changeling times

trials and tribulations of eclectic chicken

So long and thanks for all the fash.. January 19, 2015

Filed under: politics,thinks — eclectic chicken @ 12:09 pm
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I used to belong to a group on Facebook which I felt comfortable in. It’s about exposing the idiocy of a certain right wing group and it has a set of moderators who usually make good moderation calls. As a passionate and pig headed researcher I like to think over time I’ve added more to the group than I take if this offends anyone.

Today I belong to a group which does not believe in free speech because they use a filter to block specific words.

End of.

No ifs or buts… if you use a filter to block words I don’t care what words you choose, or on what basis – it simply means you have removed the right to free speech.

As it happens the ‘banned’ words aren’t old favourites for banning like cunt or tranny or poof or even paki (given the content of the group you’d think paki may have been the word to tip the balance).

The words in question are cretin, retard and mong (they seem to have forgotten spastic, spacca, joey, thicky, idiot, mentalist etc etc).
They’ve not even switched the filter on because someone with a learning difficulty or disabilty was directly insulted with one of these words. It was switched on because someone took offence on behalf of someone…or because they are the parent and/or carer…or ‘know’ someone who they think wears one of those hats.

Now…. I don’t much believe in words hurting like actual physical stuff like being punched in the face but I will readily admit that instances of my being verbally assaulted are thin and far between but I am a woman and I have been all my life and I don’t take the use of ‘cunt’ personally as I’ve seen some women do. (admittedly mostly on the internet where as any fule knos we are all a little bit madder than in real life and usually as an inverse weapon of ‘taking offence’).
The only conclusion I can come to is, and it’s fairly obvious, that the only people whose sensitivities the groups moderators care about are those individuals who have links to the mentally disabled community.

That, to use left wing parlance, ‘isn’t fair’ (or should I say ‘equal’)
What they need to do is start taking other peoples’ sensitivities into consideration, the physically disabled, people of different ethnicities, those who are non-heteronormative…. women (because for some reason we are still seen as a minority and treated like infants)…. but, personally, I don’t agree with this salami slicing of society by means of minority grouping.

Let’s add any word to the filter that ANYONE finds offensive. Obviously foreign words….the truth….facts….anyone who disagrees oh…hold on that’s what the right wing group we oppose do on their page.

It’s a rotten old slippery slope once you start ‘banning’ things.

I don’t see what the more popular ‘left’ do when they ban things as being any different than what the less popular ‘right’ do when they ban things.

The only difference is content and social majority.

The action is the same…removal of free speech…which, in my book, is on the road to fascism.

But what’s the alternative?… we can’t let people say whatever they like on the internet (well we can…but I know I’m in an even smaller minority in standing up for that).

The alternative is to let people say what they like and when someone near by becomes offended they can fuck off… hold on. If someone is offended they can say…”you just offended me”. The person unknowingly offering the offence will apologise (hopefully) and amend their behaviour in future (perhaps)… a wonderful exchange of human thoughts and emotions. Two strangers on the internet learning a little more about each other.

If person A, who gave offence yesterday, comes back today and re-offers the offence to person B it’s a sign that they are a bit of a twat and don’t take other peoples feelings into as much consideration as some people would like. At which point one would hope other human beings around will read that sign and perhaps join in saying ‘oy twatface…that really is a bit offensive’..etc

If this tooing and froing and learning process continues I would hope Admin would come along and either say “If you say that again you naughty person A I will have to ban you from my group because you seriously breached the rules of group acceptable behaviour…why don’t you fuck off and join a group where people aren’t so sensitive”….or they might say “Man up” to person B “we’re here to bash the fash…don’t let a few words you don’t like get you down…. if you’re that sensitive try sitting in a corner with your head wrapped in cotton wool”.

This is why freedom of speech is a tricky biscuit and why being human is so interesting.

And the point is: that although the internet is a free place once you are under someone’s moderation you play by their rules.

But, sadly, I know I am out of step with the group that turned on the filter…. Because they switched on the filter? Nah…not just that… I think I’m in a minority on there anyway. I don’t want Britain First banned from Facebook like a lot of people on there seem to; but nor do I want to keep reading the opinions of people who don’t seem to realise that their ideology is just as offensive at times as those they are attacking… they just happen to be standing further up the hump of moral high ground. It’s the lack of awareness and realisation I find offensive… not them having the moral high ground.

I dislike stupidity and I loathe fascism because it tends to repress the sort of freedoms that sort out stupidity eventually.

I like fascists to be on Facebook and the wider internet saying whatever they like so we can see and hear who they are  – I want to find out why they feel and think so differently from the way I do. We can oppose their ideas with arguments based on facts and evidence because facts and evidence should always trump lies and nonsense for that moral high ground.

That’s why I’m writing this to try and explain that speech has to be free even if you don’t like what someone is saying.

Switching on that filter… is a step in the wrong direction for a group that believes in the truth and just as I don’t want to hang out with a load of people who use words like paki and mong as insults in everyday conversation neither do I want to hang out with people who want to control the words I use and see my use of them above as just as offensive as shouting them at someone in the street.

As some geezer once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.


it’s true…… February 25, 2014

Filed under: thinks,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 8:13 pm
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…we’re getting cleverer!

Way back in the dim and distant I took my Maths ‘o’ level. June…1982 to be exact. I failed…quite impressively with an ‘e’. In fact I failed a lot of my nine ‘o’ levels. Something to do with discovering ‘sex and drugs and rock and roll’ at precisely the wrong time…or something.
But all was not lost…I re-sat the ‘o’ level in the November of 1982 and scraped in with a ‘c’ grade. Not bad…. from an e to a c in 5 months. I suspect I did some revision second time round.

Since then, I’ve claimed that mathematics isn’t within my mental comfort zone…I got a bit phobic about numbers….I’ve toyed with the idea of dyscalculia.

So anyway…. a few months ago I got me a boyfriend… he’s a smart cookie…he can do maths, works with numbers…did a physics degree. A couple of times in the early days we touched on maths and I told him I couldn’t do ‘it’. I think it puzzled him…the thought that someone couldn’t cope with numbers…. but then… he claims to be bad at art and I can’t understand that…people are different.

We visited the Tate Modern…becuase I like art and he’d like to understand it more and I started asking questions about maths. I have a curious mind and like to know about stuff…. especially if that stuff is important to someone close to me. The first time we attempted maths together was in the car….slowly…tentatively…. I was understanding small things and but being a visual learner needed to see it on paper.
So when we got home we continued over a mug of tea and the back of an envelope….until I burst into tears in the sheer frustration of not being able to understand something.

I just couldn’t get it.
The real turning point came when he told me he’d described me to his colleagues as virtually innumerate…and that’s not a ‘bad’ thing. I’m arty and creative and smart in so many ways – we can’t all be good at everything.

But it niggled me.

So… I asked him to tell me about numbers. We touched briefly on lots of things…a lot of it clever, interesting things like Fibonacci and Pi and then becuase I remember enjoying it at school we had a couple of back of the envelope sessions looking at algebra. We’re looking at a few ten minute sessions over maybe a month…a month in which we only see each other at weekends.

Then I had the idea of seeing how much I actually ‘could’ remember from school, 31 years ago. So I sat down with the computer and did a Foundation level gcse in maths…. I can’t remember how I did…but it was quite well….
I then realised that there was more to the exam system than I thought (and bear in mind I’ve had a daughter and a step daughter go through these exams less than five years ago).

In the olden days there was O levels and cse’s. If you were clever you did the former…otherwise you did the latter and if you were lucky you could get an A grade at cse which was worth an O level. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to double up with cse’s in my weak subjects as I’d skipped a year at school (I was THAT bright) and you had to be older than 15years and 6months old to do them…whereas any child prodigy could have a bash at O levels.

Nowadays…I ‘thought’ there was a GCSe and if you got ABC it was like getting an O level and maybe DE was a cse…an F surely still stands for fail. I ‘thought’ it was that simple… but no. There’s a Foundation level paper in which you can get CD or E and a Higher paper in which you gain an AB or C. I guess on your exam certificate it states Higher or Foundation….so it is a lot more like the old system than I thought… we’re just led to believe that all children are clever enough to sit the same exam nowadays. Admittedly there is a cross over of questions in the two papers…the harder Foundation questions being the easier Higher ones. I believe theres much deliberation amongst teachers over which paper to put their students in for to attain the magical percentage of grade A* to Cs.

So anyway… I thought I’d have a bash at the Higher paper seeing as I’d gained some confidence on the Foundation one.

I gave myself exam conditions and the right amount of time and sat the first of two Higher Edexel GCSE papers from June 2013. As an aside its interesting to note that each paper I sat was worth 100 marks…. so markers don’t even have to be able to work out a percentage from 96 out of 116.

With some dim memories, some working day to day experience of simple mathematics, some guesswork and a few kitchen table back of envelope sessions I scored 60 out of 100. I was pretty pleased with that and thought it was probably a decent C grade.

No… presuming I’d get the same on paper 2 I doubled my score from paper 1 to make 120 (see…I can do it). That gave me a B grade..not just a B grade but a fairly decent B grade.

Riding high on a wave of mathematical success and with a quick flip through Paper 2 from my other half who’s only last minute tutoring consisted of ‘what on earth is a leaf and stem diagram – lets look it up’…I settled down a couple of days later and completed the second paper.

It was harder…. mostly becuase it was the ‘calculator allowed’ paper and the only calculator I had to hand was the simple one on my phone, so I wasted time trying to work out square roots by trial and error and had no chance of pressing a sine(?) button…good job really as I suspect I’d have needed a calculator refresher session. There was some stuff that totally stumped me..some algebra (expanding and simplifying but no quadratic equations that i could see) and a lot more simple mathematics.

I scored 40 out of 100.

It felt like a paper I should have failed….

Over both papers I scored 100 out of 200 marks. That is still a B grade.

So at O level…after many years of maths lessons and a two year intensive run up to my exams….I got a C on my second attempt.

At the age of 46, after years of being a stay at home mum who is adverse to numbers and still has a head that feels like its still part filled with post chemo porridge I got a B.

We are ALL ‘definitely’ getting cleverer.

Or not.

NB. For a comparison here’s some old papers …I looked at the 1988 paper and the very sight of it scared the crap out of me.


I’m giving you my favourite things September 7, 2013

Filed under: poem,thinks,Uncategorized — eclectic chicken @ 9:47 am
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Many moons ago I wrote about ‘The Landing in Summer’ by Mary D Elwell.

It never occurred to me then to share the picture with you… to photograph the one I have and put it here…

But then this morning I found that since I wrote, the BBC are uncovering the nations art collections.

The Landing in Summer

And now you can look at Mary Dawson Elwell’s ‘Landing in Summer’ whenever you like to.
Feeling doubly generous today, and becuase last time I wrote about this painting I doubled it up with some Mersey poetage (not sure they are comfortable bedfellows other than they are two of my favourite things) and so today too I’m going to lie them side by side.

This time Brian Patten’s ‘Party Piece’ ….for you.

He said:

‘Let’s stay here
Now this place has emptied
And make gentle pornography with one another,
While the partygoers go out
And the dawn creeps in,
Like a stranger.

Let us not hesitate
Over what we know
Or over how cold this place has become,
But let’s unclip our minds
And let tumble free
The mad, mangled crocodile of love.’

So they did,
There among the woodbines and guinness stains,
And later he caught a bus and she a train
And all there was between them then
was rain.


Musings with too many water based references. September 6, 2013

The gaps get longer and longer between blog entries but I can’t quite walk away from here. Its knocking on for four years since I started writing… thats a lot of words and thoughts and emotion to let adrift into the ether to find its own way without me.

I think I can safely say there have been interesting times… the best of times and the worst of times. But maybe without the ‘best of’ bit.

And now?

Still recovering from the dose of cancer…still picking myself up physically and mentally from the feat of endurance that is getting through cancer and its treatment.

Still recovering from having a partner transition.

Still not over the emotional deluge…. I find myself now with ‘baggage’. I used to think it just meant being encumbered with children and the general detritus of past relationships…. now I know its more than that. Deeper than that. Far harder than that.

There are scars in my ability to trust that still itch deep.

There are dints in my sense of self that don’t just pop back to normal on the bounce.

In fact I don’t quite bounce emotionally like I used to once upon a time a long time ago.

I can still leap into being with someone like a kid into a paddling pool..sheer joy and sparkly water… but then I panic about the sharks.

What sharks?


No sharks.

But there might be.

Like the monsters under the bed…one can never be sure. Even when the water is crystal clear.

So here we are… me and my baggage…

Its been a wonderful summer. There have been friends and relatives and sunshine and good food.

There have been bottles of wine drunk, games of scrabble played and the fumblings and writhings of a new relationship.

Trying not to remember that after happiness comes the pain.

Sharks at four o clock.

Just in time for tea.

If I cancel out the transition…forget it..blank it totally: I used to go out with a bloke called John, we split up about three and a half years ago. Since then there have been a couple of people…. see.. all normal… no real baggage there.

Trouble is since I split up with John there has been this huge emotional earthquake, followed by a tsunami that I’ve forced myself through and its affected every single part of my life.

I SO want to let it go.

Just let it go….

My baggage is like the Old Man of the Sea and it doesn’t feel like the separation is my decision.

But I can’t hope for the past to let go of me instead of me letting go of the past.

 I just have to say that I am the sum total of my past days and stick to that like I stuck to ‘not minding’ that my partner was transitioning or that there was a chance of my dying.

I can be very stubborn like that.

So this is the person I am.

Amidst the moments of crushing insecurity I walk accross the heads of sharks.




Fukka da Pukka February 13, 2013

Filed under: home stuff,thinks — eclectic chicken @ 10:19 pm
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I grew up in Lancashire and took pies for granted… pies and steak puddings. Most often Hollands Pies.

Hollands have been baking pies for your chippy tea  since 1851 and operating from Baxenden just outside Accrington since the mid-1930’s.  They are a mostly meat and pastry treat with occassional aberrations like a cheese and onion pie (made to vegetarian society standards) and a cheese and onion pasty (which doesn’t seem to claim vegetarian standards so maybe its a weaning product).

When aged 19 I moved to Nottingham it was a double blow to my pie eating. Firstly it was too far south to buy a baby’s head (steak pudding) – as I think I’ve grumbled about before on this blog (it obviously traumatised me) but secondly there was this weird puff pastried aberration  in every chip shop I went in…called a Pukka Pie.

Pukka have been trading since 1963 and obviously haven’t learnt how to make decent pastry yet, let alone a decent pie.

They used to make a vegetarian pie with lumps of tofu in it…and if nothing else says pie freakery that has to be it.

If anything sums up the North/South divide for me its pies.

Imagine my delight this evening when I discovered (one of those times when a thought bubbled to the top of my head and a laptop was within reach at the same time) the Holland Pie finder.

According to  the pie finder my nearest decent pie is a mere 9 miles away in Spalding. I can feel a trip out coming on… a nice visit to Ayscoughfee Hall and park  (the park once featured in the Saturday Independent’s top 50 parks in the UK..and has a pedal roundabout) with my rellies when they visit next week.

Mind you.. I think the outlet in Spalding is Heron frozen foods…so it may offend my traditionalist sensibilites less to persuade said rellies to bring some decent pies down with them when they come… and maybe a decent black pudding whilst they’re at it. <you can take that as a hint big sister o’ mine if you’re reading in>

But I have to bear in mind, and not get over excited, that the only Pie in the Hollands range I can now eat (as it doesn’t contain onion) is the ‘meat’ pie. A tasty mix of seasoned beef and pork, wrapped in their unique, golden shortcrust pastry. I could probably get away with a chicken and mushroom as it only contains onion powder…. but then a chicken and mushroom pie is like… a girly pie.

I’m in need of a meat pie.


Seacole my arse…. February 8, 2013

Filed under: politics,thinks — eclectic chicken @ 3:37 pm
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I read today that Mary Seacole gets to stay on the curriculum supposedly it’s some sort of victory.

I’m not going to launch into the rights and wrongs of Seacoles place on in the national Curriculum… there’s enough spouted on either side politically about it.

What did scare the bejeebbus out of me was reading in the linked article that this was a ‘high school’ thing. (I thought we had secondary schools but hey ho).

Now… I remember when I worked in KS1 as a TA (it was actually a FS. KS1 class just to keep us all on out cross curricular toes) that we did a unit on famous people. It was fun…. our class teacher wore my Victorian wedding dress (which helped the under 7’s have some concept of how awful it was that they were walking around in piss and shit up to their ankles) and as well as all the standard curriculum stuff about Florence Nightingale- I fed in snippets about her taking to her bed and keeping an owl in her pocket. I think we probably went above and beyond the call of cross curricular duty in also churning out some rather good ‘Florence Nightingale’ in the style of Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe artwork too. this is the original Warhol version (for those of you without a state approved education)

I remember at the time the teacher telling me that in some London schools they’d do Mary Seacole instead…. we looked at the curriculum planning together and I think as the unit we were doing was about ‘famous people in History’. Florence Nightingale was given as an ‘example’ of who to do.

Along with being an ‘example’ come suggested plans.

Its basically curriculum delivery… heres a load of stuff…a load of resources about THIS person to make life easy. OR you could choose someone different and have to start from scratch. Which one do you think most teachers choose?

Its the same accross the subjects (both my children can recognise a Monet but thanks to a little interest at home would rather avoid his work entirely)…. and yes Warhol is a state recommended artist.

The thing is – once plans are written and resources made they can be used time after time…. but how many teachers get enough none contact time to start from scratch in umpteen subjects.

{nb… I ended up drafting the plans for the KS1 unit on ‘portraits’ in collaboration with our county art advisor… it took a morning and was way above my payscale 🙂 The final piece at the end of term worked on as a group was to have been based on Marcus Harveys ‘Myra’…. learning about photocopy art and photogravure along the way}

Whats scarier (than so few famous people being state approved) is that come later school years as the Indie picks up and the unit is not just ‘famous people’ but  ‘famous Victorians’ it’s quite likely a generation of children get to ‘do’ Florence Nightingale twice . Okay…different Key Stage, learning outcomes and stuff…. but still… with the whole of history to go at it its a shame to concentrate on the same person twice.

And even more of a shame is that so little is taught by so many to far too many (to bastardise another state approved famous chaps words).

What happens when a whole generation only know about famous Victorians… or Tudors… and specific Victorians or tudors at that?

Maybe as my friend Barry suggests “They’ll end up like school students from France and the US, I should think. Insular and nationalistic, through no fault of their own.”

There is wriggle room for dinner parties I suppose… you can alternate those who studied Victorian Britain with those whose teachers took the post 1930 Britain option in KS2.

After all learning is a lifelong experience.

Thank fuck!


Happy Hooker Upswing February 2, 2013

Filed under: home stuff,thinks — eclectic chicken @ 5:06 pm
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I seem to have come off my anti-depressents which I’ve been on (with a summer gap once) since I had post natal depression… it happened sort of accidentally as I packed my pills in my emergency hospital bag early in January and therefore sporadically forgot to take them as they weren’t sat on the bedside table reminding me.

Come the 26th of last month I realised I’d had 10 tablets in 24 days… so reckoned it was worth just stopping. Normally I’d be a bit more wary as I’ve been forgetful and gone cold turkey before… but as I was approaching my chemo shit time I thought what the hell the withdrawal shitiness would just roll in with the rest.

That and I have a positive wave of energy to ride as Spring comes on, the nights are getting perceptibly longer and on the whole I feel I’m getting ‘better’ – there’s positive for you.

I feel more engaged with life again… not so emotionally numbed (which is something I’ve been discussing with my counsellor of late). I’m not happy doing nothing, my mind has started to run at speed again. I feel a lot more like me… but happy to admit these are early days and this may just be a hyper bounce back.

I’ve just spent a lovely afternoon with my friend Debz as she came to teach me to crochet… that in itself is positive snowball effect as yesterday Jane asked if I wanted to go into Stamford in the afternoon and being the latter half of the day my first instinct was to say I felt too knackered… but no… I changed my mind said ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’ and went and pottered gently up the high street with the boy, looked in some shops, bought myself a small array of Belgian chocs (to keep my sugar energy up) and then to the library to meet Jane and picked up a ‘learn to crochet book’ as it was staring me in the face… I then mentioned it on Facebook this morning and moments later I have the offer of a tutorial (say yes again even though it means getting out of bed and showering me and hoovering my room) and then a lovely afternoon learning my first crochet stitch, drinking tea and comparing hospital stories.

Leading on next weekend hopefully to Annie visiting (as Jane and the boy are off to Brum) and I’ll be waterfalling my new found skillage on to her… definitely with more tea and possibly biscuits.

Alls good in the world… well…except the cancer and my relationship being in flux and me not knowing what I’m going to be doing this time next year or even where I’ll be… but other than that…. I’m laughing more, crying more and shouting more… definitely less numb.

If I had the energy I suspect I’d be dancing too. 🙂



Misogyny, Victimhood and online abuse. January 23, 2013

Filed under: thinks — eclectic chicken @ 12:24 pm
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I don’t get it… in fact I don’t get feminism.

Oh I get that women have had a shit old time…  I get that some women still do.

But I’ve always considered myself an equalicist.

I  can accept that if theres a job going all the people qualified to do it should have an equal chance of getting it.

If I walk down the street I should all be able to do it without being harmed… or harrassed…

And I should all be able to go on the internet without it ending in tears.

Oh hold on….

this is where I start not getting it… sorry…

I can count the times I’ve felt unsafe in the street on the fingers of one hand… but thats becuase I learnt early to walk confident, and don’t be walking through really dark dodgy places at silly times.

I’ve never been mugged, or raped (apart from a couple of date rapes that I took in my stride becuase rape is a legal construct) and I know if someone is following you late at night you either cross over to stop yourself worrying (if they cross over too then go on to stage two)

Stage two is stop to tie your shoelace or similar… the person behind you will tend to walk round you and carry on.

If they don’t… well… I’ve no idea… it’s never happened to me and I suspect thats more down to luck than anything else in reality.

My esteemed feminist partner was writting only yesterday in the New Statesman that men shouldn’t walk behind women at night because as any fule kno it worries the ladies to be followed innocently down the street by a man with a pianist playing stalky type tunes.

What rot!

Of course we should all have the right to walk down the street without feeling afraid…. but you can’t impose that on people… I’m sure some men (fuck it…some PEOPLE -cos I’ve done this) when finding themselves walking behind someone will make the effort to not make them afraid, either by dropping back (another tie the shoelace moment… what one does with slip on shoes I have no idea) or crossing over or by muttering through a handkerchief “don’t worry dearie I aint gonna rape you” – athough this last one makes them run it does save you having to resort to tying imginary shoelaces if you ARE wearing slip ons.

I know men in da olden days used to do this really sweet thing where they guarded ladies from the splashings of the traffics by walking on the kerbside of their companion… some men still do this…and let me tell you its a bit confusing to carry on a conversation when they suddenly disappear and reappear on the otherside of you at the other side of the road.

Maybe that’s what the ‘all men are rapists’ folk want… that men should always walk on the otherside of the street so ladies aren’t threatened by the splashings of the pianists playing musical pavements kind of tunes.

No… its not realistic and it’s a bloody long deviation from where i was going which is the internet not making you cry.

At first I thought, this is ridiculous… I’ve never been abused on the internet (in real life yes… and I tend to get upset and then realise I’ve done something to antagonise someone or that the person is just a total knob).

But then I went and read the twitters from real life internet abuse victims…. on #silentnomore

NB I’m not going to go and cut and paste any from twitter as that may upset the dears.

Things like ‘you are an ugly slag’  ‘your cunt has dried up’ and ‘you need raping’. And many of them (its seems) from men who have has their romantic advances turned down.

But this isn’t all men… this is just a few men and they probably have very small knobs and brains.

And then I realised… if THIS is abuse.. I’ve had loads of it over my years on the internet… usually becuase I’ve turned down some fine offer from some bloke with a small brain and I may also have antagonised him somewhere along the way (just like in real life)… but quite often not.

Has it made me cry… no… do I feel abused or a victim..obviously not.

There’s been times on forums where I’ve had long intense discussions that have turned impassioned and nasty and I have cried… but I really hope I’ve given as good as I get and that they have too.

But they won’t will they…

they’re blokes.

Blokes on the whole work in different ways from women… me and my male brain know this.. maybe thats why I don’t get that upset about things like insults in the ethernet.

They are just floaty about words… even if there’s a million of them… they are floaty about words.

If that same person then turns up at your front door and says them… they are floaty about words still… but the fact that he has tracked you down should worry you.

But until that point it’s not worth claiming victimhood about.

And remember 99.9%* of internet warriors don’t make it to their local shops let alone accross a whole country just to abuse you properly.

I’m guessing the real statistics for some random stranger off the internet coming to your house to assault, rape or murder you is even less than a stranger abducting and abusing your child. (and thats pretty low)

Should we expect people not to make us cry on the internet?


FFS if the worst thing in your life is that people on the internet can make you cry and ‘feel’ abused then feminism is dead in the water… we have come as far as we can in the equality battle if thats all there is to worry about and if all it takes is the unkind words of a random stranger or a man walking behind you at night to make you fear for your life and become a ‘victim’. Maybe ‘some’ women are a bit too delicate and sensitive to even consider being let out alone; let alone considering themselves capable of equality with the rest of us.

*statistic pulled out of thin air


…and so to the village shop January 22, 2013

Filed under: thinks — eclectic chicken @ 10:07 am

out of the city?…. and the loss of village shops (don’t get me started on that one).
oh go on then…. take for example  Emmett’s Store in Peasenhall Suffolk

“Emmett’s has been trading from its original site since 1820. In 1970, Emmett’s was awarded a Royal Warrant by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother for their sweet pickled hams. The store remained in the same family until May 2000, when Mark Thomas bought the business, which he has taken to its current position as one of Suffolk’s world class food producers and suppliers. Emmett’s is still a family business, and Mark is personally responsible for all of the processes that go into making Emmett’s renowned cured ham and bacon. All of the meat is locally sourced and the curing and smoking take place on the premises.”

It’s still there, its still trading and is considered a village store success story…. I’ve no idea if the quality of the sweet pickled hams has gone up or down as I’ve not bought any since it changed ‘family’ ownership. But their website  says “What ever your reason to visit Suffolk, we look forward to seeing you at Emmett’s”.

Last time I went in it was a magical cavern of goods (admittedly many with labels on from the 1960’s) wools, groceries, hardware, hams and now its “Greek olives, Spanish charcuterie, English, Welsh and Scottish cheeses, Sri Lankan chutney” and wine… they seem to have a terribly good wine selection.

Sri Lankan bloody chutney!!!!

But can you get a loaf of bread for under £2 and a pint of milk?

With weekend home ownership running at over 30% in some Suffolk villages you can see why they’ve done it (and I can see how 1960’s knitting patterns aren’t commercially viable except on etsy)…. but I know as a local (which I was for nearly a good few years) I’d prefer somewhere less pricey with less Sri Lankan chutney and more in the way of local food, basic staples and not soley aimed at people who are bleeding the county slowly dry of life and turning it into a rural theme park.

I suppose its preferable to have a shop trading rather than not… as once something is gone completely it tends not to come back and it’s always sad to see house names like ‘The Old Bakery’ (this one I have in mind is in Scalford, Leics…. a bakery that nineteen years ago delivered one brown, one white, half a dozen rolls and three random cakes to me twice a week).

Funnily enough… the baker accross the road from me is from Leicestershire and before he bought the village bakery here twenty odd years ago had looked at taking over the Scalford bakery as the owners wanted to retire and were trying to sell it as a going concern (obviously for quite a while)… as it was he chose Lincolnshire and is still going strong (with a solid fuelled oven too).

When I lived in Suffolk I applied to take over our Post Office (it meant having it in the house- we had a big hallway)… I was told I’d have need to install (and pay for) smash proof glass,  security counter shields  and my house was down a track that wasn’t wheelchair accessible (and any other number of reasons to discourage me from taking it over)… when the closing Post Office (which also sold bread) had a counter with what looked suspiciously like a sprayed white fireguard on top – (that you could walk round the side of if you really wanted to rob her).

I guess the only solution is for locals to use their local shops (wherever they live)… use them or lose them as the saying goes…I know grants/funding is available now for village shops and post offices to help diversify and modernise or to take over as community endeavors. In many places it seems to be workingand that makes me happy becuase once gone they very seldom come back.


Sentimental about shops. January 21, 2013

Filed under: thinks — eclectic chicken @ 11:47 am
Tags: , , , , ,

God I feel old… I’ve been getting all sentimental about shops.

When I lived in Carrington in Nottingham 17 years ago (shit and death that’s nearly twenty) we were a bus ride outside the mega shopping centre in the middle… or a ten minute walk from the decent shops in Sherwood.

But Carrington had its own shops…on Mansfield Road (and I can’t remember them all) was a small co-op, a chippie, a fishmonger (who also sold game), a hardware shop (who prided themselves on being able to disappear out back and come out with anything you asked for including strapping for the underside of chairs and oil lamp wicks), a greengrocer (who being Asian used to sell excellent samosas and give us fruit passed it’s prime to make home made wine with), a post office and a small deli (us being just accross the road from mapperley park which is posh). As I say… thats the shops I remember.

And then on Hucknall Road there was one of the best butchers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know.

MY mother has only ever given me two decent pieces of advice (that I can remember)… 1.Find a good butcher and stick with him

2.Never go drinking in Fleetwood

I consider I am where I am in life today by following these two simple pieces of advice… I may have colon cancer but at least I never got stabbed to death out drinking in Fleetwood. 🙂

Back to Tony the butcher…. a man so dedicated to his craft that he introduced me to eating haggis by getting me to eat a vegetarian version first (which he ordered for me) to break me in gently.

Most days the queue would be out the door and each customer got a full scale chat and advice that made the wait worth it.

His sausages and own cured bacon were to die for….my only grumble was that he used to buy in black puddings… and they weren’t good ones.

But he’s gone now… I hope retired as opposed to driven out by supermarkets.

In fact most of them have gone… though I see on google street view the co-op is there as you’d expect, the chippie is there, the P.O. (with a sign on the door saying ‘save our Post Office’) and the deli may have become a sandwich shop.

Having discovered this I took a look further back into the mists of time to the Devonshire Road shops in Blackpool which are where I went to buy my sweets and lollies as a kid.

A collection of shops that supported two sweet shops (i suspect one may have been a newsagent), two bakers, a launderette, dress shop, cheapie shop, Spar, co-op, butchers, Post Office, greengrocer, chemist, chippie… again I’m working from memory from before I was twelve.

Now? Well the chippie is still there, the PO, chemist and the launderette (which surprised me).

Whats replaced them? Takeaways, motor spares, a logo shop, carpet shop, tanning shop, funeral director and a couple of hairdressers amongst other things vital to modern day life.

It makes me feel old….and sad.

But on the positive side… happy we have a baker close to where we live now so my son has at least had the experience of being given money and sent over to buy some bread and buns from a shopkeeper who he is on name and chat terms with.



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