Category Archives: Rant

Sally wearing a spotty mask

Not Special

TLDR; You are not special. Wear a damn mask.

You are an individual. There’s no-one else on Earth quite like you, there never has been, and there never will be. You are the only you we’ve got.

But listen, pal. Being an individual does not mean you’re special. 

Disappointed? Don’t be. None of us are special really, despite our individuality. There are a couple of traits which set us each apart, yes, but we’re quite similar to each other in the grand scheme of things.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I was going to write it even before the most recent change in guidance, because I’ve been to the supermarket a couple of times recently, and it has struck me that a lot of people who live near me think they are special. How do I know this? Because they are choosing to act like the rules don’t apply to them –  they are special enough not to wear a face covering in a supermarket, even when explicitly told to do so. Even after we all got angry with Dominic Cummings for breaking the rules (alongside being truly one of the most objectionable individuals I have the displeasure of sharing this Earth with)

Let me break away here for a disclaimer. The rules which currently exist in this country are deeply questionable and often conflicting. They are being interpreted wildly differently from one venue to another. And there are many people who the rules do not or cannot apply to – and I support those people fully. If you are not able (because of physical or mental health reasons) to wear a face covering then you should still feel able to get on with living your life right now. If you have good reasons to meet in a group of more than six, I am so sorry that you’re now not able to.


The rules exist, and for 99% of people, there are no barriers, or minimal barriers, to following those rules. You might not like them, you might not believe them, but if you just behave like a grown adult you will find yourself able to follow them. Does following a one-way system in a park mean you’ll be 30 seconds late getting back to work? Maybe, but you’re not unable to do it, so why shout at a voluntary event steward and be objectionable? What have you gained? Certainly not your precious 30 seconds (yes, this exact interaction happened to me)

Does not being allowed to meet in a group of more than six make a real, material difference to you? If you really think hard about it? Can you find no possible way of living your life in a world where at one time you’re only allowed to be with five other people?

I am a professional rule-maker and enforcer, so I know a thing or two about the rules.

  • Firstly – rules were not made to be broken. They were made because people repeatedly took decisions or actions which were agreed by a societal or organisational majority to be the wrong ones, and so we made a rule to stop that from happening, or to force something different to happen.
  • Secondly – all rules are not well-made. Rule makers should recognise this, and should be willing to change and adapt their rules on the basis of testing and feedback.
  • Thirdly – just because a rule has not been well-made, does not mean you should break it. Challenge it, by all means, complain,  lobby, vote with your feet and don’t continue attending a venue where you disagree with the rules. Vote with your vote and kick out a government who makes rules you disagree with. BUT until the rules are actually changed, you have to keep following them. Why? Because every time you ignore a rule, you endorse others doing the same and you reinforce the notion that the rule is needed, and is needed more strongly than the rule-maker thought.

So just because you feel like you’ve done “research” (talk to me about this by all means, I have a Masters by Research which I passed with distinction after writing over 15,000 publishable words on my topic and a further 20,000 in analytical appendices) and so you “know” that face coverings don’t work, doesn’t mean you get to keep breaking the rule. I accept that it’s hazy – it was a rule brought in too late in the UK, and with not enough clarity and justification of the scientific basis for the decision. But it is a decision which has been made, by people who have access to more actual research than you do (see above, fight me) and we need to abide by it until such a time as it is revised.

As restrictions ramp up across the UK (because of constant rule-breaking) now is the time to take a good look at yourself, remember that you are not special and that the rules apply to you just as clearly as to anyone else, and adhere to them. All of the information you need is here (if you’re in the UK) and if you disagree with the rules as so many of us do, you can petition the UK parliament or contact your local MP. Oh and by the way, this applies to lots of things – don’t like how something is run? Tell someone. Be active. Show you care.

But stop breaking the rules in the meantime. People are dying. You are not special. You do not know better. Wear a damn mask.

Doomsday Preppers

Does anyone else feel like they are living an episode of Doomsday Preppers right now? (one of the best shows on Netflix, in case you were wondering – it follows folk in the States who have a very specific doomsday scenario in mind and are preparing for it, mostly by buying guns apparently)

I went to the shops earlier to buy a toaster, and while I’d seen all of the toilet roll and soap panic-buying posts, I was still surprised.

And listen guys, here’s the thing. For some people in our community, stockpiling is legitimate. If you are vulnerable and don’t have a strong support network, the threat of being asked to self-isolate is very real isolation. People who feel they have no-one to call on may be very reasonably buying enough of products to ensure they can properly self-isolate should they need to.

There are other people who might feel the need to stockpile. Those who don’t have the financial means to buy food ad-hoc on delivery, or who fear they may not have the funds to buy essentials if they rise in price during a crisis.

While at the shops earlier however, I ended up at the checkout behind a woman who had 6 bottles of disinfectant, an entire shopping bag of crisps, and two full trays of beans.

And some mascarpone.

I am not necessarily shaming this particular woman. Maybe she was buying extra goods to give to a charity or a food bank. Maybe she was buying for vulnerable neighbours. I know I don’t know her personal story. But she didn’t look like that was her motivation, and I think she is reasonably representative of a lot of people out in the world right now. Selfish people, who are not considering the impact to their wider community of their greed. That is what it is at the end of the day.

The same kind of people who have bought all of the pasta in the UK are still going out to busy pubs each night, still planning trips across the country to see elderly relatives, and still (somehow still) not washing their damn hands properly. Because they don’t think they’ll get sick, but if they do then they have plenty of food in, so they’ll be fine.

I have no faith in the UK government to properly manage a crisis, or effectively contain an outbreak of Covid-19. I have more faith in our experts, but they need to be heard. I have even more faith in the staff of the NHS, but they are reliant on resourcing from our pitiful government.

As ever, I have the most faith in our communities. Community action is powerful, and people are generally good, and caring. But those communities can only be properly supported if the greedy people take a long hard look at themselves and consider their priorities.

Let’s look after our neighbours, not threaten them with (proverbial, or real) guns, and fight them for the last tin of chopped tomatoes. As a community we are far stronger than that.


And listen seriously. If you can afford to buy mascarpone as part of your panic-shop, you don’t need to be panic-shopping.

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.