Don’t Lose Your Voice

In the UK we are fast approaching an important decision, one that could change the way we view ourselves and how others view us as a nation. At such a time it is more crucial than ever that we make the stand and use our democratic right to voice our opinions and air our concerns before it is too late. As a fellow British citizen I am therefore appealing to everyone in the countries of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island to stand with me and unite on something that we all too often overlook and belittle. Something that we often cast aside and ignore instead of taking action.

For the love of God, please complete a passenger claim form when you’re delayed on the train.

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You only have 28 days to get it sent in (as I learnt all too painfully last time) and heck, you can even fill it in online. By letting it slide you are letting those big train corporations win and let them edge one step closer to thinking poor signalling is acceptable on British train lines. You will not silence me today Mr. GWR, not today.

Joking aside, please don’t forget about the General Election on Thursday 9th June. If you’re voting on the day you have between 7am and 10pm to cast your vote at a polling station, or if doing it by post be sure to get this bad boy in a red letter box near you.

Passenger delay compensation forms and voting. Two equally important things everyone needs to get excited about.

Come Sit With Me

Come sit with me. Come sit here in the caffeine filled haze we call paradise. The legal high that our fathers and their fathers before have relished, for here we are one. The mothers, the students, the disapproving men with broadsheets in hand, everyone has a home here.

Let me pass you this extra I have acquired. Do you take milk? The sugar is over there. The chair next to me is a little worn and mismatched, but that is the norm. Brush off the crumbs of the previous tenant and join me in weekend conversation.

The background music will lull you into a false pretence of your own class and status. The type of music you recognise but do not know. They are the backing beats that serve as melodic distraction from the mess surrounding us. I have heard in booksheleved corners that it improves the taste, what do you think?

See that man behind my left shoulder? I know him to be a regular. The frustrated writer who huffs and sighs over work that will never make it to print. Chomping on cheap nuts and downing brown goo in paper cups, for he cannot afford the china. He is a freeloader of the establishment, clinging desperately to an image that cannot be sustained. I remember when he used to sip on only the finest quality beans and nibble on pastries with young women, but those days are gone. We have all changed since those days.

My friend, you look a little troubled. Don’t be. In this world we are all addicts of our own making. I only seek to show you the truth that lurks in the steam. Save your pity for Africa, it is a wasted emotion in this Latino supplied space. I see you have finished your drink. Would you like another? It would be my honour. They serve only the finest cheap substances here, it is why we never leave.

I am so happy you came to sit with me my partner. Now stress no more and relax, the fresh coffee will be here soon.

 

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My Housemate’s a Mermaid: 2016 in Review

Crikey is it that time of year again? Can it really be New Year’s Eve? With a backdrop of Homes Under the Hammer you wouldn’t think it. But then India is off at one of her multiple New Year’s Eve gatherings and Jools Holland has a prime time slot on the BBC, so it must be.

It feels the world is a very much different place compared to this time last year (back in 2015). The world lost many great people including stars from music, television, film and the literary world. Just when it felt like we couldn’t lose anymore another one dropped down, taking the world by surprise and reasserting in the minds and Facebook statuses of millions that 2016 was one of the bleakest years in celebrity culture. Mind, according to a recent BBC report, the number of celebrity deaths in 2016 reached 32, whereas in 2015 there were 29 so perhaps not as extreme as we all think. Sorry to be a buzz kill on this, but with an ageing generation of celebrities and drug culture 2017 could easily match or surpass 2016 in respect of notable deaths.

There was also a lot of political upheaval around the world. Brexit, Trump, Syria to name but three. Alongside this there have been (what feels like) countless bombings and acts of terrorism around the world, all of which bringing trauma and misery to one extent or another. There was also the announcement that Toblerone’s were changing their shape. That scandalous story almost brought Britain to its knees I’m telling you. Do I honestly think the world and chocolate industry will see sense in 2017? Pfft, of course not!

Moving on to personal developments then. At the end of 2016 I can still lay claim to two parents, two cats and a sister. I still live in Swindon at 10 Starfish Road with four other housemates including that famous mermaid. Company I work for remains unchanged. Swindon 18-30 Professionals continues to go from strength to strength with ever increasing members and a new sponsor. Local coffee business Baila Coffee and Vinyl join our two pre existing sponsors, Baker Street Wine Bar and Club and The Royal Oak Gin and Oyster Bar. In addition, we also welcomed a new event organiser to the leadership team, taking number to four. Stratford and Evesham Social diversified by widening itself to include those aged in their 20s and 40s, and also welcomed a new event organiser, taking leadership team to three. The group is still searching for a sponsor but membership growth continues to steadily grow as word of mouth and online postings help to spread the word.

I suppose the real big, very much change to my lifestyle, news is that I’ve started seeing someone (alias ‘the tall, bearded, Scotsman’). This is admittedly new and exciting stuff. He gets me roses and stuff, spoils me rotten, cooks amazing food (protein deficiency is no longer a problem in my diet!) and makes me smile.

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In terms of New Year resolutions from 2016, results have been pretty hit and miss. (Resolutions in black, updates in red):

Personal goals (in no particular order)

  • Write 100 blog posts (this post is my 35th) –  Achieved! This is my 206th post (thanks chiefly to Nablopomo for upping the post numbers).
  • Learn how to apply make up without stabbing myself in the eye. Achieved! After a few mistakes, including the application of mascara to my arm, I finally got the hang of eye make up.
  • Learn how to look good in make up (“Alice, is that a black eye?” “It’s eyeshadow.” “Practising for Halloween?” “Err, yeah, sure.”) – Debateable success. Work in progress.
  • Get Swindon 18-30 Professionals up to 350 members (ambitious, we’re currently at 240) – Ambitious? As of 31st December 2016 membership stands at 455. Achieved and succeeded.
  • Get North Cotswold Young Professionals up off the ground – Work in progress. The group operates well, but needs an additional event organiser to get group fully self running.
  • Stop wallowing in self pity and actually grow my nails – Failed.
  • Write/make headway on getting a book written – Writing on a completely different book is underway.
  • Get more sleep – Limited success.
  • Attempt Spanish in some shape or form – Utter failure.
  • Keep up the hard work and stick with the gym – Achieved!

Mama/Papa Bennett’s goals for me (FYI – these are not confirmed)

  • Get a boyfriend – Achieved!
  • Preferably rich – Mind your own business.
  • And attractive – Achieved!
  • Who also has a liking for sailing (for common interest) and football (because papa Bennett has been wanting to get into it for years). – Never sailed and, owing to Scottish heritage, not a big football obsessive. Not that I mind in the slightest.
  • And takes a keen interest in TV shows such as Coast and period dramas. Failed, but then he is of the male variety.

India’s goals for me (again, TBC)

  • Stop being always right – Failed
  • Stop batting younger sisters with pillows – Failed
  • Stop forcing younger sisters to wear silly hats in public places – Failed
  • Accept that this run isn’t appropriate or normal:
Failed
  • And understand that certain older sisters will never become professional Strictly dancers while they call this “dancing”:

 

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So overall some big successes and achievements and some missed targets. Also some goals made which I didn’t even set for myself, notably organising my first ever formal Summer Ball in August. An event that may have pushed me right to the very edge but in the end was one of my greatest achievements in recent years. I also have other things going on in the pipeline which at this time would take too long to go into detail over.
New Year’s Resolution 2017:
  • Don’t Jeff it all up
  • (Oh and grow my nails. Like, actually grow them.)
All in all, this year has been pretty decent for me. As I said this time last year:
Here’s hoping that next year will be more fabulous and amazing than 2015. I really have my fingers and toes crossed that it will be. I know I’ve sad it 15 odd times before, but I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a good year.
And you know what? I was right.
Happy New Year Everyone!

The Demonization of 2016

As I sit here by a roaring fire, shovelling fistfuls of chocolate into my mouth with the TV playing endless tributes to George Michael it’s easy to forget what a terrible year 2016 has been. In fact, it feels like society has been constantly reminding me what a terrible year 2016 has been since January 1st. Peruse if you may at this delightful list of awful things to happen

(In No Particular Order) Celebrity Deaths:

David Bowie (music – pop god)

Alan Rickman (actor)

Carrie Fisher (actor)

Prince (music – pop icon)

George Michael (music)

Ronnie Corbett (comedian)

Paul Daniels (magician)

Harper Lee (author)

Terry Wogan (broadcaster)

Rick Parfitt (music – Status Quo)

Andrew Sachs (actor)

Anton Yelchin (actor)

Victoria Wood (comedian)

David Guest (erm, anyone know what David Guest did?)

Maurice White (musician – Earth, Wind and Fire)

& a lot of other notable people

Political Dramas:

Brexit

American Presidential Election

Wars:

Syria

& other ongoing battles

Violent Attacks (Political/Religious/Other):

Far too many the world over to name

Based on that you’d rightly say you were ready to see the back of 2016. That is, you think you would be. I mean, I hate to be really pessimistic about life, but what’s going to happen that will stop 2017 being really rubbish? My predictions for 2017:

Deaths:

Countless national and global treasures (in part due to a larger global and ageing population).

Political Dramas:

Brexit / EU negotiations and squabbles

Trump becoming President

Wars:

Syria and/or another equivalent (or worse)

Violent Attacks (Political/Religious/Other)

Far too many the world over to name

Plus…

Anything unexpected sent to throw us

So really the best we can hope for from 2017 in a media/global/political sense is a year which is a little less bad than 2016. Or the same (because lets be honest we’re now used to a diet of disappointment and tears). Yay!

To put a very much selfish hat on though, 2016 has been an alright for me. Admittedly it was pretty uninspiring for the main part but it did pick up towards the end. Unfortunately I can’t go into too much detail about the main highlights presently (they all waited until November to make an appearance in my life and still ongoing) but for me 2016 has been better than rubbish on the whole. The media tells me one thing but my personal life screams another. So is 2016 a bad year or average one? Do I go with the majority view or the independent, selfish one? This is very much a British moral dilemma.

It is an overused assumption but it is true that Historians will remember 2016 as the year it all started to change. 2017, for all its hope and promises, can only serve at best as the try-hard sibling of it’s radical older. I’m not for a second saying that the UK or the world will enter into a brighter period in 2017, but nor am I going to jump to conclusions and assume that 2017 will be the most dismal year since the Black Death. At any rate I think it is time for you 2016 to take your final bows and exit stage right. Your departure will receive a standing ovation from many thousands of millions of people the world over. However, while many will cheer you for leaving our lives, I myself will cheer (in part) for what you have brought to us.

So long 2016, it’s been a blast (quite literally).

(Written in response to WordPress prompt of the day Ovation)

Nablopomo Day 23: Brexit Strikes Again

First off, play this (at any rate because it’s a ruddy awesome song):

 

I think we can all safely say we wish the past six months never happened. To one extent or another we want to wake up and hear about Trump’s new reality TV show, or discover that Nigel Farage was actually the mind’s conjuring of all those scary puppets from childhood. And yet, despite our hopes, we wake up every morning to news that the UK is going to turn into Kazakhstan and the wider world into the Planet of the Apes (that is, unless it’s already happened and we can’t see it… )

 

Where did this massive screw up of a political year start? Britain, that’s where. The land where monumental things happen. Vaccinations, Democracy, the National Health Service, they all came from the UK. On June 23rd 2016 we in Britain started the ball rolling by voting to leave the European Union. Our society hasn’t been the same since.

Here are some photos I’ve taken in recent months that highlight instances which, in my opinion, demonstrate the impact of the Brexit vote on the average Joe and Joyce.

 

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New proposed signage at airports/Dover
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Housing markets – investors turn to Lego as a profitable investment
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Cutbacks at World Heritage Sites
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Making clothes out of Gran’s old curtains suddenly becomes fashionable
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Widespread wheat shortages
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Museums sell off highly valuable collections
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This
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No one can afford public transport
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Special offers
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‘Cos cheese rationing be in fashion like it’s 1939
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Cut backs on mainstream education
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Oh sweet Jesus, not the alcohol!
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Communal burning rituals? Yep, sounds about right. Soon it’ll be the only way to stay warm.

 

Yeah, so far in the past six to nine months I have to say it’s not looking too good for our little nation. Don’t worry though, if we all stay positive and pull together I’m sure we can get through this and come out a stronger, better nation. Stick together Britain, we will prevail!

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Forget it, we’re screwed.

Nablopomo Day 9: Speechless (US Presidential Elections 2016 – Results)

I saw this in the magazine aisle today and it made me very sad. Sad and concerned.

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It’s official, the American people have voted in Donald J. Trump to be their next president and, by default, one of the leaders of the free world. Donald Trump. Trump.

I’m sorry, I am really trying here, but I fail to see why anyone would/did vote for this man. There’s nothing about him that makes him suitable for the position. Neither his CV nor his personality lends itself to the role in anyway. The only thing (and it’s such a slim thing) is that my colleague suggested that given Trump and our own Nigel Farage are so chummy, maybe we’ll get a trade deal with America, but that’s such a pie in the sky thing.

I guess now it’s my turn to question and generalise all American voters in the same why Europeans did to us when as a nation we voted for Brexit. It doesn’t feel as good or smug as I thought it would. In a world where Russia grows stronger, terrorists get more media attention than they deserve and Toblerone decide to radically cut down the chocolate content of bars I don’t know what to think or believe anymore.

Jesus Christ America, what have you done?