Thursday, October 25, 2007

And another thing

Mildly encouraged by the bill going forward in parliament next year – although I expect that we’ll see more belligerent statements from church leaders and the anti-abortion crew before then (who I refuse to call pro-life because, let’s face it, life seems to be the least of their concerns).

The idea that women will no longer need two doctors to sign off on abortions is very welcome and should have the knock-on effect that more women will manage to fall under the 12 week mark. Similarly that some of these early terminations could be finished in the woman’s own home, thus easing the burden on hospitals and making the whole thing less traumatic for the individual.

However, not so encouraged by Rowan Williams’ rant against women who have abortions, all of whom apparently see the whole thing as part of everyday contraceptive plans. Yeah, you know what Rowan? Noticed that myself. My friends and I *always* talk about how our contraceptive plans consist solely of abortions. In fact, we spend so much time having them, we barely have time to conceive.

These comments always seem so patronising because they assume that women are stupid. The abortion rate has gone up, not because more women are exercising their right to decide what happens to their own body and taking action earlier and earlier in the process, but because we all can’t work out how to use condoms, oral contraceptives and so forth. The fact that the NHS is getting better at informing women of their choices means nothing.

Rather than penalising women who want to get abortions and representing them as misinformed, why not campaign to increase education on contraception in schools? A friend of mine who has just started university rang me up to ask how one went about getting the contraceptive pill and how much it cost. Thank goodness she had someone to ask! Can you imagine how many young women out there just don’t know and are too embarrassed to bring it up? Then again, according to the church we really can’t do that, because that would be promoting sex.

So, let’s just hate women and blame them for being uninformed and refuse to tell them anything useful. That sounds rational. Well done!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stuck in the mud

I have an acquaintance who used to be a very good friend. It’s sad that we don’t talk very much any more, or see each other that often. She blames for this – her view of friendship is that I ought to stay religiously in touch: a call once or twice a week, a night out once a week. Needless to say, I don’t manage this. My own mother is lucky to receive a call every fortnight. As a result, she refuses to contact me off her own bat. I have to initiate contact, otherwise there will be none. And even when I do, if my offering is judged unworthy, I will receive no communication back. I accept some blame for this – I am not as organised as I could be.

I suppose we have clashing definitions of what friendship is – mine is wider, vaguer: people that you like and keep in touch with and when you see them, it doesn’t feel like time has passed. I have friends I don’t see or hear from for a year but seeing them again is welcome and nice. They are still my friends. Obviously, I understand the need to be discerning about what constitutes a friend in opposition to someone you know/used to know but I have a feeling I am in the right here.

The issue is that it is no longer possible for me to be a friend in the way she so desires. We are no longer at university, living in the same house. I live with my partner, in a different city. I work a nine hour day in an hectic, stressful job, with four hours commuting on top of that, for 5 days a week. I have commitments to my work colleagues, my family and my partner which tend, due to necessity, to come before my social life. She is still a student, taking a more lax and flexible course than before, in the city in which I work. I don’t think that it is unreasonable to expect that, at this point, she should make some effort to contact me, or to try and arrange her schedule around mine rather than getting cross when mine does not match hers. That maintaining our friendship should be the responsibility of both of us rather than just me.

To be honest, it has reached the stage when I am increasingly unlikely to call her. Meeting up involves ten minutes of recriminations, half an hour of me apologising and then another hour or so of her looking martyred. I no longer feel I can apologise for having a life – we grow up, move on, our time is more precious. And I feel cross and frustrated that she makes us go through this ridiculous pantomime and makes sustaining our friendship such a challenge.

I think it is time to let this one go and I’ve been reluctant to do it because losing a friend is sad. However, you need to pick your fights carefully and this is definitely one battle I’m never going to win.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Act your age

I can't believe Sir Ming has gone - I actually feel a little digusted. I have met Simon Hughes and, far be it for me to launch a personal attack (because as you can tell from my blog, I am so restrained) I think he has acted wrongly.

The fact that Campbell has decided to resign with immediate effect - can you even think of a leader of a British political party doing the same thing in the past decade or two? - suggests that he was well and truly pushed rather than decided to leave of his own accord. Obviously, it was down in part to ageism - the other part was down to the Lib Dem's determination to tear themselves apart.

It is *not good practice* to have three party leaders between one election. The way Kennedy went was embarassing enough, but how can one seriously expect voters to believe you are capable of running a country if you can't even wait 5 years before tearing yourselves apart? It's completely ridiculous. With the Tories experiencing a revival, the best thing to do would have been to stand loyal and help the Lib Dems win some seats. The only reason Ming was doing so badly in opinion polls was because his own party kept stabbing him in the back. Did anyone else even care?

The fact is that Labour and the Conservatives are going stronger than ever - this is really not the time for the potential 3rd party (we won't even get in to that debate here) to go through an existential crisis.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

And this is why you should Just Say No

As you may have noted, I am working from the position that the wrongness of voting Conservative is completely self-evident. However, I do admit that just because I cannot think of any plausible reason for doing so (except for being a reactionary, selfish person) does not mean that there *aren’t* any, nor does it excuse me from having to justify my own position. So – here is one reason why voting Conservative is a bad thing.

It involves the Conservative proposal of cutting benefits to single parent families. Watching Cameron talk to ol’Marr on the BBC, he made the comment that single parents receive more money than cohabiting couples with children (although let’s not pretend that he wasn’t *itching* to say “married” couples) and how this didn’t make any sense. Why should one person get more money than two people? Who are, after all, one person + one person. And then his brain melted out of his ears and he started twitching in a strangely compelling manner.

Okay, so the last bit didn’t happen. Outside of my head. That still leaves poor old David confused as to exactly why we should continue to give more money to single parent families. Let’s give him a hand here:

• Single parent families live off of *one* wage – or, if the parent is unable to work, one set of benefits. With cohabiting couples, the earning potential is presumably double (I’m going to keep this simple for the moment so we don’t go off on a tangent)

Aha, my Conservative opponent might say, but in two parent families, you might only have one person working. With only one person working, you have more family to support than the single parent. (We may have a sneaking suspicion that they are being rather reactionary here and there is a whiff which suggests that mothers ought to be staying at home with the children anyway, unless they are single mothers in which case they ought to be kicked out onto the streets and left to starve, the lazy bitches. However we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.)

Then we have the key Conservative argument, which they get triumphantly twitchy when putting forward: paying single people more means that couples will *split up* in order to get twice as much benefit. And let’s face it – they’re not talking about the middle classes, who are decent, wage-earning folk. No, they’re talking about poor people. Because we all know they can’t be trusted – the slippery, conniving individuals that they are. So, by enabling them, we are contributing to the *break-down of society* (cue big cymbal clashes etc and flashes of doom).

It’s not over yet though – we have an extreme example of our own. Which is actually not all that extreme.

• By cutting benefits to single parents, you are effectively taking away the only escape route that many women have from unhealthy and/or abusive relationships. It is a well-known fact that manipulative partners often keep their partners financially dependent on them as a means of control. If a person cannot afford to leave a relationship and provide for their families, they won’t leave.

It seems that, for the Conservatives, it is more important that people are in relationships – any relationships - than that they provide a stable environment for raising children in.

But that’s okay – the extra money that comes in from couple benefit can go towards therapy for Johnny after he gets PTSD from watching daddy beat the shit out of mummy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

In other news

I've finished scarf #1 (which looks great) and have started scarf #2 which, to be honest, is going less well. I am unable to do ribbing - the resultant mess on my needle looks like a unwell wool-bird took a gigantic crap on a stick. Rather than work at figuring it out, I've decided I'll just never do it. Like many fairly clever people, I like to avoid things I'm not very good at, thus perpetuating my fantasy life as someone who is Great. As such, my knitting career looks likely to involve an awful lot of very simple scarves.

They will be very *good* simple scarves though.

I'm serious now: just stop it.

I have pretty much stopped reading or listening to the news at the moment - it's just too depressing. First there was the non-stop blanket coverage of the conservative party conference. Then there was Cameron's moronic (but, one has to grudgingly admit, well executed) speech and the promise to do away with inheritance tax etc. etc. stop foreign people taking our jobs blah blah and the general public *are eating it up*. In fact, they are demanding seconds. They are grasping at the opportunity to fill their greedy, bloated faces on complete crap.

So: when did the British public become so... stupid? I like to think that I generally have a pretty positive view of humanity but this is starting to change. I just can't believe that people are so easily persuaded into utter imbecility. For once, I am at an utter loss to describe how sodding depressed I am feeling. No wonder people go somewhat loopy and start demanding the rule of the elite, philosopher kings and so on - it's beginning to look like the General Public (I feel it should be capitalised) cannot be trusted to do anything properly, let alone engage in rational thought and elect the best possible leader.

Now poor old GB is taking a beating because he didn't call an election. WTF? How can the media be so full of righteous indignation when they were the ones stirring up the rumours anyway? And when did it become the biggest mistake he's ever made? It seems a pretty big leap to make.

To sum up: let's have the rule of the elite, as long as the elite actually means me. And, whilst we're at it, let's have some sense out of BBC Breakfast because it's starting to give me the impression that there are no actual important world events going on outside of arguing over which supermarket has the best food labelling.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Stream of consciousness

I haven’t blogged for a while, mainly because I was on holiday, then I was busy trying to catch up the work I should have done, then I got ill and now I’m really lazy. Also, things happen too fast to blog about, so how to choose?

Things I thought about blogging:

• Gordon Brown’s great pre-conference interview with Andrew Marr – more specifically, how remaining completely calm and unruffled works much better than getting irate and defensive and how I wish that I could do this in my own life.

• Cameron’s completely *insane* ideas about giving benefits only to couples and cutting benefits for single parents. WTF? Anyway – I will be blogging about this at some point.

• Protests in Burma – actually this just made me too depressed and caused me to slump into a weeping mess, despairing at the fact that there are so many bad people in the world. It still does and I wish there was something more constructive I could do about it. Apart from stop moaning about my job because then I feel guilty about whining about something so trivial. It takes me into a bit of a Singer situation and, as much as I would like to, I can’t sustain this level of my-problems-mean-nothing forever.

• Why no-one dares to sexually harass me at work in person, yet when I’m on the phone in a professional context, people try to flirt. It must be something about my body language (or the stony, fuck-you set of my face) that’s not present in my voice. I do have quite a young, girly voice I guess. Maybe I am not coming across as professional as I look. Who knows? Or maybe, given the large numbers of calls I make, I’m just bound to come across more weird men.

• Women who insist on referring to everyone as girls. *All the time*. I am not a girl. I am especially not a girl at work. Or whilst commuting. Or pretty much any time really. We all make the occasional slip, but really. I don’t think that “girl power” is particularly empowering because, let’s face it, you’re trying to empower yourself from a position of traditional misogynistic oppression. So let’s be women.

• Knitting. I’ve taught myself to knit. It’s fun. (Yeah, wouldn’t be a particularly inspiring post, I guess.) It is especially rewarding because my mother thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because I’m left handed and all previous attempts to teach me ended in disaster. So I’m just doing it right handed and you know what? It works fine and I am pretty good at it. Sort of. Relative to how I was. I’m making a scarf.

So: there is my download. Hopefully putting these down in a list will spark off other thoughts and I will never again lack for things to blog about. One can only hope…