The Last Day of November

Tuesday 30 November, 2010

Did you do it? Did you do something good today to show how you should do what people reserve for Christmas Day every other day?
… Well, that’s okay. I didn’t either. I didn’t get the chance for reasons I won’t go into. The good news is that you have just under half an hour to do something.

The bad news is that tomorrow, starting Midnight tonight, is the start of December. It means that Christmas is about three weeks away and anything good you do beyond that point will be misconstrued as “Getting into the Christmas spirit”. It will be tagged, labelled and filed away as such, in triplicate. If you’d like to get those files back out to edit them, fix them up and relabelled, you’ll need four witnesses, three signatures, two government stamps and an official “this item has been re-filed” folder.

… Sorry, did I just do what I think I did? The Midnight hour must be approaching quicker than I imagined!

Fa La La La La, La La La La

Monday 29 November, 2010

There now just stands one day between us in the UK and the start of December. It is usually when we start to feel most of the effects of winter, although as per usual, winter practically started here back in September. We start shopping for those special people in our lives as a certain day gets nearer and nearer and of course, for a lot of people, it’s when the decorations go up.

I’m not a christmassy person. In fact, due to some events happening too closely to christmas, I haven’t properly celebrated it in the last 5+ years. I am unashamedly a Scrooge.

I’ve always seen Christmas as too commercial, too stressful and too false. Surely if someone loved you enough to see you and shower you with presents on Christmas day, doing it on another day, at another time during the year would mean just as much. The argument is that it’s Christmas, so therefore a little extra effort should be put into it.

I, a cynic, think the absolute opposite. Maybe it’s Because i’m a cynic, or maybe it’s because I see Christmas for what it is. A perfect chance to try and be that perfect family nobody actually is, which is why for many people christmas days start out okay and then dissolve into the shambles they are. Either way, I can’t be sold the idea that seeing distant relatives who don’t know you, relatives who only make the effort to see you because it’s christmas, relatives you might even hate, is what makes a family better. It’s not. It makes the family who go through that routine every year seem pompous and fake.

It’s the families that don’t mind if someone can’t make it there for christmas, because they make many other days a priority, who have the right idea. It’s the family who don’t think spending £100 on massive gestures on christmas day shows the value of a loved one, who have the right idea.

Mainly, it’s just the people who want to be the best that they can be for the rest of the rest of the year, who treat christmas day as just another day to do the same old, same old who I think have it right. Because you tell me how many times you see that drunken uncle of yours who calls you Sarah when your name is Laura, besides christmas, and how often you really want to see him. If it’s more, okay, i’m wrong. If you wish you could celebrate christmas day like it was Groundhog Day, i’ll admit i’m wrong.

But if you agree with what i’m saying, then I’d like to think i’m right. At least to a certain degree. Christmas is just a commercial, stressful time of year that headlines December. Break the trend and make a difference tomorrow instead, just for the sake of it being a normal day, or because it’s a monday.

Or because a gesture made tomorrow won’t be shadowed by the expectation blanket of Christmas day.

This is a public service announcement

Saturday 27 November, 2010

As the title and address of this blog, I was indeed a twenty-something journalism student, and failed because I dropped out. There are reasons behind this that I won’t go into but a lot of it had to do with the university course being complete shambles.

I still think I have something, though. At the very least, it’s the skill to fill a blank space with words.

This space, right now, is dedicated to wheelchair access. After all, not many other places seem to want to give it or put much thought behind what “wheelchair access” or “disabled access” means.

At the very least, it means access or facilities designed to help those with a wheelchair or physical disability or impairment to become equal with their peers and fellows. Why is this so hard to understand?

Disabled toilets should probably have hand towels that people from wheelchairs can reach instead of being 3 feet above the sink, as well as bins that aren’t foot-pedal operated. In an accessible toilet, I know for a fact that the target users are very unlikely to be able to use it. Exceptions to the rules and all that but, think about it, please? There’s also issues with taps that some people can’t grip or push down on. Lever handles would be ideal for the majority, motion sensored ones even more so.

Buses? Don’t even get me started on buses. I don’t think any proper planning went onto wheelchair access on a bus. The driver’s hardly know there’s a fold out ramp, or how to use it. There’s a lot of drivers who refuse to get out of their cab to see to it, or even acknowledge it and will drive away from the curb so that the wheelchair can’t even try and argue.

When the driver does bother, it’s as almost as if it’s the person in the wheelchair’s fault that the bus is a few seconds, or maybe even minutes, held up. It’s not. It’s the bus company’s and sometimes even the driver’s, but it is never the passenger’s. Staring at a user with contempt because they are struggling to fit into the sorry excuse for a wheelchair space before the bus can leave the stop is not helpful. It’s rude, it’s ignorant and it’s misdirected.

And Banks! Listen up HSBC in Southport, Lord Street. You have steps that imitate the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and no wheelchair access. You don’t even have the cop out that other buildings supply in the form of a doorbell, or if you do, a person in a wheelchair has no way of getting to it. Sort yourselves out, get a ramp, automatic doors and accessible ATMs because right now, an independent person in a wheelchair (And yes, there are a few. They’d probably be more if everywhere was as accessible as they make themselves out to be) has no hope of getting in to that bank, and seeing as HSBC debit cards have the horrible tendency to not work in other ATMs, you’re really intruding on a wheelchair users day. If they have no access to ATMs, they have no access to money.

Last but not least, i’d like every where with a ramp to employ a person in a wheelchair and get them to asses it. A ramp doesn’t automatically mean a person in a wheelchair can access the premises or the facilities. There are many, many train stations who have ramps that go underground as an alternative to the steps to get to the otherside of the tracks. They are so steep, they are dangerous, even with someone in control of the wheelchair from behind. It helps fuel the attitude that every person with a physical disability, whether they have a wheelchair or not, should always have a carer or assistant with them. They have the right not to if this is the only thing that keeps them from independent.

It is disgusting. I’m looking at you, local councils. Fix it, deal with it, get people who actually need to use these facilities, more than one to represent a variety of conditions, and do as they say.
Someone who is able bodied in a stock wheelchair is not an option. They have full range of movement and good amount of power in their arms. They have a full range of vision and no body parts sensitive to jolts. They will not be able to assess fully what is or isn’t safe or good use to a disabled person.

I hate Twilight

Friday 26 November, 2010

I hate Twilight. I make no secret of this. Everyone who knows me Knows I hate twilight. I hate that it’s considered better than Harry Potter, I hate that it’s considered read worthy. Surely the only thing that pile of garbage is worthy of is a good burning. Fuel for the Fire.

Don’t burn a Qu’ran or The Bible, burn the Twilight books! I’ve heard the fires last longer due to the never ending purple prose. Some say it makes the fire look pretty, but it also makes the air smell like poo, so I wouldn’t stand too close.

I’m not just some bitter Harry Potter fan though, there are reasons for why I think this book is aneurysm inducing. Good reasons that don’t actually involve the assumption that I’ve never been in love or a relationship. If I was going to have a relationship, I sure as hell wouldn’t want one Bella Swan style.

First of all, i’ve not read the books, but I don’t have to to know what a twisted relationship Edward and Bella have. One, he’s a vampire. The only good rendition of a Vampire being in love with The Girl, was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. He didn’t sparkle, he walked the night like a shadow and most importantly, he was a bad ass, but a bad ass you felt sorry for.
Smeyer invented a vampire who has None of the characteristics of a vampire and then just made him pathetic, in that Woman-controlling, wife-beating way.

The whole set of stories read like a poorly written Fan-fiction. I’d even be willing to bet my phone on her being the author of My Immortal, which is somehow better than Twilight. Voldemort was a gay goth, yet he still remained badass and scary!

Edward is frightening for all the wrong reasons, but I’ll get back to that in a minute. Bella is a vapid, vain airhead who is apparently ordinary and boring, but like a Mary Sue, she walks through the door and zomg, everyone loves her! A BOY is looking at her, so that must mean he fancies her, right? And, AND, she has brown flowing hair. Now, of course, the Mary Sue Hair Colour of choice is either Blonde, because she is so irresistable and never questions her beauty, or it’s Brown, because brown means boring and it’s a surprise when all the boys fancy her because she only has brown hair and what guy would love a girl with brown hair?*

Remind me what colour Smeyer’s hair is? Oh, Brown you say? Funny coincidence… I think not.

So, following the description of how she looks, she says time and time again how beautiful and good looking Edward is. I’m sensing a fan-fiction-esque theme, here. He has No personality, but then neither does she. This doesn’t make them a match made in heaven.

The biggest urk I have against Edward is he practically stalked Bella. Stalking is Not romantic. Invading a girl’s bedroom and watching her sleep is Not romantic. Being dead and walking in the day and sparkling is not only NOT romantic, it’s really quite weird!

And most of all, he’s an emotional abuser and she is an obliviously vapid inane victim. She knows he’s no good, but this takes “loving the bad boy” to dangerous levels. She’s supposed to be a feminist? She’s supposed to be a role model to young girls yet she can’t do anything for herself. If Edward was any kind of a scrap of a man, he’d help her help herself, but it’s like a Stockholm Syndrome where, actually, Bella IS to blame. The sex and sexuality in it is SO unsuitable for kids that I can’t believe parents let them read it.

I won’t even go into the blood bath that is the birth of the daughter who ages ten times faster than human beings, but is actually still a kid when the warewolf guy decides that he wants to sleep with her… just because she looks like a clone of Bella at the age of 18. In the world where I come from, that’s not only statuary rape but also peadophilia. But she Looks 18, so that’s, like, totally OK, right?

Give me a break.

This book should be used as many examples. An example of bad plot, an example of one dimensional characters, an example of Mary Sue Author who somehow got famous, an example of publishers dropping the ball and most of all, an example of How Not To Write A Story.

But I take offense at this book being called an Example of good literature. She can no more compare herself to Tolkien or J.K than I can to Kobe Bryant.

*The opinion according to Suethors.

Hey, we’re all people

Wednesday 24 November, 2010

Have you ever thought ‘makes me “me” and you “you”?’. I have, it’s like a Sliding Doors kind of trail of thought.

Right up to this moment, I’m a packrat and an observational minimalist, which is sometimes a contradiction because how can you be a minimalist if you want to take all of your sentimental property with you wherever you go? Well, it’s pretty easy if the only things you own are out of necessity or sentiment along the way.

The top i’m wearing right now? I’ve had since I was 7, maybe 8, years old. I won’t grow out of it so why not wear it for as long as it’ll last? It’s got sentimental value to it because I got it at the very first boccia competition I ever went to at the Merseyside Youth Games. It drowned me and I wore it proudly like a dress! And that year we got gold (because I rolled the winning ball).

It’s also the only time we wore blue at the Merseyside Youth Games, and also the only time we won gold. (Until I rolled the winning ball again for Sefton Seniors…) The rest of the years we wore yellow, and I still have the majority of those t-shirts as well. Can’t tell them from one to the other unless they have the year on, except for one mesh-like sports t-shirt. I remember wearing that one when I was 10, my last year playing Boccia for the Sefton juniors team. I ended up being quite sick when I got home for some reason, and thought it was because of that top.

A while later, I decided to prove myself wrong by wearing it again. Well, I wore it on the same day I decided to watch the Brandy version of Cinderella… and ended up throwing up and coming down with the flu. Cinderella was interrupted so the following week on the Sunday, when I felt better and looked forward to finally going back into school the next day, I watched it again. And then threw up again and ended up being off school sick for another week because of a second wave of the flu.

I’ve not watched that version since, for fear I’ll throw up and come down with the flu again. I do still have the top though, I’m not a total weirdo!

A Personal Opinion That Might Lose Me Friends

Wednesday 24 November, 2010

If I was the queen of the world, I would ban smoking and increase the prices of alcohol. Why? Because i’m a power crazy extremist who just wants people to suffer…

No, not really. It’s really because no good comes of smoking. Seriously, I don’t care how many people say they’ve known people who’ve smoked all their life and have been fine and infact, they died of something Completely Unrelated, the point is that no one is effect-free from smoking. It’s alright if it just destroys their own bodies, but it doesn’t. Breathing conditions/asthma is caused and worsened respectively by second hand smoke and the junk from it lingering on clothes and hair. The chances and frequency of Emphysemia, which now has to be politically-correctly called COPD, and lung cancer would probably lesson, seeing as smoking is the leading cause of them.

Why go through all that when the simple solution is to just not start in the first place or give up? Not to mention how ruthless some people can be to be able to smoke. It’s not just a case of “Don’t like? Don’t go there”. It’s a case of “You wanna smoke? You go into a place that is FOR smoking and shower on your way back out, and don’t come crying to me when it starts to kill you because you were warned and now your dying before your time”. It wrecks families and lives and it is SO easily avoided.

As for alcohol, too many young kids get smashed every weekend and binge drinking culture is wrecking a lot of cities in the UK, and people don’t seem to care that they lose control when they get black out drunk and pull stupid stunts. Accident and Emergency departments of hospitals get flooded with people who are hurt in some way due to binge drinking, or are suffering from alcohol poisoning.

And finally on the topic of drugs… There needs to be more control so that people know exactly what they’re getting in to when they start them. I have been told by too many people that there’s nothing in poppers or speed or E and that the side effects of coke are all exaggerated to scare people, and yet a week later people die through taking those exact things. I’m no drug expert, but i’m pretty sure that there is going to be some side effect if the drug is used to alter the natural chemical reactions in your body. And the so called safe legal alternatives? Just got classed worse than the illegal ones and are now also illegal.

I hate to say I told you so, but…

When I was younger, so much younger than today…

Monday 22 November, 2010

When I was younger, I wanted to be a maths teacher. I loved maths because you could collect up all the numbers, and each number counted no matter how small it was, and you came to the answer. It was the simple concept that it was straight forward with just one answer that I loved. I could get my head around it… until the mathematics became too complex for me to count up using plastic blocks and simple equations.

No one ever told me that needing to use all the counting blocks in the classroom was wrong, that it was a sign of something wrong. The same way none of my teachers ever wondered why I needed to write down ALL of my sums, no matter how simple they were, and take up a whole page until I could get to my final answer. There would literally be a page of lists of numbers and sums as I would build up the answer.

Things got worse in high school when we no longer had counting blocks, my teacher didn’t have the patience to understand and would make me feel two inches small when I got the lowest score in mental arithmetic. I was in the lowest set for maths and I was still too thick for it. I would be berated for needing to keep track of all the numbers and sums and I’d be shouted at for wasting pages in my book when two whole pages were filled with maths that didn’t make sense. I tried to fix that by gluing two pages together and then I was shouted at again for wasting pages. This same teacher would even hover behind me whenever I got a new exorcise book, to make sure I didn’t mess up the first page. I had this bitch for three years and each lesson she brought me to near tears. On some Wednesdays, there were tears!

It took until I was 15 for someone to say “Dyscalculia”, which is basically the number version of Dyslexia. It’s still not widely known today. There’s probably loads of people who just thought they were too thick for maths who had it, maybe even some people got away with it and work in a maths-based job today.

Not me, though. When the maths got too hard, when the teachers didn’t ask or try to understand why I just didn’t understand the equations, that I worked them out in a unique and different way, I lost faith in maths. It was no longer my friend because even 0 wasn’t what I was led to believe. The number 1 was made up with fractions, a more complex equation is needed if you want to divide decimal points together and the speeds of trains passing each other became very important, for some reason. Even though I’m pretty sure there’s technology to figure that out for us…

I found a new friend in English and Media Analysis. They weren’t as good as maths. With English, it’s more in the reasons of why you think it’s possible rather than whether or not somethings possible, and whether there’s evidence to support your reason.

Seamus Heaney was a afraid of frogs, you say? What makes you think that?
Well, the poem were he compares frogspawn to a deadly blood virus was a give away

And media was very much the same.

The denotation is that Andrew Beckett and Joe Miller are standing at opposites sides of the office. The connotation of them standing in those positions is that Miller, who creates the distance in the first place, is uncomfortable with Beckett’s presence and is prejudice against gay people and HIV sufferers. I believe that the office is a symbol of a box…

And the further away that childhood dream of becoming a maths teacher went. It’s not the only one I never pursued though. I also gave up my dream of being a house builder, a footballer, an actress, a drummer in a band, a window cleaner, a nurse, an electrics specialist, a magazine article writer and many other things.

Some come again and go again, others I’ve not really given up on, just thought differently about. I’m 22 years old, a Twenty-something, and I still have no idea what I want to do with my life.

Some say that’s okay, and right now, I choose to believe them. And who knows, maybe when I’m 50 I’ll start again with maths and make that teacher dream of mine come true.

Or maybe I’ll become a flamenco dance teacher instead. Maybe anything’s possible.