Adventures, LGBT, Other, Theatre

We made a Fun Palace!

Fun Palaces:

  • is an ongoing campaign for cultural democracy
  • promotes culture at the heart of community and community at the heart of culture, making the most of local spaces and local skills, empowering people to create
  • is led by local people for local people – which is what makes it all so different! There’s no central theme, no central idea, nothing that everyone does the same

About a month after the second Fun Palaces weekend, Stella Duffy came to talk to the students at my school about it. I went along, and was delighted to see how interested and focused the students were. I wanted to get involved, but wasn’t really sure how. So, for a while, I watched people making Fun Palaces all over the place, doing all kinds of things, and told people about it, and I waited.

Fast forward four years, and I’ve just made a Fun Palace! My friend Megan came down from Manchester to join in, too, which was truly wonderful. I was very much an accessory – writer and theatre-maker Amie Taylor was the genius behind it – but I think I was useful and I definitely had a wonderful time. Our Fun Palace was hosted by the Pleasance Theatre in Islington, and although many many makers are queer, and it’s a queer phenomenon in many ways,ours was the first specifically LGBTQ Fun Palace. We had workshops on creative writing, mental health, activism, and burlesque, and drop in sessions to write poetry, decorate biscuits, dress up, and make drag queen/king puppets. Everyone – makers and the people who joined us – wore pronoun badges. I helped with the puppet-making and I really enjoyed helping people – mostly children, but some adults too – have a play with making something that I had only tried myself that day. It felt shared and special, even though – or perhaps because – it was so far out of my comfort zone.

I have been involved in something huge and important. I spend so much time deferring to other people, people who know better, when it comes to creating something new, that I find it hard to identify what I can do. I’m already thinking about what I can do next year, how I can improve on what I brought to the day.

I feel empowered, and I feel hopeful, and I feel a strength in my community that I didn’t really know I’d been missing.

Books, Nature, Other

I don’t care about plants

There’s a pattern in my life. My mum tries to get me interested in something, and I resist, then I decide by myself that actually it’s great. So far, this has happened with: reading, cooking, driving, and, most recently, plants. Also being tidier, but that’s a slower process because I have terrible habits. You’d think, now that I know this about myself, I wouldn’t still resist. You’d be wrong. I am still regularly heard declaring that, obviously, I don’t care about plants and gardens. At all. It’s all lies. Continue reading “I don’t care about plants”

Other

What I’m really thinking: the childless friend – a response to a trash article

I read an article on the Guardian website which has made me absolutely furious.  I can’t stop thinking about it, even though it’s been a few weeks.  I wasn’t surprised to be so angry, I expected it, but I also expected that anger to pass.  It hasn’t.  The article, What I’m really thinking: the childless friend, is all about how annoying it is to hear about a friend’s problems as a parent.  I’m not going to link to it, because I think it’s trash, but it’s not hard to find. Continue reading “What I’m really thinking: the childless friend – a response to a trash article”

Adventures, Interrailing 2016, LGBT, Other, Spinster rambling club

2016 in review

A couple of weeks ago, I met up with three of my friends to set fire to 2016. In the garden, under the full moon, with candles. We each wrote down what we want to leave behind in 2016, and what we welcome for 2017, then we read them out to one another and set fire to them. It was cleansing and very good to focus our attention on something tangible, rather than howling at the horrors of the year (though that is also valid and important). Now, as the sun sets on New Year’s Eve, I wish I could say I’m feeling cheerful and ready for the year to come, but I’ve got a disgusting cold and have had to cancel my plans, as I’m unlikely to be awake at midnight. My impulse is to try to counter that with relentless positivity, but even I can’t manage that on its own, so I’m trying to look at the year in balance. Continue reading “2016 in review”

Feminism, Other

Street harassment, and silence

This week at school, we had a talk from Laura Bates, who runs everydaysexism.com. She was asked in to talk to our year 11 boys, and some other students and quite a few members of staff went along, too. She was fascinating, clear and generally brilliant, answering questions in detail and, crucially, not falling for the boys’ attempts to wrongfoot her. It led to some encouraging and interesting conversations with colleagues, and hopefully amongst the students, and I left work feeling empowered and positive that we could bring about change.

Fifteen minutes later, as I approached the train station, a man in the street reached for my arm, wanting to ask me about my hair. I skittered around him and carried on my way, like I have done a thousand times before. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t upset. He didn’t even actually touch me. It was nothing.

Except that it isn’t. Continue reading “Street harassment, and silence”

Other, Recommendations

I was asked to write a guest review!

Remember my post about Stella Duffy’s Calendar Girl ? Well, it did pretty well, and Craig Sisterson, who runs Crime Watch: Investigating Crime From A Kiwi Perspective – a fantastic blog with a focus on authors from New Zealand – asked me to write a piece.

I had a ball writing it, and I put a different spin on it than my original post. I’m very pleased with it, so if you want to have a read, you can find it here.

 

 

Other

My beautiful beautiful arms, or, someone made me do Pilates and I’m very grateful

It’s nine o’clock on a Monday night, and I’m lying face down on my bed, groaning. My armpits ache. If I try to move, my abs complain and the muscles between my ribs feel like they might just give up entirely. Doing stairs earlier involved a lot of wobbling. This isn’t what I expected when, two years ago, my osteopath marched me to a poster and showed me which Pilates class I needed to sign up for. Continue reading “My beautiful beautiful arms, or, someone made me do Pilates and I’m very grateful”

Adventures, Other, Spinster rambling club

In which I needed a hobby

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Last summer, while I was in the throes of breakup misery, I decided that what I needed was to meet new people, and I also needed a hobby. Over the course of several days on holiday, we ran through all sorts of things I could do, but none of them felt quite right. Continue reading “In which I needed a hobby”