Category Archives: politics

? There’s a moment you know, you’re f-

June 26, 2016

still life

Isn’t this a nice scene while the country is falling down around our ears? Here, have some coffee and a bit of this peanut butter chocolate square (v. tasty).

If you woke up on the morning after the referendum, looked at your phone, and your first reaction was ‘I’m sorry, what?’, then your next reaction may have been to go straight on social media and vent about it.

Much like me. Much like most of my politically-minded friends.

There’s a lot to be said about social media bubbles. They engender a certain level of ignorance, they reflect our prejudices and privileges…and they give us a space to say, ‘oh thank God, you too?’ when something happens that is monumental to us. They also are terrible places for genuine discourse, and often incredibly binary and simplistic. We, all of us, know we’re unlikely to ever change anyone’s mind with a facebook ‘debate’. That doesn’t stop us trying.

I’ve seen a lot of cries of ‘sour grapes!’ from Leave voters who now think the Remain camp are just, well, making a bit of a fuss about the fact they lost this razor-thin vote that may indelibly affect their lives, and they should just essentially shut up and ‘accept’ it. Given the magnitude of what has happened and is continuing to happen, as the two main British political parties are essentially eating themselves right now, I think it is more than justified to be angry.

Even moreso as clips emerge of voters who voted ‘as a protest’ and ‘didn’t think their vote would count’ and ‘would vote remain’ if they could do it again.

Even moreso as evidence of racist behaviour across the UK is surfacing in the aftermath.

Even moreso as those of us who were forced to watch the Leave team conduct a horrifying campaign based on absolute lies, that preyed on xenophobia, and had no genuine ideas for what would happen if we left, now have to watch them turncoat hours after they win and refute that BS ‘£350 million a week to the NHS’ claim, refute the idea that we could possibly go forward without free movement of labour.

Even moreso, when you hear that many leave voters were upset with issues that had absolutely nothing to do with the EU, and also which leaving might make worse. By the way, if article 50 is actually invoked, let’s all enjoy continuing to pay the membership fee you all hated in order to be able to trade with the EU and yet have sweet FA say in the laws they will enact, or enjoy the realisation that we will be unable to stop free movement of people. By the end of it all – if article 50 is invoked – we will literally have done the exact opposite of ‘taking back our country’, whatever that meant in the first place.

When you think about it, if the 48% of the 72.2% who voted and lost weren’t angry, then there’d be something massively wrong with our society in general.

But no, it’s definitely sour grapes, because look at that petition they set up to try and force a 2nd referendum! Pfft. Can’t they just get over the fact they lost?

I’m not personally for a second referendum, but does it change your mind about the derided petition to know that it was set up by a Leave voter a month or so ago, because he thought they were going to lose? Or that Farage said back in May that he would fight for a second referendum because a 52-48 referendum win for the Remain camp would be ‘unfinished business by a long way’? (But now that he’s won, “it isn’t a best of three scenario”?)

But isn’t the worst of it the fact that those people who directed their anger at a lack of jobs, opportunity and perceived failings within the country’s social security safety nets, are now going to get a government that couldn’t give less of a crap about them or their feelings on these subjects? We’ll soon wake up to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his cabinet, with our only hope being that Nicola Sturgeon can somehow outmanoeuvre the Brexit. Or perhaps, as the media seem to feel Boris Johnson didn’t actually want a Leave win anyway, it could be the out he (or whoever ends up in that chair) needs in order to not have to invoke Article 50 and come away with some semblance of ‘dignity’ in tact.

Friday’s news has sent me, and most of those in my immediate circle, spinning through several stages of grief. Instantly I wanted to, online, push the space out around me to protect those stages of sadness and anger and denial in the direct aftermath of the news. If you’re keeping a more level head about it, then good for you. We’ll need that in the coming months. But in the immediate fallout of the vote, after a campaign that was so devoid of facts that the Pro-Brexit camp stated that they’d “had enough of experts” (and people actually went with them on that), I am holding square on mine (and other people’s) need to let it all out. There are many various forms of unfollowing and off switches you could push if you don’t want to hear it; it is that simple.

So here I am saying I’m sad for the state of our country right now; I’m sad for the racism that’s coming to the fore, I’m sad that we have no effective leadership in either main party, I’m sad that the drop in the pound makes my life that bit more difficult, I’m sad that people are googling ‘what is the EU?’ too late, I’m sad that the media bile is more readily accessed than informed and reasoned websites like FullFact.org, I’m sad for the people who thought they were voting for something completely different than they have woken up to.

I wish I knew what I could do to help.

But until then, we watch and wait, and eat peanut butter squares and get a sugar rush and blog about it. And hope that if it does all implode, something better can rise from the ashes.

 

Paris.

November 14, 2015

Notre Dame de Paris

Just two days ago, this post would have been made under much better circumstances.

I would have talked about a blissful weekend, rounding off our wedding month. Would have talked of demis of vin rouge and beautifully-presented gluten free food, being deftly looked after by considerate and friendly waiters, wine, cheese, and late nights. Just talking and tasting and enjoying the luxury of it all. 48 hours of surprisingly sunny walks in early November, with a nod to the most famous of sites without feeling the need to repeat the tourist trips we made years ago.

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T’was the night before voting…

May 6, 2015

“i think that we’re mostly talking…are we reaching people who are diametrically opposed to what we believe? No, I don’t think so…but this is the way it’s always been. We believe what we believe and it’s really hard to create change, and that’s why we’re having the same conversations about social problems in each generation.”

RG: Somehow nuance is no longer appreciated. It’s “I’m right and you’re wrong and we’re completely unwilling to acknowledge that we might disagree but still have important things to say – “Because you’re wrong I’m going to demean you, and I’m going to discredit you” – and it’s unfortunate that discourse has evolved in this way.”
NP: Yeah, it’s not necessarily “I’m right and you’re wrong”, it’s “I’m right and you’re evil.”

Amen, that there Roxanne Gay, speaking to Nerdette Podcast. It’s the night before the big General Election and I’m a little excited to vote (because voting) but also a little frustrated, because, much like most everyone else, there are so many parts of manifestos I would like to stir together to make some sort of rainbow-party-manifesto, that voting for any one seems like a waste of a vote. Or rather, seems like a wasted opportunity to make a difference.

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#yesallwomen

May 26, 2014

frittatas // www.lauratosney.co.uk

What a crazy weekend for news. While I’ve been pottering around running races and making breakfast frittatas for the week, Twitter has been sparking with the EU election results, the horrific misogynistic killing spree carried out by Elliot Rodger (which spawned the amazing #yesallwomen hashtag – read it and take it in, because that is what you have to put up with every day as a girl/woman), and Michael Gove taking two seminal works of literature off the curriculum because he doesn’t like them? Literally, was it that arbitrary a decision? Please tell me that’s misreported. I was introduced to To Kill A Mockingbird at my (state) school, by a teacher I remember as one of my favourites, and one of the best that taught me. I’d always loved reading, but at that point ‘wider reading’ to me was the entire back catalogue of The Saddle Club. And Pride and Prejudice. And almost anything where animals could talk to humans. So the likelihood of my finding it at a point where it would resonate as deeply as it did without being introduced to it by someone who could explain the bits to me that I wasn’t sure about… slim to none.

I can still remember phrases that we underlined in those copies, and I still remember how a simple, wonderful turn of phrase made me think. Harper Lee’s only novel isn’t just a masterpiece debut, it’s a way of teaching tolerance and thinking for yourself instead of following the pack. Because instead of judging someone, you should “climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Right?

How Mr. Gove can fail to be moved by this book is beyond me. How he can be responsible for broadening minds through education when he can’t see past purely British authors? Unbelievable. You know what? I might even put aside the book I’m reading at the minute (Harriet Ann Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of A Slave Girl, by the way, and pick up my battered little copy of TKAM. And leave you with one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite characters in literature:

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.
– Atticus Finch

Closing the gender gap in sports: probably not achieved with Zumba

February 21, 2014

“I think let’s see how it goes and to be fair to broadcasters they’re looking at it and getting better,” she says. “You have to give it the chance don’t you. Let’s see how we do at the Olympics.”

^This is an actual quote from our Minister of Sport and Equalities when asked about the fact that there was little-to-no coverage of the women’s Ashes, which the female cricket team actually won. May I respectfully say that suggesting we watch for potential Olympic success as an indicator of women’s broadcasting/winning potential (after giving virtually no funding to the women involved) is like planting 3 lonely seeds, settling back for a while and saying ‘let’s see how well the orchard grows’. Just 0.5% of commercial sponsorship goes to women in sport and only 5% of the media coverage. So, really, do we expect to win so many Olympic medals that Sky Sports will suddenly say, “guys! Hey guys! Oh god, we’ve been getting it all wrong! LOOK at all the talented women!”…?

…yes, because that tactic worked so well for us post-summer games, didn’t it?

Over a year on from London 2012 and though Helen Grant makes the reasonable and true point that “we need to get to the point where women’s sport is looked on and regarded as equal to the men’s game.”, she then disappointingly moves on to suggest it’s about ‘asking grown women what they want…whether it’s a Zumba class or rounders”.

*facepalm*

I have nothing against rounders. I actually really enjoy it. But by suggesting that we focus on ‘more feminine’ ways into sports for women will absolutely not close that gender gap. By suggesting a nice gentle Zumba class might be just what we secretly really want won’t garner more coverage for our utterly deserving women’s teams. Plus, staring down a chasm of funding disparity with an offer of ballet and gymnastics and femininity won’t garner more respect for women who are winning more medals in traditionally ‘male’ sports than the men are. Nor will it mean that brilliant olympians like Beth Tweddle won’t face disgusting levels of sexism for not looking ‘feminine’ enough or, quite frankly, for just being a woman in sport.

Sigh.

1918 – 2013

December 6, 2013

Madiba

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

– William Ernest Henley

 

11.11

November 11, 2013

Move him into the sun –
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds, –
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved – still warm – too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
– O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all?

Wilfred Owen

“Superwomen” and what’s wrong with sport

September 22, 2013

So the other day a friend of mine posted some coverage of his school which, while great for his school and all, got my blood absolutely boiling. I thought about replying and then thought, well I don’t want to be that person that turns something genial and nice into raging grimness, so no, let’s step away.

And I hadn’t thought about it again until this morning. When reading the Times, I spy and advert on the periphery of yet another article about political sniping for The 100 Richest Sportsmen. Let’s just re-read that a second. The 100 Richest SportsMEN. “Is there an equivalent 100 richest sportsWOMEN?” I don’t hear anyone cry. No. Actually. There is a ‘Wealthiest Young Sportsmen‘ list, just in case we weren’t sure which part of the sports industry this country likes to vomit money at. That would be Men and Young Men, then.

The article, by the way, that spawned this whole post was around a lack of ”accessible” role models for young girls in sport. I take a little issue with that, because I don’t feel that Jessica Ennis – being pretty much the only female sports persona we get to hear about once the Olympics has finished – is an ‘inaccessible’ role model, I just think she’s a bloody lonely one. Also, in terms of money, and despite having been a serious competitor in athletics since 2006…or even before if you count her teens, Jessica Ennis was reportedly only worth around £300,000 before her Olympic win meant a ‘potential explosion in commercial appeal’ and therefore more sponsorship deals. Funnily enough, I think I’ve seen less of her now after she pulled off an amazing victory than before. When she and Ellie Simmonds were like, pretty much the only women papers focused on in the run up to the Olympics. It’s not like we have many, many…many more making up Team GB or anything.

Frankly, screw condescending local paper articles about how female role models just aren’t accessible enough. Surely, SURELY you have to have some female role models in the public eye before we can even argue about how accessible they are. “The role models are the elite of the elite, almost superwomen, who may intimidate girls so they don’t even bother”, came the quote from Christine Ohuruogu (Olympic gold medalist, no less). I’d argue it’s not that we’re put off by Jess Ennis’ Heptathalon feats and demi-god abs, more that there’s just no choice. Personally, amongst the sports I love are (in no particular order) basketball, football, netball, rowing, horse riding, hockey, ice hockey, figure skating, gymnastics and tennis. I can think of one out of that list that I get to see televised female competitors (in a prime TV slot on an accessible channel) more than just once every four years at the Olympics. If we want more girls taking part in sport, it’s about time we started taking our women more seriously.