Category Archives: Diatribes a.k.a observational whining

The gossip rages

Sometimes I go a bit off-topic for a rant. But ranting is my topic, soooo…. just roll with it!

OMG! A man! Now we can be whole again!

One of the things I have completely given up in my #LondonPoverty is a good ol’ gossip rag. But when I was handed one by a co-worker today and perused it on my way home, I realised that I’d given them up for real, not just as a common comfort, but ideologically, because it made me RAGEY.

I had a phase as a stupid teenager imagining myself a journalist for one of the girly mags: Dolly, Girlfriend, Cosmopolitan. I guess I saw how simple their copy was and thought ‘I could write that when I grow up!’ The writers seemed to live such glamorous but accesible lives, existing in the celebrity-zone, but reaching out to us plebeians to show us how it was done, illuminating the illusion.

I could have grown up to write such titillating pieces that include such relevant how-to, fuck-me tips as:

Be Like Him
Hang Around… A Lot!
Now Disappear
Ask for his help
Be confident too
Laugh
Feed him grapes
Love him

And finally… love yourself: “This is both the first and the last step in getting a guy to fall for you.”

If you think this drivel is so detrimental to womankind that even a man couldn’t have come up with it, please do NOT check out Cosmopolitan, where I drew this step-by-step guide from.

You will literally want to harm people. Like, seriously, how are there all these how-to-blow-jobs guides and no how-to-rid-the-world-of-stupid guides? Of course, this inanity abides in the same home where “Rihanna works red hot lips in London” and “Causes of Cory Monteith’s death revealed” live side by side as clearly equivalent to the current spectrum of human appreciation.

Granted, stupid is and stupid does and stupid sells.

But at the same time, aren’t ‘we’ responsible for what we put out in the world, and aren’t ‘we’ responsible for what we pay or click to consume? I just searched ‘cosmo sex tips 2013’ for this blog, and FUCK ME I feel a lot dirtier and cheaper than any sex I could ever have could ever make me feel.

I’d rather be alone forever than pay [whatever amount] for a magazine to tell me that the only way a man will every love me is if I tickle his blue balls with a dove’s feather while I scream at him in a foreign language (one geared to enhance the anxiety) and pour hot asian chilli in his mouth while rare clawed miniature turtles crawl over his belly, nipping him gently in his tender parts, until he recalls all of his awkward teenage boners and excises the memory of Mrs Matheson, his year 8 maths teacher, the one with the big boobs and droopy earrings, and calls out for ‘Mummy’ until Freud rolls over in his grave.

Let’s not forget that before, during, and after, I must treat him as I assume all men will treat me, with disdain and contempt and a hefty dose of ‘daddy knows best’.

Feminism gone wild, you say? It’s not that. Feminism has nothing to do with ‘being’ men, nor hating men. It has nothing to do with taking the worst parts of any gender and exacting them against the other.

I don’t think most readers of gendered magazines have any idea what they’re really consuming. Or I just hope that’s true. If they did, would they still buy it? Perhaps naively and perhaps idiotically, I assume that eyes could be opened faster than new franchises, minds opened more often than shoe boxes. Of course I’m probably stupid for thinking this, for assuming education could ever convince women that they’re worth more than this trash.

The magazine I was given today was a cheapest of the cheap drivel mag, and I knew that going in. I also knew I had not a dime to spare, which meant that the whole reading experience was much shortened by skipping the fashion and shopping pages, which aren’t really aimed at me anyway. I also don’t know who most of these UK reality *stars* are, so I don’t care anything for their life updates.

It seems, therefore, that the most significant blocks between myself and a trashy mag are:

a) I don’t have money to spare to buy you
b) Assuming that I acquire you otherwise, I don’t have money to spare on your advertisers
c) I’m a critical thinker, so I read all articles assuming that your sources are bullshit and therefore derive little informative/entertainment value from them
d) I’m an English student who once aspired to journalism (be it as a ten year old) so I cry inside when I read your writing
e) I’m a foreigner and I don’t know half the people you’re talking about (not your fault of course that I’m a foreigner, but seriously, your celebs are rubbish f-listers)
f) You put the trash in trashy.

I’ve not even mentioned the bikini bods. Some of them are SUPAFINE. Some of them are outside of societal norms. Some of the ones I think are SUPAFINE are the ones outside of societal norms, and I’m very very 100% sure that I’m not the only one who thinks this.  I also feel weird looking at them ALL (supafine or not) since they clearly didn’t consent to their pictures being taken.

I would not look good in a bikini, and I would not like any pictures of me [never gonna happen] bikini-wearing to be posted online. I look at other people in bikinis and I wonder how they feel about that, and no matter what their body type, I bet a lot of them feel the same way.

The ever-fluctuating Nicole Richie was on the cover of the bitch-rag I read today, which applauded her skinny-with-tits-bod. How must it be for a woman who has had well-documented issues with food and weight to be congratulated for upholding the ‘correct’ appearance for a Hollywood star? How must it be for those who have followed her as a role model with the hope of recovery?

These are all issues that many people are talking about at the mo, people smarter and wider reaching than me, and I’m just sharing my bitch-pinions.

Okay, so I’m not saying anything new, but I just wanted to say it to you.

25 ways to know you’re poor in London

You live in London and you don’t live in Zone 6 or share a room with three strangers… but you’re thinking about it…

‘I can’t really afford to’ has replaced ‘shall we have a drink?’ as the most common phrase in your repertoire…

Your Mum wants to send you perfume as a present and you wonder how to tell her you’d rather have socks and underwear…

When you go to the Timeout London website it automatically selects FREE events even though you never clicked ‘remember my search settings’. It KNOWS…

You think about your student loan at least once a day and obsess over the lies your professors told you. Get a good degree they said… you’ll get a job they said… it’ll be easy they said…

You wish you could live at Poundland. And that’s not a euphemism…

You dread bank holidays because you won’t be paid for that Monday off and your friends are all off on holiday without you. Of course, you didn’t want to go to Ibiza anyway…

You’re jealous of every couple you know… because of their half-price rent…

You are willing to sleep inside your sleeping bag, in your bed, in ALL THE CLOTHES so that you can turn the gas heating off. Sexy…

You will go to work with the plague because your workmates can afford sick days and you can’t. Ahhhh… chew! Suffer plebs…

You hear Macklemore’s ‘Thrift Shop‘ and WISH you had $20 in your pocket…

During Winter you always meet friends at Museums because they’re the only place that will let you into the warmth without having to buy anything. #firstworldbumproblems…

The refrigerator broke but you didn’t have to throw anything out…

You drink 14 Nescafe Golds at work (shudder) coz you ain’t paying for that shit outsida 9-5…

Half the reason you want the sun to come out is so that it’s not weird to lie about in the park for 8 hours not doing anything…

You occasionally give all your rusty pennies to a good cause in hopes of some kharma…

When friends leave town you’re a gollum/smeagol combo – crying at their departure and gleefully clutching the linen you’ve inherited. Now you can change your sheets even if it’s raining!

You consider cutting your own fringe… People comment daily on how long your hair is getting… You wonder if you can string it out another 6 months to the next haircut… Chop, snip, ahhhh disaster!

You know which ATMs will give you just a tenner…

You refresh your music by creating new RETRO! playlists from the depths of your collection. Backstreet’s back, ALRIGHT!

You started making a photo montage of your clothes that have holes in them. You only didn’t post them on your blog because the 27 pics of individual holey items with fingers poking through somehow looked like a very particular type of fetish when seen together as a whole…

You miss that terrible temp job in the place with the free lunch bar… but you don’t miss the accompanying food hoarding…

You consider that £3, 1.5L bottle of ‘white wine’ at Budgens for more than 3 seconds… no, we’re not quite there yet. Maybe next week…

You have a strict no-presents rule, coz you know, we’re all adults now, and we don’t have to give in to the corporate marketing machine… let’s just be together, let our ‘presence’ be the present… unless you’re planning something costy, in which case… happy birthday on facebook!

You feel like London Grumbler just KNOWS you…

What I imagined my life in London would be like

What it’s really like:

**Disclaimer Alert – Disclaimer Alert**

Yes, yes, absolutely first world problems, absolutely chose this, absolutely still doing awesome stuff. Just giving you some insight into what people do to live in London these days!

Terror

This is round 2 of ‘drafts I never published’ but am now doing so because I’m on holiday with the parentals…

I wanted to let this one lie a little, as I’m far enough removed from the Boston Bombings that I certainly didn’t feel any right to comment on it in the aftermath.

What it made me realise, though, is that I’m certainly not as removed as I felt in lil’ ol’ En-Zed.

Going to watch the London Marathon a week after the horror in Boston was certainly more poignant, and 100% more nervey than I would have expected when I first thought I might ‘pop along to watch for a bit’.

Working my way on foot along the Canary Wharf section of the route I passed miles of happy families, tottering grannies helped by teenagers, tiny bewildered dogs, babies on leashes, handmade posters, and a 30 year old man waving “Go Mummy!” on a pillowcase – all wrapped in sunshine and oozing positivity.

The cheers went up the loudest at the tail ends of each category, encouraging those who needed it most, celebrating achievement wherever it came, cheering for the effort rather than the minutes per mile.

But there was a niggly fear as I got in amongst the tallest buildings and looked up to see the emblazoned names of some of the world’s capitalist finance powerhouses in 360 degree panorama above me. It didn’t help that the City Airport was so close that the underbellies of planes seemed to scrape the pointy tops of the glass canopies.

What if that glass shattered and fell? Well, there was a patch of grass to run into the middle of. What if the buildings shattered and fell? Then there was nowhere to run.

That’s what terrorism does, of course. I hate to bandy that buzzword around as the media does with such overkill, but it’s appropriate in this case. Terrorism is an act of unpredictable violence against unpredictable victims. It makes people afraid in otherwise innocuous situations: going to work, watching an event, boarding a plane.

Of course when these situations become ‘predictable’, the typical reaction seems to be a level of overkill that puts the ongoing fear right up front, such as procedures in airports. I was reminded of this on my way back from Amsterdam recently when I got the full boobilicious/crotchtastic pat-down (aka the ‘everything but the cavity’ search) and our flight was delayed by an overbooking.

Because a passenger was offloaded, everyone in the nearby aisles had to account for the baggage in the overhead lockers. Of course we all instantly realised this was in case the whole charade was a ploy to leave a B-O-M-B on board. Whispers flew around the cabin – what if it was a middle eastern person instead of an upset posh English girl? Would they have offloaded the lot of us to be ‘safe’? Maybe the best recruits for terrorist cells would be sweet pasty white chics?

These are of course the more obvious ways that terrorism comes to the fore, but then there are the subtle differences, such as the lack of rubbish bins in London, especially underground, apparently due to their device-bearing abilities. Ever since moving to London I’d meant to research the 7/7 bombings in London, but something always stopped me.

The 9/11 bombings are seared into memory so that I know exactly where I was and who I was with and what I was doing for that entire day, but the London bombings did not register so.

I think many of us had terrorism fatigue by then, so inundated by primarily-American media  about the impending further worldwide disaster that never quite came as predicted. I remember sitting in front of the telly as a 15 year old on 9/11 and saying to my mother, who I felt didn’t conceive the gravitas of the situation, ‘Mum, this could literally be the start of World War III‘.

And so when the London Underground erupted in a flash of fire and flying limbs, it just didn’t quite strike the same. As terribly callous and removed as that sounds, perhaps it was a bit like how most Westerners feel now when the CNN app pushes a notification saying 70 people were killed by a suicide bomb in [insert 3rd world country].

Bit removed + can’t comprehend + no immediate threat to myself = sad but [insert first world problems].

Post-Boston I finally researched 7/7 in London and found that some of the bombings happened on a leg of my daily route to work. If I had lived here then, I could have died, been injured, known the dead or injured, or at least had a story to tell. Considering how personally affected I was by the Christchurch earthquakes (having not actually been there), I am astounded that I have never heard a personal story of 7/7 outside of 2012 Paralympics coverage.

Do people put the stories and thoughts away in a box buried deeper than the Underground because that is the only way to cope? Nobody enjoys the airport rigmarole, but I find it worse to be trapped on a train between stations on the busiest line, nose-to-armpit with strangers, knowing that the thousands of people on the train with me are all sitting targets at rush hour.

Suddenly also at events I throw a stray thought to possibilities which inevitably linger beyond reason. Watching an Easter play in Trafalgar Square I worried I’d be lumped in with the religious; every Friday I’m concerned by those protesting a company that apparently makes military drones in my work building (the second tallest in the city); and attending Dawn Service on ANZAC day I wondered if anyone cared enough to hate Kiwis.

This is terrorism to me – the fear of the everyday.

 

 

London: the next level

As you all know, my parentals have come to London town. Yegads! But once the planes, trains and automobiles were booked, the accommodation hastily arranged, and my room ‘sanitised’ to a parent-friendly level, I had to consider the things I needed to tell them to keep them, well, alive.

I write about LIVING in London, which is why I bitch and moan and generally wank on about my ‘feels’. But suddenly I had to think about London from the point of view of a tourist, and even worse, a tourist who’s NEVER BEEN ANYWHERE. Of course, two years ago that was me, wide-eyed and freaking out about the smallest details in the face of a giant adventure.

So now that I’ve got a craptonne of countries and a year of living abroad under my Heathrow-injected belt, here are some things I would like to go back and tell myself, or anyone new to the big city, based on the past week with my parentals.

London: tourist mode

  • Stand on the right on escalators, walk on the left. If you stand on the left, a secret buzzer goes off and all commuters within a three-station radius will automatically head in your direction, to stand behind you yelling ‘exCUSE me!’ You will be lucky to survive the resultant stampede. Many do not. Others come back in wheelchairs or suffering from lifelong tremors.
    Bonus points if you sass another tourist making this fatal error.
  • If you are lost, don’t think standing still, looking about you and glancing at a map will invite those about you to offer help. The key is to aggressively leap in front of the passers-by and make the most sympathy-inducing puppy eyes. This will cause an enormous 20% of Londoners to remember that they are human beings, and you WILL be given directions.
    Bonus points if you make someone remove their earphones to help you.
  • Learn the lingo. DO NOT expect people to infer meaning from context. This is a skill you have learnt by osmosis by watching international television all your life. If you ask for ‘trim milk’ at a coffee shop, the barista WILL assume that you have had a stroke and are speaking ‘word salad.’ Stop him calling the ambulance and then explain that you meant ‘skim’ or ‘skinny’.
    Bonus points if you slip ‘jandals’ into conversation and don’t get questioned.

London: secret levels unlocked!

  • Smile at and speak to bus drivers – other people on the bus will assume this means you’re either terminally ill or have special needs, and will probably give you their seat.
    Bonus points if an old lady with a cane stands up for you, you poor dear.
  • Carry a survival kit. You may never be trapped underground but if that train grinds to a halt with your carriage still in darkness, you will suddenly realise that you are hungry, thirsty, dry-lipped, and entertainment-less. For this reason, always carry water, a snack, chapstick, and a friend or other distractor – Candy Crush being my current Raison d’être.
    Bonus points if you ace the level while a snooper watches over-shoulder.
  • Do not feel at home because you see a Flat White on the menu at the coffee shop. This version of home has been raped and pillaged by orcs, and all beans sent to a bitter death in the hell-fires of Mount Doom. Don’t take sugar? You will. I saw my caffeine-addict-but-not-coffee-snob mother THROW OUT a full coffee yesterday.
    Bonus points if you kick the habit altogether because it’s just. Not. Worth it.

I asked my parents what else they’d learnt in the last week in London, and the immediate and vehement response was ‘EVEN OLD LADIES ARE BITCHES!’ My Other Mother learnt this most obvious of London lessons on day one in town when an old piece of animated crepe paper shoved her into a baby in order to squeeze her lizard-skinned arse onto an already packed lift. Mind you, this was in a fancy-pants department store, so whaddya expect, right?

The other major lesson they’ve learnt is that EVERYTHING IS SOOOO OLLLLLD! I knew this would be ‘a thing’ for my mother since I spent many a late evening as a 14 year old passionate about Latin (yup, geek-fighter here) trying to make her comprehend the timeline I was working with. When I tried to contextualise by saying my favourite Roman author Ovid wrote about the same time as Jesus was around, I saw the brain gaskets blow.

My mother is a super clever cookie, but coming from NZ and not being a uber-dweeb, it was almost incomprehensible how old things are in London. Things that you can just walk over and touch and spit on and lick if you’re so inclined. This is probably my favourite thing about having parents in London – exposing them to things that blow their minds and make their eyes widen and give them a taste of that passion I have for the how-we-got-here, the complete WTF of where-we-are-now in the scheme of things, and the holy-mother-of-god of the where-we-could-go.

Plus, now that they have experienced at least one rush-hour tube journey, they understand the true love-hate-love relationship that I have with London.

A heart in one of the places I heart - Brick Lane graffiti heaven.

A heart in one of the places I heart – Brick Lane graffiti heaven.

 

The Kiwi Conspiracy

Breaking News!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled broadcast to bring you up-to-the-minute information on a late-breaking international headline.

Statistics and demographic studies released in New Zealand commonly indicate that there are around 1 million New Zealand born expats living overseas, accounting for roughly 18% of the total population when added to the 4.5 million residents. However, this has been shown to be an egregious and intentional error.

Our sources show that the New Zealand government has long been plotting to take over the world, complicit with all of its citizens between the ages of 18-31, in what has been dubbed ‘the Kiwi Conspiracy.’

The first stages of the decades-long plan of aggression has been a programme of propaganda designed to blindside the rest of the world. Its tactics are the reverse of that in North Korea, for the populace is entirely aware of the reality, while the outside world has had the sheep’s wool pulled firmly down over its eyes. The approach is referred to colloquially as “shrekking”.

One great win for the Propaganda Ministry (locally referred to as Tourism New Zealand) was the election of Peter Jackson as Chief HOBBIT (Head Of Big Budget International Trickery). In Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings the painstakingly-hand-drawn and CGI-ed backgrounds promoted the outlandishly stunning landscapes in a fantasy tale where New Zealand became a main character in itself.

Many actors were in on the action of course. Jackson hand-picked a mixture of big stars and new faces and specifically chose those who seemed like ‘nice’, trustworthy people. While these all signed on in good faith, some began to suspect the deceit when they spent their entire film-shoot on a green-screen or sound stage and were never allowed outdoors. All were paid off in New Zealand dollars and – much more valuably – Oscars, but the more vocal were subjected to blackmail.

When Orlando Bloom threatened to leak the story rather than film The Hobbit, the Ministry took his child with Miranda Kerr and hid it away on a farm in the Deep South so that it would grow up with a Kiwi accent. Bloom buckled under this heinous threat, but only when filming concluded were the family reunited in an emotional scene. Luckily the only scar the poor child suffered was the legacy of a rolling ‘R’.

With the entire world now believing that New Zealand was a beautiful, unspoilt paradise, the next stage of the plan was to get Kiwis out in the world promoting the New Zealand people. From birth Kiwi children are subjected to niceties including – but not limited to – smiling, talking to strangers, being polite, helping lost tourists, hard work, modesty, and understanding of personal space. Once so indoctrinated, young Kiwis are let out into the world, but only after passing the following tests:

a) learning Poi E, Pokarekare Ana and/or the Haka
b) owning a New Zealand flag, pounamu, Silver Fern badge, or other Kiwi paraphernalia to display on luggage/bag/self at all times
c) downloading copious amounts of Six60, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Salmonella Dub, Anika Moa, Hollie Smith, the Black Seeds, Bic Runga, Crowded House, Dave Dobbyn, Ladyhawke, Op Shop, Supergroove, and anything Finn so that the musical indoctrination can continue abroad.

London was chosen as the stepping off point for world domination, and young people flocked to this European hub in great numbers to help their country. The immigration-resistant British government has in recent years begun to suspect a ploy, and started limiting Visa numbers, but their tactics have been ineffectual as they have massively underestimated the depth of the deception.

The UK Border Agency‘s restrictions were combatted by a nationwide campaign for all New Zealanders with British heritage to use this to gain passports and ancestry visas. Furthermore, those with the ability to gain passports from other countries with entry rights to the UK were asked to travel exclusively on these and deny all links to New Zealand.

Perhaps the most genius move has been the funnelling of Kiwi conspirators through Australia. One great flaw in the UK Border Agency’s systems is the complete inability of the British to distinguish New Zealanders from their Western neighbours, and thus any Kiwi traveling on a foreign passport from an Australian port of origin has been added to the Australian tally.

Once resident in the UK, Kiwis have several tactics for meeting up to discuss world domination plans. When local Londoners started to suspect a conspiracy, the Facebook page Kiwis in London was set up by a Lead Ex-Pat to cover up the suspicious monthly meetings. These became known as ‘Kiwis in London Drinks’ and much drinking, dancing and revelry was used to  disguise the planning and conspiracy.

Wristbands offered on entry designated combat roles and free cocktails included instructions for each individual member, which had to be chugged within 10 seconds or they would be destroyed for security reasons. Whenever classics such as ‘Why Does Love Do This To Me?‘ played, it was a signal that outsiders had entered the bar and extreme jovial Kiwi spirit must be displayed. Perhaps most crucially, lead operatives swapped sensitive communications through tiny microchips hidden in their saliva.

Between meetups certain ex-pats are charged with communication responsibilities. For example, RunawayKiwi delivers information about locations for area-group meetups in a blog that purports to describe local events, while 1in12million’s To Do list is a constant coded update of the progress of the Worldwide Campaign in London.

Although the Kiwi Conspiracy has been blown wide open and its tactics, targets and operatives identified, one question remains unanswered: what is the reason, the motivation, the end-goal?

What will the world look like once the global domination is complete?

 

Dr Evil Kiwi?

#nowthatchersdead

#Warning: Hashtags, swearing, and totally-unresearched feminist rants contained within. Read at your own peril.

The demise of the Iron Lady this week and the inevitable idiocy of the Twitterverse (#nitwittery) has resulted in an 80s mash up you didn’t see coming on a Saturday night MTV countdown.

Grammar is important, people, as these Failbookers learnt:

I could forgive the lack of apostrophe (since they made a massive effort not to MiX CaPs, which I really appreciate), but grammar isn’t just about literal correctness, it’s also about understanding how language is used and understood (NB: I made that up… but I’m sticking with it).

We use grammar, diacritical marks, typefaces, and fonty-stuff (that’s the technical term) to enhance written text in an attempt to convey the things we would use accent and gesture and facial expression for in face to face speech. For example, using underline means you’re a passive-aggressive bitch. Using asterisks around a word means you’re too #zooeydeschanel for emoticons (*hipsterface*). Using Times New Roman shows you don’t know how to use Word. Using Comic Sans means you’re an old person who doesn’t know how to use Word.

If the hashtaggers had just taken an extra ‘i’ or added a ‘maggie’, the confusion wouldn’t have been such hell-on-celebrity-island for poor Cher:

But my personal confusion is in the confusion itself. I don’t understand why people who don’t know who Thatcher is care if Cher died. Aren’t they both massive 80s female icons that no one gives a crap about now? Why are the twit-tweens mourning the loss of Miss Plastic Fantastic? Even in the late 90s during her purported revival, her only cultural relevance for me was my disquieting obsession over whether she believed in LIFE after love or LOVE after love. THEY BOTH MADE SENSE. Yah, the time before Googling lyrics.

Even if it was Cher who had died, the outpouring of giving a shit from those who think of her as Christina Aguilera’s co-star in that terrible movie seems entirely disingenuous. The only songs I know of hers make me want to pop my own eardrums with a frantically inserted earbud, and she is definitely not aging gracefully (#joanriversisawaxmodelofherself #madonnaputthatleotardaway), but I’ll not deny that she’s an icon, a cultural trendsetter, and apparently the ‘Goddess of Pop‘ (#sheain’tnoMichael).

So what if it was Thatcher who died? Oh wait, it was. Without the Confusion of Idiots (seriously, if it’s not already, that should be the collective noun), I doubt this would have got a lot of attention in mainstream social media.

I was not nearly born when Thatcher earned the moniker ‘the Iron Lady’ from the Ruskis (#ohtheirony #get it? IRONy!). As such, I know sweet F-A about her and her reign of mixed appraisals. Unlike my usually soooo-well-researched opinions (#wikipedia), I’m gonna go ahead and base this on a) the media that I already distrust, b) the stuff in my head, and c) the stuff my womb says out my mouth (#hysteria).

The only thing I’ve ever really known about Maggie is that she was Britain’s first (and only) PM. By the time I knew even this, I’d already grown accustomed to the obviously unnatural notion of a woman in a powerful political position. The first NZ PM that I was ever aware of was shortly thereafter deposed by a woman who I cannot help but recall as Delores Umbridge:

Following that, the first female Prime Minister elect came in the form of Helen Clark, who wooed the (sensible) sectors of NZ with her sensible dress (it’s about the politics) and sensible policies (it’s about the people), and now helps starving children in her 3rd-from-the-top role in the UN. Go Aunty Helen! It’s only relatively recently in my adult life that a male PM has been a thing again, and lordy does that dubbya-with-a-kiwi-accent make me wish Aunty would return.

But while NZ is usually big on the social firsts (first women’s vote, for example), it was Thatcher who beat down the female PM front. Whether you agree with her politics or not (I don’t know if I do or not, as I said, no research, just feelings-spew), she surely did some service for women’s position in power roles, and not just in politics.

What has annoyed the feminist f*ck outa me though, is the dichotomous depiction of Thatch in the media in the week since her death.

Granted, I’ve done no research, and am basing this only on the media-spew that was immediately obvious to me. I’m sure there are much better works of journalism abounding, but they were not what I saw.

What I’ve noticed is the age-old distrust of women in power, which shows itself in the form of two opposing but secretly similar stereotypes: the power-hungry bitch who uses her sexuality to ladder-climb all over her male counterparts’ power-sticks, or the power-hungry bitch who gives up all femininity and fertility and forgoes the ‘natural’ route of motherhood (or at least ‘neglects’ her family) to ladder-climb straight over her male counterparts’ power-sticks.

Think about every female boss you’ve ever had… now tell me how many of them haven’t been talked about as either a cold bitch or a hot slut.

Either way, it’s all about the dicks. A woman either wants one, or wants to be on one.

While Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark perhaps occupy different ends of the spectrum in the NZ public’s minds’ eye, Margaret Thatcher was an anomaly, in that she was a two-for-one deal. Apparently the men around her in cabinet and parliament hated her for not taking their opinions as law, while simultaneously wanting to ‘get on that’.

One article in The Week referenced her ‘long, shapely legs’ that she would tuck up under herself on the couch while doing important lady-PM business. Coz I’m sure David Cameron NEVER puts his feet up. But then it’d be hard to demean him as a schoolgirl, now wouldn’t it? What with the suit and the slick hair and the PENIS.

I never distinctly thought of myself as a ‘feminist’, mainly because the word still holds the connotations of the frowned-upon second-wavers burning their bras, having sex with everything that moved, and hating not only ‘The Man’ but all Man. Penises are evil don’tcha know?

But I guess I was lucky to grow up in the post-feminist era where I didn’t have to burn my bra because referencing my breasts was the only way to get my voice heard. Up here boys. No, up here. My mouth. No, don’t put that in there, no not there either. LISTEN TO ME!

However, I think I was naive in thinking the progress that was made meant it would keep getting better. I am so happy to see other minority or oppressed groups moving forwards in their claims for equality. Or rather, the rest of the world is moving forward in not being backwards twats. But I feel like the feminist movement, or whatever we’re gonna call it now, has stalled, and maybe we need to start protesting again.

I want to protest the backwards, Freudian portrayal of women in the media, the workplace, politics, wherever you find power imbalance. I never thought that messed up Oedipal misogynist – who most in the psychiatric world deem as laughably irrelevant – could still be having such an influence on the way we view and treat women.

Sometimes we want dicks. Sometimes we don’t. Either way, that doesn’t make women sluts, teases, power-hungry, frigid, objects, or unwomanly.

You know why I still don’t know anything about Margaret Thatcher’s political policies? Coz none of those articles this week mentioned them.

Update: see JJ’s comments below for a lesson in how to talk about a female you despise without calling her a bitch or a slut (#smartymcbrains).

Rain drops keep falling on my head

I think I should start a blog about the weather, since that’s all I seem to be able to talk about these days. You’d all read that riiiiight?

  • “Weather or Not” (‘hot or not’ styles ORRRRR perhaps more of a ‘would you rather’ affair)
  • “Hot Topics” or “Topical Highs and Lows” (current events [lol, pun within a pun])
  • “The (not very) Bright Side of LIfe” (like Failbook, but with… Rain?)
  • “Blow you away” (umm… this could go in several directions, although if it’s anything like Wellington wind, you’re going dooooowwwn. If you know what I mean). 

I think the obsession with talking about sunshine is a symptom of the SAD perhaps, or a product of the season that has no name. No applicable name at least. I’d call it Sprinter, but it ain’t goin’ anywhere fast. I’d call it Wing, but it just won’t fly the fuck away!

I begin to feel that thinking about sunshine is like trying to understand the universe. Right when you think you’ve got it, the fragile notion slips through your fingers, and as you grasp for it, it shatters into refractions of your imagination.

I begin to feel that talking about sunshine is like calling for Beetlejuice three times. But instead of bringing it to you, it drives it away and you’re haunted by the rain instead, which prods you with an irregular rhythm reminiscent of the most irritating unrelated child.

I begin to feel that dreaming about sunshine is dreaming about home, and a dangerous game for an emigree far from home. You wake up with the image in your head and can’t quite figure out if it was dream or reality.

You’ll all be sad to learn that regular guest-star LD has just left the UK, turfed outa the country after two years of faithful service to the gods of theatre, art, and intellect. Along with thoughts on Zombies, she recently shared with me her theories on sunshine. Having moved hemispheres 4 times in as many years, she’s noticed a pattern – Shite Weather follows her. It’s not that she always moves at the wrong time, it’s that she gets the worst of all seasons no matter where or when she goes.

I laughed at her egocentric weather philosophies, as I laugh at those who take astrology seriously. It is human nature to make patterns where they don’t exist. It is confirmation bias to hear a list of generic qualities and think ‘that’s meeee!’

Until… I started to see the patterns myself. Like the Summer I shared with her in London which swung wildly from weeks at a time of rain to everyday 30 degrees – humid and sweaty either way at a time I was trying to get a job. Sweating off my makeup and dignity was not how I wanted to dress to impress.

Just imagine the sensation of being smushed ass to groin with a million strangers a day on an airless, aircondition-less underground when everyone just came out of the rain – jackets there’s no room to remove, damp hair steaming, sweat rolling off noses but arms trapped too far away to swat at it and desperate, ineffective attempts to blow it away with a lower-lip-thrust-exhalation (is there a word for that?!).

Since then we’ve had a Winter that’s driven me to blogging about the faarking weather more than once. More than twice. More than human decency can abide. Even English people (who like to complain about the weather even when the sun is beating down) have said that this has been a long cold Winter. The free Tube mags, bastions of journalism as they are, have had articles on how to deal with SAD in the face of the constant grey, and most of us have taken to drink. Like… more than usual.

But the icing on the cake, the sign from above, the confirmation of this most ludicrous theory, came last weekend. It was LD’s last weekend in London, and after a Winter that seems to have lasted exactly the length of her Visa, the sun came out to play. It may have still been in the mid-single-figures (that’s a generous description for 3 degrees, I know), but it was glorious.

I reached for my sunglasses, buried deep in the very small pile (have I mentioned I’m poor?) of totally unnecessary belongings. The daffodils newly planted in the revamped patch of council ‘green’ near my house reached for the skies, after previously dipping their heads to the ground a little more each day since planting, unable to battle gravity without the motivation of the yellow ball of awesome to reach towards.

But the creme de la creme, the incontrovertible truth, the astrology of… LIFE, came when I Google Mapped my way to LD’s house that fateful last day in London. Clearly the London gods and the Sun gods had gathered together, checked the airport departure lists, had a coupla gins, laughed unkindly at her, and got our the sunnies that she would never need: