Archive of ‘News/current affairs’ category

A Dangerous Change

Change: an act or process through which something becomes different.

As a writer you’re always looking for a story. Something that fires you up and compels you to write.

And then, every now and again, something happens that makes you speechless and you sit down to a blank page and don’t know where to start.

That happened to me today, in the wake of Donald Trump becoming the President of the United States. The most powerful man alive. Voted in by the merest of margins.

I knew it was a perfect opportunity to blog. To say something profound, and have people go ‘hell yes, this!’ but then I thought…what is the point?

What the fuck is the actual point?

Both Great Britain and America are inhabited by a generation, or indeed several generations, of unhappy people. People who feel they are being failed by those previously elected to run their countries. People who feel they are owed something. Anything. And are prepared to divide their nation and incite hatred in order to do so.

And it sets a precedent. The UK voted for Brexit. The USA voted for Trump. But what next? Many other powerful countries have their elections next year and the insurgents of those countries are gaining confidence in the fact that they may very well be successful.

And all for what?

All for change. Unhappiness is a powerful emotion and one that can and has forced the world to become unrecognizable this year and potentially begun a huge historical momentum for change. People are so unhappy, so hideously full of hatred for their leaders and their lives, that they are putting their faith in dangerous men. Men who – according to the press and many recent reports – are racist, homophobic, misogynistic and vile. These men do not fill me with confidence. They do not make me believe they are going to change the world for the better. They are divisive and unpredictable.

Donald Trump may have had his own agenda and reasons for wanting to become President of the United States if America, but now has a lot to prove, not only to both his supporters and challengers, but to the rest of the world and I imagine everyone is sitting slightly more upright and on the edge of their seats than they were yesterday. They are nervously waiting to see what happens next. Wondering where we go from here.

And one thing I do think we need to look at during this turbulent time is the media and its role in perpetuating both dissatisfaction and fear amongst the many people who voted for these changes. Slowly drip feeding lies and propaganda and inciting hatred and feeding on fear. The fact that Brexit and Trump have won show how messed up this world is and that people honestly think that these outcomes were their only option.

The problem is deep rooted. People feel owed. We have become a world where hard work and respect have vanished and bullying and scaremongering are the norm.

And things do need to change.

And I can say with absolute certainty that Brexit and Trump are not the right catalysts for the sort of change that is needed.

But right now, I don’t know what is.


Fear: an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.

The first time I became aware of what it meant to be female I was eleven and in a swimming pool in Exeter. A group of older boys kept leering at me and making lewd comments and it took me a while to realise it was because of how I looked. That they were viewing me sexually. I remember clearly the utter feeling of fear I felt at that moment. And how I wanted the water to swallow my swimsuit clad, pre-pubescent body up.

And now I have a teenage daughter myself.

We talk, often, about consent. About being objectified and sexualised at such a young age. She naively believes, as many ‘invincible’ teens do, that if someone tried to attack her all she would have to do is kick them in the balls and scream. Even though I have told her again and again about how men are, more often than not, physically stronger, and how if someone wanted to rape her she could fight and fight, but ultimately they’d probably succeed.

The thought terrifies me. She knows to go around in packs. She knows to be home before it’s dark unless she is being picked up and to always, always let me now where she is and who she is with. But none of that matters of someone out there decides her body is theirs for the taking.

And then what? As the Ched Evans case horrifically highlights, even if justice is done, and then undone, her life is ruined forever. Her previous sexual choices may be thrown in her face as evidence. She might receive tweets saying she ‘deserves to be killed and abused’ for daring to speak up and speak out.

We teach girls all the time about how to stay safe. About how their actions may cause reactions. What they wear. What they drink. Where they go. Who they fuck.

But shouldn’t we be focussing on the men more? Yes, you heard that right. Who is leading by example and teaching men to respect women? To not be rapists? That no, or silence, means no?

The response on Twitter to the Ched Evans case highlighted the unbelievably vile opinions men have of women and of a young female who didn’t even shout rape, but merely said she couldn’t remember. Men who may have wives and daughters of their own. Or, God forbid, sons. The tweets were repulsive and frightening and made me feel like that eleven year old girl in the swimming pool all over again.

Yesterday’s ruling and response highlighted that nothing changes. Women are still frightened. And men, although not all, are very much still to be feared.


Politics and Parenting

Politics: the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power.

I clearly remember the first time I voted. My dad drove me to the local town hall, informed me that I would be given a piece of paper and a pencil, and then told me exactly where I should mark my cross.

And I dutifully did as I was told. Because I knew nothing at all about politics. I knew who the Prime Minister was and I’d cheered/got angry based on the results of various general elections over the previous years as a teenager, but my responses were all based on the opinions of my parents. They didn’t shout about it, they didn’t beat me into submission and make me vote the same way they did it just happened, exactly as it happens now. Children are not educated about any aspect of politics, or how our country is run until it is too late and they are eighteen and in the voting booth following in the footsteps of their parents.

But is this right? Is teaching your children about politics a form of extremism? Indoctrination?

Or responsible?

Politics around the world has over time become more and more messed up and dangerous – Brexit and Donald Trump are two very real and present examples – but if children were educated about politics then maybe, just maybe, when they were eighteen and given the power to vote for the first time they’d be able to make a more informed, independent decision, knowing the full impact of their actions. If they learnt the basics, without bias, of what each political party stood for, about the past governments and which policies have worked or been an unmitigating disaster, of learning about the country outside of their own immediate experiences, then would they not be in a better position to use their vote wisely? To be fully informed?

Yes, I know that many parents might unwittingly, or I don’t doubt on purpose, pass their own ideals down to their children and OF COURSE this is something that should never be encouraged. But I still don’t think that should mean we can’t educate children about politics at all for fear of this. Children should be free to know all the facts, form their own opinions, and draw their own conclusions. Otherwise isn’t their vote a wasted one anyway?

The current system doesn’t work. It’s not indoctrination, its ignorance. The future Prime Minister may very well be the little girl who was recently on the ITV news giving a passionate speech to Theresa May. Damn right she should know who the Prime Minister is. Hell yes she is right to be concerned about homeless people. She didn’t smack of a child fed some bullshit by her parents to me, she was simply a young girl who doesn’t understand why Theresa May can’t go around giving hot chocolate to homeless people with floppy ears. This child is clearly inquisitive and caring and wants to make a change. And I say that should be encouraged.

What do you think?


Blame: feel or declare that (someone or something) is responsible for a fault or wrong.

2016 was meant to be a tad more positive than 2015 was for me, but several days in and I already doubt whether that’s even possible. Not because of my situation or circumstance, but because of the general anger that appears to be gripping the majority of people I come into contact with.

I’ve been noticing it building for a while. There have been more incidents of unnecessary road rage. Politeness is becoming a fast declining quality. People everywhere seem to begrudge everything and lack any kind of empathy for anyone other than themselves. I know everyone has stresses in their lives, but that doesn’t justify taking it out on some poor unsuspecting person who undoubtedly has their own crap going on. But how did we get here? How did everyone end up so angry?

Maybe the culture of blame, which has been developing over many years, is an important part of how this has happened. The media and its scaremongering propaganda feed on blame. There’s always someone or something to blame for the atrocities the world is facing. No responsibility. No justification for the blame, but blame nonetheless. Making people feel hard done by, put upon, unlucky. Confirmation bias then bonds people through mutual annoyance. Who even cares what they are annoyed about or why they were annoyed in the first place? It’s not their fault they are annoyed. They are not in charge of their own destiny. Hell no. And then, pretty soon, bad things become expected. Looked for even. And worse case – you end up having no one to blame but yourself.

I listened to the news on the radio last week, to a piece about the sex attacks in Cologne. Women, it would seem, are expected to prepare for such things mentally as if they are a given and destined to happen. It was implied that in a crowded place where everyone is fuelled by alcohol what more could these women have expected? Of course they were going to be assaulted and if they cannot deal with that then it was their fault for not being prepared mentally for such an event. And if they were then affected by being assaulted it’s their fault for not having expected it. Or the fault of the government who, the news are reporting, have let the men into the country as asylum seekers. And whom do they blame? The culture they were brought up in where rape is committed and not talked about. Or the bombers who have destroyed their once safe home.

There are more examples of blame in the news – the gender pay gap makes you depressed, it’s what you get for being a woman and having children. Magazines on shelves and celebrity DVDs blame you, yes you, for being fat and unhealthy. The government is to blame for education being messed up and the NHS being on the brink of collapse – ok, I’ll give you that one, you’re perfectly entitled to be enraged by both of those things. But I bet you still blame the government. Right?

Blame isn’t healthy. When you blame you hold on to emotions and feelings that are never positive. Of course you may think that if you blame another it absolves you of all guilt, but it will eat away at you nonetheless. Blame serves no purpose and – back to my original paragraph – makes people angry. And angry people make other people angry. It’s a vicious cycle.

And yes…yes there are some things in life that will make you angry. And justifiably so. I’m still pissed off my dad died when I was twenty-two, and I am fuming that two of my children will have to live their lives blighted by an incurable genetic illness, but if I let that anger absorb me then it would destroy me and many others along the way. Life is too short. There are some circumstances where you can choose to be angry, or choose to see things in an alternative light. It’s not as hard as it sounds to make a change. It could be something simple, it just requires a change of mindset. What is harder is accepting the things that we can’t change and have no control over. In those cases anger is an understandable emotion, but it doesn’t have to be a way of life.

I’ve learnt that the hard way…and in all fairness…who can blame me?


Image: A representation of the external form of a person or thing in art.

My mother-in-law has an obsession with taking photographs. She doesn’t care if one of the children is crying or not posing with a gleaming smile, she simply wants to capture every moment. To cement time on a shiny piece of paper in order to gaze fondly at it and remember the events of that particular time.
Photography is an amazing tool that can have a far reaching impact, but some photos in life show a very different tale. Shocking images of migrant families fleeing their homelands and searching for a better life are plastered all over social media at the moment. People’s emotions and passion to provide a better life for their families and escape terror and horrors many of us can only imagine, are being spread as far and wide as they can reach. And to a point this raises awareness and allows the viewer an insight into something that is of mighty importance at the moment. But do we really need to capture the last breaths of children? Or the private, intimate moments of grief of their parents? Do these people want their photo shared without their permission all over the virtual highway? I know I wouldn’t want a photo of my dead child washed up on a beach, arms and legs flung at impossible angles and clothes washed from them by the sea. Nor would I want to frame the image of my head just above water, cradling my baby and trying with all my power to stop her from drowning.
But not wanting to share these images doesn’t mean I don’t give a shit.
Of course I do. The image of that poor woman trying desperately to keep her baby afloat keeps me awake at night and if I could I would thrust my hands through the photo and grab them both out of the water. Which I hope to God is what the person did after he’d captured her desperation and suffering. Heck maybe saving them should’ve been his priority, not photographing them clinging to life.
Seeing these photos is upsetting, but so is the assumption that because I’m not sharing them I’m heartless.
Seeing these photos is not going to make someone care more than they already do. They are either the kind of people who are empathetic or not and no amount of horrific images are going to change that.
Seeing these images could bring back someone’s own personal horror at an event they’ve worked hard to pull through.
We do not need to see people’s darkest hours in print. There are other many powerful ways to get the important messages they are trying to convey across.
We instead need to focus our energies on helping, however we can. Be it donating money or clothes or time.
Or simply by saying a prayer for them all.