Tim Minchin at the Cliffs ft. Indie Friday

Afternoon! I am fed up with organising envelopes and mythology-inspired greetings cards, so I thought I’d pop in. Happy Black Friday! Wait, that’s not what I mean. I mean, please buy from independent retailers this Christmassy season (and especially today, which many smart people are calling Indie Friday in a bid to cut through the Black Friday shite). I don’t want people to feel like they can only buy from independent retailers (yes, hello, Aldi’s gift and alcohol sections, I have been pillaging you since October), but I guarantee that the bosses in Aldi don’t feel a sense of personal achievement and glow both internally and externally when you buy a tote bag. Have I ever mentioned you can purchase reasonably priced tote bags, along with reasonably priced prints, pencils and the aforementioned cards from my Folksy shop?

I am still on Etsy, but I promote my Folksy shop more because a) it’s based in Sheffield and run by about three people, b) it’s a very friendly site with seriously high quality arts and crafts, and c) as it is a British company, the fees I pay actually go back into the British economy. So everyone wins when you buy something on Folksy!

I really ought to get to the post box while it’s still light so, as I cannot remember if there was supposed to be a point to this post alongside the SHOP SMAAALLLLL messaging, I’d better go and find my scarf.

Oh, wait, yes there is: I got to see Tim Minchin perform last night – in my actual town, nonetheless – and am pleased to report that, like a good cheese, Tim has improved with age. So has the Cheese song. Honestly can’t remember the last time I could feel my face from smiling. If the world needs anything at the moment – other than you lot buying from indie retailers hint hint – it is a good laugh and a rant on algorithms and confirmation bias. Like all good shows, I have a singular, shitty picture:

empty stage Tim Minchin Cliffs Pavilion

Side note: this man sold out the Cliffs Pavilion three nights running. Southend-on-Sea’s Cliffs Pavilion. Southend-on-Sea, where residents enjoyed Brexit campaign leaflets about how pro-leave they all were. Southend-on-Sea, where I did not really think LGBT people were allowed to live until I finally saw some when I was in my teens. Southend-on-Sea, that hub of lefty liberalism. Maybe the times are changing, or maybe people are more willing than I thought to travel to places that aren’t London for their south east-based atheism-tinged-fuck-Trump-sciencey-sprinkling of West-End-hit-Matlida-musical comedy.

Either way, I have a lovely post-show hangover. Right, post box!

Christmas is Calling, Help

I had a quick glance at my calendar and it’s been nearly three whole weeks since I sat down to write here so I made myself a beverage, cracked my neck and sat down to tell you all… um. It’s been a busy three weeks? But everything in it was too nondescript to blog about? I mean, I read about four books. (I’m on GoodReads, by the way. I never read other people’s reviews but I enjoy writing my own, like blogging.) I had a cold – one of those snotty, coughing, can-feel-your-eyeballs-rattle-in-your-skull colds and swallowed my pride to buy medicine over the counter. My newest job is going well, and I am getting better at parking on the first attempt. I scratched the Mini’s front bumper on someone else’s front bumper. The other person’s bumper was so scratched already that I didn’t feel bad, because they clearly made a habit of parking far too close to other vehicles. I bought my first Christmas present.

I’m not proud of that, but you gotta do what you gotta do to avoid payday loaning your way through January. Since I’ve also been preparing for Christmas on Etsy – do not get me started on the finer details of Secret Santa tags – I’m curious to know: when do you guys start buying presents? Do you set a strict budget? I’m being extra careful this year because last year I got overexcited and bought things for people who didn’t seem bothered that I’d got them anything, so this Christmas is close family-only plus a couple of Secret Santas and realistically something ridiculous for the dogs. Like this:

Look at that balcony.

So yeah, let me know your thoughts on Christmas. Is it too much hassle? Are you a wee Scrooge? Do you buy your cousin’s dog’s groomer a bottle of malbec and some shortbread? I need to know so I can strike an acceptable balance between Scrooginess and extravagance.

All I Want for Christmas is Eight Hours Sleep, Peace of Mind & An MCR Singalong

Indifferent Ignorance has started snowing, so it’s time my darlings for this classic carol.

And this one.

Honestly if I don’t post these somewhere at this time of year, assume I’ve died. Anyway now I am actually feeling quite Christmassy. The sun sets at 4pm; the shop I work part time in is full to the brim with stockings, cinnamon candles and novelty bedspreads; my freelance work is nearly done and I have even managed most of my shopping. I accidentally bankrupted myself in the process, because my brother and I are getting presents between us but I went a bit overboard with my debit card before he gave me any cash, but still. Christmas is nearly here and I’m not completely immune to the odd Micheal Bubble song.

That being said, I am worried (and by worried I mean ‘just fending off panic’) about the following:

  • Getting visas in time for Asia
  • Getting cash for petrol so my mum can use my car when I’m in Asia, thus making my extortionate insurance worth having
  • Selling as many notebooks as possible this side of Christmas because they take up valuable wardrobe space (minimum orders of 100 units always seem like a great idea)
  • Selling as much from my shop as possible this side of Christmas because although my mum has offered to send things out while I’m away, I’d rather clear as many of those 100 units as I can while I’m in the country because I have an irrational inability to delegate tasks and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to cope watching someone else parcel up my precious merchandise
  • I’m on overtime at the shop next week (so byeee Christmas spirit) but because I’m leaving at New Year and I’m almost done freelancing I’m going to probably be broke as a joke when I’m back from Asia
  • I’ve already eaten too much chocolate and it’s only the 14th.

I have control over roughly two-thirds of that list, so I’m going to nip back to freelancing, text my brother about visas and work on holiday promotion. And by work on holiday promotion I mean remind you all that UK customers can get free postage on orders over £8 with the coupon SNOWFLAKE16 until 3rd January, and that shipping will be UK-only from January through April so if you’re overseas and you like something, get a move on.

Happy holidays!

Christmas in September, and Other Small Ways I Damn My Soul to Hell

I wasn’t sure of a lot growing up – books disintegrate in the bath some days, but on others they just go crackly and if that’s not a sign the universe is a risky place, I don’t know what is –  but I was sure of one thing: Christmas marketing in September is for wankers. There is a pure and fiery place in hell for the motherfuckers in charge of Clintons and Smiths and Sainsburys who decide to introduce Christmas stock before schools go back. Before Halloween. Before I’m ready to put my shorts away and get out my scarves.

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Winter is coming, hiss advent calendars and crackers. The year is nearly over, whisper tablecloths and novelty teapots. We want to access your bank account and bleed you dry, murmur the fake Christmas trees.

DIE IN A HOLE, I retort as I browse for factor 15 or Halloween confetti or regular teapots. YOU WILL NEVER CONVINCE ME THAT CHRISTMAS SHOULD START UNTIL AFTER BONFIRE NIGHT.

I feel like this every year. It’s bad enough that Christmas is expensive and loses its magic a bit more every year; I won’t be bullied into buying cheap seasonal cushion covers. And yet recently I’ve realised that I’m well on my way to becoming a giant hypocrite. I preach, but I don’t practise.

Because here’s a fact they don’t pin to gondolas in Debenhams: when you run a shop, even a tiny one on Etsy, Christmas has to start in July at the latest. It has to. Because if you start it any later, you may as spend the rest of the year with your feet up, picturing money you’ll never hold going down the drain.

There’s stock to order and goals to set, last year’s stats to analyse and shipping times to work out. There’s Black Friday game plans and seasonal packaging, contingency plans and Instagram graphics.There’s custom orders versus regular ones, craft fair table decorations and notes on scrap paper as you calculate how much cash you can tie up in products that might sell. If you’re an artist and you carve out time in your day to make art, you carve up that part of the day to become an accountant, a marketing manager, a PR officer, an HR admin – even more than you would the rest of the year. You worry over minute photo details, because that’s where the devil lives, and rewrite product descriptions until you fall in love with a postcard you’ve seen every day for a year. You sign up to newsletters to learn about ‘streamlining your shipping station’ and ‘managing your brand’.

You actually find it kind of fun, because the aim is to earn as much money from your art as you can during the most affluent time of year… and if you were happy just to make the art, you wouldn’t have started an Etsy shop.

By the first of October, you think you’ve got it. You’ve got notes and stock and to do lists and you can picture yourself emerging from the January sales with triumphant fistfuls of profit that make those fourteen hour work days worth it.

And then you remember –

Halloween is in a few weeks. It’s supposed to be your dry run.

You’d better dig out last year’s stats and grab your confetti. The time for targeted marketing isn’t 6th November, it’s now.

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You’re all getting little plastic bats if you order from me until the 31st. You might get little plastic snowflakes in November and December. There’s money in the nation’s pockets and I’d rather it went to me than to Debenhams.

I probably deserve to get cheap seasonal cushion covers for Christmas, but I promise I will never try to sell you a novelty tea pot.

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!

One Direction Sweets and Spirulina

Have I shown you guys any Christmas presents? This is one of my favourites:

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I still haven’t asked if it was funny or serious or just an excuse to buy Love Hearts.

What has everyone else received or given? Anything world-changingly wonderful, like a well for Somalian schoolchildren, or something more last minute, like sale-price socks?

Mum and I are currently finishing some Christmas chocolates and I’m looking up easy peasy reluctant cook-suitable recipes to improve my general health. Not because it’s new year – well a bit – but mostly because it’s about time I leant how to use the enormous bag of spirulina I got from Holland and Barrett two months ago and can’t stomach raw.

TV And Chocolate Central 2014

I just realised that the Indifferent Ignorance Awards, which I thought I posted two days ago, shows up on the site as being posted on the 21st, when I started the draft. I’m going to have to get a grip on this Internet lark in 2015…

I’m quite busy at the moment, which is weird since this time of year is usually TV And Chocolate Central, but I moved on Christmas Eve so it’s more TV And Chocolate Stop Off Points. Speaking of new year, I was very glad to see the end of 2013. I didn’t even get all nostalgic, although parts of the year weren’t completely shit… They just got lost in the parts that were.

2014 has definitely been better, on the whole. I finished school, nobody died, no bands I love ended… In terms of things I actively did, that wasn’t too bad either! Indifferent Ignorance made it to five years and I made a little book for it, I survived three weeks in a foreign country without setting fire to myself once and I started writing without a wrist brace for the first time in three years.

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If I want to keep writing without it I’d better get off my phone and unpack some boxes… So thank you to everyone who’s read, followed and commented the blog this year and happy new year to everyone regardless!

PS I took that photo in Zante on Halloween and don’t know how to do captions on the app. Please don’t steal it, etc., thank you.

New Spooky Story Shack Piece!

I’ve got a Christmas present for you guys! It’s a superduper Halloween story that I wrote in September! It’s illustrated by Daniele Murtas and I think they did an excellent job.

If you liked it (or even if you didn’t) please leave a comment either on The Story Shack or here. I was tempted when I wrote it to make a longer story out of it, but I liked the ending so I wasn’t sure if continuing it would have made it less good…

Anyway, I have to get off my phone and get on with freaking out that it’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. I might do a Christmas Eve post. Hark the herald angels and all that!

Update: this is the last Five Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Indifferent Ignorance celebration, unless I’ve miscounted… which is entirely probable.