Today I spent four hours in a virtual queue waiting for tickets for The Cursed Child, only to spend my allotted twenty minutes of browsing time searching fruitlessly for the right number of tickets on the right number of days in the correct type of seats.
So ‘miffed’ doesn’t really cover it.
Anyway, the good news: I made some things to help you survive – and, dare I say it, thrive – during the upcoming general election.
Here’s something to encourage the youth in your family to vote:
Here’s something to help you all decide how to vote:
My constituency hasn’t announced its candidates yet (something tells me the Conservatives will win) but I’m considering the Women’s Independence Party. Or signing up for that Mars mission. You can buy and print those designs here if you want (actual prints are coming this week, hopefully) so you can spread the democracy and all that. I suppose if someone decides to vote after seeing them, or if the shop makes some money on them, the current state of British politics won’t be entirely a waste of human intelligence…
This post isn’t about South East Asia! Anyway so in case you’ve been living under a rock (great idea, by the way), there’s a petition asking the government to downgrade President Dickhead’s state visit to a regular one. I haven’t signed it, because although a state visit for a US president during their first year in office is unprecedented, and despite the opportunities it gives Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage to spout more self-aggrandising bile than we thought possible, I think a Trump administration state visit actually holds a wealth of opportunity for us all. No really bear with me:
The Queen will have to meet him
She might not be able to comment on politics, but she can publicly make subtly scathing conversation without raising an eyebrow. Various aides will have to murmur behind napkins ‘you certainly have done a lot’ does not mean she agrees with you on the Muslim ban, it means she can’t believe you haven’t been impeached yet. Yes, she really is offering you another biscuit.
Prince Phillip will have to meet him
Less subtle and witty. More like ‘the trifle is gorgeous today, isn’t it? So are you planning to start World War III with China or with Iran?’
There will be loud, intrusive protests everywhere the delegation goes
The British tradition of just not mentioning unpleasant smells won’t be enough for officials to avoid bringing up how angry people are about the US administration’s desire to defecate over everything it sees, and the UK government’s desire to hold the toilet paper as long as it puts us in good stead come Brexit. Because how do you avoid bringing up signs like these?
Petition for Ian McKellen to get another knighthood.
Boris Johnson will almost definitely insult Trump to his face
Using words like ‘piffle’ and ‘codswallop’. For the first time in Boris’s political career everyone will be pleased about it. I guess this would also happen on a regular visit, but if it’s during a state visit he might be wearing a black tie and tails and the memes alone will be glorious.
Banning a man who’s spent his presidency banning things is too much like playing his game, and the British game is so much more fun
A lot of people just want him barred from entering UK airspace and although any type of Trump visit will be detrimental to our air pollution goals, I just don’t think a ban is particularly British. I think what is British is satire, sarcasm and a succinct declaration that we are quite cross.
Remember Je Suis Charlie? Now’s your chance to make good on the free speech and satire quotations you retweeted then. When Trump visits – and he will, at some point – every mildly eloquent, satirical or artistic person with access to the Internet gets to let loose. Whether it’s Have I Got News for You or The Last Leg or some bloke named Steve live Tweeting a press conference, the message will will be unambiguous: we will not hold the fucking toilet paper while you shit on our values. Columnists will crack their knuckles; cartoonists will sharpen their pencils; protesters will take their signs, chants and sit-ins to acidic new levels; Banksy will decorate a high rise. Small children will ask ‘why does my mum break china when he’s on TV?’ to the point where schools will hold assemblies explaining civil unrest. Alt-right neo Nazi scum will look at one another and gulp. Republican higher-ups will blink and realise that the special relationship isn’t about the Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiations. It’s about neighbours looking out for one another even after the odd failed invasion of the Middle East and dodgy extradition attempt. We will invite you in for a cup of tea, Mr Trump, but we reserve the right to spit in it.
I can’t believe I’m 21 and just made a toilet paper analogy. Yes, I can. Anyway what are your thoughts on the state visit? Do you have any ideas for protest signs? Tell me. (Next post we go back to regularly scheduled chat about Cambodian beaches.)
I’ve been coming up with the annual Indifferent Ignorance awards for long enough that I know to keep ’em cute and to the point. But there’s something about 2016 that’s been so thoroughly appalling that I couldn’t just list a few bits and pieces. So here is the best and absolute worst of 2016.
Book of the Year
The Raven King, because of cars and kissing, or Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, because of cars and kissing. Mostly. Just read them.
Album of the Year
Troye Sivan’s Blue Neighbourhood, or the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack. Neither of them were released this year that’s further proof of 2016’s shittiness. (Actually Frank Iero’s Parachutes came out this year and it’s a gem. Whatever.)
The ‘I Can’t Believe I’m Living Through This Shit, Although it Will Probably Kill Me So At Least There’s That’ Story of the Year
The ‘I Witnessed this Shit Live and Wish It Had Killed Me’ News Story of the Year
Tough one. Brexit? US election? The return of Poldark to our screens? Nah man. The only moment my stomach really dropped at the news this year was at maybe 6:15 on a January morning when Nick Robinson interrupted my dozing to inform me, with audible shock, that David Bowie had died. I did not think anything could shock a Today programme presenter, let alone audibly. The return of Jesus couldn’t have redeemed 2016 from that moment on.
Outstanding Achievement for Distracting Me from the Horror of the Year for Five Minutes
Or an hour, depending on the broadcast.
Ed Balls’ Gagnam Style on Strictly Come Dancing It aired the week Trump was elected. Coincidence? Or does a benevolent god exist?
When Newsnight listened to their critics and played God Save the Queen Stand up, please.
The Twitter users who liveblogged the Rio Olympics and came up with 40 different jokes about green swimming pools
The Rio Olympics themselves
Whoever started those Joe Biden memes
American Idiot(the song, not the people)
Planet Earth II
Winner: this song, which someone shared the morning Trump was elected. I really, really felt better and so will you:
Outstanding Social Media Moment
This is another new prize, and the competition was tough.
Coincidentally this is the year I learnt what ‘throwing shade’ means. Oh, I didn’t pick a winner. You guys choose (I assume I can trust you with this more than I did Brexit).
Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award
Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.
Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award
Donald Trump’s voters. All of them.
I thought I’d put a line there as a metaphor. Because a line is like a wall, right… seriously though I nearly wrote an essay about how the name I gave my blog aged 14 is coincidentally a term that sums up this year’s election results, but I held off because everyone else was writing the same essay and I am so tired of being tired of all the bullshit I’ve lived through recently. I think in 2017 I might use my outraged liberal millennial viewpoint to make art instead of complaining. And by art I mean small stories and postcards about people who are full of shit.
Anyway that is me done for the year. I wish you all health and happiness in 2017, although at this point it’s probably enough that I wish you make it there. Happy new year!
I was in a bad mood before breakfast this morning and that’s not really happened since I was 15, so I’m going to ask what you guys think about it. I’ve thought about it all day and I’m pretty sure my irritation was completely unfounded… but I couldn’t switch it off and in the interests of personal growth, here goes:
You guys know I use the Headspace app, right? Emma Watson recommended it on Twitter in 2013 and since 2013 was almost as bad as 2016, I gave it a go and have used it, on and off, ever since. Last November I hit a run streak, as they call it, and meditated every day for a week… a month… six months… A couple of weeks ago I hit a year. One entire year of making the effort to sit for 10 or 15 minutes a day and pay attention to my mental health. 365 full days! Okay so sometimes I snatched 3 minutes while I was getting ready to go out, or did the sleeping exercise when I was already 95% asleep, because I was at 232 days and dammit I wanted to hit the next milestone and get an email from Headspace congratulating me. But I did it. I CAN COMMIT.
I carried on after 365 days, partly because I could and partly because the app really works. I always feel better for having taken time out for myself, although it’s a really hard sensation to explain without sounding like a hippie (I literally feel like there is more space in my head. What a well-named product). Yesterday I fell asleep before I finished the session or I left the app open or something, and this morning the counter had zipped back to 1. I was unreasonably upset about it. I felt like the previous 380-something days had been for nothing. I was useless. I should have found time in the day to do it instead of falling asleep partway through. Why couldn’t I just have done better.
I already hit the highest milestone on there. I already exceeded my own expectations, both by meditating every day for a year and then by carrying on to meditate for a couple of weeks after. Headspace, and the thinking behind it, is firmly ingrained in my day-to-day life. I am way more chill than I was a year ago, and way better at dealing with horrible situations. So why did I feel like I had let myself down?
I’m over it now, I think… so far today I’ve scratched out two thirds of my to-do list, bought some Christmas presents and successfully avoided the temptation to stop at any of the chocolate stockists/coffee shops in Southend mid-shopping trip. And seriously there’s a coffee chain on every corner my bank account should be murmuring its thanks. So I’m having a Good Day. I’ve had a pretty good week, actually. I don’t currently want to hide from my life, which is always a pleasant sensation.
I just spent half an hour this morning wallowing in completely unfounded self loathing. Do you ever feel like that? Have you ever been unreasonably harsh on yourself? Do I have a complex? If I could afford a therapist I wouldn’t be using Headspace, so help me out.
I got the first round of at least three vaccinations on Friday and had to spend the afternoon napping. I’m not sure if the sudden intake of hep A/hep B/typhoid into my system knocked me out or if I’m just really fucking tired but I went for a run this morning and I swear the route round my block took about four times as long as normal. Maybe tomorrow I will imagine I’m running from a Trump presidency.
Maybe on Wednesday I will be running from a Trump presidency.
In case I haven’t been clear enough already – just for the record, I mean, for posterity – Donald Trump is a walking shitbag of phenomenal proportions and his presidency would encourage other walking shitbags to partake in shitbag activities, which worries me greatly. I’m aware that a lot of his supporters are not walking shitbags and are in fact regular people exhausted with the political system, and I feel you. My political system is also full of walking shitbags, but the last time a walking shitbag of phenomenal proportions came to power in Europe, we experienced something called the Holocaust. Please, America, vote for the lesser of the walking shitbags. She probably won’t cause a couple of wars, completely restrict your rights or insult everyone in your family who isn’t a straight white dude. And in a world run by shitbags, the ‘probably’ makes all the difference.
Look, we all hate certain words and phrases. Here are some that make me automatically loathe the person using them.
The word ‘poorly’
One is ill, or sick, or unwell, or puking, or suffering from a mild boat of putrid throat. I don’t think one is ever really poorly, because it only seems to be brandished about when well-meaning adults want to tell you about a serious illness but don’t want to frighten you with actual details.
We got it at school when teachers told us how ‘Michaela is feeling a little poorly today’. Translation: ‘Michaela recently drank chemicals from the science kit in the toy box and is now vomiting blood but we don’t want you to panic.’
‘The dog’s a bit poorly at the moment, he’s in with the vet.’ Translation: ‘we’ll probably have to euthanise but we don’t want you to cry until it’s absolutely unavoidable.’
Or it’s used during stories of when I was in an incubator getting my left lung drained. ‘Oh darling you were quite poorly!’ exclaims Theresa. Translation: Theresa is not emotionally equipped to express what she’s thinking without using the words ‘that’s completely shit and the world is fucking awful sometimes’.
Theresa, I won’t mind if you say ‘that’s completely shit’. Because, even when you are trying to prepare your nine year old for the possibility their beloved pet is about to go on his final walk, there is rarely a kind way to cover up the truth. Maybe find an alternative word for shit, though.
People who say ‘pee’ instead of ‘pence’
As in ‘the Browns have pawned their grandma’s china and earned themselves thirty four pounds and fifteen pee.’
No dude it’s written 15p
because it is an abbreviation
the word is pence
as in, Mike the dickhead governor.
The word ‘bugbear’
You could say the it’s my bugbear.
But seriously where did it come from? ‘Pet hate’ makes sense. We all have little, ultimately insignificant irritations in our lives that we love to moan about. We adore and cherish these little dislikes, and sometimes we cultivate them into something we’re known for, like ‘never chew with your mouth open in front of Sally’. Mine include: my neighbour who got a driveway but always parks in the space the rest of us could use, Tumblr users who forget the world exists outside their ideal of it and people who think I’ll embrace Brexit. Oh, and the word poorly. We need pet hates because they distract us from big hates, like Donald Trump’s supporters, and if we focused on them we would wish we were dead.
But bugbear needs to fuck off.
What are your most hated words and phrases? Do other people even have any? COMPLAIN BELOW.
The new school year is upon the nation’s sproglets and there’s a new-ish argument in Parliament and the media about grammar schools. Am I glad to be back home. I want to add my two cents to the great grammar school debate, because I actually attended one – after 1974, which as far as I can tell is when most politicians left university – and no one seems to have thought to ask grammar school pupils what they think.
I went to a grammar school in Essex from 2007 until a couple of years ago, partly because I grew up surrounded by them, and their students looked very accomplished and clever and grown up in their uniforms and I wanted to be like that, and partly because my parents and teachers had worked out by the time I was eleven that I was a precocious academic brat. Also, the alternative schools were shit. They weren’t all shit schools, but they were shit for me. Had I gone to the local comprehensives, I would have spent my teenage years with the same people I went to primary school with. I did not like most of the people I went to primary school with. I was shy and awkward and did all my growing in year five, so I looked 15, not 10 – and wearing a bra and shopping for sanitary products when your classmates are still getting the giggles when they look up ‘vagina’ in the dictionary is less fun than it sounds. Plus I loved reading and reading = smart, right? SO I WAS GOING TO TRY OUT FOR THE GRAMMAR SCHOOLS.
At school we already had to do shitty tests and homework and SATs, and I signed up to the Eleven Plus assuming it was basically the same, which it was. I fucking hated all tests and homework right up until year 13 – so shout out to my parents, who gritted their teeth and walked me through my verbal reasoning book, and to my primary school teachers, who ran extra classes for the kids they thought could try out for the grammar schools, or the grammar stream that ran in one of the comprehensives.
I don’t remember much about the months leading up to the Eleven Plus, other than I listened to evening radio while I finished my verbal reasoning, and that’s where I got into MCR. But I do remember visiting the different schools, and one of my classmates mum’s saying to one of the teachers at an all-girls grammar: ‘Lucy much prefers boys to girls. She doesn’t get on with girls. Would that be a problem here?’ The answer was yes. Lucy went to a comprehensive. I never got on with her – and I thought boys were mostly gross, and I saw no reason to share a desk with them unless forced. My other resounding memory of that time is another child’s mum saying in the playground ‘I won’t let my daughter go to the girls school. It’s full of posh people and dykes.’
My friends and I conducted pretty thorough studies over the years and trust me, it’s really not.
Anyway, a lot of children at my school went in for the Eleven Plus, and a lot of us passed (again, shout out to the teachers for having faith in so many of us). A few went to the different grammars, but most went into the grammar stream at the comprehensive. I don’t know if that still exists, but if anyone reading this is worried their little girl might miss the company of the Y chromosome aged 12, consider that.
In my first week of year seven I was surprised at how quiet the classrooms were. My primary school was raucous and busy and chairs got thrown and kids hadn’t met their parents for years and kids were on medication and kids were loud. I couldn’t get over how much people wanted to learn (to anyone who taught my classes after year nine – sorry we couldn’t keep that up).
By the end of year eight I had learnt that I went to school with girls who were thick as shit but whose families had the money to tutor them through the Eleven Plus, with girls whose families didn’t have enough money to buy food and the expensive school uniform, with girls whose parents seemed to treat the grammar system as an extension of the private school system, with girls who are smart enough to run the country. I also learnt that I would not contract lesbianism by virtue of not being near boys, although I took an extra-curricular karate class just to be on the safe side. I still think boys are mostly gross but I would like to apologise publicly for confusing queerness with the flu. In my defence, I went to primary school with kids whose parents were twats.
I also learnt that I kind of hated school. I hated homework and poncy assemblies in which we politely applauded the latest hockey victories. I hated standing up when a teacher came in (show me some respect and I’ll show you some, dude) and the optional but-not-really letters asking for ‘small donations’ and the PE lessons run by people who never seemed to exercise and the ridiculous assumption that we should all go to university. I hated that the highest standard wasn’t high enough, I hated that the arts were ignored in favour of maths and science, and that maths and science was ignored in favour of sport.
But I loved my friends, my blazer’s many pockets and the weird little intricacies that came with a century-old institution. We had two staircases, one going up and one going down, and sometimes someone would lose a shoe on the way up. We celebrated our school’s birthday with giant fruitcake and a rousing rendition of Jerusalem. We’d visit foreign language teachers in spare offices once a fortnight to play with index cards about verbs. I hated that the highest standard wasn’t high enough, but only when it came to homework; I give the same attention to my work now that teachers wanted me to give to my work then.
I did well in my GCSEs by grammar standards, and badly in my A Levels by grammar standards. I’m doing okay now in life standards, although probably not grammar school ones – I didn’t go to university, I work for myself and I’m broke, there’s nothing about me that they can put on a brochure to encourage the next generation of precious academic brats.
If I had gone to any of the comprehensives, maybe the part of me that says ‘fuck’ a lot, dyes my hair pink and refuses to get a normal job would have flourished a lot earlier. Maybe I would have been more relaxed about homework and less frustrated by all the hoops I had to jump through as a student. Maybe I would have gone to university. Maybe I wouldn’t be blogging, wouldn’t be an MCR fan or wouldn’t be a writer. I have yet to see if being an alumni of my school can open doors; I’ve had more interviews based on my blog than I have my qualifications – although a during lot of local interviews people have mentioned that they went to a grammar, or their kid did, or their aunt’s cousin’s neighbour did. I don’t know if that’s an exclusive club I want to be in.
So, politicians and parents and teachers and, for once, the kids who are in the education system today:
I don’t know what’s best for you. Your parents might not know what’s best for you. A wonderful teacher and a supportive home life will get your far further than the number of A*s you’ve achieved. I didn’t do well in primary school because I was magically gifted, I did well because my teachers were brilliant and my family gave a shit. I’m no smarter than the children who didn’t go to the grammars, although my parents are smarter than the parents who didn’t let their children try out for the grammars. If you fail an exam aged eleven, you have the rest of your life to do everything in your life. If you want to try out for the Eleven Plus, do it. If you want to dye your hair pink, do it.
Only one of those things will ruin your clothes, your bathroom and some of your job prospects.
I’ve been having really odd reactions to the Olympics so please help me out and tell me if you’ve experienced anything similar (no, I’m not talking about checking out the Team GB diving team, although I do encourage you to do that). When I’m watching TV, usually with a plate of food or a cup of tea, I either think:
This is so incredibly inspiring. Look at that perfectly regular human being who has worked their bones into dust for four-plus years to become one of the best sportspeople in the world. They are so deserving of our attention even if they don’t win anything because they are a testament to the human spirit and work ethic. I think I will put down my food and do my physio and go for a run tomorrow.
That person is my age. That person is five years younger than me. What was I doing five years ago? I was blogging about MCR, which has clearly propelled me into a fascinating, rewarding and financially secure life. That person has more visible muscles on their stomach than I do in all my limbs. I’ve been curled on Instagram checking out Team GB’s diving team for approximately four hours and haven’t done physio for days. But I’m actually just going to eat some carbohydrates and compare myself to a world class gymnast, and feel bitter that my PE teachers were nearly all so shit that I’ll never know if I could have been able to do a somersault.
Sometimes I veer from one reaction to another in the time it takes an athlete to fall off a pommel horse. Sometimes I eat carbs then do physio then eat more carbs. Is anyone else experiencing this? Is there a cure?
One thing I do like about the Olympics is the idea of working in four year cycles towards a goal. Athletes aiming for the Olympics have a clear deadline and an ambition that will get them out of bed when they would rather be anywhere but where they are, and I could do with that – or anything that would help me focus on something that isn’t my growing resentment toward everything I’ve ever done to ensure I’m a money-strapped freelancer with a broken desk chair and a complicated CV.
This isn’t me drowning in self pity; four years ago I had just finished my GCSEs and was in the middle of learning that supermarket bread wanted to kill me, and now I’m a healthier-ish indie writer who was self employed at 18 with zero debts and a burgeoning business. Not many 20 year olds can say that they decided what they wanted to and immediately did it. My life is not terrible.