All posts by Rachel

No ghost

I finally know what it feels like to be a man. Specifically, I know what it feels like to be a man watching superhero movies, or Bond, or Star Trek, or pretty much any fucking movie ever. I’ve seen the new Ghostbusters, and I swaggered out of that cinema feeling like I could punch a lion in the throat.

Is this it? Is this how it feels to watch representations of yourself kick several shades of ass on the big screen? And if so: how has it taken this long? Do you know how cheated I feel that I had to wait until I was thirty-bastard-eight years old before this happened? And how many levels of angry I am with all the whiny manbabies who hate the concept of a female Ghostbusters? I mean, I was angry with them before. But now I’ve seen it, and now I know how great it made me feel, I’m beyond furious.

Continue reading No ghost


You know what’s wrong with politics? You are. You, with your opinions and your Twitter and your Facebook groups. Your £3 political party non-memberships. Your hashtag games.

You are, I am, we is. All split off into our little tribes, haven’t we, especially since Brexit. One side lined up against the other. Swearing and name-calling, spitting at the ‘other’ in the street, throwing molotov cocktails through the windows of halal butchers. (This last may be more one side in particular.)

And look at the political left. I mean, look at the bloody state of it. It’s less than a month since a Labour MP got shot in the street by a man who later declared “death to traitors” and you’ve got people on Twitter saying the “only good Blairite is a dead one”; phoning up an MP’s constituency offices and threatening to kick the shit out of staff; throwing bricks through windows; hand delivering death threats to a PR agency; Paul Mason referencing traitors in context of a no-confidence vote.

Continue reading Momentum

The coffin of politics

I never thought this would happen. When it came down to it, I was convinced that the UK is a small ‘c’ conservative country and would vote to preserve the status quo. We’d vote to Remain, Nigel Farage would continue to bleat on about rigged votes and everything would carry on as normal.

But, oh, for fuck’s sake. It depresses me so much that a horrible, divisive campaign – so much like the one London comprehensively sent packing with the mayoral election – won over nearly 17.5m people. A campaign filled with outright lies, padded out with straight-up racism. A campaign that saw a woman get killed (a woman Farage seemed to forget about in his victory speech, saying his little independence movement succeeded without a single shot being fired. Oh, apart from those ones in Birstall, but never mind).

This wasn’t about Europe. This was about giving a bloody nose to them government poshos who never listen. There are Leave voters on the BBC today saying they didn’t mean it, they didn’t think Leave would win. On Facebook, there’s someone I used to hang out with – and no longer do because of bellendry like this – saying ‘oh crap, it was only a protest vote’. Yeah, well your little protest just wiped £1.5 trillion off the value of the world’s economy.

Project Fear my arse.

Continue reading The coffin of politics

The wounded antelope

You’ve probably already read the statement by the woman who was sexually assaulted by former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who last week was given six fucking months for the crime. If you haven’t, you know where to find Google. Go and read it. I’ll be right here, waiting.

Back? Good. Six fucking months. He could have got up to 14 years. Prosecutors asked for six years. The judge gave him six fucking months in county jail and probation because, quote, “a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him”.

That’s why I told you to go and read the statement by the woman he assaulted, to realise the “severe impact” it had on her. When she woke up in hospital after a booze blackout, she gradually found out she been left half naked behind a dumpster after Turner had fingered her so severely she had internal abrasions. Oh yeah, and this shining beacon of humanity ran off after two guys spotted what was going on and intervened.

One thing – among many horrific things – in that statement stood out for me.

Continue reading The wounded antelope

Reservations for one

I go on holiday a lot on my own. It’s that, or not go away at all, and it’s fine by me. However, this small fact tends to catch many other people by surprise. Here are some examples of why I am increasingly pissed off with my solo travels being a ‘thing’.

1. I am in Himeji, a Japanese castle town. It’s cherry blossom season and the queue to get into the castle is ridiculously long, so I’ve decided to sit in the park and read for a while. A Japanese family sits on the bench next to me. The elderly matriarch strikes up a conversation.
“Where are you from?”
“Where is your husband?”
[That in itself would be enough to make me spit.]
“Oh, I’m here on my own.”
“You’re so brave!” she says, clutching her hands to her head.

2. I am in a restaurant in Osaka. The nice Taiwanese owner and her assistant are fussing around me.
“Where are you from?”
“You on your own?”
“Ah. Why?”
Always the implication: woman, where is your husband?

3. I am in a Pret at Gatwick, buying a bacon sandwich. The cashier is chatty and asks me where I’m going.
“On business or going home?”
a) There is no way I can ever pass for Norwegian, but thanks for the compliment.
b) I am wearing jeans and a schlubby t-shirt, carrying a backpack on the verge of falling apart. If I’m travelling on business I ought to be fired on the spot.
c) When I said I’m actually going on holiday, the guy was taken so much by surprise that he genuinely didn’t know what to say.

4. I am in a Starbucks in Oita. I love Starbucks in Japan. They do excellent iced teas. Anyway, I’m in Starbucks and momentarily confused about where to throw away my empty cup. A young man shows me and takes the opportunity to practice his English, having recently been to study in Bristol. He asks me if I’m an exchange student (bless him, I was 36 at the time) or TEFL. I tell him I’m on holiday. “Why?” he asks, baffled to the verge of distress.

(To be fair, he had a point; Oita isn’t a major tourist destination. But it’s very well connected for travel to various interesting towns so, you know, it’s my holiday and shut up.)

5. I am in Austria, waiting at a bus stop. A woman walks up and starts chatting to me in German. I break in and explain, in halting GCSE, that I’m English and on holiday. She looks me up and down in surprise, purses her lips and moves away.

6. I am in St Petersburg, Russia, waiting at a tram stop. A woman walks up and starts chatting to me in Russian. I break in and explain, with no attempt at the language because my knowledge consists of one 60 minute school lesson when our German teacher got bored once and tried to teach us Russian and Swedish, that I’m English and on holiday. She looks me up and down in surprise, purses her lips and moves away.

7. I am in Flåm, Norway. I am getting happily pissed on a stupidly expensive bottle of imperial porter. I realise the brewery restaurant is starting to fill up so I’d better let them know I want to eat. “Sorry,” says the barman. “We don’t do reservations for one.” But, I want to say, you just wrote down the name of that guy before me. Luckily the nicer barman who sold me the stupidly expensive bottle of beer appears, remembers me and scribbles me down on the wait list.

8. I am sitting outside a cafe in Cordoba. Everyone else around me has drinks. People come in after me, sit down and get served. Every single member of the wait staff ignores me. This may be paranoia, but by this point in my life it feels well founded. Do they think I’m waiting for my boyfriend? Eventually I get up and walk off.

9. I am sick of being given the shittiest hotel rooms. I once saw an episode of CSI – you know, the original Las Vegas version before they brought in Sam from Cheers – in which the chisel-jawed one describes the room at the end of the corridor by the fire escape as the ‘murder room’. I am always getting that fucking hotel room. I once got a room that wasn’t just at the end of the corridor, but through an emergency exit and into a tiny annexe where no-one would hear me scream.

This might sound like I’m asking for special treatment because I’m a woman on my own and, well, there is a sort of argument here that if a hotelier knows ahead that a woman is booking in by herself, maybe don’t punt her off in the room where she’s isolated. But mainly I’m just fed up of getting shoved in the corner. Nobody puts me in a corner. Except hotels. And restaurants.

10. I have no stories about the time I spent a week and a half in Qatar. Where you’d think there’d be at least some raised eyebrows.

Why is it remarkable – literally, to be remarked upon – that I, a female human, have left my home and ventured abroad? Without a chaperone, no less? I mean, we have the vote now, why can’t we be content to sit around the kitchen and plop out a series of babies?

The thing I hate most is that I know I’m already curtailing the range of my travel because I’m on my own. There are places I want to see but I wouldn’t feel safe without company (male or female). I’d also love to go to Chile, take one of those boats to Antarctica and see the penguins, but some fucking middle aged couple or other would attempt to ‘take me under their wing’ and I’d simply have to kill them. So to have it repeatedly brought to my attention that I’m travelling solo in places that I’m fine with – that’s annoying.

But what’s worse is that I’m not sure I even have the energy to rage about it any more. It’d probably just be easier to sign up for Tinder.

Bloody immigrants

Bloody immigrants.

They come over here, can’t even be bothered to learn the language. You go in the banks and there they all are, queueing to speak to the one teller that speaks English. All the leaflets have had to be translated for them. It makes me sick.

They stick with their own. Always drinking in the English bars, run by the English and employing English staff. What’s wrong with giving some work to the natives? The Spanish would love the business opportunities but they’re undercut by the English and their network of friends and kids of friends, willing to work for cash in hand. What happens to the taxes, that’s what I’d like to know.

All the Spanish bars and restaurants, they’re going out of business. You feel like a stranger on your own high street, where you’ve lived all your life. Walk down the road, you can’t understand half the people you pass.

We’ve got some of them living next door. Can’t speak a word. It’s down to us, of course, we’re the ones who have to make the effort. I hear them talking about how well the neighbours speak English. Lazy bastards, how about you trying to speak some decent Spanish instead of shouting in your ridiculous dialect and waving your hands?

They’re all using dodgy TV connections. Eyesore satellite dishes stuck on the side of their houses by cowboys so they can watch Eastenders and the news that’s hardly local any more. Not a TV licence between them. They only read the English papers. They don’t vote. The ignorance is shocking.

They won’t integrate. Look at them, with the shops selling English food. What’s wrong with our shops and our food? Why do they need to shop at Iceland? Why do they still need to buy fish fingers? What’s wrong with eating the local produce and supporting local farmers?

And speaking of the food, have you seen some of the muck they eat? Especially for breakfast? Swimming in grease and my god, the smell. It sticks to them all day. I swear, I think most of them don’t even shower.

Then, when they have heart attacks or break a hip, they clog up the healthcare system. And of course they can’t speak the language so don’t get stuck behind one in the queue, you’ll be there forever. If you can even get seen, because of all the English pensioners on the waiting list.

And then they have the nerve to say they’re not immigrants, they’re ex-pats. They can fuck off back to where they came from, the lot of them.

I wuv you

Oh look, a cliche: a single woman writing about how much she hates Valentine’s Day. And about how she hates it because it’s all so commercialised blah blah blah. But I really do, and you won’t stifle my freedom of speech, damn you.

There is nothing less romantic than Valentine’s Day. Or rather, how you’re supposed to do Valentine’s Day. I don’t like pink. I don’t like red roses. I don’t like heart motifs. Cuddly toys can get to fuck. I like chocolate, but Valentine’s Day chocolate is over-processed and tastes like shit. And comes in pink, heart-shaped boxes. Please see above.

A romantic gesture is, surely, one that shows how well someone knows you. Not one that says ‘here, have a teddy bear holding a pink placard that says ‘I wuv you’, because despite having spent a reasonable amount of time with you I apparently believe you will want something that belongs in the bedroom of an eight year old girl’.

A boyfriend once turned up on my doorstep holding a single, browning, dogeared red rose that he’d evidently picked up at a garage. And what’s awful is that this wasn’t an entirely half-arsed gesture. He’d felt the need to ‘do’ Valentine’s Day, but left it so late this sad little flower was the best he could find. I knew he’d tried, and accepted the gift with smiles and grace, but couldn’t help feeling that if he’d had three seconds of original thought he’d have sacked off the Hallmark pressure and got me a Tunnocks teacake instead. The 18 month relationship was doomed from that point on.

(“A Tunnocks teacake?” you say. “That’s not very romantic.” To which I would reply: you’ve clearly been eating them wrong.)

Valentine’s Day isn’t romantic. It’s a simulacrum of romance. What’s less romantic than being ushered into a set of specific, one-size-fits-all motions? Card, flowers, dinner, a blow job later on; and that’s it for the rest of the year apart from birthdays and anniversaries. That’s not romance, that’s a stand-up routine from a 1970s working men’s club.

Does this sound ungrateful? I don’t care. I would genuinely rather receive nothing on 14 February than something that will break my heart slightly at how little my current bunk-up knows me. If you can’t override the urge to purchase sugary pink goo, there are apparently thousands of women out there who are have been suckered into wanting it. I can’t point you towards any because thankfully none of them are my friends.

And if you absolutely have to give me a dozen long-stemmed red roses, do it in the middle of June. That way I’ll know you mean it, rather than having felt badgered into it by societal bunkum.

Private property

I, along with many other people, recently became aware of a waste of oxygen going by the name of Roosh V. Roosh V is a “pick up artist” – in other words, he uses pressure and tricks to get his dick wet and then tells other men how to do the same. Because sex is a right, you guys. And those bitches don’t want to give us our rights, so let’s take it anyway.

Truly, in the words of Germaine Greer, women have very little idea how much men hate them.

One of the more appalling ideas Roosh V has suggested is that rape should be legal if done on private property. Of course, now this has got mass media publicity, he’s pulled out the favourite last-resort of all douchebags, which is ‘lighten up would you, it was a joke’.

If you actually read this piece of crap, you’ll see it appears to be telling women not to drink and “follow a strange man into a bedroom”; thereby taking the onus off men not to rape women, or get women drunk and then rape women, or find a woman incapable of making rational decisions and prey on her in order to rape women, but on women to protect our bodies like the delicate, precious flowers that we are. And let’s not even get started on the fact that most women are raped by people they know, not strangers.

But here’s the thing, Roosh V. Your ‘satirical’ blog post doesn’t even work as satire. You’ve not thought through your premise carefully enough for it to be funny. I’m sorry that it’s taken a lady to point this out, but here we go.

All private property, Roosh V? All of it? So if I go to a male friend’s house for dinner, have I consented to sex with him? What about with his flatmates? If he rents, have I now given the landlord consent to have sex with me? Or just the tenants? Or not even the tenants? After all, it’s not their property. If you’re proposing a new form of droit du seigneur then I expect buy to let sales to go through the roof, and that’s the last thing London needs right now.

You, Roosh V, say I should never be unchaperoned with a man I don’t want to sleep with. How about if I go to a female friend’s house and they go to the loo, or nip out to Sainsbury’s for some more pitta bread? Is it OK for the other, male, guest to rape me while they’re out?

What about at work, Roosh V? Offices are private property. Can Bob from accounts pin me to the wall by the throat in the stationery cupboard and have his way with me without fear of reprisal from HR?

And how about private public spaces, Roosh V? More London, that area around City Hall in the big bad British capital, is technically private property. If I’m admiring the view of Tower Bridge, can any passer-by unzip himself and grapple beneath my skirt as the whim arises? Or is that pleasure reserved for the security guards who tell people to stop taking photos of City Hall?

There’s just too much ambiguity in your ‘satire’, Roosh V. You would never make it as a stand-up. You probably think women don’t have a sense of humour, don’t you Roosh V? Sadly, you’re just not funny. Even though you’re a joke.

A hive of villainy

“I think you’ve been hacked,” comes the email from a friend. It’s a semi-regular occurrence these days, ever since my account genuinely was hacked some time ago. Except spammers didn’t leave a stream of crap in my sent mail; instead they lifted my address book, and every now and again somebody who’s bought the list afresh spoofs my identity and sends everyone I’ve ever corresponded with some dodgy link.

I hate it, but there’s nothing I can do.

Yesterday I got a text message from what claimed to be Buzzfeed. Except I don’t think Buzzfeed have changed business model from listicles of other people’s tweets to telling randomers about PPI claims. At some point, my phone number was sold to someone unscrupulous and now it’s clearly doing the rounds of people even more unscrupulous. I get these texts semi-regularly and I log every single one with the Information Commissioner’s Office because I’m a pedantic and vindictive bastard at times.

I hate it, but at least it’s one thing I can do.

One of the ways I pay my bills is as a comments moderator. You know, one of those poor sods who has to read everything poured out below the line. It is, shall we say, instructive. But all the racism, all the misogyny, all the homophobia doesn’t enrage me as much as one particular type of spamming.

I spend a few hours a week working on a site for people with health problems. It’s a support site for an illness. Some of the people on there are dying, or someone close to them is dying. Most of them are going through a terrible time. All of them are under pressure. So why wouldn’t you, as a spammer, join up simply to post advertising about buying fake documents, or drugs, or a new kitchen?

These people are the scum of the earth. And they are people: bots can’t post to this site. Somewhere, in a darkened basement in Indonesia or China, is a hive of villainy, deliberately interrupting a heart-rending discussion about pain or mortality or grief with links to online share dealers. Most heinous of all, if a user has ticked a certain box, it lands in their inbox as a notification of new site activity.

Actually, no. I’m being unfair. The people posting this stuff probably don’t realise what they’re doing. I can’t imagine they spend time trawling Google for online forums to disrupt. They probably can’t even read English well enough to understand what they’re trampling on.

It’s whoever’s paid them who are the real cunts. Somewhere, in a conservatory in Hampshire, is a businessman transferring funds for these darkest of arts, perhaps with a list of target sites. Or he knows that the spam sweatshop he’s paying has a list of regular targets. And he doesn’t care what they might be.

I was once so incensed that I checked up on one of the serial offenders. It all ties back to a legitimate business in the UK, but the owner is notoriously dodgy. I find it very hard to believe he doesn’t know what’s happening, particularly as this spam has been posted for over three years and I’ve found examples online of people having called up the company HQ to complain. The owner is attempting to make money off the back of vulnerable people. The owner is a waste of oxygen. Every now and again I Google him, hoping to read that a gangster rival has offed him in spectacular fashion.

I hate it, but it’s the one thing I can do.

Cavalcade of trite

When I die – which, given the state of my stress levels, may be sooner than you think – if anyone describes me in terms of my family relationships (“daughter, niece, girlfriend, wife”), or my job, or some banal string of characteristics that people think sound nice, I will be furious. I won’t of course, I’ll be dead and completely oblivious to everything, but I want you to know that you’ll have started the process of whitewashing my memory.

Let me tell a story about my uncle’s funeral – wait, I’m going somewhere with this. Dead at 65 from lymphoma, the eulogy given by the random minister assigned by the crematorium was a travesty. Nothing about his hopes, dreams, loves, hates; anything that made him who he was. His only natural child died young and that didn’t get a mention, but there was time to list every single fucking street he’d ever lived in. This isn’t the minister’s fault, he could only work with what was given to him by the family. And afterwards people were speaking to each other in hushed tones about what a lovely service it had been. Except it was a terrible service, with barely any indication of who the human being in the box had been.

And so: Paris. There’s a Twitter account, @ParisVictims, tweeting short bits of information about the people who died on 13 November. I’m struggling to find anything on there that’s not bland or platitudinous. “Friend, brother, son” reads one. “Daughter, sister” reads another. Well, yes. We all tend to be at least one of these things. One man is described as “efficient”. Shit the bed. This guy has died, horribly. Is this the best that can be said about him? What about his desires, his achievements, his plans for the future? If you want to show the world what has been cruelly cut down, please try and do the dead the honour of representing them properly.

This is largely the fault of social media, where being first is considered better than being thorough. @ParisVictims is the Twitter version of a Mashable project which is clearly scouring news sources and people’s social media accounts to gather tiny snippets of information to share with the world. But, to me, this isn’t respect. It’s rubbernecking. After 9/11, the New York Times went out and did a proper obituary for everyone who died. It took a while, but you get a real sense of who they were as people.

Are we happy with this cavalcade of trite? I think we must be. Because ‘we’ tweet and Facebook ‘RIP’ as a reflex when someone dies, even though RIP belongs to a time when we all believed in an afterlife, a hell and a resurrection. It’s now such a reflex that it’s meaningless, just a way of showing to the world that you care. Even if you don’t.

Appearance is all; you can get torn to shreds for not wearing a poppy, even if you think it’s appalling that a charity has to exist at all to take care of those who the government has sent off to die and be injured; even if you’d happily pay more taxes to replace the Royal British Legion with proper, state-funded care; even if you went on that Stop the War march before Iraq that changed absolutely nothing and you feel sick at the thought of the carnage that happened ‘in your name’. Wear the poppy, change your Facebook profile to a Tricolor; otherwise how will people know you care? Other than, maybe, a genuine, thoughtful statement?

Or even better, say nothing at all instead of something shallow and stupid.