How To… Say No To This

I was totally going to talk about Trump today. But that particular little slice of news isn’t going to go anywhere soon so I reckon I’ve got time to wait to chuck in my two cents. I could even have broadened my horizons and tried to understand the ramifications of the Catalonia independence situation. Instead, I have been made angry by Facebook and feel the need to address what’s going on.

I am steadfastly, unwaveringly pro-choice when it comes to abortion. For a while now, I’ve been relatively certain that if I did find myself unexpectedly pregnant, I wouldn’t choose to terminate. But I’m in a privileged position: stable job, living with a supportive partner and with enough savings in hand to support an unplanned baby. Many aren’t. And also, my personal reaction to a particular circumstance has nothing to do with anything.

Anyway, a post popped up in my newsfeed. A valiant man had taken it upon himself to speak up for millions of aborted children and decided to post up a load of statistics about abortion rates: the number of abortions since 1967, legal grounds sited, terminations carried out past arbitrary time points in pregnancies and so on. That was it, the limited about of commentary was limited to his compassion for women who have had abortions and are ‘wracked with guilt because of it’.

Since he’d decided to speak for the unborn, I feel that much more qualified to speak for women. Spare us your shit! He wasn’t campaigning for improvements in sex education or access to birth control – measures that would definitely reduce the numbers of unintended pregnancies. Or how about cheaper childcare or better opportunities for mothers in the workplace? These would remove obstacles some feel stand in the way of parenthood.

Then there are those detailed descriptions of later term abortions. These are especially cruel. In a lot of these cases, women who terminate at a later stage of pregnancy desperately want their babies but have discovered something that has gone wrong in utero and have made an incredibly difficult decision. They, just as much as any other woman who has decided not to continue with a pregnancy, do not deserve someone brandishing statistics at them to make them feel badly about their life decisions.

Some people don’t agree with abortion on religious grounds or ethical arguments they’ve reached. Fine, don’t have one. But stay out of my reproductive organs and out of anyone else’s. There will always be anecdotal evidence you can find to back up any argument. There might well be women who ill-advisedly treat abortion as very late contraception. However, they are not the majority. Accidents happen, methods of contraception fail and some people just don’t want to be parents.

There are no easy answers, if there were, these topics wouldn’t be up for debate. Someone’s always going to be unhappy if an outcome doesn’t gel precisely with their particular world view. But better is always good. If you want fewer abortions to happen, great, there are ways to go after this aim that are a lot more constructive than beating people with out of date studies about suicide rates.

I know it’s rich of me to lecture people to get off their pedestals and actually do something but I’m angry and words are how I deal with things. I’m not saying that someone’s gender precludes them from a discussion, men can be sensitive to issues too but this made me viscerally angry. Especially the faux-sympathy. Spare me.

Say no to this – Hamilton


How To… Waltz for Richard

There are officially too many Richards in my life. It’s beginning to get difficult to cope. Yes, that might strike some as melodramatic but it’s getting irritating having to clarify precisely who I’m talking about in so many conversations. If you don’t believe me: I have an uncle Richard, one of my other half’s closest friends is called Richard and so is the man who happens to be married to my mother. Then there are any number of alternative Richards who might crop up during discussions. Some of them are even famous.

While this isn’t an especially big deal, it seems like an odd level of regularity for a name that doesn’t seem all that common. My brother is a Thomas, there’s loads of those (there was even one with the same surname as him in the same year at school, much confusion) and yet there aren’t really many of those in my life. People should have numbers attached to their names or at least the decency to come up with inventive nicknames.

So how does waltzing come into the equation. Well, unless something changes dramatically in the next eight months, all three of these men will attend my wedding where the general plan is for dancing of some variety to occur. But will I really be dancing for them specifically or merely for joy on my big day?

It’s hard to really know and I don’t think this advice is all that helpful for you. After all, I am in no way advocating for you to gatecrash my nuptials. I don’t think the budget could take the strain of all four people who might read this between now and then (the fifth person will probably be my dad and he’s already coming). So, find a Richard (and if my experience is anything to go by) and stick on some appropriate music. Then let the beat take you away.

Oh dear, it would seem I’ve talked about dancing quite recently. Meh, my blog, my rules. Serves me right for forgetting my glorious notebook today and improvising.

Waltz for Richard – First Aid Kit

How To… Feed the Mantaray

Now, if you were to ask me how you should get yourself into a situation where feeding a mantaray is even an option, I’m not sure I would have all that much of a clue as to how to proceed. Isn’t it terribly lucky then, that this is not the issue we’re going to be grappling with today? I mean, I’m sure the process would start with a trip to the seaside or an aquarium but where would one go from there.

Clearly, you’ve found yourself faced with a hungry mouth and a mounting sense of bewilderment. You’re not even sure what their usual diet consists. We’ve been hosting a vegan for the weekend and it does get confusing when someone deviates from what you consider to be the more usual state of affairs. You have to get by with copious amounts of avocado and the occasional dash of coconut milk. It’s like they’re still human or something.

Is fish going to have to be the way forward? I’m not all of a sudden endorsing a universal pescatarian diet. It’s just that without any outside information (not even so much as a little Googling, I am a lazy oracle), I have to assume that manta-rays are prone to guzzle down a healthy vat of krill or something generally along those lines.

In this scenario, as in so many as you go through your life, listen to the professionals. I can hardly imagine you’ll be in the position of nourishing a mantaray (excellent new euphemism by the way) without any form of supervision. They’ll let you know not only what food to give your hungry chum but also how to do so without getting your arm bitten off and unleashing the next big thing in plagues as a battalion of mantarays swamps the earth in search of human flesh.

Feed the mantaray – Slaves

How To… Teach Me How to Dance With You

I’ve totally got the moves. I used to be a ballet dancer I’ll have you know. I mean, I definitely don’t have the figure or sense of rhythm for it and I was sufficiently terrible I was subtly persuaded not to actually take the exams (true story, I got the lowest possible passing grade for stage or maybe even level one and didn’t take another exam during the ten years I pranced about). So maybe I do need a few pointers for activities on the dance floor.

This wouldn’t really be that much of an issue if it weren’t for a particular event next year. It’s been a long time since I’ve even considered going clubbing and to be fair it was hard to tell in that sort of environment who was a talented dancer. On the few occasions when dancing is called for, it’s generally acceptable for me to sway against my fiance and possibly execute the occasional twirl.

But that’s the operative word: fiance. Next year we are going to be expected to have the all important first dance. I mean, if we felt especially strongly about it we could skip it or indeed the evening dancing altogether. But I like creating problems for myself where I can be an especially brave little martyr. On my extra special day where I get to be a princess, surely the dance is yet another opportunity for there to be all eyes on me.

So what I’ve taken a long ramble to try and say is that I should probably take an evening or two to try and learn how to dance without embarrassing us in our first major moment as a married couple. Box step? Maybe with a few of my signature twirls thrown in? It would probably help if we managed to settle on a particular song.

Teach me how to dance with you – Causes

How To… Drink a Beer

If you’ve batted an eyelid at this title in wonderment that anyone would actually need instruction in this endeavour then hooray for you but move on because clearly this isn’t for you. It’s not a big deal for you to crack open a cold one, slurp it down, move onto the rest of the six pack, still feel the need for more, lurch to the newsagent, become incensed that they won’t serve you because you’re slurring all over the place, collapse in the gutter and then wake up with an almighty hangover. Congratulations, I suppose?

Others may well feel compelled to take a little bit more time to savour their fermented beverage. I, for example, can nurse a beer for a whole evening, decide I don’t want it any more because it’s warm and I wasn’t that keen on it in the first place anyway, and hide it behind a conveniently located plant pot. It’s mainly because I can’t stand wine and it’s not socially unacceptable to drink neither wine nor beer in this country (unless you’re teetotal but that’s a different ball game). I do prefer gin though. Delicious gin.

But there are times when a lovely cocktail (that has the advantage of not really tasting like booze. Meaning that you can drink more alcohol and all your calories for the day at the same time) just isn’t available. Beer though, there are very few occasions when you can’t get ahold of some of that.

Find the strength to deal with that whole ring pull or potentially even bottlecap situation. After that, you’ve got to decide if you’re going to opt for a glass, tankard, cup or receptacle or simply plump for the container the liquid originally came in. Can you cope with pouring in such a fashion that you won’t ruin everything by creating too much of a foamy head? You know what, forget the whole thing, I’ll just have tap water.

Drink a beer – Luke Bryan

How To… Please Mr Postman

You might be under the impression that the optimal way to please your postman would be to not burden him with any letters, packages, parcels or postcards. However, if you decide to cut down on your outgoing mail you are in fact putting him at risk of losing his job. Rather than considerately reducing his onerous workload you’ve pushed him further to the edge of destitution. How will he buy shoes for his wife or necklaces for his children?

Of course, it’s perfectly natural and to be expected that there would be postwomen as well but for some reason you don’t seem so concerned with pleasing them. Perhaps we ought to drill down into your motivations because right now you’re coming off as an outrageous sexist which isn’t especially acceptable in this day and age. Probably. I’m sure it’s a simple oversight so let’s get back to the matter in hand of making sure that the men in your life are happy.

Even if you weren’t to send so much as another letter in your life you wouldn’t expect the mail industry to altogether crumble. The junk mail piling up on your welcome mat stands testament to the fact that plenty of companies out there who are more than prepared to stump up the cash to inundate unsuspecting consumers with superfluous advertising. As a side note, we had a mailer through the letterbox from a mysterious company who didn’t state on it anywhere what they actually did (I used my thinking brain to determine from the name that it was in fact an estate agents. They went into the bin).

So how to please Mr Postman? Well, I should have thought that the answer to that particular question would be patently obvious. Winning smile and regular offers of a nice cup of tea. And heavy parcels in moderation.

Please Mr Postman – The Marvelettes

How To… Stop and Stare

It’s so very difficult not to look. Certainly not simply out of sheer naked morbid fascination of course. There’s an outside chance you may actually be able to help. You’ve definitely got skills that would be of service or you might know just the person to sort the whole situation out. What is sure is that you wouldn’t get in the way and you’re absolutely not being propelled by curiosity.

They definitely won’t mind. Depending on the circumstances, they’re either completely used to people stopping and staring at them with vacant expressions and slack jaws or they’ve got so much else to worry about they’re not even going to register your attention. Why on earth should it be anyone else’s business as to what you choose to do with your personal time? You’re not hurting anyone by staying stood there, potentially drooling just a little bit as you do absolutely nothing but watch the world unfold.

The haters are wont to call it rubbernecking. They’ll bang on about the dangers and point to plenty of circumstances where it has lead to almighty traffic jams. These naysayers are party poopers and you should merely kick them in the shins and run away while they’re still confused by your childish behaviour. And then go and find a juicy accident to observe. Make sure you have some popcorn with you and look the other way if the paramedics look as if they’re about to tell you off.

But there are plenty of other things that might hold your attention. You could have spied a startlingly attractive individual or someone you’re not completely sure whether you know or not. Try your best to hide away because should they catch you openly staring at them they may well get freaked out or attempt to engage you in conversation. Both of these are terrible outcomes. Have fun.

Stop and stare – OneRepublic