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.

MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN

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A while ago, I realised that (since I have a vagina and grew up in London), it might be about time I wrote about my experiences of street harassment.

I talked about people touching my body when I hadn’t asked them to. I spoke about being cat-called and how often this happens. I reminisced about lengthy stares and bum grazes and, unfortunately, it seemed to resonate with a fair few of you. As a result, I thought I would bring your attention to ‘Might Never Happen’: a play co-written by one of my best friends, addressing aspects of the abuse and harassment that women face on a daily basis in the UK.

Doll’s Eye Theatre, the company behind this piece, address some important issues. They have taken the time to demonstrate the various guises that harassment takes on, the way people do or don’t deal with it and the way that it can make you feel the size of a thimble when it happens to you in a crowded place or somewhere you should feel safe, which, in actual fact, should be anywhere- including a dark alley in the dead of night; wearing heels, trainers, or an all in one for that matter.

I had the pleasure of watching ‘Might Never Happen’ back in May at the King’s Head in Islington. An intimate setting, which lent itself perfectly to the aptly uncomfortable scenes we endured. The material is thought-provoking and – refreshingly – demonstrates the male perspective on issues that are predominantly reserved for women’s magazine articles or feminine discussions. To me, this was the most important aspect of the performance because, all too often, I meet men who assume that women are overly sensitive to slurs on the street or that ‘we love it really’ when a man in a van comments on our *insert body part here*.

‘Might Never Happen’ asks some really interesting questions and opens up a space for conversations about what men can do to prevent this abuse from happening altogether through a combination of dark comedy and satire. It also highlights how little women can do to stop it, despite constantly being told to ‘cover up’ or ‘wear less make up’ to avoid ‘provoking men’, finally taking the blame and responsibility away from women and placing it on those who commit these acts instead.

The more we talk about how invasive these ‘lighthearted’ bum pinches, whispered ‘alright darlings’ and the standing-just-that-little-bit-too-close-to-us-incidents make us truly feel, the less accepted it will become.

Doll’s Eye Theatre will be performing ‘Might Never Happen’ again in October. You can get tickets here.

Let me know what you think.

THE SLUMP

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I had high expectations for this Easter holiday.

Very high expectations, in fact.

I envisaged sun soaked sessions outside local coffee shops with my laptop perched on my knee in an oversized jumper. I pictured lazy days in the park spent scribbling in a notebook. At one point, I was booking a very expensive holiday to Cape Verde that I couldn’t afford, hoping to tan and write at the same time. Basically, I predicted that wherever I was in the world, I would be being (at the very least) creative, although of course, the reality of any sort of writing I do consists of my bed, some snacks and a pair of unwashed, faded pyjamas, so I’m not quite sure why I all of a sudden saw myself living in some sort of Hipster paradise, churning out great works of art on the other side of the world…

But anyway, two weeks into a two and a half week break from work and all I have posted on here are two ‘Sunday Papers’ pieces (which literally consist of nothing other than other people’s fantastic writing) and a couple of ‘Monday Mantras’, which, of course, everybody needs at the start of a working week, but it’s not exactly rocket science and/or a work of creative genius to find a quote and share it.

But it’s really not that I haven’t wanted to post anything. On the contrary, I was determined to become the next Zoella or whoever else is now living off the fruits of their online presence in the space of 17 days. But, surprisingly, it hasn’t happened. Perhaps I aimed too high? Perhaps ‘becoming Zoella’ was a little too optimistic? Perhaps I’ve lazed in bed for a little too long each morning? Spent too much time cooking delicious food or getting on with adult things like finding a flat and a new job?

Truth is, I really couldn’t tell you; I haven’t a clue why I haven’t been writing. I could list five thousand reasons why I might not be feeling particularly creative at the moment, but I really have no idea where my words have gone. The problem though, is that when these slumps strike, and I go into some sort of creative coma, it’s very difficult to hop back out of it and pick up a pen or start typing. Much like working out, once I haven’t written or posted anything of any significance in a while, the thought of doing so becomes scary and – at times – impossible. I question my abilities and grow uncertain about why I even do this.

And then I get an email.

Or a private message on Twitter.

People start questioning why I haven’t posted in a while and my hearts lifts a little.

I start to hear the familiar little cogs turning and get the urge to post something… anything.

So that’s why I’m here on this Wednesday evening.

I am hoping that by typing words and hitting publish without thinking too much about them, a creative valve hidden somewhere deep inside my body will open and, just like that, the juices will start flowing once again.

Here’s to thinking, writing and being more creative over the next few weeks.

Watch this space.