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Police, Preconceptions, Presumptions and Prejudices


Some useful and relevant information first. According to the current code of practice for police in the UK, this is taken from “Stop and account” (different to “Stop and Search”):

“The police can stop anyone in a public place and ask you to account for yourself. For example, you could be asked to account for your actions, behaviour, presence in an area or possession of anything. When the police stop you and ask you for an explanation, you don’t need to provide your personal details. The police do not have to make a record or give you a receipt. But you may be asked to give your ethnicity”

Preconception: An opinion or conception formed in advance of adequate knowledge or experience, especially a prejudice or bias.

Presumption: Behavior or attitude that is boldly arrogant or offensive

Prejudice: Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.

Dave is a cleaning manager. This means he gets up at around 2am, six mornings a week to drive to work. At this hour he is on the road at the same time as others going to work, others who are up to no good, and others who are drunk. He will often come home and share stories of how he has been behind people on the road, who are clearly over the limit because it is obvious from the way they are driving their cars, which is either all over the place, or over-cautiously, applying the brakes unnecessarily often, driving well under the speed limit, it’s just obvious to a sober person behind who just wants to get to work. He will moan and say “Where are the police then?” He says this because he gets pulled over all the time. This is often nothing more than inconvenient and he accepts it comes with the territory of working the shifts at that unearthly hour. Usually the police are fine once they see his uniform, and he explains where he is going, other times they will breathalyze him, and then they are fine. Other times they want to see ID. Other times they have followed him to his place of work before to prove he is going where he says he is going because they don’t believe him. Other times they have just been downright bloody rude, and give clear signals they are just throwing their weight around because they can. He has had it all, he takes it on the chin and just accepts it. He has a more than balanced view of police than your average middle-aged white working class male. He has told me of many a time where he has had a good bit of banter on occasion with some of them. So from this you can see he is happy to comply and has no ill feelings towards the police other than being a bit pissed off that he sees so many drunks on the roads who the police probably should be concentrating on.

When he finishes cleaning he goes window cleaning. This morning he was in a small village doing a long-term customers windows. He had his ladders up to her front upstairs window, a cloth in his hand, and a bucket of water at his feet. Everything you would think you need to convince the average person of what you are doing.  But not a passing policeman. It went a little something like this:

Policeman: What are you doing?

Dave: I’m cleaning these windows.

Policeman: (looks around) So where’s your car then?

Dave: (points across road) just there.

Policeman: Where’s your roof rack then?

Dave: I’ve not got a roof rack.

Policeman: So how do you transport your ladders then?

Dave: They are fold up ladders, you can see that if you look at them. They go on the back seat.

Policeman: So where are you from?

Dave: I’m from Harlow (Dave said the policeman then did a face indicating his dislike of people from Harlow, like they are all bad)

Policeman: You got any ID?

Dave: I have my driving licence, but what is this all about? You can see my bucket and stuff, I’m just cleaning windows.

(Dave reaches into his pocket, but then the customer comes out so he leaves his wallet in place)

Customer: You okay Dave? Is everything alright?

Policeman: Do you know this man?

Customer: Of course I do, I’ve known him for about 20 years.

Policeman: (To Dave) You older ones are the ones to watch, you’ve got problems.

Dave: Eh? Excuse me?

Policeman: You think you’re still in the eighties with your haircut and your skinhead jacket, and your ways.

Customer: What does that mean officer?

Policeman: Skinheads. He’s a skinhead and he ought to grow up. (Turns to Dave) You got that ID?

Dave: I’m not showing you my ID. She (points to customer) has just told you she knows me, I’m not showing you anything. Now do one.

Policeman: Do one? See? That’s what sort of person he is. They are all the same. You’ve got two windows up there open, he could get in any of them.

Dave to customer: Have you got a bit of paper? I am taking this policeman’s number because this isn’t right.

At this point policeman starts to walk away, he mutters something about her having to thank him if he had turned out to be a burglar.

There was a bit more towing and throwing, but you get the idea of how it went. Dave and his customer couldn’t really believe how rude this policeman had been and Dave was really wound up that just because of his choice of jacket and haircut it had been presumed that he was either some sort of criminal, or combat 18 member. He had told the policeman why he was there in a civil and polite manner, his customer had confirmed this, and yet the officer still felt the need to basically insult him.

It doesn’t come close to racism, but it does show that prejudices, preconceptions and presumptions are alive and well, and dressed up in a uniform walking along a street near you.

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A statistical reminder that jobs are no longer there


Maybe I was naive to expect to casually strut into a new job when I felt well enough to do so. My counsellor and I would chat about it and sentences like “Oh yes, a nice little local job, part-time, do your hours and go home” were quite commonplace. I honestly believe there ARE jobs out there, but it’s not as easy as I thought. I’m up against better qualified people, often over 100 at a time, applying for minimum wage jobs (that’s £6.08 an hour).Today I sent off my 71st CV and visited 20 shops, in a desperate bid not to have to resort to benefits, and then end up spending months trapped. I’ve registered with every agency going, and check vacancies a million times a day (that’s more than I check twitter).

There are some jobs, there are teaching jobs, nursing jobs, even one for a martial arts instructor. I’m also incredibly frustrated that I do not have a forklift truck licence, because I could get a job tomorrow. And my short height and allergy to driving tests rules me out of ever cruising down the motorway in  a 7.5 tonne truck. But I intend to keep trying. Today I applied for McDonald’s, Primark, and The POUND Shop. Anything, ANYTHING at all, I’m willing to do.

It got me thinking of my past, all the fun jobs I had before I joined the civil service in 1990, stuff that can’t really go on a CV now because they aren’t relevant, but I thought I’d just document them here, being as I have nothing much else to do to fill my time.

 

My first job was mucking out horses in exchange for riding a Shetland pony, when I was 11. My parents live on the edge of an estate and back then it was literally feet away from some beautiful Essex countryside (which is now beautiful private housing). From a young age I would sneak into the fields and just jump on people’s horses and have a lovely bareback ride around, always keeping an eye out for the farmers. I got good at leaping off and darting to a hiding spot. They all knew who I was, and I still see one of them now. I think they could see how much I loved their animals, I would spend hours just sitting in those fields talking to the horses, and as far as I was concerned I was totally their most loving friend.

Right at the back of one fields hidden away, was a very old tin can caravan. It was occupied by a very private gentleman,  and he had put together a makeshift stable and shelter on the bit of land he was allowed to use to the side of the caravan. He would often ride his HUGE horse called Bill right outside my mum’s house and I would go and talk to him, whilst he let Bill have a graze. I felt quite sorry for him because he never had any company, although I later realised that was just how he liked it. But I was a pest that he seemed to tolerate, and one day he invited me to come and have a look at his stables. I had always assumed that he only ever had one horse, way too big for me, but he had two. He also had “Black Beauty” and he was beautiful! A real life Thelwell pony if I ever saw one. He let me spend some time with him, and explained he really only had him as company for Bill and as a pet, but he occasionally took him out on a gig (a little two-wheel harnessed carriage.

Well of course I persuaded him that he should let me ride him and that I was small enough. But first he insisted that I check with my parents if that was okay. I remember thinking “why?” and I only now realise, he was being right and proper. I sprinted down the field to my house, and in-between my breaths I managed to blurt out the question, followed by extremely serious begging.  My parents knew him from the times he had appeared on the green outside the house, and had chatted to him, so they were fine.

I would ride Beauty regularly for a few years, until I got too big for him. We entered shows, we hacked all around Essex and his owner was my best friend in the world. He chose to live alone because he said he hated the rat race. His caravan ran on a car battery, and he made money for food doing jobs for the farmer who owned the land. He is the most self-sufficient person I have ever met and taught me ever so much. In fact, I bumped into him at a bootsale about 4 years ago and was surprised he recognised me. He told me that Bill and Beauty had both lived to 35 years old, and he had them buried on the land that he now owned in a nearby town. I felt sad that that little bit of my childhood was dead, but when he told me their ages, I knew they must have had a good life, because they were the centre of his world.

After that period I thought now that I had a bit of experience with horses I would see what else was about. I was also doing a seven-day a week morning paper-round before school, earning about seven pounds, and getting up every day at 5.30am. But I missed being around horses. One day I just decided to knock on the door of a local stable owner and just asked her outright if she had any jobs for either money or in exchange for horse rides because I just want to be around horses. She had me mucking out a stable at 7am and on a horse (a bigger one than a Shetland pony) by lunch time. It was one of my most favourite experiences in life, I was in a proper paddock, on a proper saddle on a big proper horse cantering around and around! Even thinking about it now gives me goosebumps as being on a horse is one of the most stimulating experiences you can have , all your worries seem to disappear (not that I had too many at 13). I became their regular stablehand, would accompany them to big fancy horse shows and get the odd ride and some money in return. Then they moved when the builders made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. I have not ridden regularly since but I definitely would love to again one day.

At 14 I was still doing my paper-round when a few hours became available in the news agents I did the round for, so I would do my papers and then come back at weekends and spend half a day there on the tills, and a few in the evenings. I think I earned £1.21 an hour, but I was never without money. It was great! I did that for a year, then got a job in the chip shop two doors away. That was okay but you do go home stinking like a manky kipper every night. It was tough, busy work, on your feet constantly, but I liked it. Then my friend got me a job in BHS restaurant, all day Saturday for more money than I was getting with my paper-round and shifts in the shop so I went for it.

I did that every Saturday from 8am to 6pm until I finished my exams and turned 16. I had already lined up a full-time job for the six-week summer holiday before I commenced college, at the Co-op biscuit factory. It’s quite a famous institution in my town, although it has now closed down. I worked 2pm until 10pm monday to friday and paid £3.00 a week towards the subsidised mini bus that would ferry around town to pick the workers up, and then take you home at the end of the shift. You could actually nick fresh, still wet chocolate digestives off the line before they were dried, it was the next best thing to having Willy Wonka’s mobile number. There was also a subsidised shop and canteen, you really felt like you were valued, and it was my first experience of a proper full-time job. Plus I was earning grown up money. I spent it all on vinyl.

In the September I started college, signed on with agencies and worked here there and everywhere. From filling envelopes, to bending plastic, to hammering rivets, I did it. There was always something. Some days I even had to refuse shifts because of college. Then, as I approached my 17th birthday I found college boring and got my job in the civil service and the rest is history. I picked the job out at the job centre, and got the interview that afternoon and got a phone call an hour later giving me the job.

 

So, it’s not going to be as easy as it used to be, but I know something will come along for me. The good thing about not working right now is having time to visit my poorly gran and support my mum through some very difficult days. Some things are more important than stupid money.

REMEMBER THE GOOD TIMES AND GIVE THANKS


YES!

It wasn’t all bad, that 2011. But we can become overwhelmed by negativity.

Just look at twitter, what gets us fired up the most? Bad stuff. We waste our energy being angry, we ALL do it. Someone does or says something bad either in life or online and we go daft about it. But when someone does something good, it doesn’t get half the attention it should because we are crap at rewarding/being nice. I don’t know why this is, there is nothing wrong in telling someone they have done a positive thing, maybe we fear being seen as arse-licking, or only doing it to attract attention to ourselves. or maybe it’s just me, I dunno.

I can understand why a lot of the celebrity section of twitter barely follow anybody back, the hate they receive is just not acceptable. A quick glimpse down their @ replies will often reveal a really dark, dirty side to people’s characters. It isn’t justified to say it comes with the territory, it’s just wrong.

I believe we are all of us equal, but yes, some people are very talented at what they do and it is quite right that they are famous for it, but you try saying something positive to them, like “Well done on your new song” or “Great column in your magazine this week” and you’re seen by many as some sort of desperate sycophant, so you do it less and less. Believe me, if David Bowie were on twitter he’d fucking hate me, and would probably seek injunctive relief. But it isn’t just famous people, it’s us, you and I, we get just the same hate, simply for being who we are. I stumbled across some extremely horrible stuff about me a few weeks ago after I made an ill thought comment. It was badly timed, and I can see how it appeared to some as selfish. My intentions were good, but on the face of it, they appeared to be the complete opposite. (I’m not perfect but I will hold my hands up when I make an error.) I apologised to someone following an unpleasant exchange about it, and for me that was that, done and dusted. But unlike real life these things simmer away on line and yes, there was a lovely conversation between four or five people calling me some pretty disgusting things and it really did hurt me.

But that was my fault. Had it been in private that would have been fine, I’m sure we’ve all shared a few direct message conversations where we discuss someone in a manner that we would not do publicly, because it is good manners. We don’t like someone but we wouldn’t want to upset them directly because we don’t intend to cause them hurt. We aren’t bad people, I would never want to be responsible for upsetting someone because of a publicly accessible negative view. I know how it feels, it’s fucking horrible. Anybody who says it doesn’t hurt is probably lying.

I’ve just remembered that this was supposed to be a happy blog, there’s your lesson see? It’s all too damn easy to moan!

So. Here are my best bits of 2011. They are imprinted in my memory now as important events that helped balance out some of the horrible stuff what did go and happen.

1. Meeting Bearfacedlady and Taranoodle and Emiloooo from twitter. Three bloody lovely ladies, who made me realise I wasn’t alone. I love them.

2. Leaving my job. Sounds negative but it is the best decision I have ever made. Not just for health reasons, but it no longer gave me satisfaction that it had always done previously.

3. Ianmartin sending me a signed copy of his fucking brilliant book. He’s a talented chap. I’ve met him a few times now, he’s a good friend, has a heart of gold, is completely normal, but is damn bloody good at what he does and this is why he is successful. His emotional, passionate speech at his book launch is something I will never forget. I love him.

4. Quantick sending me some illegally downloaded music, like a motherfucking rebel. I’ve also met him a few times now, again, he is good at what he does, but his talents really are in hosting quiz nights and calling one of the team members a “cunt”. He is a very caring man, quite humble, and he always makes time for people. I love him.

5. Jezzebelle sending me some really hot knickers and a copy of Caitlin Moran’s book through the post. I have never met her, but I know we are friends for life. Her support in private despite going through her own personal traumas has been unquantifiable. I love her.

6. Suzannemoore sending me a gift voucher. It might not sound much but I felt really drab at the time, and I used it to buy a dress and a handbag. Every time I have met her, she has been warm, and extremely funny. She’s quite a feminist, and this appears to attract a lot of abuse her way. She battles through though and I admire her for such qualities. She gave me much encouragement this year. I love her.

7. Having a pint with Holly Johnson without knowing. This is the craziest most brilliant thing to have ever happened to me. Whilst at Quantick’s 50th birthday party, I’m sat having a lovely chat with this Liverpudlian dude about music, specifically Bowie. It was after about half an hour when I asked him his name and he said “Holly” that I realised who he was. I love this fact, because it means we just shared stories without any preconceptions. He clearly didn’t know who I was. *Wink* I love him.

8. Finishing and publishing my book. Can’t explain what this means, but the word “Closure” is in there somewhere. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006M3EWPS available here, buy and donate to the  fantastic charity Mind)

9. All of twitter. There really are some fantastic people on there. I love seeing people blossom, there is so much talent around, from joke writers, to bloggers, to artists. Use the platform, show off your work, because that is what it should be for. Sod the sneery jealousy, and the aloofness of some. Life is short and quite shitty in bits. To the outside world twitter is a celebrity back slapping paradise. We know this is not so, it’s just a great place to form new friendships, it isn’t all what Stephen Fry had for lunch, but we do have to thank him for kinda being responsible for bringing us all here.

Have a great new year people, I’m positive it’s going to be a smasher. Despite the coalition.

Peace out X

Why I am publishing an ebook, and the importance of Mind charity


Following what has gone down in history as the worst year of my life, I decided part of the way through it to write about it. I shall briefly recap on this, and the reasons for my decision to share my story will hopefully become clear. I developed Post-traumatic stress disorder resulting from rape, which lead to suicide attempts, depression, flashbacks, supression, and cost me my career. This catapulted me down the road of requiring the support of the mental health services.When I first blogged about the rape in January 2011, I was stunned at the amount of people out there who had been through similar experiences. At the time I was right in the thick of it though, but I made a mental note to revisit this at a stage, where I felt well enough in body and mind to address it.

Not only were there hundreds of people who spoke openly to me about there own traumas, there were over 50 men and women who bravely told me their stories who had not told a single soul, not even there nearest and dearest, and they insisted they never would. Some had found a way to live with it, but it was clear that others were suppressing their trauma, and it was hurting them. Whether through fear of upsetting their family life, or through unwarranted embarrassment or even misplaced guilt, they felt it should remain deep inside. I did the exact same thing myself for quite some time and it caused a lot of damage to me, but I found that once I started talking about it, and found the right people to listen and help, I couldn’t stop. I know it isn’t the right thing for everybody, I can only speak from my own experiences. A handful of the people who did confide in me did eventually seek help with encouragement, which I gave in complete confidence, and they are now dealing with those dreadful horrors that they have kept locked away for so long. I am so happy that a) they felt they could talk to me; and b) they are finally facing their demons and getting help.

It was really a two way street, if you talk to anyone with a mental illness, one of the best releases and most fulfilling things you can do is to share, talk, find someone who feels the same as you. It is also the hardest thing in the world in “real life” to have the confidence to do this, and the internet has provided an often life-saving tool of communication for such sufferers. The stigma and ignorance towards mental health can be ignored/bypassed. We have a welcomed outlet that I value tremendously.

I completed my book in November and it tied in with my counselling coming to a close, it felt right. I had drawn a much needed line and I could look forward to the new year as a new, much needed chapter in my life, face new challanges and start enjoying life again. I didn’t know the first thing about publishing so I researched, asked questions, and read and read and read, until I knew I had the right material for a completed novel. I was happy with what I had so I sent it to some agents.

To cut a long story short, the agent who did show some interest is sadly no longer interested. The publishing market is in a stranglehold, agents aren’t willing to take risks on new, unknown authors, they want known names, sellable subject matters, perfect book lengths to enable smooth publishing. This is a shame, because if they are to compete with the e-market, they are going to have to start taking a few chances, but the climate just isn’t allowing them. To quote the agent, he said “I can’t justify selling this book for £7.99 to consumers”. Well, firstly, I too don’t think it is worth that, but that’s publishing costs for you. So I am going to self publish it as an ebook and promote it myself.

The reason I am promoting it, is for the people out there still suffering, who aren’t yet ready to share their stories. I hope by reading mine it will encourage them to do so. If one person downloads it and decides it has encouraged them, then I will be happy. It isn’t the sort of novel I would ever really be able to hold in my hands and be extremely proud of, because of the subject matter. It is more about the story, and getting it out there, highlighting the difficulties faced by someone suffering from a mental illness. I desperately tried to find literature when I was suffering and there was not a lot out there.

So, the ebook market is perfect, people can download it in confidence, read it, share it. I’m going to be uploading it after a couple of final edits and selling it for a fiver. Half of this I will be donating to the charity Mind, because without their help I may not be here today. I can’t believe in this modern day and age the majority of mental health treatment has to come from a charity. But it does, and it saves lives on a daily basis. We must protect this in our current rocky climate of the unknown, because without it I don’t know what we would have. You can read all about their work here: http://www.mind.org.uk/ and you can follow them on twitter here: @MindCharity

To anybody thinking of downloading it, please do, I put my heart and soul into giving the most honest and open account of this past year as I possibly could. And you could be helping others get the help that I am eternally thankful for. I will be posting a link in the next few days, on twitter and facebook, and I will be genuinly grateful to any one of you who see this as a good cause and can help.

 

UPDATE 15 DECEMBER 2011 a link to my book here https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006M3EWPS

Dementia. The biggest thief on Earth.


It’s the hardest thing in the world when your beloved 83-year-old gran, who has lived independently since her husband died at the young age of 56 30 odd years ago, who was only 6 weeks ago running around Marks and Spencers in her Reeboks looking for bargains in the sales, is standing in front of you threatening you with a garden trowel in her hand telling you to fuck off or she’s going to fucking murder you because you don’t fucking care about her. And because she doesn’t remember how frail she is she collapses into your arms when her legs give way, and because she’s forgotten how to control herself, she urinates over herself and you and the floor. And then she cries like a baby, and you take her in your arms to comfort her and cry with her, and rub her back, and she tells you to stop rubbing her fucking back because she isn’t a fucking baby.

It’s been the most frighteningly fast decline I could ever imagine in my worst worries for what would become of her as she began to approach her elder years. 6 months ago when she was in hospital for a urine infection, she was taking the mickey out of the “old boys and girls” in her ward, referring to them as if they were older and dafter than her. She always saw herself as young, independent, intelligent, proud. She would say “If I end up like that auld dafty over there who doesnae know her arse frae her elbow, shoot me Sharon. I’d hate to be like that.”

That is the most painful part for us. She has become what we all fear the most. Not being in control of our own minds and bodies. There were some small signs, she started insisting we take her curtains up and down, she started moving furniture around for no reason, but nothing too unusual, just a bit odd. Then 5 weeks ago her flat looked as if she had been burgled and everything was everywhere, she started to lose concept of day and night, we’d get phone calls asking for us to bring sausages at 1am. Then it just all went fucking crazy.

She lost the art of conversation. She’d chat but it was all repetitive stuff. She was only worried about things that weren’t even happening. She insisted everything was broken. Kettle, microwave, cooker, washing machine, all broken and needed replacing. When we’d question any of this she would scream that we don’t believe her and we were all conspiring against her. The most heartbreaking night was when she said she barricaded herself in her bedroom because of the “dirty big brown fucking snake”. It had come in through the pipes of the washing machine, then shit in her sink and spent the night laughing at her and scaring her. She was so upset telling us, and obviously visibly disturbed. To her this actually happened.

One day she got so uncontrollably upset because she hadn’t been out, Dave and I took a chance and got her in the car for a short trip into town. I regretted it almost as soon as we got her into the car. Her legs were so very frail, but she was in such a state we thought we had to try to give her something to make her happy. We took her to her favourite market cafe where she wanted tea, an omelette, grated carrot and red onion. They are very good in there with elderly people, they give them exactly what they ask for, assist customers in and out with wheelchairs, and they never rush anybody. You don’t get that sort of personal touch in a regular eating place. She ate about three mouthfuls of her food, but she couldn’t cut it, or hold a knife, her teeth were falling out, she was spilling it, she kept demanding glasses of water, she was just not herself. But they didn’t mind, they didn’t mind at all, and to be honest if anybody did, I would have had something to say.

I took her to the toilet and she just couldn’t do anything for herself. I fought back the tears I so wanted to let out at just how poorly she had become and helped my gran so that she left there clean and dignified. It wasn’t easy in a small cubicle. After two hours of being in the cafe, I got the manager to put her meal into a takeaway container for her and she smiled like a happy child. Great! We had raised a smile, it was a success. We happily made our way out and back to the car. It was a long walk and her legs were tired. I held her up but her feet had lost co-ordination, I was petrified I would drop her. Then all of a sudden in the middle of the town she stopped, stood still and pushed me away and screamed for all to hear “You! You stopped me paying for my new bed! Oh my new bed!” and she cried like a sad toddler who’d had a sweety taken away. She had mentioned the day before to my parents that a bed was the next thing on the list she needed. By now, we had all decided that agreeing with her was the easiest way to avoid upset and it usually was. I told her she wasn’t buying a bed today, she pushed me, she cried, people stared, it was so very sad. We somehow managed to get her into the car and home, all of us exhausted.

Things just went from bad to worse from then on. Two days ago we couldn’t get into her flat so I called her mobile which she eventually answered, and I could hear her pressing buttons on the handset so I kept shouting “Gran, Gran” and she eventually put it to her ear. She said she was on the floor and couldn’t get up. We had to rush to my mum’s to get the spare keys. When we got in, she was on the floor next to her bed and was like a zombie, she was not there at all, in any way. I got her onto her feet, even though she is under five foot, and probably weighs not much more than 5 stone, it was awkward, like a dead weight, and her legs refused to bend.

She insisted we get her into the kitchen so I held her up and we made our way there. She screamed “Where’s the kitchen! Where are you fucking taking me?” I reassured her we were feet away, then gently suggested I take her to the toilet first. She turned to me, on her unstable feet and growled “I don’t need the fucking toilet, take me to the fucking kitchen”. So, I did as she ordered, feeling more than a little teary, but desperate not to show her. I managed to get her into the kitchen and sat on a stool and she said she had been on the floor since yesterday afternoon. (This wasn’t true as my parents were up there gone 1am, so we know it happened after that.) She said she was starving and told me to put a pan of oil on. She wanted me to put every ring on the cooker on. As soon as I said no, I only needed one ring she screamed that nobody listens to her. Then she said she needed the toilet. I held her again, under her arms as she walked towards me and she started going there and then. She said oh sod it, she’d eat first and go later. I had already noticed the unmistakable stench in her bedroom, and knew we had some decisions to make about her future.

She made me put eight frozen sausages in the pan and wanted to eat them as they cooked. When I explained that frozen pork may kill her she actually accepted this and sat down and waited. The tea I made was too hot. With a bit of milk it was too cold. I was fucking useless, she said. That sort of thing was fine though, we were becoming used to that. Seeing her face look a bit more like her, and less like the woman she had become, I asked how she had managed to end up on the floor.

“Because of this fucking carpet. It’s all around the flat, it’s got to go. It’s all infected, everything that comes in contact with it has to go to, it’s all out to kill me”.

So there we had our next challenge. Her flat is carpeted throughout in the same carpet. She told us to start lifting the carpet. We said no. She said fucking lift it all. We said we can’t. She pushed me away to the front door and told me to shut my fucking mouth and insisted Dave lift the carpet.

This went on for two hours. At one point I went outside just to have 5 minutes to gather myself. She was not going to accept our argument that the floor was full of nails underneath, and a bare floor would have done her more harm falling out of bed. Now you try arguing with one of your elders who has lost all reason, it is impossible. I can’t remember how we managed to distract her thoughts but we did, and we left her with some sausages and tea, in her comfy chair in front of the tv.

My parents took over the care that evening and she was more or less the same. Then yesterday they got round to her flat, and again she was on the floor. It had appeared she’d had no sleep for two days and she had no idea what the time was. She was curled up on her kitchen floor, so mum phoned an ambulance this time.

After telling the paramedics to fuck off, they managed to get her into the ambulance and off to hospital. This is where she will remain until we get some sort of care package arranged.

It’s a relief. I never thought I’d be relieved for my gran to be hospitalised, but we can’t cope alone. We have tried our hardest, my mum is close to breaking point, and hated having to admit we need some help here. Watching her be so horrible to my mum is the most heartbreaking thing about this whole situation. They are (or were) really close. Really really close. She cried last night and said “I just want my mum back”. Watching my gran swear at her and hate her is unbearable. She is no longer the lovely little old lady she used to be. It feels like she has gone forever and left us with some sort of body that has been invaded by an evil stranger. But we know she is still in there somewhere, there are tiny snippets. We have managed to make her giggle here and there in between the madness, and that is a joy. But we are never going to get her back, and it fills me with such a deep, raw sadness that the rest of her journey on this planet is going to be cruel and painful for everybody involved.

Mostly her.

A story about death


When we got married in June 2002, we knew that Dave’s dad was poorly. We didn’t know he’d be dead by the end of September though. It started with a chest infection, and then they found the cancer, in his throat and lungs. His wife and children were desperate for a cure or some sort of treatment, but it was far too aggressive, all we could hope and pray for was care, to ensure his last weeks and days were as pain free as possible.

He wanted to stay away from hospital as much as possible, so the dining room downstairs was converted into a bedroom. It is a common theme with old people, they think if they go into hospital they won’t come out again, or they are scared of being neglected. We managed to keep him at home for quite a long time with nurses popping in to make sure we were meeting his needs. Dave would take on the task of assisting him up the stairs to the toilet. When he could no longer manage the stairs, because his body weight had plummeted because he was unable to eat, Dave would gently and lovingly help him to urinate into a bottle. He never once showed any embarrassment or concern at having to do this, he was his father and that was that.

We got that call at about 6am. The one that you dread… he’s taken a turn for the worse and an ambulance was called to take him to hospital, they are saying his family should be there. I couldn’t leave the children as they were very young then, so Dave went alone. As soon as it was school time I shipped them off and arranged with a friend to collect them after so I could get to the hospital.

When I arrived they were all crowded around his bed, there was no space on any wards so he was stuck in the openness of the emergency admissions ward adjacent to A&E. It was loud, beepers everywhere, nurses and doctors shouting, people rushing all over the place. Not really the nice peaceful place you would want a love one to spend their final hours.

He really had gotten worse. He kept pulling his poor weak legs up to his chest in sheer agony, he had lost what little voice he had. When he did manage to speak, he only said one word, one heartbreaking word that I can still here: “home”. He wanted to be at home, we wanted nothing more than to honour his wish, but we couldn’t. After a couple of tortuous hours a nurse finally got some morphine pain relief sorted. It made all the difference, because when he took a hit, you could see him release his legs for brief moments and relax his body and drift off into a more peaceful place. Then the noises would startle him and when he awoke he was confused, like a tiny lost child, you could see the fear and worry in his eyes. We would reassure him, we would keep begging the nurses for a quieter area for him, we would notice that he had messed himself, we would get angry, sad, irritable. We asked for more morphine when it wore off and would wait a considerable time for it.

Finally at around 7pm he was found a bed on a ward, he seemed instantly more peaceful at the quietness. Then we were moved again to a private room, with a bed in the middle and plenty of space around it for us all. Dave, his mum and three sisters and myself. This was the “death bed”. We had two wonderful, patient nurses, who showed us how to administer the morphine, which we did. We made sure he was as painfree as we could. He was still whispering “home”, which broke Ivy’s heart, his wife from his teenage years. She felt as though she had failed him, we had to reassure her that this WAS the right thing. The lovely nurses got him fresh bedding and pyjamas and gave him a good wash, I knew this was so that he was clean for his passing which was not far away, but it was the most compassionate bit of care he had received all day. They were the first to show us how to tenderly brush his dry lips with water, it was these little things that meant so much to a dying man with no voice.

We endured two hours of the “death rattle”, if you have never heard it, you are lucky. He would stop breathing and then start again for over 30 minutes, we kept preparing to say goodbye then he would start again, it was horrific. Then he took his final breaths and fell asleep forever. The nurses quietly made their way to a window and opened it a touch, as if for the start of his next journey. The sadness we felt was coupled with relief. We would sit there for a good while then and his children shared stories. Even managed to make Ivy giggle a few times. Amazing how we can find humour at the darkest times. I had never watched anybody die before, but I was glad I had been there, to witness the overwhelming peace at the end of the battle, it was affirming, it was right. We kissed him and we took Ivy home for some much needed rest.

The next day would be full of tears and mourning, telling all his grandchildren their beloved grandad had died, not a nice task atall. This is that bit of your life where everybody says to you “time heals”. You don’t believe them at the time but there has never been truer words spoken.

It really does, it gets easier, you replace those memories of death with ones from before then, good times, fun times.

We all get old, we all die, so why, in these modern times, are the levels of care in a state of crisis? We should all care, people should not be laying in their own urine whilst they are dying, they should not have to beg for morphine, all they want is a bit of fucking dignity and cleanliness. Is it really too much to expect?

When did rape become the new black?


I’ve been thinking about this for a wee while now. I wanted to write about it when it first came to my attention, but I refrained because a) I didn’t want to be accused of being some namby pamby twitter user jumping on the bandwagon of criticising everything a comedian does; and b) As a victim of rape it will be assumed that my opinion has already been formed. So I left it. Kinda hoping it would go away. Did it? No. In fact it is growing and growing, or maybe I just have an extra sensitive radar to its existance. Believe me, I don’t go looking for this stuff, in my current state of health that would be inadvisable and probably finish me off. I did a bit of research today, for this blog, and can see that comedians of all genre’s and styles are not shy about using rape in their material.

So. I can’t change people, I can’t make them not do things, but what I can do is simply explain how this makes me feel. Some of you that have followed for a while will know that I have been very open about being raped and how I have been desperately trying to come to terms with it, and they will know my feelings without even having to read this. Others maybe naive, and this will hopefully just make them stop and think in future before being so flippant when including the word in their own (unfunny) jokes. Others will try to justify it, and make complex arguments for its use, while quoting me comparisons that will make them feel exonerated and trendy and thinking-outside-the-box-drop-dead-hilarious. All I ask is that you just listen to what I have to say, what my day-to-day life is like right now, and if after that you still condone it, then I wish you well.

 

I only found out in January that I had been drug-raped. since then I have tried to commit suicide on four occasions. Two of them were proper “end it” attempts. Two were purely uncontrollable self harming cries for help. Why is this? Because I can’t sleep. I have not slept this year, not properly. I have flashbacks. Big gory like-it-is-happening-all-over-again flashbacks every single day and night. Funny? Not at all. I started to drink really heavily, because it was a welcome escape. If someone offered me a needle of heroin and promised it would take it all away, I would probably believe them. Drinking was great! First glass relaxes, first bottle gives a welcome bit of tiredness, second bottle gives a fucking decent coma. If it doesn’t it gives you hell. A magnified dark, self hating, life hating hell.

The last time I self harmed was after reading a rape joke on twitter. I was confused, really confused. “Is this funny? Am I not getting it? Am I being over-sensitive? Oh get over yourself SG you fucking failure, this is comedy, if you can’t live with it then fuck off”. I feel like a failure all the time, this is my problem. Constantly unable to deal with this head on. Then is when I mostly want to die. Again, I ended up in hospital. I finally (4th time lucky) was noticed and I am getting help.

So brilliant, this is what I wanted. I may be able to lead something resembling a normal life soon. But this wont make me un-raped, and this is where the jokes come in. No matter what I can’t ever see the funny side to rape, in whatever context you parade it. My husband has had to watch me shaking with uncontrollable fear of everything, my nerves have completely broken down. My 14-year-old son has seen me with a knife in my hand, blood pouring from my slashed to pieces wrist, crying uncontrollably. My father has had to witness his daughter fall into something he feels he should be able to protect me from. Because someone who we all know, who we regarded as a “friend” drugged me and raped me and took away my power and destroyed my life. I probably have no career left, I’ve been off sick since July, they will soon tire of me and wave me goodbye after 21 years solid service. I don’t even care, that is how deep rape goes.

 

I could go on, there is so much more, but it is quite upsetting explaining it all. The next time you hear a rape joke, think of me, as your wife or girlfriend, or sister and how that would make you feel seeing her so helpless, think of my son, who at 14 has no damn right to see his mother not wanting to live. Some scars last forever, no matter how we try to heal.

 

Is rape still funny?

SG TwitterInterviews…… @mooseallain


This is a TwitterInterview I did on Friday evening with @mooseallain. He comes from Exmouth in Devon which is practically abroad so I am delighted that he could make it. But make it he did, complete with a pint of cider, and a warm, charming, happy-go-lucky attitude. His twitter bio states:

“Artist & Illustrator. Dogsbody, but human head. Peripheral visionary. Pest.”

This is exactly how the interview did go.

SG: Hello Moose! Firstly thank you for agreeing to be my second TwitterInterview, you are also the first moose that I have interviewed.

MA: Hello. I’m not a real moose, you know. I just want to be honest about this. I don’t want people thinking “He’s good – for a moose”.

SG: So how did the name come about? Was it something you simply plucked from the air? Did it precede Twitter?

MA: I’ve been Moose since I was about 18. That’s, er… 30 years ago now. It’s a family nickname that’s stuck. Few people know my ‘real’ name…. Although I consider it my real name because that’s what most people call me. (I think that pre-dates twitter, although I’m struggling to remember.)

SG: I struggle to remember my own name in real life. I think we do become attached to people and their twitter names stick. What brought you to Twitter? Was it recommended by somebody for work, or just for the relaxed making-cyber-friends aspect?

MA: No, like a lot of people I didn’t really understand what it was. I’d heard stories about S Fry trapped in a lift, and the usual lazy dismissal that it’s just people tweeting about what they’re eating. My wife Karen who I work with and I discussed it and I thought It would be interesting to try it. I didn’t really see myself as a social networking type, didn’t do Facebook really. I saw it as an experiment, just to start tweeting and see what happened. I was determined from the start to strive to be original. But for about the first year I didn’t get it. I didn’t follow many people, I tweeted and wondered why nobody was taking much notice of me. Then I thought, actually, maybe other people might have something interesting to say.

I started following a few comedians and writers I like, like @AlexHorne and @quantick. We went to see Alex Horne playing a village hall somewhere in the wilds of Somerset. Afterwards I tweeted to him and – he replied! This was a complete revelation. People actually responded to you, people you didn’t actually know. That was a turning point I suppose. Actually David Quantick was instrumental in getting the ball rolling for me, and funnily enough it was a tweet about David Bowie that did it. Back to you!

(http://t.co/wvSUA5O is “The Bowie Tweet”)

SG: Yes, he is like a mountain of musical knowledge! I think we are all fans of someone, and when folk do reply it can restore a bit of faith. What is your overall opinion of ‘celebrities’ (Someone invent a new description please) grasp of twitter? Are they doing it right/

MA: Well, can I say first of all I think you shape your own twitter – you follow the people you like and chat with people you get on with. So – I like the celebrities I follow, and I get the impression that for a lot of them it’s an opportunity to converse with people that they just wouldn’t get the chance to speak with in the normal course of their lives. So in my experience, yes, a lot of them are doing it right. Of course most of them are complete wankers. (Only joking of course).

(We do a mutual chuckle at this point, then gather ourselves to continue) 

By the way when I first joined Twitter people like you, Gareth Aveyard, Greg Stekelmen WERE celebrities. I didn’t know who you were though!

(GOBSHITES!) 

SG: Hahaha. It doesn’t take a moment to skirt through a timeline to show which ones get it and which are just using it for self promoting. And I don’t mine that at all as long as they still interact with people. A lot of folk find twitter too much and leave. Do you think there is a solution to stop that happening? Should we have to tolerate abuse? (CLosely related to someone we both follow, the GREAT @Andy_Dutton deleted his account today.)

MA: No, of course we shouldn’t. But the alternative is a twitter that’s policed in some way. Impossible. I’ve never had bad problems myself, but it’s truly sad when someone like Andy feels compelled to leave. He’s just such a gentle man and a gentleman. I don’t know what happened so it would be easy for me to say, oh, block them, ignore them etc. I’ve no idea what it’s like when it becomes intolerable. I think Twitter is like a playground in a lot of ways – good and bad, and that makes it a tough environment. I love words and twitter is an amazing place to play. But games are deadly serious too. Sometimes it’s all a bit too much for me. I keep off it then. Not that anyone would notice!

(he isn’t fooling me)

(I only mean that I appear to tweet almost constantly, not that my absence wouldn’t be noticed. But I do have quiet spells.)

SG: Oh I think we would! That is also my strategy. Anything a bit edgy I go and bother real life. You just mentioned how much you like words and that leads me on to my next question. I particularly like your “Long stories”. You use the same formula I am using for these interviews, where you write a story on twitter, then lift it all into a blog ‘warts and all’. My favorite is “I had no idea I was Jesus.” What did inspire this thing Moose?

MA: OK. I just get an idea for a story in my head. With that one, it was simply the notion that Jesus would come awake after 40 days in the desert, and his ordeal would be that all the trappings of normal life would gradually disappear. I had the idea of him waking up walking and with all these stories I just start from that idea and see where they lead. It’s as close to performance as I’ll ever get I think. *Keeps prattling on* It’s so exciting doing it – not the audience participation so much as the feeling of improvising, the risk involved, but the confidence to feel that I can pull it off. I know it loses me followers, and I can understand why. I actually don’t read stories tweeted in my timeline! – but that’s not going to stop me doing it. Twitter has definitely become an artistic medium for me. I’ve unfollowed a few people I liked. I have time management issues on twitter!

SG: I love the live tweeted stories as they occur. It shows how creative people can be if they are brave enough to allow it to happen. You like a pun and joke as much as I do. But this joke theft thing pops up time and again. It puts people, especially jobbing comedian’s off using Twitter and can often result in accusing innocent parties. What is your take on this? Should we, whose careers are not on the line really give it as much attention as some people do?

MA: Well, I had an incident this very afternoon. I’ll be honest with you, it doesn’t bother me personally. I seem to get indignant about it out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to the person who drew it to my attention. But so fucking what? It’s another playground element. A good joke gets repeated. Plus I tweet lots of brilliant jokes that NO FUCKER RT’S. Would that someone steal those! That’s brought out the swears in me. I’m not even sure that it’s important to professional comedy writers. If you want to protect it – don’t tweet it. If you’re good, you’ll get plenty of RT’s. People will know it’s you. But it’s one reason for trying to be original in style, which I strive to be.

(At this point my phone decides to crash. Moose runs into twitter to try and locate me. We find each other just as my phone thankfully recovers.)

SG: I agree. It just means your material is good if it is blatantly nicked. What better compliment! To you now Moose. Outside Twitter you are a talented artist and have produced many beautiful pieces. How tough is it to survive in that industry?

MA: I’m relatively new to it, only been doing it full-time for about 4 years or so. It still feels like early days, although I realise now it’s what I always wanted to do. I feel immensely privileged to be able to do this, although we’re only really scraping by. But things seem to gradually be building, otherwise I would have given up by now. I work with my poor, long-suffering wife Karen who handles all the business side,, dispatching orders, selling my work at art fairs etc, and generally allowing me to act as a spoilt child. I love working with her but we have a strong relationship. We’ve survived having children, and I think we’re making a go of this too! But we’re fine, we’ve got a lovely big house and garden so I’m in no position to complain.

(Interlude where I say “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE ROONEY!”)

SG: Sometimes being a bit poor but doing something you really enjoy is quite brilliant. You have a tour coming up soon of your artwork, I hope you get many interested art type people turning up with their wallets. I will definitely come to a London one. Did some of your illustrations be used recently by Twitter’s own Stephen Fry? How did that come about?

MA: Yes, that was very straight forward. A very old friend is the producer for the show. He needed them at fairly short notice and I said I’d do them. I feel immensely chuffed, and even more so at the lovely message he wrote on them. But it was just a matter of who you know.

SG: I think most things in life are like that. With a bit of good luck and bad luck chucked in for measure. So, what are your desires now? Because I listened to your Soundclouds and think you may be able to fall back on a career as a 1990’s rave DJ.

MA: ha ha! No, the music is just a hobby. For literally years I was the only person who heard it. I inflicted it on people at work when I worked in an architect’s office. Hey, maybe that’s why I had to change career? My desires. My desires are myriad, but I would love to establish my work enough to be able to have time to experiment. Funnily enough I really enjoy doing work where I draw on other people’s contributions like these pictures I did with Twitter followers: http://t.co/vcf3g1R , I would love to have the space to really develop a project sourced from Twitter. I just can’t afford to do it yet, I need to keep producing work to sell.

More vaguely, my desires are to share sparkling wit and ideas with people. That’s what I enjoy above all and why I’m drawn to twitter. And to have a fucking good laugh too.

SG: And it is people like you who make it what it is. Spilling the crazy workings of your brains into a small box and watching them develop. You have been a pleasure to interview Moose, and I wish you all the success you deserve. Thank you.

MA: Thankyou Sharon, I enjoyed it, but feel that I’ve been awfully dull after lovely Porridgebrain!

(I reassure Moose that he should not worry, we partake in some idle post interview chitter chatter, and the evening’s interview is nicely drawn to a close)

You can see some of Moose’s artwork here: http://www.worldofmoose.com (which is also where you can read his original stories written on twitter and lifted into blogs) and listen to his music here: http://soundcloud.com/moosechoons. I enjoyed chatting with Moose and finding out a bit more about him, and I hope that if you read this you do to. Until next time, GOODBYE.

 

CLOSE.

SG TwitterInterviews…..@porridgebrain


This evening, I interviewed Josie George who is from the UK region of the world. Her twitter bio states the following:

Has feet in her shoes & brains in her head. Not entirely sure what she’s doing with either, but that’s not the point. Art student, writer, photographer, numpty.” 

Luckily for the interview, she left the third person behind and was forthcoming with some wonderful pieces of her life that make her my first “the person behind the avatar” victim. You can find her on twitter @porridgebrain. I hope you enjoy finding out a bit more about her as much as I genuinely did. The interview went like this:

SG: Hello Porridgebrain. Thankyou very much for agreeing (being brave enough) to be my first twitter interviewee.

PB: You are very welcome poppet. I’m going to pretend we’re sitting on a sofa with a drunk Robbie Williams feeling my knees to put me at ease.

SG: And I am doing the same, except it is Oprah Winfrey giving me a manly squeeze of the shoulders. We’ll chat about twitter first because we are both familiar with that. Can you remember what first brought you to twitter?

PB: New motherhood was slowly killing me. I wasn’t a particularly natural mother and the whole socialising mum and baby group “let’s talk about what my obviously-a-genius-at-three-months-old-slightly-odd-looking-child did today” thing was making me want to use a breast pump to suck my rotting brain out of my ears. No one seemed to have a sense of humour or anything interesting to say. And then I found twitter. Hurray!

SG: I think it’s quite brave to admit to not feeling like a natural parent, and it must have felt like a relief to find an outlet. This may seem like a stupid question, how did you choose your username?

PB: Ha, that’s how I felt then. Like my head was full of porridge. Smelt more like baby sick actually but @vomitbrain wasn’t as cute.

SG: That could have got you some interesting followers!

(we discover that @vomitbrain actually exists but only has two followers so agree that @porridgebrain was the right choice)

SG: You describe yourself in your twitter bio as an art student/writer/photographer/numpty. The question is, which came first?

PB: Definitely numpty first. Then writer. I started blogging when Kai was little and got a taste for words. I’d play around with them like people doodle when they’re bored. It opened up something I think. A way of describing the world. The rest came after that.

SG: Your blog is very good, and I see you got nominated for a MAD Blog Award this year. That is quite an achievement! How did that arise?

PB: I’ve been very lucky with the blog. It seemed to get well-known fairly quickly and has led to some amazing opportunities and all sorts of things. At the beginning of the year the MAD Blog Awards asked people to nominate their favorite blog writers who were also parents and I was very honoured to make the finals. There were thousands of nominations so I was well chuffed.

Didn’t win, mind, but it was a great night. Being one of the top five felt very special. (I was robbed.)

SG: You totally were! But that is still a huge achievement and a perfect example of the many windows that the internet provides to folk. So, apart from the success of the blog, what other positive experiences on line have you had? Have you done the whole “meet tweeter’s” thing yet?

PB: I certainly have! Loads of them! It’s a bit of a hobby to be honest. I know people tend to roll their eyes a bit at online ‘friendships’ but I’ve genuinely met some life-changing people through the internet, people I NEVER would have had the chance to meet otherwise. I live in a small town, I’m a single mum and end up having to spend a lot of time on my own at home.

I’ve got to meet writers, designers, people doing amazing things and with amazing stories. I love getting to know people online, then the buzz of meeting them in real life, and seeing how well you get on. My life would be so less richer without all these weird and wonderful people in it.

(we do our first ever cross over of the interview at this point. PB says “and if you want a REALLY positive online experience ask me about Bangladesh” so I make a mental note of this and continue.)

SG: I agree, it gives you access to folk you would never cross paths with in life and one of my aims is to dispel all the common myths that non-tweeting folk have. That is if anybody other than ou and I read these interviews! So that’s the positives, have you had any negative online experiences? Trolling or abuse for example?

PB: Honestly? No, not really, I’ve been very lucky. A few weirdo’s sending me pictures in my DM box I could have lived without, but hey ho. No, not lucky. I really do believe most people out there are good guys. The idiots are in the minority, they just tend to shout louder.

(I recall in silence to myself how much I love caps lock shouting then remember this is not about me and swiftly move on)

SG: That’s refreshing. Tell me about Bangladesh.

PB: YES! Well, here’s a story about twitter being used for something amazing. I spoke at a conference last year about blogging and had an email a couple of weeks later from Save the Children asking if they could take me out to see some of their projects in Bangladesh for me to write and tweet about my experiences to the people back home.

I wasnt some big celeb, just an ordinary mum going to meet ordinary mums trying to bring their kids up in very, very different circumstances. And two months later I was there! I went with two other bloggers and we used twitter to share photos, blog posts, videos, stories of what we saw under the hashtag #blogladesh. And we reached TEN MILLION people! It was the first time a charity had used social media in this way, and I’m proud to say we absolutely revolutionised the way in which social media is now used to help spread charity messages.

We managed to create a huge voice, loud enough to get to meet Nick Clegg ahead of the UN Summit last year, and that led to some really positive steps in terms of increased funding for children and their mothers in developing countries. I’ll shut up now. Phew! That was a long answer. Sorry. (I also do knob jokes. I’m a multi-angle tweeter)

(I reassure PB that this is absolutely what I was looking for, plus add a bit of time for her to get her breath back by getting locked out of twitter)

SG: Well for a busy single mum with a brain like porridge that is quite an achievement. Also great that charities have grasped how far reaching social networking can be. I am more likely to listen intently to someone who I admire and trust on twitter than a millionaire politician on television. I think you are quite inspirational because I never knew about any of this. (Bad researcher!)

PB: Haha, SURPRISE! I have many strings to my bow. Or laces to my shoes. Or something.

SG: I did do a bit of research though, and I know that you like photography. Because when I first followed you, you had the best avatar on twitter. So if you could be successful at art or photography, which would please you the most?

PB: I couldn’t live without either, but I’d much rather be a successful artist I think. Both give me ways of showing people how I see the world. But art is the thing that really pushes me to think and experiment, and grow and be brave, and I like doing these things. I’m not sure I could cope with all the photographing people’s ugly babies and horrible weddings that would come with taking my photography to pro level!

I mostly take photos of things I find on the pavement. Not sure there’s any money in that. Don’t particularly aspire to be famous, though. Enough to pay the bills and live a fun life will do fine for me.

SG: Art is so much more personal, I understand that totally. Have you found you are held back in any aspects of life being a single parent?

PB: Oh GOD yes. It’s tough. Little time, little energy, little childcare. I have to squeeze everything in my little bits of time off. I’m stuck in a horrible benefits trap because nursery is so expensive and freelance work hard. And I’d love to move somewhere with more opportunities, but that would be difficult. Everyone has their restrictions though I guess. I’m big into making the most of what you’ve got. My health isn’t always great to it’s not easy. But life is good. I love my boy, he’s an ace little person to share a life with.

SG: And he must be proud of you. You are clearly a strong lady, but health is the most important thing. How does it affect you?

PB: I was very ill in my teens and early twenties. Wheelchair, pumped full of steroids ill. My nervous system doesn’t work properly. I’m much better now, but still get tired easily and bouts of really intense pain when I over-do things a bit (which is often. I don’t do sitting still very well.) Just part of life though. Gets me frustrated some days but I’m determined as fuck so it doesn’t get in the way too much. I mostly just take the piss out of myself on the bad days. Helps. Or take the piss out of everyone else. Helps MORE.

SG: That is agreat philosophy! You have achieved so much and have, by your open and honest answers been a pleasure to interview. Thank you for being my first interviewee. I hope that if and when people read this they can see what I have seen. A very interesting and fun tweeter.

PB: Thank you! I hope I didn’t waffle too much.

(Interview ends. At this point I’m quite pleased, here is someone I have conversed with many, many times on twitter, yet has revealed things I did not know. I enjoyed very much getting to know a bit more about the person behind the avatar and I could not have asked for a better first interviewee. You can read @porridgebrain’s blog at http://sleepisfortheweak.org.uk. Thankyou for reading, and if you like this then do please leave some feedback and I will consider doing similar soon. For now, GOODBYE!)

close.

“Can I interview you?” “Who for?” Twitter.


Hello.

 

This sounded like a brilliant idea in my head at 3am when I could not sleep. I’m starting to try to move on from my recent sluggish existence and as much as it is slow and I still have some obstacles to overcome, I am slowly feeling some fight coming back into me. Much of this is from accepting what I can’t change, and focusing more on changes that I can make. Sounds so simple! Basically I am starting to set goals, and do my utmost to reach them. So last night there I was, awake but not troubled for once actually doing this, making plans, and I came up with this. It is not new concept, but it is new to me, and hopefully to many of you too, and I think the worst that could happen is we have a bit of fun. The best that can happen is that it is a huge success, and we learn a bit about the amazing people behind twitter.

 

I WANT TO INTERVIEW YOU! YES YOU! YOU ON TWITTER, BEHIND YOUR LITTLE AVATAR AND FUNNY LOCATION. AND I WANT TO SHARE IT WITH THE REST OF TWITTER!

 

I have found since being on here that my life has gone in all directions, as have many of yours, it moves unbelievably fast. The one thing that I love is that the wall between famous and unfamous has slowly been taken down, brick by brick. If you are brave enough to tweet a “famous” you will nine times out of ten find that they are human, just like us lot, I KNOW RIGHT! Everybody loves a reply or a response from someone you have @’d, it can put a smile on a fan’s face, change their day. And to be honest if it wasn’t for us “unfamous” I think twitter would be quite boring. Okay I’m waffling so I will move on.

 

I would like to hold twitter based interviews with you, via the direct message facility. I will ask a question and you can answer, using as many replies as it takes. I will have some structured questions, but what I’m really looking for is for it to be as natural as a real life interview, so if your response means we meander off that would be great. I would like to do one a week, and blog the interview, uncut, for twitter to read.

 

Obviously I would like to ask some twitter based questions, but it would be great if we (you) could be as candid as possible in replying, there are some massively interesting characters on here, not just the big guns and although I am dying to get (some of) them involved, it is really just about adding a bit of interesting real life background, whoever you are. I hope that one week I may be interviewing a famous author, and the next I’m interviewing John from Manchester who works in Ikea, but writes fabulously funny jokes, or Anne from Dunstable, about the successful blog  she wrote about bringing up children, or Pete from Somerset who posts amazingly upbeat posts on twitter despite suffering from a terminal illness.

 

I understand few prefer to be anonymous, for good reason, so would understand if they do not wish to participate, but most of us love talking, and finding out a bit more about each other, and generally enjoy cyber company. Let’s be honest, there is nothing better than someone paying an interest in your life, and many of you have done this for me recently, but I have been so wrapped up in a bubble I barely noticed. I have now and I genuinely think this will be a fun way to give back.

 

I would love your feedback on this, whether you think it’s just a stupid idea, if you have any experience of doing anything similar, any hints/tips, and if you would like to take part. I am looking for a guinea pig soon so be warned! Look, I aint no Michael Parkinson, but I like to feel I have a good rapport with most people so let’s give it a shot yeah?

 

I leave myself  in your capable hands twitter…..