Category Archives: Rant

Blogging while adult

Listen, when I was 19 and just starting a blog for the first time, it was easy.

Why? I hear you ask. Well. Let me tell you. It was easy, because I had nothing else to do. And now I am a grown up and so instead of blogging I do things like hoovering, or choir accountancy, or baking, or sometimes I just slump in front of the TV because I am SO TIRED.

Honestly, how do people do it. Maintaining a blog presence while also being an adult is mad.

I do still have things I think about writing. Ideas pop into my head often. But there’s something about getting home at 11pm and writing a blog post that I just can’t get behind. There’s a little whisper in the back of my mind that honestly feels like it is somehow unprofessional to post ramblings at 11pm. As if any of this has ever been professional in the first place.

Tonight writing is easy, because tonight I am cloistered and hiding (fairly unsuccessfully) from the fireworks. People who know me personally will have heard the fireworks rant plenty of times before, but maybe a stranger will read this post, so here goes.

Why on earth, in the world we live in, do we still think it is acceptable to sell practically anyone brightly-coloured explosives? Why? They are offensively loud, stupidly expensive, and easy for a stupid person to light and throw at a car. Or a cat. Or another human person. To explode. Like explosives are designed to.

I am not here to suggest that UK bonfire night is on a par with the horrible violence that exists in other communities around the world, but it continues to baffle me that we don’t just ban fireworks except at organised events. Some reasons:

  • They look better, because they are professionals and not your uncle Steve
  • They cost less, because you pay a fiver to get in rather than spending £100 in Asda for a makeshift light-show in your grubby garden
  • People who don’t want to be involved don’t have to be (for example, a bloke in a 4×4 would not have just pulled up opposite my living room window earlier and set off 20 minutes of fireworks on a residential road, because no-one is paying £5 to watch that. I’d have paid him £5 to leave but I didn’t really feel safe leaving the house because he so evidently had no clue what he was doing)
  • Just go spend time with other humans rather than bothering me
  • No seriously
  • Also, pets would not be traumatised
  • Also also, other humans with very valid reasons (babies, the elderly, those with mental health conditions) could avoid the fireworks

I really don’t like bonfire night.

Except for the interesting history, where some people wanted to blow up the houses of parliament (as we all do, regularly, at the moment) but they got caught, so we…light fires…and blow things up…to celebrate them…not?

Honestly, the whole thing is a mess, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a tired blogging adult.

My bubble

**minor content warning, sexual harassment**

I’ve repeatedly insisted over the last weekend that I’m going to write a ranty blog post, and now here we are. Get ready, you’ve been warned.

I have been known, at times, to wear relatively low-cut tops. My favourite most comfortable vest tops all have quite low scoop necks, and I am aware that I sometimes draw attention because I have quite a lot of cleavage on show. Let me be clear. It is in no way indecent, and I am 100% comfortable in the clothes I choose to wear. I understand that sometimes people catch themselves looking, and I don’t honestly mind. If I did, I’d wear different clothes. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with accepting the fact that we all sometimes find ourselves looking at something, knowing that social rules dictate we should look away. It’s fine. It’s a thing. Whatever.

I was walking along the south bank of the Thames, in central London, last Friday. About 6pm, still nice and light, still very busy. It was a lovely evening.

And then a person actively changed the path they were walking to make a bee-line for me, and once they got close to me, they dipped their head towards my chest and I could feel their breath on me for a moment before they carried on walking. Smooth as you like.

It made me want to scream. Imagine believing you have the right to do something like that. But of course, it’s a massive issue. I’ve been grabbed in the street before, I’ve been bothered in nightclubs, and I’ve been harassed walking down the pavement. And I live in an age where somehow, I feel lucky that I’ve gotten away with so little. LUCKY. As if.

The problem is, we’re still not teaching each other that personal space is a valid thing. Recently a new colleague quite emphatically rubbed/patted my arm in response to something I’d said. They were trying to be affectionate maybe, or show they were engaged in what I was saying, but all I wanted to do was tell them not to touch me, because we’re still basically strangers. And yet I didn’t say that, because I didn’t want to offend them.

I was in a coffee shop over the weekend, and a parent joined the queue behind me with about 5 children in tow. They were messing, and the parent was distracted, but two of them just kept bumping into me, elbowing me, and nudging me around. It was a pretty small coffee shop, and once again I kept my mouth shut, but it totally enraged me.

Listen. You can look at me and form views. Fine. You can just stare at me because you fancy me. Fine, whatever. But do not touch me. I am not yours. And teach your children not to touch strangers and to respect others’ personal space. Because you should already be teaching them that strangers should not be touching them, and should be respecting their personal space. It’s an incredibly simple, but apparently vital lesson that we are just missing as a society.

Some people are touchy-feely, and I do understand that. I know my colleague wasn’t trying to make me uncomfortable. I know those kids didn’t even know I was there.

But that doesn’t make it ok.

Because not teaching your kids to respect others, and not respecting others space when you should know better, is what leads grown adults to think they can go up to a stranger on a busy street and breathe on her breasts. And as I cannot stress enough – I am one of the lucky ones.



Let’s talk about equity. The conversation we still apparently have to have once a year on International Women’s Day.

It was a few days ago that I began to hear the rumblings. And the rumblings turned into murmurings, and the murmurings turned into whinings, and suddenly I find myself here and now, deafened by the outraged brigades of people shouting their mantra as loudly as possible –

“We should be working towards equality, not feminism”

And listen. I get it. You think you’re on the right side of history. So once again, let me just explain why equality doesn’t work how you want it to, and feminism isn’t a dirty word. The criticism is often that feminism is too woman-centric (hah) and that to have a truly fair society, we should be blind to the differences created by gender.

But here’s the thing y’all. Those differences exist whether you like it or not, and so just treating everyone equally doesn’t fix the problems. And feminism is very woman-centric. Because it’s about women. This is important, so I’ll say it again for the self-defining men in the back. It’s not about you.

Today at work, to mark International Women’s Day, we ran a campaign where self-defining women could get a cup of tea or coffee with a 22.5% reduction, to highlight the gender pay gap at the University of Leeds (our parent institution). And immediately, the rumblings began. It’s discrimination, it’s not fair, you’re doing more harm than good. Why don’t you just treat people equally?

Well. Can we just unpick this a second. Referring back to my earlier point, let’s start with the fact that it’s not about you. Self-defining men are in no way disadvantaged by this campaign. It’s the same hot drink you bought yesterday with no quibble, and the same hot drink is available to you tomorrow. Your conditions have not been altered in the slightest, and in fact, it’s a very reasonably priced product to begin with.

All that has happened is that (in a relatively tokenistic way), we have highlighted the fact that a woman on the University of Leeds campus is likely (according to the statistics) to have on average 22.5% less money to spend on a given product.

The equitable response, therefore, is to make products 22.5% cheaper for women, right?

Now, of course on a large scale, that’s wrong (I’ve seen this referred to as deficit thinking – masking the root cause of the inequitable situation by providing equity through a solution rather than resolving the underlying problem). Products cost what they cost, and they don’t discriminate by gender, or by any other protected characteristic for that matter. Coffee beans are not inherently sexist.

The important thing about this campaign is that it is just influencing on the level we are able to influence, by providing a level of equity between men and women on Leeds campus, and highlighting an existing disparity in their financial positions. If it is successful, it will help highlight to key people the importance of working on reducing the gender pay gap, and creating greater equity for women*. The logic behind the gender pay gap still isn’t widely understood and a lot of people still cite equal pay legislation as a reason that the GPG just “doesn’t exist”,  so to back up my points I thought I’d share a handy video on the subject.

So, what does all of this actually mean? It means if you want to claim that other people getting discounted coffee is discrimination against you, despite the fact that absolutely nothing about your situation has changed in any way, you need to spend some more time considering why you’re so angry about an organisation trying to support people who are not being treated equitably by the system.

Because that is about you, and I’m not sure it’s a good thing.

My Mediocre Middle-Class Millennial Memoir*

I maintain** that one day I will write the story of my life. And when I write my novel (read: when I cop out and compile this blog into a book, which apparently works for some people and frankly they aren’t great at writing so I don’t see why I shouldn’t benefit as well, but I digress) I am thinking of the above title.

Mediocre – well, it is a bit. Today I had a huge life drama when I realised that the person who is trying to sell me their house probably won’t succeed in selling me their house, because they are terrible at paperwork and adulting. In the grand scheme of my life, that’s  big news,  but in the grand scheme of the world it’s not exactly a tsunami. My drama is very much the teacup-based storm type.

Middle-Class – in every way really, from my background, worldview, lifestyle, the whole kit and caboodle (inc. idioms, apparently)

Millennial – despite my best attempts I fall firmly in this category. Not least because I write a blog, which is almost as millennial as avocados and depression.

My book will include wonderful anecdotes of failed attempts to lose weight, terrible dates,  and awkward encounters with old acquaintances whose names I can’t quite remember. It will be oddly interspersed with playlists and reviews of musical theatre productions.

Occasionally, it will attempt to be “real” writing and deal with controversial topics (badly) or to be incredibly deep and meaningful.

Mostly*** though, it will be remarkably average. Which I like thinking about, because on days like today when it feels like most things aren’t going very well, it reminds me that all of my woes are terribly average, storm-in-a-teacup problems. And if a whole world of exceptional writers who have experienced really fascinating, troubling, amazing experiences have lived through them, then I’m sure I’ll be fine.



*Yes, I am aiming to use every ‘M’ word in the English language
**5 points to Gryffindor
***more additional points

A note on fireworks

Let’s be clear. There’s really no upside to fireworks.

They are momentarily pretty, sure, but there are so many things which are pretty. Stars, sun-kissed hills, ice cream, rainbows, art (misc). And most of them are pretty for far longer than fireworks.

And of the above, only one is an explosion, and stars are far enough away that I’m not immediately afraid for my life. Fireworks, on the other hand, are often very nearby, and are (in this country anyway) often handled by people who are wildly ill-equipped to manage explosives.

That’s really all I have to say.

Down with fireworks.

Vanilla Days

It’s moving into summer, days are long and everything is getting really vanilla. Not vanilla in the sense of exotic and full of tiny black specks, but in the sense of plain and safe and totally fine but not really thrilling.

Now, after the amount of things which have happened and are happening to people around the world, I’m keen to point out that I don’t need my life to be more thrilling. We feel stuck solidly in an era where the more plain and simple your life is, the better. But there’s no getting away from the internal buzzing that your mind makes when you’re a person who is driven by things-going-on in the absence of those things.

I am driven by things. What is the next step, where is the next aim, is this the next milestone and how do I reach it? Small things or big, I need them going on to function, or I descend into a world of shoulda-coulda-woulda whispers.

Those whispers found their way into my head recently, and made a little nest of possibility which began (accidentally) to feel like a real, tangible goal. I found myself making plans without waiting for step 1 to happen, and imagining all the magical world of things I felt like I was about to get involved in. I kidded myself outwardly into thinking I wasn’t getting dragged under by the whispers, but really I was.

And then the vanilla tide swept in this week, and I realised that the castle in the air was just a slightly funny-shaped cloud (as they often are) and back down to Earth I came with a mild thud, cushioned by all of the vanilla.

It’s not that I’m bored. People who get bored haven’t tried hard enough to be interested. It’s more that life is just happening near me right now, and I’m happening near it, and it feels like I can’t do much to alter it, mostly because would I want to? Why would I shake it up, force a change to something so perfectly inviting as nice, plain, satisfactory vanilla? People who do that are crazy. That’s the kind of thing Donald Trump would do.

So for the moment it’s living on for me, waiting for the thing to happen which turns my vanilla into raspberry ripple again for a little while.


Powerful Weapons

Words are powerful weapons.

One of the most powerful words in the world right now is ‘terrorism’, and we need to stop giving it so much power. Terrorism is the act of inciting the sentiment of terror within a person, or a group of people. That happened yesterday, sadly, in the city of Manchester, and it was perpetuated against a group of innocent bystanders. It was perpetuated against children.

Today, the media stormed in with questions about a ‘terrorist attack’ or an ‘act of terrorism’. But that’s not what it is. It’s a crime, committed by one or more violent criminals. And those criminals are getting what they want the second we call it terrorism. Because when you give it a name, you give it power and agency, and you allow the world to believe that the effect of the attack is that it terrifies you.

We are not terrified. Appalled, yes. Distraught, yes. But not terrified.

This is something which the western media has been perpetuating for years now, and it’s a mirage. It’s a narrative which continues to exist in order to protect the people who are spending money waging the “war on terror” as if war against a sentiment is a meaningful act. It’s a war we’ve already lost, every time we allow acts of barbaric violence to be termed “terror attacks”.

Don’t become part of the narrative. Don’t allow yourself to be sucked into the rhetoric of “extremists” (because many people are extreme, but they don’t always kill others), or “religious motivation” (because many people are religious, and see above). Don’t be fed a lie of the stereotypical terrorist, because that person doesn’t exist. Terrorists do not exist. Dangerous, damaged, often exploited people with an agenda to attempt to incite the feeling of terror do. Let them terrify you and they have achieved their aim.

And as an addendum, don’t let acts like this cloud your mind on national and international policy. The media are a tool of the powerful, and the powerful want to continue subsidising their empty war. Don’t be forced into the belief that the “war on terror” is necessary, or effective. There are many great threats in the world. The word ‘terror’ is not one of them.

This word is a powerful weapon. Do not be threatened by it.

Don’t get mad, get petulant and fix it

I like to think that I’m not quick to anger, except for certain situations. I get very angry very quickly if someone is rude or inconsiderate, because I fundamentally believe there is no excuse or cause to make the people around you feel bad. But that aside, I’d say I have a long fuse.

So for me to say that I was furious ALL DAY today, is a fairly big deal in my books.

My fury stems from having spent a long time now watching something done badly. For weeks I’ve been plagued by that gnawing feeling you get when you see someone do something and think “why would that be the best way to go about that?” – not, to clarify, because anyone is doing anything wrong per se. I get this a lot with boyfriend though, when he cooks. You’re not wrong to put dry pasta into cold water and then let it heat up as the water boils. But WHY would you do that. W.H.Y.

This feeling provokes me into my worst bad habit, which is doing things which aren’t mine to do. Things in which I have no expertise other than the gnawing feeling that I could do them better. That feeling is a lie.

I took several things into my own hands today, and don’t for a second think it was the best use of my time, because it only  served to irritate me more, to the point where I ended my day petulantly insisting that I would move some barriers myself because I didn’t believe the builders would do it (under my watchful eye, the builders did it).

And this is really the sticking point, because like all habits, it’s difficult to give up when it actually scratches an itch. My itch is things not being done, and knowing that if I get petulant enough things will get done is a very dangerous motivator.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m grumpy and I can’t be trusted to not tell builders what to do.

A Further Treatise on Words ‘n Stuff

So a couple of weeks ago I wrote about linguistics and politics and how people are really bad at them right now.

Turns out it’s happening again. Or this was always happening. I’m inclined towards the latter, but anyway.

Today I’d like to have a rant about the principle arbitrators of sins against the English language, that vast community of people who insist on using it incorrectly day after day, the Americans. And let’s start by clarifying that though I am grouping the subject of my rant under the banner of “Americans” I do not mean all Americans, nor do I mean this is only an issue of Americans. It’s just that guys, right now, you’re kinda the worst.

At this point let me also acknowledge that this is absolute armchair activism. But then I know there’s nothing I can do about the situation in the States anyway, because despite their perpetual need to stick their nose into the affairs of others, the American public in general is absolutely not responsive to any commentary made by a non-American. Unless they are funny. Or Nigel Farage. Go figure.

The misuse of words which I take issue with today are some of the best-known words from the “Star-Spangled Banner”, possibly my least favourite national anthem ever. The words I take issue with are

“O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave”

I think the reasons why I take issue with these words are immediately apparent. It’s two words in particular. I’ll take them one by one.

We all know that the American populace are some of the least free people in the world, so lets just set that to one side for now.

One of the oft-cited rights of all American citizens is freedom of speech. It is what gives Donald Trump the right to spew his relentless idiocy across as many channels as he can pay for, and it’s what gives insane gun lobbyists the right to be heard.

But Colin Kaepernick, he can’t even make his point through silence without an immediate backlash.

In case you’re not up to date, Kaepernick is the Quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, and he has been all over the news lately for choosing to sit through the national anthem before his football games. He is doing so to protest the oppression of black people in the US.

And he’s free to do so, right? That’s a thing he’s allowed to do, because he’s a US citizen, so he can say and do what he likes so long as it’s not causing direct harm to others. I’m pretty sure those are the rules.

So looking at the above, you’d maybe say, “dunno what your problem is, there’s a brave American making use of his freedom. Just because he’s doing so by explicitly choosing to not sing those actual words doesn’t mean he isn’t free and brave”

And you, friend, would be right. Except that no-one seems to think he’s being brave. They just think he’s offending all of the brave souls that have gone out and died in the name of US freedom and bravery (and I have some views on the armed forces but we’ll get to that another time).

Some of the brave souls who have taken it upon themselves to serve the American people in maintaining their freedom (ostensibly) are the police force. Kaepernick’s protest is directed quite squarely at them, and so naturally they aren’t dead happy, but of course they are brave Americans and they recognise that the views of a single person shown through silent protest aren’t a threat, they are just airing their freedom.

Ah no. Wrong again. Because earlier today the good folks of the Santa Clara police stated that they will not send around 70 officers to work at 49ers games, because Kaepernick wore some socks with pigs in police hats, and now their pride is really bruised.


I’m sure it’s evident from my tone at this point that I take a very dim view of the reaction by the police force. It’s not exclusively because of their almost wilful ignorance of the true meanings of the words free and brave. I have issues aplenty to be frank. But for now, lets focus on the following ideas;

– A brave individual speaks out against an institution he believes is oppressive
– He is free to do so
– The institution in question are mandated to uphold freedom and safety of citizens
– They have chosen to do so, and are paid to do so
– Members of this institution choose to threaten the safety of the citizens, in order to protect their own pride
– The citizens choose to believe it is the brave, free individual who is threatening their safety

What are his threatening actions? Choosing not to sing the words “free” and “brave”.


Oh, and wearing a pair of socks.
If you need to attack someone for wearing a pair of socks, it really suggests you’ve got issues.

Politics, Linguistics, and the Logical Fallacy

Isn’t it interesting how prevalent it has become to read a word or phrase which has the connotation of “all”, and instead misinterpret it as meaning “only”?

On an almost daily basis now, there is a story popping up in the news which features people doing this, which aside from anything makes you question the global education system (which is another rant for another time). The two most common occurrences are the following;-

Black Lives Matter (which apparently reads only black lives matter)

Feminism (which apparently reads only women deserve fair treatment)

It’s easy to say that this is symptomatic of the commentators. If you’re a white cis male then you’re obviously going to feel threatened by statements which aren’t inclusive of you. In a world of refusal to recognise privilege, all claims referring to a specific group will be immediately thrown out as ‘not truly inclusive’. But it’s not only those who don’t conform to the noted criteria who are getting in on the act.

There are a new wave of women who refuse to associate themselves with the word feminist, or feminism, because they feel that it doesn’t represent their values. In turn, they are berated by women who do see themselves as feminists, for not recognising the struggle of women through history or for not recognising the struggle of women today in different circumstances than those of the privileged (blog-writing) west.

It’s no wonder really that there are a third group of women, and non-gender conforming individuals, and men, looking on in horror at the whole mess. I can state unequivocally that from my position here in group 3, I’m struggling to know how to identify. Yes, I want equality between genders. Yes, I feel that historically women have lacked rights which men have been privy to. But that also doesn’t mean that I’m only fighting for that equality for women, and the word feminist is incredibly toxic, in a linguistic sense, because it evokes that.

There’s a similar issue with black lives matter. This time typed without capitals, because to begin with, it’s key to distinguish between the activist organisation, who do engage in activities which many don’t condone, and the plain English phrase.

Firstly, the phrase, and it’s constant rebuttal that “all lives matter”. Well yes, and who said they didn’t? You’re reading it wrong, and inserting an “only” on the front where it doesn’t exist or belong. The internet has plenty of great cartoons explaining the difference between “only black lives matter” and “black lives matter as well” so I won’t labour the point here.

Secondly, it’s all too common that people read “black lives matter” and hear “white lives don’t”. Which is an interesting one, because we live in a stunningly multicultural and multicoloured world, and yet western mass media still manages to whitewash all race issues.

The list goes on. Some gay men carrying HIV is read as both all gay men and only gay men. Of course there’s always the favourite of all Muslims are terrorists, and all terrorists are Muslim – two very different opinions, neither of which are correct. And onwards to the milder, but still harmful, views such as bisexuality equalling indecisiveness or greed, and mental illness meaning lack of competence.

In the end it’s all words and interpretations, mixed up with misjudged perspectives and delusional world-views. The big problem is, it is alienating the masses (my group 3 from above) who genuinely do want a better world all round but who can’t find the words to express that solidarity without fear of antagonising others. Language has power, and right now that power is being abused.