeping rough on newspaper have not actually had the effect on my body that you’d expect them to. Or maybe all the fresh fruit, vegetables, smoothies, long walks, longer cycle rides, orgasms and moisturizer has offset the bad stuff I did to myself.

It’s not that I worry about not looking my age, as much as I see not looking prematurely old as a sign of being healthy. I remember when my mum turned 30, and I’m looking a Hell of a lot better than she did at this age, so if outward appearances are anything to go by, maybe I’ll take after my Aunts and make it to 60 someday.

And maybe it’s time for me to turn 30. On Thursday, I asked at the security booth if something could be done at the university, and the man just assumed I was an undergraduate student. I was fairly irritated by this, since that was his basis for not doing the thing I asked him to do. But when I was parking my bike, after cycling home in the dark, I realized that I probably should have taken it as a compliment.
I still didn’t.

I fight against my worse nature, but I’m very stubborn when I make my mind up about something. Some people call that ‘driven’ or ‘single-minded’ but it’s basically stubbornness when you get down to it.

I used to name the years, to sum up how I felt about them. I haven’t done that for a while, but 2015 and 2016 have been such a shitstorm that I feel it’s worth bringing that back. Generally I name them after things that mean something to me, not things that sum up the year for everyone (that would be rudely ethnocentric of me). So 2015 is the Year of the Dead, 2016 is the Year of The Glib Toads (who have talked their way into popular votes and other similar atrocities this year. I would always rather be outspoken than mealy mouthed) and 2017 will be the Year of the Calm After the Storm. We can always re-name it if things stay bad.

So I am being dragged kicking and screaming into the Year of the Calm After The Storm. Maybe it won’t be that bad, after the last two years.

Now for the song no-one EVER links me on my birthday (swear warning):

I wish I was a betting person

Can you imagine how much money some people have won by betting on Trump in this election? The odds were stacked against him in betting shops. Or think of how much people must have made from betting on Brexit? Or on a whole plethora of other unlikely but suddenly very real events this year?

You know what I admire about America? You guys support your team to the bitter end. If Clinton had lost in the UK, her party would have already turned on her, hung her out to dry and found their Next Big Thing for the opposition leader. I mean, look what recently happened to Jeremy Corbyn, or David Cameron. Whereas in America, all I’m hearing from her side is that she’s not done with politics yet. You guys are very loyal towards the people and institutions you believe in, and beyond the idea of whether this election was a mistake or whether it was the greatest thing ever (neither of which are very good middle grounds haha), I admire that. After all, I’m not a political analyst or an American citizen, and I have no idea who would have made a better president; what matters is that you all voted and that your majority was much clearer than the UK’s was for the Brexit vote.