Monthly Archives: April 2014

A grumpy old woman with a firewall

The last two days have not been good for my blood pressure. It all started so well. A sunny morning. A brilliant idea for the blog. Well, I thought so at the time. More delicious food for thought delivered by a friend on Facebook. Then. Bang. My virus software kicked in. Or rather, failed to kick in. My laptop went into existential crisis. So did I. I entered a murky sub-world. Firewalls. Deactivation. Reinstallation. Data execution prevention. An Install Wizard, with no magical powers. System restore. Two hours on the phone to my son. He KNOWS about these things. I almost dragged him into the abyss along with me.

Before the crisis struck, I’d been in the community café. Knee deep in cheese and ham toasties. We had a sullen, red-headed lad from some kind of community project helping out in the kitchen. He refused to wash dishes. Spent half his shift in the garden blagging cigarettes from the customers. Ate his way stoically through a whole packet of Cadbury’s Eclairs, intended for all the staff. There were four left when somebody challenged him.

So what about the rest of us?

That’s not my problem.

I’m becoming a grumpy old woman. I remember being taught that consideration for others actually mattered. The idea didn’t appear to have entered his head.

No more has it entered the heads of computer hackers and the authors of viruses, apparently. What have I ever done to any of them that I deserved to have several hours of valuable writing time eaten up by sorting out this glitch? I’m an ordinary woman trying to make a living that happens to involve being online on a regular basis. My poor son got dragged willy-nilly into the fray. They don’t even know our names.

The average hacker’s victims are just that. Faceless. Anonymous. The creator of a virus doesn’t see individual human beings. On the receiving end. The inventor of the worm that ate my old PC didn’t intend to rob me of dozens of family photos. It wasn’t personal. He just did it because he could. A victimless crime. For all I know, he’s now holding down a lucrative job producing anti-virus software. Set a thief to catch a thief.

The anonymity of the virtual world is a double-edged sword. I can reinvent myself in a hundred and one ways. New online personae. Avatars. Whoever said the camera never lies? They clearly never visited an online dating site. It may not lie about the person in the photo. But there’s no guarantee the photo belongs to the person whose profile it’s attached to. Or that it was taken less than ten years ago. Apparently over half of us feel it’s OK to massage the truth on social networks or dating websites. We put over an image of who we wish we were, rather than who we really are.

I decided a while back I didn’t really need to impress anyone. I’m sixty years old. A tad eccentric. As poor as a church mouse. I’m never going to be Marilyn Monroe. Mother Teresa. National Velvet. Or J K Rowling. What did I have to hide? In practice though, I’ve found it surprisingly hard to maintain an online presence without quietly manufacturing an image. A firewall.

Of course the fantasy is fun. Who doesn’t dream of being ten years younger (or older) and three times as beautiful? The internet allows us to play out our dreams. Harmless enough you’d think. And mostly it is. But if everyone plays let’s pretend, it’s easy to get caught up in the game. Forget the other players are real. Then empathy goes out of the window. Human connectedness gets lost. And the dream – if we’re not careful – becomes a bit of a nightmare.

If you would like to suggest a title for a story or a topic for a post on the blog, please visit my fund raising page

To find out more about One25 – the charity I’m supporting – and the work they do, you can visit their website

Thank you for all your support and encouragement.



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A quick update … a reminder of what this is about … and a teapot with a pink rose

Just to reassure you that I haven’t given up the giving up … Today I’ve been working on a short story with a title suggested by a good friend. It’s currently 515 words long. Within the terms of my 500-words-a-day ‘contract’, but nowhere near finished, of course. It’s quite fun to be writing a story again after all the ranting over the last week or so.  Although ‘fun’ may not be the right word …

If you would like to suggest a title for a story or a topic for a post on the blog, please visit my fund raising page

To find out more about One25 and the work they do, you can visit their website

Thank you for all your support and encouragement.




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Chewing pens and cleaning out the fridge

Remember that feeling? You’re stuck in a dingy classroom. Sun streaming down on the playground. Somehow not quite making it through the window. You’re doing an exam. Only they must’ve given you the wrong paper. Your mind’s blank. The clock’s ticking. All you can do is chew the pen. Stare out of the window. Wish you were somewhere else. Anywhere but here. Today’s been like that.

In between bouts of window-staring I’ve been teaching English. Cleaning out the fridge. Reorganising the kitchen. I’ve walked to the shops and back. I’ve fumed at BT for telling me the free email service I’ve used since dinosaurs roamed the world wide web is going to be withdrawn. I’ve cooked. I’ve made endless cups of tea. Nothing. No inspiration. Not a whisper. It’s nearly bedtime. Here I am writing about not writing. Just so I can get my five hundred words for today done.

It’s all part of the journey, I suppose. For the last few days I’ve been on a roll. Ideas have flowed. And the words to go with them. I’ve written on topics close to my heart. And enjoyed every minute. I didn’t even consider counting words yesterday. Not until the post was almost finished. I’ve counted this one three times already. Four now.

Time was when the towel and I would have parted company hours back. I’d not so much have thrown it in as thrown it right out of the pram. Along with the laptop. My toys. And all thought of ever writing anything again. Apart from incensed emails to BT. I’d have opened that bottle of red wine. Filled a large glass. Put the telly on. Huddled in the armchair. And felt sorry for myself. Quite right too. Poor me. I’m rubbish. What on earth made me think I could write in the first place?

It’s just as well I’ve got a hefty welly behind me now, in the form of a £12.50-a-day fine for failure. It’s also as well I spend so much time trawling random blogs and news items online. I’m not usually a fan of motivational gurus. They make me feel even more inadequate than usual. Not to mention annoying me because they’re more concerned with their message than with being kind to the English language. This being the case, I’m not sure why I gave an article entitled The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself Today more than a passing nod over the muesli this morning. But I did. The gist of the Mark Manson’s argument is that happiness requires struggle. Or to give it a more familiar twist – no pain, no gain. Yes. I know. It screams cliché. But it works for me right now. The harsh truth is I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life. Up to now, every time I’ve hit a day like today, I’ve given up. Told myself I was never going to make it. Gone off in a huff. Abandoned the keyboard for weeks. Months. Sometimes years. Manson asks what is the pain you want to sustain? See what I mean about cruelty to the English language? But he has a point. If you want to lose weight you have to eat less. If you want to pass exams, you have to study. If I want to be a writer, I have to write. Come hell. High water. Disputes with BT. Total mental blocks.

Today is day thirty-two of my Give It Up challenge. I think. I’m beginning to lose count. And the plot. I seem to have given up watching telly. Sitting in comfortable chairs. Washing dishes. Leaving the building. Eating proper meals. Exercise. Making phone calls. Reading. And going to bed before midnight. But in somewhere the midst of it all, I have most definitely given up NOT being a writer. I’m pretty happy with that.

And you’ll be pleased to know that, despite everything, no pens were chewed in the writing of this blog.

I am blogging to support One25, a Bristol charity working with street sex workers. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, please consider donating at

Thank you



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Murder scenes

I walk past the scene of a murder every time I go to Tesco’s. It’s a pretty normal-looking house. Nothing special. Once the police cordon had gone there was nothing left to distinguish it from any of its neighbours. I suppose that’s not surprising when you consider how ordinary the crime that was committed there actually is. On 20th July 2013, Nirmal Gill is alleged to have battered his estranged wife Rosemary to death in the course of a row. On average two women every week lose their lives this way in the UK. For all I know I could pass half a dozen murder scenes every time I stock up on toilet rolls.

The thing I’ve never been able to get my head around is how any human being believes they have the right to rob another of their life. How can your feelings, no matter how strong, be more important than that person’s right to live? And yet it happens time and again. With a kind of weary inevitability.

A fact sheet published by Women’s Aid says there are no reliable data on the general incidence of domestic violence in the UK. It could be that Rosemary never appeared in any statistics until the day she died. On the other hand, it’s unlikely the attack that killed her was the first. It’s estimated that a woman will be beaten on average 35 times before she raises her voice to seek help. Amnesty UK makes the point (almost unbearably) in this video.

On a miserable Monday morning in early December I found myself with half an hour to spare before catching a train. I decided to get a coffee. Outside the café a woman I know slightly was huddled on a seat. Her partner had thrown her out of the house. Not for the first time. Over coffee she told me he’d done time for assaults on her in the past.

So why are you still with him?

I forgave him.

She stared into her coffee.

It’s a heady blend of love and terror keeps women in abusive relationships. Believe me. Call it trauma bonding if you will. There’s a kind of insane optimism. Flying in the face of all the evidence. He’s a good man. Deep down. Just no-one else can see it. By contrast, the men believe there’s nothing good about us. We’ll never get it right. If we only did it their way, they’d be fine. They must police. Control us. Discipline. Make us do it right.

I read a fascinating article this morning. Men are being lured to Ukraine by dating agencies. Told they’ll be able to date a model, but with the values of your grandmother. Talk about feeding male fantasies. Do these men actually want women who wear full-length flannel nightgowns and insist on separate bedrooms? Or do they believe their grandmothers were obedient slaves? Not surprisingly, they’re being fleeced. And going home alone.

I’m cynical. I don’t think a man like that wants a real woman. He wants fantasy. An inflatable doll would do. One that cooks and cleans, of course. She won’t catch colds or need the loo. Never have a headache. An opinion of her own. She won’t need food or clothes. Ask awkward questions about who that woman with the mini-skirt was. And she’ll do everything just the way his mother used to. Or his grandmother.

I knew a woman once. She spent more than half her life with someone whose first love had rejected him. He kept the photo in his wallet. He yelled. He stormed. He hurled abuse. He shouted. Sulked. Threw tantrums. She tried so hard to please him that it hurt. She was never good enough. She just wasn’t his fantasy woman. She was herself. It took her a long time to understand. I’m not sure he gets it even now.

I’m not suggesting I’ve got all the answers. But it might stop one or two men in their tracks if they remember a woman is not a fantasy. She’s real. Unique. Not a substitute for someone who’d be better. A living, breathing person. Not an alien. Not wholly unlike you. She needs food. Sleep. She has a job. Breaks wind. Is not responsible for cleaning up your mess. Or feeding you. She has bad days. Forgets to shave her armpits. Loses her keys. Won’t wear make-up in bed. Or a full-length flannel nightgown. Thank God. She has ideas. Opinions. Dreams. You can’t control them. Nor do you have the smallest right to try. She doesn’t have to play the game your way.

Above all, her life is never, ever yours. You have no right to take it. End it. Or control it. Under any circumstances. End of story. Get it? Good.





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Just an old-fashioned girl

Ah … tea and cake. I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart. English afternoon tea. Floral frocks. Knitted tea cosies. It’s not so long since I was worrying that all these were about to disappear for ever. Swept away in a torrent of microwave lasagne, leggings and lattes. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against any of these things. Apart from leggings. I could write a whole blog on the evils of leggings … I love a good latte as much as anyone. Especially a chai one. I’m not a Luddite or a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist. I just don’t much like the way the old can get forgotten when the new muscles in on the scene.

This afternoon I had a good, long natter with a friend. She and I are much of an age, so the inevitable happened. We began to reminisce. It wasn’t the usual it’s-not-like-it-was-in-the-old-days conversation though. It had more of a wow-all-these-things-are-coming-back-again feel to it. The Great British Bake-Off. The Sewing Bee … also Great and British but it sounded kind of repetitive. The fact that the local wool shop has undergone a revival, instead of closing down. The number of young people on the allotments of a weekend. Technology has forced itself upon us. For good or ill. Most of us have embraced it. I’ve no problem with that. I use it all the time. But it’s failed to edge out the traditional skills, as I once feared it might. Instead, people are learning dressmaking techniques from YouTube. Buying fabrics on eBay. Exchanging gardening tips on Twitter. Posting photos of their creations on Facebook. It seems human creativity is a resilient beast.

Many of these blossoming skills were once considered the preserves of women. Part of the traditional female role. They were sometimes scorned precisely because of that. I’ve been sneered at for knitting. Looked down on for baking. Asked what was the point of sewing. Usually by men. Sometimes by other women. Often because we all confuse equality with sameness.

At my core I believe all human beings are of equal value. No matter who they are. I’ve considered myself a feminist from the start. But looking back at the heady days of early feminism, I think we missed a trick. We bought into a myth. Assumed our role was second-class. Scorned our own traditions. We assumed ‘equal’ meant ‘the same’. We missed our chance to change the world.

I don’t have time to elaborate the consequences here. That would take a book. Or two. Spiralling housing costs. Ongoing income inequality. Marginalisation of ‘female’ roles. Stress from juggling employment. Housework. Childcare. Most men have side-stepped that one rather neatly. Capitalism saw us coming. And rubbed its hands with glee.

You’re probably thinking I’m about to advocate a mass retreat to the kitchen sink. A nostalgic return to the way things used to be. Not a bit of it. I love my freedom as much as anyone. It’s just that in an ideal world, that freedom would include being able to care full-time for my own children. If I chose to. Regardless of my gender. Without being penalised. Marginalised. Looked down on. And for that role to be considered of equal value with any other.

The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. So they say. Maybe we were a bit quick to give that one away. With all the skills that went hand in hand with it. Baking. Sewing. Knitting. Growing. That’s not even the half of them. They’re flourishing in new ways now. In the hands of a new generation of feminists. Maybe they’ll value our traditions more then we did. Find more creative ways to breathe life into them. But as I said. I’m an old-fashioned girl at heart …




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Genghis Khan, X and Y chromosomes and true love

At the risk of groans from those who’ve heard me say this before, I’m as good at relationships as Genghis Khan was at living in peace with his neighbours. This means you’re free to take everything you read in today’s blog with a generous pinch of salt. Or maybe a couple of kilos of the stuff.

I got into a conversation about marriage over breakfast this morning. Doesn’t happen very often. I don’t do conversation over breakfast. Not since I stopped being married. And the flow was rather one-way even then. My brother and his wife were passing through on their way to Cornwall. They’ve been married less than two years, so the subject is still quite fresh in their minds. We started off talking about unrealistic expectations. Fairytale weddings. Happy-ever-after. That kind of stuff. Then we strayed into the idea that real marriage is more about love than paperwork. Dangerous territory.

Marriage has been in the news over the last couple of weeks. Specifically, marriage equality. A law that finally allows people who happen to be gay to do the paperwork as well as the love came into effect on 29th March. I’m in the odd position of not understanding why that’s such a big deal. Of course it’s a big deal for those who’ve been denied the right for all this time. What I don’t get is why so many other people are up in arms about it. What’s wrong with two human beings making a loving commitment to one another?

Some have even gone so far as to blame last winter’s floods on same-sex marriage. Seriously?  If God wants to wreak vengeance, he has plenty of other cause. Is it so bad for two people of the same gender to love one another? What about all the real horror perpetrated in the name of marriage down the ages? Polygamy. Adultery. Subjugation of women. Domestic violence. Rape. Child abuse. Murder. To name but a few.  Doesn’t that stuff bother these people’s God?

One man, one woman, for life is the mantra. The ‘biblical model for marriage’ I’ve heard it called. I’m not sure what happens in the bible looks much like that. Polygamy’s the norm in the Old Testament. Where that vengeful God mostly hangs out. If all those wives failed to give you sons, you slept with the servants as well. And if a woman you happened to want didn’t fancy you, you could always rape her. She’d have to marry you then. It doesn’t sound much like a magical world of happy-ever-after to me.

Jesus’ approach was different. For a start, he wasn’t vengeful. He wasn’t married either. But he was an if-you-look-at-another-woman-with-lust-it’s-adultery man. And here’s the odd thing. All those people I’ve heard insist on biblical literalism (especially when it comes to things they don’t like about other people). They can always find a way round that one. It’s hyperbole. He didn’t really mean it literally. It’s a spiritual metaphor.

In a former life I used to marry people. The last bride I saw walking towards me was my own daughter. I will never forget that moment. I’m still an old romantic at heart. I’m just a lot more realistic about the commitment involved than I used to be. Marriage is all about love. Real warts-and-dirty-socks-and-squeezing-the-toothpaste-all-wrong love. Not paperwork. Not convention. Not ‘models’. Biblical or otherwise. On paper I was married for forty years. Forty years, two days and about three-and-a-half hours to be precise. I know people who’ve never done the paperwork. They didn’t see the need. Or they haven’t been allowed to until now. Nevertheless, they’re more married than I ever was. Regardless of the number of X or Y chromosomes involved.




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Tricksy badgers and shouting at walls

There are times when blogging feels a bit like shouting at a wall. So I’m probably well-placed to understand how British scientists must have felt when they tried to explain to Owen Paterson that culling badgers wasn’t a good idea. Might as well have gone down the pub. At least somebody would’ve listened.

To be honest, the whole thing never made much sense to me. The evidence that badgers are responsible for bovine TB is at best patchy. A badger cull would only ever make modest reductions to cattle TB, according to experts. Quite apart from the cruelty. And the environmental implications of removing a major predator from the food chain. Or don’t they teach them stuff like that at Radley? It was never going to work. Even a trained marksman is going to have difficulty shooting a moving target. With the required precision to kill instantly. In the dark. Or did Mr Paterson think the badgers were going to give themselves up willingly? OK, guv, it’s a fair cop. We gave ’em TB. We deserve to die. ‘Ere, tie me to this tree and shoot me. I won’t move. Promise. No. Tricksy beasts them badgers. One of the most elusive larger mammals in the British ecosystem. Always moving the goalposts. And themselves. It’s just not cricket.

Then there’s the expense. Admittedly that’s seldom been a consideration for British governments when it comes to slaughter. Animal or human. Austerity rules when it comes to care. Carnage is a different matter. Apparently that the cost of vaccinating badgers in Wales came to £662 per head in 2012. Policing costs alone for the cull in England amounted to £1623 for every dead badger. Pesky creatures. Brainwashing all those poor, gullible idiots into believing they have a right to live.

One of the oddest things about the cull is Owen Paterson himself. Allegedly his family fostered two orphaned badgers when he was a child. Bessy, the female was the first. In his own words, she was extremely intelligent, had a very low opinion of cats, but loved the dogs. When Baz arrived the two eloped together. Maybe this is some kind of revenge mission. Because, with all the excitement of the apparent back-down, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the trial culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset are set to continue. In fact Mr Paterson still insists that once the techniques have been perfected he intends to press ahead in the areas currently on hold. Meanwhile, he’s quietly removed the requirement for independent oversight of the existing culls. Just to make it more fun. In the words of Maria Eagle, the Shadow Environment Secretary, he’s declared open season on the badgers in the culling areas. Effectively, he’s ensured that hundreds more badgers will be maimed, or die in agony, at the hands of incompetent marksmen.

I don’t understand. Does Owen Paterson think if there’s no evidence, the cruelty’s not happening? If he shuts his eyes very tight it’ll all go away? He’s not that stupid. Perhaps he and his cronies actually derive some kind of perverse pleasure from the suffering of animals. And of less privileged human beings. Makes some kind of sense in the current climate. He’d need to sweep that one under the carpet for sure.

But if he thinks all us nasty, sentimental, badger-loving deviants are going to be fooled by his mendacity, he probably has another think coming. Sorry Owen. We’re not that stupid either.




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Saharan smog and spitting in buckets

I walked to work this morning. Saharan-dust-smog catching in my throat. Blurring out the sun. I couldn’t help feeling ever so slightly pessimistic about the future of the planet. Or at least the human race. Spring flowers were blooming. Trees coming into leaf. The traffic on the motorway just as heavy as ever. Everything seemed quite normal. Apart from the air I was trying to breathe. Was I the only person who felt uneasy?

Some of us have been making noises about the environment for years. Forty years and more in my case. I’m not quite old enough to remember London before the Clean Air Act 1956. I do remember being sent to school with my scarf over my face during one of the last smogs. The government had the guts to make people clean up their act then. Not now, it seems.

It’s odd really. It’s accepted wisdom that our current lifestyle isn’t doing the planet any good. Children get taught this stuff at school. Even the least informed among us know we ought to recycle. And that using the car to go to the corner shop probably isn’t a good thing. Of course there are a few dogged climate change deniers. After all, there are still flat-earthers out there somewhere. But most of us know something needs to change. The trouble is, we’re not keen on it being us.

The Earth Summit of 1992 consumed vast quantities of paper and aviation fuel. It seemed to result in a general agreement that Something Needed to be Done. Then everyone went home feeling they’d Done Something. Very little changed. In June 2012, twenty years later, we were emitting 48% more carbon dioxide from the consumption of energy. Air pollution levels in the south of England this week have reached level 8 on a ten-point scale. The smog in Shanghai is now so dense the authorities have installed giant TV screens to broadcast the sunrise. Seriously. Is this what we want?

Climate change is such a massive issue it scares most of us. After all, what can I do? I could turn off all the lights in my flat (I got up and turned off two before I typed that sentence …). Never fly again. Eat nothing that hasn’t been produced within walking distance of my home. Consume less (or no) meat and dairy produce. Turn down the heating. Do less washing. I can swear I’ll do all of the above and more. If I’m the only person doing it, what difference will it make? After all, I open the door of my flat and the lights in the corridor are ablaze. All night. It’s a spit in a bucket. A drop in the ocean. If there’s any ocean left to drop into. But what if I’m not the only one? If we all spit in the same bucket we may not fill it, but at least we’ll make it wet.

Earlier I dismissed climate change deniers as being on a par with flat-earthers. Some are. Others have a vested interest. Take David and Charles Koch. Billionaire oilmen. Greenpeace report that they have invested millions in campaigns to delay legislation on climate change in the USA. Maybe they believe their grandchildren will be miraculously saved from the consequences of their greed. Sadly, I don’t think mine will. I guess it’s time I did something about it.

In last week’s Guardian, David Graeber argued that working-class people acquiesce too easily in the face of the government’s austerity measures. We’ve lost our sense of solidarity. I’d extend his argument to climate change. We know something needs to be done. Our leaders aren’t interested. David Cameron’s made it quite clear where he stands on ‘green crap’. Instead of sitting down and waiting for the inevitable, shouldn’t we be fighting back? Come on. Even if we only walk once in a while, instead of using the car. Turn the lights off once in a while. Think about what we’re eating. At least we’ll have tried. After all, do we really want our children and grandchildren to have to watch TV if they want to see the sunrise?

I am currently blogging to support One25, a Bristol charity working with street sex workers. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, please consider donating at

Thank you.





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George Orwell and the dubious morality of Lego … on day twenty-six

There are times when I despair of my chosen faith. Not because I have a problem with God. Until we happen to disagree on something major of course. It’s more God’s self-appointed representatives on earth I struggle with. George Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier, slated both Christianity and socialism. As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for socialism is its adherents. I’ve ended up a Christian with socialist tendencies. And a feminist to boot. I have to tell you, George – you were right.

Now, I know Jesus didn’t go for ‘filling-churches-any-way-we-can’ evangelism. He preferred considered commitment. He didn’t sugar the pill. He didn’t pull punches. If people weren’t ready, he let them walk away. He didn’t manipulate. Or cut them a deal. Take the guy who didn’t want to part with his money (Mark 10 v 21-22). Jesus didn’t hot-foot it down the road after him. Wait a minute. Maybe we can sort this out. I was only kidding when I said give it all to the poor. How about a small donation to the building fund instead? Jesus didn’t do compromise. On the other hand, he wasn’t a fire-and-brimstone, you’re-all-going-to-hell kind of crazy preacher. No, really. He wasn’t. So far as I can tell, the only people he had a real down on were the religious establishment. The ones who thought they’d nailed it without his help.

Let’s take a quick look at the last few weeks’ news. We could start with the Polish priest who’s decided Lego is the work of the devil. Yes. I thought that was an April Fool too. Apparently he had an issue with My Little Pony once upon a time. I can sympathise with that. But Lego? Then there’s the American Christian school that slated an eight-year-old for not being ‘feminine’ enough. News of the demise of Fred Phelps drew more sympathy from the gay community than he ever had for them. In an ironic twist, he was excommunicated at the end of his life by the Westboro Baptist Church he founded. He wasn’t hard line enough for them. There’s also a preacher out there somewhere still insisting that women shouldn’t even say ‘amen’ in church.

See why I have issues? Talk about you’re-all-going-to-hell crazy. Whether it’s Lego models or same-sex marriage, why do Christians always have to be ‘against’ something? Just how does anyone justify hatred in the name of someone who said love your enemies? Endless finger-pointing on behalf of someone who said do not judge? It’s as if we become super-vigilant about everyone else’s shortcomings as soon as we set foot in a church. Conveniently forgetting that we’re far from perfect ourselves.

To be honest, I’m with George on this one. Hyper-critical hypocrisy is not a great marketing strategy. I’ve done my best to follow Jesus for the last thirty years and more. Yet I can still begin to question it all when I see some of my fellow travellers. Why would you want to make an eight-year-old worry about her individuality? Did Adam and Eve wear fig leaves in different styles? Why do we pick on a child’s clothing and remain blind to massive issues? Greed. Poverty. Injustice. Straining out gnats and swallowing camels. No wonder so many people want nothing to do with any of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’ve got it nailed. But I think I prefer Jesus’ approach. He didn’t harangue. Berate. Condemn. He met ordinary people exactly where they were. Ate with them. Talked to them. Listened. Loved. Wept for them. Never once did he lick his lips in gleeful anticipation of their eternal suffering. Anything but.

And if any of this sounds as if I’m judging anyone for being judgemental … I’m sorry … I guess nobody’s perfect. Thank God.





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Spicy wedges, gooseberry bushes and too much food for thought … on the twenty-fifth day

I haven’t written anything very exciting today, for reasons I’ll explore in more depth below. I just want to include the link to my fund-raising page at the opening of this post, as I’ve been told it’s not easy to find in some of the other posts. I’m doing all this crazy blogging to raise money for One25, a charity that does amazing work with street sex workers in Bristol. If you’d like to make a donation, encourage me and even give me an idea for a blog post, please go to Thank you!


Today I’ve cooked heaps of fish and spicy wedges. I’ve planted a gooseberry bush and a loganberry cane on the allotment. I’ve sprinkled radish seed in the gully between the potatoes. And I’ve pushed words round and round and round on a page. Like picking at a meal I don’t really want. Hoping no-one will notice I’m not actually eating it.

I’ve been trying to write about gender inequality. The subject is massive. I also have a personal stake in it, for obvious reasons. As well as a lot of very strong opinions. Some of these may not sit well with everyone. To cap it all, I’m a chronic people-pleaser. It’s not really surprising I haven’t found a way of tackling the issue that works. I’ve done lots of research. Written a fair few words. But I’m by no means happy with the result. I’m going to have to cut it into bite-sized chunks, like any other oversized meal. Freeze it in small portions … OK, so I’m stretching the metaphor now … and do a number of shorter articles at different points during the next 100 days.

As a woman, I’ve struggled all my life with the idea that I’m worth less than a man simply because I was born with a uterus. Perverse of me I realise. I just can’t work out why being created with the ability to give birth makes me an inferior being. Rather the opposite you’d think. But that’s an argument for another day. Perhaps.

Despite legislation, gender inequality is alive and kicking. Recent figures suggest that women in full-time work in the UK earn on average £5000 less than their male colleagues. The gap is getting bigger. Meanwhile, women do the lions share of the housework as well. Domestic abuse, casual misogyny and sexual assault are commonplace. Even in our supposedly civilised society, a woman can receive horrific threats from men, simply for campaigning for equal rights. Women are exploited in the sex industry throughout the world. Trafficking for sex work is a live issue. The media obsess about women’s appearance. It doesn’t seem we’ve made much progress in forty-plus years of feminism.

So this is just a taste of where I might – or might not – be coming from on this particular thread of the blog. Plenty of space for a good rant or two, I think. And of course there’s the whole question of religion and the position of women … I can see I’m going to enjoy this after all …




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