Sometimes it's SHIT to be a woman

So tonight I went out with an old friend. It was so good to see her particularly because I feel like recently our circumstances have been conspiring against us meeting wise. It wasn't some big mad night out till X am it was literally a wee drink after work, which for her finished at 9pm. She literally had 2 drinks. This didn't stop a random (wanker A) at the bar winking at us, I wasn't sure what he was doing. I thought he must have a problem,  so I didn't say anything until he came over and started talking shit and actually touching my friend. This was crap but I was relieved that after this (and also my friend is more than capable of saying FUCK OFF should she think it merits it) he seemed to leave the bar. 30 mins later he appears outside as we are smoking, at this  point we are more blatant and he again retreats to the shadows, now, my friend has to work tomorrow and I have half a glass of red left so I say, it's cool you can go I don't mind, please get a goods night and we kiss cheeks and she leaves. I go back inside and guess who reappears, begging me to have a drink with him. yeah Wanker A I say NO NO NO I am going home and, after he brings me a drink which I refuse, he retreats again. 

I literally down my wine thinking, ok its too shady for me to be on my own now, I walk briskly towards the bus stop at which point another random guy starts rapping, yes RAPping at me, "you such a honey mummy wanna suck yo necta" At this point Im in a bad fucking mood, I told him 'I'm not a fucking bee get the fuck away', he says OH your Irish like me Im patrick, "Irish Honey wants mixed race money" I said "Im fucking Scottish not that its any of your fucking business and the only money Im interested in the money to get me on the bus and home so fuck off". At this point he backs away and I think, great - just me and radiohead on the headphones.

And then the bus comes, I tap in and sit down looking at wanker b out the window thinking ace, just me and radiohead...... nah........ at the last minute he jumps through the bus doors and starts gesturing and rapping again. I dont take my headphones out I put my head against the window and pretend I dont hear the 'soft milky white cunts of necta' and 'Ill take you up the ass, like wild irish grass'. Any way this goes on for about 25 minutes until another guy gets on the bus, he's obvi uncomfortable with the raps from wanker b and he's a big bugger, so I take one headphone out just in time to hear wanker b scream 'this my bitch, why you looking at my bitch' at this point Im shaking my head and gesturing to big guy that I am not his 'bitch'. I say - I DON'T EVEN KNOW YOU - FUCK OFF YOU WEIRDO and at that point big guy gets up and I ding the bell to get off (way before my stop) and the door opens and I dash out and as I look back big guy has wanker b in a chest hold as he had obviously made a dash to come after me.  The bus driver gives me a thumbs up.

I took the well dodgy back streets 

I got home and kissed my fiancée goodnight because obviously I don't want him to worry and to be honest he is one of the most fair and balanced people I know. But at the same point I need  the other men who know and love me to know that this is what happens on a quiet 2 drink Thursday night out, every time you make a sexist joke,  every time you accidentally or otherwise demean a woman this is the end result. 

This is inexcusable, and this is one example from one week, which is actually not that bad, it didn't end in violence or sexual assault. And how sad is it that this is a 'GOOD' week

Does any of this matter?

Politics isn't really my thing. I like science and reason and proper unbiased evidence over politics. I wanted however to share my experience as a Phd Student, Charity Director, Health Psychologist and most recently: Tutor to gifted students at under-performing schools in North and East London. This isn't really any kind of statement, more just how I see the world. 
I have been really lucky in my academic career. As a mature student who desperately wanted to study psychology but couldn't afford to, I was granted an opportunity bursary covering over 90% of fees for my BSc. I was then offered a fully funded Phd at Birkbeck half way through my masters which is crazily fortunate, something I still pinch myself over.  It's not something that I take for granted now that undergrad degrees alone are £27,000, totally different from my dad who studied law on a government grant with a teacher mother and a lorry driving father. 
Technically: education level and parental occupation, I am middle class........I guess?.
You wouldn't know that if you saw me sitting in my one bed flat in Tottenham, the mould that aggravates my asthma creeping up the walls again with the contents of my roof currently all over the carpet thanks to the recent weather and a crack the size of the San Andreas fault in my ceiling (but it is quite cheap.....for london.... I know .....I'm 33..... I know that we have a double income..... but we can't afford the 50k deposit).  I am not middle class, not any more, nobody is. You are rich or you are poor. No where is this more obvious than the school system.
One of the charities I work for places Phd students from top unis in under-performing schools to talk about their research and teach a course around it. This starts by delivering a tutorial at a top UK university and culminates in a graded assignment and a graduation service at another , ideally acclimatising the pupils to the idea of academia and uni life. I remember the first time I did this at Oxford and sat with my new wards in the dinner halls, making a joke about ... ha ha we're at hogwarts, asking them if they might apply here:
'no miss I think I'd prefer to stay in London'.
That's a shame I thought until it suddenly hit me that I was in a hall full of non white students who were being subjected to the critical eye of nearly 1000 years worth of fat old white men staring down at them in portrait form from every wall, corridor and structural orifice possible. It was a startling realisation - I wouldn't want to go here either. I didn't voice that though, I'm there to widen participation, to W I D E N participation, but to be fair they'd have to widen the walls first.
because I didn't see any women either
Actually that's a lie. On the way back when they had the a - z of oxford covering one of the the long roads back to the station they had some black tribal queen - didn't say anything else about her though, no inventions, or laws, like the other (ALL MALE)  appearances , just that in the past they had seen a black female. Well done Oxford! A PR bogof if you like!
But never mind I soldiered on, thinking this generation will be different..... has to be different. One of the things we try to do in this job is to get the kids ready for their UCAS application by saying how they can use the course. I asked them all what they wanted to do at uni - there were 12 students:
'Law, law, law, economics, law, economics, economics, law, law, law, economics and law, economics'
What a coincidence I thought, while simultaneously wondering why these students were in my class (apparently I was part of the STEM initiative)! I asked one student what he was going to do as a career after a degree in Economics
'run a hedge fund miss, then retire at around 30 and get into hip hop production'
Oh you like music I said, I was a musician before I went back to academia, it was great I loved it, why wouldn't you do that now?
'did you make any money miss'
I divert and ask my other student who has been stressing over how much information there is to remember in my course
'you know that the law is really dependent on how good you can recall information right'
'Yes I know miss, but when I'm a big lawyer I can buy a big house and have an amazing car then quit and have a lush retirement at 40. Then maybe I'll write a novel'
I want to scream at them, tell them to do what they love and are passionate about, that they are the ones who have the best songs, the best ideas, you have to struggle to truly create, that the world is their oyster, that rod stewart started as a busker, to look at the life of David lamie (who I later find out was basically plucked from tottenham as a child on a scholarship to a very exclusive private school) and they can be who they want to be and stuff (you should have seen their faces so young and bursting with potential). I brave myself, I can say this shit, I'm not the system, I'm not the school or the authority, I can get to them....
But I didn't say any of it... ...because right now that sentiment, in this political climate..... for these kids anyway..... is a lie.
They can't follow their dreams, not for the cost of a deposit of a house. No, they don't get to be creative, or passionate or god forbid talented. They have one goal - to make that £27000 that they have to pay for their education count......in purely monetary terms. There is no doing something because you love it, no possibility of waiting for success, only attaining the heady dream of living in your own home rather than paying someone else mortgage (and then some) as soon as possible. Opting out ...... as soon as possible. Trust me at the moment with the drips being caught by a salad bowl - I get it.
We are not inspiring greatness in our working and middle class children, we are  promoting greed as the only viable career choice. We are telling them that their talents and passions are nothing in the face of a capitalist system that rewards litigation and moving money around confusingly more than understanding the cultural nuances of Iranian creative writing or studying why people behave the way they do or being able to train yourself to the dexterity of a Beethoven piano sonata. As a result we will only receive a cultural stagnation, a whole culture of private school nativity plays. But hey we'll be too busy in hedge funds to give a shit.

After the sessions had ended my star pupil, who genuinely is capable of doing anything, at any uni, at any time said to me:
'I really enjoyed your course, I didn't think I would but I really did, and thank you for the mark, I didn't think I would do so well but I'm really happy, I would even change my mind about my uni degree, but I've already picked my stream so I can't do anything about it now.  Thanks though, It was great.
But hey, at least he won't have a leaking roof right?

Why am I restarting my blog?

So I have decided to restart my blog. And the reason for this is that despite my best efforts I'm still rather crap at making clothes. I have done all my research and I haven't found anything that's totally free and starts from the very very beginner level. I think that's why I have struggled. I still don't know what fabric to use and the terminology confuses me. I'm guessing at what 'should' be ok rather than actually going and asking someone who is much more knowledgeable than me. I get frustrated and bored and rather than taking the time to finish things properly I just steam ahead regardless and end up with projects that only look like they belong in the bin! Obviously that is not how to make clothes as my output has been well.... interesting

Also I am rather large so I have yet to find a good sewing pattern for my shape. I don't know about you, but the tutorials I follow on you tube, while normally very good are also a little to advanced for me, I don't really know what sort of tension I should be using or stitch length or anything like that and I've been too embarrassed to ask. As much as I am in awe of these tutors I have also noticed that most of them are rather petite and pretty and would look good in a plastic bag so hopefully I will be able to show you what these projects look like on a curvier frame. And I will be going out and asking the experts for advice too. It can't just be me who desperately wants to make lush clothes but lacks well.. talent and absolutely step by step instructions! So I've decided to document my journey into understanding the mystical world of clothes making and hopefully help some people along the way. I will be covering absolutely everything you need to know from fabric, to machine settings in micro detail and I will only be using free stuff I've found on the Internet and advice from nice people I've harassed to do so. I think initially the basic course will also use NO store bought patterns and start with very very basic shapes. I have a book that was recommended to me that has every item of clothing illustrated, all the different skirts and top shapes, and my goal is to make everyone of them, so I hope that you will sew along with me. Every week I'll be providing a list of everything that you will need and a video of what I've done (which will no doubt contain mistakes to avoid also) and machine setting I've used ect

So follow me on social media and sew along with me, ask questions (if you dare) and lets get sewing!!!  

But It's been AGES!!!!!

I know because I've been really busy. In the time between blog posts I have, grown my baby charity into a snotty teenager who is over-demanding my time and money, got a first for my degree (I'm still pinching myself), had my dissertation nominated to the BPS ( I didn't win but don't tell anyone, it sounds much less impressive), been to America, met someone in person I never thought I would and stared my Masters in Research. Scary Biscuits. So as weird as it might seem, out of all that the highlight of my year so far was definitely going to WALMART.

Now as an avid Simpsons  south park and family guy watcher, it has always been a dream of mine to go to walmart, could it really be that vast and soulless, did they really greet you at the front door, could you really buy anything? Well the answer turned out to be yes, handily there was a MEGAWALMART right next to my hotel and I gleefully skipped off to it to buy tonnes of crap, seriously look how happy I am

This is the only picture I took which is actually quite shameful 

Have you ever seen anyone so happy to visit a Supermarket? I bought crap of all genres, a woolly hat, make up, jeans, chocolate flavoured vodka, a hoodie, loads of craft stuff but most importantly, I was tasked by my friend Vicky to find the most tacky gift to bring back. I think I win that challenge:


How amazingly shit is this!!

One thing I was really really struck by though was how cheap the material was. I brought back well over 21 meters and it cost me about 30 quid!!!!! Including a frankly amazing pink panther print that is going to look wicked regardless what I do with it (oh oh that sounded  like over confidence). I guess I'm feeling a bit positive because I finally finished a dress that I started 2 years ago - Its the same pattern as the original one I did with my mum so I had an advantage, but it is actually wearable, doesn't look like it's going to fall apart and is actually fairly cute: It is New Look Pattern 6567 here are some pictures





But as we all know pride comes before a fall!!! I tend to make stuff when I'm stressed out and at the moment I'm on red alert so I've got no doubt my next make will be a disaster

While typing this I have been listening to this which is just blissful




'Sorry Love, I was looking at your clothes... not your face'

Ahhhh the words every woman loves to hear...

 'Have you got any ID please?'

My heart fluttered and my mind did a little mental wink 'still got it kid' 


I turned around from the self service check-out to beam smugly at the asda lady, ready to do my funny thing - 'ha ha you should see me without make up' or 'I'm sorry I'm thirty! come on, I'm far to polite to be underage' - but I didn't get the chance

 'Oh! Sorry Love!!!! I was looking at your clothes... not your face.'

Yes lets just run through that once more

I was looking at your clothes... not your face


Oh fucking great, thanks very much, way to ruin my day (life). And the thing is that yeah, it is nice to look a bit younger but that doesn't really bother me, it's the implication that I was DRESSED like an underager. Urrgghhh. Those of you who are unfortunate to come into regular contact with me will know that I had a total fashion breakdown the last time this happened. (no, this isn't the first time I've been told I 'dress like a teenager'), I spent 3 months dressed in dowdy skirts and polo necks, I looked like a goth quaker, not good. I was just.... just getting out of this funk (it took a lot of vodka and a trip to the PCC for a Rocky Horror Sing - a - long) when this incident occurred. As much as I'm depressed about it I'm also increasingly frustrated: I'm thirty, not married, have no children WTF am I supposed to wear? And what exactly is wrong about going down the Asda in joggers and a hoodie? Suddenly because I'm thirty I'm supposed to look like I've been vomited out of the freemans catalogue?

So in desperation I turned to the internet thinking:

Maybe I should look at some female celebrities in their 30s for some inspiration

Really - Whorebag Elvis Cowgirl!

You would think with all her money JLo
could afford some better attire than her
 grans old doileys


Seriously? The Melty Face, Skanky Babrbie
bubblegum porn star look is sutable
for someone in their 30's? REALLY? 'Looks like Candy'
No LOOKS LIKE AGEING PROSTITUTE
At least I know where I'm going wrong now. I am wearing far too many layers! According to my research, basically, I can't look like a fully grown woman unless I am one, desperately dressing as if I'm not. Oh and don't forget to look fresh out of some kind of porn fantasy. School Girl Princess Bubblegum, Elvis Christian Cowgirl and, well??? Grandma's kitchen table?


20 Richmond Superkings and a Half bottle of Kirov please
 While writing this I have been listening to this (angrily)


Ridiculously Photogenic Guy vs Me vs Baby Poo


So to add insult to injury this bloody picture has been all over the interwebs this week
smug wanker
Can I just say this - you sir are a dickhead, how dare you look so happy when running!! Running is NOT fun ! How can one look so composed? I don't get it! And while I'm at it look at the other women in this picture, granted they don't look as photogenic but still! They all look a damn sight better than me. AKA ridiculously unphotogenic girl after 5K.


Sexy I know 
 Yep take a second to look at the two pictures in contrast. I am the anti happy runner; sweaty, smelly, redfaced and full of hayfever. Its not getting better, yes granted I am now able to run 5 mins without stopping but to be brutally honest after 6 weeks I would expect a little more and I am now positively shitting myself about the 10k I'm running at the end of June. You know the carrot on a stick thing? I wonder if that would work for me, not a carrot obviously, maybe 20 B&H or a bottle of vodka. Maybe that's what the guy was smiling at? Maybe its Carmen Electra taking the picture? Either way he doesn't even look like he's got a sweat on the prick.

Anyway in crafty news I had good luck and bad luck today. As is often the case during exam time, sitting down to academic papers for any more than 20mins at a time makes me want to gouge my eyes out so I have to break up the drudgery with little distractions. I have had a pile of stuff to 'remodel' in the corner for ages and I decided that would make the perfect little study break. First I took a dress that I had and made it into a skirt. The prime reason for doing this was that my other half said he hated it. Alas, after I had re-purposed it this hadn't changed. In fact after I twirled around the living room, full of anticipation and hope, and asked him what he thought, I got the following

 'well it's still the colour of baby - poo innit' 

To be fair though if you look at the casing for the elastic I sewn in it looks like shit - I totally screwed it up and couldn't be arsed fixing it so its going in the bin. He's right anyway It looks like diarrhoea.

Anyway luckily for me I have a lot of study to do so I took myself off to repurpose a £4 Zara dress I picked up in a charity shop, It was supposed to be a size 14 but to be honest it was more like an age 14 year old skinny emo boy (with no tits.) So I lobbed off the vast majority of the material and turned it into a pretty summer skirt. I have to be honest this isn't usually my type of thing but I liked the print. I cocked up so massively on the first one that I really took my time with the ONE BIT of sewing I had to do here for the elastic casing. Unfortunately I still managed to sew the wrong sides of the elastic together so that it was all twisted grrrhhhh. I fixed it though and I must say that I'm pretty happy with the result. I even instagrammed it for extra girlie prettiness (wtf is happening to me!)

As some of you may know the reason that Im killing myself running is for charity. If anyone has any doubt that I'm actually enjoying this lets just have a quick review


  

Versus this: please donate

https://www.justgiving.com/fagashlil






Whilst writing this I have been listening to this


Why would anyone do running as a hobby?

So I hate running, I mean really hate it, like would rather be doing anything (babysitting, making shit casserole, watching the X factor) rather than running. This begs the following questions WTF HAVE YOU DONE ENTERING A HALF MARATHON?? Well you see a very close friend of mine died last year and one of the last things she did was piss herself at the thought of me running a marathon. In fact I think her actual words were ' Jacq you do know its inappropriate to stop for a fag 5 mins in'. I'm the director of a charity and so many people have done amazing things for it that I thought it was time I put myself through the ringer to raise some funds.

 I started off doing the whole no new clothes thing, but my other half was like 'Im not sponsoring you for that, its a piece of piss' (bear in mind he has 2 pairs of jeans a few t shirts and 3 hoodies and he point blank refuses to go shopping for anything that will adorn his person any more than once a year). He was right though, what a first world thing to do 'oh I wont buy any new clothes for a year' dickhead move. So I though what is the thing I hate more than anything else, in the world. RUNNING.

What I want to look like

I was being less than half serious about the marathon before (nah actually much less than that) Its running, I hate it. I'm overweight, a heavy smoker, borderline alcoholic and as fit as a contestant on the American 'Biggest Loser' (before they enter the house). Running is pretty much my own personal hell, so being as I obviously hate myself I have signed myself up for the Glasgow half marathon in September. I'm thinking that Ill just wear a celtic top in the rangers area and vice versa, maybe the imminent threat on my life will make me run faster? Anyways I've done it now like a twat and I have already started training. To date I can't run more than One Minute without literally collapsing I'm not even joking I have never made it past half a song. And I have to train where I live which is Tottenham - double shit

What I actually look like
So please sponsor me, this truly isn't something enjoyable, with literally every foot that hits the pavement my brain is going, 'f*%k this, stupid b£$%h, silly twat, hate hate, hate hate, heart attack, heart attack, smoke hag, Lungs exploding, die now' I honestly am doing the worst thing to myself ever I hate it. In fact I hate running more than I hate the Killer's Second Album, Sharks, Alexandra Burke's Slaughtering of Halleluia, Celebrity Culture, Eggs, Snakes and Bono combined (and believe me that's a lot of hate) so please give money to the charity and make it worth it. The charity does fantastic work and we have a fantastic team of people who can't go about the country and save peoples lives without the money. If we have no money people, particularly young vulnerable women will die. No joke. And that is what keeps driving me forward, if I have to run walk run that half marathon then I'll do it. So please please donate on my just giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fagashlil

Why am I so Crap? 365 Day Challenge

Do you ever have those days when you wonder, why is everything I do so crap? Why am I so crap, Why is it so impossible for me to actually do something? I don't know if it's the weather or the fact I feel a bit ill but I just feel like I'm drowning in mediocrity and malaise. I have to get back to work for DWED and I love it but I just don't even know where to start. I have to get everything organised and I feel like I just don't know how anymore. Unfortunately running and hiding isn't an option. I think that my youth is catching up with me. Normally I look a lot younger than I am but the last few months I have been looking every second of my age, my hair and skin and dry, my nails are brittle my teeth are still giving me horrendous jip I'm overweight, unbelievably unfit, smoking like a chimney and drinking like a sailor on leave. I curse every cig I put out but I just can't seem to break the cycle. I hate smoking now, I hate everything about it but there I am, smoking my life away. That's the other thing, I can feel how it affects me now, I'm so tired all the time, my chest is tight and I get pains, urrgghhh. This is not how I imagined the start of my 30s. I know that something has to change, well actually, a lot has to change but how does one start when everything is so overwhelming, if I could just get some energy back then perhaps my outlook would start to change. I think that I've become so adept at ignoring the things that cause me discomfort that this has become a problem within itself. For example money, thinking about money makes me break out in a cold sweat so I just try and ignore it. This is a problem when it comes to spending , its like I know I shouldn't be buying something but by not buying it I am confirming that I should be worrying about money, (which of course I should be) and I can't cope with it. The cycle goes round and round and I feel like I'm stuck in the center of a tornado. I'm worried about my relationship, sometimes I don't know how anyone can put up with the amount of shit that comes with loving me. Someone told me once that I talk as quickly as they thought, I said 'then you should hear the inside of my head'. And I'm so done with it. It's like a form of self harm, starting things and not finishing them, not thinking about my diet or my finacnces or what is actually going on in my life, while protective on one hand is totally devastating my life on the other. So as craft and organising seem to be such natural bedfellows I am going to do a 365 day challenge to sort out my life and make some nice stuff on the way. In the past I have tried to do every things at once and have failed instantly as a result. Now I'm going to try and use some of the amazing blogs I've found to try and help me and use this blog to keep me accountable. God knows I have to do something or I'm not going to be any use to anyone.