I’m not sorry…

I believe the ‘May you live in interesting times’ debate is well and truly settled. These times are no blessing. Life has become that dog in the burning house meme. We’re all expected to carry on, but hey, I don’t think any of us are fine.

Dog in a burning room with a speech bubble saying this is fine

In recent years we’ve had the rise of the right. Politicians who have zero interest in the common good, civic responsibility or even telling the fucking truth. Police are still murdering POC without consequence, whilst they simultaneously neglect to intervene when a maniac massacres small children. The poor get poorer, the rich get richer. Footballers have to intervene to feed hungry children because our leaders have absolutely no interest in people who aren’t just like them. A global pandemic is killing millions and spawned a new kind of selfish. The same people who won’t wear a piece of cloth on their face to protect other will happily force a ten year old child to give birth to a rapist’s child. A new, extra virulent type of anti vaxxer has infected our society. Marginalised groups are more at threat than ever; hate crimes soar. The American right to a gun cannot be challenged, but abortion, gay marriage, trans rights, basic medical care and voting rights are always on the table. The tories lie, cheat and steal right under our noses. They rape and harass to no one’s surprise and the party doesn’t even have the decency to be embarrassed. Parliamentary goal posts are moved at will, Mp’s get a raise and workers whose wages don’t even keep up with inflation are shamed for striking. Covid, corruption, inequality and of course inflation rage. The PM has gold wallpaper and blow jobs in Westminster. The rest of us dread the electric bill and can’t afford butter. While he’s paying his various flings with public money disabled people can’t even co habit without losing meagre government assistance. The earth we stand on is crumbling beneath our feet and I haven’t even scratched the surface. There’s a whole world of cruelty out there, it never ends.

Did you think that paragraph never end? Where you begging for full stop followed by nothing? Join the club. This isn’t burnout. I don’t need a bit self care and neither do you. We need a revolution. Watching the scummiest humans on the planet make everything worse day after day, year after will destroy any decent person.

If you feel like you’re losing it, I think that’s perfectly reasonable. If you’re angry and sad and feel utterly helpless, I’m right there with you. I am sorry that you’re expected to carry on regardless. I’m sorry that you must live in these intolerable times without any grace. I don’t know what will make any of this any easier, but if you do, please give that to yourself. Don’t apologise for what you need or your reaction to our atrocious world. Nothing is ok, we don’t have to waste energy pretending it is.

* Obviously let’s all organise, protest, donate, vote and support each other as much as we are able. Change won’t happen if we don’t force it, but please also take care of yourself.

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Last night…

Yesterday I did a thing that I thought I could no longer do. Let me tell you, it felt fucking awesome. For the first time in more than a decade I hit a festival and I am going to tell you all about it.

Trnsmt Festival takes place on Glasgow Green in the centre of my dear home town. Back in my day the Glasgow fest to be at was Gig on the Green. In my youth I saw Feeder, Pulp, the Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters, Travis and so many more on this big patch of green in the middle of the city. I loved those days of dancing, drinking and screaming out lyrics. Unfortunately, festivals had been added to the list of the things chronic illness made impossible.

Then came Trnsmt with its excellent accesible facilities and my beautiful sister with her VIP tickets. All of a sudden 41yr old, mobility impaired and pain inflicted me is back with the band(s). They put the effort in to make the festival as accessible as possible. With accommodations for hearing & sight impaired customers. Disabled viewing platforms with amazing views, accessible toilets that catered to all needs, free water taps to fill up and no queue sections at bars/vendors. There was an area for guide dogs to relax as well as a cool chill out zone for people who needed it. Blue badge parking & disabled entrance which cut the trek to the action was also available on request. Of course their were first aiders and medical assistance points. The accessible passes were easy to apply for. A quick online form, proof of PIP (if in receipt, passes were available with a short explanation of your needs without evidence) and Blue Badge number for parking were all that was required. Free companion tickets were available via the same process. I was able to enjoy the full festival experience whilst also having all my needs met. I can’t speak for everyone, but the organisers get a big round of applause from me.

Necklace – Topple and Burn
Sunnies – Where Light

As good as the accessibility was I was still grateful to have those VIP bands. The VIP area was a great staging ground for our day. We were able to sit down, eat and plan in comfort. The toilets in this area were also a huge step up from any porto loo. Extra bonus of separate VIP entrance & exit to avoid the crowds. All considered, the ticket prices aren’t that much more, I would definitely recommend. With the sun shining, music in the air and our free Prosecco in hand we headed into a day to remember.

First on our list was Wet Leg; a band my sis was dying to see. I thought I didn’t know them, but turns out they are big on Tik Tok and I already loved a few of their songs. My bestie and I thought they sounded a lot like the Riot Grrrls of our youth, but the kids were still loving them. After a cider on the grass and a lot of help getting back up again we headed to the King Tut’s stage. Comfortably seated on the viewing platform we bopped to CMAT and Self Esteem. Self Esteem was bloody good, definitely added to my Spotify likes. We could see the crowd demographic shifting to our age group as Maximo Park hit the stage for an energetic set. The cider continued to flow as we enjoyed Jimmy Eat world and then headed back to the main stage for the headliner.

The Strokes were superb. Classics mixed with newer stuff. An amusing jam whilst an amp was fixed. Some slightly odd banter and even a nod to Monty Python. I had missed the feeling of partying in a field with thousands of other people more than I knew. Watching the sun go down as your favs blast out songs you love is quite the buzz. I have so many amazing memories set to The Strokes, most of them with my sis and Pam. It was incredible to be making more with them.

The vibe at Trnsmt was just like the old days. Friendly, drunk and pleasantly raucous. I particularly loved all the body liberation on show. Folks of all shapes, sizes, genders and ages rocking whatever they wanted. All looking fabulous and giving zero fucks. I was also chuffed to discover that I haven’t lost all my party girl credentials. I can still guzzle the cider without embarrassing myself. Even better several pints and a tonne of water in, I was still able to go the entire day with visiting a loo. Anyone who has ever been to a festival (or whose every step hurts) knows that is the ultimate skill.

Dress – Simply Be

The day was all the better for being with my sister and best friend. They always help me without making me feel like a horrible burden. Plus of course, they are the fucking best fun ever. Here’s to accessibility and good times!

Trans rights are human rights…

This month’s Charity of the Month is the wonderful Scottish Trans Alliance . If you’re not mad about the current discourse surrounding trans rights then this probably isn’t the blog for you.

Scottish Trans Alliance logo

The mainstream media in the UK is nothing short of vile to and about trans people and the government (uk) refuses to protect them. The political climate is repulsive. It feels very much like we are reliving the late 80’s persecution of gay people. Obviously both groups have been discriminated against outwith these periods, but there is a mirroring that I find particularly disturbing. We’ve been here before; we know those views are wrong and disgusting. Yet, here we are. Demonising, endangering and excluding people who have already had to fight too hard just to exist.

The Scottish Trans Alliance do incredible work in trying to ensure we live in the world in which a person’s gender identity, expression and history do not lead to discrimination. They participate in campaigning, legislation consultation, fund research and hold conferences/other forums to connect and support trans people in Scotland.

For the record, you are not a feminist if you do not support trans rights. Equally you are not fighting for diversity or equality if you want to remove letters from LBGTQ+. If like me, you know that trans rights are human rights please donate to Scottish Trans.

A protest with placards saying Trans Rights Now

Charity of the Month

Given the leak from the Supreme Court regarding overturning Roe Vs Wade turned out to be accurate, choosing a cause to support this month was easy. I am horrified at the implications this decision will have.

Telling half the population they have no right over their own body is barbaric. This is a death sentence for so many people. As with most of these hard right agendas, it will disproportionately impact poor people. Those with money will always find ways to access abortion services. It isn’t possible to ban abortion, removing legal access only makes the procedure unsafe. Make no mistake, this will kill people. Be clear also, that the right will not stop with abortion. This is the start of an erosion of the rights of women & those with ovaries.

You can’t ban abortion. You can only ban safe abortion on rainbow background

If you are in the states I urge you to contact your representatives and let them know how ardently you oppose this move. Where ever you are in the world, if you have means please consider donating to organisations who help people access abortion care.

National Network of Abortion Funds

Fund Texas Choice

Planned Parenthood

Naral Pro Choice America

Abortion Rights

Alliance for Choice

Abortion Support Network

Don’t leave me this way…

Since we seem to be heading full steam into SUCK IT territory for the disabled & chronically ill I wanted to talk about my experience of covid. There has been an overarching theme of those with existing health conditions being dispensable from the start, but now it’s pretty much being explicitly stated by our leaders. I want everyone to know how frightening this is for those of us that so many are happy to sacrifice.

As a person with chronic health issues (arthritis, fibromyalgia, stomach disease, anaemia, PCOS) I took covid seriously from the beginning. Lockdown was a complete lockdown for me. I stayed at home. I had no visitors. All my essentials were delivered. The only contact I had with anyone was the occasional driveway visit. My sister or bestie would stand in my drive and I’d sit in my open from door. I didn’t touch another human being or leave my house for months. I had hospital stays without visitors, didn’t celebrate my 40th birthday and spent Xmas 2020 at home on my own. My lockdown stretched on further than the official stay at home orders. Since early 2020 I have spent the majority of my time at home and I have been scared since the beginning. I had no idea what covid might do to me. I’ve experienced catching bugs or viruses that were no biggie for others, but sent me to the hospital. Every time I heard of someone dying being caveated with they had existing health problems, I knew that could be me. This pandemic has always been an emergency situation for me & those like me.

I now regularly see family & one close friend. I wear a mask, sanitise, stay outside as much possible. If I must be inside I go to places that follow all covid precautions and I exercise extreme caution. Doctor appointments aside I leave my home about once a week. I still have everything delivered and avoid contact with those outside my immediate circle. I do home tests before and after I go anywhere. With a couple of exceptions a restricted life has become my normality.

I contracted covid 19 in oct 2020. At that point I was spending 99% of my time alone at home. I was seeing only my sister, mum & nephew and wasn’t visiting anyone indoors. I still managed to catch the virus despite none of the family I was in contact becoming infected. The acute illness was not severe. It lasted about ten days & felt like having a stomach flu. I had more gastric than cold/flu like symptoms. My cough was very mild. I lost my sense of smell & taste. I felt terrible, but I didn’t require any medical attention. In the following weeks I really struggled with breathlessness & racing heart but assumed this would pass. It did not.

15 months later I am still dealing with long covid. My already limited mobility has been massively impacted. I become breathless even moving around my own home. I have to sit even to brush my teeth, make a cup of tea etc. I have overwhelming fatigue, brain fog and widespread pain have markedly intensified since having covid. I experience palpitations and chest pains on the slightest exertion. My heart rate regularly climbs to heights whilst trying to complete the most basic of tasks. I have been hospitalised on 4 occasions because my heart rate would not slow down to an acceptable level. Drs can monitor and treat symptoms, but they know almost nothing about long covid. They can’t tell my why these symptoms persist or if they will ever go away. My chest x rays are clear, my heart is not damaged. The tachycardia & breathlessness are a covid mystery.

A frightening and very real mystery. It is scary to feel as though your heart is going to burst out of your body. Or to be so out of breath that your head spins and chest burns. It’s a million times more terrifying to be told that the experts have no idea why it is happening or how they can make it better. Fear has been common thread. 2021 has been a really hard year for my health. All of my existing symptoms have worsened. The added problems have caused me serious problems and I think I have picked up every cold, stomach bug & infection going. All of which has been alarming. I’m worried that the next illness or flare might be the big one. I’m stressed about all the work I can’t do and the financial repercussions of that. I am chilled at just how little I am now able to do before becoming too exhausted/sore/dizzy/breathless to continue. Most of all I am terrified of what could happen if I get another variant of covid.

I am fully vaccinated (& boosted). I have masks galore, anti bac in every bag & pocket. I still leave parcels & deliveries by the door for an hour before I touch them. I bought a device to sanitise my phone. I’m never in crowds. I rarely go out. I’m acutely aware that I was being even more careful when I caught covid the first time. Every single aspect of my life has been affected by this pandemic. I know I am not alone. Most people have sacrificed. Many are in the same boat as me & others in far more treacherous vessels. I understand that this has been a collective trauma that everyone is eager to put behind them. I just wish more people would understand that this isn’t over yet.

When you justify the need to ‘live with covid’ by saying that most healthy people only experience mild symptoms I am the exception in that sentence. People like me will die or be permanently disabled if we ignore how dangerous covid still is. I understand that you want your life back. You want to stop worrying and missing out. I do too, but if we throw caution to wind now it’s not without consequence. If we pretend that covid is just another part of life we are throwing the sick, disabled, old & vulnerable to the wolves. I believe that those lives are worth as much as any other. Our needs are already ignored in so many ways, please don’t abandon us altogether.

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And just like that, I’m not ok…

I have just finished the first episodes of the much awaited And Just Like That. I was excited for the return of the S&TC girls (I know). I loved the original. I even liked the slightly dodgy films. I was so happy to see them all again. And now, I am not ok.

Poster for and just like that featuring Sarah Jessica Parker , Cynthia Nixon & Kristin Davies

If you’re planning to watch & don’t want me to spoil it, stop reading now. If you’re still here, how are you doing? Did you survive that first episode? I was so unprepared. Not until Lily started playing those foreboding notes did I suspect that Big was in danger. Those sneaky fuckers got me. As soon as the scenes started cutting from big on the bike to Lily on the piano; I knew. I didn’t want to accept it though.

I was really enjoying happily ever after with Carrie & Big. He’s still hot. Still colouring outside the lines. Still an old school romantic. Carrie is still Carrie. The writing is good. The shoes are better. It was all working until they broke my heart. This is not the forever I was looking for. How can Mr Big be dead? Why on earth did the writers think we could cope with this storyline?

Still from and just like that. Carrie cradling Big in her arms

I can’t stop crying! Listen, I always cry at the sad bits. Books, films, tv shows, life. If it’s sad, I cry. However, I think after 2yrs of a pandemic and all it brought maybe everyone’s emotions are a little raw. I find it increasingly difficult to view a whole range of media. The news is obviously a very rough watch. Fiction isn’t really much easier. The stress, fear, anger, grief has been turned up so high in real life that I really struggle not to absorb those emotions from fiction. I start feeling sad about a storyline and before I know it I’m flooded with a million real things to be sad about. Repeat for anger and so on. I’m beginning to think that Covid has left even more of a mark on me than I realised.

I’m wondering if others aren’t feeling the same. We’re all aware of the trauma covid brought. Huge losses & life altering changes. I’m not sure we have properly thought about the long term impact on our collective psyche. Lots of us were lucky enough not to lose a loved one. Many careers have not crashed and homes are maintained. A significant amount of people didn’t even get sick. Nonetheless, everything feels different. Also, the same. Is this chiming with anyone?

I feel like the world should have changed. So much of it hasn’t and that feels incompatible with where we are now. It’s hard to climb out of all those extreme emotions we’ve been swimming in. It’s even harder not to feel the need to revolt against those who still can’t bring themselves to care. I can’t articulate it perfectly, but I feel something has shifted. It could be wishful thinking. I hope not. It’s like the other shoe is just dangling from a single toe now. The people who least expect it might be about to get squashed.

ly wearing tortoiseshell glasses leaning her head on one hand and looking fed up

Well, that was quite the leap. From a 90’s reboot to revolution in less than a 1000 words. I think that might actually prove my point; there’s a lot bubbling right under the surface. Anyway, in brief, whether you’re sad about John James Preston, the damage a global pandemic has wreaked or the craven shower we are governed by, I feel you. It’s hard to keep it in. You’re not the only one. Be gentle with yourself.

Charity of the month…

Christmas is around the corner & along with all the big Xmas ads come the Sally Army appeals. They portray a kindly organisation providing aid for poor suffering souls. I understand why well meaning folks send money their way at Christmas. However, there is darkness behind that brass band. Thus, I want to urge to support less judgmental groups.

The Salvation Army are the quintessential ‘sing for your supper’ charity. Their help does not come without strings. There have been many reported cases of discrimination against LGBTQ+ & addict users of Sally Army services. The church is anti LBGTQ+, anti choice, anti harm reduction drug policies et al. You can find more information here & here. Of course you are free to give donate your money anywhere you please, but if this doesn’t align with your beliefs there are many excellent alternatives.

Social Bite are a incredible organisation who provide hot meals, employment & social housing for homeless people. You can donate in a variety of ways including pay it forward meals in their restaurants.

Social bite in green circular background with bite taken out of it

Birth,Baby & Beyond provide essentials for new parents & families. With the recent £20 cut in Universal Credit combined with rising prices of almost everything struggling families are facing extreme crisis. B,B&B accept donations of baby equipment, clothes, toys & food. They currently have an emergency pack appeal that requires support. Please donate if you can.

Group of new born baby essentials and birth, baby & beyond  van

Kid’s Out allow you donate a Xmas present to children who many not otherwise receive one. Many of the children they live with are in refuge escaping domestic violence. The simple requests are heartbreaking, these kids really deserve to have gifts under their tree. You can now pick a toy & buy it on their website, so it could not be easier.

I will be sharing more charities making a difference at Xmas over the coming weeks. If you are in a position to do so, I hope you will lend your support.

The ethical fatty paradox…

I’ve been working on/thinking about this piece for a while, but there have been moving parts. With COP26 happening a few miles from my doorstep now seemed the time to float it.

Finnisteon crane, the armadillo & hydro buildings on clydeside

I’m a big supporter of supporting small brands, especially local ones. The benefits of shopping small are multi fold and many naturally align themselves with anti climate change measures. Ethical business practices including zero waste, natural ingredients, recycling materials, vegan products, less environmental impact of using locally sourced material & taking to market close to that source are all more prevelant (& easier to confirm) in small business. There are of course also the direct human impacts of living wages, supporting passion projects & allowing sustainable lifestyles to thrive. It all adds up to small brands being a sensible & compassionate way to spend your money.

What’s more, this thinking is going mainstream. We’re all really staring to get on board with this thinking. It’s a slow burn, but the flames are building. Ethical consumption is becoming a hot topic. All of which is wonderful, except for the people who are excluded. There are barriers to ethical shopping. Some of which are not at the fault of the business. For example, cost. Paying a living wage, sourcing ethical material, handmade items etc all necessarily drive up price. That more people can afford those prices is a societal issue (which also massively impacts climate change). However, sometimes the exclusion is a choice & that’s where your favourite fat nag comes in.

As a fat disabled freelancer I find myself forced to buy from places that would not be first choice. Having a variable income & a fat arse means I have to rely on fast fashion much more than I would I like. I do really try to support ethical brands, but with clothes in particular it is a struggle. I usually wear a uk 20/22, which though on the smaller side of the plus range, is still battle underrepresented outside the big high street brands. If I did not have access to the internet my wardrobe would rapidly diminish. I would love to shop in the many cool independent shops that Glasgow has spurned, but it honestly isn’t possible. There are limited options for t shirts & more expensive made to measure items. For most items, matching even high end big brand prices is still a dream.

The reason it’s taken me so long to put this together is that I tried a little fashion experiment. I searched a selection of small independent stores in Glasgow for my own or larger sizes. When I couldn’t find any I contacted the shops to enquire if they planned to expand their ranges to include larger people. The answers I received (or not) were deeply predictable.

Amaryllis Boutique

The largest size I could find on their site was a UK 20 & that was only a few items. I contacted them late September to ask if they had any plans to extend their range of sizes. I have yet to receive a response.

Hayley McSporran Studio

The largest size I could find on this site was a UK 18. This brand is billed as slow fashion made in Glasgow. I contacted them in late September & did receive a quick response. However, it was the familiar story of being a very small brand & so unable to expand their sizing. I’ve never bought this argument as an independent small batch creator is entirely in control of what they produce. If inclusivity were a priority they would work it out.

Nancy Smillie

This site was the most confusing. Most of their clothes had no size information at all. I contacted the shop mid September & received a quick reply. Their clothes are ‘one size fits all’, which apparently will fit a size 12-18 depending on required fit. I’m sure all my fellow fatties will be as dubious of ‘one size’ as I am. It almost always mean, not for you. However, when I asked about plans to extend sizing they did say that added new lines/designers every season and they may stock larger sizes in the future. Although that answer is vague it did at least show willingness to expand.

Gallus Alice

I contacted this shop in late July to ask if the had plans to extend their size range & have yet to receive a response. The biggest size I could find on their website was an XL & that was only available for some t-shirts. There’s no size guide on the site, so I don’t know what the XL translates to. I can say that I have tried to shop here (they have lots of cool things) & nothing came close to fitting me.

Pampas Glasgow

The largest size I could find on their site was UK 16. I contacted them in August & have yet to receive a response.

The point of this experiment is not to damage these brands. They are all small independent businesses stocking desirable fashion. Rather I just want to show the lack of options for the would be ethical fat consumer. Please continue to patronise independent local boutiques. It is important that we help this type of business flourish. However, if you notice that your fav has a limited size range please ask them about that. There is a huge untapped market, we need customers to show interest in larger sizes to prove that.

If you are looking for small Scottish brands to support you can find some here & here .

I was lost…

It’s 2.35am. I’ve been alerted via social media posts that it’s World Mental Health Day. I feel bound to write something on the topic. However, I’m a little stuck on exactly what that should be.

We’re probably all feeling stuck in one way or another. Nearly 2 years into a pandemic that has changed everything and nothing at the same time. It is surreal to learn that global crisis is status quo for the capitalist monster. It shouldn’t really have been a surprise, but somehow I thought perhaps we might find a way to rise. We haven’t. The incredibly rich continue to suck the (literal) life out of almost everyone else. Those already in the worst positions suffer the most. The rest of us get sick, grieve, sacrifice, struggle and still find ways to pay the rent. It’s A LOT. Even folk with the most robust mental health have floundered. Anyone who was shaky pre Covid probably found the rigours of a plague made them increasingly sinkable.

I’ve found myself in and out of a strange no man’s land. Not ok, but entirely unable to properly articulate the details of that not okness. I’m generally a bit lost. I feel like the world is crumbling around me. We’re witnessing tragedy after tragedy. Death & destruction abound. Our leaders seemingly with no more clue than the rest of us. Politicians still scrambling for money & power as the bodies pile up. Your boss still wants their 35hrs, tabloids still print trash & people are still sleeping on the streets. None of it makes sense.

We’ve already started packaging the accumulated trauma of Covid as ‘burn out’. People write peppy pieces on how to beat burnout with an aim of getting everyone back to bloody work. Back to the commute & the offices even though people are still dying every day. Why? Because despite working from home actually proving to be more productive the higher ups want you back where they can see you. No comfort for the workers. The Tory government continues to grind their boots on our necks too. Cut universal credit amongst Covid & Brexit insanity. Carry on fucking the NHS and refugees and hungry children. Then they film the PM doing puns of their ridiculous slogan and pretend that’s a solution. I’m surprised anyone is still sane.

It’s not over. No definite end in sight. Always another calamity over the next hill & zero provision for help. No extra money for mental health services. Accessing even the most basic support is more difficult than ever. All the people who were already living on a knife edge haven’t gone anywhere. The problem has just multiplied.

*

So, this year I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying forever. Awareness is great, but to treat mental illness we need money and a different ideology. I can’t see any change in NHS mental health funding or direction until there is a huge change in Downing St. Not merely a change of party, but a shift in the will of power. My heart sinks when I think about how long that could take.

* Buy here.

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