If I Took a Holiday…

Good morning darlings, I hope you had a pleasant IMCRD. I did, thanks for asking – I did paperwork in front of the TV and found a spider living in some socks. Rock ‘n’ roll!

I’ve had this page open for maybe ten minutes, which isn’t long in blog terms, and do you know I can’t think of a single thing to say. Not a thing. It’s been happening more and more: I open a tab, I think about something in the news or my life or both, and I haven’t got a clue what to write. Sometimes the tab stays open for an hour – again, that’s not long because the biggest part of writing here is editing my swear words – but increasingly I get two paragraphs in and spend the rest of my time looking for a GIF with minimal relevance.

Maybe it’s burn out. I really, really, need a holiday. I took on a lot of freelance work in March, and I’ve been trying to work maximum hours, cramming in two or three clients or internships, Etsy admin, design for Etsy, copywriting and this. The most I’ve ever made from here directly is 72p on The Little Book (thanks Ruby!), so it’s not a priority. Maybe by the time I get to here I’ve run out of words. I get paid for about half of the work I do, which is okay most days… usually at the start of the month, when I send invoices. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in this job to buy a Lamborghini and a house in Belgravia. But when you’re trying to work out if you can afford to meet a friend for coffee when they’re home from uni, it grates. Don’t read this as a sob story – I chose it, and if it doesn’t work out financially then I’ll just turn it all back into a hobby. But the most irritating part, other than having less cash flow than people who elected £27k uni fees, is that when I finish every evening I have zero inclination to make anything except dinner. Financially I can’t justify spending a lot of time on things that don’t pay, so my fiction writing and here have both declined in quality to the point where I’m half-considering a ‘normal’ job just so I can enjoy myself when I open a computer tab again.

God, I sound like a whiny gap year kid who’s got an office job that doesn’t finish at five on the dot. Realistically, I think I just need a break. Maybe take a month or so away from blogging, which I’ve never actually done (how the fuck did I come up with shit to say when I took 12 subjects and spent half my life in a classroom?). Maybe I need to rediscover, or redefine, what this place means. It used to be somewhere I could talk about anything I fancied with my friends – and, weirdly, members of the public – but they’ve moved on. Motherfuckers. I know it’s narcissistic, but my favourite part of this whole thing has always been the conversations it starts, even if the kid at the other end just tells me I’m full of shit. I’d love to say I’m totally fine with faceless stats pages – if I was in this for the international fame and fortune I’d be talking about fashion and kale – but even though I started Indifferent Ignorance for me, and will end it for me when the time comes, I really miss comment threads. Is there any point in spending two or three hours of my already overly-Internet-focussed time on an essay no one with a name will read?

But I also don’t want to be someone who uses other people’s validation as currency. I don’t want to be the person who only ever asks for comments and who talks about nothing but work in real life (for the record, my job is really interesting. If we ever meet in public, ask me the logistics of posting to multiple Instagram accounts. I’m a professional hipster). If there are any of you who come here regularly, I don’t want you to feel like you should respond to every word I write. I’d like you to say hi or tell me what you think of a topic I talked about, but I shouldn’t have to ask you to.

So part of me wants to be really outrageous just to garner a response. Part of me wants to go to blog school to learn how to write better pieces. But most of me just wants to stop feeling bad about the things in my life that aren’t going the way I want them to, to cut my losses and to focus on what’s actually important.

When I work out what those things are, I’ll let you know. Or I’ll write a blog about my pets and/or the socio-economic situation in Ukraine. I have no idea.

Holiday Countdown

Happy Monday darlings. After six-plus years, today I realised the merits of iTunes over YouTube streaming. I’ve also remembered how much I love The Fratellis… It’s a good thing I don’t claim technical brilliance, innit.

Speaking of the Internet, I’m trying to work out decent posts to magic up while I’m away. Does anyone have anything they’d like to see?

Just kidding, I know not a single person will tell me if there is… so I will probably mass-dump videos I like and talk about my favourite stuff, as per tradition.

There was actually something serious I had to say but I’ve completely fuckin’ forgotten it, so it was either not that serious or is completely pointless so doesn’t need worrying about. Either way my memory’s going so it’s time to go cuddle a dog and double-check my clothes for when I go on holiday. Did I mention I’m going on holiday? And I’m going to spend ten days of my life without the my phone beeping at me? I’ll be there in a week. I can’t find a GIF smug enough, so you’ll just have to imagine my shit eating grin.

Automated Email Responses?

You know when you know you’re going to be away for a while so you try to get all your work done in good time to pack and buy sandals and ensure a stress-free ten days? And you end up trying to work on five tabs, a blog and an online shop in one go?

I haven’t even thought about what I’m going to leave here for you guys… maybe a collection of my suggested YouTube videos, which is the stupidist flipping list I’ve ever come across… I suppose that is my own fault, but I really don’t want to watch season three of Orange is the New Black. Not on YouTube, anyway, and not until I’ve finished season two.

I’m also trying to come up with a nice automated email for when I’m away – you know, the ones that say ‘Doctor Mills is out of the office until 12th August, after which she will endeavour to respond to your query’. My gut wants to put ‘Francesca is currently sitting on a beach and/or asleep and she sure as shit isn’t interested in your message, HMRC/Tumblr/actual friends and colleagues, so please give her some time to respond. If you’ve heard nothing in three months, assume she’s either not interested or hasn’t left the beach’.

My head is saying that’s a bad idea. Any ideas?

Saturday Morning Movies

Yesterday I made iced hot chocolate and I think it’s fair to say that frappes might have to take a back seat from being my most worshipped summer beverage.

Hot chocolate. On ice.

I really have to go and shower in a bit, because I’m going out to a do this afternoon which means I really ought to wash my hair and find clean clothes that match clean underwear and all of that stuff you forget exists on Saturday mornings during impromptu viewings of You’ve Got Mail on Sky Movies.

Have you guys seen You’ve Got Mail? I’ve only ever seen it in bits and pieces on TV. It’s great, because it’s one of those films that could only have been made when it was made… these days everyone Googles everyone, email is not the extent of the Internet and, well, there aren’t that many bookshops.

It also makes me really want to open a little bookshop.

All right I’m running out of excuses not to sort myself out. Maybe I should get myself a pen friend or something…

Review: ‘The Shock of the Fall’, Nathan Filer

Polite notice: I don’t discuss anything in these reviews that isn’t available from blurbs and articles, and they’re more like recommendations. Going to post this in front of every Patreon post so you can proceed without worry that I’ll spoil it.

Review time! My second book is The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer, which my friend Robyn recommended to me – I think Nathan Filer teaches at her university. Regardless, I made a good choice to reserve it from the library, because I was into it enough that I finished it in about four days and didn’t really need to think about picking it back up.

That being said, it’s not the easiest story to read. I seem to remember hearing that Nathan Filer, who won the Costa Prize for the book, was inspired to tell the story when he was working in the mental health section of a hospital. I expected it to be a book about an insane asylum in the 20th century or something – it’s not. It’s a story about a guy called Matt, who tells us about his life, starting from when he’s about six to the present day, when he’s 19 or so. We meet his parents and, more importantly, his brother Simon, who features heavily despite dying in the first chapter.

'The Shock of the Fall' by Nathan Filer

Excuse the diddy picture. I accidentally deleted the original and had to get this off my own Instagram.

So do I recommend it? Yes. You don’t often read stories about the sort of things Matt experiences that feel like a real person is talking to you. I sometimes feel like the author’s going a bit over-dramatic or one-sided or boring, but The Shock of the Fall is very rounded, and in places ifeels more like a thriller than anything else. It’s one of those books the people who decide NHS budgets should read, as well as anyone who considers metal illness something you choose. I do not, however, recommend you read it in public or to small children as there is both foul language and the possibility it will scare them, rather than educate them.

But somebody should definitely send a copy to Jeremy Hunt. Hey – support my work on Patreon and I’ll use the funds to send him a copy!

In Which I Learn to Spell Srebrenica, and Use it a Lot

It’s always a bit strange to have two big anniversaries at the same time, and I’m really glad one of them was mentioned on the radio this morning or I would have gone about blissfully unaware of the cosmic irony/coincidence/shitfest. I was about to ask how many of you remember Srebrenica , but I don’t actually remember Srebrenica – I was gestating at the time and too busy growing legs to listen to the World Service (I have no idea if my parents did either now I think about it). Anyway, Srebrenica was one of the case studies we learnt in Politics about how the UN is well-meaning but inefficient, which kind of tells you everything you need to know.

Basically, between 1993 and 1995 there was a war between ethnic groups in the area that’s now Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The whole area was part of Yugoslavia during the Soviet era, and when the USSR ended people who’d lived side-by-side for decades suddenly remembered they didn’t like each other because they had different religions and whanot. The war was so bad that in 1993 the UN announced that the predominantly Bosnian Muslim town of Srebrenica was a ‘safe area’ for Muslims. (The opposing side was Christian. Love thy neighbour indeed.) In July 1995, Christian Serbian forces, led by a dude named Ratko Mladic, twigged that there were lots of Muslims living in Srebrenica and stormed the place, deporting and raping women and forcing the men to flee into the surrounding mountains. Then they found the men, shot about 8000 of them and buried their bodies so well that people are still finding new ones today. The Dutch UN forces in Srebrenica had neither the means nor permission to do anything for about ten days, which is when the UN got their shit together and NATO bombed the Serbian forces.

That, kids, is called a genocide. It was the worst European one since the Nazis and you can learn more about it here.

Anyway, I’m guessing more of you remember 7/7? I’m doing that old person thing of thinking it was two weeks ago, but seriously it’s hard to believe it was 10 years. Thinking about it now, although 9/11 helped cause the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which inspired ISIS, al Qaeda seem hopelessly 2000s. No one bombs public transport any more – they brainwash teens on the Internet and shoot random strangers. And take their children to live in Syria. And try to make their version of a religion into a functioning Middle Eastern state.

In a few years we’ll all consider ISIS perpetrators of genocide. President Assad’s regime too, although I believe he’s back on the West’s side while ISIS are a bigger issue than democracy and chemical gas.

from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

What I’m trying to say – and I’d be a lot more eloquent if the draft I saved hadn’t disappeared 15 minutes into an excellent paragraph – is that there are a lot of people who will try to tell you that human behaviour is inborn, or that all Muslims should personally apologise for ISIS, or that Word War II was the last time anything bad happened to Europeans. These people haven’t thought about anything that goes beyond their front door. Shit happens, and sometimes we could have prevented it if we thought a bit harder. Sometimes we couldn’t. Mostly we’ll never know. Regardless, if you take a moment to think about Srebrenica or 7/7 or any of the other waste of human lives that’s happened in the last century, you might be a teeny bit smarter than the people at the UN who didn’t fully think through Srebenecia, or who let the Iraq war happen without considering consequences.

That in itself will probably guarantee that you’ll never get a place in the UN, huh.

Summer Buzzin’

This is one of those weeks where I’m glad I’m a freelancer. I go to work in short shorts, I have lunch in my garden and I start the day watching my dogs lollop around the field with the canine equivalent of beaming smiles before flopping down inside all day like sleepy cherubs.

pinterest.com/pin/6896205649449915

pinterest.com/pin/6896205649449915

It’s also one of those weeks where Instagram stops working, I realise that I’ve got a lot of birthday and holiday-related expenses coming up and I just splashed frappe all over myself and the kitchen.

Still, maybe by the time I get to Zante the euro will have been replaced by a skills-based economy in which my particular brand of cute sarcasm will be gold dust… and maybe Brussels will have cancelled the debt, handed out icecream to every Greek citizen and worked out a solution to the refugee crisis.

Actually, while I’m thinking about it: I shall be offline from 26th July- 6th August, mostly because I need to retrain my brain not to assume every second sound is an email. My Etsy will be on ‘vacation mode’ – it’s going to Tahiti with its girlfriend – and I might schedule some posts for here/Tumblr/wherever to remind you all I exists… hopefully on a beach or clifftop with some nice music and some decent Fanta.

Okay I have to stop typing now because I’m having this paradoxical experience of daydreaming about my holiday while quashing suffocating terror that I can’t really afford one. If this were a Tweet, #freelancelife would be apt.

Enjoy the weather while we have it and drink lots of water!

So is it too early for me to start making divorce jokes? 

I’m kidding, I’m kidding. Mostly. 

I found it quite disconcerting to watch yesterday’s news – at lunch there was news of France’s terrorist attack, then mid-afternoon brought rainbow flags and the happiest my Twitter timeline has ever been, then by dinner there was two more terror attacks and some plonkers against equal marriage tried to tell everyone that their country was in a bad state.

Hmm. Good thing we’re capable of multiple emotions in one go, eh. I keep smiling stupidly at all the rainbow sparkle vibes I’m feeling while listening to a conversation about Tunisia, so strange. 

Something funny happened to me this afternoon: I was at a vintage fair in my town and there was a box of records at a stall. I’ve no idea why I flipped through – I don’t own a record player – but halfway through there was a 1965 record by a lady named Antia Bryant, whose album consisted entirely of faith songs and hymns. The producer had written some lovely information on the back, about Ms Bryant’s genuine and heart warming faith in the Lord. It would have been completely heartwarming as well, had she not gone on to the anti-gay movement and help pass laws banning LGBT people from doing weird shit like keep jobs. 

We’ve come a long way, huh. Not all the way, not by a long shot, and I really wish more people were around to see it… But for now I’m content that something completely wonderful is happening alongside all the terror.

I have no idea if Anita Bryant is still around, but with the timing of finding her record I did find myself wondering if God exists. She might be too, come to that.
Happy wedding day to a lot of people!