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Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Election Blues

Most people are well aware I distrust (and in some cases severely dislike) politicians, especially the current batch dismantling the country.

I'm not sure most people are aware that I vote, and I do so in every election.

I grew up in a country where the majority of the population did not have the right to vote until I was out of high school. People marched, protested, bled and died for the right to scratch a cross against a name on a piece of paper.

When those people were finally given the right to vote, to step behind a curtain and clutch a pencil for the first time, the ink stamp that declared them voters still smudged and sticky on their flesh, they changed the face of a country.

As a female, I am very aware of the fact that women had to fight long and hard to get the right to vote. South Africa gave that right for the first time in  1933. The UK allowed us to vote in general elections in 1913, providing we were over 30 and meant property requirements. We got full voting rights here in 1928.  Once again, people died for that right.

Voting seems to be considered a pain in the fundamental. It's inconvenient. It means lining up in queues in draughty church halls and smelly, underused buildings. It means selecting the best of a bad bunch who might not make the changes they promise anyway (looking at you, David Cameron) and who might make the whole damn mess slightly worse.

The people who were disenfranchised only a century ago would have some trouble understanding this.

Politics haven't changed much. Politicians have always been corrupt, have always abused their offices, and have always ignored the social classes they don't want to know about. There are a few, battling against the cesspool of hand-outs and back-scratching, but they aren't the ones who get soundbites and their names in the papers.

The thing is, the people in parliament know about complacency, and voter apathy, and the feeling that one is pretty much the same as the other. They know that despite the rage seen everyday on the street, the average person doesn't feel they can make a difference. They encourage this. It is a lie.

If every person enraged by the callousness of the current system voted for someone else, the government would change; the people in their towers would fall. If every person dreading the thought of the Tories coming back in voted for Labour, the ruling party becomes Labour. If every woman condescended to by Cameron and co voted Green... Well, that's pretty much every female in the country. Bye, Dave!

And if you don't like what the new people do, you vote them out again. Make them realise that if what they do is unacceptable, there are repercussions, and we are the ones that bring those repercussions home. With a bit of pencil and a sheet of paper.

I watched a country changed by the voters, by the people who never believed they'd have a voice. It has happened in so many places, so many times.

Not voting is not an option. Humanity bled too hard to get us here.

Monday, 27 April 2015


Things have been a little bit hectic, and I've had some massive personal changes. Most of them I couldn't mention until they were official, so I've made myself scarce on the blog; the temptation to go "Oooh! Guess what happened!" is just too much.

I went through redundancy for the third time in about four years. This time I took the payout. When the universe thumps you on the head this pointedly, it's time to listen.

The migraines reduced almost immediately. I've suspected the combination of fluorescent lighting and computer screens for a while now, topped up with a fairly unhealthy dose of work-stress. I've been almost completely migraine free since I was informed I was up for redundancy and escorted from the office carrying whatever I could grab from my desk in five minutes.

The problem is that almost every office (at least in the UK) has fluorescent lights. I have no intention of losing a job because my body hates me, and migraines three or more times a week guarantees that. I also really, really like being pain-free. It's a novelty that I appreciate.
The solution for me is to work from home and take regular breaks from the computer. Freelancing, whahey! Part of me wishes I'd done it years ago; the other part knows without this push and the migraines I would never have done so.   I'm also web-site testing and doing transcriptions (better money, slightly harder than pounding out 500 words for an article) and I've recently rediscovered how much fun I have repainting gates. Not a joke, I really do enjoy it.

The problem with freelancing is that money can be sporadic and London is expensive. Food alone seems to have tripled in the last few years; rent is no longer even remotely funny. Spending 70%-80% of my new income on rent does not appeal, and since I was doing that on a regular salary, I could end up in trouble.
So I'm moving to Scotland. Good people, cheaper prices, I'm trying not to think about winter. I've been there in winter. It hurts. The Scots do, however, believe in central heating and double-glazing, two things which have been sorely lacking in every rental property I've been in during my time in London. I'm looking forward to not getting frostbite in the bathroom. I'll have a garden for the first time in over ten years. I can hang my washing outside, and trust me, that's huge. Ten years of indoor laundry. *shudder*

The logistics of getting two people (Stace decided the move would be good for her too), three cats and a house full of stuff to a different country is slightly mind-boggling. When I moved to the UK I had a suitcase with a few clothes in. Now I have books and art stuff and computers and furniture, and my subconscious keeps sitting up, blinking stupidly, and wondering when the hell I got all this stuff.

On kitty news, Sheba is bouncing around quite happily. She has also managed to FaceTime my mom and take a selfie, which means my cat is more technologically advance than I am. I had no clue how to reverse the camera until she did that.

"So you tap here, see? And then you take the picture."

Bast and Hathor just keep growing. They've turned into well-adjusted, happy cats and are thinking about writing a book called How to Train your Human, and will include chapters on "How to get More Treats without Trying", "How to Throw up on Their Favourite Slippers" and "How to Clear a Mantlepiece".

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Kitty Update

So. It's been awhile, but since the last kitten post, Bast turned out to be a boy. We ended up with a calico male, which is very, very rare. In everyone's defence (including the vet), the area under his tail is pitch black, and so were the  pertinent bits.

Hathor went into heat 2 weeks before Bast was due to get the snip. It took us a while to figure it out because she's still quite young and doesn't actually miaow. She chirrups, chirps, and squeaks, but there isn't a miaow in sight. Bast is the same.
It took three days of noises like a demented canary before I clicked, and that was only because I caught them trying (and yes, I mean trying. Let's just say Bast has no clue which end to aim at.) to have sex on the stairs. I also caught them in the missionary position a day later, which is disturbing on so many levels.

We appear to be pregnancy free, mainly because Bast often dealt with the increasing demands by biting Hathor on neck while leaning against the wall, and looking at us as if wondering what the hell was supposed to happen next. He'd escape by climbing into the bath and hiding away from her.

Bast got snipped last week; Hathor is due the end of the month. He still limps as soon as he sees the treat packet.

Two weeks ago I saw a message from a friend about a cat that desperately needed a home.  You can guess the rest. Part of me was thinking WHAT ARE YOU DOING. It was drowned out by the part that went KITTY!!!

So Sheba is currently living under my bed. She is black shot with slivers of copper and gold, and slow-blinking yellow eyes.
She's eight, and she's lost her human and her home and the poor old girl is heart-broken. She loves being stroked, hates the vet with an almighty passion, and has Bast infatuated.

He keeps offering her his favourite toys. Then he climbs under the bed and chirps at her. As soon as my light goes off for the night, she wiggles out and romps through the house with the other two. I think she'll be just fine.

Hathor, playing with her mouse.

Bast - King of the Cupboards

Buy a new cupboard, make your cat happy...

Sunday, 15 February 2015

An Open Letter To David Cameron

Dear Mr. Cameron

Your recent announcement about obese people, drug addicts, and alcoholics losing benefits didn't really come as a shock to me. There was more a sense of resignation and futility, because you haven't got a clue about what real people are like, or the issues they face.

Addiction has long been recognised as a medical condition. If you could cure it, I'd be the first to hold your coat. However, since medical science hasn't achieved it yet. I have my doubts. Cut the benefits, put desperate people into an even more desperate situation, and watch both the death toll and the crime rate rise. Is that really what you have in mind? Don't you think enough people have died through the new benefits system already? I won't go into the idiocy of the current drugs policy, except to say that no sane dealer wants it legalised, because you'd remove their customer base.

So onto the obesity issue. I have a few problems with this. Obesity isn't simply a matter of eating too much, Mr. Cameron. There are a number of factors involved, including, but not limited to:

1) Thyroid problems
2) Medication (known as iatrogenic obesity)
3) Genetic disposition
4) Psychological pain
5) Not being able to afford decent food. This one's a doozy, isn't it? Because the average person living on these benefits simply can't afford to live healthily and pay their bills. If you think this is sufficient, I challenge you to live like this for 3 months. No extras. No help from friends or family. Live on this, and see how you feel afterwards.

Perhaps the biggest issue I have is that once again, this is a huge personal intrusion to people with these conditions. You do not have the right to dictate how somebody deals with their body, because we are not supposed to be slaves.

I realise that this puts pressure on the NHS. (So does underpaying the staff to the point that doctors and nurses are emigrating to greener pastures with better pay and living conditions.) But, Mr. Cameron, the NHS was designed to help everybody who needed it. Either the system works, or you start excluding on the basis of colour, gender, religion, body shape etc. You can't have it both ways.

One of the arguments is that people die from these conditions. Yes, they do. People die every day. They also die in car accidents, house fires, from homicide and sheer bad luck. So far your government has attempted to press ahead with raising the speed limit for HGV's despite the warning that it will increase deadly accidents, destroyed fire-fighters pensioners, and released long-term tariff convicted murderers early, only to have them kill again. If you were willing to run the risk of harm to people by doing all of these things, please explain why you are so hell-bent on controlling our lives and bodies? Will the next step be making anything over a size twelve illegal?

Do you know what happens in a country where the leadership shows it's okay to be prejudiced, Mr. Cameron? That it's fine to hate and despise anyone who is other, who doesn't march in line to the official drum? You get this. And this. And this.  And directly to the point, this. People die or are attacked, harassed or mutilated because you thought it was cool to get some extra attention. You should be protecting people, not encouraging prejudice.

What's truly heartbreaking, Mr. Cameron, is that you and your government could have made some truly effective and good social and economic changes in this country. Instead you have reduced us to xenophobic paranoids, willing to point the finger at everything except ourselves. We dance to the tune of the red top tabloids, because our leader panders to the worst of them. Instead of investing in the country and creating a workforce, you pushed people into starvation and told us it was for our own good. By pushing education out of reach of all but the elite few, you have created a nation of frustrated, under-educated people who are drowning while you stand on the shores and watch. And you just don't stop.

I truly hope that this was yet another misguided attempt to get your name in the headlines because of the upcoming elections. Unfortunately, it has once again revealed you to be a man who does not do his research, does not think about the repercussions of his proposals, and does not give a damn about anyone who is not on the same economic level as yourself.

What a waste of an otherwise intelligent man.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Francis Fahrenheit - Rock n Roll Clown Review

One of the best parts of living in London is the musical talent. I love music. Can't play much (started drum lessons years ago, but stuff happened) and I sing like a dead frog, which just makes me appreciate the people that can do this well even more.

Original music is still my favourite. Covers are great and all, but I like finding the guys that put their hearts and souls out for the rest of us. It takes a strange degree of courage to stand up in front of a live audience and give them a view into how your mind works; compared to that, writing is easy. You aren't there to see the reactions.

Moxy Ru was one of the best indie bands to hit the scene in years, and when they split it was a sad moment, so having Francis Fahrenheit carry on the music as a solo artist was great.

I got my paws on a copy of Rock 'n Roll Clown a while ago and I've pretty much played it to death. 

The use of synthesizers throughout this album break out memories for me of early Depeche Mode, particularly in 'You Can Change The World But You Can’t Change Me'.

 'Building Up Your Wall' is the perfect “We Need To Split” song. There’s pleading and sneering and despair in a toxic, unstoppable mix I replayed over and over. The vocals here have an edginess that I’d like to hear more of; just a slight rasp in places, but enough to shoot this song out of okay territory into something really good.

'Rock & Roll Clown' is a gorgeous mix of percussion and strings and Francis uses his voice to great effect in harrowing lyrics. The video up on YouTube is powerful and perfect for the song, do yourself a favour and check it out. I've tried to imbed the video below; but you guys know me and tech.

The lyrics of 'Glass Spiders' are frankly creepy as hell, but it makes you want to move to it; the beat pounds through you remorselessly. It’s one of my favourite tracks on this album, currently fighting with 'Building Up Your Wall' and the title track for personal best of. I could see this one crowding the dance floor.

'Beauty Hides' is another track with strong percussion and an eerie use of synthesizers through the song. The hook line is hypnotic, but I admit to preferring Francis using his vocals to the chanting bits.
'I Am Stardust' brings to mind The Killers song Human; it just has that feel, although the two songs are nothing alike. This is the most optimistic song on the album, and you can’t help tapping your feet as this one plays.

Links to buy the album are here: 

And check out the official site:

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Website now live!

Yeehaw! Go here to check it out:

In kitty news, both Hathor and Bast have decided the water fountain makes a great splash pool. I've now caught both of them scooping water onto the carpet and chirping happily at the results.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

New year, new books

I've been burrowed under trying to build a website for the past few weeks. For anyone who knows me, or reads this blog on a regular basis, the fact that I haven't inadvertently blown up the internet is a surprise. Ahem.

Anyway, it's almost ready to go live. *squeak* After fighting with it for some time, I've decided to keep this blog separate. I like it here. If I get brave enough, I'll do a couple of video blogs for the site.

To add to the fun, there are two new books out. Shine is a short story collection, and includes a brand new Blue Moon Detectives story. Fur Thing is the latest full length Blue Moon book, so Billy fans should be quite happy.

Speaking of Billy - I'm coming to the inescapable conclusion that Bast is somehow channeling my favourite character. I've met accident-prone cats before, but this one takes the biscuit. In addition to bitch-slapping the water fountain because it wasn't full enough, he has managed to get blue dye on his paws (no clue), fallen off the bookcase, and spent a good two hours wandering around with a large blue sequin stuck to his furry butt. Hathor tends to eye-roll him a lot, which I can understand; grace and dignity do not apply. Can't imagine where he gets it from.
Hathor, on the other hand, has a fetish about drinking glasses and mugs. Anything put within reach gets investigated, sniffed, and drunk if you aren't fast enough. So far I've had to rescue several cups of coffee, wine, eggnog, and water. She doesn't seem to like whiskey, though. I'm taking this as a good thing.

 Until next time - have a fantastic year, everyone!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Dangerous Times

These are dangerous times for a lot of people.

This is not a good time to be a Muslim. I'm watching my Facebook feed blow up on a regular basis with people who've drunk the poison fed to them by the media, and call it good, and I feel my stomach turn every time I read the crap they spout.

I don't think it's ever been a good time to be a Jew; as a race they've been subjected to every atrocity imaginable, and the number of morons who think every Jew believes Israel is righteously bombing the hell out of Palestine is face-palm worthy.

It's a very bad time to be black, especially in the USA, where it seems someone called open season on young black males and didn't send the memo to the rest of us. I'm pretty sure other minorities are getting the pointy end of the stick as well, but it hasn't blown up on any sites. Yet.

It's a horrible time to be female and active on social media. If you don't deal with asshats who think you're a lower species because you don't possess a penis, you're incredibly lucky.

It is dangerous to be gay, bi or trans in a world where people who take way too much interest in what you do in bed have power over you.

It is a lethal time to be poor. If you are poor and disabled, you are clinically and categorically fucked. If a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members, ours would get a failing grade. When you have politicians who reckon that MS suffers and people with permanent disabilities can get better in the next six months, you move into the realm of a Monty Python skit.

What the mainstream and tabloid media are doing isn't anything new. In today's world, where one criminally ambitious reporter can publish something and have it accessible to everyone with internet access, it's more dangerous than ever. Whipping up a mob is never something to be proud of. Whipping up a mob based on hate can result in people dying.

Thankfully more and more people are questioning this stuff, and finding the holes in reports. More and more people are aware that a difference in skin colour, gender, or sexuality is something to be celebrated, not disparaged. People are using the same social media that pushes the hate agenda to raise awareness of injustice, and to fight back for their right to be. To be human, to be loved, to be allowed to live.

As for the politicians… Ugh. Look, my solution would be (a) vote the idiots out of power and (b) charge them with murder for every death caused on their watch. For every suicide committed by someone ground into blood and tears by inhumane policies. For every person who freezes or starves to death over winter. For every terminal patient forced back into work that dies at their desk. Because what they are doing is pretty close to state sanctioned murder.

Confiscate the money they make out of their connections and their buddy-laws, and redistribute it. Start a hot-house garden in every city where people can come and collect food in exchange for an hour of their time - do some weeding, do some watering, plant some seeds. Direct people on where to go to find the tomatoes if you can't do physical work.
Something has to happen. In the year 2014, people shouldn't be on starvation levels in a developed country, because they are too sick to work - or simply can't find a job.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Kitty update

Bast seems to be a bit of a talker. Hathor still hides under my bed, and comes out to stare at me when she thinks I'm sleeping, and makes little chirping noises like a hairy four-legged canary. She also hides food, which I'll get to in a bit.

They got taken for their shots last week. Bast dealt okay.
Hathor went bat-shit insane when the vet took her out of the cage and drew blood from the poor man. As he pointed out, it was an OhgodsIneedtogetaway moment, rather than I'mgoingtoclawyourfaceoffbecauseIcan. It was some small consolation with the vet dripping blood on the floor, but this is also what happens when you have traumatised kittens. It's what happened next that really stunned me.
After getting her shots and weighed, Hathor got put back in the cage. She scooted to the back and Bast stood in front of her, making sure nobody was going to touch her again. She'd been watching the whole process anxiously. I've seen the protective instinct in mother cats and dogs, yes. I've never seen anything like this in litter-mates.

Bast is about three pounds heavier (because she eats every bit of food she can find, including Hathor's) and a bit longer in the legs. When I come in from work she waits in the doorway of my room. She only watched me getting ready for work once; there is something incredibly disconcerting about a kitten looking horrified when you put on make-up. And she likes to talk. Usually this is to tell the world that nobody is paying attention; unfortunately she's not at ease with being touched yet. So at two in the morning, you get this:

Bast, on the staircase: OOOOH, NOOOBODY LOVES ME!!!
Me, stumbling out of my room: WTF?
Me, standing on mouse toy and hopping to stair case: Oh, kitty. Hush. (Put hand out to kitten.)
Bast: UNCLEAN!! UNCLEEEAAAN!!! (rockets back up the stairs.)
At this point I remove the mouse toy from between my toes and lurch back to bed.
Some twenty minutes later, the delicate thunder of Bast attempting a landing on the hall cupboard and missing completely will fill the house, and I'll pull the duvet over my head and pretend I didn't hear it.

Hathor, on the other hand, appears to hide her food as well as herself, probably because Bast has the table manners of a starving piranha and will take her food if she isn't fast enough.
Heading off to the shop today, I realised halfway down the road that there was something cold and sticky wedged under my toe. When I sat down on a bench and upended my Ugg, a small piece of chicken fell out. I did the rest of my shop with my toe stuck to my boot from kitty spit.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Bruises and Emergency Room Visits and Kitties - weekly roundup

Monday I got off the tube, and some little man rammed me on his way past. I didn't think much of it apart from saying a rude word; in London, the Good Manners Fairy got gagged and duct-taped and thrown to the Gods of Public Transport some time ago, and I've been knocked harder than that. But by the time I got to the office my ribs on the left side where he'd knocked me were throbbing and tender, and it got worse as the day went on.
Just after lunch I checked my side in the bathroom mirror. What I saw was a tracery of broken blood vessels extending from just below my armpit to just above my navel, and a raised lump of tender flesh over a couple of ribs.
I left work late to avoid rush hour. By this time I was sore enough that anyone shoving me would have been punched and I'd like to avoid an assault charge. Since I couldn't face the stairs at the tube I got the bus to the main train terminal, and by the time I home I was struggling to walk and not cry from pain.

Tuesday I worked from home, hoping things would improve. By Wednesday morning it hurt to breath, speak or move at all, so I headed off to the emergency centre. I was anticipating a diagnosis of bruised ribs, but wanted to make sure nothing was fractured. Instead, I had a doctor telling me I might have a ruptured spleen and bruised kidney. This was not a fun moment.

On to the first scan, which was ultrasound, followed by oral morphine (gag) and a CT scan, which was strangely pleasant apart from the 10 seconds where I thought my toes were going to catch fire and a taste in my mouth like I'd just downed a very strong shooter. The final diagnosis came back as massive bruising around the liver, kidney and ribs. Sheer relief, and the immediate desire to go home, right up until they took my blood pressure and all that jazz and discovered my temperature was high and my heartbeat was 118. It didn't help that when they told me I had to stay over night the damn heart rate shot up to 122. I've never seen an emergency doc look so horrified while trying not to laugh.

Anyway, I learnt that the emergency room has their own overnight ward for cases like me (apparently sending you home to have a possible heart attack is considered bad) and I was promptly deposited into it, given food that looked horrifying on every possible level, and dosed up with both codeine and oral morphine again, which tasted worse the second time around. As a result, by the time Stace got there with my p.j.'s, I was cataclysmically stoned. Morphine has a time distorting effect on me, and I tend to hallucinate on it. I also don't remember much of what happens, but apparently having a conversation with me is interesting.

Breakfast was edible - cornflakes and coffee. They offered me more morphine (no thanks. If I'm in excruciating pain I'll take it, but given a choice, I'll take anything else rather than that stuff.) Several hours later, I was allowed to leave, on condition that I take it easy for a few days and come back if the pain gets worse. Since I really, really don't want to go back, taking it easy is the way to go.

My cousin came and met me to make sure I got home alright. We were on the bus when we saw the sign outside a charity shop advertising abandoned kittens for adoption. I've wanted a cat again for a long time; I've missed having an animal in my life, and so has Stace. She looked at the sign and said wistfully, "Oh! I want a kitty."
And I thought 'Life is short.' and I told her to push the buzzer to stop the bus. We both needed to eat, anyway, and there was a coffee shop right next to the charity place.

So we met Maria, who runs Little Darlings and rescues animals and places them, and she showed us a picture of two starving kittens that had been stuffed into a filthy carrier, tied up in a black plastic bag, and dumped outside her shop. I would give a great deal to have 5 minutes alone with the person who did this to them, I truly would.

That night, Maria brought them over, and my life is now filled with miaows and chirps and the delicate thunder of kitten paws stampeding across the floor at 2 a.m.

We have Hathor Freya, who seems to be training to be a ninja and hides in the most amazing places, and Bast Sekhmet, who likes to be able to see at least one human and know where her sister is, and will now eat out of my hand. They're still twitchy, and a bit nervous, but they're playing and eating and getting used to the fact that they are now in a safe place.

So yeah, although I'd prefer a non-painful way off the universe giving me directions, if I hadn't spent the night in the hospital I wouldn't have these cats in my life, and I'd be the poorer for it. But I'd really like a hospital-free life from now onwards; this is getting a bit annoying.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Body Parts (minor rant alert)

Something that confuses me a bit - okay, a LOT, is why women seem hell-bent on letting other people decide things about their bodies for them. As females, it's become completely acceptable to have Fat Days, Bad Hair Days, Dull Skin Days, and every single one of those can result in depression, irritability, and a feeling of worthlessness. We panic over wrinkles. We freak out over grey hair. An extra five pounds can lead to sobbing under the duvet. (Yes, there may be a male out there that does this, but I haven't met one yet.)

Then you get the random bitchiness of strangers. There's a certain person out there who thinks they are completely justified in commenting on your appearance, food, and hair colour. These are people who've drunk the kool-aid of advertising to the point that looking like a normal human is beyond their comprehension. Or maybe they're just sad, angry little balls of misery that need to share that with the world. Hell, some of them have made a career out of appearing on t.v. to make nasty remarks to an audience of millions.
There are websites dedicated to body shaming, and nobody seems to find the idea behind them repulsive. Let's put it this way: unless you're not quite human, you are just as flawed as the people you are giggling over. You have no damn room to point.

Some of them go into politics, and this is where it gets scary. These people think that women shouldn't decide what happens to their bodies. They'd rather let you die than make that choice. Or end up in jail. They don't have that right, because slavery has been illegal for centuries, and deciding you own somebody else's body is pretty much the definition of slavery.

See, here's the thing. My body. I live in it, not anyone else. I dress it the way I choose. I decorate it the way I want, because I have to live in it. If I feel a bit overweight, I can choose to go on diet. Or not. Nobody has the right to tell me otherwise. If I am underweight, the same goes. My. Body.

I change my hair colour a lot, because (a) I can, and (b) I like it. Sometimes I don't like the colour, and it gets changed fast. But it's my choice.

I have tattoos. I like my tattoos. If you have a problem with them, don't look at the bloody things. They have nothing to do with my sexual inclinations, promiscuity or whether I like swinging from chandeliers on a Saturday night. I have yet to see someone walk up to a large, muscular tattooed man and accuse him of having a tramp stamp.

As for sex… It's really nobody else's business who you sleep with, as long as it's consenting and there are no kids or small furry animals involved. Or large furry animals. No animals, okay? It's something that's as fundamental to the human experience as eating and sleeping, and nobody has the right to tell me whether or not I should be doing it. I don't particularly care whether various religious figures approve or not, because they have no business in my bed.

Advertising tells me I should do everything in my power to stop ageing. You know what stops you ageing? Death. That's pretty much it. I don't really want to shuffle off this mortal coil just yet, and when I do I sure as hell have no intention of clutching a tube of anti-wrinkle cream in one clawed hand.

I have a number of scars, and the ones on my leg are pretty big. Society and advertising tells me I should cover them up. Never wear dresses or shorts, camouflage them so other people don't have to see them and flinch. Well, that's not going to happen. My scars show the world I survived something pretty damn painful, and if you have an issue with that, don't look at them.

Then you get "age-appropriate" clothes. You know what's age-appropriate? Not wearing diapers past the potty-training stage. If you like it, wear it. This life is too short to listen to some idiot tell you that you shouldn't enjoy it.

My body. I choose what I do with it. I choose whether or not to have kids, to carry a pregnancy to term or not, to paint it, pierce it, decorate it in any way I want. It does not belong to society, advertising, my family or my friends. It never belonged to past or future lovers, because I'm not a piece of meat. It doesn't belong to any government, either. It doesn't belong to hackers, or advertising, or society as a whole, and I am unbelievably tired of all of these entities trying to tell me it does.

Do me favour, will you? If you are female, the next time someone tries to make a bitchy comment on your appearance, tell them it's none of their business.  If you're male and you witness it, tell the commentator it's none of their business.
And if you are the commentator, think about why you are doing this. Why you find women so horrifying (even if you are one) that you have to make them feel just a little bit worse, a little bit smaller. And stop drinking the bloody kool-aid.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Blood on the ground: Why the Pistorius verdict is terrifying

So this week I got to watch a travesty of justice. Fun!

After  months of watching Oscar Pistorius revert to the age of about 6 in the courtroom - the puking, wailing, and sticking his fingers in his ears was particularly telling - the judge did the equivalent of giving him a time-out while patting him on the head. Kootchey kootchey koo, sweetums.

His behaviour in court annoyed me. This is what happens when you shoot a living, breathing human being, you ass. They bleed and die, and it's not pretty.
Stuffing your fingers in your ears doesn't change what you did. Puking sure as hell doesn't bring a dead girl back. Let's not even talk about the made for t.v. movie acting abilities. Crying and snivelling made it seem he was a hell of a lot more sorry about being in court - why didn't the cops just accept his story that night?
But hey - you can say you were terrified! You can say you thought it was intruder! (One that stopped for a potty break before charging into your room to slaughter you? Really? I'm not an expert, but that doesn't seem like normal procedure for a home invasion.)

Only an idiot fires repeatedly through a door when they can't see the target. An idiot, or a man raging about something who thought he'd teach his girlfriend a lesson. Maybe the intention was to frighten. Maybe the man should never have been given a gun license. We simply don't know.

You have to wonder what the current girlfriend thought of all of this. 18 is pretty impressionable, so the odds are he was given a soothing back-rub and a cold beer to soothe his nerves afterwards.

There's a chance he'll get a custodial sentence, but I'm not holding my breath on this one. The Telegraph headline on Friday read in part: "Shattered Oscar leaves court." What it should have read was "Destroyed Steenkamp family loses hope in justice."

In a country where it seems killing women is becoming a national fucking sport, this sentence is terrifying. Wife burnt the roast? Shoot her, and tell the world you thought it was a burglar. Girlfriend talks back? Shoot her. Tell the cops you thought someone was breaking in. Hell, if you set it up right, (i.e: not in a frigging toilet without the space to swing a cat) you'll probably get away with it. You might even get a bloody book deal.

This case made headlines because both Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorious were national figures. But look: a woman in South Africa is murdered by her partner on average every 8 hours. That's a slight improvement; this link cites a study that shows in 2004 it was every 6 hours. Sexual offence cases in 2012/2013 sit at 66 387. That's not a typo. Now think about the fact that less than half of sexual attacks are reported.

In this respect at least, South Africa is a microcosm of a much larger global disease, one that declares females as inferior, incompetent, and terrifying to certain males. We need to teach our kids that it is unacceptable to be a punching bag, and completely repulsive to use your partner as one. We need to teach them that using a weapon against another living being results in horror.
Until education eliminates that view point, until judgements are made that slaughtering your girlfriend in a toilet is murder, that raping a woman is abominable, that beating the ever loving crap out of a woman because you can is assault, there will be more death.
More blood on the ground. More families weeping over raw earth as coffins are lowered.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

What not to do to coffee : Moments of Aargh

So I discovered how to make a migraine (yep, it came back. Week 3 and counting, though not the same levels as hell week) back off temporarily. Unfortunately it involves destroying a perfectly good cup of coffee and a certain degree of pain all by its little self.

Step 1: Do the zombie shuffle to the kitchen and make your black coffee as per usual.
Step 2: Place the coffee beside your bed the way you've done every morning for several years.
Step 3: Put your foot down and place it in the mug. (I have small feet. Some of you may need bigger mugs.)
Step 4: Make a noise like a cross between a wounded buffalo and a whistling kettle.
Step 5: Remove foot and hop to freezer. Swearing is optional, but highly recommended. Realise coffee is now undrinkable, because feet.
Step 6: Stick foot in freezer. Drop lid on ankle.
Step 7: Sit on floor with bag of peas on foot. Text boss to explain what happened. (He may need valium by the end of this year.)
Step 8: Lurch around on very tender toes for rest of day.

Bonus points if you:

1) Get your hair caught on the bathroom stall coat hook at work. Emerge looking like a deranged troll doll. With a limp.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hell week : 168 hours of migraine

So this past week, I discovered that I can now achieve week-long migraines. This is not a good thing.

It was particularly unpleasant since they've been infrequent after nearly popping my clogs in New Zealand; to me a migraine attack once a month is pretty damn awesome.

Friday I started the twinges. All the warning signs were there - sugar cravings, feeling ratty as hell, sharp spikes of pain over the right eye. I expected a not-so-nice Saturday, but again - once a month I can deal with.

Saturday and Sunday with both fairly low level; not worth breaking out the painkillers for. I could eat. Monday morning started with the migraine ramping up. Painkillers - even the big-boy versions - didn't touch it. Food was a no-go.
Tuesday it got worse. I worked from home in the morning, until the pain got so bad I basically threw up my toe-nails and logged off. By that evening, I was doing a great imitation of the dead girl from the Ring movies. The original version.

Then Wednesday came.
Did you know you can hallucinate on migraines? And not the usual funky light show either; full on OMFG there are spiders the size of frigging rabbits in the flat hallucinations. (I admit to throwing a shoe at the first one before I realised that no spider on the planet gets to that size. I'm just glad I missed the computer.)
The pain alternated between the usual spikes and the feeling that the right side of my skull was being crushed. My neck hurt. I couldn't hold things in my right hand for long, and my depth perception (never my strong point anyway) was away with the fairies, giggling gently and bouncing off walls.
A few of my friends wanted me to call an ambulance. I don't know how coherent I was, but here's the explanation of why I didn't, just in case:
Emergency rooms are busy (noisy), brightly lit, and full of strong smells. This combination on a killer migraine means I'd have to be unconscious before I go into one; I'd rather lick a cheese-grater than do that to myself. There's another reason: go to the A&E with a migraine and the automatic assumption is that you're a junky looking for a fix, or you're hung-over. That you look like a shambling, shaking corpse just bears that out. Most docs & nurses are doing their best, I know. Just not if you have a frigging migraine.
I called the non-emergency line, and the woman I speak to got very excited right up until I told her I was diagnosed with chronic migraine, at which point she acted like I ate her puppy.

I got an appointment with my GP, who was pretty worried and made an appointment with a neurologist for Friday.

The folks FaceTimed me, and probably wished they hadn't. I wasn't a pretty sight, and I wasn't very coherent.

Thursday passed in a daze of pain and nausea. I don't remember much of it.

Friday I ended at the neurologist. Stace came with me, which was good because I can get lost going to the bathroom at the best of times, let alone when I'm seeing double AND giant bloody spiders. I was twitchy.
I passed the mini-stroke test (yay, me), found out the hallucinations happen to other people too (relief), got given the contact info to book a scan to make sure the ole brain isn't going too pear-shaped, and got given a blocker injection into the occipital nerve, which had reached new heights of inflammation.

It hurt.

I said a few very rude words, and clawed a hole in the towelling over the bed I was resting my forehead on.

It hurt some more, and then I felt/heard this hissing, fizzing noise and felt something pop in the back of my skull.

The nausea started dissipating almost immediately. I ate solid food that night for the first time in five days; there was still pain, but it was fading back. I slept on my side since the back of my head was too sore to put pressure on, and I woke up Saturday pain-free for the first time in a week.

As of now, Sunday, I'm still pain-free. I'm craving sugar, and I've still got marks under my eyes, so I've no idea what will happen when the blocker wears off.

Let's hope that by the time it does this particular migraine has burnt itself out.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Fur Thing Snippet

Usual warnings: still to go through final edit, and possible adult themes/language. Have fun!


Something dark buzzed around the open window, and then swarmed into the room. Wasps. They spun around the bedroom in a funnel of a million humming bodies, dipped briefly past Ruth into the bathroom, then headed for the doorway where we stood.
Lightfoot and I danced aside. Astrid leaned against the inside wall, folded her arms across her chest, and let them swirl past her. She looked like she was ready to hold up a points card and critique the swarm on movement and agility.
Then again, wasps wouldn't do much damage to a vamp. It's a bit hard to get worked up over something you know can't hurt you.
The swarm drifted lazily back into the bedroom, and hovered over the bed for a second, wings roaring.
Then it moved to the side of the bed, away from us, and collapsed to the floor. Seconds later another form rose from where the swarm had fallen, dusted off the arms of his coat, and leaned over the mass of fur on the bed.
We all turned to Astrid.
"No," she growled. "I don't do that."
The man at the bed shrugged his coat off, and laid it carefully across the chair in the room, undoing his cuffs and the top buttons of his shirt. The skin on his chest and arms was smooth and hairless, and the colour of burnt honey. 
"He's vain, and has money," Lightfoot said. "The haircut is professional, and his nails are manicured. Those clothes are expensive, and he looks after them."
The male vamp rubbed a hand over a lightly stubbled jaw. He was a good-looking bastard, I'd give him that. Black hair, dark eyes, and a well-toned body under the pricey clothes. He wouldn't have to do much work to get female attention, if that was his chosen victim pool.
The shirt came off and I sighed. This seemed to be my night for watching unwanted strip shows.
The shoes came next, then the fine silk socks. I stared at the pale white feet on the bedroom carpet.
"He has a tan. Would someone tell me why our vamp has a tan?" I looked at Astrid, who shook her head. 
"Could be fake," Ruth said.
"No," Lightfoot said. "The fake stuff doesn't stick to vamps."
"She's right," Astrid said. "It washes straight off. Doesn't matter if its salon spray or DIY. I get better results from tea, or carrot juice."
I raised an eyebrow, trying to imagine Astrid sitting in a carrot juice bath.
"I was curious!" she snapped.
My mind placed a little green feathered cap on the vamp in carrot juice image.
The male vamp slipped his trousers down over his hips, and the girls attention snapped back to him. I sneered. Red bikini underwear, really? How Eurotrash could you get?
Lightfoot patted me on the shoulder. "I'm sure yours is just as pretty," she told me.
I narrowed my eyes at her.
Astrid made a choking noise from her spot against the wall.
"If course, I'd have to check to be sure," Lightfoot continued, and I felt my face flare bright red again. 
Make something happen, make something happen.
Don't get me wrong, I love women. But I've never got past the first date stage. It's hard to stay in human form at certain moments, which I'd discovered a long, long time ago. Not to mention a few other little physical quirks, like the massive patch of multicolored skin that runs the length of my body; I doubt any female is going to look at me naked and make encouraging noises. I had no idea what to say back. 
Make something ha-
The male vampire rescued me by stripping off the briefs. 
Not quite what I had in mind, universe.
There was a moment of appreciative silence from my companions.
"I'm guessing he doesn't feel the cold much," Ruth said.
I was so not enjoying this. 

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Saying farewell to a good man.

This past Monday was my uncle's funeral. He was a good man, and treated me like his own daughter, and I will miss him fiercely. This is for him.


When you step through the doorway
To the next world, to those that went before
Leave the door open just a touch
Just a little so
Those you leave behind still 
Hear your laughter, feel the touch 
Of your hand on their shoulder
Know that you wait for us in the Summerlands.

In the days to come, when grief stabs
Hard and sharp and leaving us breathless
Whisper from the door just a little
So those you leave behind
Remember the good times and know
(Jimi kicking off and the way you smiled to hear it)
That we'll meet again in the Summerlands.

And when you hear us through the doorway
The kids growing, tumbling like puppies
Those left behind sharing sorrow and joy
And bittersweet moments, 
Anticipating what you would have said
Know that you were loved.
I will see you again in the Summerlands.

Friday, 18 April 2014

My new inspiration: Meet Zane Conroy

Zane Conroy

Life changes for all of us, sometimes slower than we'd like it to. But the big changes, the seriously major impacts usually happen very fast. Sometimes that change is precipitated by a split second decision, like diving into water and breaking your neck on a sandbar.

X-ray showing the damage from the impact to the spine.

Meet Zane Conroy, a young South African who did just that. The accident left him a paraplegic, with day-to-day living costs that are truly horrific. Most people would be depressed, bitter and angry at being dealt this hand. (Hell, I still sulk when my leg acts up.) Zane still acts as inspiration and touch-stone for his friends and family, and they are raising funds for him by doing a 4000km bike ride across Australia. Now THAT's love, people - and when I did this interview with him, I understood why.

Zane and Glendon, before the accident

1.  Let’s start with the easy stuff – coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Chocolate or meat? Horror or comedy?
Comedy - Do the above answers give it away? :)

2.   Give us your top three phobias?

I've never been asked that before. Ha, but if I had to answer I'd say:
1. Drowning (which I nearly did on the night of the accident - luckily faced that fear).
2. Bad driving.
3. When someone moves something in my bedroom/home without me knowing...then going to use it and it's not there. I'm a bit OCD like that haha. But I believe - "A place for everything and everything in it's place".

3.  And the good stuff – top three dreams?

Yay! I like this interview.
1. Walk again!
2. Walk again!
3. Walk again!


But if I had to give another dream, it would be to live long enough to have a gathering of every single person I ever met all at one place :)
Zane and Eddie

Amaal and Zane

4.       Your mates are raising funds for you, you suffered devastating injuries in a freak accident a few years ago. What can you tell us about yourself and what happened to you?

I'm a very easy going guy, adventurous and usually up for anything. I really enjoy to laugh and smile - it sounds cheesy but it's truly natures best medicine. I'm enjoying regular doses of it to this day. I'm loyal I'd say, woof :D No seriously, my friends may or may not know, but I actually adopt them as family. Being an only child I think has a lot to do with that, but what I know in my heart, is that these friends/family members love me very much, and knowing that is truly an invisible feeling more valuable than any currency that exists or that will ever exist - I mean just look at what they're doing!? Its two syllables - Awe-Some!!
My injury has been physically devastating. Not only can't I walk, but I don't have the use of my hands either, they're also paralyzed. Not being able to grasp an object, walk around or even do the simplest of tasks like shower, eat or get into bed can take a toll on one’s mind. But, that's the very thing I'd like to be completely grateful and joyful for - I still have my mind. Not sure if you've seen the movie "Ray"? About Ray Charles' life? Well, he learned when he lost his sight, that his hearing improved dramatically as well as his sense of awareness. The same applies with me. Upon losing my physical ability to walk etc., I've found my mind has amplified a whole lot more! It sounds corny but I truly do observe so much more and wait for it, the finer things in life :)

Gathering of friends - Good Times!

5.       What is it like experiencing such an injury? During the accident, during recovery, and now in every day life?

What if I told you that, the injury itself as it happened, allowed me to experience "relativity"? That's rhetorical don't worry :)
You know Einstein's theory, sit on a hot plate it feels like hours. Go on a date with a hot guy/girl, feels like milliseconds by the end of it. The same happened to me. As I broke my neck I knew I was paralyzed. I then realized while I was face down in the water, busy drowning, I couldn't flip myself over and was going to die unless someone flipped me over. My Brother (friend), Amaal, did in fact flip me over and saved my life. All of which happened in the space of about 30 seconds - this, felt like an eternity! The most profound thing was, that I was ready to go. I had no regrets and was actually smiling at the notion of going right there and then. My entire life was analysed and scrutinized by my brain, mind and thoughts - it was as I said, relativity. Pretty cool huh. Well, I thought it was. Look I'll level with you, by no means am I ok with being so badly hurt or being disabled for the rest of my life, but it has taught me how strong a person can be and what true determination is. What insane levels of love and friendship that exist in this world - & by insane I mean amazing, awesome, genuine, moving and uninventable (yes I just made that up).
Recovery is extremely slow and limited. It can be disheartening to get a twitch in your toe after two years and see that as progress! But, it gives me reason to train hard (physiotherapy), dream big and open my mind to the unimaginable.
Everyday life is, to be honest, fun. I've discovered a new passion of mine which is to be outside in the garden, growing plants and veggies. So I get ready, exercise, work outside, research/read, eat, listen to music and best of all laugh with friends and family :)

6.   The team is riding across a large part of Australia by bike to raise funds for you. Are we talking bicycle bike here? What does this mean to you?

Indeed we are! I say to people my friend Alex is CYCLING or riding his BICYCLE from Perth to Sydney! The expressions are priceless! It's 4000km over a month or so. He has to average around 130km per day - it's seeerious going.
But, if I know Alex, it's that he has an incredibly strong and focused mind. I've enjoyed many a chats with him about the "unimaginable realm". We spoke of this ride over two years ago, and it was at that moment, that Alex gave me inspiration beyond his own understanding. Good thing I was sitting in a wheelchair else I would have fallen over! It was an incredible moment that I had shared with him and if Alex ever gets to read or hear this interview, he will very well know that his courage to achieve the unimaginable has etched INSPIRATION into my soul for all eternity... I will be forever grateful and am still completely amazed he has taken on this mammoth task to also raise funds for me and my wellbeing. I'm truly honoured to know him.

4000 kms ON A BICYCLE. OUCH!

Zane - never stops smiling.

7.   What do you think the challenges will be on the ride, and how will the guys cope?

Challenges will be the heat, no doubt. The sitting in the saddle will become very uncomfortable. Hydration and correct food intake will be tricky too. But after having spoken with Alex about it, I know in my heart he has the ability to push past the physical realm and achieve whatever his mind and heart desires. Of course, I feel I can sleep extremely well at night knowing that our Awesome Sickpunk friend Eddie (that was a term of endearment hehe), is trailing behind him in a motor home with supplies and probably beer - knowing Eddie, I know Alex is in very safe hands.

8.       Where can people follow the team during the ride? (twitter, Facebook etc.)

There is a blog that will be updated during the ride. It's actually on the website itself:

Glendon can provide invites to "Like" the Facebook page I'm sure.

9.   How can people help? (links, donations, supplies)

Help would be hugely appreciated by donating on the website at:

Other ways can be to spread the word of what the incredible power of friendship has :) 
If I may, just end off by saying a massive thank you to the other awesome people involved in this amazing story of friendship, family and down right, love of/for people. Glendon Evarts, Simone Daniel-Watkiss, Jonny Morris, Eddie Silver and of course Alex Watkiss, what an incredible bunch of people. Thank You! & check them out at:

As for you, Janet, thanks for your time and effort to ask me the questions and take an interest in the story, cheers!

Then, a BIG thank you again to Chris Niarchos, your support has overwhelmed me, my friends and all my family back home in South Africa, cheers!

As for everyone who knows me, who has donated or who has been involved in this in any way... Thank you!

lol (lots of laughs) :)


It's not often I post an interview with a lump in my throat, but this one has done it. Zane, you inspire me. May all your dreams come true.