29 Jul 2013

Everything I Touch Is Homoerotic Subtext - Even Top Gear

I am not ashamed to say that I have always loved Top Gear. My family will very happily settle in front of the telly whenever it's on, slowly falling asleep during any bits that are actually about cars, and then instantly perking up whenever an adventure is started. I'm pretty sure we're not the only one's like this. I don't know a single person who watches Top Gear for the cars. I know about three people who know what the words 'traction', 'horsepower' and 'torque' mean in context, and I'm not one of them. However, I know about a million billion people (roughly) who can cheerfully jump start a conversation with "Remember when Clarkson crossed the channel in a flat bed truck? Ahh, I thought they were gonners that time."

Despite the general Top Gear-y love most people in England seem to share, almost every conversation about the show goes one of two ways. A) "I liked the time they raced a train through France." or B) "Clarkson's a prick, and they're just a group of offensive old men dicking* about." The second one seems to come up rather a lot these days, usually on Radio 4 - or more accurately The News Quiz, a show so daringly middle class it makes me laugh and wince at the same time. And fair enough, there's a possibility that James May and Richard Hammond do actually know what it's like living in the actual world, but the majority of the time anything either of them may have to say is drowned out by the dulcet tones of Clarkson, spouting rubbish about anyone who has a vagina, a copy of the Guardian, a different skin tone, appearance or opinion to him. 

However, after a while, and a fair bit of squinting, it does slowly become apparent that Clarkson may be a troll - spouting total and utter nonsense just to get a rise out of anyone and anything he can. But once you've squinted at him for that long, it becomes quite hard to stop. And then you squint some more, and it suddenly becomes remarkably clear that Top Gear is possibly the most remarkably homoerotic program that can be put on in front of a UKIP supporter without them noticing.  

At the end of the day, it boils down to being a show about three grown men giggling together in sheds. The go on holiday together, and buy each other presents. They drive around lovely scenery together, and if placed in one car  they usually end up in each others laps. Most of the show is seeing how many times they can say the word 'penis' without getting told off by the BBC, and if The Stig (a man not allowed to talk, move of his own accord or take off his dark mask) isn't a little but kinky, I don't know what is. 

When the show first started, it was an actual car show. Viewers wanted to know about motoring, how good the new VW was, and how quickly can that chap from Mock The Week go around a race track. Not so much any more. Where the three boys used to bicker about anything going, and be needlessly cruel, the majority of the joy from Top Gear now comes from watching them cheekily grin at each other when they make silly little jokes, or nudge each other when they get something wrong, and over react to the full extent of the script. 

So you go Top Gear. I'm proud of you. Over the years you've managed to tone down Clarkson, make James May cool, and slowly drip feed the gayest friendship after Holmes and Watson to some of the most hardcore right-wingers in the UK. I'm proud.

Point made.

*According to my spell check, 'dicking' isn't a word. I don't care spell check, it's three am and I just had to silently make a sandwich in  dark room. I'll improvise with my swearing if I want to.

27 Jul 2013

How To Politics.

Fun fact: I can vote. This is both excellent and also alarming. Excellent because it means I live in a democratic society (cool) and that I have a (small) say in how my country is run (also cool). It's alarming because until about two years ago I had less than no idea about what a politic was (not a typo for once). But then I decided to try and understand whatever the hell is going on, and now I can make a half decent joke about Vince Cable, and know when to make sad sounding noises when someone's talking about NHS reform. Here is a handy guide:

  1. Get a newspaper. I don't care which one, also the Daily Mail isn't doing you any favors. The Guardian, Independent and Telegraph all work well. Now read it. Read all the bits that have long words and percentage symbols in. Read all the bits next to photos of nervous cabinet members and angry nurses/teachers/builders. Then read it again. Read it until you can accurately guess the meanings of the long words from the context. 
  2. Watch BBC news. Get some cake and a cup of tea, put the news on and watch it until you're so cross you have to get more cake. Repeat until there is no cake left, or your waistline is three times that size it was when you stared.
  3. Open two browser tabs. In one, pull up a photo of a politician. I recommend starting with Boris Johnson because he's easiest. In the second tab, pull up a photo of your worst fear. It could be a spider, or a big height, or your grandmothers idea of lunch. Whatever works best for you. Now look at Boris for ten seconds. Now look at your worst fear for ten seconds. Repeat until the sight of Boris strikes a cold, icy blade of fear into your heart. Do the same for David Cameron, Nick Clegg, ect. ect. When you run out of politicians, google some more.
  4. Realize the key to understanding politics is repetition. Remember you're lazy, and give up. However by this point at least some of it should have sunk in a little bit. 
Best of luck.

26 Jul 2013


Who was the vainest person in all history?

Catherine of Arrogant.

You're welcome.

16 Jul 2013

Henry To Etta: Guest Blog

This is a guest blog, written by my super good friend Lauren (I've posted a couple of her videos before). Enjoy - Az x

An actual conversation with someone on the school bus…
“Well I’m really open minded; I don’t have a problem with gays at all I mean you can’t help who you love. It’s just Transgender people; I don’t like them at all”
Me: “Well, why not?”
“It’s just abnormal, you know.”
Since my younger sibling is transgender I explained (calmly and clearly, without losing it) what transgender is.
“Oh well, that doesn't seem that bad. I just don’t like it when they do it randomly”

My little sister Etta is transgender, she is 9.
A lot of people seemed either shocked or confused when I tell them this. I’d show them a picture and they look at me and say… 
“That’s your little brother though, why? Aww, must be a phase”
Nope, this is not a phase. I know that for a fact. Since she was 2 or 3 she played with my toys rather than my brother’s. She preferred pink and she started nicking my long tops and wearing them as dresses. Etta is also autistic so at first we thought it was something to do with the autism, but after some researching we found out that she was Transgender. The older she got the stronger this desire to be a girl became. So no, this is definitely not just a “phase”
The best way to explain Transgender to you is that Etta is a girl trapped in a boy’s body. 
Girl’s brain, Boy’s Body.
She refused to have her hair cut; she now has longer hair than me. She prefers all the female characters in her favourite TV shows to the male characters and now everything she owns is pink. We have a running joke that she is more girlish than me, my sister and my mum put together. (She’s also much prettier) 

And If you haven’t already noticed, I call her ‘she’ rather than ‘he’.
Today is a big day for Etta, from today Etta is now known as a girl at her school (and in September it will be on the records that she is “Female”). She can wear the girl’s uniform, she can use the girl’s bathroom and she will now be known as a girl to the teachers. This is fantastic! She is now being acknowledged for who she is and her class mates are fine with it (which is an added bonus really) 
Yesterday a transgender expert went into Etta’s school and had an extended assembly with the school to explain Transgender. 
As an example she asked a boy to stand with her. She asked him “If I said you weren’t allowed to wear boy’s clothes, you had to wear dresses. That you’re not allowed to play with your toys, because they’re boy’s toys how would you feel?”
“Well, I wouldn’t like it. Because I’m a boy”
“That’s how transgender people feel”
It’s a good point actually. Because Etta knows that she is a girl.

Some of the adults/parents are not so supportive. My family do get some rather hateful stares thrown at us when walking Etta to school. There was one example of a parent holding the large metal gates for some children, the parent saw us and closed the gate on Etta. Thankfully Mum was fast enough to catch the gate before it hit Etta in the head, but still. 
It’s quite upsetting when people think that my mum has forced this on Etta, because it’s “Cute”.
And this is usually when I start to get angry. 
Why the hell would we force this on Etta? 
When researching the topic I have heard of suicide attempts and self-harming incidents by Transgender children as young as 6 … 6 year old! Not just because of bullying but because they feel so uncomfortable with their bodies and they’re hurt that people don’t see who they are and accept it.
Here’s an example of a Transgender 6 year-old’s shocking suicide attempt from the Huffington Post.

“Was there a tipping point?
Well, one day we had a blow-up in Target. It was Halloween, and up until then we'd allowed Danann to pick costumes, like a witch or vampire-princess, which were female but not particularly feminine, more gender-neutral. But this particular Halloween, Danann saw a very frilly Southern Belle dress and just had to have it. I said no, as I knew Bill wouldn't approve. Danann began kicking, screaming, trying to hurt me. I got the kids into the car, when Danann went ballistic, scratching herself to the point of bleeding, hitting her head on the car, trying to break the window.  I locked the car doors, drove straight home, and the minute I unlocked the car Danann bolted from the car and ran straight into traffic. She was almost hit. The driver stopped the car and ran over to Danann, asking if she was OK, and Danann said, "Why didn't you hit me? I just want to die. I just want to die and have all of this be over." That's when I knew we needed to change things, because what we were doing clearly wasn't working.”

So yeah, forcing this on Etta is the best idea we’ve ever had!

I’m going to be very truthful to you now; it’s taken a while for me to get to grips with it. I had a dream about two years ago, I dreamt that Etta was a toddler again, she was Henry, Etta looked like a boy and when I woke up again I got upset because I missed my little brother. But then I realized that Etta was never really my little brother, she was just too young to say no to all the boy-ish clothes. I feel awful, awful that I wasn’t the best sister in the world. I’m bad at coping with change and this was quite a big shock. It took me a while to finally call her ‘her’, I have had many thoughts such as “Why can’t he be normal”-“This isn’t fair”-“I want Henry back” But then I did some thinking (and shouting at myself) and I’ve finally seen that I was being insensitive and stupid. Etta is Etta, she is an amazing little girl and I love her. I will never forgive myself for how I thought and how I behaved.
Because Etta is also autistic it’s very hard to hear how she feels. When talking to her you have to be very patient because she sometimes talks through quotes from films and books, it’s confusing but you get the hang of it quite easily. But last night I watched a documentary called “I am Jazz” which was about a transgender child.
All I could do was cry, when Jazz was explaining how she felt I just broke down. For the first time in 7 years I heard what Etta was trying to tell me through another child who was Transgender. 
If you have time, do go watch it, it may change your mind about Transgender people/children. 
I’m writing this because it needs to be explained, I was scared of explaining this because I was afraid that people would take Etta the wrong way, manipulate what I say and tell a wrong grotesque story which puts her in a bad light.
I love my little sister and I am terrified of that happening. I hope that we have left this manipulative nature behind us.

Thank you so much to Lou for writing that, she emailed it to my this morning and I immediately emailed her back saying "Can I blog this?" I hope it helps make everyone think, and makes people happy. Thanks all.
PS I reviewed a play this week, if you want to read it.

9 Jul 2013

Decaf Hazel Nut Low Fat Amerilatte With A Shot Of Mint And A Flake

I had a conversation with Mum this evening about coffee shops. Well, not really a conversation. We're both knackered, so we made noises at each other until it turned into a coherent argument. 

Anyway anyway anyway. I don't understand how people go into a coffee shop, look at the menu and take one word from it, then add a lot of other TOTALLY RANDOM words around it, and someone just MAKES THAT INTO A DRINK. I have no idea what a half skinny strawberry mochachino caramel latte is, and frankly I don't want to find out. Even if it does have cream on it. I don't trust people who ask for complicated drinks in coffee shops. Where I come from you ask for a cup of coffee, a mug of tea, or your out on your arse. You're not asking for a drink. You're just giving the barista a list of all the things you weren't allowed to eat when you were six, and and then that list is just blended together into something that you willingly ingest. Not only willingly, but you also give them your train fare in exchange for the magic drink, which will DEFINITELY add at least three centimeters to your thighs, even if you put the word 'skinny' in there.

I've ranted on about the prices in coffee shop before. It's no wonder that hipsters have to buy everything second hand, if they're regularly showing face in a Starbucks. I can only assume that for office workers, where it is seemingly normal to make daily coffee shop trips for your co-workers, they actually live at the office. Seeing as how the only way they can buy all that coffee is by selling their houses to the shop in question. 

2 Jul 2013

Sleep Is For The Weak (And Classic FM Listeners)

It is currently nearly half two in the morning, and I cannot get to sleep. Instead I am sat awake and binging on Radio 4. I was going to listen to the Glastonbury special of Monkey Cage, but decided to wait until I was more awake, so that I'll stand a slight (slight) chance of understanding some of it. I might listen to a podcast of Woman's Hour, but they've been talking about domestic violence a lot recently, and  I'd like to sleep peacefully. Still, I've got a long car journey tomorrow, plenty of time for radio then. For now I think Just A Minute will suffice.
Oh the woes of being middle class.

1 Jul 2013

A Slightly Delayed Prom Post

“Right then,” Said the photographer. “Girls sand side on, hand on hips. Oh, right, yes. That’s it. Boys, arms folded and stand at an angle good. Okay?”

I raised my hand. “Um, excuse me. Not to be a bother, but what do I do?”

He looked at the suit/high heels combo. “You do whatever you like, love.”

“Oh. Can I pull ninja moves then?”

“If you like.”

So I did. That roughly set the tone for the LMS Year 13 Prom night, at least from where I was standing. After the first glass of wine, I’d for gotten which gender I’m attracted to, and by the second I’d forgotten which gender I am. By the time I’d won Best Dressed Female (possibly the highlight of my life so far, and still did nothing to remind me that I am a woman), everything had got out of hand, and no one was safe. I have to say, I’m still slightly surprised. I’ve never heard of a cross dressing lesbian winning anything at a prom before. And I’m really glad that I did. Not so much for my sake (who am I kidding) but more because it shows what a wonderful place my school can be. We have a bad reputation for how middle class we are. We may be posh as hell, but at least we’re open minded.

I know a lot of people who were at prom read this blog; so thank you. Thank you so much for voting for me, since so many people there genuinely looked stunning. I loved seeing how many people had taken inspiration from The Great Gatsby for their dressed; the amount of sequins was divine.

Thank you to the boy who I’ve never spoken to before, who did a double take, and said “Nice suit. Respect.” Sorry I hugged you. You were not expecting it. And thank you to the girl who told me she’d nearly come with hairy pits, but then decided she didn’t have enough stubble to make it worthwhile. You’re now my best friend. In my head.  I’m very glad (and surprised) that people actually pay attention to the things I write here.

So thank you again, and sorry to anyone who I hit on. I hope you all have a lovely summer. x

The Infamous Ninja Moves

The hell do I work this chainsaw?