THE WESTMINSTER ATTACK

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“Our strength as a city is our ability to stand together.” – A/Dep Cmsr Mark Rowley

It was another one of those sobering moments today, wasn’t it?

Where we were reminded that we aren’t actually 100% safe when going about our daily lives.

Truth is, we like to ignore it, don’t we? As we sip on our morning coffee or worry about figures at work, we pretend war isn’t raging around the world and kid ourselves into thinking terror isn’t a permanent threat to our nation and, although I’m not sure what else we should do but plod on as usual, ignoring it all doesn’t sit quite right with me, either.

As I watch the news, glued to my TV screen for no doubt the rest of the evening, filled with a mixture of emotions, I will endeavour to react to the events of today with care, and encourage you to do the same. Although not always easy, I think it best to fight assaults such as these with love and peace as opposed to anger or violence.

I have decided to take away from today a sense of pride in the people of my city and their reaction to the events, an admiration for London’s emergency services, and a warmth from knowing these attackers are in the minority, and we, the good, are in the majority. My thoughts also turn to those in war-torn locations around the world who see the events of this afternoon on a daily basis. It’s a scary thought that this could be someone’s normality, but that’s a post for another day, I think.

For now, my thoughts are with London and the victims of today’s attack.

Stay safe, sweet city. With love, all the way from the west country.

THE HALLOWEEN

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Ah, it’s that time of year again where we Google what we’re going to be for weeks ahead of the 31st, searching for a costume that is the perfect combination of sexy/scary, before forgetting to buy one altogether and having to concoct a makeshift one from whatever’s left in Wilko, resulting in basically a non-costume. We will then creep off into the night before downing more alcohol than usual, behaving in ways we normally wouldn’t and encountering more dickheads than we thought humanly possible.

It’s painful, why then do I love it so?

I don’t know.

But what I do know is that Halloween costumes that are acceptable for 27-year-olds seem to be very few and far between and the desire to dress up is wearing thin. If you, like me, still don’t have a clue what to go as to that overpriced club night or likely-to-be-quite-messy house party on Saturday, then here are my suggestions to you:

Mexican Sugar Skull

Cultural appropriation arguments aside – for these are desperate times – a Mexican sugar skull costume provides late twenty-somethings with a hint of sophistication to stop you looking like a complete plonker with enough fright to pay homage to the holiday. Age-appropriate indeed.

Scrubs and Blood

Not at all sexy, but if you’re planning on heading out for a hefty supper before the celebrations commence, then you can certainly let it all hang out in these bad boys. Comfort combined with costume effort – basically what being 27 at Halloween is made of.

Cannibal Cavegirl

Done properly, this can actually look pretty great – but you’ve got to go the whole hog: think a full head of back-combed hair, a dress made of animal print fur, bones in your hair and blood around your mouth.

Wednesday Addams

Black dress (preferably with a white collar). Pigtails. Monday-before-coffee-face. Simple.

Slaughtered Beauty Queen

This is definitely one for a more glamorous occasion – although only worth the effort if you have actually been invited to a half-decent Halloween party, such as Jonathon Ross’. Invest in a second-hand cocktail gown, plastic tiara, coat yourself in blood and you’re good to go.

Finally, A Dead… Anything

Basically, if you’re struggling with what to wear, dress up as something… a chef, a baker, a painter and then just, sort of… make yourself look dead.

This Halloween, if you think you’re too old, the truth is, you probably are, but if you feel like pressing on regardless, please promise me this: that you won’t go dressed as a cat or a bunny – or basically anything with whiskers; that you won’t just wear a onesie and call it a costume and that you will refrain from going as a member of ISIS, an aborted baby or a bloody tampon. You’re not funny, you’re an idiot and belong in a rugby club at a university in Devon.

If in doubt this Halloween, just cover yourself in blood and drink too much – it’s worked for me in the past and is probably what we’ll all end up doing anyway.

Have a good one.

THE SNOBBERY

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I have written about this before but someone was talking about it on the telly the other day and I feel I need to address it again: snobbery surrounding likes and dislikes – where do you find the fucking time for it?

Really, I’d love to know.

There are so many people who get so uppity about people watching reality TV or this documentary or that show and it’s so boring. I get that there are lower pleasures and higher pleasures but surely to God you don’t want to go balls to the wall on politics or the works of Chaucer all the livelong day? Don’t you ever just want to kick back and let your brain dissolve into the television?

Because I am more than happy to admit that I do, particularly after a long day at work.

I don’t think there’s any shame in admitting that if I want to watch shit TV with a ready meal that’s bad for me on a particularly bleak Thursday, then I will, because equally, I enjoy cooking good grub and tucking into serious articles and forming all of the opinions, too. So why, when it comes to the habits of others, are people so goddamn judgmental?

The thing that cracks me up the most about these Judgmental Judys who eye roll when you discuss reality TV in depth, is that they are the same people who love to like shit stuff, too – just the sort of shit stuff (like mouse ear hair and badly cut jeans) that Urban Outfitters have told them it’s okay to like. Which is confusing, because let’s be honest, the 90s weren’t actually fun for anyone except twenty-somethings off their tits on the new drugs on the market. As for the rest of us, we were just sitting around wearing butterfly clips and being blinded by body glitter while watching Saved by the Bell – so why are people my age wearing bubble jackets and quoting Vanilla Ice lyrics like they’re reliving the good times? Again, because it’s something shit that they’ve been told is okay to like. So let me be clear: it’s not, your incessant desire to listen to 90s RnB and dress like a 9-year-old me is just as irritating as someone discussing how many reruns of Geordie Shore they watched over the weekend.

But that’s cool, if that’s your thing, of course.

Basically, I’m just saying stop the eye rolls. Stop judging everyone for indulging in the Kardashians or hours of endless YouTube videos or whatever their shit love is – because we all have (at least) one guilty pleasure. Some of us are just more honest about them and as long as you have other interests that don’t require a monthly rental fee or a day spent on the sofa, then you’re all good.

Reading thirty minutes of Jack Kerouac while still finding the headspace to be concerned with Binky and JP’s recent relationship development is fine.

It’s called balance.

Stop being a grump.

THE HUMP MONTH

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Welcome to July.

The season of sunshine, school holidays, Wimbledon, Pimms and badly dressed Brits.

But most importantly? We have reached the midway point of the year.

Yes, people, we are six months deep into 2016 and normally, at this time of year, when the days are longer, the sun has (sort of) come out to play and holiday season is fast approaching, I would reflect on the new year’s resolutions I made in a post-Christmas haze of bubbles, glitter, balls dropping and Big Ben chiming and give them a quick jump start before we head into the second half of the show.

But this year feels different. The UK is in such a state of disarray and unrest that I feel more deflated than ever before and as though I’m still slogging through the mud at Worthy Farm, in the rain, without a coat, even though I arrived back to concrete and home comforts five days ago.

But why?

Because I live in a blue country where the two viable options for our future prime minister have been, at one point or another, Boris fucking Johnson or Michael ‘Spawn of Satan’ Gove and this scares me. I find myself living in a country where the only political party who supports the working people is crumbling before my very eyes. I live in a UK that is becoming less tolerant and, in small pockets, more racist and in the city that I know and love so well, we are still berating women for feeding their children in public, while football fans watch on, tops off, in beer gardens. I am living in a world where innocent people are being killed, while gun laws are still being not only upheld, but justified, by men and where ruining someone’s life by raping them is rewarded with a six month prison sentence. As bombs going off around the globe fails to shock me anymore, I find myself starting to wonder: where did it all go wrong?

At 27, I guess I am young, yes, and I have been told on numerous occasions that I am ‘too idealistic’ or that I ‘just don’t get it’, but the fact is, I actually do. I know fine well that we are in dire straits and that ‘our’ decision to leave the European Union is a bad one. I know that for good to happen, we have to pull together. I know, from history, that change is possible, it just takes time and effort, of which I am more than willing to put in. And, even though at times it might seem impossible or exhausting to do so, I refuse to change who I am, what I believe and I will continue to march on with an open mind and a liberal, loving heart, in spite of these strange and confusing times.

So, this July, instead of looking backwards to see whether I have achieved what I set out to at the start of the year, I want everyone to join me in looking forward with one goal: to provide light – in any capacity you can think of – in these dark times so that we can begin to sort this mess out. If this comes in the form of a peaceful protest, then raise that banner high. If you can and wish to provide aid to our fellow humans in Calais, then I will donate to your cause. Hug more, talk more and never give up hope for a brighter future because, if we don’t, then who else will?

I feel as though we, as a nation, have reached rock bottom and you know what they say happens when you get there, don’t you?

Stay hopeful, young ones. We’ve got this.

The only way is up.