Me And The Girls; Book Clubbing


BarooshWelcome to Baroosh, the city centre tapas bar which is perfect for friends, colleagues and groups of like-minded people to meet up, chat, have nibbles and get tipsy enjoy a drink or two. You can always tell which table the book club is occupying; it’s the largest, noisiest one in the place and there’s often a blonde wearing a hat (that would be me then). Hats are useful for when I’m under the weather and can’t really tend to my personal appearance.

Well, that’s how it used to be anyway. Continue reading

Posted in Baroosh, Book Clubs, Chelmsford, Disappointment, Food, Group Meetings, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

And He Learned


The Hairy Housewife:

I will blog something soon, I promise (I actually have a draft lined up) but I saw this and had to share.

Originally posted on Rant Against the Random:

When he noticed the naked little girl at the beach didn’t look quite like he did and asked why, they answered his questions in simple phrases painted in black and white, pink and blue, and tradition. And he learned that boys and girls were different.

When one of the neighbor kids painted his nails, they got angry. That wasn’t something boys did. And he learned that there were different rules for boys and girls, and that breaking those made people upset.

When he was handed down a pink bike from his cousin, they replaced it with a blue one, because they didn’t want him to be mocked for having a “girly” bike. And he learned that being girly was something to be mocked.

When he cried, they told him to be a man. And he learned that crying, and being not a man, was something less.

When he was being picked…

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My loves, my students, my teachers, my friends…


The Hairy Housewife:

I disappear for a while through ill-health, and this happens to one of the loveliest, most loving, honest people I can name. Thinking of you Rara and Grayson both during this time xxx

Originally posted on rarasaur:

Back when I first started blogging, the Daily Post issued a prompt: You have the chance to write one last post on your blog before you stop blogging forever. Write it.

I wrote a reply, then, back in November of 2012, and looking back now– though it was cute and somewhat different than the other replies– it showed a total lack of understanding.  I can’t imagine leaving something so trite for y’all now, not when you’ve done so much for me and added so very much to my life.

Today, I am writing my last post. The tears are slowing me down, and my hands are shaking, but I am borrowing your strength as I try to get to the important parts.

Of course, nothing is certain.

If there’s one thing you learn in the ‘sphere, it’s that.  Ideal couples get divorced, terminally ill people live long fulfilling lives…

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Here’s the real reason the Tories are allowing the destruction of robin eggs and nests


The Hairy Housewife:

I read about this online this morning. A disgusting suggestion – as if we have the right to dictate to the other planet-dwellers (which we don’t. Please spread the word.

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(not satire – it’s the Tories!)

I must admit to having been more than a little puzzled at first as to why Natural England are proposing that nests and eggs of bird species such as robins and starlings will be allowed to be destroyed without the granting of special licences.

This would mean members of the public would be allowed to destroy any nests or eggs they came across – more or less at will.

Natural England’s consultation paper on the subject doesn’t shed much light on the reasons for these quite shocking proposals either – other than stating that these birds can present a “public health and safety” hazard.

There is no explanation of what exactly the public health and safety hazards of robins’ and starlings’ eggs are.

However, after a little investigation into the murky waters of party donations all has now become clear.

Last year government ministers chose Andrew Sells…

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A Gay Dad Takes on the Frozen-Hating Mormon Grandmother


The Hairy Housewife:

It’s a crying shame that this message even still needs to be spread. Since it does, however, I am more than happy to pass it along.

Originally posted on evoL =:

ImageLast week a self defined Mormon grandmother named Kathryn Skaggs wrote a blog in an effort to alert the world that the movie Frozen was targeting children with a “gay agenda”.  In a sense, she was not alone in seeing “something gay”.  Many gay bloggers reviewed it with the thrill that it captured the air of gay persecution and some went so far as to dub it “the gayest Disney movie ever.”

They, of course, did not mean it in the same way Ms. Skaggs did.    There seems to be some common ground that there is a relevant LGBT message, even if we can’t all agree on exactly what it is, and whether it is “bad”.

Ms. Skaggs is a California pro-proposition 8 activist who feels her religious beliefs should trump the right of other families to enjoy the love and commitment she does.  Her writing expresses the fear that…

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When The Needle Skips The Groove


record-playerI haven’t exactly been “dying of ennuii” since you last saw me here. I’ve been laid up quite ill for a while and so my blogging has gone right out of the window.

In my absence I’ve been reading the complete works of Louisa May Alcott (who I really must write a piece on at some point – a feminist ahead of her time). I’ve put my two largest Tarantulas (my Mexican Red Leg and Honduran Curlyhair) into larger tanks, and I now have a juvenile Red Leg, who I bought because a friend needed a new washing machine and had to sell a good portion of her collection off to be able to pay for it. Little Rogue – or “Dot” – has settled in beautifully.

I’ve been reading scripts for an actor who wishes to write for Doctor Who, and am being a friend to another actor who is a little bit down at the moment. I stick by all my friends, and so the idea of dropping one just because they’re an actor who isn’t working doesn’t quite compute with me – I don’t have to see this particular friend on TV to remain friendly, any more than they have to read anything I’ve had published.

But, as the title of this blog has probably already hinted, I’m not here to talk about any of those things today. I’m here to talk about when the needle in your brain skips the groove and creates havoc. Continue reading

Posted in Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Arachnids, Attitudes, Disability, Epilepsy, Epilepsy Awareness, Friends, Health, Illness, Neurological | 3 Comments

I’m Not Allowed To Embrace My Roma Heritage Any More


GypsyYou see this lady? A peaceful looking lady minding her own business whilst cooking? She’s a Romany Gypsy – or Roma.

Being Roma doesn’t automatically mean that you come from Romania or anywhere else that people think the Roma come from. Roma is a race, a lifestyle – not a nationality. Each Roma community has its own ways and its own language, depending on place of origin. No two Roma families are the same.

So imagine my shock and distress when I commented on a news thread and received this lovely message in response:

“You and your family should go back to wherever it is you crawled out from. You’re not English and you don’t belong here.”

I spelled the above quote correctly; the abuser didn’t.

I have never experienced racial abuse before. Not ever. Not being a racist myself, it never entered my head that a show such as Benefits Street could cause anybody to hate my ancestory – the ancestory that my maternal family and I are so very proud of. To hate me without even meeting me, just because of my maternal roots.

I have news for the racist bigots out there. I am English. I was born to an English mother and a Welsh father – in England.

I am also Roma. I was born due to an honourable and dignified bloodline. Whatever a racist might think, I can have these three (and more) bloodlines all at once.

I have blonde hair, fair skin and blue eyes. If I chose not to tell you of my Roma ancestory you would never know. But why on earth should I hide who I am and where I came from?

 

Posted in Abuse, Benefits Street, Bigotry, Racism | 3 Comments

Willingden


It could be a peaceful little village from the pages of a Tolkien novel, except that it only exists in my head, when I’m asleep and dreaming.

WillingdenI often find myself there at some point during my sleep cycle. The houses are tall with cobbled facades, and outside each is parked a vintage car. Before I even see the old mill, I know that I’ve stepped back in time. It’s quiet apart from birdsong and the occasional grocer’s van.

According to a sign, Cheltenham (my hometown) is north-west of Willingden. I keep this in mind while I investigate the old fashioned shops and have a go at sewing my own clothes. There’s a tea shop, a disused railway tunnel and fields to walk through. There’s a cinema/theatre painted green, and an old fashioned high street.

There is also the Church Green, where the signs pointing at Cheltenham merge into village names that you’ve not heard of. You follow the signs and find yourself looking at an active forge, a forest, or a country path – even an entire new village. You never do get back to Cheltenham and eventually you realise that you don’t want to. Willingden is small and peaceful – somewhat like Hobbiton but with larger houses.

I have no idea where the name comes from in my mind – it’s just always been there. Perhaps I’m dreaming of the perfect environment and making it so real in my head that I can actually live in it for a while. No noisy dogs, no pollution… just peace and beauty.

Welcome to a slice of my dream world.

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Doctor Who Guest Review: The Time of The Doctor


The time has come at last for Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor to face Trenzalore, the oldest question in the universe hidden in plain sight, and his own inevitable death. But this is no ordinary Christmas special. For this ties all of Eleven’s seasons together as well as reaffirms what we love most about his character. Indeed as Clara’s cracker taught us;

And now it’s time for one last bow,
Like all your other selves.
Eleven’s hour is over now,
The clock is striking twelve’s.

One last bow, then. One last bit of meta. Moffat has shown us time and time again how much he loves The Doctor as mythos, as legend, as fairy tale, and part of his way of showing that is through stories within stories. Of course, the ultimate conceit of this episode, is that s5-7 ALL occur within its hour. For yes, in an hour we have the answer to the exploding TARDIS in s5, the questions answered re ‘silence will fall Doctor’ and just why the oldest question in the universe, hidden in plain sight, is Doctor Who? The Time of The Doctor is an appropriate title. Well played, Santa Moff, well played.

Time of the Doctor

But this episode is more than just a series of answers to ever more Lost-esque plot complexities. It is also Matt’s swansong as one of the greatest Doctors the show has ever had in a story that highlights just what made Eleven tick. This is The Doctor who never interferes in people or planets unless there are children crying. And so the youngest Doctor in the shows history dies of old age, not because he has to do so, but because that’s all him. He can’t just fly off in his TARDIS. Not when there’s children to save. His own life is unimportant in the face of human suffering. And then there is the effect The Doctor has on young minds; all of those pictures, the little toys he makes, the puppet shows and the little boy by the TARDIS who, upon hearing that The Doctor is about to leave says, “I’ll wait.” It is all reminiscent of Amy Pond, The Girl Who Waited. The care that Eleven displayed for Handles is also a throwback to his overall tenure. This Doctor loves his friends something fierce. Even his relationship with River gets a mention, with hun, Tasha Lem, reflecting elements of Eleven’s favorite archaeologist.

Eleven was magical; a mad old wizard in a young body, impetuous, impossible, in love with manic women and filled with surprising pathos and joy. Some of this was the scripts, of course, but a lot of it was Matt Smith; an underdog choice who proved his right to the TARDIS keys again and again. We saw everything this episode. Matt’s drunk giraffe physical routine, complete with crazy hand gestures, Matt’s ability to play an ancient man in a young body and then his ability to sell us an old man in an ancient body (great specials effects team!), and finally his ability to flit between flirt, oncoming storm, man of pathos and then wisdom and hope.

But even The Doctor couldn’t make it through this story alone. The last few episodes gradually warmed me to Clara, but this was the first time that I truly felt like Clara was her own companion. Her expressions, mannerisms and quick manner are spot on and I loved the rapport between her grandmother and herself. The grandmother’s story of how she met her husband was also quite beautiful. Clara has saved The Doctor countless times throughout s7; from her first appearance in 7.1 when she made all of the Daleks forget, to the Christmas special where she gave The Doctor new purpose, to Day of the Doctor, when she helps The Doctor see that he must change his mind about genocide. This time, Clara speaks to the Time Lords through the crack in her wall, letting them know that they need no answer to The Doctor’s true name, for his name is irrelevant. His name is a promise that he has now kept. And so they grant him fresh regenerations in a necessary move that will no doubt wreak havoc with merchandising.

When Clara runs into the TARDIS to find her Doctor, she speaks for all of us, when she voices her dismay that he is changing. Matt’s exit speech is truly poignant, nothing like the dross of The End of Time. He leaves both with dignity, and in true Eleven style. By the time he dropped his bow tie to the ground, I was in tears.

“Times change and so must I.
We all change. When you think about, it we’re all different people all through our lives and that’s OK. That’s good. Gotta keep it moving, so long as you remember all the people that you used to be.”

And then in a poignant and clever echo of River’s voiceover;

“Not those times, not one line. Don’t you dare!”

The Doctor promises us;

I will not forget one line of this, not one day, I swear.
I will always remember when the Doctor was me

And then it was time for one last piece of Eleven magic. Fish fingers and custard get a nod before The Doctor sees little Amelia running through a TARDIS papered in colourful children’s drawings. A familiar woman walks down the stairs and drops the final curtain on Eleven with;

“Raggedy Man. Goodnight.”

Eleven is over. The clock has struck twelve. Good luck Capaldi! Matt is a tough act to follow!

Time of the Doctor: 8/10 inky stars

Maureen is a speculative fiction writer and reader who is entirely too addicted to Doctor Who. She is releasing an ebook poetry collection 1st Feb. You can find the facebook page Here

Posted in A Madman With A Box, Doctor Who, Doctor Who Review | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Getting Fitter To Get Better


In the bad old days (many years ago now) I subsisted on tea, cigarettes and rum.

In slightly better days this changed to tea and wine.

Now it’s water, the occasional cup of tea and wine.

I’m still not eating enough and I always seem to be unwell.

After the jump, I’ll explain why… Continue reading

Posted in 2014, Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life, Attitudes, Body Image, Body Parts, Diet And Fitness, Disability, Disability Aids, Disabled Gardening, Discomfort, EDNOS, Epilepsy, Exercise, Food, Health, Neurological, Refusing To Be Beaten, Resolutions, Seizures | 18 Comments