THE GLASTONBURY

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Ah, it’s that time of year again when the forthcoming Glastonbury headliners are announced.

And here we have it, just like clockwork, people moaning about who they might be and – when they’re finally announced – moaning just that little bit more.

First of all, it was no secret that Chris Martin and his band of merry men were going to headline at some point during this year’s festival. In fact, it has sort of been the music industry’s worst kept secret over the last few months, so I’m not sure why people are acting like somebody just told them that Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar (fingers crossed for this year, old chap).

Secondly, I have seen Coldplay live. Twice. Once with a mutual fan and another time with a notorious Chris Martin hater. And guess what? They both – begrudgingly or not – loved every second of it. Come 10pm on 26th June (whether you will care to admit it or not), you won’t be able to say anything but how much you enjoyed listening to what they had to offer.

And finally, if you’ve been before, you’ll know that the Sunday of Glastonbury is an emotional time. It’s a time to reflect on the strange creatures you’ve met in hidden spots around the site, a chance to reminisce about the quite frankly regretful things you’ve got up to over the last few days and – most importantly – it’s a chance to sit back and unwind with whatever’s left of your overheated gin and cans of cider. If you’ve been before, you’ll also know that it really doesn’t matter who you’re listening to onstage by that point because you’re already feeling nostalgic- torn between wishing it were all over so you can actually wash and yearning for day one so you can do it all over again. And who better to listen to when you’re feeling fragile whilst wanting to make the most of your latest stint in Somerset?

Basically, whether you like it or not, from the comfort of your sweaty sofa or from within the depths of the stinking extravaganza that is the Sunday of Glastonbury, you’re going to enjoy Coldplay’s slot. Either because it’s summer, because they’re talented or because you’ve just dropped whatever remnants you had left in the back of your bum bag from the last few days. Only time – and four magical days in a field – will tell.

As for me?

I can’t wait.

Only 126 days to go…

THE ANSWER

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They say that bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity.

And they are right. It is about as useful as a pen without ink.

I am as scared as you and I am as helpless as you. I sit on the tube with my eyes flitting frantically from side to side, wondering if that man over there – rummaging around in the bottom of his rucksack – is going to be the death of me. I wonder on a daily basis if my friends are going to make it into work okay. I wonder whether those suits in the city will be safe behind their desks and I dread turning on the news each night to find yet another explosion, massacre or declaration of war.

However fearful or angry I feel however, I refuse to turn to violence in times such as these.

Over the course of my lifetime, I have bore witness to three, horrific acts of terror against the western world: 9/11, 7/7 and now 11/13. I should, as a result, wish to seek revenge with bombs and violence, but I don’t. Of course, I have felt fear – feel fear – on a daily basis; terrorism has become a part of my daily life since I was twelve years old. Of course I am angry, hardened and paranoid as a result of these sporadic attacks, but in order for them to lose, I must stay positive. This is something I find easy to do because the truth is: I am fed up. I am fed up of being scared. Fed up of seeing blood stained streets, guns, torture, murder and fear. I am sick of sitting here, watching history repeating itself, of hearing inhumane requests to ‘close the borders!’ and ‘batten down the hatches!’ I am sick of humans turning this beautiful world that we live in, into a playground for death and destruction, so I simply refuse to indulge in it.

Many of you will accuse me of turning a blind eye to the events of the last few years and lots of you will accuse me of being ignorant, just because I am still smiling. But I’m not ignorant, I am simply just exhausted from fear and the disappointment of using violence to defeat violence that I have no other choice but to keep loving, marching and fighting for peace because if I don’t, what else do I have? There is no front line. There are no soldiers. Just reckless human beings with a desire to kill innocent people. And there is absolutely nothing I can do about it, except for spread the need for love and project visions of a peaceful world as far and as wide as possible.

I have sourced great comfort from the displays of love and support that have saturated social media over the last few days because it is a sign that we, as a world, are united, resilient and strong. It reminds me that there is more good than evil in the world, no matter what the headlines say. So don’t criticise those who display their affections on social media. We all feel sad, fearful, and most importantly, a little helpless, so it is right to do whatever it is that makes us feel like we are making a difference, because by doing just that, we probably are. So if you wish to drape your Facebook profile picture in a faded Tricolore then, please, do just that. If you want to share Charlie Hebdo’s front page on your Instagram, go ahead. March. Write. Talk. Basically, do whatever you can to stand united, stay positive and promote visions of a peaceful world.

What I am trying to say is that instead of feeling hatred, anger or wishing for revenge, keep the messages of love and unity flowing because it just serves as a reminder that that our gang – of tolerance and peace – is thankfully a lot bigger than theirs, which is built on an unsteady foundation of misery, ignorance and hatred. And I’ve got so much time for that.

So, for the people of Paris and across the world who have lost loved ones, who are in pain or living in fear: I want you to know that London loves you and that we are here for you.

Keep smiling and stay strong. It really is the only answer.

THE VERDICT

large (1)I woke up on Friday morning, clambered over my boyfriend’s sleeping body and reached for Twitter. I scrolled through reams of harsh wake up calls, hoping for a mistake or a recount, disbelieving the news that it had been a Tory victory during the night.

There was no denying it: you, the people, had spoken.

I face palmed.

I rolled my eyes.

And was eventually kicked out of bed at 6am as I wriggled and huffed about the forthcoming five years of misery.

I won’t dwell on why I’m so confused and saddened by the selfish choices Britain made on 7th May. I won’t try to convince you that your choice was wrong, because quite frankly, it’s too late. I won’t bother with how Miliband would have made a fantastic leader and I don’t think I need to list the reasons why you should be as worried as I am about the fate of our people.

The vandalism and violent protests, however, are condemned with every fibre of my being. I am proud that we live in a democracy and it was a clear win, I am not contesting that. I just want to know how it was such an epic defeat. And why you voted that way.

The only good thing to come out of this blue win is that while they’re busying themselves with f***ing up our country and the lives of hundreds of families across Britain, us Labour supporters will have the time time to learn from what has happened and work on building a stronger team in time for the next election. I’ll be 31 by then, probably married, maybe with a family, which means that I’ll be fighting twice as hard to have it my way and secure a brighter future for everyone.

I don’t know how I’m going to work on making what I believe in a reality, but I do know that if I don’t do something about it now, then nothing will ever change.

They say you have to hit rock bottom before things start looking up. Well we’re there. So stay strong, stop moaning and fight for what you believe in.

Join us here to make a difference. Now.

I AM VOTING

“It’s a democracy people. Fucking engage. Politicians don’t represent you because they think you don’t care. Show them you do.” – Tim Minchin

I’m so sick of hearing young people belittling this election, posting misinformed Facebook statuses about not being bothered to vote and using their role as a ‘disillusioned youth” of today as their excuse not to. We’re lucky enough in this country to have a voice. In fact no, someone probably died so you could have your say. So grow a pair and say thank you to them by taking an interest.

Here are three humans – under the age of 30 – who do care.

So whether or not your mind has already been made up, click below to find out how they will be voting on Thursday.

You have less than 24hrs to make your own decision. Start thinking.

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THE VOTE

Hugh-Grant-BirthdayWe have two days until we waltz into our local polling stations and stick our marked cards into a ballot box, hoping, once again, for a better Britain.

But who will you be voting for?

This time four years ago, I put my fate into the hands of Nick Clegg, a “man” who promised me personally that he wouldn’t raise tuition fees. This was the only reason I voted for him because, as a student in 2010, that was what mattered most to me. As much as I wish to deny it, I was tricked. In broad daylight I’ll have you know. I will blame it on being a naive 22 year old, but really, he was just a liar. So here I am, in a blue country, governed by a ruthless, miserable government, feeling a little bit disillusioned by the system.

So what do I do now?

Well, to start with, this time I won’t be fooled.

I will admit that I was – albeit temporarily – tempted by Brand’s plight. What can I say? I’m a sucker for long hair and a pair of skinny jeans. But once I remembered I actually had a brain and enough of him babbling on about the revolution that wasn’t to be, I decided (once again) to give our potential leaders the benefit of the doubt and actually hear what they had to say for themselves.

Over the past few months, I have tuned into every live debate, read almost every newspaper I could get my hands on and scoured manifestos, grappling for an answer to the question of who to vote for on 7th May. And the thing that I’ve come to realise most about Miliband is his passion. I have hated that word “passion” ever since I was told at school never to use it in a cover letter or university application. But Ed? Not so much; he loves it. He has sat, stood and fought, for months on end, answering questions and dodging bullets fired from Paxman’s pistol. He hasn’t done it with ease either; his hands trembled and his voice shook. His words failed him at times with his intentions hidden behind an ill-timed stutter. But far from making him appear weak, this just showed me how much he wants it. He has sat on the edge of his seat with excitement, the way you probably do when something you’ve wanted for so long is within your grasp. Basically, he gives a shit.

He has never been arrogant. He has never been seamless. He finds it hard to sit still and I think I might be better at public speaking than him. But that’s what I like about him. We’re not like our pristine friends across the pond, here in Britain. Like Ed, we’re shabby, a little bit goofy, but fiercely loyal and super strong despite our small stature. And that’s why I think he is our perfect choice.

If you haven’t already guessed it, I’m voting Red, and not just because it’s my middle name.

I want to save our NHS: an institution that saved my brother’s life and looked after my grandparents in their dying days. I want to protect its vision to provide better mental health care to those in desperate need and to continue to never turn anyone away because of the few pennies left in their purse. I am voting Red because I want tuition fees to be lowered and apprenticeships to be seen as a worthy “other” option for those who work equally as hard. I want more housing for those who need it, want it and deserve it. And I want benefits to be available only to those who are willing to give something back – and two years is plenty of time to do just that. Equally, I want to provide refuge to those who are scared to go to sleep in their own homes and wish to protect their children from the devastating effects of war and poverty, to start a new life, just as many of our parents and grandparents did many moons ago.

So stop going on about how much he looks like a cartoon character made from plasticine and how weak you think he sounds, you’re acting like an idiot. Mo Farah doesn’t exactly look like The Hulk and Gandhi wasn’t ever going to be Britain’s Next Top Model and look what they’ve achieved.

Britain loves an underdog. And I think Ed could be our best yet.

Whoever you’re voting for, please make sure you do. Particularly if you have a vagina, because, women’s rights and that.

I’ll be posting other people’s preferences over the next couple of days, because it’s only fair. Stay tuned to hear further thoughts of some more twenty-somethings living in the capital…

See you at the Polling Station on Thursday, I’m excited!

THE STRANGER DANGER

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A man grabbed my arse once as I scrambled for the District Line at Earl’s Court. Sorry, make that ‘happens once every few months since I was fourteen’ and it’d be a little closer to the truth.

No, I’m not exaggerating. And no, before you ignorantly ask, I’m not wearing a short skirt every time it happens. In fact, if you must know, I hate wearing skirts. I’m very much a jeans girl, not that it matters. I don’t ‘dress like a boy’ because I’m scared of what sort of attention I might attract. I wear whatever I want to wear because – shock horror – how I dress has nothing to do with the hip rubbing, hand stroking and prolonged staring that are – unfortunately – part and parcel of my daily commute.

Rather than kick up a fuss, it’s so much easier to just ignore those subtle movements and that man who gets a bit too close. People are tired after work, the carriage is silent except for sniffles from the poor soul that forgot their hanky and you’re too embarrassed to make a scene. After all, that thing you felt on your back really might have been there by accident. It was probably just a bag. The train is super busy. And he doesn’t seem the type- he’s wearing a suit for Christ’s sake… Usually, by the time you’re above ground, you’ve already convinced yourself that it was all in your head and have started figuring out what you’ll do with that leftover mince later.

But sometimes it’s not rush hour. Sometimes there’s a ton of space around you but they decide to stand right by your side. Sometimes it’s something more than an accident. And when it is, you’ll just know it, whether you choose to admit it or not.

When someone happens to bump into you, there’s normally an – albeit begrudging – apology and a quick look back at their phone for fear of further words being exchanged between the two of you. An accidental tap to the bottom with the back of one’s hand doesn’t require the human whom it belongs to, to breathe down your neck or continue to stand right there once half the commuters have vacated the carriage. It doesn’t require their thigh to touch yours as you both nab seats next to one another and it certainly doesn’t require grabbing or pinching of any kind. It’s something that thousands of us put up with each year and it’s just not on.

These acts of sexual harassment – because yes, that’s what they are – range from the overt to the very small. I sometimes see stranger’s willies more times in one week than my own boyfriend’s and I have been what appeared to be the subject of someone’s down time as they tossed themselves off across from me on the Piccadilly line. The worst part? I was alone. Even worse than that? I was fourteen and no one did anything to stop it. I hadn’t even kissed a boy and I was already being used as someone’s sex object- what a great way to spend my journey home from school.

Basically, if I haven’t asked you to touch me, then don’t. Even staring for longer than to check where my jumper is from is not okay. And before you say it, I’m not being sensitive. I’m open to smiles and even a brief chat about the weather, but don’t stare at my chest hoping to, at some point, develop the capacity to visually penetrate clothing and see a nipple because you’ll be sorely disappointed- not to mention the fact that you’re making me feel really very uncomfortable.

I’ve put up with this for a long time, yet it’s taken me five years to write this post. I haven’t put it off because I didn’t want to speak out, but because I was so used to it happening to me that it didn’t seem worth it. Thankfully, The Pool reminded me that it shouldn’t be a part of my daily routine and informed me that people are doing something to stop it.

The British Transport Police have released a video to raise awareness of the subject. (If you aren’t able to watch it right now, it’s basically a short film showing a woman being assaulted on the tube as everyone around her remains totally oblivious; a daily occurrence in the capital.) I could go on for days telling countless tales of torment on the tube or my local bus routes, but here’s something that you can actively do to help instead:

If you experience anything – big or small – on the tube that you’re not comfortable with, then text 61016 to report it.

Store those digits in your phones ladies, because sadly, you will have to use them if you live here long enough. And it’s a great way to kick up a silent fuss if you’re not so keen on having it out with your attacker on the 7.01 to Waterloo. You’re not alone in this desire to keep the peace on your commute by the way: 1 in 10 Londoners have experienced such trauma and 90% fail to report it. Even just the fact that this issue is finally being acknowledged after such a long time is a huge step in the right direction I think.

Women should be able to navigate their city without fear of being abused. Raise awareness and be sure to pass on the number (61016) to report anything untoward.

And remember: if something doesn’t feel right to you, it means that it probably isn’t. Let’s make some changes. Starting now.

The Twenties

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In my final year of secondary school I was asked where I’d like to be in ten years time. I had pictured that, at 25, I’d have a tall, dark, handsome non-stranger and a job that didn’t involve autism and nits. Now, almost halfway through this decade of not-achieving-that, I’m contemplating exactly where these ideals were lost and when it became wrong to desire a pristine portrait of a life?

A 24, I feel a little too old to be getting with randoms in clubs, a little too poor to be dating all the time and a little too young to be contemplating picket fences and the perks of Peter Jones. But at the same time, I want babies eventually and that clock is, believe it or not, ticking. This probably means that I should at least be attempting to find The One before my face crumples with age; but where? Everyone is far too drunk in bars in Brixton for me to decide whether they’re going to be the love of my life and I’m having too much of a good time to care.

I look at my friends who are blissfully in love and can’t wait for them to get hitched. But the thought of me being more than a pissed bridesmaid makes me want to throw up in my own hands. In fact no, if it scared me that much, I wouldn’t be writing this post. It’s the very fact that I don’t want for either which is the problem.

And that’s when I realise: It’s just not a priority of mine right now.

Gone are the days of Mrs Bennet frantically marrying off her daughters to men in mansions; I’ve moved into the twenties which means that I actually own my own uterus. I’m allowed to be decadent, free and drunk; for now at least.

Until I absolutely have to, I’m going to stop worrying about it.

And worst comes to worst?  I’ll freeze some eggs.

Too much info?

Never.