Category Archives: Just Saying….

Can you fit it in one message?

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Can you fit it in one message?

Call me old-fashioned, but I miss paragraphs. No, let’s have it right, I miss coherent sentences. Some may call me a Luddite when I admit that I am irked  by the way social media has altered people’s way of communicating. Don’t get me wrong; I love using whatsapp and Instagram to stay in touch, especially internationally, but my inner book worm gets all discombobulated when people seem unable to write more than one idea, nay, more than word, in a message.

For example (each line representing a new message from the same person):

Hi

 

how are you?

are you going tonight?

to the gym?

zumba, 7pm

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! What the actual fuck is that about? How is sending five separate messages more efficient than sending one, which contains all the info? Many a time has my iphone almost met an untimely end with the wall, as it buzzes and buzzes with message after message.Why, why, WHY?

Well, here’s one theory. Because people are constantly being distracted by their mobiles, it seems like they cannot stay focused on anything for longer than your average goldfish. Various articles now cite 8 seconds as the average human attention span http://time.com/3858309/attention-spans-goldfish/ With messaging apps, many people are unable to construct a logical, if minute paragraph of text consisting of greeting, questions and/or necessary information. They cannot filter their thoughts, instead spewing out whatever enters their brains in a post-modern stream of consciousness which leaves me ready to stamp on my phone. I have enough problems dealing with my own stream of consciousness. I really don’t need anybody else’s, thanks all the same.

Gone are the days (my husband laments) when we had to struggle to fit everything into a 160 character text message that would cost you at least 10p to send. This led to all sorts of creative word jiggling, often with multiple drafting to omit any characters superfluous to meaning. For example:

Hi,how ru?comin out 2nite?band on 9pm.£5 in.cu there?

And while some of our college teachers worried that we would lose the ability to spell ‘proper English,’ txt spk was just a carefully considered means to an end. It could even be argued that text speak was an art from, omitting vowels and inventing condensed ways to express meaning; even making pictures. With the advent of unlimited messages, data and wifi, nobody has to consider the consequences of anything. There’s no worrying about how much credit you’ve got; if you got enough money on your phone to last the weekend; if that extra word will cost you an extra 10p. Unlimited messaging sometimes means unlimited drivel; people don’t have to get the point and make their meaning clear because it doesn’t cost them anything to send whatever pops into their head.

As I’ve said, I’m happy using messaging apps to stay in touch with friends and family. I’d just prefer a less distracting, longer message than the constant ‘prodding’ of multiple, miniscule messages.

Thnx 😉

 

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I hate shopping (circa. October 2017)

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I hate shopping (circa. October 2017)

“Why can’t I be more like other women?” This is a question I almost never ask myself. Flawed though I am, I’m content enough being me. Today, however, after a 3 hour shopping trip that produced just one purchase, I found myself asking this question.

For me, clothes shopping is not the fun, relaxing, stress-release that is portrayed in popular culture and experienced by my friends. For me, clothes shopping is akin to a trip to the seventh circle of Hell. I HATE it. I hate it the most when I need something specific: a dress for a friend’s wedding; work clothes; new shoes; let’s face it, new clothes in general. Part of the problem is that I am not very materialistic – I have never felt the urge to have the latest styles/shoes/phone/other goods. I don’t get a buzz from spending on things I don’t need. I don’t want things I don’t need. So I only go shopping when I need something.

So now, I seriously need some new clothes. To be honest, I need a whole new wardrobe, as I don’t wear most of what I currently own; I’ve had a lot of it for too long. I would like some new styles, a slightly different look. I am bored. But although I look in magazines and at what other people are wearing, when I get to the shops, it just doesn’t transfer. Today,  I saw lots of colours I like (dark red, dark green) and styles I love (grungey, 90s) but I just can’t put it all together.

I wander, touching things, picking up the odd thing to try on, forcing myself not to buy yet another stripey jumper or t-shirt. Sometimes I try loads of things on, and only one item looks good or fits well. It’s just such a drag. All the trying on and taking off, looking in mirrors, realising that you’re a different size in every shop you go to. Sometimes it’s easier if a friend or family member is there, but I feel guilty asking anyone to go with me. Maybe they don’t mind so much. But if shopping for myself is my idea of hell, then so is being dragged around the shops by someone else. So I usually undertake the painful exercise alone.

Before anyone suggests online shopping, that isn’t for me either. There are three fundamental problems: 1. Too much choice. Anyone who’s met me knows that ‘indecisive’ is my middle name, so the sheer volume of variety is just overwhelming. 2. I’m a tactile shopper. I like touching things, picking them up, trying them on. Not possible online. 3. I am impatient, yet lazy. I don’t want to have to wait for purchases to be delivered before trying them on, only to have to go to the trouble of returning them if they are unsuitable. Better to waste a couple of hours in one go at the mall than even more, painfully dragged out over a week or two.

So today, I managed to buy one pair of skinny jeans. Something that was on my list, but not one of the things I most needed. Maybe I should advertise on Gumtree (if it exists in Spain) for someone who loves shopping and fashion to come with me. I could be their little project! Failing that, does anyone know how I can reach Gok Wan?

Back to the island

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Back to the island

Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am not particularly suited to life in England. The shitty weather; the lack of light in the winter; needing to do everything early because everywhere closes at 6pm. I love living in Valencia; the lifestyle; the food; our new friends; the weather. However, having just arrived home for 3 weeks of (unpaid) Christmas holidays, the novelty of being back up north, especially in December, is reminding me of the things I really do miss about little old England and the English.

1.English manners. “Could you?” “Please,” “Thank you,” “If you don’t mind.” The direct, clear meaning issued by the over-use of the imperative in Spain certainly lets you know what’s what. But sometimes my English side craves a coating of courtesy.

2. Hot drinks I won’t say too much here; you can read my thoughts in another one of my blogs: the philosophy of hot drinks. All I need to say is: this is one thing the English really do do so much better.

3. Friendly faces. The Spanish may be a warmer, more tactile nationality, but the English smile a lot more when they are out and about. For me, a smile conveys genuine warmth. Perhaps we use facial expressions more than the Spanish because we have a greater need for personal space, which causes us to shy away from touching anyone we are not emotionally close to. Who knows?

4. Ready meals. This one is very controversial for me. As a proponent of healthy eating, home cooking and plenty of exercise, this is something of an anomaly in my list. But for that one night a week when I really can’t be bothered to think, let alone cook, I miss the wide range of delicious (some even healthy) ready meals available.

5. The sound of home. After stepping off the plane, the first time I hear a Mancunian or Lancashire accent is  like a warm welcome-home hug from England herself. The sound of the accents of my childhood; the reminder that I don’t have to enunciate and I can say “yous” or “it’s bloody Baltic” or “Alright, Our Kid!” Yeahhhh 🙂

So there you have it. An odd list, but it’s always the small things. Still, worry not, Valencia. In three weeks’ time I’ll be craving tapas, sunshine, late opening hours and the ease of daily life in a Mediterranean city. And when I arrive back in Spain, I’ll be happy to be home again, breathing in the sunshine.

This had to come out, sooner or later.

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This had to come out, sooner or later.

(DISCLAIMER. To any of my friends reading this; rest assured this blog entry is not referring to you). 

How can you tell if someone is vegan?

Don’t worry – they’ll tell you.

I usually try to avoid discussions with people who are vegan, or pro-vegan. I understand the thinking behind it; I just choose not to think about it. I was pescatarian for about 14 years of my life, eating only fish and no other meat. This was my personal choice and at no point did I ever think it was wrong that nearly everyone else around me continued to eat meat. Of course, I still ate cheese, milk, eggs, butter. Giving up these staples didn’t even cross my mind. Also, living  in Madrid and Prague, ten and eight years ago, respectively, it was hard enough being pescatarian, never mind vegetarian. Vegan? Are you having a laugh?

For me, veganism is like religion: not a problem if you just get on with it and keep it to yourself. Unfortunately, like most cults, a large percentage of vegans feel the need to preach every time they stumble across us mere mortal, non-vegans.

Tonight I went to an arty event somewhere I’d never been before. I really enjoyed myself and met some new people. I even ate vegan pizza (no other option) and it was rather tasty. Unfortunately, I know what vegan food does to my stomach the morning after; so let’s just say I’m a little apprehensive about tomorrow. Anyway, tonight was the first time I have encountered a militant vegan: one who was preaching to me in a rather self-righteous manner less than five minutes into our first conversation. As someone who struggles with even the mildest conflict, I was keen to change the subject, rapidamente. However, I also wanted to make it clear that these Sunday sermon words would have no impact whatsoever on my food and lifestyle choices. This person and I connected well on other topics and I really enjoyed the other discussions we had. However, veganism lectures ignite the same angry fire inside me as religious salesfolk knocking on my door. Please, just fuck off and be happy with the choices you have made.

You see, for me, the the mindset and behaviours of veganism far too closely mirror those of anorexia. And I should know. The reading labels. The obsessing over ingredients. The over-thinking of meals and food related outings. The over-whelming guilt if you ‘slip up’ or desire something forbidden, (i.e normal). I have survived on the purity of fruit and cereals. I have analysed every crumb that has passed my lips, and every crumb that has not. I have survived on one meal a week, because ‘nobody needs that much food.’ I have felt clean and pure and perfect and healthy; frowning on others and their greedy ways.  When my body was as ‘healthy’ and free from ‘bad stuff’ as it could be, I was in fact dancing with the Reaper.

So no, I’m not going to think about what the cows suffer so I can drink milk. No, I don’t give a shit about pigs being slaughtered so I can have a bacon butty. It took me years to get where I am today: to feel that I deserve to eat meals; to enjoy eating without ritual or guilt; to be able to go out with friends for food and not starve myself for days beforehand. I still have a few issues. But they are insignificant compared to the demons that almost killed me. I worked hard slaying those, so now I am stronger.

So please, militant vegans, back off. You don’t know what someone has suffered when you start ranting about fairness and ethics. You don’t know what someone might still be battling with when you heap guilt onto them and tell them it’s not hard to give up half their diet. Please don’t add fuel to what might already be an all-consuming fire. Even if I strongly disagree with your lifestyle choices, I am making a conscious effort not to lecture you for them. It’s only fair to reciprocate. Unfortunately, food and eating are incredibly complex, pyschological minefields. So unless someone’s diet is causing them serious harm, keep your opinions to yourself.

 

Remembrance

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Remembrance

Today, the 11th of November, is Remembrance Day. It would also have been my Nanna’s birthday; she would have been 95. Even thought my dear grandparents passed away in 2001 and 2003, I still think of them every day. They were kind, generous and my golden couple; in love with each other for over 63 years. Today’s Remembrance feels especially poignant for me, as I type here in Spain, my current home. Today I feel like Europe and America are saying RIP to the rights so hard won by my grandparents and millions of others in the Second World War.

In Europe the far right is gaining popularity in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria, to name a few. America has just landed itself the next Adolf Hitler as President elect, thanks in part to the almost 50% of voters who didn’t bother to vote at all. These people have no right to protest or be unhappy about the outcome, as their laziness/apathy/ignorance played a part in it.

The point which brings me to Remembrance is this: people died in the World Wars trying to secure their freedom and therefore mine. WWII especially battled against fascism, discrimination and genocide. While society back then was much less accommodating in relation to LGBT and women’s rights, Europe and parts of the US have come a long way since then. The country I now call my home, not too long ago ruled by a Fascist dictator for around forty years, was one of the first in Europe to legalise civil partnerships.  Sadly, Spain too is swinging to the right, like the rest of Europe and apparently, the USA.

The fight against narrow-minded extremism is one we need to fight every day. The USA, ‘Land of the Free’ is no longer. There are parallels between 1930s Europe and the terrifying situation they have now. The rise of the right being preceded by a time of economic crisis; people looking for scapegoats and finding immigrants and refugees convenient to lay the  blame upon. Ruthless megalomaniacs fanning the flames of people’s suspicion and fear to create hatred. Countries looking to close their borders to solve their problems, instead of looking at their own greedy governments and financial sectors.

This blog could go on forever at a volatile time like this. Voting may simply be a matter of putting an X next to the lesser of two evils. It may be something of a Hobson’s choice, but it is a choice we have the right to make. People died so we could live in the closest thing to a democracy we have a the moment. What has happened in the USA should be a lesson to all of us who are lucky enough to have the right to vote. USE IT, or risk hosting the frightening farce that is playing out now in America.

What the F%*K?

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What the f*$k happened in Tunisia?  Why on earth would anyone think that this heinous act would somehow do the world a favour, or bring the deranged individual closer to ‘paradise’? Atrocities like these do only one thing: create hate and fear. I have only read one account in a newspaper of this horrific act, and that was more than enough; it made me feel sick and brought tears to my eyes.

Islamic extremists get a LOT of media coverage, leading us to believe that they are everywhere; that all Muslims share their their extreme views. I know for a fact that this isn’t true. My best friend on my MA was Muslim and we had great times together. She was (is) tolerant and open-minded but kept her faith, fasting during the long British summer days of Ramadan while still making the effort to see me. We used to go out together, sometimes dancing in bars. She didn’t drink alcohol, while I had a modest amount. “My religion is between my god and me” she once told me. To be honest, I don’t even think of her as Muslim; maybe because she doesn’t wear hijab, maybe because she was open to my culture. If my friend is a Muslim and sees her faith as a personal relationship between herself and her god, then why are there so many extremists out there? What do they want?

I am not a fan of organised religion. I grew up Catholic but I am not any more. Imposing your religious beliefs onto a young mind can cause lasting damage, even if it is done for the ‘right’ reasons. In my view, there is no god, there is no Heaven, nor Hell. Hell is where we are right now, with people shooting and bombing each other for having differing opinions on the correct way to live one’s life. The best way is with love, tolerance and kindness, not hatred and division. What makes the massacre in Tunisia even worse is that the people who commit these heinous acts do so in the name of a god whose existence has yet to be proved. Of course, proving the existence of a god would automatically refute the nature of faith; but that is a philosophical debate for someone else to ponder.

I believe that we all come from the same place, from the same male AND FEMALE energies that run through every creature on our beautiful, abused planet. I think that when we die, we literally go back into the earth, air and water. I do think that yes, maybe we have got a spirit: an energy that was not a physical part of our being; that has to go somewhere. In my mind this explains why sometimes we can still ‘feel’ our loved ones close by, even when they have passed on. So maybe my views are a contradictory mixture of science and paganism, but they are harmless. I do not impose these views on others, and I am certainly not going intimidate or kill anyone who lives a different life to me.

Some things in this world are inherently wrong and need to be stamped out: forced child marriage; female genital mutilation; torture; the destruction of our planet, to name just a few. Sun-bathing on a beach does not warrant the massacre that happened in Tunisia last week. At times like this, I am glad that I have a good friend who is Muslim, even though she lives far away in another country. Our friendship is living proof that people with wildly different spiritual beliefs can exist happily together.

“Let me Google that…”

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Digital native, digital immigrant. If you’re in your early 30s and have grown up in the UK the chances are you know how to use a PC/Mac or at least the Internet, right?

Recently, I have happened upon several friends who I know without a doubt are digitally proficient, probably much more so than I. Still, when I mention a place to meet in our mini-city, I am often met with, “I don’t know where that is.” Now, I have no problem with them not knowing where somewhere is, but why, pray tell me, don’t you just goddam Google it? I mean, you’ve messaged me via Whatsapp on a smartphone; I know that you have Internet access, so why don’t you Google it?

A step on from this happens when I am telling someone to meet me in a place that I don’t know either. “So, where is that, then?” they email me, from their PC. Hmm, just let me Google it, find the information, then send it to you while you sit on your arse, in front of your PC, online.

I find this phenomenon increasingly frustrating. Don’t people realise that by the time they have emailed/messaged me, I have read it, Googled their questions and messaged them back, they could have done the job themselves three times over?

Apparently I am not the only one to experience this irritation. Some bright/pissed off character has created a fantastic resource for those too lazy to find their own answer and those of us who want to scream at them. It is called, Let me Google that for you. So, when one of your friends asks a question that they could easily answer for themselves, type their question into the box on this link and send it to them:

http://lmgtfy.com/

They get their answer; you get your point across 🙂