Category Archives: News

100 reasons not to vote UKIP.

As some context for my non-British readers, a political party called UKIP is starting to gain support at the moment. Their leader is quite a charismatic guy who makes people feel like he is in touch with them but underneath his smiling facade is a controlling, far right, racist autocrat who will destroy the country if he gets into power. This post explains just why no one should vote for UKIP by exposing what they really stand for!

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100 reasons not to vote UKIP.

Please read these reasons not to vote UKIP.  Many of you have concerns about the way the country is being run, but UKIP are not the answer.  There are many parties out there that you can vote for as a protest vote if you don’t want to vote for the main three.  Before you cast your vote, please take the time to see who you are voting for.

Change profile picture on socialmedia to this picture the day before Euro elections Change profile picture on social media to this picture the day before Euro elections

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Love Letters to the Home Office

Although it might seem like all of my life is taken up with movie watching, outfit picking, cooking and general mischief and nostalgia, I do occasionally involve myself in something a little bit more serious.

Almost two months ago a colleague of mine approached me about getting involved in a project he was working on. He (Jason) and I are both British Citizens who started our lives elsewhere. Me in South Africa and him in the United States. Over the years we have shared our immigration and visa woes and given each other tips on the best ways to jump through the UKBA’s (as it was then) various hoops. Jason’s friend, Katharine, was recently affected by the Family Migration Law of 2012, which specifies a minimum income of £18,600 p.a. for a British citizen in order for them to sponsor a non-EU spouse (increasing with every child where there are children). She has been married to her partner, Raco for over 18 months but he has only been allowed to live with her in the UK very recently.

Before I go into the project, I want to explain how unfair this law is in practice. First of all, 47% of all British citizens would not be able to meet this criteria and even worse, 61% of women would not be able to. Secondly the non-EU partner’s income is in no way considered. So even if the non-EU partner earns a gazillion pounds they would not be able to live with their partner and family. Thirdly it says in the EU Human Rights convention that you have the right to marry whomever you want and to have a family life. Deciding who gets to have human rights depending on their income is flat out wrong.

To make people aware of how British families are being affected, Katharine came up with the idea of getting people who have been separated from their families by the law to send in their love letters to be collated and published in a book called Love Letters to the Home Office. As someone who feels really passionate about Human Rights I was really excited to get involved and started out by doing some ghost writing and helping out with the social media, especially around our first petition urging for a change in the law.

The book, which you can and should buy here, has now been published and will officially be launched tomorrow night. While we were gathering stories of those who have been affected by the unfair Family Migration law of 2012, we realised that no one we encountered, including ourselves, had had a positive experience of dealing with the Home Office Visas and Immigration Section. So as part of the launch we decided to write a manifesto of how the Home Office should operate it’s visas and immigration section and that’s the second part of what I’ve been working on. Tomorrow night I will read out the manifesto that I have written with the help of Jason and Katharine and which is also available as a petition.

If this is something you also care about you can read the stories here, sign the petitions here and here, connect with us on Facebook and Twitter and even attend the launch if you’re based in London… and you can buy the book no matter where you live.

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Hamba kakuhle, Tata. We will never forget you

I am not going to attempt to write a big profound essay on what Nelson Mandela has meant to  the world or even to the country I was born and raised in. Other much more gifted and eloquent writers have already done that much better than I ever could, but to allow his passing to go by unmarked seems impossible to contemplate.

Although I was only 9 years old when Madiba came out of prison I remember it well and I remember the years of change my country went through where so many lives could have been lost and so many people turned bitter or violent but through Nelson Mandela’s personal leadership and example he steered us through with the endless love and compassion that we learned to feel for each other. There is no greater symbol around the world for peace, reconciliation and forgiveness than the father of our nation. Our “tata”. The man who raised us all from an angry, divided, hateful child into the mature and united nation we are now. I am not suggesting South Africa does not have problems but it is a country where its people (including its expats) care immensely and know how to fight oppression, unfairness and corruption because we were taught so well by such a fearless and dignified leader.

Today not only South Africans, but people who believe in freedom and equality all over the world, will be in mourning and I will be one of them. Let us keep the spirit of Madiba alive in our hearts always and never forget what he stood for. Rest well now, Tata,  the world is a much emptier place without you in it.

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Passport league table

Ever wondered just what your passport was worth? Regular readers of this blog will know that I hold dual South African-British nationality. I was born and grew up in South Africa but moved to the UK in 2004 and eventually gained British citizenship last year. I hold passports for both.

Of course anyone who has citizenship from somewhere outside the “first world” will know not all passports are created equal. If you come from anywhere in Western Europe, North America or Australasia most countries will welcome you, at least as a tourist, without any kind of pre-qualification. However those who don’t, will know all too well the joyous hoop-jumping thrill of applying for a visa… for everywhere.

Recently residence and citizenship planning advisors, Henley & Partners published their annual passport league table, ranking 219 territories in order of “ease of travel” I suppose. According to the league table the maximum points total a nationality could get is 218, as a point is subtracted for traveling to your own country, except for countries where nationals have to have a visa to reenter their own country. It seems that this only applies to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea (has anyone else noticed that the minute you add democratic to the name of your country it’s normally a signal that it’s the exact opposite). A point is then subtracted for every country that requires you have a visa to visit.

It’s unsurprising that a UK passport ties for number one with Sweden and Finland with a whopping 173 points, followed closely by the USA in second place with 172 (tied with Germany, Luxembourg and Denmark). South Africa comes in at a rather pitiful 42, with only 94 points, tying with Turkey and St Lucia – slightly better than Bosnia Herzegovina, Albania and the Solomon Islands but not quite as good as Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or El Salvador.

However one must be satisfied with one’s lot. At 42 Mzansi is still the highest ranked of all African countries. You also wouldn’t want to come from Pakistan, Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan who come in at joint 91st, 92nd and 93rd at the bottom of the table. Afghans are only able to enter 28 countries without a visa. Bizarrely even citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea are more welcomed worldwide at 85 with 41 countries not requiring a visa… maybe because you can’t actually leave the country without an exit visa anyway. They’re hardly likely to deluge the French Riviera.

I guess this proves once again that there is a very distinct divide between the two different halves of the world… those who are welcome and those who are seen as a threat!

You can see the whole league table here, so let me know… how does your passport rank and do you think it’s fair?

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New Primark opens on Oxford Street… our verdict

For close on about two years now, the former site of the Virgin Megastore on the Tottenham Court Road end of Oxford Street has been a building site. Throughout the weeks and month that it was covered in scaffolding various suppositions were made about what it might be turned into, until it was eventually revealed that the Soho side of London’s biggest shopping street was getting its very own Primark Flagship store.

The news spread through the female component (and occasional bits of the male component, mostly for socks you see) in my office like wildfire. Our very own Primani, as big as the Marble Arch one and close enough to pop into at lunch or after work without a huge detour to the other side of Oxford Street. It was almost as big as the Olympics (well not really, but pretty big you know).

As the new store started to take shape and the scaffolding came down, we peered hungrily at the covered up storefront, waiting, hoping that the opening date would be soon… despite this rather bizarre endorsement. I mean, have you seen what the Soho pigeons look like…

Finally a launch date appeared on the posters and we salivated and counted down. The 20th of September. D-Day.

Of course I couldn’t resist making a visit on the opening day and Jen and I agreed that we would each bring £20 with us, scour the shop and see what we could get. Compared to most Primark’s the store is lighter, shinier, tidier and absent of chavs with pushchairs. It is so big though that it’s a bit overwhelming, which left us a bit spoilt for choice.

The ground floor has a pretty impressive range of slightly more expensive (like New Look expensive not H&M expensive) trendier and limited edition ranges that you don’t find in your suburban Primarks. But never fear if you are after the slightly crap t-shirts with Lady Gaga on them, you’ll find them on the second floor along with the accessories. Even in such glamorous surroundings I’m still a bit disappointed that their shoes run small, which makes it hard for me to buy any that fit my mega size 8 feet, but the selection is a lot better than most.

I’m not sure if news of this new retail behemoth hadn’t spread beyond Soho locals but it was relatively quiet with no queue to pay. However, I still wouldn’t arrive expecting to try anything on unless you had unlimited time.

For Jen’s £24 (she couldn’t bear to leave either item so she cheated a little), she got a sheer, floor-length partially lined silver skirt and this cool abstract patterned dipped hem top.

For £16 I got this limited edition black and gold dipped hem top (EVERYTHING has a dipped hem this season) and floral canvas slip-ons that I love.

I will be forced to walk passed the new Primark on my way home from work every day… I can’t help but worry that it’s going to be a bit like a black hole for me. Only time will tell…

In which Abbi (accidentally) wades into “Bladegate”

Like most South Africans (and generally anyone cool) I have been keenly following, Oscar Pistorius’s participation in the Olympics and Paralympics. And like most of his fans, I was devastated when he was pipped at the post in the 200m T44 final by Brazilian, Alan Fonteles Oliveira.

Oscar was interviewed directly after the race and suggested that Oliveira’s blades were not of a fair length, which had compromised the race.  Some more background here:

After his initial outburst, Oscar apologised but maintained that he wanted the IPC to have a look at Oliveira’s blades and the rules around blade length.

Anyway, on Monday on my lunch break I engaged in one of my favourite activities, reading the comments on articles on the Metro Facebook page and lamenting about the general lack of education, compassion or common sense of the average human.

The comments on their article about Oscar mostly proclaimed him a sore loser, stated that he should have complained before the race and suggested that all the blades are the same and inherently unfair. I couldn’t resist adding my 2 cents and commented that he probably shouldn’t have raised his objections the way he did but that the post-race interviews don’t really give the athletes much time to process the race.

And then I thought nothing more of it and started getting excited for the rest of Oscar’s races.

Imagine my surprise when I started getting tweets and Facebook messages this morning telling me that Metro had published my “letter” in today’s paper.

So in case you were wondering if Metro checks all the barmy comments on their articles… they do… and they also publish them (slightly edited) without telling you – it’s probably part of those terms and conditions I didn’t bother to read…

Your LAST chance to add your support for Equal Civil Marriage

For any of you how feel as strongly as I do about the Equal Civil Marriage consultation going on in parliament at the moment and believe that all people regardless of their sexual orientation should be allowed to marry their partners, today is the last day to fill in the Home Office survey and lend your support.

Please take the time to fill in the quick survey and let the Home Office know that you back equal marriage for LBGT couples. This is what the Home Office uses to get a sense of how the public feels about the policy so it’s essential that you fill in it!

Sex doesn’t get worse than this…

Those of you who are writers will know that one of the most challenging things you ever have to face is the dreaded sex scene. Writing something that doesn’t inspire your reader’s cringe (or even worse, gag) reflex is a special talent that not everyone possesses and, dare I say, not everyone can learn.

It is comforting to know that not just amateur writers struggle with describing the “act of love” (I’m already cringing). In fact, some pro-writers have created scenes of such horror that The Literary Review now does an annual Bad Sex Awards, where the dodgiest sex scene from an actual published work of fiction is awarded the title.

I have been following the Literary Reviews tweets at @lit_review and I have some concerns as to whether some of the writers have actually ever had sex. With that in mind, below are some of my very favourite entries.

“Now he realised that he was inside [her], ejaculating toward her uterus.” – Grim

“He poked her now from the front and now from the back and now from the side.” – The side? What shape are this woman’s bits?

“she felt as though she were melting into a pool of delight, as his hand reached the soft fur of her mound” – brings new meaning to the phrase “panty hamster”

“She gave him this particular sign, this clear permission, and he began a careful prodding of her perineum.” – Prodding… PRODDING???

“His manhood had swelled to its fullness and strove for release.” – Mind of its own, it has!

“It surged up, until with volcanic release, it engulfed them.” – Engulfed them? Must have been some time since he, er, released prior to this.

“His middle fingertip settled on the no-man’s-land between her ‘front parlor’ and ‘back door’.” – Double grim!

“He kissed her again, slowly, felt the inside of her mouth with his tongue, then her neck.” –There seems to be a physical impossibility here…

“He came, standing, with both hands thrown high up over his head” – Waiting for a score from the judges?

“Where is my semen going? [His] garbled mind wondered.” – Um… really?

The prize will be awarded tomorrow, so make sure you check out the Lit Review’s website to find out who the “lucky” winner is…

Is the giant slipper the furniture of the future…

I know I’ve been going on about this on facebook and twitter but it’s literally one of the top 5 coolest things I have ever seen. This guy, Tom Boddington, ordered some slippers from Hong Kong… where you can order slippers in two different sizes. He wanted a 14 and a 14.5 but some kind of “clerical error” was made and instead Tom got a 14 and a 1,450.  This is him sitting in and next to his two slippers.

So there are two very obvious questions here:

  1. When the people who made this slipper were constructing it, did they turn to each other at any point and say, “This seems a little out of the ordinary. Maybe we should check it.” Then after that when some poor soul was packaging it for shipping (at a meagre cost of £15.50) did they think, “My, that’s a lot of bubble wrap. Maybe we should check it.” I suppose I’m quite glad none of them work for me.
  2. More importantly, have they actually come up with the greatest piece of furniture ever invented? Tell me you wouldn’t want to watch TV sitting in that in the middle of winter! You could make a double one for couples or even a family size one for mormons people with kids. If I could order one with a slightly more grown-up fabric and minus the toes I’d be on the phone to Hong Kong right now!

And if that doesn’t excite you… why not read this article proving that John Travolta and Nicolas Cage are vampire who have been alive at least since the 1800s. As if being a scientologist wasn’t dodgy enough…

Panic on the streets of London

Anyone who has been watching the news will know that London has spent three nights under siege by rioters and looters. The violence kicked off after the shooting of a man called Mark Duggan, during an arrest in Tottenham on Thursday. It appears there are questions around whether the shooting of Duggan was lawful and members of the family and community where protesting peacefully and demanding answers from the police on Saturday. Unfortunately the protest did not remain peaceful and Tottenham High Road was the first area where widespread destruction and looting took place.

Following this numerous other areas including Enfield, Ealing, Croydon, and the frighteningly close to my home, Clapham Junction, have been targeted by bands of youths in balaclavas smashing in shop windows, helping themselves to electronics and sports goods and setting things on fire.

As a London resident, this is all pretty scary. I personally have managed to avoid all riot activity but Paul watched out of his office window as the riot police chased troublemakers down the Soho street he works on and many of my colleagues and acquaintances have been close enough to smell the smoke and hear the sirens.

Of course there is mass debate over why this has happened and who is to blame. I don’t in any way profess to have a deep insight into society but you have to wonder how we’ve gotten to a place where people are this angry. While there is absolutely no excuse for destroying property and taking things that are not yours, there is a large part of the population who appear to feel like this is their way of “sticking it to the man.” Unfortunately a lot of the time they don’t appear to realise that burning down small local business is just sticking it to your own community but that’s just a symptom of the lack of big picture thinking that’s going on.

A lot of people are looking back at past immigration policy, past police interaction with communities and past education policy and saying well if we had have done this or done that we wouldn’t be in this situation. But we are in this situation and we need leadership who will find a way to engage people, who are unable to see the effect that what they are doing is having and how much they are hurting themselves. These are people who don’t think what they are doing is wrong and believe that there won’t be consequences to their actions. That’s the bit that needs addressing. It doesn’t matter if it’s pure greedy opportunism or a result of a disconnection between the state and the disenfranchised youth, or something else entirely. What matters is making it stop and preventing it from happening again.

Have a little listen of this to get an idea of the mentality…

The saddest thing is that most Londoners are law-abiding citizens, who work hard for a better future for themselves, their families and communities, but the actions of the opportunistic few is likely to lead to the further demonization of the British youth… and that’s just not fair.

UKBA set to further tighten the immigration noose

It appears that the UK Border Agency is about to crack down on granting indefinite leave to remain to migrants who have been in the country for five years. According to an article on BBC News, the government wants to “”break the automatic link between coming to the UK to work and settling here permanently”. However ministers are saying, “they could make exceptions for workers earning more than £150,000 or if they were in economically important jobs” and further to this, “Clearly employers need skilled labour from overseas but in principle our view is that should be temporary, while British workers are trained for those jobs.”

So let me get this straight… first of all there seems to be a perception that you arrive, you stay for five years and then they just hand you a residence permit? Have any of these government ministers ever attempted to go through the process of getting indefinite leave to remain? I won’t bore you with the details of the process I went through to get mine again. You can read about it here, if you’re interested. But I will say the level of expense and hoop-jumping that those of us who have decided to settle here go through means that choosing to settle really is a commitment to being a permanent UK resident rather than an “automatic” right!

Secondly there appears to be an undercurrent here of the UK intending to get whatever it can out of migrant workers and then boot them out as soon as possible… well unless they’re uber rich of course. As it stands permission to work is only granted for jobs where there are no British workers able or willing to take these roles so I’d like to know who is busy training the British workers who are going to replace the working migrants?

Adding insult to injury, this comes after the very recent revelation that the UKBA is incapable of managing the asylum cases that it is flooded with and that it’s often easier just to let asylum seekers stay rather than even bothering to assess their cases.

Now, I understand that some people face terrible persecution for things that are not their fault in the countries that they were born in and in these genuine cases any country that is able to grant them asylum should be morally obliged to do so. These cases do need to be assessed though!

I also think that you should have to work hard to get your residency because it’s a privilege and in some ways an honour. While it was tough paying for mine and annoying writing the test and sometimes frustrating being subject to rules about how long I could be in the country and who I could work for, I didn’t feel like I was being treated unfairly.

And I do understand the UK’s need to manage sustainable immigration… but why punish professional migrants who pay taxes, follow immigration laws and are not a drain on the system. Is that really the logical place to start managing immigration or is it just the easiest place? If the real fear is that people go from indefinite leave to citizenship where they can then claim benefits and a UK pension one day why not reform the laws around naturalisation instead.

At the moment you can apply to be become a naturalised citizen one year after achieving indefinite leave to remain. Although it works in my favour right now, I think it’s too quick. Why not extend that time considerably for anyone who is not able to provide strong ties to the UK (strong ties being things like marriage and ancestry or possibly children born in the UK who have reached a certain age).  That way you keep only those people in the country who are wholly able to sustain themselves, while reaping the benefits of their taxes and expertise but allowing them the freedom to live without immigration controls.

I love living in the UK but there are days when I wonder why I am trying so hard to settle in a country that seems to hate me so much!

The Really Free School squatters move house… to opposite my office

If anyone is wondering where the squatters who set up the Really Free School in Guy Ritchie’s house have gone, I can tell you they have set up camp in the vacant pub across the road from my office bringing all kinds of chaos with them including a scuffle with some bailiffs. Of course all us media types who work around here have had our faces pressed to the glass all day (in between serious work of course) watching The Really Free School take over the Black Horse (or the Black Hole as we affectionately used to call it).

I’m not going to wax lyrical about whether squatting is good or bad… it’s a bit beyond my comprehension really. I like having a job and paying rent so I can have a hot shower everyday but some people don’t and well… good for them if they want to attempt to make a life that way.

What is interesting though is how organised this lot are. Not only do they have a website, which is being updated by the minute, but they have a full programme of classes on the go that you can attend, including feminist porn, reproductive justice, life drawing, Indonesian, crochet and the Gospel of Mark. So if any of that sounds exciting it might be worth coming down for a lesson however they have stated on the site that they are full up and you can’t stay overnight. Not sure if that is in the spirit of squatting. Surely if you don’t want people to keep you out of their property you can’t keep other people out of your “borrowed” property but then I don’t know the rules. At least if you can’t stay though you can follow them on twitter for blow by blow accounts of the bailiffs and the Old Bill attempting to eject them! And if their cause is close to your heart you can help out. There is a wish list on the website where they catalogue their desires including an 18V drill, cushions, sponges and coffee (but only real, not instant). I assume these things would have had to be bought by people who have jobs… but you know… why split hairs. In the words of Itch from The King Blues, “I’m all for workers rights and that, as long as I don’t have to work“.

Oh well let the entertainment begin… there really is never a dull moment in Soho…

The White Stripes announce split

It is with deep regret that I have to report the demise of one of my most beloved bands. As of yesterday, The White Stripes are no more. In a statement on their website Jack and Meg announced that the band has “officially ended and will make no further new recordings or perform live”.

The reasons for the split remain shrouded in mystery after the band stated that it was not down to creative differences, health reasons or lack of wanting to continue. So I guess now we speculate. Possibly they’ve come to a natural conclusion, or Jack is spreading himself too thin or possibly he’s decided to focus his energy on Alison Mosshart, which wouldn’t surprise me based on the way they carry on onstage.

Whatever the reasons, The White Stripes have given us thirteen years of intense, kooky, genre bending rock and for that we can only be grateful. It’s always better for a band to go out while everyone reveres them rather than bringing out a terrible album… do you hear me, My Chemical Romance!

Plus, it’s not like the utterly delicious Mr White will be starving us of his genius after all we still have The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather and his occasional solo outings as well as whatever other madcap musical schemes are spinning around in his head to look forward to.

So in the words of the band themselves:
“The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

There’s no such thing as managed anorexia. @mrkennethtong the women of the world are watching you

This morning I was made aware of a man called Kenneth Tong who is trending on twitter promoting the idea of “managed anorexia” along with some “magic” diet pills he’s selling that supposedly shrink you 3 dress sizes in 3 weeks.  Here are some quotes from his twitter stream:

Inner beauty is as convincing of an argument and idea as @JustinBieber dating a fat girl. We all know she’ll be skinny and size zero.”

“A pop star [Rihanna] chose to tell the world everyone is beautiful because of my Tweets, to be beautiful in your own way is to be ugly in every other.”

“Thankful for this global opportunity to help girls all over the world know that to be skinny is to be perfect & to be fat is unacceptable.”

“Assure you that my words aren’t a publicity stunt. I wholeheartedly endorse managed anorexia, as to be fat or even not thin is to fail life.”

 So even if we take away the total bizarreness of the concept of “managed anorexia” and the fact that the kind of side effects you’re looking at are (from NetDoctor):

  • People who do not receive treatment may become chronically ill or even die.
  • Long spells without adequate intake of food can cause osteoporosis (fragile bones) and damage to the heart, liver, kidneys and brain.
  • Anorexia can impede growth in the young and cause difficulties in concentration.
  • People with anorexia nervosa may also experience mental health problems such as depression and increased risk of suicide.

What Mr Tong is preaching here is a “one size fits all” valuation system for people that says firstly that for every woman her physical appearance is the only measure of success and secondly that others only find one kind of woman attractive. I agree that the ideal is to eat healthy food and exercise regularly in order to maintain your health which are two things that I’m not always fabulous at myself, but even doing both of these things most women naturally will be nowhere near a size zero, so why care about anything other than your health?

Many women want to be something other than a walking Barbie doll so how can you call a size twelve artist with paintings in the Tate Modern or a size eighteen scientist, developing antiretroviral drugs a FAILURE??

Secondly I have been many shapes and sizes throughout my life, including a bout as a teenager where I suppose I was living as a “managed annorexic” (see below if you don’t believe me), right up to now where I am rather “jubbly” and could probably stand to lose a couple of pounds.

 

Was I happier when I was skinny? Nope. I have had some body hang-ups at every size. Was I more successful in meeting men when I was skinny? No… in fact the ones I met when I was thinner tended to be dodgier. At every size I’ve been I have managed to attract and date men, many of them very attractive. Was my career more successful when I was skinnier? No. Did I have more friends when I was skinner? No. I have a nice home, a wonderful fiance, a successful career, fabulous friends and an active social life and a relatively healthy lifestyle, explain to me Mr Tong in what way I am failing life. What part of my life would be better if I was a size zero?

I am now marrying a man who by his own admission likes full figured women and visibly recoils whenever he sees a “size zero” woman on television or in a magazine. His favourite part of my body is my little jelly belly. This is a man who is himself not overweight and very physically attractive.

So Mr Tong, riddle me this. If the only way a woman can be attractive is by being size zero and I bought into that, my soul mate wouldn’t have given me a second look when I walked passed him in the street.

People are different and they like different things. How can you promote something that makes so little sense and attempts to force people into little boxes that only exist in your head? I think you’re the one who is neurotic. Maybe you’re intimidated by larger women, with successful careers who don’t want or need your pills to feel good about themselves. Because I think this is the same psychology as the man who beats his wife and tells her she’s ugly because he‘s afraid to be alone. And when the outer beauty fades… and it does… if there is no inner beauty, what’s left? So good luck Ken, because you might fool a few silly girls, but we women are smarter than you and we’re onto you…

In support of Frodo Foss, who has started life with a distinct disadvantage

I was on the (once again delayed) train (seriously South West, what the hell is going on?) this morning reading the Metro when I came across a rather interesting article about a woman who has thirteen children and has decided not to stop shooting them out until she has twins. Bit of a shocker, right? I mean surely thirteen kids is enough for anyone and the logic here is a bit flawed but as I continued to read the article it turned out that the sheer volume of children is not actually the story here.

Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like unusual names and we all know that if I ever spawn the rug rat is probably going to end up being called something like Alphonso or Georgeana but I think Sara and Stephen Foss might have pole-vaulted crossed the line.

They started very normally and the oldest two children are called Stephen and Patrick. Nice solid, strong masculine names… and then the fucking wheels came off. The remaining children are called Malachai, Peppermint, Echo, Eli, Rogue, Frodo, Morpheus, Artemis, Blackbird, Baudelaire, and Voorhees. Surely this is child abuse? I mean Malachai, Eli and Artemis are at least actual names and probably no worse than my burning desire to name a child Alphonso, and you could even make a case for Echo and Rogue being kind of cute… but Baudelaire? Voorhees? And fucking FRODO??? You cannot name your child after a short gnome-like creature with giant hairy feet. You just can’t.

Frodo, a great name for a hobbit or maybe a cat, but not for your baby

I am considering setting up a fund for little Frodo to change his name when he turns eighteen… anyone want to contribute? Bets on the next one being named Yoda?

Does anyone else know which film had Randle McMurphy as the anti-hero?

I haven’t mentioned this before out of “respect” for the “gentleman” in question but after last night’s happenings, well I don’t care anymore. I have a stalker at work. A boy who comes around my desk and humps my chair and makes lewd comments and asks me if I want to come around to his house. He teases and attempts to manhandle me and I tell him to jog on and it’s all very primary school and rather embarrassing and definitely not the kind of approach that warms my little heart. It’s been going on for months.  Picture this:

Stalker-Boy: Abbi, are you coming to the pub later?

Abbi: No, I’m going home.

Stalker-Boy: Shall I just come around to yours then?

Abbi: I’m busy, go away.

Stalker-Boy: Ok, I’ll see you later then. I know some things we can do.

Abbi: Seriously, I’m busy, please fuck off.

Stalker-Boy: I love you.

Abbi: I think you’re an idiot

So last night we had quiz night in aid of the fabulous children’s charity Barnardo’s  (we raised £600, go us!). It was a pretty big work night out. There were 20 teams and a big chunk of the workforce turned out. I was on a team with Sam, Celine, Neil and Tom. All of us specialists in our fields (obscure indie bands, French things, Fantasy novels, computer parts and 80’s fashion) so we had high hopes of crushing the competition. Unfortunately the questions were on things like sport and space and angels (??) so we were a bit screwed. We didn’t do too badly on the round about Jacksons (Michael, Five and others) and it turned out my strength is French phrases used in English and movie villains. Oh and I was also the only person in my team that knew that a smurf is three apples tall. It turns out that our friends in the production team know possibly a little too much about serial killers, after scoring 9 out of 10 but good on them since they came 7th compared to our pitiful 12th. In our defence we started out with only five team members and one of our team members kept vanishing for long periods of time.

But this is not the main story. As we left the quiz, I headed down the stairs to the main bar to drown my sorrows with the rest of the team and was cornered by said-stalker who attempted to snog me. It was a no-holds-barred, open-mouthed lunge. I screamed bloody murder and shoved him off me, in a state of panic. The only way it could have been more embarrassing would have been if my boss was standing next to me… oh no, wait… he was.

Stalker-Boy then attempted to make amends by taking to the hotel piano and playing in “my honour”. He even attempted to compose a song about me on the spot. I suppose that bit was quite sweet and he actually wasn’t bad musically at all. But unfortunately by that point in time, I was so put off and annoyed that I walked away from the piano before he even finished.

I was home by midnight and geek that I am, I quickly iplayered Nick Griffin’s “performance” (I’m having an inverted commas day, aren’t I?) on Question Time. I’m not going to go into an analysis of his endlessly ridiculous racist and fascist comments and his inability to actually explain how any of his ludicrous policies would work in practise, but I’m glad to say that the man made himself look like an absolute idiot. He might be wise in future to check if any of the statements he’s made have been captured on video before denying that he actually made them.  In the words of The King Blues: “They come to take away my liberties, but round here we nah want no stinkin’ BNP”!

Stalker-Boy has not come around to visit me today, wonder why? And if you work with me… don’t ask me who it is, cos if you don’t already know, I’m not telling you.

TEAM CRAIGERY

I only have one thing to say about this… TEAM CRAIGERY! All the way. No Craig, no Chiodos!

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Word up!

Two pretty cool things I have discovered…

First of all, did you know you could adopt a word? If you’re not a language geek like me, then this probably doesn’t seem particularly exciting but I had a mini-squee at this discovery. Run by charity I CAN, which assists children with communication difficulties, Adopt-A-Word lets you pick an available word and then keep it as your own for a whole year. Celebrity adopters include Stephen Fry who adopted “wordy” and James Moran who went for “abracadabra”. I thought about getting myself a word and then realised that most of my favourite words are not actual English words… fangirl, debaucherous, muppet, spider-pig, crackwhore, yayness, doos… and I did think about “gig”. But then I thought, why not buy a word as a gift for someone. So I bought Jen the word “flail”. We use it in a very different context to the one suggested by The Collins English Dictionary on the site. In fact our definition would be more like:

“To become overexcited in a fangirlish manner at the discovery of new or interesting information about one of your fandoms or obsessions”.

adopt-a-word

But who cares, right? So now you know what to buy for your friend who already has everything…  or for me cos I still want “gig”. Also congrats to Sanna who is now the proud owner of “apostrophe”. If you could have any word as your own, which one would you want?

Another cool thing is this email that I got at work:

Desperately seeking footballs and children’s boots or trainers.

Can you help?

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre is a wild animal rescue, rehabilitation and education centre based in the heart of Malawi ’s capital, Lilongwe .  It now stands as the first ever ‘People and Wildlife’ Centre, a pilot initiative developed by the charity Born Free which aims to improve wildlife conservation by working with local communities.

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world and pressure on the people to put food on the table is enormous, so you can understand why wildlife conservation is not high on their agenda.  However if natural resources aren’t preserved their futures will be even tougher.  Work with the local community, for example through education and engagement programmes with schools, now makes up a substantial part of the centre’s work.

I am about to start a post as marketing manager for Lilongwe Wildlife Centre and one of the first projects I will be working on is setting up a youth community football league.  The children out there just love football, and not only will it help them to feel part of the centre, but they’ll also meet other local children and have a lot of fun!

We have just received a donation of 14 full football kits (shirts, shorts and socks) however we have no footballs or footwear.  We would be immensely grateful for your support through any of the following:

1) Donation of any children’s trainers, boots or footballs, new or second hand, for children aged 10-16.  (The container leaves the UK for Malawi at the end of August.  We can arrange for collection).  Any trainer sizes will be considered as some of these kids wear up to size 11.

2) £10 will buy a pair of shoes in Malawi

3) £150 will sponsor a team for a year

In return we will send you pictures of the team in their kit, keep you updated on the progress of the league and credit you on the Lilongwe Wildlife Centre website.

We would be enormously appreciative of any help you could offer, so if there is anything you can do please get in touch.

Best wishes,

Kate Moore

Marketing Manager

Lilongwe Wildlife Centre

So now you know what to do with all those trainers you bought cos you thought they were cool (or maybe that football you bought cos you were going to kick it around the park and then it turned out you were too hungover every weekend and now it’s just lying under your bed). If anyone does want to send over any donations, just let me know and I’ll collect and pass them on.

Congratulations, Steve, you’ve won a year in Burundi living on the salary of an average Burundian. Sort yourself out!

I read a letter than someone sent in to the Metro today that made me spittingly angry. Angry enough to actually bring the Metro into work so I could copy the letter onto my blog to back-up my rant.

This article was published in yesterday’s Metro. It is a fairly innocuous article about ActionAid pushing for more money from the developed world to prevent mass death by starvation in the developing world.

Although there may be questions about how aid is delivered and where it is spent, there surely isn’t any doubt that world hunger is a WORLD issue…

Well not according to Steve, London… and I quote:

“If people in developing nations weren’t breeding like rabbits and causing a massive rise in the world’s population there would be enough food to go around. They are also contributing to climate change, deforestation and animal extinction, so they need to sort themselves out.

It’s so ridiculous; I am actually starting to question whether it’s real. But here goes Steve…

Firstly let’s ask ourselves why the developing world is in such a desperate situation… might it have anything to do with the century of European colonialism where the “developed” world descended on the now “developing world”, raped them of all their natural resources, enslaved their people and then when they’d gotten enough kindly handed these countries back to their rightful owners, fucked off and said, “now you deal with the mess”.

Secondly, Steve, there is no NHS in the developing world. There’s minimal health education or family planning advice. You can’t pop over to your local GP and get the pill for free. There’s no morning after pill for eleven year olds…

Thirdly, the developing world contributes nowhere near as much to global warming as developing nations… *cough* America *cough*. The whole of Africa and Asia combined produce less greenhouse gases than the USA alone. And yes due to its lack of resources the developing world is less able to implement “clean” energy solutions but it is the developing world that will suffer most at the hands of climate change.

So seriously… grow up… and don’t tell me the developed world needs to look after itself first. A poor man in the UK is king in the developing world. Visit Africa, observe some real poverty and then tell me that the developing world needs to sort itself out.

I read a letter than someone sent in to the Metro today that made me spittingly angry. Angry enough to actually bring the Metro into work so I could copy the letter onto my blog to back-up my rant.

This article was published in yesterday’s Metro. It is a fairly innocuous article about ActionAid pushing for more money from the developed world to prevent mass death by starvation in the developing world.

Although there may be questions about how aid is delivered and where it is spent, there surely isn’t any doubt that world hunger is a WORLD issue…

Well not according to Steve, London… and I quote:

If people in developing nations weren’t breeding like rabbits and causing a massive rise in the world’s population there would be enough food to go around. They are also contributing to climate change, deforestation and animal extinction, so they need to sort themselves out.

It’s so ridiculous; I am actually starting to question whether it’s real. But here goes Steve…

Firstly let’s ask ourselves why the developing world is in such a desperate situation… might it have anything to do with the century of European colonialism where the “developed” world descended on the now “developing world”, raped them of all their natural resources, enslaved their people and then when they’d gotten enough kindly handed these countries back to their rightful owners, fucked off and said, “now you deal with the mess”.

Secondly, Steve, there is no NHS in the developing world. There’s minimal health education or family planning advice. You can’t pop over to your local GP and get the pill for free. There’s no morning after pill for eleven year olds…

Thirdly, the developing world contributes nowhere near as much to global warming as developing nations… *cough* America *cough*. The whole of Africa and Asia combined produce less greenhouse gases than the USA alone. And yes due to its lack of resources the developing world is less able to implement “clean” energy solutions but it is the developing world that will suffer most at the hands of climate change.

So seriously… grow up… and don’t tell me the developed world needs to look after itself first. A poor man in the UK is king in the developing world. Visit Africa, observe some real poverty and then tell me that the developing world needs to sort itself out.

Bandit Lee Way – 27 May 2009 – 14.57PST

Confirmed by Mikey Way via Twitter… we have a new rockstar baby to welcome into the world. Bandit Lee Way, born 14.57PST yesterday. Offspring of Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance and Lyn-Z of Mindless Self Indulgence. Massive congrats to both. Absolutely LOVE the name.

Looking for the original story? Here ya go.