**DISCLAIMER – this post is not an attack on people who fundraise. I think they’re incredibly admirable and, without them, cancer charities would severely suffer**
I have a bee in my bonnet. It’s about the way fund raising for cancer charities is portrayed in the media.
First of all, let’s take a step back. The fact that fundraising is necessary at all really grinds my gears. Kids baking cakes and women shaving their heads and men running marathons is all great stuff, but the fact that research and support for such a vile, in-discriminatory, debilitating, life changing killer disease like cancer has to be funded by the public is appalling. When you look at the amount of money that is spent on war, footballers wages and Hollywood films, and then see that cancer charities are asking for donations to continue life saving work; well, something doesn’t add up there. The same can be said for many charities. I work in the sight loss industry, and some blind people rely heavily on charities like RNIB and Guide Dogs to level the playing field with sighted people for a physical disability that isn’t their fault. But that’s another post.
So, cancer charities are very necessary and very worthwhile.
My problem is the way in which the media encourages people to get involved, in this whole fun, uplifting show of bravado that “together we’ll beat cancer.” My current bug bear is with Absolute Radio, who are promoting a comedy show to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. The advert goes something along the lines of “we’re going to show cancer who’s boss – it’s us.”
It fucking well isn’t us at all. Statistically, the chances of being affected by cancer (that’s having it yourself or knowing someone who does) used to be 1 in 3. Now it’s that 1 in 2 people will get cancer. Not even be affected by it. Actually get it. I know a couple who both have cancer, now, at the same time. The guy has been told his is incurable, and while dealing with that, his wife got diagnosed with breast cancer, had a mastectomy and has just started chemotherapy.
That isn’t us “bossing” cancer.
The radio adverts for Macmillan coffee mornings also pissed me off “oh I’ll have a slice of cake then, if it means beating cancer”. For fuck’s sake, stop trivialising it. These adverts, with their airy fairy-ness, don’t represent the gritty reality of people being unable to eat, sleep or walk because their body is being ravaged by tumours. They’re making cancer into a sociable excuse to get together or a reason to bake some cakes and make yummy noises.
I’m not saying the fundraising efforts, and the encouragement to make them happen, should stop. Of course it shouldn’t; it’s an integral part of treating what is a global problem. I’m just saying I wish the reasoning behind these efforts wasn’t delivered in such a fluffy, softly softly way. And I know that’s because I saw what my Dad went through after his cancer diagnosis, and because I watched him deteriorate mentally and physically up until his death. And it’s because I’m bitter that all the cancer research in the world couldn’t save him. And it’s because I’m cynical, and I actually believe that a cure for at least some cancers already exists. And it’s because I can’t believe governments won’t sanction the use of cannabis oil to help cancer patients, in spite of it’s proven palliative and sometimes curative effects.
But mainly it’s because cancer is one of the most serious and worst things many of us will ever have to face; either personally or by association. And giving it a fascia of having fun isn’t doing justice to how life changing and damaging it is.
Here’s an idea for a marketing campaign.
“Cancer is evil and deadly and we want to support people affected by it, which we can do with your donations. Please give generously, either personally or through sponsored events. Thanks”
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! 😉
I’ll just leave you with this, from Twitter, instead.
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 – know that many of us in the world stand with you, and we admire your strength against adversity; today and everyday.
Following the horror of last week’s terror attack in Manchester and the humbling response by people in the City pulling together, I’ve been so uplifted by seeing Manchester and beyond showing strength and solidarity.
This story embodies it for me.
It’s a fairly long watch, but worth it. My eyes were squishy by the end and I felt proud of my fellow humans – whatever age, colour, or faith – showing this brave young man that we’re all in this together.
We arrived in Penang at 11am on a Monday morning after approximately 16 hours of travelling, 2 flights and very little sleep. Initially I feared I would crash and burn and have to hit the sack for a couple of hours but both of us were invigorated by finally being there, and the beachy view, so we checked into our (upgraded) room, unpacked, and set off to explore.
Although the majority of attractions in Penang are in the capital, George Town, we wanted to base ourselves by the coast for that all important paddle in the sea, so opted for Batu Ferringhi which is on the North of the island. Batu is little more than one long main street, with a number of hotels to suit all budgets, lots and lots of food establishments, mini markets and tailors shops (tailoring is big in Malaysia, the husband had a fabulous shirt made during our stay).
Batu comes alive early evening when the hawker food centres and nightly market open for business, both of which are a marvel to behold! The market stalls run for approximately 2km along the main street and sell everything from watches to sunglasses to bags, t-shirts, trinkets and trainers (mostly designer copies) and each stall is meticulously set up each and every night and packed away at the end (around midnight). We watched some stall holders wheeling their metal stall around 200 metres down the street, into the path of oncoming traffic, like it was the most normal thing in the world!
There’s not an awful lot to do in Batu Ferringhi, which suited us fine. It’s mainly focussed around eating (yay!) and sightseeing outside of the town. Because Malaysia is a Muslim country alcohol is heavily taxed, and therefore expensive, and there isn’t much of a drinking culture. Many restaurants don’t serve alcohol or, if they do, it will be purely beer. Booze prices are similar to at home, in some cases slightly more expensive, with a small glass of wine at around £5. We bought some drinks from a licensed liquor store and had a couple of nightcaps on our balcony and also spent a couple of evenings in the Hard Rock Café drinking delicious but overpriced cocktails! Hard Rock had a house band who played from 10.30pm each evening and were very good.
One of the things we were really looking forward to was the food, and it didn’t disappoint. There is a proliferation of both Indian and Chinese food in Malaysia, with Malay cuisine being something of a combination of the two, with lots of rice, noodles, fresh seafood and spices. You wouldn’t touch many of the streetfood stalls with a barge pole back at home but somehow, over there, eating from a hut constructed from metal poles with a corrugated iron roof, plastic patio chairs and a bucket at the side of the road for washing up seems perfectly normal! We had no stomach problems at all and ate some absolutely amazing dishes. A personal highlight was an amazing Mee Goreng (noodles cooked with meat and spices) for a ridiculous 80 pence. The husband pushed the boat out that night, his dinner was £1.20! The taste and flavours and freshness were just incredible. Also in Penang are a couple of large hawker centres, where lots of foodstalls are under one roof – all serving different cuisine. Our favourite was Long Island which we went to twice. The process is simple – get a table number and then go to whichever stalls you want, order your food, they will cook it fresh and bring it to your table where you then pay.
Dishes were no more than around £3 each at most, and the husband made the mistake of sending me off to do the ordering with a fistful of ringgits (Malaysian currency). We ended up with easily enough food for 4 people from about 7 different stalls! Examples included 10 sticks of chicken satay for less than £2, national favourite Char Kway Teow, Tom Yum soup, onion roti and chicken samosas. Amazing.
As well as spending time in Batu, we ventured into the capital Georgetown for two full days to soak up the sights and sounds. There’s a lot of building going on in Georgetown, lots of high rise condos and apartments (they have to build upwards due to lack of space on the ground) which sit along heavily adorned temples of such beauty and acres of green forest hills. It’s a really complex landscape with a different view at every turn, architecture influenced by British colonial days and a view across the Malacca Straits to the mainland. It also doesn’t seem to have a centre as such, and isn’t particularly easy to navigate, so a map is a must.
Technically outside of Georgetown, in the nearby Air Itam neighbourhood, Penang Hill rises 833 metres above the city and is a green and luscious area. Accessed by funicular railway which, at it’s steepest, rises at 50+ percentage, it’s definitely worth a visit. You could spend as little as 10 minutes for the views, up to most of a day exploring the summit of the hill and it’s attractions. We had a wander round, marvelled at the views, had some lunch, had a look round the Hindu temple, and took lots of photos. The funicular is a highlight in itself, and a feat of engineering, imagine building a railway on a hill that steep!
Dharmikarama Burmese temple
I was very excited to visit temples in Malaysia, not because I identify with any religion (I don’t) but because the architecture and attention to detail is so stunning. This temple and the Wat Chaiyamangkalaram Thai temple (below) are opposite each other, incongruously positioned on opposite sides of the street in the middle of George Town. At first glance it seems to be a competition between who can bring the most bling, there’s a A LOT of gold leaf, everywhere! The temple itself is very serene and picturesque, with dedicated areas for praying, although non praying people can also enter as long as shoes are removed.
Wat Chaiyamangkalaram Thai temple
This temple is famous for the reclining Buddha – 33 metres long and the 3rd biggest in the world, but it was closing as we arrived so we only got to peek inside. Again there are multiple buildings, gold leaf and mosaics everywhere. The architecture is incredible – everywhere you look is a stunning building or intricate piece of work. Amazing.
I’m going to be slightly controversial here and say that Little India was a disappointment. Firstly it wasn’t as busy and bustling as we’d hoped, which I think is because we were there in the afternoon and the main food sellers don’t open until early evening, but secondly it wasn’t that Indian, to us! Let me elaborate – I live in Birmingham which has a large Indian and Pakistani community, and there are areas of Birmingham where these communities live closely together and therefore develop their own “Little India” with sari shops, indian restaurants, mosques, and food stalls filling the air with pungent fragrance. So this place wasn’t really any different to anything I’ve experienced at home. If you live in an area or country that doesn’t have an Indian community that you’ve experienced, then you may feel very differently. Whilst there we did have an incredible thali style lunch at a restaurant which came with chicken curry, mutton curry, tandoori fish, basmati rice, pickles and poppadum, and it was spectacular, and I also snapped some pics of the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple but only from the outside as it was closed.
Street art in Armenia Street
We struggled to find Armenia Street initially, walking round in a big circle, trying to get in the map (a Friends reference!!) and starting to get ever so slightly narky with each other in the crazy heat of the day. When we did find it we were only there for 15 minutes or so, but it was good to see some of the fun street art which is a renowned tourist attraction in the city. Getting a photo without someone else in it who’s trying to do the same is something of a struggle, but a bit of patience goes a long way.
We also visitied Masjid Kapitan Keling and Kek Lok Si Temple, but I’ll be doing a separate post on both of those.
Would I recommend Penang? Absolutely. The people are incredibly friendly, generous and selfless, keen to tell you about their homeland (as we found with a couple of very chatty taxi drivers), the food is absolutely incredible and very cheap, there’s a good balance of city and beach to suit all interests and the mix of architecture is fascinating.
I’ve had a few silver hairs near my hairline since I was in my mid 20s, and they’ve never really bothered me that much because they’re not noticeable, and anyway, I colour my hair. In the past couple of years that “few” has multiplied to “a few more” and they’ve also sent an invitation to some of their friends in my parting (as wonky and changeable as it is), and although I wouldn’t class myself as “going grey” <<shudder>> there’s no denying that they’re there. And sometimes I just can’t be assed to colour my hair (winter makes me lazy, don’t judge, ‘kay?) but I don’t want them glistening at me through my ebony locks (that sounds super romanticised, for what is actually Bitter Sweet Chocolate from the Schwarzkopf Live range).
Anyway, I spotted Loreal Magic Retouch on special offer in my local Boots, and at £5 (instead of the usual £8.99 price tag) I thought I’d give it a go.
I bought the black shade, because my hair is as near as dammit, certainly more black than brown, and got super excited at the prospect of not having to dye my hair as often (I told you, lazy). Here’s what the blurb says:
The pinpoint micro-diffuser precisely targets greys and the rich colour pigments give you perfectly blended coverage. Our 1st instant root concealer spray, Magic Retouch conceals greys and roots in just one quick spray – when, where and how you need it. 3 seconds to flawless roots!
Perfectly matches and blends with leading shades, even salon colour
From light blonde to black hair
Lasts until washed out
No transfer, lightweight formula
Up to 30 uses
How to use
Shake well before use.
Keep the product upright.
Apply to dry, styled hair.
Hold can approximately 10cm from hair & spray roots in a light stream.
Don’t overspray. A small amount is enough.
Allow to dry before touching your hair.
Oh, and it also says to keep out of the reach of children, but seeing as I don’t know any kids who are suffering the affliction of early aging, that shouldn’t be a problem.
So, the instructions say to hold the bottle 10cms away from your hair and spray, but if you do that at your roots, your face is going to get sprayed too, right? Even with the nozzle, which is supposed to make application more targeted, you still get splodges on your forehead (as ably modelled by myself here in a before and after stylee, you’re welcome).
See the speckles on my forehead on the right? That’s overspray on my forehead, not a batch of freckles.
The colour itself is ok, it certainly blends in well with my (non) natural hair colour although it didn’t give complete coverage. I suppose you could apply more, but it does make your hair feel a bit powdery and claggy, like dry shampoo but obviously you can’t brush it out as you do with dry shampoo because that would defeat the object of the colour molecules. And, despite it’s claims, it doesn’t last until you next wash your hair. After a night in bed mine had completely worn off (although it hadn’t stained the pillow, which is a plus, so not sure where it actually went?!)
To conclude, I’m not overly impressed and I don’t think I would buy it again. I’m just going to have to be less slovenly and start dyeing my bonce more regularly instead!
I’ve been an emotional wreck for the last few days. I don’t know why I’ve been so touchy, but that’s life. Not really the best subject matter on International Happiness Day – sorry!
It started with this story which had me in tears at my desk on Friday, Seriously, it hit me right in the heart and I had to go and shut myself in the toilet for a sob. 7 year old Filip’s Mom died when he was just 2 years old and is buried in Poland. Now Filip is dying from leukaemia, and his wish is to be buried alongside in his Mom so she can look after him in heaven. That poor little boy. His photograph broke me, the story broke me, and his Dad’s crowdfunding efforts to grant his boy’s dying wish broke me. And, no offence to anyone reading this who believes in religion, but stuff like this is further proof to me that God can’t possibly exist, because why would an entity that’s supposed to be good ever ever cause so much pain and suffering for an innocent child?
I never really donate to crowdfunding efforts but I couldn’t not chip into this one. The nice news is that they’ve smashed the initial £6,500 target, so poor little Filip will be reunited with his Mom when the sad time comes.
On the back of that (and crying over it again on Saturday as I was telling my Mom about it) I got all emotional about our impending move. A couple in their late 50s came to view the flat, with a view to just the man buying it. They’ve been together for over 30 years but don’t want to be together any more, even though they’re still great friends. And that made me really sad. People try so hard to find love, and when it comes to an end I think that’s heartbreaking (unless someone cheats in which case it’s bloody good riddance after smashing up their stuff and badmouthing them to anyone that will listen).
Those tears (which came after the viewing was over!) soon developed into a full on blart fest about leaving the flat. We’ve been so very very happy here. We only intended to stay for 5 years but have been here for eleven, and they’re the happiest years of my life. I know it’s only bricks and mortar but I feel content, safe and settled here. And while the new place will be great, it’s still a big wrench to leave our little space in the sky.
Crying about moving on to better things in life, nuts eh?
So, there you have my uplifting take on International Happiness Day – ha! I can’t say I’m any happier today, and I don’t know why! I need a bang to the head!
In spite of all that, I actually had a nice weekend; family time and Indian food for my Mom’s birthday on Friday night, friends time at a gig on Saturday night, and husband time on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
This feels like a bit of a cheat post to me, because I generally write original content (whether its any good or not is a different matter!) But I just have to implore you to read my friend Ellen’s blog, which at the moment is focussing on her experience of giving up sugar and alcohol for Lent.
This is not for religious reasons; more Ellen being a stubborn so and so, and proving to herself that she can do it. Which I applaud massively. I’d much rather support other people giving things up than do it myself. Things like Stop-tober and Dry-January are bad enough at 30 days, but Lent is a whole 40 days which, if you can’t do the maths, is a whole 9 days – or 1.5 weeks (almost longer).
Anyway, back to Ellen’s diaries. They’re insightful, funny and more funny. I think you’ll enjoy them. Even if you don’t, you’ll be grateful that you didn’t make such a nuts decision! (sorry, Ellen)
Let me know what you think! Thanks, as always, for reading! x
Because January sales are no longer confined to January, there’s still the opportunity to pick up some sales bargains well into February and even March. Of course, buying jumpers and woolly hats is a bit daft at this point of the year, but the beauty with online sales is that they tend to contain something for all seasons because retailers just list everything they still have in stock.
I had an email from Forever 21 a couple of weeks back declaring that the more you buy, the more you save (shopaholic logic right there!) so I popped over for a look-see.
The premise was that if you buy 2 things you get 20% off the already reduced sale price, 3 things 30% off, 4 things, 40% off, and 5 things gets 50% off. So half price on items that were already, in many cases, half price.
With that in mind I ordered 22 items!
Unfortunately the discount was capped at 50% off, otherwise F21 would have been paying me to buy their clothes (the dream, right there!) and anyway, they weren’t 22 different items; many of them were duplicates but in different sizes (because we all know how crap high street sizes are, right?)
Much of what came was too short or too low cut (the perils of shopping in a store aimed at people almost half your age!) but I ended up with a few nice things that I’m rather chuffed with.
Faux suede hat – £3.99
Burgundy and blue floral dress – £5.49
Rust frill sleeve maxi – £7.99 (this does actually need a little bit of “refining” around the bust to make it suitable for wearing a bra with, and I fully expect the husband to ask why I’m wearing a nightie)
Black and cream flares – £2.99 (love these)
In a separate order I had already procured these rather fabulous paisley velvet flares, which you my have seen if you follow me on instagram. Not reduced, not for spring but definitely not worth NOT having!
I’m definitely erring towards more boho / hippy / 70s purchases right now.
What have you been buying or lusting after? Let me know!
Woke up alone, because the husband was away overnight with work
Hunted high and low for missing paperwork (losing stuff in your own home is so damn stupid)
Went to the supermarket
Applied for a mortgage online
Measured up our existing lounge compared to our “new” one (fingers crossed!)
But you know what else I’ve done?
Got excited about the husband coming home
Drunk pink wine
Kissed like teenagers (sorry!) > (not sorry!!)
Listened to “our song” on repeat (only because Spotify was stuck, no joke!!)
There’s no right or wrong way to do Valentine’s Day. If you want to be all romantic and hearts and flowers, then that’s lovely. If you see it as “just another day”, that’s fine too. Somewhere in the middle? All power to ya!
Love is love is love. And everyone does love differently. Us? We do love with sarcasm, fun, daftness and the occasional bit of soppiness. I love and adore the husband with everything I have (except maybe shoes) and I have no doubt in my head or heart that he loves and adores me. That’s not being conceited, arrogant or smug. That’s the power of emotion, the power of cuddles that convey feelings, and the power of never going to bed / waking in the night / leaving home without saying I love you.