Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Oh dear, what have we here? Reactionary anti-imperialism’s answer to Katie Hopkins has picked a fight with the wrong demographic: the ‘children’s writing communty’, and seems to have come off much the worst.

Like Trump, he is completely impervious to his own ridiculousness. Crying bullying by children’s writers, librarians and booksellers, is not a great look.

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We all know that writing for children and young people is a doddle and any Z-list celebrity can try their hand at it. But George makes the likes of Madonna and Sarah Ferguson look like shrinking violets, models of humility by comparison.

The astonishing ego dwarfs even Trump’s. “Patrick Ness? Who he?” he asks, when Ness quite mildly mocked Galloway’s preumption of greatness. Even Trump knew Meryl Streep was an actor, if ‘overrated’. When you’re entering a new field, it’s kind of an idea to know who’s winnng all the prizes. Just a thought.

When I commented, ironically, that Ness’ wishing his book the reception it deserved, was a bit harsh, Galloway happily retweeted me:

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Seemingly unaware of the implication:

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Even had he understood the piss-take, it hardly constitutes a level of vileness and viciousness. This is a man who embraced Saddam Hussein!

Truly a snowflake among Snwflakes.

the story of O + O

Posted: August 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

I was just peeling off my latex thighs boots when the call came. Breathy and a bit desperate, like an asthmatic choirboy.

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holding back the tears

“Is that you, O? Can you ring back tomorrow? I’m tired.”

“But I need attention!” I could hear the tears in his voice. Boring.

“Don’t we all, O? Don’t we all?”

“Pul–lease. I’ve been crying for hours. Weeks.”

“Yeah, I know. I read your 23 blog posts. and the thousand and three tweets. What is it this time?” I should have just put the phone down. I’m soft as shit, me.

“I just — you know — want –” he broke off, sobbing.

Contrary to popular belief, a dominatrix’s life is not an easy one. “What do you want, O?”

“Just — talk to me.”

“O, I’m really tired. I’ve just got off work. The Normal Experience. You know how that knackers me.”owensmith

“Please.”

“I don’t get what you get out of it, O.” I could feel my willpower waning. Ego depletion, they call it.

“I just want to feel — noticed.”

“Yeah yeah, O. I can spare you one phone call.”

“Thank you, thank you. I’m not worthy.”

I took a deep sighing breath, and began. “You’re not worthy, you little Blairite toe-rag. You worthless little turncoat. Spineless piece of shit…

Sara Grant on setting writing goals. I wll post my own tonight. Basically the Year of Finishing Things

By Sara Grant

I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Many folks are on holiday. Schedules are forgotten. The alarm clock is never set. I meet up with friends and family. I go to the cinema or sit quietly and read. I always find time to write too. That week feels like a no-man’s land between the past year and the year to come.

It’s also the week my husband and I write our goals. We review our success from the last twelve months and set a course for the next. I always imagine when Big Ben chimes at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve that the slate wipes clean, and I start afresh leaving bad habits and bad memories behind.

I believe in setting yearly goals that feed into where I want to be in five- and ten-years. There’s something powerful about imagining and…

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I think everyone who has felt anxiety or depression, or who knows and loves someone who has — which is pretty much everyone in the world, did you but know, should read this.

talkingthisandthat

Dear Friend,

I was not always this way.

I did not always hide away from the general public for months or weeks at a time. Once I was quite confident. I occasionally felt happy. I had a full time job and I could face customers with no concern. I would chat to people over the phone, make an effort to see friends, be interested in daily life. I could cope with negativity. Overcome it, even. I wouldn’t let anything bring me down because I had something inside me that made me keep going out there, into the world, facing it all.

But sometimes, Friend, things happen. Sometimes just one thing. Sometimes many things. The courage to face these things is strong at first, at least stronger than now. But depending on luck, or coincidence, or fate, or opportunity, eventually the voice of that courage for some people is quieter. Weaker…

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Stella Duffy says it for me

Not Writing But Blogging

I want more than a parade.
I want every person who isn’t out all 364 other days to be out – and happily, easily so.
I want to remember the hugely brave pioneers who made it possible for us to be out at all.
I want it to be better and easier and happier for everyone to be out.
I want every straight mate who had a gay fling to come out about it.
I want not to need to be out at all. Ever. In the same way straight people never need to come out.
I want people to assume my friend is my wife and not need to say it every bloody time.
I want all my friends with children to be able dream that their kids might be any sexuality or none.
I want it to be about history and hope as well as partying and playing.

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JK Rowling celebrated world Book Day by writing a new book. Lucky her1 I spent it trying to get writers more famous than me to sign this author statement.

Save Lambeth Libraries

Libraries change lives. They are magical portals to worlds of wonder, replete with possibility, especially for poor, working class, black and ethnic minority people, they offer a hope of rising above the limiting circumstances of our birth. For the shy, isolated and excluded child, they offer companionship and a chance to rehearse bravery, for poor, working class, black and ethnic minority people the chance to meet their full potential. Libraries are more than a material resource; they are the commitment of our community to its future. They express a faith in the power of shared imagination. Lambeth Council, one of the poorest boroughs in the country, is stopping funding to half of the borough’s libraries. Two will be immediately sold off to cash in on the rising property prices locally. Others they hope will be taken over by fantasy big society community groups, or replaced by bookshelves in pubs. Threatening…

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My Phuket List

Posted: October 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

This is my talk for Newcastle Sunday Assembly where I talk about my Phukety list, brains and neuroplasticity Woo!

I can see how it happens now, the Twitter wars. In one of Douglas Adams’ Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, can’t remember which one, we learn of the Krikkit Wars, where the peace-loving inhabitants of said planet end up reducing a whole galaxy to ashes (hence the rather distastefully named sporting trophy, the Ashes).

I got into a rage about a stupid article by a feminist journalist, who allowed herself to be used by a right-wing rag, for a piece which combined hypocritical titivation with self-righteous slut-shaming in a way that only such a cynical piece of toilet paper can.

I don’t know if Julie Bindel is vicious, reckless, cynical, gullible or just plain stupid. It was predictable they would use her that way. I suspect an inflated ego blinded her to the use they would make of her: why else would the Mail her a noted feminist? It aint because of the cogency of your argument. Sorry, love.

I stand by what I said about her article. But I got drawn into a much more blanket condemnation, in love with my own rhetorical declaration of war. In other words, I did exactly what I condemned her for.

I have been in conversation on Twitter with someone who describes herself as a radical feminist, with whom I have a lot of agreement. It’s caused me to reflect: is it fair to say all radical feminists are hateful?

She says they do good work for women, and once I allowed myself to think, I could recall lots of women who use that label about themselves and work tirelessly for rape crisis, women’s aid, against domestic violence and for lots of international causes. I lost a friend last year, a beautiful, loving woman who called herself a radical feminist, and whom it would be obscene to put in the same category as Bindel.

So to all those women who call themselves radical feminists and don’t attack women for their life choices, I apologise. I think your political analysis is wrong, but we can debate that. I think the ultimate logic of radical feminism is hatefulness, but that’s not the same as saying you are hateful. That’s like saying someone who is for immigration controls wants to burn down mosques or go on a killing spree like Anders Breivik. One may be the ultimate logic of the assumptions contained in the former, but that doesn’t mean they’re the same thing. And part of our debate would be to examine why I think one leads to the other, and to get you to abandon the former because of what it leads to.

So to all non-hating radical feminists out there, sorry, lets talk.But that does not mean a truce on the haters. To distinguish them I think we need a new term. In the ‘trans wars’, they came up with TERF: trans exclusionary radical feminist. So I’d propose WHERF: Women-Hating Radical Feminist, which is anyone who excludes from the category of women:

women whose sexual practices they don’t agree with (heterosexual, bisexual, role-playing lesbians, Butch/femme, ‘lipstick lesbians’, women who like porn, BDSM practitioners:);

women whose work they don’t approve of (sex workers, porn stars, lap-dancers);

women whose politics you don’t agree with (members of ‘male’ groups);

anyone not natural-born unambiguous-cis woman (trans, intersex, gender-fluid, gender-queer)…

Blimey, it’s exhausting just listing the exclusions. And I haven’t even started on exclusion-by-invisibility (women of colour, working class, disabled…

this could take a fucking long time

Anyway, if you exclude women on any of these grounds, you can fuck right off.

I give up on compiling the list, but women have been excluded either physically (trans women, sex workers) or by negating discourse (No woman likes porn; all PIV is rape…)

So non-exclusionary radfems lets talk.

WHERFs fuck off.

pornography — a genre that, incidentally, exclusively titillates men — LOL

I thought I’d mellowed, lapsed into a benign detached bemusement, thought my ranting days were over. But even the mellow me has limits. One provocation too far and I’m up shouting: “E-fucking-nough!”

It’s IWD and I’ve celebrated it for 40+ years. I’m broad-minded: if liberal hippies want local authority-funded face-painting and crystal healing, who am I to judge? Each to their own nonsense, I say. But there are limits.

When the Daily Mail – that bastion of women’s human rights – chooses to run a blatantly bi-phobic slut-shaming article by ‘feminist’ Julie Bindel, I think: WTF? It’s International women’s Day ffs! International Working Women’s Day of Solidarity, get out of my face you hateful bitch. And I choose those words advisedly.

In her article “Why I loathe lesbian chic,” Bindel choose to comment on model Clara Delavigne and her ‘lover’ actress Michelle Rodriguez. (Nice use of scare quotes there: always a good pointer of rational argument. “Delevingne, 21, has dated men such as One Direction’s Harry Styles but has been portrayed as inseparable from Rodriguez, who is 15 years her senior and who has also been out with men in the past.”

I know nothing about either of these women, but what a hateful piece of bitchy sniping – worthy of the worst celebrity gossip mag. Why the scare quotes? Has she less right to be her actual lover because she’s previously dated a man? And what’s with the “Delevingne, 21” and “ 15 years her senior”? Is she implying the older woman is a predator? Great bit of sexist stereotyping, sister! Or is it just he vacuous, gratuitous detail beloved of lazy journos?

Does any of this matter? They’re celebs, they’ve got PR, surely they can look after themselves.

Well, it does matter, precisely for the reason Bindel herself points out: the “impressionable young audience — some of whom are at an age when they may question their own sexuality”. What kind of message does her article give them?

Well, for starters, that there is no such thing as bisexuality. If you’ve dated a man, you can’t have a valid relationship with a woman; you can’t be lovers, only ‘lovers’ – phoney lipstick titillation for men. How fucking dare you, Julie Bindel? Did you think, for one second, the effect would have on the impressionable young woman who finds herself attracted to both men and women, or who, after dating a man, falls in love with a woman?

Do you know what it feels like to have your sexuality blanked and denied? Try to take that leap of imagination, Julie. Try to imagine being that young woman who come to question her desires, being told: you’ve got it wrong, there’s no such thing as what you’re feeling. What, you fancy boys and girls? No, you’re just doing it to tease your boyfriend.

Go on, Julie, search back in your memory. You were young once, you were uncertain, perhaps even a little shameful? How would it have felt to be told you don’t exist? Your love is only ‘love’, a pretend copy of the real thing. I hope you’re capable of feeling shame for what you told those young bisexual women.

And while we’re on the subject of shaming, what’s with the the Katy (“I kissed a girl”) Perry stuff? So she was briefly married to serial shagger Russell Brand? Does she deserve to be told about her actions – “such a sexual merry-go-round makes sex look temporary and trivial.” That’s slut-shaming in spades. And come to that, are we not allowed to have temporary sexual relationships? Is it Marriage-for-life with your first partner, or be damned to the hell of harmful, trivial stereotypes?

Now lets get to the most hilarious claim in the whole piece: “pornography — a genre that, incidentally, exclusively titillates men.” I’m not quoting this out of context or by sneaky clever selection. That remark, delivered with a throwaway incontestable assurance, should have her laughed out of any sane gathering. Porn is enjoyed “exclusively” by men. No woman likes pornography.

Are you mental, woman? I could produce dozens of women I know personally who do. And no, we aren’t all forced to look at it by our boyfriends, pimps, tyrannical husbands. This is the 21st century ffs. We can look it up all on our little ownsome. In fact, one change that I would note is that more women are accessing porn now from their own computers, now that they don’t have to venture into sleazy sexshops. Though some of us like the extra frisson we find a sleazy Soho den confers.

And what about those impressionable young women? Lets imagine, it’s easy if you try, a young woman who likes to look at pictures of other young women kissing. (I know I do.) imagine she finds other pics of them doing other things, and she finds these even more exciting, and she seeks them out. What will say to her? Get back, you slut, these are male fantasies of lesbians, you mustn’t like them, you mustn’t be aroused by them. What are you some kind of freak?

I’d be the first to admit that most porn is crap. Most everything is crap – books, films, newspaper articles. You’ve got to seek out the good stuff. It takes effort, and sometimes you’ll settle for the McDonalds’ meal the cheap supermarket chocolate: it’s better than nothing. It’s an unfortunate fact that the inexperienced will come across more crap. It takes a certain amount of discernment to wade through to the good stuff.

But if you humiliate them for even trying, if you tell them they’re freakish pseudo-men (because no woman likes porn), then you’ll deepen their confusion and silence their sexual self-expression. By all means point them to the good stuff, warn them to exercise some judgement, but stop with the shaming, eh?

 

PiBoIdMo

Posted: October 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

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I have just signed up to PiBoIdMo. The idea is to come up with 30 picture book ideas in a month. I was going to do NaNoWriMo but I’m off to Barcelona for an Improv Festival and then to London for my nephew’s wedding, so I suspect I’m only going to have little itty bits of time. A picture book idea a day strikes me as do-able. Lets see how it goes. I already have one: The Great Storm (that never was – up here).