Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Self Help

Growing up there were a lot of self help books around the house- Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, End the Struggle and Dance With Life, Life is Short- Wear Your Party Pants. I did then and do now love a good self help book. And while many can be trite and obvious actually they can be very helpful indeed. Every now and again a phrase will float into my mind at the appropriate moment and really resonate. One that I'm trying to remind myself of often at the moment is a paraphrase from one of my favourite books (that sadly I can remember nothing about except (I think) it had a green triangle on the cover). It went something like this: This thing you're worrying about- can you do anything about it? Yes? Then do it. No? Then stop worrying about it. Not exactly reinventing the world as we know it but incredibly useful none the less.

I have a particular soft spot for the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People too. Yes it's full of marketing wank and exercises that you're never going to do. Yes he makes his family sit down and talk through and write out a family manifesto every year. Yes it's cheesy as hell. But fundamentally it's about being a good person and remembering what's important and getting on with things. And whilst I'd never subject anyone else to it, I did a few years ago sit down and write a manifesto of the person I wanted to be. I read it today and it was good. I'm not there yet (There's a bit about dealing well with change I'm still a long way from) but largely I'm getting there.

There's lots of things in the world I want to fix. There's lots of things about me that I'd like to change. But it's good to remember every now and again that you can do things to improve both yourself and the world around you. You can mock all you want but you know life is short, and these party pants aren't going to wear themselves.

Monday, 8 April 2013

The lady's not for mourning

One of my earliest memories is playing a game with my sister in our kitchen where we tried to put bats up Saddam Hussein and Margaret Thatcher's nighties. It was the late 80s and in our house those figures were the ultimate baddies- bogeymen whom the media and our parents had taught us to hate.

Later as an adult I asked my dad if he felt bad indoctrinating us to hate Thatcher that much. "Absolutely not!" was the response. As far as he was concerned it was the same as teaching your children right and wrong. Tories were and are to be despised. My dad also taught me the difference between right and left wing "right wing cares about money, left wing cares about people". Simplistic it may be but as I've grown up I've found very little evidence to the contrary. Fundamentally, I believe, this difference of priorities what sits at the heart of political ideologies.

Growing up in a post Thatcher world I find it hard to conjure the same hatred my parents feel but I've grown up with the legacy she left. The "greed is good" culture and deregulation that brought about the banking crisis, the huge inequality between rich and poor, the lack of housing stock, the horrendous privatised rail system. I've also, it must be said, benefited from a general increase in wealth that the country has seen in the last 30 years. But overall from everything I read about her and modern Tories there is a lack of compassion and a stigmatising of those in situations of disadvantage that makes me furious. I don't agree that "there is no such thing as society" that there are "skivers and strivers" that people have children just to get more benefit money. For all Labour's faults they worked to get children out of poverty, to introduce a national minimum wage, to give more people a better shot at education. And the backward steps we're taking in these areas fill me with rage.

I disagree with the whole argument that we shouldn't celebrate someone's death because they have friends and family. So does Nick Griffin and so did Saddam Hussein, but I don't see any need to crow or gloat. As a political actor Thatcher lost power a long time ago. As a political ideology her legacy goes on and on. I don't want to celebrate but I don't want to mourn. I want to take this opportunity to remember that compassion is better than greed and that society does exist and it is vital. I want to make sure I'm doing all I can in my everyday life to believe in people not money and work to make things better. Putting bats up tories' nighties is probably not the most efficient strategy but I hope continuing to support and care for people and not buying into their rhetoric means I won't let them win.

Billy Bragg said it all so much better-

"This is not a time for celebration. The death of Margaret Thatcher is nothing more than a salient reminder of how Britain got into the mess that we are in today. Of why ordinary working people are no longer able to earn enough from one job to support a family; of why there is a shortage of decent affordable housing; of why domestic growth is driven by credit, not by real incomes; of why tax-payers are forced to top up wages; of why a spiteful government seeks to penalise the poor for having an extra bedroom; of why Rupert Murdoch became so powerful; of why cynicism and greed became the hallmarks of our society.

"Raising a glass to the death of an infirm old lady changes none of this. The only real antidote to cynicism is activism. Don't celebrate -- organise!"

Friday, 5 April 2013


I've not been very well today. Struggled through work and then wimped out of my kettlebells class.
But while lying in bed feeling sorry for myself I've been listening to some great podcasts I thought I'd share with you.

Helen and Olly

One of the first podcasts I listened to. Funny and gentle and entertaining and helped me through some serious anxiety filled sleepless nights a couple of years ago. And I want Helen to be my best Friend

The Moth

Fab storytelling from a popular US live show. If you can put up with the 2 minutes of sponsorship and adverts it's worth it

Savage Love Cast

Worth it for Dan Savage's acerbic rants in the first 10 minutes but stay with it for the sex stories and advice. Interesting, intelligent and sometimes shocking but always entertaining.

99% Invisible

The brilliantly named Roman Mars delivers beautifully crafted 10 minute stories on some of the most interesting design features you've never noticed.

The Food Programme

The most interesting half hour on the impact of the EU law on battery eggs or the spiritual implications of fasting you'll ever listen to.

Any more recommendations gratefully received.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Things I l Love Thursday

So today I love Gin. And tonic. And girls I used to work with but I don't see nearly as often as I should. And Gin.

I realise this is a cop-out post but what are you going to do?
Thought so.


Wednesday, 3 April 2013


My secret crush is Iain Duncan Smith

Look at him. That glinting head, that icy stare, that outstretched hand that you just know can crush a poor person's hopes and dreams in a matter of seconds. Look into his cold dead eyes and tell me you don't find that entire lack of compassion a real turn on. Go on, I dare you (although not too close unless he turns your heart to stone like his). Oh Iain and your insistence on demonising those struggling most in society. That true desire you have to penalise disabled families for having an extra room to frivolously store their hospital beds and necessary equipment. People may accuse you of hypocrisy Iain but I know how hard your life is, how much you struggled before marrying into aristocracy. And why shouldn't people be penalised for being disabled, in care or just plain poor? I know people are mean to you sometimes Iain but I could look after you. I could even come and visit, no-one would know, you could hide me in your 17th-century Buckinghamshire manor, or maybe build me a little flat in your 1300 acres of land. I promise we'll only need one bedroom. Oh Iain .

Oh no wait, sorry, my mistake. Tricky word crush. I don't have a crush on him. I would like to crush him.

And yes I appreciate this is simplistic and insulting and maybe some things need to change. But right now I just want to punch somebody in the face and I'm too angry for subtlety. And not only is their language around "shirkers" and "strivers" lacking in subtlety too, it's insulting and dangerous and means people who have nothing being plunged further into poverty and the rest of the country encouraged not to care. The lack of any voice sticking up for the most disadvantaged in society is making me irate and I just want to shout and scream. So this is my childish, petulant, impotent expression of rage. Fuck you tories.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Day Two

I had lots of plans for todays post from long rants against the govenment to the wonders of bondaweb. But it's late and I'm slightly tipsy so I'm going to use the suggested prompt and write some haikus about my day.

Waiting in for Saltash
They fix some mortar
But I can't offer coffee

Off to the British Library
Drink tea with my dad
Permanent collection- wow

In Shoreditch with Amnesty
Arms trade treaty signed
Pride, relief and Prosecco

Monday, 1 April 2013

Blog Every Day in April

So I've been doing ok on my New Years Resolutions. Work is slowly getting better, I did a 10k in 1.09 (ish) and I've lost over a stone and a half. But some things haven't been going so well. My budget for last month wasn't exactly balanced, I've not been writing (as you can see) and the whole "Less time faffing around on the Internet and more time doing things" - not been going so well. In fact I've become a bit internet obsessed. I have two facebook group/forums I could easily spend 8 hours a day on, I track all my food and exercise on apps and websites, I generally faff around on my phone or my laptop at all times. Although actually some of this has been very beneficial- exercise and weight loss have been greatly improved by the amazing and motivating women on my facebook group, I've met people in real life who have been absolutely fab (an evening staying over in Glasgow for work was made loads more fun by an invite from an internet friend to attend an event in their fabric shop) and next Saturday I'm planning an evening in a pub with women I've never met and I'm really looking forward to it. But I do want a bit more balance. So instead of just focusing on facebook and food and exercise I'm going to add a blog challenge into the mix. And yes it is more time in front of a screen but it's also, hopefully, a bit of a kick start back into creativity.

So this month is
* Drumroll*
Blog Every Day in April!
or BEDA for short

Now I can't find much online about this initiative but I half know someone who did it a few years back and their blog list is as follows:

Day 1: BEDA Intro–Up to you how to intro yourself.
Day 2: Day in Haiku–Write about your day in haiku (short 3-line poem w/ 5-7-5 syllable pattern)
Day 3: Crushes–Celebrity, literary (author/character), musician, actors, intellectual, inexplicable
Day 4: Best Advice–That piece of advice you got that you’ll never forget
Day 5: If I won the lottery–What would you do? Finish the statement.
Day 6: Best Live Entertainment–Describe the best live entertainment (theatre, concert, comedy, etc.) you’ve ever experienced
Day 7: TILT–Things I Love Thursday, BEDA tradition where you talk about what you loved that week
Day 8: Follow Friday–Suggest a blog you follow
Day 9: Photo Essay–No words. Just pics. Tell us a story. Take us on a tour. Show us something pretty.
Day 10: Off Your Chest–Get something off your chest: your pet peeves, opinions, rants
Day 11: Dream Vacation–If you could go anywhere or do anything with anyone..what would you do?
Day 12: Brain Crack Ideas–What are those great ideas or inventions you have but haven’t made happen? Your million dollar ideas.
Day 13: Fave Recipe–Doesn’t have to be something you make. Grandma’s cookies? Mom’s casserole?
Day 14: TILT–Things I Love Thursday
Day 15: Follow Friday–Suggest a YouTube channel or video you love
Day 16: Guest Blogger–Take a day off. Find a guest blogger for the day!
Day 17: This I Believe–What’s your personal motivation in life?
Day 18:
Top Ten List–You pick the topic, then make it a Top Ten List
Day 19:
Book Review–You pick the book, review it.
Day 20: How To (Anything)–You pick the topic, show or tell us how to do it.
Day 21: TILT–Things I Love Thursday
Day 22: Follow Friday–Suggest a Twitter personality you enjoy
Day 23: Interview Someone–You pick a person real or fictional and interview them.
Day 24: Holiday Traditions–You pick the holiday, and tell us your traditions.
Day 25: Ideal Karaoke Mix–You have an entire karaoke evening to yourself, what’s your set list?
Day 26: I Never…–You know the game. What’s something you’ve never done?
Day 27: Movie Ending Rewrite–Rewrite your favourite movie’s ending…for better or worse. Up to you.
Day 28: TILT–Things I Love Thursday
Day 29: Follow Friday–Suggest a website you adore
Day 30: BEDA Wrap-up–Wrap up your BEDA experience however you feel is best

Now I doubt I'll follow this exactly but it should help with the days when I can't think of anything to say and give a bit of structure. So wish me luck!