Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2015

Here we go again…

Record of the Year

My stereo has been home to two CDs more than any others this year: Chantal Claret’s Battles of a Heavy Heart, which if God existed would be available in all good music shops with a world tour. As it is you can buy it directly from Chantal’s site and follow her on social media to pretend she’s on a world tour.

The second CD actually came out last year, but I am always late to the music party, so I would like to highly recommend this Hozier chap. I think he may go on to big things. Remember when I lost my shit over the Take Me to Church video? Make a sequel.

I’ve also recently fallen back in love with Fall Out Boy (thank you to whoever made a Tumblr edit to The Kids Aren’t Alright and The Raven Cycle). FOB are a band I forget I love until I’m listening to them, then I can’t remember why I don’t listen more often. I got American Beauty/American Psycho a few weeks ago and my ears are so happy they want to set something on fire.

Video of the Year

I forgive you for Call Me Maybe, Carly Rae Jepsen. I’ve also come to really love Call Me Maybe.

Book of the Year

This is hard. There’s The Raven Cycle, which has stolen my heart (and will break my heart when it concludes in April), When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit… but because I didn’t do book reviews when I read them, and because I went to a talk with the authors who were lovely:

The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

I wish this had existed five or ten years ago. Basic summary: there is a kid who is transgender. I can’t tell you any more than that because there are twists (don’t worry, she doesn’t ‘go back to normal’), but I finished it in an afternoon and it’s amazing.

Trouble by Non Pratt

A girl called Hannah gets in trouble. Some random guy offers to help her out. ‘In trouble’ means pregnant, by the way.

The ‘I Saw This Shit Live’ News Story

Once upon a time there was a Liberal Democrat named Paddy Ashdown. As it became apparent that his party lost a general election more severely than Sepp Blatter lost his morals, he refused to believe the exit poll and threatened to eat his hat if the poll turned out to be correct.

Then, like all good politicians, he did a U turn. The end.

The ‘My Twitter Timeline United Like It Never Has Before’ News Story: Equal Marriage

I’ve never seen so many people so happy as when Ireland held its referendum and when the US Supreme Court sorted their shit. I do have quite a selective timeline, apart from that one day I accidentally followed the Westboro Baptists, but it’s not usually entirely focussed on one thing. So I think everyone should be allowed to get married, all the time, because it makes everyone stupidly happy.

Equal Marriage Celebration.png
Even lawyers win when love wins

The Homophobic Dick Award: Kim Davis

So it turns out not everyone was stupidly happy about letting the queers get married. Some were stupidly stupid. I will devote no more of my time to her than this paragraph.

The Indifferent Ignorance Ignorance Fuck Award: Donald Trump and Daesh

I am upset that this year, like most others, one winner of this particular category is American. Come on, rest of the world, raise your game. Although reluctant to pay either of them any more attention, I felt that both Trump and Daesh deserve the award for similar reasons: they are both ignorant of human empathy, dangerous when armed and an embarrassment to their respective cultural and racial groups. I actually chose Trump before Muslim Visa Gate, but that clinched it. America, if you’re reading, kindly do not allow this gentleman to run your country. Sincerely, everyone. I was going to ignore Daesh as one does an attention-seeking child and Katie Hopkins, but if they are reading this then they’ve sat through Tom Hanks lipsyncing, a video of two men kissing and Paddy Ashdown, so they’ve got a good idea of what hell will look like when they get there.


 

All right, that’s it for 2015. I think next year I will keep track of people who are doing their bit to eradicate ignorance of the likes of Trump and co. Doctors, artists, civil rights activists, etc. Balance the decent person:motherfucker ratio. My instinct tells me we’ll need them when the US election heats up if not before.

Happy new year to everyone!

Want a Christmas Present? feat. Rock ‘n’ Roll Xmas Videos

Never let it be said that I eschew Christmas traditions. It’s a tradition that I subject you to the world’s best Christmas music every year.

Okay and now I have a present for you guys. Yes, even you, person who stumbled across this on a weird tag. Those of you who come here sporadically might remember me talking about Headspace, the mediation app. I love doing Headspace; it’s the only time of day I get to feel smug that I’m looking after myself (and other people, because it’s helped me learn how to stay calm and clear my head). The app even has this cool feature where you get a little reward for completing a certain number of days – hit 20 days and you get a voucher to give to a friend for a month’s free use, that sort of thing. Problem is, I quite frequently forget to do a day here or there, so my counter goes back to one. I start up again, and when I next hit 20 days, a voucher hits my inbox.

I currently have seven of them.

So, my gift for you this year – other than the MCR video I’m about to list – is Headspace. If you want one of the month-free vouchers, leave a comment here saying happy Christmas/whatever you celebrate, and I’ll email you the access code. (Technical shit: all Headspace is free for 10 days, I have no idea how long the codes are valid but so far as I’m aware it’s forever, I can’t guarantee you’ll love meditating. Oh and there are only seven vouchers up for grabs, because I’m on a good streak at the moment. Gift open until 31st January.)

Oh, 2005. Merry Christmas!

Review: ‘Persuasion’, Jane Austen

If you are aware of Jane Austen’s work, you may have noticed a trend of intelligent women, social comedy and weddings. I will not be spoiling this particular novel by saying that Persuasion is no exception.

Turns out I have a reading list, and, weirdly, quite a bit of what I’ve read so far is on it. I thought Persuasion was too, but it turns out that it was actually Sense and Sensibility. I’ll do that one too.

Persuasion starts with the lovely if socially-ambitious Elliot family, whose daughter Anne is the main character. Eight years before the novel starts, Anne was persuaded by well-meaning relatives to abandon her engagement with a lowly (read: neither rich nor titled) gentleman named Frederick Wentworth.

When we meet her, Anne is 27 and basically preparing for life as a spinster. Because who would marry a 27-year old god look at those wrinkles. Within a chapter or two, Anne’s family have been forced to move to Bath and rent out the family home to an Admiral, because they have approached their finances with the air of ‘spend for the person you want to be, not the person you are’. Some things never change, huh.

But wait. Who should be acquainted with the Admiral and his family but Frederick, whom Anne has never really stopped loving despite trampling on his socially-inferior heart… What’s more, has Frederick been bumming around these past eight years claiming benefits? No, he joined the navy and rose to the rank of Captain.

I think that is a big deal.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Anne spends the next few hundred pages despairing of her hypochondriac sister, her accident-prone in-laws and her mangy cousin, and tries not to freak out about how hot Frederick still is. Which is hot. Plus he knows how to drive boats across the Atlantic wearing a funny hat. (That’s not a direct quote.)

Do they get married? Does the mangy cousin stop being mangy? Will I have to read the novel again, as I did Pride and Prejudice, to fully absorb Austen’s sharp humour? Should you read this novel if you’re a fan of that Colin Firth Mr Darcy scene which isn’t even in that novel?

Oh, the literary questions.


 

My previous reviews are here; you can support my work on Patreon every time I review here.

50 Blog Challenge #1: Spoonie Sophia

You thought I’d forgotten this, did you. I nearly did. My first blog is Spoonie Sophia, a food blog written by (surprise!) Sophia. I came across it on Twitter, at least a year ago, when I was hunting out new foodie sites.

I have quite a strict guage with food blogs: no condescending ‘journey’ bollocks and absolutely no judging of people who don’t also follow a plant-based gluten free organic pixie dust paleo diet. So finding a recipe blog that’s both cute and functional can be tricky, especially if I’m after vegan recipes (it’s easier to add things to vegan/super-clean dishes than it is to take the eggs and wheat out of ‘normal’ dishes).

So I found Sophia on Twitter and was immediately interested because not only did the food look amazing but it contained ingredients I could both locate in a supermarket and afford. I tried her Gingerbread Spiced Granola and fell in love (it makes the kitchen smell like Christmas) and although I don’t follow every post obsessively, there are a few I’ve got earmarked to try when I’ve got the kitchen to myself. Like these impossible to burn little cheesecake things.

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SpoonieSophia.com

Plus, Sophia blogs about living with Lyme disease and POTS without complaining – she just gets on with making cute food and taking cuter photos. Which is all any reader can ask for, really.

You can read about the 50 blog challenge here.

Food Cleanse Day – oh who am I kidding.

So, that ended.

Actually, I’m still eating my mum’s soups. They’re brilliant. This afternoon’s was so spicy my voice started to rasp, but I will definitely consider them as actual meals in future. I will also always consume them with some sort of bread product.

What I learnt

  • I love food
  • I have a faster metabolism than I realised – or I’m more active than I realised – and depriving myself of calories was a STUPID IDEA
  • Spinach is actually quite nice

I think it was a success, overall.

Have any of you guys ever tried fad diets or cleanses? I wouldn’t be adverse to trying another one as long as I could eat more than blended vegetables… I know the whole point of a cleanse is to, well, cleanse, but that’s not practical and I’m not completely convinced it’s healthy either… I think I will stick to only abstaining from food when I’m ill, or when my IBS gets bad enough that I have to cut back on anything with preservatives for a few days (which will be soon, knowing my fondness for Quality Street). I will definitely use the copious amounts of chia left in the cupboard to turn all Deliciously Ella, though. We have baobab powder too.

I may make cereal bars…

Food (and caffeine) Cleanse Day 1/3

11:30am

The stupidest thing I’ve done all year, and maybe ever, is agree to a diet cleanse. Three days, claims my mother’s magazine, on a vegan-ish diet with lots of vitamins, will help your body prepare for/recover from Christmas indulgence. Good idea, I thought, because I plan to indulge. So from today until the end of Wednesday will – unless I give up, which is looking likely – consist of kale and chickpeas.

I’m not bothered about the kale, actually. Well I made a spinach smoothie earlier and it looked like the Wicked Witch of the West, but generally I am open to clean and/or vegan recipes. When you have IBS, you kind of have to be. So making superfood porridge ain’t a problem.

The problem is that nowhere in this diet is caffeine.

Nowhere.

Not a bean nor a teabag.

None.

And it is Monday morning, and I slept as well as I usually do, which is to say not a lot, and if this were a normal day I would be caressing a mug of Nescafe or brewing a decent tea. By decent tea, by the way, I don’t mean mint tea. I do not like mint tea. I love black tea, I’ve tried matcha and it’s nice, I love rooibos. I tend to go with coffee more, because it tastes wonderful, but my philosophy is that one should always have a hot beverage at one’s desk. Also, one of my clients is a tea bar so I’ve accidentally become a tea snob with a well-stocked cupboard.

Unfortunately, the cleanse calls for mint tea.

Wait.

I just reread the page and matcha is allowed. If I had local access to a hip tea or coffee place, I’d be dancing – matcha contains as much caffeine as coffee with the added bonus of being literally green. But I live in a town whose main beverage place is Starbucks, so I’m going to sit with the headache of a caffeine-deprived millennial and get on with some work.

I think I’ll live blog this every time I’m tempted to inhale coffee granules.

I’m dying.

4pm

I cheated.

First it was just scanning the menu and snacking on ingredients, but I began to realise that the only people who can legitimately do cleanses are those with very little else to do. I’m not saying that they’re sad, lonely people, I mean, they must literally have nothing on. I had lunch, which was this actually very nice chickpea and spices soup thing, then walked to the post office to send an order. By the time I was home I thought I was probably dying, so I ate. Then I did Headspace and practically fell asleep. The reason I eat the way I normally do is because I actually get hungry. So I thought ‘why am I  being cruel to my body? It is hungry and clearly more caffeine-dependent than I ever realised, and maybe I can work on that in time, but it is Monday and I have shit to do’. And I made a coffee.

It is amazing. Not as amazing as the peanut butter-oatcake sandwich that accompanied it though. I don’t want to puke any more!

I might continue this through to Wednesday, just to see. But I’m still going to snack, and I’m not going to stop eating carbohydrates (seriously in what world is it okay to eat soup with no accompanying carbohydrates? I could be hit by a bus tomorrow).

 

Shit I Have Learnt in 2015

So it’s that time of year when round ups are fashionable, so I decided to make a brief list of things I learnt this year. 2015 has been full of peril, danger and mayhem, if by peril you mean work, danger you mean public transport and mayhem you mean walking your dogs. Some of what I’ve learnt might be useful, so I wrote it down.

  • The Liverpool Street line is way, way less comfortable than the Fenchurch Street line, but passing the Olympic Park on your way into work gives one a sense that anything is possible. Namely building a fucking great red tower thing, calling it art and getting away with it.
  • Ignoring the YA section when you realised you disliked Twilight was a bad move. You should always read YA. YA is better than A. There is more magic, less awful sex scenes and way more interesting story lines.
  • It is completely okay to stop doing something you used to enjoy doing. Like blogging. It is also okay to start it again and do whatever you want with it. Even if you don’t know what that is.
  • Always have an emergency funds bank account.
  • No one who passed their driving test more than five years ago understands how to signal at a roundabout. There is a special place in hell for these people.
  • It is totally okay to reuse bubble bags.
  • That guy in that TV show is way better looking in the TV show than he was in that movie.
  • People who earn money from their blog and social media presence have either done a deal with the devil or have reserves of strength in their soul that I can only imagine. PR-friendly bloggers, you have my unwavering respect and my constant, begrudging, irritation. Usually my irritation. Keep it up you jammy fuckers.
  • Screenplays do not contain magic dust that turned a Word document into a script. You can get a computer to do that.
  • Also, screenplays still look like they did in 1920 because the font size and typeface (Courier, 12) equal a page per minute.
  • Never leave a job while your internship(s) is unpaid. Find a way to do both.
  • Your 2 ft dog can take up more room on your bed than you can. Also, he snores more than you.
  • When you think racist people can’t get any more racist, you should show them footage of Syrian refugees.
  • Louis from One Direction is not the guy in One Direction I thought he was. He is the other guy, who I ignored until I noticed I quite liked his face. I checked and I am still unsure about their music.
  • Mitt Romney was not the worst Republican candidate to ever run for president.
  • Never go to Westfield shopping centre on Black Friday.

I may add to this. What have you lot learnt?

In Which I Went to War (with office supplies)

This morning I had a near-death experience. An attempt to print Etsy orders for my file became, and there is no other way to put this, toothy. Allow me to set the scene:

It is roughly 2010 or 2012. Student-age Francesca gets some paper in Staples. It might not be Staples. The paper may have been purchased by a parent. The event is hazy, uninteresting in every way (partly due to my regular use and purchase of paper, partly because who the hell remembers 2010).

Francesca soon realises that this ream of paper, although normal to the outside world, is not normal. It is cheap. Very cheap. Probably less than 80gsm. This is not a problem; good paper is expensive and although I make a point of recycling and reusing scrap, I am not about to relegate an entire pack of white A4 to the scrapheap without printing it first.

Some time later I change my mind. The paper is good for nothing but handwritten notes, and only then if you use a very light ink. This is because it is so thin that four out of five times it enters my printer, my printer chews it up, tries to spit it out, chokes and needs to be rescued. Over a few lacklustre attempts to print homework or coursework or whatever I deemed worthy of printing in 2010 or 2012, I realise I should have forked out for the decent stuff. After all, I will always recycle it.

The cheap stuff is folded into my box of uninteresting stationery supplies alongside plastic wallets, white envelopes and sugar paper.

That’s the back story, ladies and gents. Fast forward to 2015, where you will find my stationery supply box mostly unchanged. In the Great December Clear Out (see previous posts), I rediscover the cheap paper. Dimmed by time, my memory of its assault on my printer is tinged with an element of ‘well it couldn’t have been that bad’. Plus, my parents no longer buy me office supplies. I would be an idiot to ignore this discovery.

Turns out I was an idiot to take notice.

Having spent two or three or five years folded in a box, it’s not only thin and nasty but is also ill-equipped to go through my printer anyway. I’ve had a few near-misses in which I’ve un-jammed the printer and put the flat-ish paper back through. It’s turned out okay – I’m the only person who sees the files, so a few teeth marks add more charm than unprofessionalism…

This morning we went to war. Two Etsy orders needed filing. Easy. Did two last week no problem. Maybe today the paper was experiencing the wrong time of the month. Maybe the printer was.

I had to use tweezers to get bits of paper from the bowels of the printer, and switch it off to get the cartridges to realign and loosen up the shreds that had caught… unfortunately realignment happens more quickly than it looks, so my hands were chased by tiny ink cartridges as they whizzed from one side of the printer to the other, angrily grinding at the paper I was trying to remove.

My cheapness I very nearly sent my printer to the great office in the sky. I’m glad I didn’t, because I can’t afford a new one any more than I can afford posh paper, but my lesson has been learnt.

I will use the crap stuff only when I have flattened out the giant crease that runs through it, and I will only ever guide it through my printer while singing a lullaby and, possibly, praying.

I think I may also up my overheads goal on Patreon, because there is a chance my printer won’t survive this – or if it does, I never  want to buy such thin paper again.

I probably will, though. The saga continues.