Category: Opinions and rants

Lies, damn lies and politics – Donald Trump is at it again

Donald Trump, 2016 election campaign: “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you…”

Donald Trump, July 2017: “…the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. [It] cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

I mean, it shouldn’t be a surprise that a politician told lies to get elected, but this is a pretty huge deal and a downright disgrace.

It’s difficult to tell, these days, whether Trump:

a) realises he’s out of his depth and is making wild decisions in the hope that he’ll get impeached

b) hates Obama so much that he’s just trying to repeal as much as possible that was passed under his Presidency

c) really is just an absolutely bonkers, narcissistic misogynist who hates anyone that isn’t like him, and belongs back in the dark ages

I could go on and on about why this is a bad decision. About how transgender people have as much right to serve in the military as people born in their correct gender. About how the training and selection process to get admitted to the military is so tough that what really counts is your physical and mental strength and resilience. About how I’m sure Trump wouldn’t care about the gender orientation of any member of the military were they protecting him from an assassination attempt (how come no-one’s tried that yet, by the way?)

I could point out that transgender people aren’t a burden to anyone; that the burden they carry is being born in the wrong body and that they’re more of a danger to themselves if they have to stay in that body, and more of an asset to society if they can be who they truly are. I could point out that anyone who has the heart and soul to defend their country and put their life on the line should be welcomed with open arms, regardless of what is or isn’t between their legs or on their birth certificate. I could point out that this is 2017 and America is supposed to be a progressive country, as well as being the land of the free.

But I won’t. Because most sane and rational people know that, right? And if you’re reading this blog you too must be a sane and rational person! ūüėČ

I’ll just leave you with this, from Twitter, instead.

James Corden tweet

Which I thought was so brilliant in it’s delivery, as well as being so powerful coming from a celebrity with a lot of followers and therefore a degree of influence (not enough influence¬†to topple the hairy tangerine, unfortunately).

Bravo James Corden, bravo. And a big fat raspberry to President Fart, followed up with a punch on the nose.

Transgender people Рknow that many of us in the world stand with you, and we admire your strength against adversity; today and everyday.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Comedy Central Friends-fest at Bute Park in Cardiff

Who doesn’t like Friends? (this is a rhetorical question, but if you actually don’t then there’s probably no point reading on). Watching Friends is like putting on your comfiest clothes – you know what to expect and can just sink into it’s warm familiarity. Yes you know what’s coming, and yes you know the jokes, but could you BE any more content? (Chandler-ism!)

So many Friends sayings have worked their way into every day vocabulary (certainly mine!) and the fact that the show is on Comedy Central pretty much all the time means you’re only ever a flick of the channel away from those 6 people who you’ve never met, but just know you’d get on with brilliantly in real life (with the exception of Ross, obvs).

When Comedy Central announced “Friends-fest” was going on tour this year (following it’s initial launch in London in 2016) I was determined to go. The closest location to us was Cardiff (close being a figurative term here, as it’s still a 100+ mile drive) but I figured we could make a day of it and so I got tickets as part of the husband’s birthday present.

The website said that a visit to the site should take around 2.5 hours, including the set tour which you had to book a timeslot for.

The website had huge delusions of grandeur in terms of how you could spend the 2 hours that weren’t the set tour. We were done in 30 minutes, and that included a pit stop for a “MY SANDWICH” (remember the Ross episode?) which cost an eye watering ¬£6.50 each.

Let me explain. The site was in a fenced off area of Bute Park, in Cardiff city centre. It wasn’t very big. It comprised of a few different areas / set recreations where you could queue to get your photograph taken, a big screen with lots of deckchairs where you could sit and watch back to back episodes of Friends, a shop, a bar and the set tour area.

Friendsfest big screen

There was a covered area where you could queue to recreate the opening sequence, complete with multi coloured umbrellas and the queue was probably 15 minutes long.

Friendsfest opening credit

The husband hates getting his pic taken and I’d look a bit of a wally sitting there on my own, so there was little point in that.

There was the Central Perk recreation in a separate tent, which was quite good. There are spots to pose outside the caf√©, behind Gunther’s counter, on the famous sofa, and on Phoebe’s stool in the window with a guitar and there were staff dotted around to take photos on camera phones, which was good, but it was hard to get a good pic because there were lots and lots of people milling around so it felt a bit conveyor belt-ish.

There was a very poor almost cardboard cut out recreation of the front of the wedding chapel where Ross and Rachel got married, a very tenuous Lincoln High graduation ceremony background and some cheesy props for people to use (this area felt like they were desperately trying to add some value to the whole experience but failing miserably) and a NY taxi and an NYPD car.

Food and drinks wise there was Monica’s Moonshine diner (a food van with a really small America diner seating area in an open fronted tent), a food van that sold the afore mentioned sandwich…

Friendsfest Ross sandwich

…plus nachos and pulled pork sandwiches, snacks in the caf√© attached to Central Perk and a small bar overlooking the big screen.

It all felt very thrown together and amateur.

The best bit was the set tour, which as I mentioned was a booked time slot. We were ushered into a pre-set area which had some original costumes and props from across the show – this was pretty interesting and I think could have been expanded on to give more value for money.

We were then directed round to the two main apartments featured in the show which were connected by the corridor as you see it on TV. This was quite surreal to look at, because it was like seeing the contents of your TV with your own eyes!

We were in Joey and Chandler’s apartment first.

Then the hallway.

Friendsfest the hallway

Then Monica’s apartment.

We were encouraged to get on set, sit on chairs and¬†take photos, but there were so many people that again it felt cramped and it was difficult to get around everything without being in someone’s way. The good thing was that at the end of each set, the chaperone for our group ordered everyone off, so we were able to get¬†some clear shots.

And then that was it! A 2.5 hour drive each way and £40 worth of petrol for a very sub standard hour. Oh, and did I mention the tickets cost £22.50 each????

Most of the experience panders to today’s selfie and “look, I was there” culture and felt very much like ticking a box for a photograph at every location rather than any in depth, behind the scenes, this is worth the money, I’ve found something new about one of my favourite shows content.

In case you’re wondering, and I haven’t made it clear, I wouldn’t recommend it. If tickets were a tenner and it came to your local town then maybe worth a look. But ¬£22.50 is a hugely overpriced rip off and left me with a bitter taste (and it wasn’t coffee from Central Perk).

To quote my friend Ellen “When no-one told you Friends-fest was going to be this way” clap clap clap clap…

Are you a Friends fan? Do you have a favourite? Let me know!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Another celebrity musician suicide – Chester Bennington

Like many others around the world I was shocked to hear the news last night that Chester Bennington, lead singer of Linkin Park, had died by suicide at his home. At only 41 years old, just finished a UK tour, with a wife and 6 children, he appears to have everything…from the outside. If anything though, that’s proof of the power and relentlessness of mental illness. That even with what seems to be a really successful life, the demons are too much.

Chester Bennington

Suicide is not the exit of a person of sound mind. Therefore mental illness is the killer here. A still taboo, still hidden, still shameful topic to so many people; from the ordinary Joe on the street to the rich and famous. Men especially shy away from discussing mental health, because it’s not “macho” or “masculine”. How does the saying go – big boys don’t cry? Well guess what, big boys DO cry, and they seek help, and they hold their hands up to suffering from an illness that doesn’t discriminate and cannot be helped.

Is it a coincidence that Chester took his life on what would have been the birthday of his close friend Chris Cornell, who himself died by suicide only recently? Doubtful. It’s poignant and sad and distressing, and also a reflection on our society that deaths of these type are still happening.

Like I always say, if you broke your leg, you wouldn’t hobble around and wait for it to heal on it’s own. You’d go to a medical professional who would put in a cast for some extra support while it got better and stronger. The same is needed for the brain. A little bit of TLC and support – maybe medicinal, maybe occupational or vocational – to give your brain time to heal and get stronger.

There’s no shame in mental health, and we need to get better at recognising that.

Contact the Samaritans

Contact the Calmzone (dedicated to preventing male suicide in the UK)

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

 

*edited to change terminology – I’ve been informed that “commuted suicide” is no longer the right way to refer to the act, as suicide has been decriminalised (and rightly so) so a person carrying out the action is no longer “committing” anything.

5 things I just don’t get

I know the world would be boring if we were all the same, and I’ve posted before about blogger trends I don’t understand, but here are 5 things that seem quite prevalent at the moment that I don’t understand either (and I think that some of them may be because I’m getting older, which means I’m turning into a generational moaner!)

Tea

Tea

I mean, tea isn’t a new thing obviously, but the people in my office drink buckets of the stuff and in this hot weather I just can’t comprehend it. I’m not a tea drinker anyway, I’ll have the odd cup every so often but very rarely, but the thought of drinking a hot drink on a hot day is absolutely nuts to me! (I appreciate I’m very much in the minority here, in England at least, the Brits love a cuppa)

Vlogs

Vlog

I’m old school. I like to read information and consume content via words. Occasionally I’ll watch an instructional YouTube video if I need to know how to do something. But watching people open boxes or show make up swatches is an alien concept to me. I don’t understand the popularity of it (apart from maybe to be nosy?)

Love Island

Love Island

I have never watched an episode of Love Island, and that’s ok. In fact I’m quite proud of it.¬†I know it isn’t a new program, but it seems like it’s EVERYWHERE this year and people are obsessing over it and I don’t know why? Back in the early days of reality TV – like Big Brother – it used to be fun to watch people interact with each other. Now reality TV is just a stepping stone to “fame” and I don’t believe anyone truly thinks they’re going to find lasting love on a TV program that’s all about ratings. All I seem to see on social media is who’s shagging who and it all sounds vacuous and false and absolutely hideous.

Furry sliders

Furry sliders

So, fur’s for keeping warm and sandals are for keeping cool. Why then would you mix the two? Surely, on a hot summer day, you’re just going to end up with sweaty feet? They don’t even look pretty?!

Contouring and highlighting

Contouring

I understand these two things, and the reasons behind them, but it seems like so many girls are obsessed with¬†changing their appearance and looking¬†the same. I’m all for make up to enhance your appearance but¬†unless it’s done well you just look like you’ve done a really bad make up job and it looks silly. Plus it’s so much effort for everyday. Do it right or just avoid it totally.

Whinge over! What are your bug bears?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [12] – above and beyond the call of duty at Glastonbury

A friend of mine liked a link to a blog post on Facebook this morning so I had a read, and oh my God!

It doesn’t sound much like a Friday Feeling when you start; it’s about a girl who has been sexually assaulted by two “friends”. She was supposed to be going to Glastonbury with said friends and others, which obviously wasn’t an option after the attack. What happened when she contacted the Glastonbury team to ask about the possibility of a refund will warm your cockles.

Read the full blog post here.

This poor girl has gone through a hellish time, and nothing can change or erase that, but the kindness and humanity showed to her by a group of strangers who didn’t need to do anything at all will have gone some way to restore her faith in people.

Glastonbury

Image from the NME

Bravo Glastonbury, incredible.

Thanks, as always, for reading.x

Late to the party – Game of Thrones

When we were in the process of buying our new place (at which point does it stop being new, and just be “our place” I wonder?) it became apparent that our existing TV provider, Virgin, didn’t supply our new home. No matter, the husband was quite happy with switching over to Sky after feeling disgruntled with Virgin broadband for a while anyway.

So, on the day we moved in, I arranged for a Sky engineer to come round and hook us up, lest the husband should be without TV for even a day and have a childlike collywobble (I’m only half joking).

Unfortunately said engineer was unable to fit a Sky dish and give us access to all that lovely TV content, because there’s a ruddy great – nay, monstrous – tree smack bang in the middle of where the Sky signal comes from. The tree is growing on the railway bank which runs not far from our house, and is therefore not easy to get rid of.

The husband didn’t take things well. At all. The childlike collywobble I thought I’d avoided by being organised came somewhat to the fore. Phrases like “this fucking place” were uttered by him, my soothing noises fell on deaf ears and placatory comments from me like “I’m sure we’ll find an alternative” were met with a deathly stare.

Luckily, the husband is not one to be beaten by obstacles (aka he’s a stubborn bugger, remember the vigour with which he approached the BBQ ban at our old place?) and so he set to urgent work in looking at a way to bring joyous entertainment into our home. After all, that was way more important than unpacking boxes and other moving day dullness, no?

The upshot was that we ended up with Now TV. Which, as I understand, is like Sky “lite” but runs through the internet instead of a satellite signal, meaning the broadband package I’d signed up for wasn’t nearly sufficient, and we chewed through our data allowance within 3 days. It also means we have yet another remote control that I don’t really know how to use and that I can be blamed for when it disappears down the side of the sofa. But, on the plus side, we have the Sky TV that the husband so desperately wanted!

So, in an incredibly late to the party turn, we’ve started watching Game of Thrones.

Game of Thrones

A show which I never thought I had any interest in at all, until we started watching it and I got totally sucked in! We’ve currently made it to half way through season 3, so no spoilers please! I spend a lot of time saying “who’s that?” and “I don’t understand” – it’s by far one of the most complex programs I have ever watched, with so many main characters and locations, but I have the general grasp of things and it starts to make more sense as time goes on. Outside of the complexity and the storyline, the visual side of the show is incredible, with fabulous costumes, sets and backdrops. I love tales of mediaeval times and they’re depicted incredibly graphically within the show, at times almost too graphically, and there are definitely moments which make me hide behind my hands. Character development is so well done; I’ve already gone from hating some characters to feeling sorry for them in later seasons, and I can’t wait to see how things develop further.

On the plus side, because I’ve never been interested in it and haven’t had Sky before, I don’t really know what’s to come in seasons 4 to 6, so it genuinely is a surprise to me. The only storyline I am aware of, because it was discussed in the office, was the life or death of Jon Snow, but even knowing the outcome, I’m still intrigued by the storyline around it.

With season 7 being just around the corner (first episode on 17th July) I don’t think we’ll quite be up to speed ready to watch them in real time, so it will be an ongoing struggle to avoid trailers, spoilers and conversations in the office from my colleagues who have been watching it for many years. And, on the odd occasion we think we recognise someone in the show, we have to avoid Googling anything because it will be sure to throw up results which may reveal what’s to come before we’ve watched it.

Are you a Game of Thrones fan? Have you watched all the seasons? Let me know! (and no spoilers!)

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Foo Fighters at Glastonbury

Did anyone see TV coverage (or live, if you were lucky enough to be there!) of Foo Fighters headlining Glastonbury on Saturday night? After having to bow out at the 11th hour in 2015 when Dave Grohl broke his leg, they made an outstanding appearance on the Pyramid Stage; 2+ hours of some of the best televised live music I have ever seen.

Foo Fighters logo

I’m a big fan of Dave Grohl. I think he comes across as a super nice guy, super fun and mischievous but also very dedicated. I have always said that he’d be on my invite list if I was hosting a celebrity dinner party (you never know, it might happen). But aside from my gooey eyed love for him as a person, he’s obviously incredibly talented and can deliver a tune. I’ve only ever seen Foos once, at the Millenium Dome many years ago, I was right up in the gods, about 3 rows from the very top rear of the venue, but even from there the sound was so good, it was like listening to a CD. The band are incredibly tight, with great energy, and a back catalogue of hits that could have anyone rocking out. Saturday night’s performance was no exception.

Which is why I was incredibly surprised when my work colleague told me that there was a review in the Guardian calling the show mediocre and awarding it only 3 stars out of 5. I was baffled. Had the reviewer watched the same show as me?

You can read the review here.

Pretty much everyone I know who watched it, on TV or in the flesh, said it was incredible. There are only a few people I know, who for some reason have an innate hatred of DG (like, how and why?) who didn’t enthuse about it.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that the reviewer in the Guardian thinks she is too cool to say how bloody brilliant it was, and wants to stand apart from the general admiring populous and score some imaginary hipster points by being negative.

Journalism used to be an admirable career and journalists used to be purveyors of truth. Now it seems that they only write for sensationalism, to attack people’s beliefs and standing in society (Jeremy Corbyn, anyone) or to gain some kind of notoriety. I appreciate that reviews are always subject to personal opinion, and therefore not everyone will agree, but on this one I think Ms Hutchinson is wildly off the mark.

Meanwhile, if you haven’t seen it,¬†I’d encourage you to watch again on BBC iPlayer and make your own mind up (it’s an amazing set, you can thank me later)

What did you think, if you saw it? Let me know in the comments!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Friday Feeling [9] – people power

Despite all the horrible things that have been going on in the UK recently, the thing that’s stood out to many (including myself) is the sense of community spirit, people supporting each other, strangers reaching out to other strangers, and the general feeling that we’re stronger together.

Nothing sums that up more than this story. Not connected to anything that’s happened in the past couple of weeks, it’s the story of a group of people – all strangers – holding on to a man who was trying to jump from a bridge to take his own life. They held on to him for 2 hours, until emergency services were able to take over.

Always look for the helpers

It’s easy to think that no-one cares about us in life, that we’re all alone in the world and no-one would miss us. But this story proves the power of human compassion and that everybody has somebody – even if they don’t know it.

Be kind to people – you never know the difference you might make.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

Who’s the real threat?

Crikey. What a rotten time London has been having lately. Between the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, there seems to have been very little focus on what’s going to happen with the government. Obviously the focus needs to be on those who have suffered and continue to suffer from a tragic couple of weeks, but the fact remains that the Conservatives didn’t get a majority in the General Election, yet Theresa May and co seem to be proceeding in a business as usual fashion. The Queens Speech is going ahead today, and the Brexit negotiations have started led by a Tory representative. I know things can’t remain indefinitely on hold, but is this constitutional? Is she using the fact that people are rightly distracted by tragic human events to get in through the back door?

Who's the real threat

I see a bigger threat¬†to our country at present than terror attacks. The real threat, for me,¬†comes from the government. Arms deals into the Middle East and wars under the pretence of “protecting” vulnerable citizens. We’re shocked and horrified by people in the UK being killed by terrorists, yet seemingly untouched by civilians losing their lives in the Middle East – where numbers killed by terrorists and Western bombs are much higher than those we’ve seen in the UK. Where are their pop concerts? In fact, where is their media coverage? Can we be surprised that our country is under attack from extremists, when we’re party to attacks on them?

And the Grenfell Tower fire – another seemingly government caused tragedy. Everything seems to be pointing towards the illegal use of flammable cladding on the outside of the building – where would that decision have come from? Why weren’t there sprinklers in the building? Residents don’t make these types of decisions. Councils do. Councils who form part of local government, which in turn forms part of the overall government.

Such decisions lead to tragedies which put additional pressure on our already stretched emergency services. Why are they stretched? Because the government have cut their numbers and refuse well deserved pay rises so that, for some people, the role becomes untenable. When you read stories of nurses working 12 hour shifts but having to use food banks to feed their families, you know something is horribly wrong.

How about the media? Their biased reporting of Theresa May compared to Jeremy Corbyn in the run up to the election. Their biased reporting of the “Muslim terrorists” who “attacked” people as they enjoyed their Saturday night, compared to the “White Van Driver” who “collided” with Muslims as they celebrated their religion. Luckily many people see this bias for what it is, and are able to read between the lines and draw their own conclusions. But what about those who can’t? Those who trust the media and therefore respond accordingly; by blindly voting for Theresa May, or shouting abuse at peace loving Muslims in the street.

Having taken such a battering as a country in the past few weeks – because it does affect the whole country, not just London and Manchester – people seem to be opening their eyes to what’s going on; wanting answers and wanting change. We deserve those answers and that change. Something isn’t working. The system is broken. And we can’t just carry on as we always have done, because the gaps in society are just getting bigger. The gap between rich and poor. The gap between Muslims and non Muslims. The gap between Remainers and Brexiters. A divided society will eventually implode, and there’s nothing British about that.

Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

5 good things that happened in the General Election

General Election 2017

OK, so it wasn’t the result I was hoping for.

And the prospect of Theresa May teaming up with the DUP just to stay in power is abhorrent.

But, on a positive note, there were some good outcomes!

1 – Theresa May’s arrogance was proven to be misplaced

Yeah, technically she won, but realistically not so much. She expected a landslide and it didn’t happen. So up yours Theresa!

2 – 72% of young people (18-25) turned out to vote

Go young people! This number is up massively on past elections, and gives me hope for the future. Young people need to be engaged in politics in order to make a difference.

3 – UKIP now have no seats, and party leader Paul Nuttall has resigned.

There’s no place for a party like UKIP in a constitutional and progressive country. Just do one. Goodbye – close¬†the door on your way out.

4 – Diane Abbott retained her seat by an overwhelming majority

75% of the voters in her constituency voted for her, in spite of the bullying by the press and suggestions that she’s politically unfit to be shadow Home Secretary.

4 – Jeremy Corbyn was totally vindicated

Despite the media’s best effort to undermine him, Theresa May’s insults, backstabbing within his own party¬†and people calling him a clown with no political clout, he’s proven that he is liked, he is supported, and he is the catalyst for change that’s so very needed. It’s just a shame that so many people blindly voted for other parties without realising what they were voting for (and against)

Let’s see what happens next.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x