Category Archives: General bimbling

Exactly what part of the word “choice” don’t you understand?

I don’t usually dabble in politics on this blog but something in the news this weekend really got to me – the proposed amendments to the Health and Social Care bill, led by MP Nadine Dorries (Conservative MP for CloudCuckoo Land), that the current system of providing impartial information at abortion clinics should be scrapped and replaced by any provider that bids for the services. And first in the queue – thanks to Dorries’ staunchly anti-abortion stance – are organisations driven by an anti-abortion (and often religious) ideology.

This opens the door to the possibility that the only information a woman can get access to in an abortion clinic is provided by organisations that are ideologically opposed to abortion.

If you can’t see why this might be problematic, please go away and come back when you’ve gained some skills in basic logic.

Although my personal beliefs are now moving towards the feeling that religion is a form of collective mental illness, I also believe that religious groups have the right to offer advice to pregnant women who are unsure if they want to continue their pregnancy. They can currently do this through independent counselling services that already exist, but – importantly – this is outside the context of the clinics where abortion is offered, which currently offer impartial advice about a woman’s options – *including the alternatives to abortion* – based on current medical and psychological best practice.

There is no need to change this current system of impartial advice available at the point of service, with alternative viewpoints available elsewhere should women wish to seek them out.  I strongly believe that the advice offered at the point of medical care should be impartial and based on scientific evidence, without an ideological undercurrent.

Let’s be clear. This is not a move driven by people with the best interests of women and their right to have autonomy over their own bodies. This is policy driven, at its heart, by religious ideology and the belief that women cannot be trusted to make sensible decisions about there own health and wellbeing because OMG TEH TEENY DEAD BABIEZ!!

This is a great article outlining exactly why this proposed amendment is complete bullshit – please also read the comments about women’s personal experiences of seeking abortions.

Abortion is a legal medical procedure that women in the UK have a right to have. I don’t care whether you’re pro-abortion or anti-abortion – you can do what you like with your own body, but you don’t have the right to dictate to me or anyone else. The issue is about choice – the right of every person to choose what happens to their own body.

This is not just a ‘women’s issue’ – this is about fundamental human rights and bodily autonomy. Seriously, if men had to put up with half the shit about their health and reproductive choices that women do, we wouldn’t even be having this debate.

I have never had an abortion. But if I discovered I was pregnant and unsure about having the baby (because, let’s not forget, women who are 100% happy with continuing their pregnancy tend not to end up in abortion clinics…), I hope I would get access to impartial information about my options, whether to have an abortion or not, about the medical procedures available, and their potential impacts on my health and wellbeing.

I would not expect to receive incomplete or biased information because the person providing it has an ideological agenda based against me ending a pregnancy that I do not wish to carry to term, no matter how well meaning. It’s my body. I will make the decisions about what happens to it, and I expect to be given proper information to help me make that decision.

In the same way, I don’t expect to be told that my only contraceptive options are abstinence before marriage when I go to ask my GP for the pill. And when I rent a house with my boyfriend, I don’t expect to be told that I can’t because we’re not married. Both of these situations would rightly be called out for the prejudiced bullshit they are – so why do we put up with it for the anti-abortion lobby?

So. whether you’re a man or a woman, please register your concern (or outright fury) at these proposals by contacting your MP through this handy online tool from Abortion Rights. And if you’re feeling really cross, you could always bung them a donation to keep up their work in ensuring that women have the right to choose what happens to their own damn body.

If you have the time, please consider changing the standard text in the letter to express your own opinion. I did a bit of cut-and-pasting of the standard text in my letter to my MP, Diane Abbott, which I’ve copied at the bottom of this post.

Finally, you may wonder why everyone has got thier knickers in such a twist over this. In my case, it’s because I’m a regular reader of US blogs such as Shakesville.  Lately I’ve been reading with wide-eyed horror as states across the US restrict access to abortion – and along with it basic sexual healthcare for women such as STD and cancer screening and contraception – purely based on religious ideology.

Although what’s happening here in the UK isn’t a patch on the desecration of women’s basic human rights that’s going on across the pond, it’s the thin end of a pretty fucking big wedge.

And finally finally, you should probably also read this: Ten things I’d say to the anti-choice fanatics.

Edited to add:

And this:  Abortion rules could set back system 25 years


Dear Diane Abbott,

I am extremely concerned – not to mention angry – to read about the proposed changes to abortion counselling in the UK. These proposals are a threat to women’s bodily autonomy, and I believe represent the thin end of an unpleasant, misogynistic (and, in the main,  religious) agenda.

The proposals require GPs to make provision for ‘independent advice and counselling’ to be made available to women seeking abortion, stripping abortion providers of responsibility for carrying out this role.

Not only is this unnecessary, it is completely misguided, leaving vulnerable women at risk of being deprived of impartial and independent advice at an extremely sensitive time.

Abortion providers are *already* obliged to ensure that women receive all relevant information about the procedure, including details of possible risks and side effects and information on alternatives to abortion.

Preventing abortion providers from offering decision-making support opens the door for organisations – such as those associated with religious groups – opposed in principle to abortion to become formally involved in counselling women on their pregnancy options. These organisations do not offer impartial, non-directive information, but rather seek to misinform and dissuade women from accessing abortion services.

This risks increasing delays in accessing abortion, which – contrary to tabloid belief is not a “lifestyle choice” – but usually a procedure required to protect a woman’s physical and/or mental health and wellbeing.

As a woman yourself, I hope you understand the importance of allowing women to maintain autonomy over their own bodies. We must be trusted to make our own decisions regarding their reproductive health – no matter how “well meaning” the alternative support offered – whether that is to keep a baby or to have an abortion.

It is vital that the information they receive remains scientifically accurate, based on medical and psychological evidence, and driven by clinical best practice rather than by an ideological agenda.

If these amendments are debated at Report Stage of the Health and Social Care Bill on 6-7th September, I strongly urge you to vote against them, to ensure that women continue to be able to exercise their right to safe, legal abortion without further impediment. And I hope you will ask your colleagues in the House to do the same.

I am extremely concerned about this move towards the erosion of women’s reproductive rights and bodily autonomy – something that we, and the generations of women before us, have done so much to secure.

Out of respect for your own body and human rights, and the right of women everywhere to make their own decisions about their health and reproduction without ideological coercion, I urge you to fight against this. A choice is only truly a choice if it is freely made, and we should respect every woman’s right to choose what happens to her own body.

Thank you for reading this.

On slang – I’ll show you mine if you show me yours

The Winner TacoEvery group of friends and colleagues has their own slang – words they use to signify things that are peculiar to that group – and it’s something that fascinates me.

As a child, my friends and I would describe something particularly good as an “Eggy one!” (nope, me neither – I still don’t quite know where it came from), although it was obviously very uncool if your Dad started using it…

At university it got worse. Regardless of the slightly archaic language of Cambridge in use in everyday life (bedders? plodge? P-hole?), we developed our own. Toilets became the “lageteria”, andanything that reached the pinnacle of awesomeness was referred to as “the Winner Taco”, in reference to a popular Spanish icecream.

And it still goes on. Within Sunday Driver, we have a habit of referring to a kurta, a traditional Indian shirt worn by several members of the band, as a “Norris”. Coined by Matthew, our old tabla player, this is nouveau cockney rhyming slang: Norris McWhirter = kurta.

I’ve shared a few of mine, and I’m intrigued to hear yours. What are the words that have become common parlance in your social group. Where did they come from, and why do you love them (or hate them)?


I have been busy doing this:










Plus, of course, the day job and a bunch of unfortunate personal malarky going on.

Off to the Green Man Festival tomorrow – normal service (and proper posts) will be resumed shortly.

On Spanx, in which I make mistakes so you don’t have to


Spanx - a pact with the devil in pant form.

This one’s for the ladies only.

Here, I bravely present the results of my investigations into the shapewear known as Spanx, so that you may be forewarned and forearmed.

Obviously I have no idea about slimming underwear, thank to my natural sylph-like looks and not having inherited my father’s stumpy legs and fat arse at all. Oh no, not me.

  1. Yes. They are basically cycling shorts. Very tight, slightly uncomfortable, peculiarly constructed cycling shorts.
  2. Yes, they do make a difference. Not a massive one, but enough. Nothing’s ever going to turn me into Stana Katic, but they hold it all in long enough for a girl to dream.
  3. Ignore the name. Also ignore the tagline “Power Panties”.  Eyes on the prize, ladies, eyes on the prize.
  4. Do not try to put them on when you’ve just got out of a shower. That way lies pain, mildly abrading skin removal, and public (and possibly pubic) humiliation in the gym changing rooms. You’ll also spend the next two hours surreptitiously plucking at your crotch trying to straighten the godawful mess out.
  5. Ditto for moisturising.
  6. They will make you uncomfortably warm. Don’t over-dress.
  7. Avoid deep vein thrombosis. Stand up regularly and stretch.  Don’t drink too much water though – every trip to the toilet is like starting again from step 4.
  8. Do not combine Spanx with control top tights. Like multiplying two negative numbers together (remember that from GCSE maths?) they cancel each other out and start inexorably rolling downwards together, making it look like you have more spare tyre issues than the Michelin man.
  9. Get black ones. The nude ones are horrid. Also, you can buy them on Amazon. Just don’t get them delivered to your work address, in order to avoid “Oooh I’ve got a parcel!” “What is it?” “Errrrr… enormous pants!” conversation with your workmates.
  10. Never EVER tell someone you are wearing Spanx. Especially not a man.  And especially not after you’ve drunk a bottle of wine, in the course of having a lovely evening. Trust me on this one. The conversation is uncomfortable and curiously probing at best, and elevates you to the status of “Women in the same bracket as my mother” at worst.

Still scarred by Sports Day

Sports Day

I hated Sports Day. Where was Music Day?

A friend of mine is a teaching assistant, and when he casually mentioned that he’d been helping out at his annual school Sports Day I was thrown back into a whirlpool of horrendous memories that I thought I had successfully escaped.

I am not an especially athletic adult, although I am physically active and go to the gym several times a week – mostly to throw around enormous weights, because that harp ain’t ever going to learn to lift itself. And at university I was a regular fixture in the womens’ first rowing VIII and the rugby team, despite my chronic asthma and even more chronic thunder-thighs. But I was certainly never an athletic child – rather, I was a complete nerd who spent the few hours she wasn’t doing her homework practising three instruments and hiding from bullies.

I don’t know if it has changed now but when I were a lass, sports day was a compulsory exercise (pardon the pun) – it was obligatory to enter in at least one event, embarrassing yourself in front of the entire school at some event randomly chosen for you by the sadistic PE teacher under threat of endless detention, clad only in horrendous (and indecently small) navy gym knickers and an ill-fitting aertex shirt because your mother was too cheap to buy you a new one this year despite the rather obvious onset of puberty…or was that just me?

Obviously, the whole fiasco ended with the naturally sporty kids standing smugly on a podium being showered with prizes and glory, and the non-sporty ones being utterly humiliated, as usual.

But tell me this – where was the obligatory competition in other skills? Where was the obligatory Music Day, where even the cloth-eared and tone deaf were forced to play an instrument (not necessarily of their choosing) in front of all their peers, despite their obvious lack of talent? Where was the compulsory science fair or maths olympiad? What about Pottery Day, Competitive Cooking or Do-It-Or-Get-A-Detention Drama Day?

It always seemed profoundly unfair to me to put people through an obligatory assortment of track and field events, regardless of actual talent or interest in those activities. It was never an option to compete in swimming, table tennis, trampolining, bowling or weight-lifting, to name a few – at least on a compulsory, school-wide basis. And there certainly weren’t any obligatory non-sporting competitions (unless you count exams…) Still, at least Sports Day wasn’t as bad as the living hell that was the annual compulsory cross-country run at my primary school. One year I nearly set fire to my trainers to get out of it.

What do you think? Does the mere mention of the words Sports Day bring you out in a mysterious rash requiring a note from your Mum?  Or were you one of those annoyingly smug sporty types who won everything and then beat up the fat kids in the showers?

Moths *are* wankers

My wedding plans have hit a slight bump in that Ricky’s suit has been eaten by moths. Luckily it was only cheap, but still bloody annoying – if only because I’m going to have to make him go shopping for a new one (a task that he views with as much anticipation as intensive dentistry).

As I’ve previously mentioned, we are plagued by the furry little bastards and I live in fear of them getting into my knitting cupboard. They’ve already ruined the carpet in our bedroom and a pair of socks made with insanely expensive yarn (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock! It costs £15 a skein – I cried when I found the holes).

So I was overjoyed to find a badge that summed up my feelings towards the shiny fuckers:

These are from Prick Your Finger, for the princely sum of £2 each. Buy yours now and join the crusade against the little bastards.

Previous anti-moth ranting:

And this is why they should organise gigs by height

Last night Ricky and I went to see Spank Rock at the Nest in Dalston. It was my first visit to the venue formerly known as Barden’s Boudoir since it was revamped (having played there with the Shadow Orchestra a couple of years ago), and I have to say I was pretty unimpressed with the new setup as a live music venue.

It’s not that the sound was bad – in fact, for a concrete bunker, it sounded really good and there are clearly some kick-ass subs lurking somewhere down there. It’s that I couldn’t see a bloody thing.

Spank Rock at the Nest

My view of Spank Rock at the Nest

The venue is a narrow rectangular box, with a large bar down one long side, and a small stage at the far end – previously, the venue was set up with a much longer stage along the width (where the bar is now). Obviously this has been done to make more money from a larger bar, but it has come at the expense of anyone except the first 30 people being able to see the band at all – or even less, if you’re a shortie like me.

Even when I managed to wriggle nearer the front, it’s so narrow and crowded that I still couldn’t see anything of the band, even just a couple of rows from the stage – though some of that is thanks to the  tall guys in front of me who refused to move.

This massive concrete pillar plonked right in front of the stage doesn’t help either:
The Nest

At the very least, you’d think that the owners might put a video screen up on the pillar, showing what’s going on onstage, like they used to have at the Luminaire – a similar sized venue with a challenging L-shaped design.

As it was, we left early and I was very disappointed. I can see that The Nest would be great for a night of DJs, and it’s got a fun atmosphere. But when I go to see a live band, I’d like to be able to see more than the back of a load of people’s heads.